Try as we might, there’s simply too much cool technology to keep up with. New products hit the market every day and, as much as we’d love to write extensive reviews about all of them, we just don’t have time. To that end, we’re happy to share bite-sized reviews of technology and gear that we find interesting or worth a closer look.
Below you’ll find products that we’re impressed with that all share one thing in common – they’re all under $50. While these aren’t purely electronics or gadgets, we think they’re awesome.
Adonit Pro 4 Stylus
It’s not difficult to find a stylus for smartphones and tablets as sometimes they’re even given away as freely as business cards, hand sanitizer, or fidget spinners. It’s tough, though, to find a quality one that won’t be later tossed away or forgotten about.
The Adonit Pro 4 is entirely unlike a generic stylus. Built from lightweight aluminum, there’s a copper twist cap that fits on both ends. Moreover, there’s a groove cut into the body which allows for easy hooking onto pockets, bags, and other items.
Rather than that soft rubber foam tip, the Pro 4 has a precision disc made from PET materials. While it looks like you’d want to take it off before use, it lets users get a fine-point line every time. It’s easy to see the ballpoint pen-like tip and know exactly where your lines and markup will be.
If you’re into graphic arts, sketching, highlighting text, and other stylus-based activities, you’ll find the stylus works equally well. Offered in black, silver, and gold colors, it’s equal parts eye catching and practical. $30 at Adonit and Amazon
You don’t have to add bulk to your phone to give it a solid security blanket. The Gear 4 Battersea, which has a soft-touch finish and slim profile, protects your handset against scuffs, scrapes, and drops up to 16 feet. Thanks to D30 material, it’s light yet tough, and lets Gear 4 focus on aesthetics. $50 at Gear4
If you’d prefer to show off that sexy phone, opt for a case that provides a clear back. The Crystal Palace case might look like a standard or slim plastic backing but it’s pretty solid stuff. Indeed, it also houses D30 and allows for a formidable shell that’s thin enough to still allow for wireless charging. Oh, and you can still drop it to the tune of 13 feet. $40 at Gear4
Grab a Picadilly case if you’d like to add a stripe of black along the edges and you’ll also have a lip that wraps the front of the face of your phone. $40 at Gear4
Sound gets plenty loud and we found ours fit the ear nicely using the out-of-box tips. Pairing is nice and easy and connection happens immediately. Also, listeners can use just the right earbud if they want to leave one ear exposed.
We appreciate the Bluetooth 5 connectivity as it lets us get to around 50 feet away from the music source. And, once paired they connect automatically just by opening the case and taking them out.
When it comes to buying wireless earbuds or headphones from unfamiliar brands we’re reluctant to part with too much money. The problem with that is spending too little leads to its own problems. With that in mind, we’ve seen earbuds at this price that don’t have the flexibility of the EarFun Free.
If you own a wireless charger or one of Samsung’s recent phones with built-in charging, you’ll dig the extra feature. Not that you’ll use it too often because the case packs 30 hours of playback.
Xcentz 36W PD Wall Charger
It’s pretty tough to get excited about a wall charger, but we do find ourselves really happy with this one. Given we’re often charging a phone, Chromebook, Pixelbook, Nintendo Switch and or something else, we like the flexibility.
This is a charger that houses both a USB-C (PD) and a USB Quick Charge 3.0 port. Both ports allow for 18W charging, meaning you can get a total of 36W output at once.
It’s more stylish than it needs to be with an interesting color scheme. The charger looks good in any environment and travels well.
There’s an 18-month warranty that comes with the charger, which is about six months longer than what others do. That’s peace of mind, and worth a few bucks on its own. $18 at Amazon
Invisible Shield screen protectors
When it comes to protecting our phones, it’s not just the fancy metal and shiny back that needs to be kept safe. No, today’s handsets have screens that are bigger than ever and which make up nearly the entire front of your device. That glass needs just as much attention.
Invisible Shield has been in the game of making protective coating for screens for years, and it keeps getting better. What’s more, we’ve moved far beyond the days where there’s just one option. There are no less than three options to choose from today for phones like the Google Pixel 4.
The Glass Elite is made of aluminosilicate glass which is four times stronger than traditional screen protectors. Easy to apply, thanks to the included mat and tray, it’s smooth as silk and doesn’t attract smudges and oils. Scratches never stood a chance. $40 at ZAGG
The Glass Elite VisionGuard take things up a notch, adding in a blue light filter that blocks that harmly light. And no, this isn’t that yellow tint you get from your phone’s software settings. Your eyes will thank you. $45 at ZAGG
Then there’s the Elite Glass VisionGuard+ which has all of the aforementioned features plus anti-microbial technology. What this means to you is defense against germs and bacteria, or that junk that tends to stick to lesser quality brands. $50 at ZAGG
We’ve been impressed with the fit of the xFit earbuds. They are weighted enough to not add bulk, but still small enough to seat well inside the ear. we usually have issues with smaller buds like these working their way out of the ear while exercising, but this has not been the case with the xFit.
The sound of the xFit also does not reflect its small stature. While the earbuds won’t win a contest when lined up against a great wired headset, the xFit to have good sound for the size. Mids and highs are crisp with just a punch of bass when needed.
Treblab estimates the xFit battery life to 30 hours of total playback. This is a combination of five hours of play with just the earbuds and five recharges via the case. $30 at Amazon
Ravpower 10000mAh portable charger
Smartphones might be getting bigger with each generation, but portable charging banks seem to be getting smaller. This rev power unit delivers 10,000mAh worth of juice, which is good enough to power your phone up three to four times over. Hell, some phones might even get up to five. Portable enough to fit in your hand, it’s barely the size of a harmonica or candy bar.
You’ve got four LED lights to let you know how much juice is left in the battery, with each representing around 25% life. The USB and USB Type-C ports for charging of two device at once, both of which are very fast. Tuck this one away in your pocket without feeling much heft. It’s a perfect companion to a long work day or a few hours playing Pokemon Go at the park. $44 at Amazon
BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter
Why use your wall outlet to charge one or two items at a time when you can use it for up to seven devices? That’s exactly what you get in this universal travel adapter. That’s right, it’s not just a power strip, or something with a few USB ports added in, but something which adapts power.
This one travels anywhere you go, even if that means another country. Included in the box are converters for other countries including Australia, China, and United Kingdom so feel free to pack this one in your luggage.
The four USB ports can automatically detect the types of devices plugged in and intelligently decides the most efficient charge. With a maximum output of 250 watts, it’s the sort of all-in-one charger that a family might want on a holiday getaway.
There are a lot of great reasons to purchase one of these, but perhaps best of all, though is the two year warranty.