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$100 or less will get you these top tech items

The second-gen, mini-sized Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker is just as smart as the first at nearly half the cost, and it’s better at hearing you, too.
The second-gen, mini-sized Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker is just as smart as the first at nearly half the cost, and it’s better at hearing you, too. TNS

A C-note is all the budget you need to buy a great tech gift. Here are some favorites from the folks at CNET, independent reviewers of personal technology products.

Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

CNET rating: 5 stars out of 5 (Spectacular)

The good: The second-gen, mini-sized Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker is just as smart as the first at nearly half the cost, and it’s better at hearing you, too. It’s also the only Echo product you can connect to an existing audio setup.

The bad: Amazon’s Echo products still can’t offer audio that syncs across multiple devices in multiple rooms.

The cost: $49.99

The bottom line: The new and improved Echo Dot takes Amazon’s best-in-class smart home speaker and wraps it in an ultra-affordable package.

Roku Premiere+

CNET rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Outstanding)

The good: The Roku Premiere+ can access more TV shows and movies in 4K and HDR than most rival devices. It has better features for the money than Roku’s other 4K streamers, and unlike the Chromecast Ultra it actually includes a remote (and an Amazon Video app). Roku’s ecosystem offers more apps, better search and more customization than any other.

The bad: Content in 4K and HDR is still uncommon, and your HDR TV probably already has compatible apps. Unlike some of those TVs, Premiere+ doesn’t work with Dolby Vision HDR. There’s no voice capability on the remote. Some app interfaces are less polished than on rival devices.

The cost: $97.92

The bottom line: For 4K HDR TV owners fed up of using built-in smart TV apps, the Roku Premiere+ is my top pick.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Amazon has improved on its excellent Paperwhite e-reader with the sharper, higher resolution screen found in the step-up Kindle Voyage. A smattering of new features enhance Amazon’s already best-in-class content ecosystem. The built-in light isn’t quite as good as the Voyage’s, but it works well.

The bad: The HD screen is an upgrade but doesn’t make a huge difference; an AC adapter isn’t included (just a Micro-USB cable for charging). The ad-free version costs $20 more.

The cost: $99.99 to $149.96

The bottom line: The Kindle Paperwhite gets an HD screen, and while it isn’t as big an upgrade as you’d think, it’s a welcome addition, incrementally enhancing the Kindle reading experience.

UE Roll 2

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The UE Roll 2 is a compact, waterproof Bluetooth speaker with a unique design, very good sound for its size, and decent battery life. It has an integrated bungee cord and an included inflatable life preserver that allows it to float in water. New version has better wireless range and plays a little louder.

The bad: It has no speakerphone capabilities.

The cost: $95.00 to $99.99

The bottom line: Overall, while this may not seem like much of an upgrade over the original, the UE Roll 2 is a better speaker and clearly one of the top mini Bluetooth speakers on the market.

For more reviews of personal technology products, visit www.cnet.com.

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