Thursday, November 26, 2015

Black Friday: Best, Under $100 Tech Gifts for Geeks

Who says tech has to be expensive? Check out these amazing Black Friday gift ideas that you can get for less than $100. Here are some practical and high quality tech gadgets to look for in $100 budget:

Roku 3 – Powerful Streaming Box Gift for Gaming and Movie Fans


Why It Qualifies as a Tech Gift under $100?

While it certainly isn’t easy to compete with giants, such as Google, Amazon and Apple, the Roku 3 streaming box gift manages to give some serious competition to the big guys. Compared to Roku 2, the latest version features improved voice search features. It also gets an updated remote. A headphone jack may be used to accommodate private listening.

Roku offers a lot of useful apps and updates on its platform. It doesn’t favor any particular content provider over the others, unlike the Amazon Fire TV 2015 Gift box and sticks that are known to serve Amazon content primarily.

It gets an ultra-fast interface that is extremely user-friendly and can fully be customized to the needs of the users. Compared to Roku 2, the device doesn’t get any faster. The more economical Roku 2 also lets you take advantage of the Roku platform in a similar way, but at a reduced price. Price-sensitive buyers who are just looking for a powerful streaming device can consider the Roku 2.

Detailed Analysis

Roku is a prominent name in the top performing list of top-performing streaming devices. You get support for just about every online streaming service, including Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO Go, and Watch ESPN.

The box-shaped, compact device is one of the most advanced streaming devices on the market. Roku 3 features can be accessed from the remote. You will find Wi-Fi control, voice search ability and a headphone jack for listening privately. These are handy features but we’re not sure if users really need such enhancements in a product that’s already so great.

To get started using this device, you simply need to place it in your entertainment center. The remote gets new features and extras. While it isn’t a premium remote, it still feels comfortable in the hand.

 Roku 3 connects directly via Wi-Fi, meaning you don’t need line-of-sight operation like Roku 2. The streaming device can be placed just about anywhere near your entertainment system. Most features on the remote are similar to that of Roku 2. One difference, however, is a tiny magnifying glass that pulls up the voice search dialog.

You can also use a universal remote with the Roku 3. However, if you intend to use the streaming device with a universal remote, you might just as well invest in the most budget-friendly Roku 2 option.

The voice recognition features of Roku 3 are pretty accurate. There will be some voice command misinterpretations, but we all know that voice recognition technology is far from perfect.

Private Listening

The private listening feature is especially helpful if you are fond of enjoying your entertainment system privately. In noisier places, you may find this option useful.


Roku 3 offers limited screen mirroring features. You can show your phone or PC contents on the TV, but you can only get full mirroring if you use Windows 8.1 or Android 4.2.2.

App Selection 

Roku 3 offers a fine choice of apps to choose from. However, you may miss content found exclusively on other devices, such as Apple TV. Generally speaking though, you can access more apps on Roku than any other platform.


The Roku 3 is an impressive device for less than $100. It gets several new features that were missing on the Roku 2. It is still one of the most popular streaming platforms. Some shoppers may prefer the Roku 2 owing to its attractive price.

Compact Amazon Fire TV Box Gift for Geeks

Image credit: Amazon

Why It Qualifies as a Tech Gift under $100? 

With thousands of popular streaming apps to choose from, the Amazon Fire TV 2015 gift is a robust streaming device with excellent support and parental control options. It also features stellar voice search features from the remote.

It is the most inexpensive device of its kind for streaming in 4K. You also have the option to increase storage using the SD card slot. There is an optional Gaming Edition of the Amazon Fire TV that features a Bluetooth controller.

Content-worthy streaming services, such as YouTube and Netflix get very little priority. Most content comes from Amazon’s shows and movies. It also has very little customization options.

While a powerful and inexpensive device for under $100 that comes 4K support, the Amazon Fire TV serves its own shows and movies too aggressively, diminishing other useful content sources from the search results.


The 2015 Amazon Fire TV is primarily designed to get more users to view Amazon shows and movies. If you are looking to use the Fire TV with another streaming service, such as NetFlix or Hulu, you may not have the best experience. You will also get promotions and offers from Amazon as you navigate the device’s menu options.

We recently reviewed streaming devices, such as Roku 3 that stream quality content from just about any provider. Amazon, on the other hand, serves limited content from other streaming services.

Amazon Fire TV offers some additional benefits to the user. It comes with powerful parental control options. It is an inexpensive device for streaming 4K content. It also gets the Alexa voice assistant that performs basic tasks, such as weather reporting in response to your voice command.


The Amazon Fire TV is a box shaped device with a slim design. It is more compact and squarer than any Roku. The Amazon logo sits on the matte black top. The sides of the device are glossy. A tiny LED lights up on the device’s front when it is powered on.

On the back of the device, you will find an HDMI, Ethernet, microSD and USB port. The power connected is also found here. It replaces the digital audio jack found in previous version of the Fire TV with a microSD card slot that allows storage of up to 128GB data on top of the 8GB internal storage. Access the media files on any portable storage device using the USB port.

On some apps, 4K support media files will play at 1080p. Amazon is gradually extending 4K technology to more apps on the Fire TV.

It gets considerably improved processing power with 64-bit quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. It also features a dedicated graphics processor. While this doesn’t necessarily translate into an even more enhanced movie viewing experience, gamers can benefit from these improvements.

Besides the Ethernet port, you can also transfer data wirelessly. It supports 802.11ac wireless standard that performs flawlessly.

Fire TV 2015 Remote 

The Fire TV remote gets some design improvements. The material quality has improved. It features a rubbery surface that offers a good grip of the remote. It is also comfortable to hold. The remote buttons also get improved click.

