Best Tech Gifts Under $150

Mary Beth Quirk

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Trying to bring some holiday cheer to that gadget lover in your life? You don’t need to spend a fortune. These tech gift ideas—headphones, speakers, streaming media players, a fitness tracker, a printer, and a tablet—all earn high marks in the tests in Consumer Reports’ labs, and they can all be found for $150 or less. Each product listed here will make for a great gift, so we’ve organized them by category to help you find the right option.

Need more holiday inspiration? Check out some of our other gift guides: Top Gifts Under $50Best White Elephant Gifts for Under $35, and Top Tech Gifts for Under $100.

Go to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Fitbit Charge 3

CR’s take: The Fitbit Charge 3 is a great general-purpose device, especially for people new to these kinds of products. It gets high test scores in key categories and works in concert with Fitbit’s app to let you track your fitness progress over time, as well as compete against family members and friends in fitness challenges. There’s no built-in GPS, though. Claimed battery life: seven days.


For more options: Best Fitness Trackers

Garmin Forerunner 35

CR’s take: While technically a fitness tracker, this model offers more of a watchlike feel. You get a 1.3-inch monochrome display that shows you your step count and real-time heart rate. The Forerunner 35 has a built-in GPS and a claimed battery life of nine days, and it made good on its water-resistance claim of 164 feet. In our testing, it received top marks for heart-rate-tracking and step-count accuracy, as well as for being easy to use.


For more options: Best Fitness Trackers

Monoprice BT-300ANC

CR’s take: This over-ear wireless model from Monoprice is usually available for around $50, a steal given its superb noise-canceling performance and above-average sound quality. The BT-300ANC features integrated controls for calls, volume, and playback, and the ear cups fold in for easy storage and transport. According to Monoprice, the battery will run for 8 hours between charges with both Bluetooth and noise-canceling turned on. (CR doesn’t test battery life in headphones.) You can keep the music going even longer by switching off Bluetooth and using the detachable audio cable, which is included.


For more options: Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Budget

Sony WI-SP600N

This wireless model from Sony is a decent choice for the more critical listener for both music and movie soundtrack playback. The WI-SP600N operates for up to 6 hours and features a quick-charge function, which provides 60 minutes of playback after 15 minutes of charging, according to Sony. It’s advertised as water-resistant, it has an integrated button to toggle an ambient sound monitoring mode, and a free app adds functionality, like optional EQ settings. It features near field communication (NFC) Bluetooth pairing and is compatible with Siri and Google Assistant.


For more options: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones to Buy Right Now

Amazon Echo Buds

CR’s take: Amazon's Echo Buds have many of the same benefits of Apple's new noise-canceling AirPods Pro, but they're a lot cheaper. The Echo buds come with noise-canceling technology designed in collaboration with Bose, and feature hands-free integration with Alexa. Amazon claims the Echo Buds have 5 hours’ worth of battery life, and the included case has a built-in battery that will recharge the headphones four times on the go (CR doesn't test battery life in headphones). With a Very Good rating for sound quality and superb noise reduction, they're a decent choice for the more critical listener for both music and movie soundtrack playback.

For more options: Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Budget

Grado Prestige SR80e

CR’s take: The Grado Prestige SR80e is a perennial favorite among music fans looking for a bargain on top-notch sound. For the price, the SR80e’s outstanding audio quality is hard to beat. These on-ear home/studio-style headphones are built for the audio-focused listener, with a fairly large profile and a long, sturdy cable that limits their portability. Their open-back ear cups—a design choice intended to create an uncongested soundstage—aren’t meant to block sound from bleeding in and out, so they’re best for a quiet environment where you won’t bother any neighbors.


For more options: Best Headphones Under $200

1MORE E1001 Triple Driver

CR’s take: These small, sleek 1MORE E1001 Triple Driver earphones have an earplug-like design that limits extraneous noise, and they deliver Excellent sound, beating out models that cost hundreds more. The audio cable has inline volume and smartphone controls with an integrated microphone. To ensure a proper fit, the device comes with nine pairs of earpieces in various sizes and types.


For more options: Best Headphones for Every Activity

Samsung Galaxy Buds

CR’s take: The Samsung Galaxy Buds are one of the best-scoring portable Bluetooth headphones Consumer Reports has ever tested, beating out more popular rivals like the Apple AirPods. That’s all the more impressive given their true wireless design. The Galaxy Buds produce exemplary audio quality packed into a pair of unobtrusive earpieces, complete with easy-to use touch controls for playback, volume, and skipping tracks. According to Samsung, they have a 6-hour battery life and come with a powered carrying case that will recharge the earphones for up to 7 additional hours of playback on the go. The case itself can be charged with a wireless charging mat, and it’s particularly small compared with the cases that come with many true wireless models.

