Bring Dad into the smart home age with the second-generation Amazon Echo Dot. From simple tasks like timers and weather reports to more advanced commands of other networked products in the house, this Alexa-powered assistant is one of the best gifts you can give for under 50 bucks.
The $35 Chromecast Audio turns Dad's old stereo, boombox or dusty PC speakers into a wireless music system. Just tap a button on phone or tablet apps like Spotify, Pandora, NPR One or iHeart Radio, and the music is transported to those bigger speakers via Wi-Fi. It works with iPhones and iPads with a few apps, but Android users can send any audio from their phone without restriction.
Help Dad embrace his inner couch potato with the $50 Roku Streaming Stick. Plug it into any HDTV, and the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, ESPN, HBO or any of a zillion other streaming video channels is just a click away.
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.
Does Dad still have an old-fashioned, pre-HD tube television? The Roku Express+ will connect to it and deliver all the same great entertainment.
The 2016 version of Amazon's Fire TV Stick isn't quite as great as the Roku Stick, but it's $10 cheaper and includes an Alexa-enabled voice remote.
If Dad doesn't don't need Amazon video and doesn't mind using his smartphone or tablet as his only remote, check out the $35 Chromecast video streamer.
Does Dad listen to music on his smartphone or tablet? Bring him into the world of wireless audio with a Bluetooth speaker. The Logitech X100 shown here has been discontinued, but at just $20, it's a steal.
If you want to give a "cheap but good" wireless travel speaker that's also waterproof, the JBL Clip 2 is the one to get. It retails for $60, but you can often find it online for $10 less.
The largest Bluetooth speaker on our list is still small enough to travel well, and 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.
Does Dad prefer private listening? The full-size but lightweight Panasonic RP-HTX7 headphones do a good job of blocking out external sounds, and 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.
If your Dad is cool enough to rock the Skullcandy death's head logo, the Grind headphones are a great choice, and they only cost $25 to $32. If you can, splurge for the Grind Wireless, which can be found for about $62.
If Dad prefers 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.
Wireless headphones are dipping below $80 and $100, but name-brand models for under $50 are still pretty rare. One exception is the Creative Sound Blaster Jam.
Is Dad an outdoorsman? If so, the $50 Biolite PowerLight Mini may be just the ticket. It's a handy lantern, bike light, and charger all in one. He can clip it to a pocket or strap or mount to his bike (mount included) and its 1,350mAh USB rechargeable battery provides up to 52 hours of light or a backup boost to your phone. Lighting modes include White Lantern, Red Night Vision, Red/White Strobe and White Point Light.
If Dad already has an Echo, iPhone or a Nest, the iHome iSP8 is the perfect accessory to make any "dumb" lamp compatible with any of those smart home platforms.
If Dad prefers an old-school keyboard to an on-screen model, the $30 Logitech K380 is a great choice. This multidevice wireless keyboard toggles between three devices -- say, a PC or Mac, a tablet and a smartphone -- at the click of a button.
If Dad's a bookworm, check out the the entry-level Kindle e-reader. The retail cost is $80, but Amazon frequently discounts it down to $50.
The best thing we can say about the entry-level Fire tablet is that it costs less than $50. But your better bet is to get the larger 8-inch model for $90. Yes, it's almost twice as much, but it's a far better experience. And Dad is worth it, isn't he?