With Father’s Day approaching, and the economy stagnant, saving money just got more important. Fortunately, getting dad a great gift doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. For those living within a budget, even cutting-edge technology can be had for under $50.
The gift ideas on this list cater to those interested in reducing strain from wrist ailments, improving physical fitness, and other issues relevant to an older, male demographic. Recommended gifts include wearable fitness trackers, drone technology, smart home products, high-quality earbuds, Bluetooth speakers, and more—all for less than $50!
The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is on par with the far more expensive Fitbit Zip, and because the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is coming soon, the Mi Band 2 has had its price cut. It offers sleep tracking, pedometer, and more in a wearable form factor. If you haven’t heard of them, Xiaomi made waves with its entry into the US in 2015 with low-cost, high-quality devices.
Unlike the endless parade of overpriced Android Wear smartwatches, TechAdvisor considers the Mi Band to be the best cheap activity tracker on the market. Overall, the Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse offers users the same functionality as a $100 fitness tracker at a fraction of the price.
- Sleep and pedometer
- Excellent battery life
- Mobile app for easy setup and configuration
- Less accurate than the competitors
- Will be replaced by the Mi Band 3
Reviews for the Xiaomi Mi Band 2:
Wareable: “The problem for Xiaomi is that fitness trackers, good ones, are getting cheaper and cheaper.” Score: 3/5
TechAdvisor: “The Xiaomi Mi Band 2 is the best cheap fitness tracker we’ve seen.” Score: 4.5/5
Amazon: It’s Amazon’s highest rated wearable band under $50 with pulse tracking. Score: 4.2/5
For dads interested in remote-control technology, consider getting him an entry-level drone. One of the best drones under $50 is the Aukey Mohawk Drone. It includes features common to more expensive drones, such as the ability to return on its own, although it is definitely a “for beginners” gadget. It falls between entry-level and enthusiast, though, which makes it suitable for someone already a little familiar with drone technology.
- Easy to fly and control
- Durable and well-constructed
- Long battery life
Reviews for the Aukey Mohawk Drone:
ReviewRoute: “With great features, simple construction and intuitive controls it is easy to see why the Mohawk is so easy to pick up and play by not only novices but experts alike which is always a good thing.” Score: 5/5
WireCutter: “The Mohawk is fast and agile, making it particularly fun to race, but it’s not for beginners.” Award: “Also Great”
Amazon.com: Among drones under $50, the Mohawk is among the better-reviewed options. Score: 3.6/5
For those who are unfamiliar with drone technology, see our article on questions to ask before buying your first drone.
Note: Despite the price listing on Amazon, you can find the Steam Controller sold by several other internet retailers, including Gamestop, for less than $50.
Does dad play PC games? Here’s the most controversial gamepad to ever hit the market: Steam Controller PC Gamepad. While it’s not for everyone, the Steam Controller combines the intuitive controls of a Home Theater PC (what’s an HTPC?) remote with a highly customizable gamepad experience.
Instead of using sticks, it offers touchpads, which some users report offer relief for those suffering from carpal tunnel and other disabilities. On top of that, it can also function as an Airmouse (learn more about the different kinds of HTPC remotes). My take on the Steam Controller: it’s the perfect peripheral for a living room computer.
- Touchpads are easier on the wrists than joysticks.
- Doubles as a mouse for desktop computers.
- Long battery life and ease of configuration.
- Requires installing Valve’s Steam Client.
- Unusual design isn’t for everyone.
Reviews for the Steam Controller Gamepad:
MakeUseOf: “Buy it if you want both a gamepad and HTPC remote with infinite customization options.” Score: 10/10
TechRadar: “The Steam Controller is a living, changing peripheral that’s just as likely to revolutionize and improve the way you game as it is to frustrate you when using it for the first time.” Score: 3/5
PCWorld: “It’s an elegant solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem—‘How do you play every PC game ever made on a single input device?'” Score: No numeric value, but PCWorld loves the Steam Controller.
