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Kickstart your holiday shopping: 9 gifts and gadgets that cost $30 or less

Get some great tech without breaking the bank.

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, but there are still plenty of great gifts you can get without spending a fortune. Call these stocking stuffers or just affordable gifts, but we've pulled together some of our favorite items, gadgets and otherwise, available for $30 or less. We've personally tested or used most of these and they're all something we'd like to give -- or receive -- during the holidays, or any other time of year.

Note that pricing and availability of this tech under $30 gift guide were accurate at time of publication, but both are subject to change without notice.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Buying for someone who prefers full-size headphones? Priced at around $30, the Tribit XFree Tune have long been our go-to affordable full-size wireless headphones. But there's now an even cheaper model, the XFree Go, that we've seen for as little as $21. At the lower price, you get plusher, more comfortable ear pads, Bluetooth 5.0 and 24 hours of battery life, and a 10-minute charge gives you four hours of playback time. The sound is a little more bass-forward than that of the Tune, but at this price, it's really hard to complain about what you're getting.

Molly Price/CNET

Buy the second-generation Lenovo Smart Clock at Best Buy right now, and it'll cost you about $70. But Walmart is bundling the same unit with a smart bulb for just $25. This little guy includes Google Assistant, and makes a great bedside companion. 

Read our Lenovo Smart Clock 2 review.

 

Lodge

We're all cooking at home a lot more these days. And the Lodge Grill Pan is a cheap and easy way to bring the essence of the grilling experience to your stovetop. (Mine gets used at least once a week.) 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku has updated its 4K Streaming Stick for 2021 with the addition of best-in-class Dolby Vision HDR support. It just debuted at $50, but it's already selling for just $29, but that deal may not last past Dec. 4. Read our Roku Streaming Stick 4K Plus review

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Lego

There are plenty of great Lego sets available for under $25 dollars, including some Star Wars and Marvel options as well. 

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The T10, which Tranya keeps slightly updating while keeping the price low, have been on this list for a while and it remains a good value at around $25 (there's now a low-latency gaming mode).

Like most true-wireless earbuds from Chinese brands that sell through Amazon, these have a pretty generic look and feel, especially the case, and they may not fit all ears equally well -- they do stick out a little. But if you get a tight seal they sound good, with potent, well-defined bass and good detail (for a true wireless earbud). They also work decently as a headset for making calls, thanks to decent noise reduction that helps tamp down background noise so people can hear your voice better. 

Battery life is rated at 8 hours at moderate volume levels and these are fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating.

Wizards of the Coast

Some old-school D&D is a nice face-to-face break from the virtual world of video games. The Essentials Kit gives you everything a group of pencil-and-paper adventurers need to get questing, but true beginners can opt for the equally affordable Starter Set instead. (Those already bored with D&D can dip their toes into the world of Gloomhaven with the Jaws of the Lion set instead, which is just a tad over $30.)

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There are plenty of cheap smart plugs out there, but the TP-Link Kasa HS105 is our current favorite. This plug converts any lamp in the dorm or home into one that's voice-controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant. Plus this gadget's trim design leaves the second outlet open for business. (If you're only connecting low-wattage devices like table lamps, note that you can grab a two-pack of the step-down HS103 for under $20.) Buying gifts for someone with a Siri-powered smart home? Opt for the Belkin WeMo Smart Plug instead.

Read our TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

True story: In my collegiate days, 3.5-inch floppy disks were a thing, and they stored a whopping 1.44 megabytes of data on them. This flash drive costs under $21, and it stores 128GB, the equivalent of almost 89,000 of those floppy disks. This model sports both USB-A and USB-C connectors, so it'll work with any computer out there as well as newer iPad Pro and Mini models.