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These are the best tech products of 2021

Reviewed's 2021 Best of Year awards

A white Apple Watch with white band sits next to an all-black pair of Sony WF-1000XM4 with a Best of Year 2021 logo in between and a green and blue background. Credit: Reviewed

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It's been quite a year, not only in regard to all the ways we've learned to adapt to the ever-changing world around us, but also when it comes to all the electronic gadgets that help us along the way. Despite supply chain woes and chip shortages, we've seen some incredible new devices come to fruition in 2021, from game-changing TVs and speakers to ultra-fast laptops and smart wearables that keep us healthy, active, and informed.

With so many cool ways to spend your time and money in the world of electronics, it's tough to narrow it down to one list, but the devices below really moved us by taking their everyday tasks to the next level. These products went beyond the mundane and into the realm of excitement, wowing us with excellent performance, top-notch features, and brilliant design to put them above the fray.

Here are our favorite tech products, or jump to all the 2021 Best of Year awards.

Reviewed's editor-in-chief Dave Kender announces the winners of Reviewed's 2021 Best of Year Awards.
Credit: Reviewed / Lee Neikirk
Best Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are the gold standard for wireless over ear headphones. They’re lightweight and exceedingly comfortable, they sound awesome, and offer top-notch noise canceling. Sony has also spent years refining a complex companion app that provides an almost overwhelming degree of customization, making it easy to dial in the noise canceling or transparency modes, measure ear shape and barometric pressure, and customize the sound to taste. While you can certainly spend a lot more for an audiophile-focused option, Sony’s go-anywhere WH-1000XM4 remain the best choice for most people across multiple categories. Read the full review.

Best Headphones for Working from Home
Sony WH-1000XM4

More and more folks are working from home these days. And while it’s true home has its comforts, it can also be a place of great distraction, making a solid pair of wireless noise canceling headphones more valuable than ever. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a parent trying to juggle remote work and home distractions, we must (again) highly recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4. They’re amazing for remote work for the same reasons they’re our favorite headphones overall: they’re wonderful to wear and provide awesome sound for music, podcasts, or whatever you listen to—while deftly silencing everything you don’t. Read the full review.

Jabra Elite 85t buds in hand
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata
Best True Wireless Earbuds
Jabra Elite 85t

Jabra's Elite 85t are the best true wireless earbuds of the year, not because they're the best at any one thing, but because they're fantastic at nearly everything—and that includes working equally well with iPhone or Android devices. From their great sound and excellent noise canceling to a comfortable fit and solid battery life, the Elite 85t are a great companion for nearly any task at a reasonable price. They offer nearly every feature you could ask for—including the ability to pair to both your phone and computer at once for mulit-tasking—and the full experience is customizable through Jabra's Sound+ app so you can tailor these buds to meet your demands. Read the full review.

The black and silver Elite 7 Pro (left) sit next to the similarly designed Elite 7 Active on a cedar bench with both cases open.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata
Best Headphones for Workouts
Jabra Elite 7

Jabra's new Elite 7 lineup had a big task in outdueling the extremely popular Elite and Elite Active 75t (which the brand is phasing out. The new headphones come in two water-resistant varieties for your workout, both Pro and Active, but it's the Active buds that take things up a notch with a grippy exterior that helps them stay in place even when the sweat goes to 11. Both Elite 7 versions provide a deeper, more stable fit and better battery than their predecessors, as well as the majority of the best features that made the Elite Active 75t a hit, from active noise canceling to fully customizable controls. If you're looking for earbuds to help you push through the toughest workouts, Jabra's latest deliver. Read the full review.

Credit: Reviewed/Nick Woodard
Best Headphones for the Money
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)

Everyone wants a pair of earbuds with a great fit, good battery life, and solid active noise canceling, but until recently you'd pay a serious premium to get it. Not so with Amazon's second take on the Echo Buds, which package all that plus clear sound and plenty of features for a surprisingly low price. While there are certainly better buds out there, you'll likely pay a lot more to get this many goodies elsewhere. The Echo Buds prove that when it comes to true wireless earbuds, things are only getting better. Read the full review.

An open laptop on top of a desk with a cup of pens and a phone on either side.
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith
Best Laptop
Dell XPS 13 OLED 9310 (2021)

Dell’s XPS series of laptops are essentially the Windows version of a MacBook. Their quality construction and design makes them some of the best thin and light laptops you can buy—and they’re also loaded with goodies. You can get the Dell XPS 13 with a top-of-the-line Intel Core i7-1195G7 mobile processor, 16GB of memory, a respectable 512GB of SSD storage, and a luminous 4K OLED screen for about $500 less than a new 14-inch MacBook Pro. Need we say more? Read the full review.

