Starting cheap and going up

Written by on December 14, 2020


Two reader questions got here within the different day.

► What inexpensive tech presents would you choose as a stocking stuffer below $50?

► And for those who (me, Jefferson Graham) had $200 to spend, what cool tech stuff would you purchase?

Nicely, I’ve obtained the solutions. Plus, one bonus reward merchandise for $449, for those who’re prepared to stretch the funds. And you probably have a grand in your pocket, I’ve obtained one thing there for you too. 

However let’s begin low-cost.

As a result of actually, you do not have to spend a whole lot of {dollars} on nice tech presents. There are a lot of, many choices out there for below $100 – and for those who really feel like splurging, that is superb, we have concepts there as properly. 


Nobody wants additional socks or an unpleasant sweater. However take it from me, all of us want extra room to suit the ever-growing measurement of AC adapters. So probably the most helpful reward you possibly can ever purchase for somebody with an abundance of tech merchandise could be a handy-dandy, tremendous sized surge protector, with as a lot actual property as potential.

I like this $25 mannequin from Belkin, as a result of I am sick of giant-sized system plugs that hog half of your strip and go away little room for others. There are 12 shops right here, and even for those who could not match the whole lot in there, you will nonetheless get in additional than on most strips, which have your shops in a straight line. And there is a surge protector as properly.


If in case you have an iPhone, you already know the drill. The Apple nag message that tells you that you just’re out of room. As a result of you may have too many high-resolution photographs and movies in your telephone. So I like the SanDisk iXpand solution. It is a $44 128 GB flash drive that connects to the iPhone Lightning port and an iPhone app, and strikes the pictures to the drive. Then while you’re executed, you entry the opposite aspect of the drive, which has conventional USB, and join it to your pc to repeat and backup the media.


We’re dwelling in a 2020 Zoom world the place we’re on video conferences all day lengthy, and we might actually, actually prefer to look higher. Manner higher. Lighting has so much to do with it. Many individuals went out and acquired low-cost ring lights this 12 months which are just a little awkward to put and simply do not look that nice. So, I like the LumeCube Video Conference light, which snaps simply onto the again of a laptop computer, has an adjustable dimmer for the sunshine, and a diffusion panel to melt the sunshine. 


This 12 months I turned enthralled with the thought of ditching the soundbar, and all these wires, and using Bluetooth speakers as my TV sound. Soundbars are superb, however the audio comes from the opposite aspect of the room. Two little TV audio system, by the mattress, works nice for me. Maybe you may have two Amazon Echo gadgets mendacity round the home. You may use these, or go all new, with two Echo Dots, that are vacation priced at $30. You may want an Amazon accent to pair them to a wise TV. Amazon’s Hearth TV Stick sells for $19, with out a lot of a distant, or $29.99, with a distant that may regulate the quantity of your set – or make that, your good speaker. (In order for you larger audio system, two common Echo gadgets will run you $120.) The Apple various, by the best way, are two HomePod Minis, which promote for $99 a chunk, and should be paired with the Apple TV set-top field, which sells for $149 and $179. Google’s Nest Audio audio system are additionally $99 a chunk and may connect with a TV with Bluetooth, however will not reply to voice instructions. 


Facebook Portal Mini. One other Zoom offshoot. The Portal initially was Fb’s self-contained unit for video chat on Messenger. This 12 months, it expanded to permit Zoom calls as properly, which is why it is on our listing. A devoted system, at all times in the identical place, set-up and prepared for calls, is a superb concept, particularly for the scholar in your life, who then can use their laptop computer extra effectively for note-taking. The Portal Mini, with an eight inch display screen, is the bottom priced Portal. In the meantime, Fb has competitors. Each Google, which makes the Nest Hub Max, and Amazon, which sells the Echo Present show gadgets, said they would be adding Zoom support this 12 months as properly, however as of this writing, have but to get to it to most of the people. (Google did announce a closed beta take a look at that began Monday, however hasn’t mentioned when it would roll out absolutely.) DTEN has a tool out there, but it surely’s far more costly at $599. Fb has bigger Portal items for $179 and $279. It additionally has a Portal for TV, which ought to have Zoom performance, however does not.  


There’s nothing new right here. Apple’s AirPods Pro have been launched in October, 2019, and shortly turned the best-selling headphone on the planet. As they need to be. The sound is unimaginable. This 12 months, the unique value of $249 has been minimize to $199, and a few retailers had Black Friday pricing of $169. Notice: Apple has new over-the-ear headphones, AirPods Max, and so they promote for a hefty $549.


This amazing drone from DJI takes you out of the funds class, till you understand that DJI’s prime of the road unit sells for over $1,000. The Mini II, which is concerning the measurement of a smartphone, has larger decision than final 12 months’s model, and flies like a attraction. It is sufficiently small to tote with you each you go, and is really easy to make use of. Nice for somebody simply getting their ft moist with drones. 

And what is the one new 2020 system I might need?

(Come on readers, you already know the reply!)

It is the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is geared in direction of a digital camera nerd like myself, with the best, longest range zoom of any iPhone, the most important display screen at a whopping 6.7 inches, larger pixels and, properly, does the rest matter? 

The 20-65 mm zoom on the 12 Professional Max (up from 20-52 mm on the 12 Professional) is like having a professional DSLR in your pocket that you may take with you all over the place. In lots of instances, the standard will not be pretty much as good as a digital camera, which has larger decision and may cease motion sooner. However not at all times. And is your Canon or Nikon in your pocket?

Readers, what’s in your listing? I might love to listen to your choices. Drop me a line at Twitter, the place I am @jeffersongraham

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