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Best last-minute tech gifts: Holiday gadgets for under $100

The holiday season is upon us and if you’re gift shopping for family, friends, or yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Here you will find a thoughtfully curated list of the best affordable tech gifts, including wireless earbuds, smart home gadgets, massage machines — all of which cost less than $100.

If you’re gifting on a budget, it is also worth considering refurbishment options. When products are sourced from reputable vendors, they will be serviced, under a warranty, and checked for flaws before being put back on sale, often at a substantial discount. 

Now, let’s get to some holiday shopping.

Hot cups of Joe, always



If you’re gifting to someone with a burning passion for coffee and other hot drinks, try the Ember Smart Mug. A delectable gadgetry, you can control the temperature of what’s inside the 10-ounce mug right from your smartphone. With the desired temperature set, the smart mug keeps your coffee, hot chocolate, or even tea from cooling down. It’s called hot chocolate, not cold chocolate.

To keep those delivered presents secure



Blink’s Outdoor security camera watches from the top of our best outdoor security cameras list of 2021. And for the same reasons of convenience, ease of use, reliability, and value, it’s one of our gift recommendations for under $100. With the ability to pair multiple cameras to the included smart hub, you can see what’s outside — day or night — right from the Blink app. A kit with one goes for $59.99 and a duo goes for $99.99.

The productivity mouse to get



In the midst of all the marketing and branding, we think the Logitech MX Master 3 is well-deserving of its name. The MX Master 3 is the mouse to get, whether it’s for a family or friend who dabbles in video production, or someone who could use the ergonomics for less tension on the wrist. 

Also: Best wireless mouse: Making a case for Logitech

Shades with a jingle



Bose Frames make for an affordable gift for music lovers (and sun haters). The Alto series are Bluetooth-enabled glasses that can stream music to your ears without stuffing anything inside of them. Still, I’ve found the audio quality of these glasses to be exceptional, with a crisp sound that can only be heard by others when you’re at max volume.

Never lose your keys again



Gifting someone who often loses their belongings? Apple’s Tile competitor, the AirTag, is a $25 tracking device that can locate keys, wallets, bags, whatever you decide to attach it to. Functionality wise, it does most, if not everything, that the infamous Tile does, but comes with some unique Apple quirks that will benefit iPhone users more than anyone else. An example is the AirTag’s integration with Apple’s Find My network, which privately crowdsources the location of yours and others’ tags. The battery is also replaceable which is very convenient. Snag a tag for $29 or a four-pack for $99.

Also: Jason Cirpriani reviews the Apple AirTags | Best AirTag accessories

For smartly lit ambiances



The Govee Flow Plus Smart LED light bars are an affordable gift suggestion for those who like fairy lights, lamps, and to create ambiance beyond typical ceiling lights. These LED bars can be controlled through a mobile device or voice assistant for different colors and brightness, best used for movie or gaming sessions.

Also: All things smart home at ZDNet


Sounds good, bud



Affordable, secure, and optimized for Android, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series are the wireless earbuds to buy if you’re shopping with a Benjamin. A penny short of a $100, these are among the best in this price range. They sound excellent, have a pain-free fit — thanks to the rubberized ear wings — and charge comfortably in the included case.

Also: Best wireless earbuds 2021

A gift of unlimited massages



After all that has happened the past almost-two years, I think we can all use a warm and soothing massage. The neck and back massager from Nekteck makes for a fantastic gift, especially if your recipient works from the office chair all day. Underneath the durable fabric are rollers that rotate in clockwise motions, kneading all the tights spots around your neck, back, shoulders, and legs.

Kindle the hearts of bookwarms



While a decent tablet or e-reader can cost hundreds of dollars, a slightly older model or one with less storage can still be a valuable gift for those who enjoy reading — whether at home or while traveling. Over at Target, you can pick up an 8GB Amazon Kindle for a budget-friendly price, containing a front light, e-ink screen technology, and battery life that can last weeks with judicious use.

Also: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2021) review: A classic e-reader made modern

Hard photocopies, instantly



The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 camera is a fun and colorful gift, perfect if you’re planning any gatherings this holiday. Pulling inspiration from old Polaroids, the Instax Mini 11 is a sturdy camera with auto exposure, a selfie mode, and flash, and is able to print photos immediately after you say ‘Cheese’.

Also: Best cameras of 2021: Top picks for shutterbugs

A smart stocking stuffer



A cute little smart speaker with Google voice assistant baked in, the Nest mini makes for a fun addition to a college dorm, lounge, or office space. The speaker can be used to control smart home accessories including lighting and security products and can also be used to tap into Google searches, stream content, and manage your daily calendar.

Also: Best smart speakers in 2021

Get your binge on



The Roku Express is a simple and cheap streaming option, potentially of particular value to kids and students. This streaming stick plugs into the back of a television set via HDMI and allows users to access a range of free channels and services including Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu.

Also: Best streaming devices of 2021

How did we choose these products?

With affordability top in our minds, we chose products that would not only fill up a stocking or that would be fun ideas for Secret Santa, but also items that are suitable — and budget-friendly — as larger gifts.