Whatever the reason cash is tight – paying down credit card bills from holiday shopping, losing a job to the pandemic, or a New Year’s resolution to curb your spending – there may be less to go around in February.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a new tech toy: You might just be surprised at what’s available at your local “dollar store.”
OK, so it may not be truly one dollar anymore, if you’ve read the news or experienced it for yourself, but there are still bargains to be had on consumer electronics.
Even if you’re not on a budget, why spend $30 for an HDMI cable at a big box store when you can pick one up for a buck or two, and you won’t be able to see or hear the difference between the two?
As so we look at “dollar store” tech from time to time in this column, and the following are a half-dozen picks seen at stores such as Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Dollar General, 99¢ Depot, and Dollarama (in Canada).
Be aware, however, not all stores have the same products. Or you might find a very similar one under a different brand name.
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Brilliant Ideas Color-Changing LED Shower Head ($5)
Jazz up your shower time with this high-tech solution from Brilliant Ideas.
This “hydro-powered” Color-Changing LED Shower Head fits onto any standard shower neck affixed to the wall (not shower hoses) and gives you a colorful light show as you bathe.
For full effect, turn off the bathroom lights and only use this plastic doohickey to colorfully illuminate your tub or stall.
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E-Circuit Round Over-Ear Headphones ($1.25)
Parents are likely sick of hearing “Baby Shark” from an iPad in the backseat. But at the same time, you might not want your little ones wearing earbuds yet.
There are three benefits from a product like the E-Circuit Round Headphones: They go over your ears instead of in them; they’re not capable of getting too loud (impedance of 32 Ohm); and if they are broken or lost, at $1.25 a pair, you might not be too upset.
Available in four colors, the E-Circuit headphones are adjustable to fit varying head sizes.
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Step Gear Pedometer ($3)
If you don’t want to blow your budget on a Fitbit or Apple Watch, you can pick up the $3 Step Gear Pedometer, a wrist-mounted activity tracker that counts your steps, tracks your distance and estimated calories burned, and displays them on the small LCD screen.
It also shows you the time, too, with its integrated digital clock. Available in multiple colors and with an adjustable strap, this pedometer includes an AG4 battery (already in the tracker).
Press the small “Mode” button to get going.
Tech-1 Optical Wireless Mouse ($3)
While you might know you can pick up a wired mouse at your local dollar store, you can also snag a wireless mouse, too.
This Tech -1-branded computer accessory includes a teeny transceiver that plugs into an available USB-A port on your Windows PC to make a wireless handshake with the device.
This black and ambidextrous mouse features three buttons, including a middle scroll wheel, and requires one double-A battery (not included).
White LED Clip-On Adjustable Book Light ($1.25)
How to read a book in bed without distributing your partner?
Rather than turning on a lamp on, say, a night table, Dollar Tree is selling this no-name LED Clip-On Adjustable Book Light that clips onto your paperback, hardcover, or non-illuminated e-reader.
Simply position the arm to your liking and the (surprisingly) bright LED will illuminate the page.
Three small AG13 batteries are required and included.
Momentum Universal Remote ($2)
Found at 99¢ Depot, this universal remote can control up to eight devices, such as a television, cable box, or DVD player (if you still own one).
To program the remote, press and hold the button for the device you want to control (such as TV), then enter the television manufacturer’s code from manual, or press Channel Up to scan the possible codes until the device shuts itself off. Press the “Set” button to confirm it’s working.
The remote also include controls for volume, mute, play/pause/skip, menu, and so on.
Though they’re not included, two AA batteries are required.