12 Useful Gifts Under $50
A tight budget doesn't mean you need to fill stockings with a funny coffee mug, socks, or an impersonal $25 Amazon gift card. Here are a dozen cool new gadgets for less than 50 bucks each.
Beats Bluetooth earbuds without the Beats price
Wait, you can buy Beats earphones for less than $50? Believe it or not, the new around-the-neck Beats Flex are, well, shockingly cheap. Just like other Beats and Apple AirPod buds, the Beats Flex auto pairs with an Apple device simply by turning them both on and holding them close together. And, you can listen to music from one device with a friend who also has Beats or AirPods.
The Beats Flex weighs next to nothing at just 0.66 ounces – you'll hardly know they're around your neck. When not in your ears, the tips magnetically cling together on your chest. You get four different sized tips to get a good noise-isolating seal, they'll play for 12 hours on a single charge, and they're available in black, gray, yellow, and baby blue.
Price: $49.99 on BeatsbyDre
Take smart lighting outside with this smart outdoor outlet
Does your loved one take great pride in their expansive holiday light display? With the Belkin Wemo WiFi Outdoor Smart Plug, they can control the show while nestled warmly indoors near your crackling yule log. The plug is dual grounded for safety and weather-resistance (IP44). The Wemo WiFi plug can pair with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit for voice control. They can also set a customized schedule via smartphone or smart speaker for whatever they plug into it.
A portable blender for smoothies anytime, anywhere
Why wait to get home to enjoy a smoothie, frozen latte, slushy, or protein shake when this battery-powered portable blender can whip one up on-the-go in 30 seconds? The second-gen BlendJet 2 is an upgrade on the original with offset stainless steel blades that can blast and pulverize ingredients at 275 times a second and doubles as a food processor. The BlendJet 2's 16-ounce jar holds a third more than the original and now includes measurement markings. An LED illuminates to clearly indicate mode (blend, pulse, or lock) and you can make 15 foods on a single USB charge. The BlendJet 2 comes in 16 pastel colors, and you can add an insulated tote ($29.95) or pouch ($19.95) to carry the BlendJet 2 and ingredients.
Price: $49.95 on BlendJet
Get a grip and show off your phone with this stylish, clear iPhone case
There is an astounding number of stylish, practical, and protective cases available for the varying iPhone models (we featured 21 of them just for iPhone 12). But after carefully choosing a stylish phone, why hide it in a case? This Grip2ü Boost iPhone case is clear, so you can see what you paid for. Plus, it includes a small kickstand so you can video view hands-free and a replaceable hand strap so you can hold on to your expensive smartphone investment (additional band start at $5.99 on PreventtheDrop, check price on Amazon). The iPhone 12 Boost case is coated with the company's Clean Action Technology antimicrobial protection that claims to reduce 99.99% of bacteria and combats odor, mold, and viruses, including the common flu. Best of all, the Boost is military-spec drop-tested just in case you lose your grip.
Stylish charging, without the messy cords
If someone on your gift list owns two devices that support wireless charging – say a smartphone and wireless earbuds or smartwatch – they'll love the beautifully-designed iOttie iON Wireless Duo Stand + Pad, which charges two devices simultaneously. The iON Wireless Duo Stand + Pad charges at 10 watts through its 65-degree-angled fabric-covered stand, which is meant for smartphones. And, the stand charges at 5 watts through the flat pad, which is best suited to accessories like headphones and watches, though can also charge smartphones at a slower rate. The Duo is available in light gray or navy blue.
Extra storage for your smartphone whenever you need it
Need to off-load some photos from your smartphone to free up memory or transfer files from your PC to a mobile device? The Kingston DataTraveler Duo memory thumb drive, available in either 32 or 64GB capacities, has a standard USB-A connector on one end and a USB-C jack at the other to facilitate file exchanges between your computing gadgets. Sliding caps protect the stick's connectors when you're toting it around. There's also Western Digital's iXpand Mini Flash Drive For Your iPhone that's available in 32, 64, 128, or 256GB.
