Skip to Content

Save money with these budget-friendly tech alternatives

Technology always comes at a price, but the question is whether that price is going to be high or low. It’s easy to fall in love with the latest high-end gadgets, but sometimes our budgets demand a more prudent purchase. Let’s explore both ends of the scale when it comes to robot vacuum cleaners, tablets, and headphones. Yes, there are perks to buying high, but sometimes the budget alternative will fit your needs just fine, and leave some cash in your wallet at the same time.

Robot vacuum cleaner

High-end: iRobot Roomba 980

The iRobot line of Roomba vacuum cleaners have defined the space since they first hit the market in 2002. Almost every robot vacuum cleaner since has borrowed some design cues from the distinctive round, motorized cleaner. The current top-of-the-line Roomba is the 980, which sports 120 minutes of runtime, Wi-Fi, advanced navigational capabilities, powerful carpet-cleaning features, virtual wall barriers, and an app that allows you to manage your vacuuming. It comes in at a hefty $900 price tag.

Budget option: Eufy RoboVac 11

The brand Eufy might not sound familiar, but that’s because it’s a relatively recent sister brand to Anker, a company known for its many battery, charger, and cable products. Eufy’s RoboVac 11 bears a passing resemblance to a Roomba, sharing the same circular shape. At just $220, it comes in way under even the cheapest Roomba (the $375 Roomba 650). The Eufy tops out with 90 minutes of runtime and includes a remote control, but doesn’t have an app or virtual wall barriers to keep it confined to certain rooms. Eufy also said that RoboVac 11 is not suitable for high-pile carpets or very dark-colored floors.

iRobot or Eufy?

If money is no object, then the top-of-the-line Roomba 980 is a powerful machine that can handle your day-to-day cleaning with enough bells and whistles to satisfy advanced tech-loving gadget hounds. If you’re interested in stepping into entry-level robot vacuuming, then the Eufy RoboVac 11 is a capable, well-reviewed option that has received customer praise for its quiet operation. That’s a bonus if you have easily spooked pets or want to run your vacuum at night while you sleep.

Tablet computer

High-end: Apple iPad

Apple recently revamped its iPad tablet lineup. The standard iPad with a 9.7-inch screen starts at $329 with 32 GB of memory, no cellular connection, an 8-megapixel camera, and up to 10 hours of battery life. You also get access to Apple’s robust app store.

Budget option: Amazon Fire HD 8

At first glance, the Amazon Fire HD 8’s specs don’t stand up against the iPad. The entry-level machine comes with just 16 GB of memory, a 2-megapixel camera, and an 8-inch display. What puts this into the impulse-buy territory is the $85 price tag for the version without “special offers,” Amazon’s code phrase for dishing up extra advertising on the tablet. The Fire HD 8 runs a customized version of the Android operating system, which will still feel familiar to Android fans.

Apple or Amazon?

If cellular data isn’t a big deal for you, then the budget tablet decision really comes down to several factors. Are you already invested in Apple’s ecosystem of Macs and iPhones? Then you might want to stick with an iPad, which now comes at a more appealing price point than previous models. If you just want a cheap tablet for browsing the web and watching your Amazon Prime videos, then it’s hard to beat $85 for a decent Android device.


High-end: Bose QuietComfort 35

If you’re looking for the Lamborghini of headphones, then you will probably check out Bose’s QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones, a high-end set with Bluetooth, advanced noise-cancellation technology, and an impressive 20 hours of battery life. These will tune out the world and tune in your music, but you will pay $350 for the privilege.

Budget option: Skullcandy Grind Wireless

There are many Bose competitors that hit the $250 price point, but that’s still a lot of money for a set of headphones. Skullcandy’s Grind Wireless headphones feature a stylish look and up to 12 hours of listening time for $90. The biggest sacrifice here is the lack of noise cancellation. The sound quality is plenty good, but it’s not like disappearing into your own little world of sound like you can with the Bose.

Bose or Skullcandy?

If you’re looking for a set of headphones with good-to-great noise cancellation technology built in, then you’re also looking at higher prices, with the Bose QuietComfort 35 sitting pretty as king of the hill. If you can live without that feature (and live with the shorter battery life), then Skullcandy’s affordable option gives you sweet sound matched with a fun design.

More from

5 ways to save money on

Secret source for cheap computers and components

10 terms you need to know before buying a smart TV

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community!

Get even more digital know-how and entertainment within the Komando Community! Watch or listen to The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, and get answers in the Tech Forum.

Join Now