Does dad suffer from carpal tunnel or repetitive strain injury? One of the best mice to show up on the market is the Logitech M570 Trackball Mouse.
Rather than moving his wrist, the user moves their thumb to control the mouse cursor. Not only is it less injurious, it also allows for easier cleaning and maintenance.
The overall impression from the Internet is that the M570 is the best wireless trackball mouse—particularly for those suffering from arthritis, carpal tunnel, or RSI. On the downside, the scroll wheel doesn’t include any modern features, such as tilt-scrolling.
- Ergonomic design
- 18 months of battery life
- Wireless connection
- A little on the large side—not for tiny hands
- Mediocre scroll wheel
Reviews for the Logitech M570 Trackball Mouse:
PCMag: “Although, my experience was hampered by my small hands, which were unable to comfortably reach the scroll wheel and browser buttons, I was still impressed by the advanced navigating experience the M570 offered.” Score: 4/5
Amazon.com: Highest reviewed trackball mouse under $50. Score: 4.6/5
Note: Logitech has also released a newer version of the mouse, the Logitech MX ERGO, that’s just as good.
Most dads owning a modern smartphone or laptop aren’t getting the most out of their wireless networks. That’s because marketing-speak for wireless devices borders on gibberish. For example, terms like “tri-band” really don’t mean anything for average users. If he doesn’t have a dual-band or Wireless-AC router, he could use an upgrade.
I normally wouldn’t recommend a product like the D-Link DIR-817LW—its reviews are decidedly mediocre. But at its current price, you can’t go wrong. It’s among the cheapest of Wireless-AC routers on today’s market and a recommend buy for those looking to dip their feet in Wi-Fi technology.
For most users with modern laptops or smartphones, the newer technology (what’s 802.11ac?) offers more reliable Wi-Fi connections and faster speeds. The device is suitable for smaller homes or apartments. Those owning larger homes would need a Wi-Fi extender or a more expensive router.
- Cheap Wireless-AC router
- AC750 speeds (which is faster than Wireless-N but the slowest of the AC standard)
- Dual-band design allows for better connection quality
- Beautiful design and small size
- Ease of configuration makes it a good device for older, less-tech-savvy users
- Short range makes it a poor choice for large homes
Reviews for the D-Link DIR817LW Router:
Amazon: Best-reviewed Wireless-AC router under $50 on Amazon (despite its average score). Score: 3.2/5 stars.
CNET: “Compact and easy to use, but underpowered.” Score: 2.5/5 stars.
Note: There’s also a black version of the D-Link DIR-817LW.
Does dad love music? Check out the Venture Electronics VE Monk Plus Earphones. The VE Monk Plus earphones combine a lot of unexpected features for its price. Aside from quality sound production, reviewers universally point out that the Piston III offers qualities normally found in far more expensive devices.
My fellow colleague Yusuf Limalia recommended these to me on the basis of their high value. He recommends importing from AliExpress, although they take several weeks to deliver. Amazon, on the other hand, delivers in two days.
- High-quality sound for the money
- Low price point
- Mediocre build quality
- No in-line microphone
Reviews for the VE Monk Plus Earphones:
LinusTechTips: Linus whole-heartedly endorses the Monk Plus earphones.
Does dad ever go traveling? If he takes along a smartphone, he could definitely use a power bank. A great option is the Jackery Bolt 6,000mAh Pocket-Sized Power Bank. The Bolt offers a winning combination of small size, good wattage capacity, and compatibility with the iPhone and iPad as well as Android devices. And its tiny size makes it perfect for dads who don’t carry a manbag.
Jackery has a great reputation as a high-end manufacturer of charging solutions. Its most popular product, the Bolt, has some serious street cred. Indeed, it’s one of the best-reviewed backup batteries sold by Amazon, mostly due to its high-quality construction, 24-month warranty, low price, fast charge times, and compact design. On the downside, while the integrated cables are nice, they aren’t replaceable.
