Our annual gift guide is back, and today we’ll be looking at four of our favorite tech gifts for under $100. We’ll also be putting out guides for gifts between $100-199, and for over $200. We’re featuring a lot of great devices to get your smart homes started. Note that we’re using the suggested retail prices; you can search the Internet for better deals, especially during the holidays. It’s also good to note that some smart devices, like thermostats, might also be eligible for rebates through your utility or insurance companies – check their websites for more information.
- Jackery Bolt, $69.99. Chosen by the Wirecutter as their favorite USB battery pack, the Bolt is a great choice for on-the-go charging for your phone. It features both microUSB and Lightning cords, and the cords are attached so you don’t even have to worry about carrying both the battery pack and the cord. It charges quickly and is small and lightweight.
- Google Chromecast, $35. The Chromecast is a streaming media player for your TV. There are several competitors in the streaming device space, and we like the Chromecast for its ease-of-use, compatibility with almost any phone or computer, and for its integration with the new Google Home (a product we’ll feature in the $100-199 guide). It’s small enough to tuck behind your TV, and it’s portable so that you can bring it with you to use for presentations on any TV with an HDMI port. We use one in the lab all the time to cast from YouTube and Google Slideshow from our laptops.
- Amazon Echo Dot, $49.99. We recommended the Amazon Echo last year in our $100-199 guide, and we love its little sister the Dot. The Dot is a voice assistant powered by Amazon’s Alexa. To bring the size and cost down, Amazon has taken out the large speaker from the Echo, but if you want better quality sound, you can hook up any bluetooth speaker to the Dot. Alexa is learning new things all the time, both with more product support (such as a variety of lights, thermostats, and more) as well as a robust set of skills (voice controls).
- Philips Hue White Starter Kit, $69.99. Another recommended product from last year was the Philips Hue starter kit, which retails for around $200. If you want to start switching to smart lighting for less, and don’t need colored bulbs, this $70 kit is an great start. The kit comes with 2 bulbs and the Hue hub, and is compatible with any Hue bulb (there are even some third party bulbs that will work with Hue – check for a “Friends of Hue” sticker on those bulbs). The Hue system works with all the major smart home hubs like Wink and SmartThings, as well as with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit.