Every year the brightly lit floor of the Consumer Electronics Show is packed with companies displaying the most cutting-edge tech products. The latest crop of drones, phones, smart cars, and TVs garnered a lot of attention, but plenty of promising budget products also made their debut. Cheapism.com considered the offerings with a $200 budget in mind and homed in on 10 inexpensive gadgets. Although a couple of products exceed the target price range, they are remarkably good values. Many won't be available for purchase until later this year, giving consumers plenty of time to save up for the ones that catch their eye.
Canon announced some freshly minted cameras for CES 2016, including the PowerShot Elph 180 ($120). This budget shooter has a huge 20-megapixel CCD sensor and a 2.7-inch LCD on the back. It captures 720p high-definition video and has 8X optical zoom. One thing the camera doesn't feature is optical image stabilization to help take sharper pictures (although it does have digital image stabilization, which is better than nothing).
Dell's new Latitude 11 5000 Series 2-in-1 (starting at $749) packs a lot of features into a very small laptop/tablet hybrid. One of the buzzwords for digital devices in 2016 will be USB-C -- a new, smaller USB port that transfers data at nearly twice the speeds of USB 3.0 -- and the Latitude 11 includes this new port. The device also packs more power than most small laptops, using an Intel Core M3 or M5 processor paired with 4GB to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. The HD screen detaches for use as a tablet. Look out, Microsoft Surface.
Prices for new technology always go down over time, but Hisense's announcement of a $400 4K smart TV, the 43-inch H7C, still came as a surprise. TVs with 4K ultra-HD resolution don't sell for less than $500, let alone $400. Here's a caveat, though: This TV doesn't support local dimming, which can improve contrast. Still, the price tag is pretty impressive for a 4K TV.
Chromebooks have held their own nicely as cheap alternatives to Windows and Apple laptops. Acer's newest model, the Chromebook 11 CB3-131 (starting at $180), has a sturdy build and up to nine hours of battery life. It's super-thin, at about three-quarters of an inch, and weighs a mere 2.42 pounds. It's outfitted with a choice of 16GB or 32GB of storage. This super-portable Chrome-based PC is ideal for students and casual users who want a lightweight, low-budget laptop.
E Fun specializes in budget electronics and has three new Windows 10 tablets to show off. The Flexx 9A is the cheapest of the bunch, at a mere $149. This model includes a detachable keyboard and a multi-touch screen. It also comes with 32GB of internal storage and micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports. It runs on an Intel Atom quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. Overall, that's a pretty nice list of features for the price.
The Polaroid Snap ($100) can print pictures instantly from the camera itself, just like Polaroids of old. Also like Polaroids of old, this budget camera doesn't have an LCD on the back. It snaps photos at a very respectable 10 megapixels, and the prints measure 2 by 3 inches. Users can choose a black-and-white or sepia shooting mode in addition to the normal color picture mode. The Snap is sure to be a popular camera for parties and other outings.
Why bother plugging a flash drive into a USB port when you can send data wirelessly? That's the idea behind SanDisk's clever Connect Wireless Stick. SanDisk debuted a 200GB version of the Stick at CES for $120. It accepts data from just about any Wi-Fi-connected device, including smartphones. The Connect Wireless Stick can also stream audio and video to as many as three devices at once.
Drones were a big draw at CES this year, but many were pricey models geared toward professionals or consumers obsessed with recording HD video flybys of their homesteads. The Byrobot Petrone drone ($50) looks like more fun: Users can team up and play laser tag in the sky. Byrobot also sells a drive kit, so the drones can battle on the ground.
Have a budding quarterback in the house? The Wilson X Connected Football includes a sensor that measures how well and how far the ball is thrown, including how tight the spiral is. It can also detect when a butterfingered receiver drops a spot-on pass. The football (price TBA, but the Wilson X Connected Basketball is already on the market for $200) sends this info to an app that displays the stats.
Virtual reality headsets, including the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, generated a lot of buzz at CES. Those products, while impressive, will cost hundreds of dollars. Speck has an interesting alternative: the Pocket VR ($70). This portable device snaps onto a Samsung Galaxy S6 or Apple iPhone 6/6S to deliver the virtual reality experience via the Google Cardboard app. The Pocket VR will be included with Speck's CandyShell cases beginning in spring 2016.