The holidays are approaching fast, and it's time to start picking up some gifts: for friends, family, even yourself. But when you're picking out what to go with, it's sometimes wise to stay away from the absolute best. Sometimes you just want the best value—something that's worth every shiny, hard-earned penny.
As new products emerge and the landscape changes, deals pop up, and they disappear fast. But these picks—the best deals in tech—remain excellent, underpriced, and they all stand out in bang-for-your-buck-itude.
Best Value Notebook: MacBook Air
When it comes to well-built, portable laptops, you can't beat a MacBook Air. It's not the cheapest option out there, but the quality is high, and the value's undeniable for the price-point. It's a good buy.
And make sure you check out the deals on Apple's refurbished page as well. The deals are amazing—in particular, the mid-2011 refurbished Macbook Air, which packs an Intel Sandy Bridge processor. The jump from the previous-gen Air to what's available new isn't that huge. Yes, Ivy Bridge is a real graphics upgrade, but it's not as important as the leap that was made between 2010 and 2011. And we're still talking about integrated graphics here. Neither of these is the sick gaming rig of your dreams. You can get a mid-2011, Sandy Bridge Air for just over 700 bucks.
A new 13-inch Air will run you $1,199.
- 13-inch Display
- Intel Core i5
- 4GB RAM
- 128 GB SSD
- Intel HD Graphics 4000.
Best Value Notebook For Under $1,000: Lenovo Yoga
If you want a good value ultrabook, take a look at the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga. It's a well-built machine, and comes well-equipped for less than most competing 13 inch models. On top of that, it flips back into a tablet if you're into that. Even if you're not, it's still a solid deal. $999
- 13-inch Display
- Intel Core i3
- 4GB RAM
- 128 GB SSD
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
Best Value Notebook Under $600: Lenovo IdeaPad Z585
If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a top-end notebook, regardless of how good a deal it is, you can still get a pretty good box for less. About half the price, actually. If you don't mind (or are stoked about) rocking some Windows 7, the Lenovo IdeaPad z585 is a solid notebook for the budget conscious. $550
- 15.6-inch Display
- 2.3 GHz A-Series Quad-Core A10-4600M
- 6GB RAM
- 750 GB SATA
- AMD Radeon HD 7660G
A lot of people just use a notebook to get on the Internet. Period. Those people don't need much horsepower or any fanciness; they probably need a Chromebook. Whether it's $200 for an Acer Chromebook—or $250 for Samsung's version—a Chromebook is one of the best deals in tech today. $200 or $249.
Best Value 7-inch Tablet: Nexus 7
If you want the most bang for your tablet-buck, a 7-inch is the way to go, and the Nexus 7 is a bundle of pure win. After the recent price drop, the Nexus 7 is toe-to-toe with the Kindle Fire HD on price, so the buttery, stock Android experience is just gravy. When it comes to value, and just in general, the Nexus 7 is a great deal. $200-$299
Best Value Full-Size Tablet: Nexus 10
Google only recently threw its hat into the full-size tablet ring with the Nexus 10, but they certainly got value right on the first try. Priced $100 lower than comparable new iPads, the Nexus 10 packs a 1.7 GHz dual-core Exynos CPU and an impressive 300 PPI screen, the Nexus 10 is a steal of a deal. If you're an iOS devotee who still hasn't hopped on the tablet train, iPad 2's are the same price as the Nexus 10, but the android here definitely packs the stronger punch.
On this topic, we also have to mention the Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 8.9—it's still full-size, yet it's $100 less, at only $299. Sure, it's not a powerhouse, but it's go a delicious screen and a nice friendly ecosystem for ya. $399-499
Best Value DSLR Under $2,000: Canon EOS 5D MKII
The Canon 5D MKIII came out earlier this year, and is pretty damn good, but even though it's expensive, it's a boon for bargin seekers too. Why? Because now the MKII is a great buy. Now it's down below $2,000 and a great value if you're going for something high-tier $1,799
Best Value DSLR Under $1,500: Canon 7D
While it's not the new hotness, the Canon 7D can still hold its own, and at a pretty low price. Are you starting to see the pattern here? It may not have all the new, sophisticated features newer cameras have, but value-wise it's a good mid-range unit. $1,400
Best Value DSLR Under $750: Canon Rebel T3i
The Canon T4i came out this year, but the new features like continuous autofocus and a touchscreen are far from must-haves. The T3i is still a great camera with a sweet 18MP CMOS sensor, and now it's a better deal than ever, with no extra charge for the bundled 18-55mm lens. If you're looking to get the most out of your DSLR-dollars, this is the way to go. $600
Best Value Mirrorless Camera: Sony Nex-5N
Since the Sony Nex-5R just came out earlier this month, and regardless of that camera's strengths and weaknesses, the Sony NEX-5N is a particularly good value proposition right now. It's definitely a good value call if you're in the market for mirrorless. $498
Best Value Point-And-Shoot: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
At 2 years old, the Lumix DMC-LX5 isn't the new kid on the block by any means, but it's stood the test of time. Boasting roughly the same image quality as the new (and more expensive) LX7 announced this past summer, the LX5 makes for great, reasonably priced higher-end point and shoot, especially now that it's down below the $300 range. $250
Best Value Over-Ear Headphones: Audio Technica ATH-M35
You don't have to pay out the nose to get a nice set of speakers for your ears. Sure you can drop a few hundred on headphones, but Audio Technica's ATH M35's are $60 well-spent if you're looking for good sound without picking up head-gear that's expensive enough to be considered "an investment." $63
