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Need Last Minute Tech Inspired Gift Ideas on a Budget? CNET's Executive Editor Has it Covered

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These Questions originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answers by John Falcone, Executive Editor at, on Quora.

A: Headphones, wireless speakers and video streamers are my go-to choices for young people, and there are some great choices in the sub-$50 range.

Beyond that: game consoles, fitness bands and, of course, new smartphones are great gifts, too.


Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120: Because everyone needs a spare pair of earbuds. These are about $10, and they sound good for the price. Best holiday tech gifts available for under $25

Skullcandy Grind Wireless headphones: These $90 headphones are one of our favorite wireless models in the sub-$100 range. Skullcandy Grind Wireless headphone review: One of the best Bluetooth headphones for less than $100

Jaybird X3 ($130): This is a top-notch wireless headphone, and it's been selling for as low as $100 during the holiday shopping season. If you see it at that price, buy it -- it's an awesome deal. Jaybird X3 review: Improved design and performance make this a top wireless sports headphone

Bose SoundSport Wireless: Bose's most affordable ($150) wireless headphones are among the most comfortable models we've ever tested. Bose SoundSport Wireless review: The best overall in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone to date


Divoom Voombox Travel 3: Similar to the Logitech, but it's splashproof as well. Also about $20. Divoom Travel 3 review: You won't get a better micro Bluetooth speaker for $20

Google Chromecast Audio: For $35, this little puck turns anything with an "aux in" port into a great audio streamer. Chromecast Audio review: Easily link your phone to your audio system for less

Amazon Echo Dot: Whether you're using it as a hands-free kitchen timer or to control your Nest thermostat and Hue smart lighting, this $50 smart speaker is a great introduction to smart home technology. It's a decent wireless speaker, too, but you can connect it to a bigger stereo for better sound. Amazon Echo Dot is the future, for fifty bucks.

JBL Clip 2: For $50-60, this waterproof wireless speaker sounds great and travels well. (I bought this one for myself a few weeks ago.)

UE Roll 2: This $100 wireless speaker is a bit larger and than the tiny JBL, and it's waterproof, too. (I got the original Roll as a gift for my brother last year, and he loves it.) UE Roll 2 review: A great waterproof wireless speaker gets even better.

Bose SoundLink Color II: For a bit more than the Roll, this Bose delivers great sound (and is also water-resistant). Bose SoundLink Color II review: Small in stature, big on sound.


Roku Streaming Stick: The best overall video streamer for the price. This $50 streamer gets the most channels and it works with any HDTV.

Amazon Fire TV Stick: A good alternative to the Roku, this one costs less ($40) and has Alexa voice support built into the remote.

Apple TV: It costs 3 to 4 times as much as the entry-level Roku and Amazon models, but the $150 Apple TV box delivers a more upscale, refined streaming video experience.


If you've got deeper pockets, a new Xbox or PS4 ($250 each) works, too.


At this point, Fitbit and Apple Watch are the two best choices here. The Apple Watch Series 1 is fine if the gift recipient isn't a hardcore swimmer or runner.


And no millennial would be disappointed by a new phone. These are the best phones of 2016:


But for last-minute gifts, you can't go wrong with a gift card, either. Just make sure you're choosing a retailer (or digital treasure trove) that they actually like and use. (Don't get a Google Play gift card for an iPhone user, or an iTunes gift card for an Android user, for instance.) Last-minute gift ideas.


A: There are a handful of headphones, wireless speakers and handy accessories I'd recommend.

Logitech X100 wireless speaker: This Bluetooth model is discontinued, but still widely available for under $20.

Divoom Voombox Travel 3: Similar to the Logitech, but it's splashproof as well. Also about $20.

Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120: Because everyone needs a spare pair of earbuds. These are about $10, and they sound good for the price.

Anker PowerPort 2 24W Dual USB Wall Charger: With 2 USB ports, this $11 charger can charge your phone *and* a second accessory (wireless headphones, wireless speaker, etc.) simultaneously.

LaCie Petite Key USB drive: A USB drive that fits on your keychain. The $15 one costs only about $15.

AmazonBasics Bluetooth Audio Receiver: Turn any old stereo or boombox into a wireless receiver for a smartphone or tablet for just $20.


A: My top pick for a family gaming system would be the NES Classic retro console, which includes 30 classic 1980s Nintendo games for just $60. The problem? It's almost impossible to find right now.

The Nintendo Wii U is also a great choice for families, but it's on its way out. That's because Nintendo's all-new game console, the Switch, is coming in March 2017. (Of course, no kid wants to get a 90-day IOU in his/her stocking on Christmas morning.) Wii U review: A fun system for kids, but you should probably wait for the Switch, Nintendo Switch: What we know so far.

So: NES Classic is tough to find, Wii U is going away and Switch isn't here yet. What to do?

I'd go for a Nintendo 2DS handheld. It's just $80, and it includes a Mario Kart game. So it's pretty much ready to play right out of the box. (Well, after you download the game, anyway.) You can also buy new and used 2DS/3DS cartridges at GameStop and elsewhere: The no-frills 2DS is great for kids and cheaper than ever.

The 3DS XL plays all the same games as the 2DS, and has a more practical clamshell design -- but it costs more than twice as much: The New Nintendo 3DS XL almost nails it.

Otherwise, you can choose between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S. They are both great game consoles and cheaper than ever before ($250 with at least one game). But they both have extensive catalogs of M-rated games (equivalent to an R rating on movies). Steer clear of those and be sure to pick up more family-friendly titles (cE, E, E 10+ or T) -- plenty are available. For instance, the Xbox One is available bundled with Minecraft. That's a perfect kid-friendly game (rated E 10+).

While these 2016 versions of the Xbox One and PS4 are "new," they are mostly identical to the older models. So there's no need to get one of these if a family already has an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. But if you're replacing an Xbox 360 or PlayStation *3,* this is the perfect time to take the plunge.

Xbox 360 owners should definitely go for Xbox One because many of the 360 games now work with that console. Unfortunately, the same isn't true for PS3 owners upgrading to PS4.

Both of these units double as great video streamers and DVD/Blu-ray players, too. In fact, the Xbox One S plays 4K Blu-rays, too (if you have a 4K TV).

Game ratings explained: ESRB Ratings.

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