The 8 Best Tech Gifts to Buy in 2018 for Under $50

You don't have to spend a lot of money on a thoughtful present

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Buying a tech gift is hard enough at the best of the times, but what about when you're on a budget? Finding anything worthwhile for under fifty bucks can seem like an impossible task, but it doesn't have to be. A few companies are making a name for themselves by offering useful, high-quality electronics at a price that won't break the bank.

We've sorted through the wasteland of low-quality electronics to find the gear and gadgets truly worth buying. There's an elegant charging solution for the home, and a way of avoiding that dreaded low battery warning anywhere. We also have a perfect beginner's quadcopter drone, a high-tech camp stove, and plenty of other great, inexpensive options whether your gift is for him or her. These are the best tech gifts under $50 to buy today.

Our Top Picks

Best Battery: Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Battery

Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Battery
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If you know a person unhappy with their phone's battery life (in other words, almost everyone), this Anker portable battery is the perfect gift.

The large 13000mAh capacity of this Powercore model means even the most recent smartphones can be fully charged multiple times from a gadget smaller than the average wallet. Fast-charging support is included, at up to three amps, while the 2A input means the battery itself won't take forever to charge back up either.

It's not limited to charging smartphones — it'll work for most USB-powered devices smaller than a laptop, including tablet computers, Bluetooth headphones and plenty more, just by plugging in whichever charging cable is required. Dual USB ports means two devices can be powered at the same time, which a nice touch.

It's an inexpensive, reliable way of making battery concerns a thing of the past.

Best Tablet: Fire 7 Tablet

Tablet computers come in all shapes and sizes, but for a while now the best budget model has been offered by Amazon. For under $50, the Fire 7 is a surprisingly useful device to have around the house, whether it’s for reading on the sofa, looking up recipes at meal times or watching a favorite show in the evening.

Amazon’s Alexa service is built in, so the tablet can answer spoken questions, make video calls (there’s a camera on the front for that purpose) or control smart devices such as light bulbs, thermostats and much more.

The lightweight device has a bright screen, up to eight hours of battery life and a microSD slot for adding extra storage up to 256GB. That last part is particularly useful when traveling since it means dozens of movies and shows can be download for watching on the plane.

Best for the Outdoorsy Types: BioLite CookStove

It's not always easy to find inexpensive yet useful gifts for lovers of the outdoors, but the Biolite Cookstove is an exception. This small wood-burning stove has a battery-powered fan attached to the side, which can be set to one of four speeds to help circulate air through the stove for better combustion and efficiency.

The stove can make use of twigs, pinecones and other biomass, or standard wood pellets, and can boil water in under five minutes on the highest setting. The battery lasts up to 30 hours depending on fan speed and can be charged from a portable battery or any other USB power source. Four LED lights on the side give an indication of how much juice is left.

Whether it's being used for making coffee, cooking dinner or staying warm once the sun has gone down, the CookStove is ideal for any tech-lover heading into the outdoors.

Best Charger: Anker PowerPort+ USB-C 5-Port 60W USB Wall Charger

If the sight of endless changing cables hanging out of power sockets is driving you nuts, this USB wall charger will be a gift for both you and the recipient.

The PowerPort+ has five USB sockets — four standard ports with PowerIQ for charging multiple high-draw devices at the same time, plus a port with Power Delivery (PD) that can power recent Macbooks and other laptops that charge over USB-C.

It's a simple but effective way of eliminating cord clutter, especially since the PowerPort+ comes with an adhesive strip for attaching it to the side of or underneath a desk. Just plug the included power cable into a single wall socket and you've got a neat little self-contained system for charging almost any USB gadget you can get your hands on, quickly and easily. 

Best Drone: SYMA Mysterystone X5C-1 Quadcopter Drone

Radio-controlled drones are great fun and can take incredible video, but until recently, cost a few hundred dollars for even a basic model. Prices have fallen dramatically, however, and it’s now possible to pick up a low-end drone for under fifty dollars.

The SYMA X5C-1 doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of premium versions, but as a way of getting started with flying (and not crashing!) a drone and recording the experience, it can’t be beaten.

This small drone is easy to handle, even in windy conditions, and comes with a transmitter, spare battery, SD card and reader, plus extra blades in case they break or wear out. Flight time is around eight minutes per battery, and the X5C-1 is durable enough to handle a few “heavy landings” without being destroyed.

Best for Cord Cutters: Amazon Fire TV Stick

There's no easier or cheaper way to turn a traditional television into a smart TV than by adding a small streaming stick from one of the major manufacturers.

Google, Roku and Amazon all make tiny devices that plug into any TV with an HDMI port, but it's the latter that's arguably the best, especially if you're buying for someone with an Amazon Prime subscription.

The Fire TV Stick, as it's called, lets you use an app or the bundled remote to search nearly 200 providers for the show you're after. It's easy to access over half a million movies and TV episodes from companies such as Netflix and HBO, as well as YouTube, websites such as Facebook and Reddit and much more.

Prime subscribers get access to Prime Video and Prime Music through the stick, and anyone can use the remote to control Alexa with their voice. Finding out tomorrow's weather or watching the latest Game of Thrones episode has never been so easy.

Best Light Bulb: TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi LED Light Bulb

If the idea of turning down the lights without having to get off the sofa sounds appealing, take a look at TP-Link's Kasa smart bulb.

It's controllable via Google, Microsoft, or Amazon's voice assistants (including the Fire TV stick mentioned above), but it also works with the company's iOS or Android app. Once it's connected to the home Wi-Fi network, just a few words or taps on a screen turns the light on or off, manually changes the brightness or switches to a pre-existing setting.

Unlike other smart bulbs, it doesn't require expensive hubs or other hardware to get started, and screws straight into most fittings.

Available in 50W and 60W-equivalent versions, in soft white, daytime or multicolored, it's the perfect way to get started with smart lighting and connected homes without spending a fortune.

Best Speaker: Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

While many inexpensive Bluetooth speakers sound terrible, the Anker Soundcore 2’s dual drivers put out 12W of bass-boosted stereo sound for an enjoyable, and surprisingly loud, listening experience.

Battery life is impressive, with up to 24 hours of non-stop music. In practical terms, that means most people won’t need to charge it up more than once a week.

Anker made the speaker appropriate for outdoor use as well, with rugged construction and dust and water-resistance. You won't want to take it in the pool with you, but a few splashes or a bit of sand won't bother it at all.  

Easy to set up and available in a small range of colors, with a better-than-usual 18-month warranty, the Soundcore 2 is a great, inexpensive gift option for almost anyone.