We're in the home stretch of the holiday gift buying season. Is all your shopping done? For those of you on a budget -- and who isn't? -- we've selected some of the very best tech you can buy without breaking the bank.
Here are 15 gadgets, gizmos, and other tech you can buy from the comfort of your own home (online!) — from stocking stuffers to practical items.
The next best thing in tech is on the verge of hitting mainstream. This time next year, drones could be about as popular as the iPhone. At very least, they have the potential.
This entry-level drone, the Parrot MiniDrone, costs less than $100, and hooks up with your existing smartphone or tablet. It's smart, it's stable, and it's easy to use. It's camera grabs pictures at 640x480 pixels from over 30 feet — making a near-endless array of aerial shots possible.
For its price comes a cost, though, in that the batteries run for about 5-8 minutes per 90 minute charge. But for hobbyists and amateur drone pilots, it's a great start (and won't break the bank).
Small, compact, waterproof. What more do you need in a compact camera? The GoPro Hero won't break the bank, and it won't bog you down in unnecessary features.
For those who need the amateur point-and-click experience while venturing into adventure, the Hero will be your best by-your-side companion. It's light — including with its waterproof and mountable housing, packs a microSD slot and mini-USB connection, and that's... it. What else do you need?
With video options of 1080p at 30 frames per second (fps), and 720p at 60fps, it can also take 5-megapixel still photos. It may not sing or dance for your buck, but for what you spend it does the job well.
Cord-cutters, unite, as the shift towards streaming-based television, music, and movie content comes to our living rooms. But out of the big names — Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, just to name a few — which should you pick?
There's no easy answer, but the answer is "one at least." Each device streams various services with no one outpowering or shining above the other. Take your time to work out what you have subscriptions to (that work with your various streaming set-top boxes) and run with it. What's clear is that in his day and age, with one-click streaming of your favorite shows and movies, you can't be without one of these boxes in your home.
Price: from $35 to $99
CNET Review: Which streamer should you buy?
For those branching into the "smart-home" scene, here's one that will tingle your techy taste buds. Belkin's WeMo LED Lighting Starter Kit is exactly what it says on the box. It's your first foot in the door with mobile-controlled home lighting.
The starter pack comes with two bulbs that you can control with your iPhone or Android device, with a $30 price-point on each top-up bulb. The takeaway is that you can set every light in your home with your mobile device, whether you are there or not. Why? Not only can you adjust the color of your rooms, you can set the off-switch on timer, fade and dim the lights, and that's without from moving from your chair.
The bulbs are bright, efficient, and now that they're here (production delays set back the release date) they are the most cost-efficient smart home starter kit on the market. Above it all, if you want to get into the smart home space, here's your best way-in.
For your first foray into the smart watch scene, look no further than the Pebble Watch.
Smart watches have been growing in popularity (even though they are still in their infancy) over the past year. With the Apple Watch landing in early-2015, expect to see even more hype around this relatively new space. The Pebble Watch is an entry-level watch at a low price. You may want to wait out for the Apple Watch, but with months before its release getting into the smart watch spirit is easy with this app-laden wearable.
The watch works on both Android and iOS devices, and comes with its own app store.
At $99, you're not going to get a better, more durable tablet for the battery life and display resolution. Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 6 is one of the best tablets on the market in its own right — but especially for families.
Packed with features and strong technology, the display resolution alone is dazzling, and the battery will last most of the day, thanks to its SmartSuspend power saver. For travelers, the Fire HD 6 will easily last a transatlantic flight, and will keep the kids entertained. It's light, easy to use, and connects with your Amazon cloud-stored content. And, it comes with the latest Fire OS updates which include multiple user profiles and Amazon's own app store.
If you're looking for a tried and tested pair of headphones that won't break the bank, Sony's thirty-year-old over-the-ear headphones may be your match.
Sister-site CNET said you won't get a better pair of headphones for less than $100. The audio quality is balanced and crisp, and remain a favorite for those who work in the audio industry. Their design has barely changed in their three decade history. This pair is comfortable when wearing them for long periods. The cord also comes with an in-line microphone for phone calls.
