Home Feature news Here are the best gadgets of 2021

Here are the best gadgets of 2021

Whether you were a homebody or aggressively outdoorsy in 2021, technology almost certainly played a role in your lifestyle throughout the year. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the very best tech products that came out this past year.

From a colorful desktop for your home office to a portable Bluetooth speaker that’s ideal for backyard reunions with loved ones, here is a list of the best gadgets of 2021.

Best desktop to brighten your work days

Yellow is the way to go.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

If you’re going to be stuck staring at a computer all day, it might as well be nice to look at. And what better than a stunning 24-inch iMac that comes in seven different colors? With a choice between blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, and silver, there’s something here to match all types of interior decor and personalities.

Powered by Apple’s M1 chip, the new iMac is a super-smooth workstation that doubles as an ideal entertainment system. It’s also compact and lightweight enough to carry from room to room or travel with on road trips. And its 1080p webcam is the cherry on top, upping the ante on your video call quality.

With a starting price of $1,299, it’s tough to find a reason not to buy such a fun desktop computer.

Best affordable earbuds for noisy commutes

Yeah, these aren't cute.

Yeah, these aren’t cute.
Credit: alex perry / mashable

If your weekdays consist of going to and from the office or classroom, your mornings probably aren’t as zen as they used to be. Whether you’re within walking distance from work or have to hop on a noisy bus, you won’t want to leave the house without a great pair of noise-canceling earbuds.

Enter: Amazon’s Echo Buds. (The second-generation version, that is).

Compared to the first iteration, these Echo Buds are smaller, slimmer, and come with real active noise cancelation — as opposed to the “noise reduction” feature included with the first-generation effort.

While these aren’t the flashiest pair of buds (they’re actually really ugly), you can rest assured you’ll get the best bang for your buck. At $119, the Echo Buds offer great noise cancelation, solid sound quality, and feel comfortable to wear for hours at a time.

They also come with a variety of ear tips and wing tips in the box to fit ear canals both big and small.

Best streaming stick to watch box office hits

The movie theaters can wait.

The movie theaters can wait.
Credit: alex perry / mashable

Don’t feel fully comfortable sitting in a packed movie theater yet? Well, that’s fine because you can always recreate that cinematic viewing experience at home. If you’re on somewhat of a budget, you can snag a 4K TV for under $300 and then pair it with the Roku Express 4K+ for only $40.

True to its name, the Express 4K+ has the ability to play 4K content at 60 frames per second, giving you impressive video quality for such an affordable, entry-level device. Sadly, there isn’t a lot of 4K content to choose from on streaming services, but you can find some options on HBO Max.

Best smartphone for all-day adventures

It's overkill, but it does make sense for specific situations.

It’s overkill, but it does make sense for specific situations.
Credit: zlata ivleva / mashable

Yes, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is the embodiment of absolute feature overkill in a smartphone. But it also takes excellent scenic photos thanks to a combination of its 108-megapixel main shooter and improved imaging software. The S21 Ultra captures really crisp, bright images that don’t look overly processed.

It also comes equipped with Samsung’s proprietary Space Zoom technology, allowing you to zoom in on a subject up to 100x. Even when taking shots that close up, the photo quality remains impressive.

And with a 5,000mAh battery, this phone will last you through an entire day of capturing content and then some.

Best Bluetooth speaker for beach days with friends

Excellent design AND sound. What more could you ask for?

Excellent design AND sound. What more could you ask for?
Credit: alex perry / mashable

For most of us, it’s been a while since we’ve had to make small talk at public gatherings. So if you’re feeling a little social anxiety before that pool party or BBQ, the Sonos Roam Bluetooth speaker will make for excellent emotional support. Just put on a good playlist and feel the awkwardness in the atmosphere melt away.

The Roam’s portable and durable design makes it easy to throw into your tote bag or backpack to transport from spot to spot. It also links to over 100 streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal, and provides really rich audio quality.

At $179, its price tag is a little steep, but its compact build and large catalogue of compatible streaming services make it worth the cost. Plus, we all know your friends are begging you to stop bringing that cheap Bluetooth speaker from the drugstore to social gatherings anyway.

Best laptop to get a head start on Windows 11

You won't find a better intro to Windows 11 this year.

You won’t find a better intro to Windows 11 this year.
Credit: molly flores / mashable

In the fall of 2021, a momentous occasion occurred. Microsoft released a new, numbered version of its PC operating system: Windows 11.

And there’s no better portable device on the market for learning to love Windows 11 (and its newly centered Start button) than the Surface Laptop Studio. Sure, its $1,599 starting price (which can balloon far beyond that with enough upgrades) is daunting and likely disqualifying for many folks. But if you can swing it, you’ll get the most elegant, sturdy, and high-performing product in the new Surface lineup.

It can be a laptop, with a real and excellent keyboard attached to it. Or you can pull the screen forward a bit using the unique hinge and turn it into a presentational display, which is great for watching content or making art with a stylus. Pull it forward even more and the display will sit flush with the keyboard, turning the Surface Laptop Studio into a full-on tablet.

Versatility aside, it’s an incredibly sleek laptop with great construction, excellent performance, and solid battery life.

Best all-around wireless earbuds

Mashable Image

Apple released a new pair of AirPods this fall, but they weren’t even the best wireless earbuds the company released that month.

The Beats Fit Pro may not outwardly bear Apple’s name, but they are by far the best wireless earbuds Tim Cook and co. have ever made. At $200, they’re cheaper than AirPods Pro while being better in almost every way that matters. The design is strong, with a silicone ear tip providing all-day comfort and a small wingtip ensuring they’ll never fall out. A six-hour battery with ANC turned on also puts them far above any AirPods.

And then there’s the sound quality. Your favorite songs won’t sound better in any pair of AirPods than they do here. They get Apple’s fancy spatial audio features and, to top it all off, their active noise canceling capabilities are nearly flawless. Finally, Android users can get some use out of them, too, as they don’t lock all their best features to iOS like AirPods do.

What more can we say? If you’re in the market for new wireless earbuds, this is as good as it gets.

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