12 Tech Gadgets for Grads Less Than $100
If you have a friend or family member getting ready to either head out to college or start looking for a job after graduation, you should give them the gift of an awesome tech gadget! You don’t even have to break your piggy bank to do it. There are plenty of gadgets under $100 that any recent graduate will absolutely love. To help you out, we have compiled our top 12 picks:
Just a buck under the limit, the Roku 3 is an absolute dream for any grad who’s into streaming video subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Due to the always-on feature, you will be streaming television shows and movies within seconds: a start-up process that’s significantly slower on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
The sheer volume of content that’s available on the device is ridiculous as well. It’s no wonder so many people are ditching expensive cable service for streaming Web video in the home theater.
In addition, the headphone jack in the remote control is perfect for high school grads going to college next fall. They can watch television without disturbing their roommate. You can check out our full review and read the stellar Amazon reviews here as well. The device retails for $99, but you can find deals in the $90 range.
Logitech Washable Keyboard K310
Keyboards simply get gross over time—usually covered with dust, hairs, skin particles, random food crumbs and the occasional splash of sticky soda. For Pete’s sake, a British microbiologist proved the typical keyboard is dirtier than a toilet!
While you can’t toss the K310 into your dishwasher, you can use mild soap and warm water as well as a soft rag to wipe away any messes. There’s also a brush on the back of the keyboard to scrub away anything else. The keyboard is scratch-resistant and the keys have been laser printed / UV coated to avoid wearing off over time. Take a look at the positive Amazon reviews to get an idea of how many people love this keyboard. It retails for $40, but can be found on sale between $20 and $30.
Western Digital My Passport 1TB Portable Hard Drive
Retailing for about $80 to $90 these days, this portable hard drive from Western Digital is ideal for backing up all of those torrents your college grad illegally downloaded off the Web using the university’s super-fast Internet connection.
With 1TB of space, a grad can easily offload all files from a laptop in order to preserve their digital life. He or she can also password protect these files in order to secure them for future use.
If your grad is using a newer laptop or desktop with USB 3.0, they will be able to take advantage of faster transfer speeds with the WD drive. However, it’s also compatible with USB 2.0 ports. The drive comes in a variety of colors including white, black, silver, red and blue. Prices vary based on the color. You can check Amazon reviews here.
Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank
Also ideal for grads who like to spend time hiking or camping, the Ambient Weather WR-111B includes a Digital AM/FM NOAA Weather Alert Radio, LED flashlight and, most importantly, a USB port for charging a smartphone or tablet.
The internal Lithium Ion battery inside the WR-111B can be charged a number of ways. Besides simply plugging it in, there’s a solar panel on top of the device and a hand crank generator on the side if you’re in an area where there simply is no power. Awesome for emergencies, the device retails for around $80 but sales can often be found in the $40 range. Check out the extremely positive Amazon reviews here.
JBL Flip Portable Bluetooth Speaker
There’s a ton of competition in the portable speaker market. While Jawbone’s Jambox is definitely popular, the JBL Flip is more than half the price and provides incredible sound for the size of the speaker.
The speaker includes two 40mm drivers with built-in bass port and lasts up to five hours on the internal Li-ion rechargeable battery.
This is an ideal gift for a grad who likes to listen to music and prefers an external speaker over a set of headphones. For anyone who’s using the JBL Flip with a smartphone, the speaker has an internal microphone for voice calls. It can also be used during video chat with software like Skype or Apple’s FaceTime. Available in white and black, the Flip retails for around $120, but it’s fairly easy to find deals in the $95 range. Check out the Amazon reviews here.
One Year of Netflix or Hulu Plus
If your graduate has had their nose in the books for the last four years, a subscription to Netflix will help them catch up on several seasons of both new and old television shows. While Netflix’s streaming movie content is somewhat sparse and limited, the sheer volume of television shows is phenomenal.
If your grad absolutely loves to watch the latest episodes of brand new shows and wants to chat about them at their new job, a Hulu Plus subscription will be more useful to them. While regular (free) Hulu offers access to most of the same content on the Web, Hulu Plus allows your grad to watch shows in the comfort of their own living room (assuming they don’t have a HTPC setup already). It’s unlikely that you will find deals on either service unless they’re specifically offering a special promotion. Here are links for both: Netflix Gift Subscriptions / Hulu Plus Gift Subscriptions.