Best Value Earbuds: Klipsch S4
If you're not a fan of over-ear cans and want something more portable for music-listening on the go, Klipsh Image S4s are the some of the best earbuds you can get for under $100, easy. If you're hard on your ‘buds, but still demand quality sound, S4s are a great go-to and they're worth every penny. $45
Best Value Noise Canceling Headphones: Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B
When you're going for active noise-cancelling headphones, your best bets are going to lay upwards of $300, like the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9s. If you're shooting for something just a little cheaper but that'll still do the trick well enough, their younger, cheaper brother the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7Bs will do you right for around half the price. $130
Best Value Soundbar: Vizio SB4021M
If building out a sophisticated home-audio setup isn't your style, a soundbar is a solution worth its weight in simplicity. When it comes to value, the Battlemodo winning Vizio SB4021M is what you want. Well-rounded without any seriously debilitating flas, the Vizio isn't the best sounding thing around, but it gets the job done quite well, and at a price-point that won't hurt your wallet too bad $220
Best Value Bluetooth Speaker: Soundfreaq Sound Kick
Whether you're bring the sound to a party, or just bringing the sound to another room, a good Bluetooth speaker can be handy. The Battlemodo-proven Soundfreaq Sound Kick doubly so. With sound quality that rivals the more expensive Jambox, the Soundfreaq is a definitely your best value buy in this arena. $100
Best Value E-Reader: Kindle
This one is pretty much a given, but it's worth mentioning that the $69 Kindle is a steal of a deal for an eReader. Sure, the Paperwhite has front-lighting and a crisper display, but the Kindle is dirt cheap now, and still a great product. $69
Best Value Coffee Maker: Aeropress
Great coffee doesn't have to be expensive if you're making it with the right coffee maker, and the Aeropress counts as the right coffee maker. Similar to, but superior than a french press, the Aeropress makes good coffee, is compact and easy to use, and it's cheap. It's not great for more than one cup at a time, but other than that it's worth its weight in coffee. $26
Best Value Action Camera: GoPro Hero 2
The GoPro Hero 3 just came out, and while it may be feature-laden (though a bit buggy), it leaves the still awesome, Battlemodo-winning GoPro Hero 2 at a lower price than ever. The Hero 2 is more than good enough to get the job done, and you'll definitely get your money's worth with it. $199-$239
Best Value TV: Panasonic ST-50 Plasma
If you're looking for the place where picture quality and value meet, look no further than the Panasonic ST-50 plasma. With picture nearly on par with Panasonic's flagship VT-50 without the pricetag, the ST-50 is one of the best TVs out there for its price. It's also got 3D, if that's your thing, but even without that it's a great product for a great price. $998-$2,048
Best Value iPhone: iPhone 4S 16GB
The iPhone 5 came out a few months ago to much acclaim, but the iPhone 4S is still a good'un and now it's cheap. at $100 for the 16GB with a 2-year contract, this is your best bet for a high-value iPhone purchase. You won't be getting LTE with this one, but if that's not a deal-breaker for you, this is the way to go. $99
Best Value Windows Phone: Lumia 920
When it comes to Windows Phone, you're going to want to make sure you're getting Windows Phone 8, so the Nokia flagship Lumia 920 is the way to go value-wise. With a 1.5-GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 32GB internal storage, and 1GB of RAM, the 920 is solid, if a bit heavy. The HTC 8X is bit of a better phone, but at a $99 2-year contract price-point, the 920 wins out dollar for dollar. $99
Best Value Android Phone: Depends on Carrier
The shiniest new Android phone kicking around is definitely the hotness that is the Nexus 4, but it's a bit pricey at $300 for the unlocked 8GB version. There are better Android deals out there you can snag. On Sprint, you'll want to opt for the speedy HTC EVO 4G LTE. T-Mobilers will want to opt for the HTC One S. Verizon folks will want a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and AT&T people should go for the HTC One X. $99, $149, $99, $99 respectively
Best Value Game Console: Xbox 360 When it comes to the best value game console, you'll want a Xbox 360 Slim. In addition to being a great gaming system, it's also a pretty formidble set-top box. If you snag the Amazon Holiday Bundle, you can get a 250GB one for $250, with Skyrim and Forza 4 packed in. There's the option to go $100 more for a Kinect, but that's far from necessary. $250
Best Value Router: AirPort Express
The best kind of router is the kind you have to think about once—when you buy it—and then never, ever again. The Apple AirPort Express is just that. A dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n wireless router with built-in AirPlay support, the AirPort Express is worth every penny you'll pay for it, even though you won't spend much time thinking about it. It's ok; that's how it should be. $99
Best Value Cell Phone Carrier
Sprint service kind of stinks sometimes, but it's hard to argue with its value proposition. It's got extremely affordable plans that include unlimited data at $80 a month for a single line, and if you punch a family plan up to four people it can be even cheaper per person. But it's not just unlimited data and cheapness—it's the LTE network it's (slowly) rolling out, and the fact that Sprint has the iPhone now, and a surprisingly decent phone selection overall.
- This is the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro you should get.
- This is the iPhone 5 you should get
- This is the iPad Mini you should get
Got some other great deals? Anything you want us to weigh in on? Drop it in the comments!