Thu. May 19th, 2022
18 Ways to Spend That $50 Gift Card

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

If you still have unused gift cards stashed away from the holidays (a common conundrum) or if you happen to be the lucky recipient of a gift card for your birthday, an anniversary, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or something in between, chances are that you have a few ideas in mind for how to spend it. But, if you find yourself unsure what to buy, we have some great ideas for you that totally beat socks or towels. These are also awesome gift ideas for a friend or loved one for any upcoming celebrations.

And if you’re looking for modern tech, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to find a great gift or addition to your home. Even with inflation, there are plenty of inexpensive gadgets out there, and great deals floating around that bring some pricier gifts down to under $50. The trick is knowing what’s not only a good value but what can be useful, too. Here are a handful of the best gifts under $50 to treat yourself or someone you love right now.

Amazon

The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements for 2021 is among the company’s smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look — it’s now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors — and that new design, coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size, makes the Go 3 one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.

Available in multiple color options, it has an IP67 water-resistance rating (it can be dunked in water and is dust-proof). Plus, the battery life is rated at up to five hours.

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Known for its value headphones and earbuds, JLab has released a pair of on-ear headphones with an integrated boom microphone — it can be rotated up when just listening to music — and multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect them to your phone and computer simultaneously. I’m more partial to the Jabra Elite 45h, which list for $100 but usually sell for around $75. But if you don’t want to spend quite that much, the Go Work is a solid pair of headphones, and headset, for its modest price. They’re also comfortable to wear, with a lightweight design. You won’t mistake these for premium headphones but the build quality seems fine. 

Battery life is rated at up to 45 hours at moderate volume levels, and you can mute calls using the multifunction button (an LED lights up at the end of the boom mic when the call is muted). I wouldn’t call the sound quality for music listening and the headset performance stellar, but it’s good, particularly for the price. For music listening, there’s ample bass and clarity and a cable is included for wired use. The headphones charge via USB-C. Bottom line: This is a solid gift for anyone who spends some or all of their time working remotely.

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I was a fan of the original Earfun Free buds, and now there’s an upgraded version called the Earfun Free 2. They’re not a huge upgrade, but like the originals they fit my ears well and deliver decent bang for the buck with strong sound — it has just a touch of treble and bass boost (there’s plenty of bass) — and extra features such as wireless charging.

Battery life is rated at up to seven hours at moderate volume levels, and these buds are fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. These are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and use Qualcomm’s QCC3040 chip that includes support for the aptX audio codec if you’re using a compatible device (certain Android smartphones support that protocol).

They are listed at $50, but be sure to select the instant coupon for an extra 20% off at checkout

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Roku

These days, it’s nearly impossible to get a TV without a bunch of “smart” streaming apps built in. But that’s not true of older TVs, and even newer ones don’t have all the top new services and simply don’t offer the faster performance of a dedicated video streaming box that plugs into an HDMI port. For under $50, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021) boasts access to just about every online video service you can think of, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and hundreds more, at resolutions up to 4K. The Streaming Stick 4K Plus comes bundled with a step-up voice-enabled remote for $20 more.

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