The Verges 10 favorite gadgets that cost less than $50

 theverge.com  02/08/2021 15:03:39  2  Barbara Krasnoff

While most of us wouldnt say no to a $6,000 Apple Mac Pro or a $1,100 electric bike, sometimes its just as much fun to be gifted a low-cost gadget that is just fun or useful. It may not let you edit your latest video or take you to the store, but it will help your computing be easier, keep your tech clean, cook a healthy meal, or just make you smile.

We asked some of the staff at The Verge to tell us about stuff they like that costs less than $50. Weve divided their responses into two categories: tech gadgets and household items. Take a look.

Tech Gadgets

8BitDo M30 wireless controller

8BitDo M30
8BitDo M30
Photo: 8BitDo

8BitDo makes a lot of wireless gamepads. There are wireless NES pads, wireless Super Nintendo pads, even a wireless TurboGrafx pad. They come in Bluetooth varieties  great for pairing with your phone or computer, but with some inevitable latency  and a speedier 2.4GHz option if latency trumps flexibility in your book. But out of all these possible flavor combos, my favorite 8BitDo controller is the Sega Genesis-themed M30, which uses Bluetooth. I use it on my laptop for 2D platformers, I use it on my Android phone, and on the Analogue Mega SG it was sold alongside. But the place I use it the most is my MiSTer FPGA console. Cycling through games from the Atari up to the Neo Geo, theres very little the M30 isnt beautifully suited for. And at $30, its a no-brainer for any retro gaming fan. Christopher Grant, SVP, The Verge and Polygon

Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds

Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds
Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds
Photo: Panasonic

These are my favorite ultra-cheap wired headphones. If you just need some headphones to listen to music off your computer or take Zoom calls, theyll do the job just fine. Sure, they arent the greatest-sounding headphones in the world  but theyre $15 as I write this, and they sound good enough at that price. And because theyre so cheap, if I lose them, its not a huge bite out of my wallet to replace them. Jay Peters, news writer

ProOptic Complete Optics Care and Cleaning Kit

ProOptic Complete Optics Care and Cleaning Kit
ProOptic Complete Optics Care and Cleaning Kit
Photo: Adorama

At the beginning of the pandemic, I treated myself to an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II mirrorless camera, and included with the purchase was the ProOptic Cleaning Kit. It was a freebie I was certain Id just toss in the trash or set out on my stoop for someone to take. But this $20 kit has come in handy many times for reasons related to photoshoots  as expected  and also for other things. The pieces inside are great when used for cleaning glasses, and Ive found it to come in particularly handy when Im installing a new glass screen protector on my phone and Nintendo Switch. It comes with a squeezable dust blaster and other gadgets that make it easy to clean a screen and wipe away various particulates. Cameron Faulkner, writer

RavPower FileHub Wireless Travel Router

RavPower FileHub AC750
RavPower FileHub AC750
Photo: RavPower

Are you a photographer who likes to hike and take lots of pictures that you want to back up from your phone to your own local media but you dont want to take your laptop with you? Have you heard of the Gnarbox SSDs, but you dont want to spend $500 or more on one? Well, this might be perfect for you. RavPowers FileHub is a single click backup option, without the built-in SSD.

FileHub connects to your phone (or laptop) via Wi-Fi and, using a proprietary app, works as a file management system between that and a hard drive or SSD, transferring your data from one to the other. This device also has an Ethernet port, which means you can turn it into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Its perfect for those hotel Wi-Fi spots that are limited to only one device. Double bonus: it can also double as an external battery (although Id save battery life for other tasks).

There are some downsides: the app isnt anything pretty to look at, but it still does the job relatively well  and by relatively well, I mean the transfers take a very long time. Id never use this as my primary backup device, but its a good option to have for redundancys sake. (Note: the FileHub N300 is the one described here; the current version is the FileHub AC750.) Vjeran Pavic, senior director, video

Anker PowerWave Stand

Wireless power stand
Anker PowerWave Stand
Photo: Anker

I owned a phone that supported wireless charging for years before I bothered to actually buy a wireless charger, and Im glad that I did. While I still charge my phone overnight by default, its great being able to quickly pop it onto an Anker charging stand while Im sitting at my desk to keep it topped up with power throughout the day  plus, it just looks neat and tidy. If your phone already supports wireless charging, then this is a cheap and simple way to get more functionality out of it. Jon Porter, reporter

Uni 10-foot USB-C cable

Uni 10-foot-long USB-C cable
Uni 10-foot-long USB-C cable
Photo: Uni

USB-C charging is great. Relaxing on a couch while working is also great. But not all my plugs are in reach. This 10-foot-long USB-C cable is the answer. Its long enough to reach across most rooms with ease, with a durable braided construction and support for up to 100W USB-C PD fast charging. Chaim Gartenberg, news editor

Household and just for fun

Proctor Silex Rice Cooker

Proctor Silex rice cooker
Proctor Silex rice cooker
Photo: Proctor Silex

Can you cook rice on a stovetop? Of course. But why would you? A rice cooker frees up your stoves burners and makes the whole process basically automatic, so you can concentrate on the rest of your meal. If youre a connoisseur, you can spend hundreds of dollars on a big cooker with specialized settings. If you just want decent rice made quickly, though, my cheap Proctor Silex has stood up to years of frequent use with very little hassle. Adi Robertson, senior reporter

The CrunchCup

The CrunchCup
The CrunchCup
Photo: Crunch Tech

I like a nice bowl of cereal every now and then, but I always hate it when my cereal gets soggy. Since I work from home and have a lot of expensive stuff on my desk, I have this rational fear that I will clumsily spill the entire bowl on my desk. The Crunch Cup allows me to get the crunchiness in every bite of my cereal and also maintain less mess on my desk. Is it an over-glorified sippy cup? Yes, but it is super convenient and it makes multitasking much easier for me. Taylor Lyles, writer

Holga 12N Plastic Camera

Holga 120N Plastic Camera
Holga 120N plastic camera
Photo: Holga

This low-tech classic camera has made some of my favorite photographing memories. Its all plastic and has a fixed setting of 60mm f/8 using medium-format 120 film. The Holga has a cult following because of its price and the charm in the imperfections it creates. There is an artistry to taping the camera in different ways to block light leaks and other quirks, and the occasional softness from bowing film or the vignetting look is where Instagram got the look for its filters. Amelia Holowaty Krales, staff photographer

Chipolo Ocean Edition tracker

Chipolo Ocean Edition
Chipolo Ocean Edition
Photo: Chipolo

Ive got a house that is full of stuff  gadgets, books, keepsakes, pens, old Fresh Direct bags, you name it  and as a result, I am forever losing my keys, my reading glasses, and my phone amid the chaos. So a product like the Chipolo Ocean Edition tracker is perfect for somebody like me. Its not the most well-known tracker on the market  that honor goes to Tile  but this one has the added ethical attraction of being made from recycled fishing nets (and its a really nice blue color as well). At $29, its about $5 more than the most basic Tile (and $5 more than the equally basic Chipolo One tracker), but Im willing to fork out the extra five-spot to feel better about the purchase. Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor

Update February 8th, 2021, 9:37AM ET: This article was originally published on November 6th, 2020. The prices have been updated.

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