Electroencephalography (EEG) is challenged by high cost, immobility of equipment and the use of inconvenient conductive gels. We compared EEG recordings obtained from three systems that are inexpensive, wireless, and/or dry (no gel), against recordings made with a traditional, research-grade EEG system, in order to investigate the ability of these 'non-traditional' systems to produce recordings of comparable quality to a research-grade system. The systems compared were: Emotiv EPOC (inexpensive and wireless), B-Alert (wireless), g.Sahara (dry) and g.HIamp (research-grade). We compared the ability of the systems to demonstrate five well-studied neural phenomena: (1) enhanced alpha activity with eyes closed versus open; (2) visual steady-state response (VSSR); (3) mismatch negativity; (4) P300; and (5) event-related desynchronization/synchronization. All systems measured significant alpha augmentation with eye closure, and were able to measure VSSRs (although these were smaller with g.Sahara). The B-Alert and g.Sahara were able to measure the three time-locked phenomena equivalently to the g.HIamp. The Emotiv EPOC did not have suitably located electrodes for two of the tasks and synchronization considerations meant that data from the time-locked tasks were not assessed. The results show that inexpensive, wireless, or dry systems may be suitable for experimental studies using EEG, depending on the research paradigm, and within the constraints imposed by their limited electrode placement and number.