A silver MacBook laptop sits closed on a white table, a coffee mug beside it.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser
Best Mac
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch M1

The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro offers the best balance in Apple Land between performance, longevity, and cost. In our battery test, the 13-inch outmatched the MacBook Air, and far exceeded the newer (and pricier) 14-inch MacBook, offering up to13 hours of off-the-grid fun. Even a year in, the M1 MacBook Pro 13 performs as well or better than everything in its price class. If you want a stylish and powerful laptop that can handle large photo files, video rendering, and online activity without sacrificing portability and battery life, the M1 MacBook Pro 13 is the MacBook to get. Read the full review.

An open laptop sitting on a desk
Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan
Best Laptop for Students
HP Envy x360 15

Not only is the HP Envy x360 15 hundreds of dollars cheaper than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but it’s also a 2-in-1 convertible laptop with very similar performance. It weighs 4.5 pounds so you won’t break a sweat carrying it to and from your classes, and it has a solid battery life of 6 hours and 45 minutes, which you can stretch further if you tweak the battery saver settings. If you need a stylish laptop with plenty of muscle that won’t break the bank, the HP Envy x360 is a serious ringer. Read the full review.

HP Envy x360 15 (2020) Logo2
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan
Best Laptop for the Money
HP Envy x360 15

The HP Envy X360 15 is the best laptop for your hard-earned dollars for many of the same reasons it’s the best laptop for students. The model we’ve starred here offers a large 15-inch display, but there’s also a 13-inch model if you’re looking for something more compact. And if you need more punch, there’s even an 11th-gen Core i7 option for a couple hundred dollars more that offers faster, more powerful integrated graphics than the AMD model. However you configure it, this laptop is a great way to get everything you need without spending a mint. Read the full review.

An open laptop sitting on top of a table
Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius
Best Gaming Laptop
Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition

Asus’ ROG Strix G15 offers it all: best performance per dollar, nine hours of battery life, and high-end hardware that can handle its own display’s 300Hz refresh rate. Packing an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, an AMD Radeon RX 6800M, and 16GB of RAM, this gaming laptop will handle anything you throw at it without flinching. If you’re looking for the best gaming laptop money can buy, Asus’ ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is the one. Read the full review.

On a white surface, there are a couple potted plants, a cup of tea, a smartphone, and a MacBook Air displaying the Reviewed home page.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser
Best Laptop Under $1,000
Apple MacBook Air M1 (2020)

Featuring the same processor as the slightly pricier M1 MacBook Pro 13, the M1 MacBook Air obliterates other laptops under $1,000 in both performance and battery life. Its 8GB of memory feels more like 16GB thanks to the M1 chip, letting you breeze through everything from web browsing to frequent Photoshopping without lag. Simply put, it’s the best laptop for sheer value that Apple has made in a very long time. Read the full review.

An open laptop on top of a desk
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez
Best Laptop Under $500
Dell Inspiron 15 3501

This 15-inch laptop offers a lot for a little, including good performance, portability, and of course, affordability. Its mid-range processor keeps pace with ultrabook laptops that cost hundreds more. The full-size keyboard and trackpad are smooth and comfortable to use for hours on end, while its eight-hour battery life and light weight make it great for travel. If you need something reliable that won’t drain your bank account, it’s hard to go wrong with the Dell Inspiron 15 3501. Read the full review.

4K, HDR content being displayed on the LG C1 OLED
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best TV
LG C1 OLED

The LG C1 is one of the best TVs we’ve ever tested, thanks to its jaw-dropping picture and impressive array of future-facing features. Being an OLED TV, the C1 is capable of perfect black levels, extra-wide viewing angles, and rich, true-to-life color. If that weren’t enough, the C1's spec sheet is a laundry list of must-have hardware and software extras for gamers and cinephiles alike, including HDMI 2.1 for 4K gaming at 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate, and Dolby Vision HDR support. You simply won’t find a better TV for your money right now. Read the full review.

Samsung QN90A TV showing two shadowy figures in front of a brilliant sunburst
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best TV for Bright Rooms
Samsung QN90A

We adore OLED TVs for their perfect black levels—but the best TV is still the one you can see clearly, and most OLEDs don’t hold up very well in rooms with lots of lights or windows. If that sounds like your living room, we highly recommend Samsung’s flagship 4K/HDR TV for 2021, the QN90A. Combining a mini-LED backlight and a 120Hz refresh rate with vivid quantum dot color, it offers a stunning picture, but also manages to get at least twice as bright as the average OLED TV to deftly combat ambient glare. The QN90A is a monster of a TV in its own right, OLED or no, but it’s especially formidable in the middle of a bright room. Read the full review.

