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The best tech gifts under $100

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Shopping for someone special this holiday season, but don’t have a lot of cash to blow on the latest and greatest gadgets? No worries. You can buy plenty of tech gifts for $100 or less — from streaming boxes to smart home assistants — which will make your loved ones smile.

Roku Ultra and Amazon Fire TV

The Roku Ultra lets you stream all the 4K HDR content you want.

If you’ve got a TV addict on your shopping list, you can either get them the help they so need, or feed their destructive habit of binging shows by getting them either the $99 Roku Ultra, on sale for $89, or the $69 Amazon Fire TV, on sale for $54. Both devices can stream 4K, HDR content — which is great if you’ve got a compatible TV. They both also feature voice recognition technology, so you don’t have to navigate multiple menus to access your favorite content.

Amazon’s Fire TV also lets you stream HDR, 4K content, but doesn’t offer apps like YouTube or Google Movies and TV.

The Roku Ultra costs more than the Fire TV, but its biggest benefit is that it carries more channels than its competitors. What’s more, Roku (ROKU) doesn’t compete with Amazon or Google for content, so it won’t get involved in the kind of back and forth childishness that saw Google pull YouTube from Amazon devices and Amazon pull Google devices from its store.

Fitbit Alta

Fitbit (FIT) is synonymous with fitness trackers. So if someone you love is looking for a device to help them get into shape, the Fitbit Alta is a great choice. Normally available for $129, the Alta is on sale for $99 through Dec. 20. The company is also selling its Fitbit Flex 2 for $59.

The Fitbit Flex 2 provides you with notifications via its display.

Both gadgets will track your activity ranging from your sleeping habits to the number of steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned. The main difference between the two is that the Alta has a small display that provides you with smartphone notifications and your activity levels. The Flex 2 has four LEDs to alert you to notifications.

The Fitbit Alta is slimmer and less expensive than the Flex, but only provides notifications via its 4 LEDs.

Just do me one favor: Only buy one of these for someone who has asked for a fitness tracker. Giving someone an unsolicited tracker is the equivalent of telling them they’re out of shape and calling it a gift. Don’t be that person.  

Video games

With ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ Nintendo not only reinvented a franchise, but produced one of its best games ever.

Got a gamer you’re shopping for? Then you’re in luck, because not only was 2017 one of the best years for gamers thanks to an endless number of fantastic titles, but each one can be had for $60 or less. It’s always best to ask a gamer what games she already owns and what her favorite genre is, to make sure you get the right title that’ll make her disappear for the next month.

Not sure what games are available this year? Well lucky you, we’ve got an entire list of the 12 best games of 2017, including our choice for game of the year, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

PS4, and Xbox One controller

You can snag controllers for the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch for less than $100.

Okay, so your gamer already has all of the games he wanted this year. Fear not, because everyone could always use another controller in their stable. I’ve got two controllers each for my PS4 and Xbox One X, and they’re dying constantly. A third controller in the rotation might make things just a bit easier.

Controllers for the PS4 range in price from $40 to $65 depending on the color and the retailer. Xbox One controllers, meanwhile, cost between $40 and $69. If your gamer got a Nintendo Switch for the holidays, then you’ll need to shell out a bit more for a new controller. A set of Joy-Cons costs $79 nearly everywhere you go. Add a Joy-Con Grip and that’s another $14. That’s $93 for a controller. Or you could opt for the Pro controller and you’ll pay about $69.

Mophie charger case

The Mophie charging case is perfect for the person who can’t seem to keep their phone charged.

We’ve all got someone in our lives who runs through their phone’s battery at a disturbingly fast rate. What are they doing to drain their phone? It’s probably best you don’t ask. Either way, if you’re looking for a way to help them keep their phone up and running, Mophie’s Charge Force case could be the way to go.

Available for a variety of handsets ranging from the Samsung Galaxy S8 to the iPhone SE, the Force costs anywhere between $99 and $49 depending on the model your loved one owns.

Google Home and Amazon Echo

Know someone who loves Google? Then the Home will let them take that love to strange new levels.

Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Home and Amazon’s (AMZN) Echo are sure to be huge hits this holiday season, so chances are you’ll end up buying one for someone in your life. The Home is perfect for the person who’s willingly allowed themselves to be subsumed by Google’s ecosystem, while the Echo is great for anyone who has an unnatural compulsion to shop while their hands are otherwise occupied.

The Home usually goes for $129, but Google is offering it for $79 through Dec. 31. The Echo 2nd-generation, meanwhile, normally costs $99, but is also on sale for $79. So, if you want to add a voice to your friend’s home besides the one they say tells them to steal things, the Home or Echo are great options.

Daydream View

Google’s Daydream View is one of the least expensive ways to get into virtual reality.

Want to give someone the gift of virtual reality? Then I hope you really love that person, because you’re going to need some deep pockets to drop them into a virtual world this holiday season. Unless, that is, they’ve got an Android phone compatible with Google’s Daydream software. That’s because Daydream, Google’s VR platform, can run on your Android smartphone without the need for a PC or game console via the company’s $99 Daydream View headset.

Samsung’s Gear VR offers similar functionality and works with Facebook’s Oculus software, but costs $129. Plus, you can only use the Gear VR with Samsung smartphones. The Daydream View works with phones ranging from the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S8 to the LG V30 and Asus ZenFone AR.

1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones

The Triple Driver headphones have received praised for their excellent sound quality.

Music fans are hard to shop for. You’ve got to ask them what bands or artists they like, what their favorite genre is, if Beyonce “slays” or “kills” — it’s all just too much. So instead of bothering with any of that, buy them a pair of headphones. The 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones are recommended by a slew of audio experts who know far more about sound quality than I do. Heck, I still use the headphones that came with my phone four years ago. And lucky for you, the 1More headphones are available for $99.

JBL Flip 4, waterproof charges your phone, decent sound

The JBL Flip 4 lets you rock out by the pool without having to worry if your speaker takes a dip.

Portable speakers are a great way to add ambience to a party or just fill the silence during lulls in conversations. So if you want to save your loved one from the occasional episode of minor social awkwardness, but don’t want to break the bank, the JBL Flip 4 is a heck of an option.

Bluetooth compatible, waterproof and packing 12 hours of battery life, the Flip 4 will only set you back $79, rather than the normal sale price of $99.

SNES Classic

If you can find the SNES Classic, then you’d better buy it.

I’m not going to lie to you — this one might be a bit hard to get. But if you can find the right store or happen to be on the right website at the right time, you could score one of Nintendo’s (NTDOY) SNES Classic systems. Fuel your favorite person’s nostalgia addiction with games like “Super Mario World,” “Donkey Kong Country,” “Star Fox,” “Earthbound” and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.”

For $79, the SNES Classic is a heck of a deal, but Nintendo’s limited supplies have made it difficult to find. So if you can get one, grab it right away. Besides, who am I to say anything if you happen to knock down an old woman as you dive head first for the last console? No one. That’s who.

Kindle E-reader/ Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is one of Amazon’s best e-readers yet.

It might sound strange, but someone you’re shopping for this year might like to read in their spare time. I know, it’s a crazy world. If that’s the case, your best bet for them might be Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. On sale for $99, the Kindle Paperwhite usually costs $119 and features a built-in backlight so your friend can read even in the dark. If $99 is too rich for your blood, you can grab the regular Kindle, which is available for $59.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.