Alexa, Fire TV Voice Assistant 

A microphone rests above the mic button on the remote. If you are in the menu options, pressing and holding the mic button will display the text “listening” on the screen. Give a voice command to the remote. If it doesn’t understand the voice command, you will be asked to give the command again. When the voice assistant Alexa understands a message, it talks back to you. Apple TV’s voice assistant lacks this feature so far.

While it doesn’t offer the headphone jack found in the remote of the Roku 3, you have the option of using a Bluetooth-enabled headphone to enjoy wireless private listening. Amazon has also decided to roll out Alexa voice recognition on all Fire TV devices, including the Fire TV stick.

4K Support

4K support is another new milestone achieved by the Fire TV device. You can still use the Fire TV device with a non 4K TV. As the Fire TV 2015 device comes with HDMI 1.4, it only supports 4K at 30 frames per second. Should 4K content at 60 frames per second be available in the future, the Fire TV 2015 will not support it. HDR content, which delivers even better quality than 4K, is not supported by the Fire TV box either because it requires HDMI 2.0.


This is the biggest resource of Amazon that boasts more than 3000 music and video channels and more than 800 games. Compare that with Roku, which features nearly 2700 channels and 100 games. It is also easier to look for apps using Amazon search features.

Other Features 

Fire TV box offers several other advantages compared to other streaming devices. It uses captive portal for connecting you safely to public Wi-Fi networks, such as hotel or college dormitory Wi-Fi.

It also comes with powerful parental control features. You can choose the type of content your child can access. You can also set a PIN to limit your child’s access to other content on the device. The parental control service has to be availed separately in the form of monthly subscription.


The Fire TV box is an excellent streaming device that offers access to a great collection of movies and games. However, if you have a subscription service, such as Netflix or Hulu, it will make more sense to invest in Roku 3. Budget shoppers should also consider this Amazon Fire TV stick before finalizing the purchase.

Portable yet Powerful Amazon Fire TV Stick for Geeks

Image credit: Amazon

Why It Qualifies as a Tech Gift under $100? 

At $40, the Amazon Fire TV stick gift is truly a bargain deal. It lets you watch your favorite games on Amazon. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can access thousands of movie titles for free.

It supports ultrafast content streaming and comes with support for third-party apps, such as YouTube, Hulu and Netflix. Amazon can be pushy when it comes to promoting its own content. Its search algorithms will mostly return Amazon-related search results with limited support for non-Amazon apps. Also, the device offers very limited functionality without a subscription with Amazon Prime.

It still qualifies as a top-performing streaming device well worth its price. Amazon Prime subscribers will absolutely love this stick.


In some ways, the Fire TV stick performs even better than the Fire TV box. It has an irresistible price tag that gives you access to tons of entertainment for a small monthly subscription fee. In terms of data transfer and content quality support, it delivers similar results to the box version but at less than half the price.

The stick rests out of the TV. Compared to the Roku stick, it is narrower and longer. The Fire TV stick from Amazon has to be connected to a power device. The stick comes with its own USB power adapter meant for TVs that lack USB port. The device takes almost 45 seconds to boot. It’s still relatively quicker than the Roku that can take up to 90 seconds.

The Amazon stick is a portable, travel-friendly device. It delivers up to 1080p display output and supports dual-band Wi-Fi. It comes with 8GB of internal storage.

The Fire TV stick remote is simpler than that of the Amazon Fire box. It also comes with support for voice search, though.

It supports gaming, but that certainly isn't its primary purpose. While it has a great collection of games, it doesn’t even come close to the gaming quality offered by the Amazon Fire box.

It gets parental control features that are charged separately on a monthly basis. You can choose the type of content that your kids can see.


Overall, it is a powerful streaming stick that streams lightning fast content, allowing you to watch movies and play games at 1080p. It is one great Christmas tech gift for geeks.

Trendy, Waterproof UE Roll Bluetooth Speakers for Real Geeks


Why It Qualifies as a Tech Gift under $100? 

This Bluetooth UE Roll speaker gift is an amazing device capable of producing excellent sound quality for its size. It also delivers excellent battery life. It is an inflatable speaker that floats in water.

Perhaps, the only limitation is the lack of speakerphone capabilities. While there are cheaper models that perform similar task, the superior design and build of the UE Roll makes it a very attractive tech gift under $100.


It has a very practical design. You can lay it flat on a surface or hang it conveniently. The rechargeable battery yields almost 9 hours of music playback, which is impressive for a Bluetooth speaker. It features the Volume up and down buttons on the top. The waterproof speaker doesn’t house any additional buttons.


It delivers very good performance for its price and size. The sound quality is clear, even though it lacks extra bass. For better sound quality, you can also consider pairing up two or more devices together.


The elegant and trendy UE Roll is a high value tech gift item under $100. The waterproof speaker gets an innovative design and delivers superb performance.

Basic Amazon Kindle Tablet

We’ve already reviewed the all-new Paperwhite 6” eReader that features improved display that ultimately leads to a better reading experience.

Basic Amazon Kindle

Why It Qualifies as a Tech Gift under $100? 

People who haven’t tried the Kindle may be more comfortable with this basic Kindle Paperwhite eReader that costs under $70. You should also checkout Black Friday deals on Kindle products in the Amazon store.

Read e-books or listen to audiobooks with the Kindle Paperwhite. Access millions of titles in the Amazon library for a small monthly fee. New Kindle users will be absolutely pleased with the experience.

The tablet screen is modified to enhance the reading experience. Instantly look up any word without leaving the page. Carry the portable, lightweight device with you, wherever you go. Enjoy the company of your favorite titles at all times. Spend the winter holiday finishing any titles you’ve been putting off.

The lightweight Amazon Kindle tablet is a must-have for people who are fond of reading. It enhances your reading experience and lets you derive even greater pleasure from your reading habit.