Cheap tech haul: $66 worth of cheap tech stuff

By Andrew Moore-Crispin

Cheap tech haul – Bargain tech shopping

We hit a Family Dollar store to see what kind of tech stuff we could find for a buck or two… or 13. Well, mostly we went to a Family Dollar store to break up the two-hour drive from Charlottesville, VA to Dulles Airport but the point stands.

The original idea was for a $1 tech haul but in the end, we had to set our sights a little higher. We found headphones and chargers, smartphone camera helpers and even a decent HDTV-ready antenna. Here’s all the stuff we snagged, along with the total price of our tech haul at the end.

Sentry Stereo Earbuds

These earbuds (pictured above) function at about the level you’d expect at this price. The display proudly proclaims these earbuds are lightweight. That’s true both literally and figuratively. With the volume on my phone cranked, these earbuds were barely able to beat the noise of the engines on the plane that brought the Ting video team back to Ting HQ.

If I may offer a marketing pro-tip, these should be called volume-limiting earbuds, positioned as perfect for kids for whom regular earbuds/headphones aren’t appropriate… and maybe the price could be trebled.

Self-portrait button

The package claims it works with iOS and Android phones, 4.2 or higher. While that may be true at an OS level, with flagship phones ditching the trusty 3.5mm jack faster than you can say, “they don’t sell Lightning > 3.5mm headphone adapters in the dollar store,” you may be out of luck at the hardware level.

If you’ve ever feared dropping your phone because of the tenuous grip created by the thumb gymnastics required to take an unassisted selfie, maybe this is $1 well spent. Whoever first bought and subsequently returned the one we ended up with (we’re assuming, given that the blister card had been stapled back together) didn’t think so, apparently.

RCA Budz For Your Ears


Earbuds are passe. Budz For Your Ears are the new hotness.

These are decent (but obviously not great) ‘phones, available in a range of colors. More comfortable and with a much better range than the $1 entry. Five times better? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s hard to gauge. These earbuds budz for your earz are usable. Audiophiles need not apply but at $5, we knew that going in.

Ear Mintz


The same earbudsz as above, packaged in a metal tin reminiscent of Excel Mints. Handy for storing earbudsz so they don’t get tangled.

When we pulled ours out of the packaging, the pin that acts as the hinge between lid and body fell out, rendering the thing useless.

RCA Cassette Adapter


A cassette adapter allows you to connect any source with a 3.5mm headphone jack to a car’s tape player. With each passing year, car stereos that take a cassette are increasingly rare. If you’ve got one though, these things are worth their weight in gold. It’s one of those things that, if you need it, you really need it but they can be hard to find.

They see you rolling. They hating.

Wireless FM Transmitter with Remote


If your car isn’t quite an antique so it doesn’t have a cassette player, but isn’t so new as to have Bluetooth or an AUX in, an FM transmitter can get your smartphone sound playing on the car stereo.

This tech works best in less densely populated areas where not every single radio frequency is spoken for. Select a frequency on the digital display, plug your source in using the 3.5mm cable and you’re listening to a slightly staticky version of your music and podcasts.

And who among us doesn’t need another remote to lose?

Magnavox HDTV Indoor Digital Antenna


If you’re considering cutting the cord, grab an HDTV antenna to pull in free over the air TV signals. Even an inexpensive antenna like this one can give you a taste of the free TV signals that are available to pull in locally.

Polaroid Portable AM/FM Radio


Get your podcasts the old-fashioned way: Tune into your local public radio station and see what’s on. Pair it with the Wireless FM Transmitter with Remote and pick up your smartphone’s audio.

Actually, don’t. That’s a really bad idea.


Connect and Shoot Selfie Stick


It’s a telescopic selfie stick.

It has a 3.5mm plug that lets you remote fire the shutter. There’s really not much more to say except that if you have a 5.5-inch or larger phone, you might want to make sure it will fit properly before you commit.

Polaroid USB Wall and Car Charger


Who doesn’t need more USB ports in their life? This 4-port USB brick plugs into the wall at home or into the power port (what we used to call a cigarette lighter) of your car. It outputs 2.4A so should also work to rapid charge phones that are so equipped.

Smartphone Lens Kit


Clip this little gadget over the lens of your smartphone camera like an alligator clip and get several new photo possibilities that even Instagram filters can’t offer.

Screw one of the three included lenses on and you can take wide-angle, fisheye or macro photos.


Tech Haul tally

All told, our tech haul cost $66. Or would have had we actually bought all this stuff.

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