Definitely a quirky gift, Whooz can be extremely useful for grads with tons of Apple hardware. Keeping track of those Apple power plugs can be a nightmare in a messy dorm room. It’s also easy to get them mixed up with identical adapters since so many students also have Apple gear.
Whooz are unique skins that wrap around Apple power chargers. Your grad can ditch the plain white look of the standard adapter and go with full color designs like red, yellow, black and blue.
They can also choose to skin their adapter with a silly face: for example, the mouth is the USB port. Designed for the iPhone and iPad, these vinyl identification labels sell in a four-pack for $13 and come with enough skins to also cover Apple earbuds and the USB charging cable. You can purchase Whooz here.
When away from home for the first time, it’s common to indulge in those campus meal plans as well as take advantage of all the fast food places seemingly too convenient to the dorm room.
The Fitbit One will help your grad keep track of calories burned throughout the day in addition to monitoring how well they sleep. It’s an excellent tool to help monitor health and strive for goals that will positively impact their body. All the data is fed into a dashboard that can be accessed on mobile or the Web.
In addition, users can share their progress with friends and family in order to provide extra motivation. It also works in conjunction with the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi scale in case they want to keep track of their weight on the dashboard, as well. Check out the excellent Amazon reviews here. The Fitbit One retails for $100, but deals can be found in the $60 to $90 range.
Securifi Almond Touchscreen Router
The router doesn’t need a computer to complete the setup process. The user only needs to follow the simple touchscreen instructions to set up their wireless network. Offering compatibility for 802.11 B/G/N, this router offers extremely fast connection speeds in addition to a long coverage range.
If your grad already has a router and complains about the range, the Securifi Almond can also be set up as a range extender, providing signal strength up to 300 feet. Check out the glowing Amazon reviews. The retail price point is $99, but you can often find deals in the $80 range. (By the way, keep an eye out for the Securifi Almond+ launching during the third quarter of 2013. Also at a $99 price point, it will offer compatibility for the 802.11ac standard—basically offering four times the speed of a Wireless N router.)
Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Headphones
While they really aren’t built for on-the-go mobile use, these cans sound absolutely phenomenal and block out lots of background noise in a typical dorm. They are also very comfortable to wear over several hours—ideal for long study periods.
In addition, the 11-foot cable provides a huge amount of flexibility in where they want to sit. For instance, it’s easy to sit on a bed while these are plugged into a sound system or television. Take a look at the amazing Amazon reviews for these cans. While the headphones retail for $120, you should be able to score a sale on these in the $35 to $45 range most of the time.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
Ideal for grads who enjoy creating YouTube videos or grads who simply want a high-quality camera when chatting with friends or family over Skype, the Logitech HD Pro C920 will deliver crisp 1080p video in a 16:9 widescreen format.
Providing 15MP resolution on images, the C920 is also perfect for taking pictures that are vastly superior to the cameras built into most laptops.
Other features of the camera include a Carl Zeiss glass lens, dual microphones for recording stereo audio, face tracking, a 20-step autofocus and a base that can be mounted on a tripod for more professional productions. Check out the positive Amazon reviews of the camera. The Logitech camera retails for $99, but you can usually find deals the $65 range.
Kindle 6-inch E-Ink Reader
While tablets often get all the attention, a classic e-reader is an awesome gift for a grad who likes to read and spend lots of time outside. It’s extremely light and easily pops into a backpack or large purse. Books download in less than a minute and the e-reader can hold about 1,000 books at any given time.
In addition, if your grad is an Amazon Prime member, they can download one book for free each month from the Amazon lending library. Most local libraries also have a Web portal these days that allow the public to download the Kindle version of books for free.
Amazon sells the Kindle in two versions, the $69 ad-supported version and the $89 ad-free version. The advertisements really aren’t that annoying, though. They are displayed on the face of the e-reader when the Kindle is powered down. Peruse the Amazon reviews for the product here.