For more options: Best Headphones Under $200

Amazon Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen)

CR’s take: This is the updated version of the 4K-ready Fire TV Cube, essentially a mashup of two of Amazon’s popular Alexa-powered devices—the Fire TV streaming player and the Echo Dot smart speaker. Like its predecessor, the Fire TV Cube adds an interesting element into the mix: universal remote-control capability. Compared with the first generation, the new model adds a more powerful processor, a faster response time, and Dolby Vision HDR. There are buttons on top of the unit to adjust the volume and mute the microphones, but the Cube is really all about voice control. The Fire TV Cube lets you control a host of other compatible A/V gear, including TVs, sound bars, receivers, and even some cable and satellite boxes.

For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices

Roku Ultra - 2019

CR’s take: Roku’s flagship streaming player got a slight refresh earlier this year; the updated version offers some enhancements, including faster performance, thanks to smart caching of popular streaming services to launch channels faster. It also has new programmable shortcut buttons on the enhanced voice remote and includes a microSD card slot for adding more storage.


You still get the wide assortment of channels that make the Roku platform a top pick for many users, and Roku’s agnostic approach to search across multiple streaming services. Like its predecessor, the remote has a headphone jack for private listening, and a remote-finder button on the unit that causes the remote to beep if you misplace it. Like last year’s model, the new Ultra comes with JBL earbuds.


For more options: Best 4K Streaming Media Devices

Amazon Echo Plus (2nd Generation)

CR’s take: Amazon’s latest-generation Echo Plus pulls off a pretty neat trick. It’s smaller than its predecessor, but in a world where bigger generally means better sound quality, the newer, more petite Plus sounds significantly better. Some of the sonic improvement can be attributed to the new tone controls that allow you to tweak the speaker to match your listening room. But even if you’re a set-it-and-forget-it type, the Echo Plus is Amazon’s best-sounding screenless smart speaker, according to our testers.


For more options: Best Smart Speakers Under $200

Fluance Fi50

CR’s take: Sure, the faux-wood finish and retro design may remind you of grandpa’s Vista Cruiser station wagon from the 1970s. But performance-wise, the Fluance Fi50 is very much a creature of the 21st century. The enclosure of this hefty 13-pound speaker is made of MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, which is often used in kitchen cabinets and speaker cabinets of high-end models. The manufacturer claims that the material damps resonance and allows the twin 5-inch speakers to perform at their best. Our testers report that the Fi50 delivers very good sound quality and is easy to use. It features analog audio inputs, along with Bluetooth, an LCD display, and a remote. The Fi50 operates on AC power and is designed for indoor use.


For more options: Best Wireless Speakers Under $200

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5

CR’s take: Some portable speakers allow you to take them along because of their rechargeable batteries. Others, like the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 5, all but demand that you pick them up and go. The built-in handle helps, of course. But for all its visual impact, this Bluetooth speaker delivers sonically as well. Our testers like the way it reproduces bass and drums. The boomy bass, however, can overwhelm male voices and certain instruments just a bit. It’s also worth noting that unlike many similar speakers, the Onyx Studio 5 provides purely mono sound even when you pair it with another speaker.


For more options: Best Wireless Speakers Under $200

Amazon Fire HD 10 (32GB)

CR’s take: The Fire HD 10 is the highest-scoring Amazon tablet in our ratings. The 10-inch screen is bright and crisp, and has a wide viewing angle, meaning it’ll stay sharp even if you’re not looking at it straight on (which makes it ideal for watching movies and TV shows with multiple people). The screen is also ideal for reading. Comic book fans may especially be interested in the Fire HD 10 because it can display a single full page in almost the same size as the print original. Amazon owns Comixology, a digital retailer and subscription service with more than 100,000 comic books and graphic novels available for download. This tablet boasts an impressive battery life, too, delivering 11.1 hours for browsing the web or watching movies.

For more options: Best Tablets of 2019

Brother MFC-J895DW

CR’s take: This all-in-one inkjet printer sits near the top of our ratings, thanks in large part to outstanding versatility and high marks for text and graphics quality. The MFC-J895DW wastes very little ink to maintain the print heads, and based on our estimates of typical use, its yearly ink costs come to about $100—which falls in the lower range for an inkjet model. Features include scan and copy functions, an automatic document feeder, built-in faxing, WiFi networking, and wireless printing with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.

For more options: Great Printers for Under $150

Sony BDP-S3700

CR’s take: The BDP-S3700 Blu-ray player from Sony delivers excellent picture quality, as do all the models in our ratings. Compared with its pricier sibling, the Sony BDP-S6700, it lacks a few features, such as 4K upscaling and two-way Bluetooth. It does include screen mirroring, so you can display content from a compatible tablet, computer, or smartphone on your TV screen. It’s an internet-capable model with built-in WiFi for connecting to a home network, convenient if you don’t have a nearby Ethernet jack. The player has access to online content from several services.


For more options, check our buying guide and ratings for Blu-ray players.

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