Consumer electronics undergo revolutionary and evolutionary phases. Every few years, new goods emerge that upend the current quo – think of what the iPhone did to cell phones or the Roomba did to vacuum cleaners. In other years, the emphasis is entirely on perfecting what already exists. For 2021, it was the latter: While no items actually stormed the Bastille, they were sufficiently enhanced to retain their status as the finest technology products.
Here are our recommendations for the year's top technology goods.
Irrespective of os or layout, the iPhone remains the finest phone for the vast majority of consumers, and the iPhone 13 further strengthens that position. It's both the simplest and most efficient phone to date, with notable improvements to battery life.
All of Apple's normal advantages apply here, including an easy user interface, privacy and security options, and probably the greatest camera in a smartphone.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
While the 2020 Roku Ultra remains our favorite streaming gadget overall, Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K Max merits attention as one of the new media players coming in 2021. The little stick connects directly into the HDMI connection on your television, providing access to every major streaming app available. While it isn't a significant boost over Amazon's earlier 4K stick, it does provide faster performance for an additional $5.
The Hisense U8G is our recommendation for the finest midrange television available, and it is one of the most amazing displays I examined in 2021. Though we believe LG's more costly C1 is the superior television overall, that model is essentially similar to 2020.
The Hisense is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, with HDMI 2.1 connections and one of the brightest displays on the market. While an OLED will still provide superior image quality, the U8G gives excellent performance at such a low price.
14-inch MacBook Pro
Yes, one might argue that Apple's freshly revamped MacBook Pro is groundbreaking. While smart marketing makes it seem to be something entirely different, it is really a laptop that embraces all of the finest aspects of Apple's portable computers with none of the downsides – sorry, Touch Bar.
Now available in a 14-inch MacBook Pro and an upgraded 16-inch MacBook Pro configuration, it has an incredibly powerful version of Apple's M1 CPU and restores user-requested features like an enhanced keyboard, dedicated HDMI connector, SD card reader, and the venerable MagSafe charging. It's a little bit old and a little bit new, but it's unquestionably better.
The second-generation Sonos Beam retains the majority of the first model's features while adding one important new feature: Dolby Atmos. The space-saving soundbar is ideal for consumers on a budget, and its Atmos features give an immersive feeling of virtual surround sound.
Having said that, the gadget lacks real up-firing speakers, which means you won't get the full overhead impression seen on the Vizio Elevate. Despite its little size, the Beam boasts remarkable audio performance. Additionally, it has built-in compatibility for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, transforming it into a full-featured soundbar and smart speaker.
The 10.2-inch iPad
Apple's 10.2-inch iPad is an affordable, powerful, and stylish tablet. Apple's entry-level product continues to appeal to the broadest possible demographic, ranging from children to working adults. This year, it has a new CPU and twice the storage on the basic model.
While it lacks the cutting-edge features of its iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini siblings, its performance is more than enough for the majority of users.
Nintendo Switch OLED
The Nintendo Switch OLED, which costs just $50 more than the original model, has a bigger and clearer display powered by OLED technology. Additionally, Nintendo repaired the much-maligned kickstand, increased onboard memory, and included a redesigned dock with an Ethernet connector for a more dependable Internet connection. Together, these enhancements provide a much-improved gaming experience on the Switch, and it's what we suggest for newcomers.
Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 is not a significant upgrade over the Series 6, but it is the greatest smartwatch on the market, particularly in terms of health. In comparison to the previous generation, the Series 7 has a smaller bezel and a bigger screen, giving it a more contemporary appearance.
Along with an accurate heart rate sensor, the Series 7 has an electrocardiogram (ECG) to identify abnormal heartbeats, a blood oxygen sensor, the capacity to follow a wearer's sleep patterns and detect when they fall, and a built-in GPS to track their whereabouts. Additionally, it has additional sensors such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass. Never before have you had access to as much critical health information as you have with the Series 7!
Few headphones announced in 2021 were more eagerly anticipated than Sony's WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds. The new earphones replace the 2019 XM3s and include greater noise cancellation, a longer battery life, and a more secure fit.
While they are more costly than other choices, they justify their premium pricing with equally premium performance.
Eufy RoboVac 15C Max Robot Vacuum
Since iRobot introduced the Roomba in 2002, robot vacuum cleaners have become pretty widespread. While the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max does not provide anything novel, it does excel in terms of price. Frequently available on sale for less than its $250 retail price, the RoboVac 15C Max expands the reach of this sort of smart home equipment.
It connects to your Wi-Fi network for hands-free operation, but also includes a remote control for those who are less computer savvy. It's our recommendation for the best budget robot vacuum cleaner, but don't let the low price fool you - it's really good at vacuuming up debris from carpeted and hard surfaces.
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