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The best Father's Day gift ideas under $50

Useful tech gifts don't have to break the bank.

Engadget

Buying a good Father’s Day gift can be tough if you’re on a budget, especially if your dad is already on the tech-savvy side. Sometimes they may claim they don’t want anything, other times they might buy the thing you’re looking to gift without telling anyone. If you need help jogging your brain, we’ve rounded up a few of the better gadgets we’ve tested that cost less than $50. From mechanical keyboards and security cameras to luggage trackers and power banks, each has the potential to make your dad’s day-to-day life a little more convenient.

Bluetooth trackers have made it a lot easier to keep tabs on things that you simply don’t want to go missing. If pops tends to lose his keys, bags or other high value items, the Chipolo One could be a low-cost way to restore some peace of mind. The One is a small, colorful plastic disc that pairs with both Apple and Android devices and quickly notifies you when something is no longer on your person. In our tests, we found the separation alerts to be worth the price of admission alone, serving prompt notifications the second the app detected an item was no longer with us. It’ll direct you back to the spot where the phone and the tracker were last paired, perfect for someone who may often forget things. — Matt Brian, Former Senior News Editor

$25 at Amazon

For the dad who often forgets to charge his phone before leaving the house, the Anker Nano Power Bank is a compact battery that attaches directly to the bottom of a device through a built-in USB-C connector. A tiny pack like this isn’t designed to fully recharge recent handsets: As we note in our power bank buying guide, it provided a 65 percent charge to a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in roughly an hour. But it’s handy as an emergency lifeline for a phone on the verge of death, since the whole thing is about the size of a lipstick case and won’t force your dad to remember any cables. The included connector folds back into the device, making it harder to break, and there are four indicator lights to give you a sense of how much juice the bank has left. The battery linked here will work with Android phones and the iPhone 15 series; if your dad is using an older iPhone, know that Anker also makes a similar model with a Lightning connector. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Reporter, Buying Advice

$30 at Amazon

A longtime favorite of Engadget senior reporter (and outdoor gear connoisseur) Billy Steele, the Brümate Hopsulator Trio is a versatile koozie that can hold 16-ounce or 12-ounce cans with an adapter you can stash in your freezer. If you want to ditch the cans entirely, it can also serve as a tumbler, complete with its own lid. We’ve found it to insulate drinks successfully and hold cans securely, so it should delight if your dad could use a new beer holder ahead of his beach hangs and outdoor excursions this summer. — J.D.

$30 at Amazon
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$30 at Ace Hardware

JLab’s Go Air Sport should be a nice fit for any dad who needs a cheap set of beater earbuds for the gym. For $30, it offers a solid eight hours of battery life, decent (if bass-heavy) sound and a water-resistant, around-the-ear design that stays securely in place during busy workouts. There’s no active noise cancellation, auto-pausing or multi-device connectivity, and its case relies on a permanently affixed USB cable to charge. But it’s a nice buy for those on a budget, especially if your dad already owns more premium headphones. You can read more about this pair in our guide to the best wireless workout headphones. — J.D.

$20 at Amazon
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$30 at Target

If dad has passwords with “123456” in it, instead of shaming him, consider directing him to a password manager instead. Sure, most browsers come with their own built-in password tools, but 1Password’s subscription service operates across a wide variety of devices, browsers and operating systems. It’ll save all of his passwords and suggest stronger ones and handle two-factor authentication requests but that’s not all: Give it addresses, card details and other important information and it’ll reduce the time and effort it takes to fill in all of those annoying online forms. — M.B.

$3 at 1Password

If your dad loves flying but hates having to put up with the basic headsets airlines provide while on board, help is at hand. Thanks to wireless adapters like the AirFly, he can use his own headphones in places that only have a headphone jack, like in the air and in gyms. TwelveSouth offers a range of AirFly adapters that cater to specific circumstances: the original is perfect for flights, while the Duo does the same thing but for two people. The Pro, however, provides a simple way to stream music from a smartphone to the AUX IN in any car or speaker. — M.B.

$45 at HSN
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$45 at Kohl's$45 at Amazon

If dad has a Nintendo Switch, then he’s probably already pretty up-to-speed on the Nintendo eShop. Every so often, the company will reduce a wide range of first-party and indie games, allowing you and dad to build out your collection for a lot less. The good news is that throughout the year, retailers will often offer discounts on eShop credit0, which when combined with an existing sale, can lighten dad’s overall spend on games. Deals are often around 10 percent off, meaning you may be able to secure a $50 card for just $45. — M.B.

$50 at Amazon

Not every dad is handy with tools, but if yours likes to take things apart just to be able to put them back together again or prefers to fix things rather than buying new stuff, iFixit’s Essential Electronics Toolkit could come in handy. With a bunch of precision bits, tweezers, suction handle, SIM eject tool and sorting tray, this kit is perfect for DIY screen replacements or opening up a tablet or laptop to fix a worn-out component. It’s also perfect for eyeglasses, should dad need to repair them too.

$30 at Amazon
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$30 at Walmart$33 at Ace Hardware

Nobody is saying that dad needs to lose or gain weight, but he’s looking for a better way to track his body measurements then a smart scale could help. Make no mistake: the Aria Air isn’t as fancy as some of the smart scales on the market – complete with body composition metrics – but it’s very accurate and nice-looking scale that tracks body weight and BMI. If dad already has a Fitbit smartwatch or tracker, it’ll put it alongside his existing exercise data, giving him a nice snapshot of his overall fitness and body health. — M.B.

