Great gadgets don't come cheap, but even big-ticket items can be a good value. The secret is choosing one with the features that actually matter to you.
Save: Amazon Kindle
The new 8.5-ounce Kindle forgoes splashy graphics, banking instead on its antiglare e-ink display, 3,500-book capacity, and ability to run up to a month on a single charge. amazon.com, $139.
Splurge: Apple iPad
Consider it the ultimate in-flight entertainment device. Movies, music, video games, and a library's worth of book titles: Apple's 16-gigabyte touch-screen tablet delivers it all in full color. apple.com, $499.
Save: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC3
A solid starter set, these headphones shut out up to 90 percent of ambient noise and come with three sizes of earbuds—our favorite old-school way to block sound. shopaudiotechnica.com, $100.
Splurge: Sony MDR-NC300D
When you're staring down a red-eye that's crawling with infants, every decibel counts, and that's why Sony's 98.4 percent noise reduction elevates this item to a higher plane. sonystyle.com, $300.
Save: Nikon D3100
Part camera, part teacher, this 14.2-megapixel DSLR has a guide mode that displays the technical specs of each shot—so you can learn to replicate the best results on your own. shop.nikonusa.com, $600.
Splurge: Canon EOS Rebel T2i
For a professional-quality camera, the 18-megapixel T2i couldn't be less intimidating, thanks to intuitive controls and a screen that automatically dims when you opt to use the viewfinder. usa.canon.com, $900.
Save: TomTom Ease
Basic directions don't need to cost a fortune. TomTom's nearly four-inch-wide dash-top device distills GPS to its essential function—getting you where you need to go—and keeps the price low. tomtom.com, $119.
Splurge: Garmin nüvi 3790T
Finally, a GPS that lets you talk back. The 3790T's speech-recognition feature (example: "Go home") makes navigation safer and easier on solo road trips. buy.garmin.com, $450