A bottle cap that sanitizes water (and water bottles)
To ensure the H2O that flows past your loved one's lips is as pure and healthy as possible, swap out the cap on wide-mouth water bottles for the Klear Self Cleaning Cap. This innovative cap claims to kill 99.9999% of bacteria, germs, and viruses using a 275 nanometer UV-C light, which hospitals deploy to sanitize instruments. The cap purifies water in a couple of minutes when you double-tap the top. The Klear cap is designed to fit 95% of wide-mouth bottles, regardless of size, and includes a swing handle. Also, the battery is long-lasting: a single magnetic USB battery recharge powers 25 cleaning cycles.
Light up the dark with this bright rechargeable headlamp
If someone on your list loves camping or home improvement, they know the value of a quality flashlight. For times when they want or need to be hands-free, a good headlamp is the best choice. With the Ledlenser MH5 headlamp, you get from a low-level 20 lumens to a super-bright 400 lumens of light that can be angled up and down and adjusted from a tight beam to a wide spotlight. It runs on an included rechargeable AA lithium cell (or a regular disposable AA battery) for four hours at its brightest setting and up to 35 hours at the lowest setting. The MH5 is IP54 weather-resistant, so it's perfect for lighting your way on dark and stormy nights and can be detached from the headband and clipped to clothing. The MH5 comes in black, green and blue, and carries a hefty 7-year warranty.
A mobile charging kit that works with (almost) everything
Otterbox's Mobile Charging Kit has your loved one covered for all of their mobile charging needs. It comes with a 3-1 cable – USB to Lightning, USB mini, or USB-C – to charge any portable gadget that may need a recharge at some point. Even though it's a slim 3.64 x 2.48 x 0.50 inches, it packs 5,000 mAh (good for nearly two full iPhone charges). And since it's from OtterBox, it's designed to be durable for outdoor use and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Price: $34.95 on Otterbox
A portable air cleaner the gives you fresher air in small spaces
It's hard enough to be trapped indoors. With winter upon us, we'll soon be trapped indoors with all the windows closed, sharing our enclosed space with all those indoor odors, allergens, and particles produced by dust, cleaning sprays, cooking, pets, and more. The Sharper Image Portable Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter removes 99.97% of small particles, according to the company. Better yet, it's portable – around the size of a water bottle – and is powered by a simple USB cable. So, it can be placed wherever needed, including a car cup holder if that pine tree freshener hanging from the mirror isn't quite cutting it.
Price: $39.99 (check price on Amazon)
A flattering light that lets you look your best for Zoom calls
It's hard to get the lighting right for video calls. You'll often see faces with a ghastly glow, half in shadow, or even completely dark. The FeiYen Light for Video Conference Light will help your loved one put their best face forward. The tiny light mounts via suction cup to the back of their laptop and swivels and tilts to provide up to 10 watts of light exactly where needed. The color temperature of the light can also be adjusted to provide warm or cool white light. The light runs on a rechargeable battery and recharges via microUSB.
Price: $44.99 (check price on Amazon)
A smart clock with a simple design and a sophisticated brain
Lenovo's Smart Clock Essential delivers just what's needed to get their day started the right way. The clock has the look of a retro-style clock radio, complete with a LED display, but is powered by Google Assistant. The 4-inch display shows time, alarms, day of the week, temperature, and weather conditions, and, of course, you have full access to Google Assistant for upcoming appointments, top news, and more. The clock's body is wrapped in a textured gray fabric, and there's a 3-watt speaker for playing music. If they like to snooze, smacking the top of the clock will earn them a few more minutes of sleep.
[Image credit: Beats by Dr. Dre, Belkin, BlendJet, FeiYen, iOttie, Kingston, Lenovo, OtterBox, Stewart Wolpin/Techlicious]