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Best back-to-school tech for under $50

Need new tech for the dorm? For just $50, there's plenty to choose from.

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John Falcone
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1 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Grind

A good pair of headphones is the first back-to-school necessity. At just $25 to $32, the Skullcandy Grind is a great choice. But if you can splurge, go for the Grind Wireless, which can be found for as little as $54.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Panasonic RP-HTX7
2 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic RP-HTX7

The full-size but lightweight Panasonic RP-HTX7s have an old-school vibe, but they sound great for the price. They're available in at least five colors (black, white, red, pink and green) for as little as $35.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Moshi Mythro
3 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Moshi Mythro

Prefer in-ear headphones? The Moshi Mythros are some of the best you can buy for $30 or less. Unlike many supercheap models, the Mythros includes an inline microphone for taking calls.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Creative Sound Blaster Jam
4 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Creative Sound Blaster Jam

It's still difficult to find good name-brand wireless headphones for under $50, but the Creative Sound Blaster Jam is one of the first models at this price that we liked.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Google Chromecast Audio
5 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Chromecast Audio

The Chromecast Audio isn't a wireless speaker in and of itself, but this $35 Wi-Fi gadget adds streaming audio to any old stereo. It offers universal compatibility with Android phones, and some (but not all) iOS apps can stream to it, too.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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6 of 18 David Carnoy/CNET

JBL Clip 2

Whether you're spending a semester abroad, or you're just always on the move, the water-resistant JBL Clip 2 wireless speaker is the perfect travel companion.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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7 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon Basics Portable Bluetooth speaker

The largest Bluetooth speaker on our list is still small enough to travel well. It delivers a bit more oomph than the micro-mini models listed previously. The Amazon Basics model is also available in blue, white and red. A smaller model, the Ultra-Portable Mini Bluetooth Speaker, retails for just $30.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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8 of 18 Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Amazon Echo Dot (second generation)

In addition to providing a home for the Alexa voice assistant, Amazon's $50 Wi-Fi speaker handles music, too. The audio quality isn't fantastic, but you can connect it to any other stereo or speaker system.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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9 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku Streaming Stick (2016)

Who needs on-campus cable TV when you have streaming video? This little $50 streamer turns any HDMI-equipped TV into a gateway to online entertainment bliss: Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, HBO Now and literally hundreds of other streaming channels.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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10 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku Express

If $50 is too pricey, check out the $30 Roku Express. It has all of the same channels, but it's not quite as zippy as the Stick.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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11 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku Express+

Stuck with an ancient pre-HD, hand-me-down tube television? Don't fret: You can still watch Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon and all the other great streaming video options with the Roku Express+, which connects to old-school RCA jacks (yellow, red, white).

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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12 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa

It's not quite as good as the Roku, but the 2017 version of Amazon's Fire TV Stick is $10 cheaper and includes an Alexa-enabled voice remote.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Google Chromecast (2015)
13 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Chromecast (2015)

Embrace the mobile lifestyle with the $35 Chromecast video streamer. Connect it to any TV, and use your phone as the remote control for services like YouTube, Netflix and many more. Just note that it doesn't offer Amazon Video.

See all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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14 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Biolite PowerLight Mini

The $50 Biolite PowerLight Mini is a handy lantern, bike light and charger all in one. You clip it to a pocket or strap or mount to your bike (mount included) and its 1,350-mAh USB rechargeable battery provides up to 52 hours of light. It can also give your phone a backup boost. Lighting modes include White Lantern, Red Night Vision, Red/White Strobe and White Point Light. It's a great choice for eco-minded students who enjoy camping or other outdoor activities. See the PowerLight Mini at Amazon.

Check out all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Logitech K380 Multi-device Bluetooth Keyboard
15 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Logitech K380 Multi-device Bluetooth Keyboard

For under $40, the Logitech K380 is the best multidevice wireless keyboard we've seen to date. Toggle between three devices -- say, a PC or Mac, a tablet and a phone -- at the click of a button. This one's a great choice for students who bounce between working on their phone, tablet or computer.

Check out all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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16 of 18 Josh Miller/CNET

SanDisk Clip Jam

Yes, everyone's phone already doubles as a music player. But for as low as $30, this standalone mini MP3 player is useful for runners and gym rats who may want to set their phones aside for a workout. It works with both PCs and Macs, and -- best of all -- doesn't need to sync with iTunes: just drag and drop your music files.

Check out all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

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17 of 18 Fuji

Fuji Instax Mini 8

Just like vinyl, Polaroid-style cameras that print out hardcopy photos are a hot commodity for millennials. The Fuji Instax Mini 8 goes for closer to $62, but it's a great novelty that adds a tangible memento that phone cameras can't match.

Check out all our picks in the CNET Back-to-School guide.

Amazon Fire tablet
18 of 18 James Martin/CNET

Amazon Fire tablet

The larger 8-inch Fire HD 8 tablet for $80 is still the better deal, but you won't find a better sub-$50 tablet than the Fire 7, which has been updated for 2017.

See CNET's complete back-to-school gift guide.

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