Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Xmas gifts

Pickr 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Buying for budgets

Thinking of keeping the budget down? No worries, because here’s a list of ideas under the $150 mark.

We don’t all have heaps we can spend, so we’ve set an arbitrary target for our gift guide, maxing out at $150, because $100 was a touch limiting in some categories. You can still hit the $100 mark as a maximum, and we’re still catering mostly to that, but if you’re looking to keep prices down for technology, we have some options you may find useful.

Kids headphones: iFrogz Little Rockers

Emma wearing the iFrogz Little Rockers headphones

Price: $20-$60

Headphones for kids tend to run the gamut of prices from $20 all the way to $60, but they’re very similar regardless.

Bright colours and bright sound tend to be the go here, with volume limiting. JBL’s take on the category can cut the cords, but if you’re looking to save money Zagg’s iFrogz brand keeps the cord and brings in cute little additions to make the headphones more than colourful, but also costumes.

Dress your kids like a unicorn in their headphones or turn them into a dragon, or maybe even a robot. It’s a little bit more fun than your standard conventional headphone, and it’s volume limiting, too, so they shouldn’t drive too much sound.

Wireless earphones: Audiofly

Audiofly AF33W Mk2 review

Price: $30-$60

Wireless earphones are now well and truly in “affordable”, with some brands bigger than store house brands offering Bluetooth sound for below the $50 mark.

Australia’s Audiofly is one of them, and while we didn’t think much of this year’s AF33W, there’s an even less expensive model in the AF22W, which can be seen for as low as $30.

Across the low-cost category and typically regardless of the brand you choose — because there are quite a few — you can usually expect sound that’s either too bright (very treble-y) or overly bassy in this price range.

Wireless noise cancelling headphones: JBL Tune600

JBL Tune600BTNC reviewed

Price: $119-$150

Inexpensive headphones offering both wireless andnoise cancelling technologies tend to go over the $150 mark we’ve set for this guide, but aorund the holiday season, not all do.

We’re not sure if it’s a special at the moment, but the JBL Tune600 headphones we checked out earlier in the year are sitting under $120 in several places at the moment, and offer wireless and noise cancellation, as well as a fairly balanced approach to sound.

Read our review of the JBL Tune600BTNC…

Smart speakers: Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot (2019)

Price: $38-$60

Thinking a small smart speaker will do the job as a gift? Google’s tiny Google Home Mini can be found for under $40, and offers a speaker with a microphone you can command using just your voice. A newer model can be found for a little more, with the Nest Mini available for just under $60, bringing with it improvements to the bass.

Alternatively, there’s Amazon’s take on the category, the Echo Dot, which is very similar, but supports the Amazon smart assistant, Alexa.

Regardless of which you go for, both support Spotify and can be asked all manner of things, such as to tell you about the news, the weather, or to control some connected device in the home.

Smart home: LiFX and Philips smart lights

Price: $30-$150

Covering more or less the entire range we’re looking at for this $150 budget-friendly holiday gift guide, a smart light bulb could be a bright gift idea.

It’s a little on the strange side for a gift, sure, because buying a light bulb comes across a touch utilitarian, but once you factor in how you can control the light bulb with your phone or even voice, you might find that it’s a crazy idea worth bundling in together with the aforementioned smart speakers.

Both Philips and LiFX support Google’s Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so if you end up bundling a light bulb or two with one of the pint-sized smart speakers, they should play nicely once set up properly.

Robotics: Sphero Mini

Price: $80-100

Giving a gift to someone who wants to learn to code, or loves the idea of robotics?

The Sphero Mini is a pint-sized ball-shaped robot that can do just that, not just providing an app-controlled rolling ball, but also one that offers the building blocks of learning to code.

Tablets: Lenovo Tab E7

Lenovo E7

Price: $78-90

Thinking of grabbing a tablet for movies, music, and games?

Lenovo’s E7 is a budget-focused tablet you can find from office and electronics stores, and delivers the bare essentials for tablets in a low-cost package.

The specs aren’t mind blowing, but if you’re after a tablet on a budget, Lenovo’s E7 could be ideal. You’re not going to see this tablet doing the most amazing things, and while it may handle the odd game, don’t expect it to be in use for the most demanding of titles.

However if you’re looking for a way to browse the web and watch a few videos on social, the Lenovo E7 should be good enough, especially for the price.

eReaders: Amazon Kindle 2019

Price: $118-$130

The least expensive of the Kindle range, the standard Kindle reader gets in a touchscreen electronic ink display with front lighting, and a good 42 days of battery life.

Amazon’s screen on the standard Kindle isn’t quite as high-end as other Kindle models, but it’s still plenty good for reading a good book, which is kind of the point.

Gaming: Sega Mega Drive Mini

Sega Mega Drive Mini

Price: $109-$140

You won’t necessarily find this one at every store, but a search around shows a conversion of Sega’s classic console with 42 games and two controllers available for a little over a hundred bucks.

While modern games are indeed higher res, the excellent Mega Drive (Genesis in America) helped shape video games in the 90s, and provided some great titles, many of which are included here. Sonic, Ecco, Earthworm Jim, Comix Zone, Wonder Boy, Columns, Vectorman, Alex Kidd, and Space Harrier 2 all make appearances here, and it will plug right into your TV with HDMI, too.

Fitness trackers: Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 3

Price: $128-$150

Thinking of giving a gift that encourages a bit of a healthy start for the new year?

The Fitbit Charge 3 offers a rough week of battery life, alongside water resistance and heart rate monitoring. It can double as a smartwatch and tell you when you have notifications, and it’s one of the nicer wearables that doesn’t feature the size of a smartwatch you can find today.

Read our Fitbit Charge 3 review…

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