Good news for cost-conscious tech lovers: You don't have to break the bank to pick up some cool gadgets.
From wireless speakers and mobile game controllers to portable hard drives and even touch-screen tablets, you might just be surprised what you can find on the cheap at your local electronics store or favorite online retailer.
In fact, the following is a list of a few sub-$50 tech toys that deliver a lot of bang for the buck.
ROKU STREAMING STICK (HDMI Version)
Access more than 1,000 on-demand channels — including YouTube, Netflix, Crackle, Hulu Plus and HBO Go — with the Roku Streaming Stick ($49.99 with free shipping; roku.com). Simply plug the small device into your television's HDMI port and start streaming content via the bundled remote or with a Roku app on your smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android). Speaking of your mobile device, you can also stream your personal videos, photos and music to your TV with the Roku app. Other features include up to 1080p video quality (on a compatible television), simple search and channel shortcut buttons on the remote.
UBI SLATE 7Ci TABLET
DataWind's UbiSlate 7Ci (datawind.com) is billed as the world's first $38 tablet. The 7-inch Android tablet lets you read e-books, watch videos, play games, browse the Web and pick up e-mail. It has integrated Wi-Fi, plus there's an adaptor in the box to snap in a WAN stick for cellular connectivity, if desired (3G only). Powered by a Cortex A9 processor (comparable to a first-generation iPad), the UbiSlate 7Ci also has 512MB of RAM (system memory) and 4GB of storage, but it's expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card. The screen isn't spectacular at 800 x 480 resolution, nor is the battery life (three hours between charges), but at $38 and a ton of bundled apps, it's certainly at the right price.
iHOME iBT16 CUBE SPEAKER
Sometimes you just don't feel like wearing headphones. iHome's iBT16 Cube ($29.99; ihomeaudio.com) is a tiny wireless speaker that lets you stream music, podcasts or audiobooks from your nearby Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet, laptop or media play (such as an iPod touch). Available in several colors (gray, blue, pink, green, black and purple), these cube-shaped speakers have a rubberized finish, an integrated rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and a 3.5mm audio jack (cable included).
Turn any speaker into a Wi-Fi-enabled one, so you can listen to your music untethered. That's the premise behind the Kickstarter-funded Rocki Play ($49.99; myrocki.com). Simply connect this small gadget to the audio input of any speaker system (cables included) and you can then use your phone to play music wirelessly. Similar to Wi-Fi-enabled speakers that cost much more (such as Sonos), you can use the free Rocki app (iOS/Android) to search and select any song, control volume and playback and select which Rocki Play-enabled speaker to stream to (the app also supports HTML5, therefore you can also use a Web browser on a PC or Mac to play music).
VERBATIM FOLDABLE BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD
Don't like typing much on your smartphone or tablet? The Verbatim Foldable Wireless Keyboard ($44.99; verbatim.com) is ideal for long-form typing on virtually any Bluetooth-enabled touch-screen smartphone or tablet. As the name suggests, this full-size QWERTY keyboard folds up to half its size and slips into a matching black case for when you're on the go. When you want to type some notes, write a long e-mail or type an essay or sales report, simply open it up, turn it on and prop up your device with an optional pull-out stand. Because Bluetooth is a universal standard, it works with all four mobile platforms: Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.
MOGA PRO CONTROLLER
Want more control out of your Android games? MOGA Pro Controller ($49.99; www.mogaanywhere.com), which stands for "mobile gaming," is a comfortable controller that holds your smartphone securely while you use the buttons and analog sticks to control the action. Because MOGA works via Bluetooth, you can also use it with your Android tablet (stand included). A number of popular games are supported, including Pac-Man (included), Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Lego: The Lord of the Rings, N.O.V.A. 3, Six-Guns, Sonic The Hedgehog 4, Dungeon Hunter 4 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
TOSHIBA CANVIO CONNECT HARD DRIVE
Thanks for the memory. Computer users understand the importance of backing up important information — be it documents, music, videos, photos and other files — and a robust, easy-to-use hard drive you can take anywhere is a recommended companion. Compatible with PCs and Macs and available in multiple colors, this Toshiba Canvio Connect 500GB hard drive ($49.99; toshiba.com) features USB 3.0 speeds (data transfer rates up to 5 Gbps) along with an average read and write time of 12-milliseconds.
MICROSOFT SCULPT COMFORT WIRELESS MOUSE
Are you still getting hand cramps by using your laptop's touchpad for hours at a time? Instead, consider Microsoft's Sculpt Comfort Wireless Mouse ($39.99; microsoft.com), which pairs with a laptop via Bluetooth, therefore not requiring a dongle to be inserted into a valuable USB port. Along with multiple customizable buttons, a touch strip on top makes scrolling through long and wide documents quick and easy. Powered by both optical and BlueTrack technologies, you can experience accuracy and speed with this mouse, which can be used on virtually any surface.
SWANN MP3 DJ DOORBELL
If a more quirky gadget is your thing, the Swann MP3 DJ Doorbell ($49.99; swann.com) is the first product that lets you customize the sound of your doorbell. First, create a song clip from your music collection — such as the chorus to Ring My Bell or Who Can It Be Now? — and copy it to the large speaker via USB (cable and software included). Then, mount the other piece — a small, wireless doorbell — outside your door; when pressed, the speaker will play your music tracks inside.
D-LINK SHAREPORT MOBILE COMPANION (DIR-505)
The hotel you just checked into has only a wired Internet connection but you brought your iPad tablet, Android smartphone or skinny laptop without an Ethernet port. No worries. You can create a wireless network with the D-Link SharePoint Mobile Companion router ($49.99; dlink.com). About the size of a typical AC charger, it lets you wirelessly access the Internet on multiple devices when plugged into a modem or wired router. Plus, it also has a USB port, so you can insert a thumbdrive with media and stream to nearby devices. This product also acts as a repeater so you can extend the signal from an existing wireless router to cover a dead zone within your home.
Have any other sub-$50 gadgets you'd recommend? Let us know in the comments section.