Good news for tech lovers during these challenging times: You do not have to break the bank to pick up some great gear.
Whether you’re looking for ways to keep the family entertained during the coronavirus crisis, or to help you to remain or become even more productive while working from home, there’s no shortage of affordable – yet high-quality – tech gadgetry that fits the bill.
So consider the following suggestions some of the “best bang for your buck” products for under $100 each. Each one may not be the top-of-the-line device in their respective category, but they do offer a huge value proposition.
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Amazon’s new tablet
Available for preorder and available June 3, Amazon’s all-new Fire HD 8 (from $89) features an 8-inch high-definition display, two cameras, twice the storage of the previous model (starting at 32 gigabytes and up to 1 terabyte with a microSD card), and 30% faster with the new 2.0 GHz quad-core processor.
In the battery department, Amazon says you can expect up to 12 hours, plus Fire HD 8 now supports USB-C for easier charging.
Along with hundreds of thousands of apps, you’ve got support for the Alexa personal assistant and access to the optional $119/year Amazon Prime service, for millions of movies, TV shows, books, and songs, and shopping discounts and perks.
Extend your Wi-Fi
Is there anything more frustrating than “dead zones” in your home, which prevent you from getting fast and reliable Wi-Fi for your favorite devices? If you answered yes, you might consider the Netgear AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender – Essentials Edition ($39).
As its name suggests, this small doohickey extends the range of any existing wireless router. Simply plug it into the wall and press the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button, and the same button on the back of your router, to initiate the digital handshake.
This dual-band product (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) is ideal for spreading your Wi-Fi (up to 750 megabits per second) to the basement, upstairs, or outdoor areas.
There’s also an Ethernet (wired) jack if you prefer to plug in a device, such as a video game console, streaming media player, or desktop computer.
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A thrifty tracker from Fitbit
Even if budgets are tight, you can pick up a great-looking and fully functional wearable fitness device for the spring.
Available for $99, Fitbit Inspire HR is a sleek activity and sleep tracker designed to help you stay motivated and informed. The high-tech bracelet captures exercise information – such as steps taken, distance traveled, estimated calories burned, and heart rate – and shows the info on the watch or wirelessly on a companion app.
Other features include 5-day-plus battery life, personalized clock faces (and support for many optional bands), smartphone notifications (such as texts and calls), and more.
A smart SanDisk backup drive
Own an iPhone or iPad? Easily and quickly back up your important photos and videos by snapping the SanDisk iXpand Mini Flash Drive into the Lightning port of your device, and it automatically backs-up your camera roll – just in case your phone or tablet is lost, stolen, or damaged.
On the other end of this flash drive is a USB 3.0 connector, which means you can plug it into a computer (PC, Mac) or television to view your photos and videos. You have an option to password-protect this flash drive, too.
Prices start at $22 for the 32GB version and go up to $78 for the 256GB model.
As a bonus, if you’re running out of room on your iPhone or iPad, you can keep the iXpand Mini Flash Drive plugged in to capture photos and videos directly onto the drive. Or watch videos straight from the drive itself.
Roku’s dream streamer
Turn a regular TV into a smart TV. This is the premise behind the inexpensive Roku Streaming Stick+ ($49.99).
Simply plug this small stick into the back or side of your television (HDMI cable included), join your Wi-Fi, and then use the included voice remote (or optional Roku app) to stream hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes – in up to 4K quality with High Dynamic Range (HDR) for exceptional contrast, brightness and color (providing your television supports these technologies).
Access many popular services, including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, HBO Now, and Apple TV+, to name a few, as well as free content via The Roku Channel and Tubi TV.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at https://marcsaltzman.com/podcasts.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus upgrades: These sub-$100 gadgets can improve work, play