July 13th, 2017 | Updated on March 4th, 2019
There are a lot of tech accessories out there. Some enhance the functionality of your current hardware, while others just complement it. You know that great feeling you get when you buy something and it blows away your expectations? That’s the tingle of value and sometimes you can get it from products that carry a modest price tag.
From streaming set-top boxes to augmented reality laser tag to smartphone solar chargers, this list is chock full of the best accessories in a wide group of categories, and each one is $50 or less.
1. A flash drive
The cloud is getting more reliable, but using it to move large files around still requires a very fast internet connection, so it still pays to keep a flash drive handy. This drive from SanDisk should be perfect for most day-to-day tasks.
Get it from Amazon for $20.30
2. An external hard drive
Flash drives are great for smaller files, but it pays to have a local backup. Should anything happen to your computer’s internal hard drive, it’s nice to know that your data is safe.
External Hard Drive, $45.99, available at Amazon
3. A USB hub with micro and regular SD card readers
A hub with a twist! USB hubs have become a fairly standard accessory, but Cateck ups the ante a little by including a micro and regular SD card reader alongside the three USB 3.0 ports.
USB Hub, $19.99, available at Amazon
4. A Bluetooth keyboard
I’ve used Anker’s Bluetooth keyboards for over a year, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are light, compact, easy to set up, and have pretty solid battery life.
Bluetooth Keyboard, $17.99, available at Amazon
5. An ergonomic keyboard
RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome can really hurt, and these conditions can be triggered by repetitive actions like typing.
Logitech Wave, $40.18, available on Amazon
6. A hard-shell laptop case
If you’re looking for a fairly no-frills way to protect any member of the MacBook family, then it’s worth considering these hard-shell cases from Mosiso.
Case, $12.99, available at Amazon
7. A pocket-size Bluetooth speaker
Don’t buy this mini speaker if you’re looking for booming bass and audiophile sound — there are plenty of other products to recommend if that’s what you’re after.
Bluetooth Speaker, $19.99, available at Amazon
8. A multi-port USB wall charger
If you’ve ever fought over who gets to use the phone charger, then this multi-port hub from Poweradd will solve that problem forever.
USB Wall Charger, $17.99, available at Amazon
9. A clip-on car phone mount
If you’re looking for a way to safely use Google Maps while driving, then it’s a good idea to invest in a way to mount your phone on the dashboard.
Car Phone Mount, $9.90, available at Amazon
10. A suction car phone mount
If you’re dead set on keeping your car’s air vents free of tech, consider buying a suction-based car mount. They’re light and fully adjustable, so you or other family members driving your car can get its positioning just right.
Vantrue Car Mount, $12.99, available at Amazon
11. Over-ear headphones
That people continue to rock the Koss PortaPro, despite it looking entirely like something that was sold alongside the Super Nintendo and Sony Walkman, is a testament to its quality.
Headphones, $39.95, available at Amazon
12. A Google Cardboard viewer
Want to dip your toe into the world of VR without shelling out hundreds of dollars? This Google Cardboard-compatible view from Minkanak should be perfect.
Google Cardboard, $9.95, available at Amazon
13. A laptop stand
There are a number of stands for those who want to elevate their laptop or use it with an external monitor, but inexpensive stands forsake a feature that this one doesn’t.
Laptop Stand, $19.99, available at Amazon
14. A guitar interface
I’ve used the a higher-end iRig product and have really come to love it for creating song demos quickly, and on the go.
iRig 2, $36.01, available at Amazon
15. A phone case
Like the MacBook case I recommended, this iPhone case is no-frills and comes with the same advantages and caveats.
Phone Case, $7.99, available at Amazon
16. An armband phone case
If you’d like to run outside while listening to music, then this armband case is a good bet.
Armband phone case, $5.99, available at Amazon
17. A laptop bag
Like it’s mouse, Amazon’s line of laptop bags won’t win any design awards, but its choice of function over form makes them a good budget option.
Laptop Bag, $14.99, available at Amazon
18. A battery phone case
If you want extra battery life but don’t feel like carrying a USB battery around, Anker has you covered.
Battery Case, $49.99, available at Amazon
19. An iPhone dock
Once you get used to docking your phone, there’s no going back.
Apple iPhone Dock, $49, available at Amazon
20. A luggage tracker
If you’ve ever lost a bag while traveling, you know how tedious and nerve-racking it is trying to get it back. Plus there’s the thought that it might never be found and your stuff will just end up in between-airport limbo.
Luggage Tracker, $39.99, available at Amazon
21. A selfie stick
For better or worse, selfie sticks have become a constant companion for many travelers. I’m recommending this one by Fugetek because people seem to like that it pairs with your phone via Bluetooth.
Selfie Stick, $19.95, available at Amazon
22. A streaming stick
Roku’s latest streaming stick got our recommendation recently for good reason. Performance is pretty consistent, and any lag was app dependent, not system wide.
Streaming Stick, $49.88, available at Amazon
23. Lightning and Micro USB cables
Everyone can use a spare charging cable, but with so many out there it can be hard to find one that works.
MicroUSB Cable, $5.99, available at Amazon
24. An enhanced MagSafe adapter
There are some Mac owners who think the MagSafe cable breaks away too easily. The NewerTech Snuglet aims to fix that — it’s a tiny metal ring that fits inside the MagSafe connector, strengthening its magnetic connection and making it so your cable doesn’t come undone after lighter movements.
MagSafe adapter, $14.50, available at Amazon.
25. A motion-sensing light
I’m recommending this motion-sensing light from Cleartonics because it runs on batteries and can be placed anywhere using a 3M strip. This allows you pick the perfect place in your hallway for a light source, instead of being beholden to an outlet.
Activated Sensor Night Light, $19.99, available at Amazon
26. Universal power adapters
Another device that attaches to Apple’s power adapter, the PlugBug World won’t save any space, but it makes things a little more functional.
Universal adapters, $44.95, available at Amazon.
27. A laptop stand
The Twelve South BookArc is a tidy, well-built stand for those who tend to connect their MacBooks to external desktop gear.
Laptop stand, $49.99, available at Amazon
28. A power block
If you’re looking for a super convenient multi-purpose plug, you’re in luck.
Power block, $11.49, available at Amazon
29. A NomadKey
The hangup with bringing a portable battery around is that you’ll need to carry a charging cable along with it. Something like the NomadKey lets you keep a USB 2.0 connector on your person
NomadKey, $23.98, available at Amazon.
30. A printer
Printers can be a pain in the butt, and with everything going digital, you might not think you need one. Even if you don’t use it often, having a printer, scanner, copier combo does come in handy.
Printer, $44.99, available at Amazon