Top 5 affordable tech buys

1:12 PM, Nov 27, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn.--  USA Today tech writer, Jefferson Graham, joined us this morning from Los Angeles with his top 5 affordable tech gift ideas.

Here's what he highlighted today:

1. Tablets

Since the big PS4 and xBox videogame reboots are as good as sold out, the other must folks are clammoring for this holiday season are tablets. The cream of the crop is expensive--the iPad Air starts at $500 and the new Mini is $400, and sold out in many places.

So how about a tablet that sells for more than half the price? Look to tablets from Amazon and Google, the Kindle Fire HDX and Nexus 7, both of which are priced at around $225, although I've seen the Nexus for as low as $190.

Both sport 7 inch screens, have high resolution and are great for reading books and magazines and watching TV shows and movies. They're not as easy to use or as bright as the iPad, but they're a whole lot more affordable.

2. Chromecast

Easily the most affordable and the smallest of any tech gift would be Google's Chromecast, a device that plugs into your TV to bring you Internet programming from Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and elsewhere. It costs just $35. If you have a larger budget, the $100 Roku 3 is the best streaming box out there, with many more channels available than Chromecast.

3. FitBit Force

The latest $125 edition of the wristband monitor to check your steps, miles and sleep habits is easier to set up, and communicates via bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet. Best of all--the battery charge lasts a week.

4. Sonos Play One 

Remember when we used to string speaker wire all over the house to bring music to additional rooms? No longer, thanks to companies like Sonos, which makes portable audio systems that connect easily and wirelessly, and churn out Internet music from channels like Pandora, Spotify and your iTunes library. The new Play One is the smallest, most affordable Sonos speaker, at $199.

5. Canon Powershot SX280

Yes folks, we still need cameras for great photos, even in the smartphone era. Pictures on the iPhone and Galaxy are great, but you can't zoom in to the action, the flash is poor and there are limits for how long you can shoot a video. With the $199 SX280, you get a whopping 20X zoom, which will you bring you way closer to the action, and you can put in a big fat memory card and not have to worry about running out of space. Finally--the camera has Wifi, just like a smartphone, so you can share directly from the camera to social networks and e-mail.

For more on the latest gadgets and tech news, check out tech.usatoday.com.

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