Gifts for grads under $100

The SNES Classic is a nearly perfect retro console that s a slam-dunk recommendation for everyone — provided you can find one. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)
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The SNES Classic is a nearly perfect retro console that s a slam-dunk recommendation for everyone — provided you can find one. (Sarah Tew/CNET/TNS)

Here are CNET’s picks for four tech gadgets that will make a welcome gift to grads at any of those levels that won’t set you back more than a C note.

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Roku Streaming Stick Plus

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/roku-streaming-stick-plus/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 5 stars out of 5 (Spectacular)

The good: The Roku Streaming Stick Plus delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. Its dead-simple interface puts every streaming service on a level playing field. Roku has more 4K HDR apps and better search than competitors. Its responses are lightning-fast, its video quality as good as any streamer, and its remote can control your TV’s volume and power.

The bad: The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts. Voice search and control is worse than some competitors.

The cost: $66.30 to $73.77

The bottom line: With its simple design and focus on features you’ll actually use, Roku’s affordable 4K HDR streamer is one you should get.

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Amazon Echo (2017)

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/amazon-echo-2017/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: With a variety of new designs, the new Amazon Echo is better-looking than the original, just as smart and a lot less expensive. The addition of an aux-out jack lets you connect it with your existing audio setup. It’s also a slightly better listener than before.

The bad: Though fine for casual listening and strong enough to fill a room with music, the Echo still doesn’t sound as good as premium, high-fidelity speakers. The volume ring of the original is gone, replaced with the cheaper volume buttons of the Echo Dot.

The cost: $84.99 to $99.99

The bottom line: Alexa is still the most compelling voice control platform, and the new and improved Echo should only boost her momentum. It’s well worth the money.

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Nintendo SNES Classic

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/nintendo-super-nes-classic-edition/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The SNES Classic Edition provides a pixel-perfect Super Nintendo experience by packing in 21 games and two authentic SNES gamepads with longer cords. Games can be paused, rewound and saved.

The bad: There’s still no way to back out into the game selection menu without hitting the reset button.

The cost: $99.99

The bottom line: The SNES Classic is a nearly perfect retro console that’s a slam-dunk recommendation for everyone — provided you can find one.

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Bose SoundLink Micro

Product Review: https://www.cnet.com/products/bose-soundlink-micro/review/#ftag=CAD187281f

CNET rating: 4.0 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: The Bose SoundLink Micro is a pocket-size Bluetooth speaker that is able to play louder and produce richer and louder sound than competing micro wireless speakers. It’s fully waterproof, has a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls, plus an integrated strap for clipping the speaker onto a bag or other objects.

The bad: Battery life is only average. Bigger portable speakers will deliver similar or better sound for the same money or less.

The cost: $99.00 to $99.99

The bottom line: The well-built and travel-friendly Bose SoundLink Micro is arguably the best sounding speaker in its tiny size class.

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The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Senior Editor Jeff Bakalar, Executive Editor David Carnoy, Senior Associate Editor Ry Crist, Section Editor David Katzmaier and Senior Editor Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.

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