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Inexpensive gifts: Best tech and gadgets for under $100

Here are ZDNet's top picks for affordable, useful gadgets and tech accessories that would make great gifts this year.

Christmas is fast approaching, and due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many of us will be tightening our belts this year.

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However, you don't need to spend a fortune over 2020's holiday season while gift-giving, with the huge range of tech gadgets and accessories on the market  -- ranging from smart home devices to gadgets that make working from home slightly easier -- that come in at an affordable price.

 Below, we've compiled our best picks to make the hunt for gifts over Christmas easier. 

Echo Dot with Clock (fourth-gen) and Amazon Smart plug

Make your home smarter with Alexa

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Smart, intelligent homes are now firmly established and an entryway to enter this field is a home hub, such as the Amazon Echo Dot. In light of a demand for more affordable Internet of Things (IoT) home gadgets, vendors including Amazon have now rolled out smaller versions of their flagship products, and the fourth-generation Echo Dot is one of them. 

The Echo Dot is a compact speaker with an inbuilt clock and voice assistant functions -- allowing users to conduct online searches, ask for the weather or news, and much more -- as well as control other IoT devices, such as smart lighting. This product also comes bundled with an Amazon Smart plug.

$69 at Amazon

Google Home Mini

Make your home smarter with Assistant

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An alternative option, if Amazon's IoT ecosystem isn't what you are looking for, is the Google Home Mini. This home hub sports similar functions including the Google voice assistant, the ability to control IoT devices, check your schedule, and call friends and family.

Ring Stick Up Cam

Home security peace of mind

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If you're looking for a gift related to smart homes that can also bolster security, Ring's stick up cam is an affordable option. Suitable for use in or outdoors, the camera connects to a mobile device and monitors an area for any suspicious activity in real-time. If motion is detected, an alert is sent to the user, who can then access their camera to see what is happening. This device comes with a 1080p camera and night vision.

$99 at BestBuy

Bestek vertical cube, power strip, and USB outlet extender

Makes working from home easier

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A stocking filler for Christmas 2020 is the Bestek vertical cube, a smart device suitable for home offices. The cube is an outlet extender containing three outlets and extra USB ports which can be mounted to a wall, fixed to a surface using glue, or can simply be placed on a desk. It is important to note, however, that the cube will not work with devices requiring over 15W.

$26 at Amazon

Satechi Type-C Pro Hub adapter with Ethernet

Best for Mac users, home office workers

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While many of us rely on Apple Mac laptops now we are working from home, the restrictions on different kinds of ports can be frustrating. A gift idea this year that won't break the bank and will be useful to WFH users is Satechi's Mac adapter, an accessory for adding expansion ports including a Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.0 ports, and a microSD card slot.

$99 at Satechi

Anker PowerCore 26800 portable charger

For those on the road who need an extra boost

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A useful stocking filler for those who often need an extra power boost -- whether due to working on the road, travel, or festivals -- is the Anker PowerCore 26800. This slimline portable charger packs a 26800mAh battery and three USB ports for rapid mobile device charging.

$59 at Amazon

Fitbit Inspire 2 fitness tracker

For fitness enthusiasts, healthy lifestyles

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An affordable gift this year for those who are either fitness enthusiasts or would like to start leading a healthier lifestyle is the Fitbit Inspire 2. This fitness tracker, available in three colors, connects to a user's smartphone and is able to track activity levels, sleep patterns, heart rate, and more. 

$99 at Best Buy

Jabra Elite 65t wireless earbuds

An audio upgrade

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Over the past few years, wireless earbuds have disrupted the traditional headphone market in a big way. While it's always handy to have a case to hand to stop them from going missing, the advantage of these kinds of headphones is their portability and lack of wires -- and the Jabra Elite 65t is no exception. These stylish wireless earbuds would make a great gift this year as they not only pack up to five hours of use but also contain a built-in microphone for hands-free calls.  

$99 at Best Buy

AirPods Pro leather case

For wireless earbud users

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If the intended recipient is anything like me and is constantly losing one-of-two earbuds, a stylish gift that can be used to pack them away safely is Elago's leather case. 

Designed for the AirPods Pro, this compact case is a way to keep those expensive earbuds safe and could be a great stocking filler this year. 

$34 at Elago

VonShef electric grillI

Upgrade your home cooking

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Now the weather is turning and social gatherings are restricted in many countries, a way to bring the barbeque inside is the VonShef electric grill. Something foodies will enjoy, this gadget is portable and can be used to cook everything from meat to vegetables. It is a way to make meals a bit healthier, too.

$62 at Amazon

My Arcade Namco Museum mini retro arcade

For retro game lovers

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Fans of old, classic games will love the Namco Museum mini retro arcade system, an affordable 10-inch arcade cabinet. In total, 20 Bandai-Namco titles, such as Pac-Man, Sky Kid, and Galaxian are included. This gadget, containing a removable joystick, also comes with inbuilt speakers and a headphone jack. 

$69 at Target

Shiatsu Deluxe neck and shoulder massager

Stress relief

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Over at Best Buy, Christmas gift hunters can pick up a Shiatsu Deluxe neck and shoulder massager, a heated cushion that fits snugly around your neck and shoulders for instant relief for tired muscles. When many of us are sitting at a PC all day now in our home offices due to the WFH movement, this massager is a thoughtful gift -- and one that will likely have a lot of use.

$99 at Best Buy

Godefa phone camera lens kit

For mobile photography enthusiasts

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Godefa's phone camera lens kit is a budget-friendly pack of lenses that will appeal to mobile photography enthusiasts. On offer for only $25.99, the kit contains 14 lenses ranging from telephoto and fisheye to various macro, as well as a set of colored filters. To finish off the kit, the vendor has included a selfie ring light, universal clip, and a carry case. 

$25 at Amazon

Need more gift ideas?

Check out our ZDNet Recommends directory or Holiday Gifts hub for some more inspiration. 

Our sister sites also have the following gift guides: 

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