11 Cool Gadgets From CES 2017 That You Can Actually Afford
At the Consumer Electronics Show, the technology world's annual trade show extravaganza in Las Vegas, big-name brands and startups alike reveal their latest TVs, cameras, drones, smart-home devices, and more. While the glitziest -- and priciest -- products get the bulk of the attention, manufacturers also debut gadgets aimed at consumers looking for less expensive options. Here are 11 of the most appealing and affordable offerings, most with price tags of $200 or less.
Amazon's Echo speaker and smart-home hub has become a breakout hit in the past year and inevitably spawned a slew of imitators. One of the best of the potential Echo killers is Lenovo's Smart Assistant (starting at $130), which offers most of the same capabilities as the Echo -- and even includes support for Amazon's Alexa voice assistant -- but is $50 cheaper. (Consumers can upgrade to a model with higher-quality audio for $180.)
For those looking to cut the cord and ditch cable for good, Dish revealed AirTV (starting at $100), an innovative service that consolidates broadcast and streaming programming into one tidy package. Dish's Sling TV streams channels like ESPN and CNN as they air, but AirTV goes one step further by streaming content from services like Netflix, which is pre-loaded into the AirTV player. Users can also watch local channels via an optional digital antenna, which brings the cost to $130.
While smartphones have largely muscled out the humble compact camera, manufacturers are still pumping out point-and-shoots with features most phones can't quite match. Nikon's pocket-friendly CoolPix A300 (starting at $140) is one such example, and it brings to the table a sizable 20.1 megapixel sensor, an 8x optical zoom lens, and Nikon's anti-vibration technology. Moreover, it can easily transfer photos to phones or tablets via built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
Thanks in part to Apple's decision to release its iPhone 7 without a headphone jack, a slew of wireless earbuds have been released in the past year. While most truly wireless earbuds, including Apple's own AirPods, cost more than $150, these completely wire-free earbuds from French brand PKParis are set to debut later this year for about $100. They offer five hours of battery life (and 13 hours with the included portable charger) and mild water resistance for runs in the rain.
While TCL is still a relatively unknown TV brand, it has quietly made strides with consumers thanks to its inexpensive 4K Roku TVs. In addition to built-in Roku functionality, the new S-Series of TVs also throws HDR10 -- a feature that enhances image detail, contrast, and brightness -- into the mix. The result is a cheap 4K TV that's nothing to scoff at. (While the exact price hasn't been announced, TCL's previous 43-inch 4K TV sells for $400.)
ZTE, a brand with considerable name recognition abroad but mostly under the radar in the U.S., reliably makes solid budget smartphones. Its latest, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro (starting at $230), is among its best yet. Most impressively for the price, it sports dual cameras for better depth-of-field effects -- just like the $770 iPhone 7 Plus. Add to that a premium-looking build that belies the modest price tag, and the ZTE Blade V8 Pro offers proof that a decent phone doesn't have to cost a fortune.
While smartwatches don't command the same kind of hype they did a couple of years ago, manufacturers are still delivering solid, affordable iterations of these gadgets. Case in point: Misfit's Vapor (starting at $200), a smartwatch with a touchscreen, GPS, a heart-rate monitor, and other fitness-tracking capabilities. It also looks surprisingly sharp, with a bright 1.4-inch screen.
High-tech toys aimed at kids have been a staple of recent CES events, but Fisher-Price's latest gadget takes a novel approach: It aspires to get kids exercising. The Think & Learn Smart Cycle (starting at $150) connects to a tablet or TV and lets little tykes cycle through games that also teach language and math skills. It's a clever way to ensure kids get enough exercise during the cold winter months.
While digital antennas have been available for some time now, the new AirWave wireless antenna from Mohu (starting at $150) lets customers ditch cable and connect to a TV (and devices like Roku) via Wi-Fi rather than an obtrusive cord. Other antennas require a good TV signal, which can depend on factors outside the user's control, such as where the living room is located within the house. Mohu's wireless antenna presents an ingenious solution to that problem and lets consumers pick up free local channels with ease.
Another kid-friendly gadget is Tilt's SpinTales, which combines augmented reality with tangible materials. When kids use the Jungle Rug or Enchanted Duvet (starting at $100 each) with a smartphone app, the relevant section of the rug or duvet will trigger an augmented-reality experience involving a classic fairy tale. It's an innovative idea with lots of creative potential.
An inexpensive gaming laptop might seem like an oxymoron -- most models in this genre cost at least $1,500, and often significantly more. For gamers on a budget, this year's Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (starting at $800) is on the relatively affordable end of the spectrum. Consumers get a speedy Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a formidable Nvidia GeForce graphics card, allowing them to play graphics-heavy games in full HD.