Okay, let’s face it — there’s a thrill when you go into a store and try out, or even buy, an $1,800 Samsung Z-Fold 5 or a $999 iPhone 14 Pro. But sometimes, you can feel a real sense of accomplishment when you find that you own something that costs under $50 and turns out to be something you really, really enjoy using.
We asked the staff of The Verge to come up with their favorite inexpensive items, and we got some really interesting answers, ranging from electric screwdrivers and wired earbuds to stick vacuum cleaners and snazzy watch bands.
So here’s some of the neat stuff that we own, use, and like.
Inexpensive wired earbuds that come in a variety of colors.
If you just need a pair of affordable headphones that you won’t sweat losing or breaking, you might want to check out Panasonic’s ErgoFit Wired Earbuds.
I’ve recommended these before, and I’ll recommend them again. These are my favorite ultra-cheap wired headphones with a mic, and I use them for things like gaming, for Zoom calls, and even as a wired mic for appearances on podcasts and television.
Do they sound great? Maybe not great, but audio is perfectly fine. Is the mic good? Not as good as a USB mic, but good enough!
David Pierce, editor-at-large
Apple’s wired earbuds are comfortable, provide fine audio, and includes a built-in remote.
Here’s a little-known fact about Apple’s wired headphones: outside of a professional microphone, they’re probably the best gadget on the planet for sounding good on phone and video calls. Add in the fact that their battery never dies (because they don’t have one!) and the fact that they’re more comfortable to have in your ears for hours than any of the AirPods, and the old-fashioned EarPods are a staggeringly useful accessory.
You can get EarPods with a Lightning jack for your iPhone or a 3.5mm jack for everything else on Earth. Heck, they’re under $20, get both! I have a set in my suitcase (for emergency plane-screen situations), a set in my backpack, and a set in my car. If you ever call me and think gosh, David sounds so great, there’s only one reason for it: wires.
Sean Hollister, senior editor
Inexpensive 9V batteries.
Look, I’m not going to promise these are perfectly safe — every one of these lithium batteries I’ve seen comes from some alphabet soup Amazon company, and li-ion batteries are inherently flammable even if fires are rare. But considering how rarely I ever actually pull out a 9V battery, how expensive they can be, and yet how quickly they drain in serious use (see: my TENS muscle relaxing machine that also happens to be sub-$50, wink wink), I immediately bought some as soon as I discovered they’re a thing.
Here’s the most recent set I picked up from a seller called SPYONG, simply because they were the first ones I saw with integrated USB-A charging cables so I can plug ‘em directly into my USB-port-wielding outlets. You can find plenty more here, including ones with their own built-in USB-C ports.
Becca Farsace, senior video producer