Fitbit's smallest activity tracker is one of its best. It's a no frills, no hassle clippable button that can attach to clothing or drop in your pocket for accurate step-tracking and calorie burn monitoring.
It's simple to use with its one-tap monochrome block-style display, and syncs with a range of different mobile devices. It lacks certain functions but if you're after a simple pedometer for your busy walking lifestyle, this is all you need. In most markets, it's the price of a round of drinks for your office pals. And it's app syncs with My Fitness Pal and other activity tracking apps for accurate health monitoring.
An iPhone charger that clips to your keys. What more could you possible want in a dire battery crisis? Currently available for Apple devices — Android is on the way — the ChargeKey is small, light, and works with any USB connection. Plug in your iPhone to the port and you're instantly on your way back to full charge.
The bendable rubber casing makes it splash-resistant and durable in situations where you might sit on your keys (who hasn't?). It's a stocking stuffer you'll look back on and wonder how you ever lived without it.
There's no doubt Apple and Samsung's latest phones offer sharp, clear, and strong images from their cameras. But for professional photographers, there's nearly always a temptation to leave their digital SLR cameras at home in favor of their smartphone — to avoid lugging around their equipment.
Moment's lenses artfully expand the angle ranges allowing more light on and overall better pictures. They're light and swappable across platforms — they work on iPhones, Samsung Galaxy and Google Nexus devices — and they are design-wise attractive to use. (Nobody wants a lens case that adds unnecessary bulk and weight to their device.)
The outcome of the pictures are notably different. More depth, greater width, and a capable zoom with certain lenses. In an instant you can turn your smartphone into a fully-fledged digital camera.
Price: from $99.99
CNET Review:Moment Lenses (for iPhone, Android)
Perhaps the best external Bluetooth keyboard for one of (if not) the best tablets on the market. The Belkin Qode case is perfect for typing long documents or emails without the heft and weight of a traditional keyboard.
Thanks to its in-built stand, you can put your iPad Air at multiple viewing angles. The stand comes with magnetic autoconnecting Bluetooth pairing that snaps into gear as soon as you dock your iPad — a feature rarely seen on other keyboard cases. It's a pleasure to type on, and won't break the bank at less than $80 in good retailers.
If you're looking for a smart-casual but easy to carry and storage-heavy messenger bag, you've found it. Same if you're looking for something you can carry in one hand.
The Samsonite Colombian Leather Toploader comes with tons of storage, zippers to protect your valuables, and dedicated pockets for your phone and a laptop (up to 15.6-inches). It also fits onto roller luggage for easy carrying at the airport. It's leather, so it'll last a while, and it's padded to protect your valuables.
Have you ever just needed to charge — well, everything? Tylt's Energi 10K stands out among the crowd as it can charge a smartphone four times, or feed power to three devices simultaneously. It charges from a standard micro-USB cable, making it nearly universally possible to charge the power-juice box up. And, it looks stylish and isn't heavy to carry around.
Need a set of compact, stylish Bluetooth speakers that can power a party and withstand a rain shower? With 15 hours of battery power for continuous playback, it may be pricey but it offers a great deal for your buck.
It can blast out strong and clear audio, from speech and music alike. It's said to be more powerful and durable than the Jawbone Jambox and other portable speakers. And, if you get a second speaker, you can create a wireless pair of stereo speakers using the app.
And last (but most certainly not least), coffee — every nerd and geek's favorite vice. As one of the top-rated coffee makers on the market, the Bunn Velocity Brew BT may be a mouthful to say, but its coffee is like no other.
Four words: quick pot of coffee. It'll blast out a pot of your favorite black stuff in just minutes. It may not be the best looking coffee maker around, but it's reliable and simple to use. A display isn't necessary, nor are the rest of the frills you might get on more flashy devices. It brews masterful coffee first-and-foremost without any pomp or fanfare. It does its job, and does it well.