- 6,000mAh battery
- 24-month warranty
- Contains integrated microUSB (Android) and Lightning (iPhone/iPad) cables
- Fits in a pocket
- Non-replaceable cables
Reviews for the Jackery Bolt Power Bank:
Amazon: Scores highly compared to other compact backup batteries. Score: 4.3/5
Wirecutter: “The integrated Micro-USB and Lightning-connector cables make it convenient to carry every day, for every device. The aluminum body is the size of a bar of soap, and the Bolt has enough power to charge a midsize smartphone twice.” Award: Best for “Every day carry”
ChargerHarbour: “This Jackery Bolt truly has it all, but it’s up to you to decide if having all the charging options really matter to you. Or if you’re more of a free-range kind of person.” Score: 8.9/10
For dads who love music, an excellent smartphone or tablet companion is the Creative Muvo Mini Bluetooth Speaker. It syncs with a smartphone, providing better quality sound than a smartphone’s speakers.
In addition to better audio, the Creative Muvo Mini Bluetooth speaker packs in a tremendous number of features, including near-field communication, Bluetooth 4.0 (for reduced power consumption,) speakerphone mode, and water resistance.
- Speakerphone mode.
- NFC pairing (just tap your phone to the speaker to pair them together.)
- Resistant to water for outdoor dads.
Reviews for the Creative Muvo Speaker:
EntertainmentBuddha: “If you’re in the market for a portable wireless speaker but don’t have a ton of cashflow, Creative’s Muvo Mini is the way to go.” Score: 93/100
Amazon: One of the highest rated Bluetooth speakers on Amazon. Score: 4.5/5
If your father owns a smartphone or tablet, you might want to buy him an iClever Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard.
While not as big as a laptop’s keyboard, a foldable typing instrument can turn smartphones into a word processing machine. It also allows users to dispense with cables and takes a little bit of weight off dad’s knees. iClever’s offering received universal praise for its small size, high build quality, and long battery life—for a very low price.
- Highly portable Bluetooth folding keyboard.
- Excellent battery life.
- Roomy, spacious design makes typing easy.
Reviews for the iClever Foldable Keyboard:
PCmag: “You may not want to work on it all day, but it’s perfect for quick typing sessions or when you want to finish a document and the onscreen keyboard isn’t cutting it.” Score: 4/5
Betanews: “I was very much a mobile keyboard skeptic, but this device converted me.”
Amazon: It’s the highest ranked foldable keyboard on Amazon. Score: 4.5/5
Does dad have computer-induced eye strain? Numerous studies, including a summary of research published in the journal Molecular Vision, show that the light emitted from monitors, smartphones, and other electronics, can cause macular degeneration. If correct, a potentially effective solution is to wear eye protection. Specifically, eye protection that can block ultraviolet rays.
One of the most well-known brands out there is Gunnar, which manufactures the Optiks line of blue-blocking glasses. The Gunnar Optiks Eyestrain Protection Glasses don’t block 100 percent of blue light, but they do block 65 percent of the blue spectrum and 100 percent of the UV spectrum, with UV rays being the most damaging to eyes.
- Blocks 65 percent of blue light and 100 percent of ultraviolet light
- There are cheaper alternatives that provide similar degrees of eye protection
Reviews for the Gunnar Optiks Glasses:
Amazon.com: It remains the only brand-name eye-strain protector on Amazon. Score: 3.8/5
Did You Know Amazon Has 1-Day Shipping?
If you’ve procrastinated on buying Dad a Father’s Day gift, Amazon offers 1-day shipping for eligible Amazon Prime customers (one of the many benefits of a Prime membership). Everyone else gets free 2-day shipping on all Prime-eligible items. Don’t have Prime yet? Sign up for the 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime to get your Father’s Day gift ASAP!