5 min Read
Surprisingly Good Dollar Store Tech Items for Under $5
May 17, 2023
5 min Read
May 17, 2023
Our tech expert found great gadget finds dollar store retailers, from smartphone mounts to cable extensions—for less!
With higher prices on just about everything these days, you might be frequenting your local dollar store more often for things like snacks, school supplies and birthday party decorations.
While you’re there, take a stroll down the electronics aisle—there are surprisingly good gadgets and gear to be found. After all, why spend upward of $25 on a gadget—like a smartphone case, tablet holder or colourful LED light strips—at a big-box store or mall kiosk when you can pick it up for $1.50, $2, or a tad more?
So long as you have reasonable expectations when it comes to quality and longevity, you won’t be disappointed with the digital devices you can pick up on the cheap. While I visited locations from chains like Dollarama, Dollar Tree, and 99¢ Depot, note that not all stores have the same products or brand names. With that, here’s what I found on my recent trek to discount stores:
With Aduro’s Solid Grip Mag Clip ($3), you can securely mount your smartphone to your vehicle’s air vent for safer glances at maps, music playback and more.
In the box you’ll find two magnetic mounting plates which stick to the back of your smartphone using a 3M adhesive. Your phone can then magnetically affix to the Solid Grip Mag Clip base clipped to your air vent. This smartphone mount is also rubberized to minimize road vibrations and reduce slippage.
Aduro says its product can even work through most smartphone cases because of the strength of the magnetic connection.
For just $3.50, you can pick up a 3-foot (1-metre) multicolour LED Light Strip which includes a wireless remote to change between the 16 colours, or a combination, plus effects like flashing, strobe and pulsation.
In one store location, the company was Tech-1, while in another, the light strip was from Xtreme (pictured above).
Trendy for teens to place around a bedroom mirror, desk or dorm room TV—or to use on a Christmas tree—this adhesive LED light strip is USB-A powered, which means it can plug into a computer’s USB port or an AC outlet (power cube not included).
Speaking of lights, rather than using a lamp on a night table, a no-name LED Clip-On Book Light from Dollar Tree ($1.50) clamps onto your paperback, hardcover or non-illuminated e-reader. Simply position the flexible arm to your liking, and the surprisingly bright LED will illuminate the page.
Three small and mercury-free LR44 Alkaline batteries are included and replaceable (and yes, the store sells these batteries, too).
Depending on the store, a few different clamp-on lights were found, with slightly different shapes and colours, but also for just $1.50.
This smartphone accessory is ideal for gamers on the go. Aptly named the Mobile Gaming Grip Handle ($1.50) from E-Circuit, secure your smartphone in its retractable center, and grip the two comfortable handles on each end to play with any virtual “dual stick” games for many racing, action and sports titles.
Compatible with most iPhones and Android devices, this product also doubles as a phone stand if you want to prop up your device on a table, desk, or airplane tray.
Backup power for your phone
Found at a Dollarama for $4 in Canada, the Tylt slim boost power bank can charge a typical smartphone to more than half its full power with its 1350mAh battery.
A built-in arm with connector means you don’t need to schlep around a separate cable, but be sure to buy the one that fits your phone; I found a version with microUSB cable (for older Android devices), but a quick glance online shows there are Lightning and USB-C options, too.
An integrated power indicator shows the battery life left based on the number of LED dots.
Are you hooking up a new video game console? Pick up a 5-foot HDMI cable at your local dollar store for just $1.50 or so – as opposed to as much as $32 at other retailers or online.
For uncompressed, high-definition video and sound, simply connect the Vibe Axcess HDMI cable from the output port of your console (such as a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X or Nintendo Switch) or other home theatre components (be it a cable box, Blu-ray player or media streamer) and plug the other end into the input jack of your television or HDMI-supported audio-video receiver.
You won’t notice a difference in audio or video quality between this cheap solution and pricier HDMI cables elsewhere.