$40 at Lowe's
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$49 at QVC$50 at Amazon

No smart home is complete without a smart thermostat handling all of the family’s heating and hot water needs. Everyone can argue all they like about the temperature inside the house, but dad can control the thermostat remotely with Amazon’s cheap Smart Thermostat. Sure, its usual retail price is normally a bit higher than the $50 limit we’ve set here but we have seen it regularly come down to a low of $48, which is when you should probably jump on it. The Smart Thermostat itself is backed by Honeywell and ties nicely in with Alexa, which can do dad’s bidding for him (whether it be via an Echo smart speaker, display or app). — M.B.

$80 at Amazon
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$80 at Lowe's$80 at Target

One part of building a smart home is incorporating “non-smart” electronics (an old lamp, for instance, or a coffee maker) into your network. Smart plugs are a relatively straightforward way to make that happen, and TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim (EP25) is our current favorite of the bunch. Apart from being affordable — a four-pack is frequently available for less than $40 — it’s a breeze to set up, and it works with the major smart home platforms: Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, Google Home and Samsung SmartThings. Through its app, your dad can monitor the energy usage of their connected devices, control them with voice assistants and set timers and routines to ensure nothing’s left on for longer than it has to be. For the paranoid, there’s also an “Away” mode that randomly switches devices off and on to give the impression that people are home, even when they’re not. — J.D.

$36 at Amazon

A security camera can be useful not only for deterring porch pirates, but also for capturing irrefutable proof of wrongdoing. Blink sells a range of indoor and outdoor home security gear, but its 1080p Mini 2 camera is a solid choice for keeping an eye on pets or potential unwelcome guests in the dead of night. Its IP65-rated design is weather-resistant enough to survive indoors or out (it even has a built-in spotlight for better recording color video at night), plus it supports motion detection alerts and two-way audio. As Blink is an Amazon subsidiary, the Mini 2 also works well with Alexa, so it’s a sensible choice for families who already own an Echo speaker. Just be aware that features like cloud storage and person detection are locked behind a subscription fee. And to save video locally, you need to add Blink’s Sync Module 2 and a USB thumb drive. Still, for less than $50, the Mini 2 is a better value than most cams. — J.D.

$50 at Amazon

Most newer televisions come with streaming apps built in, but sometimes the older and slower “dumb TV” in the back room needs some love as well. Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K is an easy way to smarten it up. It still tends to push Amazon services like Prime Video and Freevee above everything else, but it runs quickly, supports all of the major streaming apps and has handy voice controls with its Alexa-equipped remote. It’s cheap, too, with discounts often dropping it to around $30. If you see Amazon’s higher-end Fire TV Stick 4K Max on sale, that one adds Wi-Fi 6E support, more storage and a faster chipset, but the difference isn’t enormous, and the Max’s $60 MSRP sits outside our price range here. — J.D.

$30 at Kohl's
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$40 at Amazon$50 at Lowe's

The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a nice value for any dad who wants to keep in touch with their buddies over video game party chat. The top budget pick in our guide to the best gaming headsets, the Stinger is comfortable to wear for hours at a time and its built-in mic does well to keep voices clear. It’s a simple wired model, but it works without issue across PlayStation, Xbox and PC as a result. And while it doesn’t sound especially balanced, its V-shaped signature gives explosions, gunshots and other in-game effects some real oomph. — J.D.

$40 at Amazon
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$50 at Walmart$40 at Target

A microSD card isn’t the flashiest gift, but it is practical. If your dad is always running out of storage on his dash cam, drone or Nintendo Switch, the Samsung Pro Plus is the top pick in our microSD card buying guide. It’s neither the cheapest nor the absolute fastest card we’ve tested, but it strikes a nice balance. It’s plenty fast for shooting 4K video, transfering files or loading games, and it’s reasonably affordable, with the 256GB model usually available around $30 and the 512GB version typically on sale in the $40 to $50 range. — J.D.

$30 at Adorama
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$30 at Amazon$45 at Staples

Mechanical keyboards are an acquired taste, but their deeper feedback can make everyday typing more of a pleasure. If your dad is willing to shake things up, Keychron’s C3 Pro is a great first step into the hobby. As we note in our mechanical keyboard buying guide, its keystrokes feel soft and springy. While it’s not out-and-out quiet, it gives off a pleasing clack with each press. It’s not wireless, its backlight is red-only, and its ABS keycaps can start to feel slick over time — but it should be an immediate comfort upgrade over a laptop-style membrane keyboard all the same. Best of all, it costs well under $50. — J.D.

$37 at Amazon

Thankfully, the days of having to buy separate controllers for different devices are all but over. Over the years, Microsoft has worked hard to ensure its Xbox gamepads work on PCs, smartphones and tablets, so it’s easy to recommend for the gamer dad who likes to play titles across a range of platforms. With built-in Bluetooth, it’s easy to pair an Xbox controller with an iPad or Android device, making it the perfect accessory for cloud gaming. They usually go for a bit more than $50, but you can often find them on sale for around $45. — M.B.

$55 at Microsoft