Best holiday gifts under $50 for 2020 – CNET

Looking for some great gifts you can snag for under $50? You’ve come to the right place. In a holiday season where value is paramount, we’ve pulled together some early picks for top gifts between $30 and $50. We’ll be adding and updating to this list throughout October and the end of the year, as new products are released.

And speaking of new products, here are a few pro tips for early holiday shopping:

  • Prime Day starts October 13: Don’t buy now when you can wait just a few more days: Amazon’s big Prime Day sale is running October 13 and 14 this year, after being postponed from July. 
  • New Amazon Echo speakers: Amazon just unveiled new Echo speakers. While the cheapest model is a new Echo Dot starting at $50, prices on new (or older) Dot speakers could well dip below $30 during Prime Day or Black Friday sales. 
  • Google’s smart speakers get deep holiday discounts, too: Google’s equivalent to the Echo Dot, the Google Home Mini, has a list price of $49 but should also sink down to the $29 level during October and November sales. 

With those important caveats in place, let’s get to our picks.

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Tranya makes some of the best generic true wireless earbuds you’ll find on Amazon (yes, there are a lot of them). I like its earlier Rimor earbuds, but this new T10 model has some improvements that make it an excellent deal at less than $40. It not only has better battery life (it’s rated for eight hours) but better water resistance (IPX7 instead of IPX5), upgraded 12mm graphene drivers and the earbuds support AAC and AptX codecs. The case charges wirelessly and via USB-C.

Like most true-wireless earbuds from Chinese brands that sell through Amazon, these have a pretty generic look and feel, especially the case, and they may not fit all ears equally well — they do stick out a little. But if you get a tight seal they sound quite good, with potent, well-defined bass and good detail (for true wireless). They also work well as a headset for making calls, thanks to decent noise reduction that helps tamp down background noise so people can hear your voice better. 

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Tribit’s StormBox Micro lists slightly more than $50, but often dips below $50 (it’s currently $40 with an instant coupon on Amazon), so I’m including it on this list. It’s one of the best sounding pocket-sized Bluetooth speakers I’ve tested, with bigger bass and volume than most other tiny speakers. 

Aside from its great design, Bose’s SoundLink Micro stood out because it was able to deliver more bass than every Bluetooth speaker in its size class, and it also managed to have limited distortion at higher volumes. And it’s the Tribit’s bass and overall volume level for its tiny size that allows it to stand out. 

It’s IP67 dustproof and water-resistant (it can be fully submerged in shallow water for a short time) and has up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels with USB-C charging. Like the Bose, this Bluetooth speaker has an integrated strap so you can clip it to your backpack or bike’s handlebars. 

Read our Tribit StormBox Micro review.

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These days, it’s nearly impossible to get a TV without a bunch of “smart” streaming apps built-in. But that’s not true of older TVs, and even newer ones don’t have all the top new services, like Disney Plus. Enter the Roku Streaming Stick Plus: For under $50, this plug-in streamer will deliver most online video services you can think of — Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and hundreds more — at resolutions up to 4K for under $50. (The only major holdout is currently Warner’s HBO Max.) Oh, and the remote will control your TV’s power and volume, too. If you’re looking to give that old TV a new lease on life, this is the gadget to get.

Read our Roku Streaming Stick Plus review.

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The Sphero Mini, the app-enabled programmable robot ball, now comes in a version that looks like a soccer ball and even comes with mini cones. You can drive the Sphero yourself or program it to perform various maneuvers using easy coding commands in the app.

Read our Sphero Mini first take.

Amazon

Want something to really talk about at the coffee table? CNET editor Sharon Profis says this is “a go-to gift from me for coffee lovers.” She adds that it’s fun to give with half a pound of your favorite beans. This easy to clean item is a great gift idea for someone — including yourself — who likes a good cup of pour-over.

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For several years Gunnar Optiks has been making “computer glasses” designed to block blue light and help alleviate the eyestrain you get from staring at a display or a game for long periods. The glasses come in a variety of styles and a few different tints. The core models have an amber lens, anti-reflective coatings and slight magnification.

The Vertex (pictured here in both amber and clear tints) and Riot styles are priced at less than $50. You can add prescription lenses through the Gunnar website, but those RX packages cost more.

Read more: Do blue light blocking glasses actually work?

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Laptops? Check. Phones? Check. Tablets? Check. Nintendo Switch? Check. If you have a device that can charge via USB-C, this Aukey Omnia charger can juice it up. It can deliver a maximum of 100W of power, which means it’s a good choice even for high-end laptop like the MacBook Pro. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Logitech’s K380 has been around for a while, but it’s still a great keyboard for the money — perfect for computers, tablets and phones. You can find it for less than $30 online.

Read our Logitech K380 keyboard review.

For just $50, you can lay claim to a smart scale that pairs with your phone and Fitbit, and shows information like weight, BMI and body fat for up to four different family members.

Read our Fitbit Aria review.

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There are a lot of flashlights you can buy for under $50, but the Coast HP7 is one of the better ones we’ve tried. Relatively compact and rated at 530 lumens, it’s bright for its size and has an easy slide focus that lets you shape the beam from flood to spot, and then lock the beam into whatever shape you choose. The list price of the gadget is $60, but you can get it for just a tad above $50, so we’re sliding it in here. It’s powered by four AAA batteries (included).