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Tech Stocking Stuffers 2017: Gadgets Under $50

December 20, 2017, 7:25 PM UTC
A man dressed up as Santa Claus is surro
A man dressed up as Santa Claus is surrounded by local children giving him their Christmas wish lists as he arrives at the Santa Claus post office in the Eastern German town of Himmelpfort (Heaven's Gate) on November 10, 2011. Children can send their Christmas wish lists to Himmelpfort from around the world and receive a reply from Santa. In 2010, the post office here received 285.000 letters in 17 languages. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by John MacDougall — AFP/Getty Images

Stocking stuffers can be the hardest gifts to buy. Go too cheap and they’re likely to be discarded before the decorations are put away. Pay too much and your ‘big’ gift may seem small. That’s especially true with gadgets.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of smaller tech gifts that not only fit in a stocking, but also fit in your budget. Time’s running out, though, so you’ll need to act fast.

Pixie ($30) – Tired of losing your keys? Can’t ever remember where you put your wallet? While Tile is the most popular locator attachment for many people, Pixie offers an alternate option. Rather than sounding an alarm to help you find a lost item, Pixie uses augmented reality via your phone to locate them. It will walk you to whatever’s missing, giving you exact measurements (down to the inch) on how far it is from you.

Roku Streaming Stick ($50) – There are cheaper Roku options, but the Streaming Stick is the company’s most fully-featured offering and costs just a few dollars more than its cousins. It’s tiny and offers loads of services (including streaming from your phone) and has an easy to navigate interface. More importantly, it’s fast. Loaded with a quad-core processor, it lets you jump in and out of services with minimal delay. The one downside? It doesn’t support 4K content. If that’s high on your list of priorities, the Amazon Fire TV is a better option.

Valve Steam Link ($50) – PC gamers have a wealth of title options available to them via the Steam digital distribution system, but they’ve largely been forced to play at their desks. Steam Link solves that problem, letting you stream any Steam game on your PC to a large-screen TV. You’ll be better able to appreciate the beauty of favor games – and there’s no noticeable lag. It’s a gift any gamer will appreciate.

Luminoodle Bias Lighting ($20) – If you keep a living room light on as you watch TV at night, it can cause an onscreen glare that’s distracting and annoying. This strip of LED lights attaches to the back of your set, plugs into your TV’s USB port and provides a pleasant ambient lighting effect that actually enhances your viewing experience. Eye strain is reduced and the picture quality seems slightly improved. And when you’re finished for the night, the lights turn on and off automatically with your set.

Anker Premium 5-Port 60W USB Wall Charger ($50) – Inevitably, when friends come over, they’ll ask if they can charge their phone (or other device) at your place while you spend time together. Problem is: Short of connecting them to your PC, there are usually a limited number of USB plugs. This charger quickly refills batteries and can handle multiple devices. And the USB-C PD (power delivery) port will let you recharge a laptop as well. It’s an especially useful gift for road warriors.