The Hisense U7G displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best TV for the Money
Hisense U7G

The Hisense U7G doesn’t come at the bargain-basement prices of an entry-level TV, but given its performance and features, it feels like it should be far pricier in 2021. For a not-so-steep cost, you’re getting vivid quantum-dot color, sizzling HDR performance, and an array of gaming-related features including Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). It’s high-octane performance for a wallet-friendly price. Read the full review.

The 2020 TCL 6-Series displaying HDR content
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best TV Under $1,000
TCL 6-Series (2020)

Thanks to its terrific picture, a surprising number of features, and a price tag that’s lower than most TVs in its class, the TCL 6-Series is bursting at the bezels with value. It features high-end brightness for showcasing HDR, quantum-dot color, and a handful of useful gaming-related features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). The 6-Series is also a Roku TV, meaning it comes with our favorite smart platform pre-installed for slick and easy operation. Originally released in 2020, we’ve yet to find a TV for under $1,000 that tops the 6-Series. Read the full review.

The 2021/2022 Vizio V-Series displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best TV Under $500
Vizio V-Series

If you’re looking to maximize your dollar and don’t mind missing out on pricey bonus features, the Vizio V-Series is your best bet. While it doesn’t get bright enough to knock your socks off, the V-Series is nevertheless a great TV for the cost, offering a built-in smart platform, excellent out-of-the-box color calibration, and consistently deep black levels. It even has Auto Low Latency Mode—a great quality-of-life feature for avid gamers. Read the full review.

4K, HDR content being displayed on the LG C1 OLED
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best TV for Gaming
LG C1 OLED

In addition to being the best TV of the year, the LG C1 is also the best TV you can buy for all your gaming exploits. All four of its HDMI 2.1 inputs support 4K gaming at 120fps, and when it comes to gaming enhancements, the LG C1 is chock full of them. It supports both FreeSync and G-Sync to minimize screen tearing, Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and even includes LG’s Game Optimizer—a settings menu that lets you make finer adjustments to the TV’s picture in order to suit the type of game you’re playing. All of these gaming-related features are packed into the best TV of the year, making this set a double (or triple, or quadruple?) threat. Read the full review.

The black and rectangular Roku Ultra sits next to its black and multi-buttoned remote beneath the corner of a TV.
Credit: Reviewed/TJ Donegan
Best Streaming Device
Roku Ultra

The Roku Ultra continues its reign as our favorite streaming device thanks to its best-in-class remote and useful extras like a button for finding your remote when you misplace it. With full support for 4K, HDR, and just about every streaming service out there, Roku is still the name to beat in the streaming device world. There are plenty of excellent competitors now, but if you want the best that we’ve tested, it’s still Roku and then the rest of them. Read the full review.

The white, oval shaped Chromecast has an HDMI port sticking out the top from and sits next to its simplified remote on a light wooden table.
Credit: Reviewed/TJ Donegan
Best Streaming Device for the Money
Google Chromecast with Google TV

The most exciting streaming devices we tested this year weren’t the top-tier options, but the more affordable options like the Google Chromecast with Google TV. Though it still features Google’s quirky (if extremely useful) Chromecast functionality, it pairs it with an excellent remote and a new user interface that provides the more traditional channel surfing experience most people want. It’s an amazing 4K- and HDR-ready streaming device that has nearly everything you’d want from a higher-end device but at a fraction of the cost. Read the full review.

The black Q950a sits on a woodgrain cabinet in front of a large TV, with brick background.
Credit: Reviewed/Jackson Ruckar
Best Soundbar
Samsung HW-Q950A

Samsung's HW-Q950A is to soundbars what King Kong is to primates. It's bigger, it's badder, and it's surely over the top, but if you're looking for some serious action, it's the one you want. There are plenty of other Dolby Atmos soundbars to consider out there, but none of them cram more channels into the package than Samsung's monster bar, which includes a hefty subwoofer and wireless surround speakers that shoot sound in three directions. While the Q950A's Dolby Atmos thrills are the headline, the bar is also incredibly easy to use, feature-packed, and musically gifted for a well-rounded package that can be the center of your setup. Read the full review.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 in front of a TV displaying Xbox software
Credit: Reviewed / Lee Neikirk
Best Soundbar Under $500
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

What do you get when you take Sonos’ immensely popular Beam soundbar, give it a light (but handsome) facelift, and pack in the most exciting home audio format, Dolby Atmos? You get the best soundbar you can buy under $500, of course, courtesy of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). Sonos has managed to maintain the original Beam’s minimalist design details, intuitive user experience, and robust sound quality while also weaving some serious magic in to create convincing virtual Atmos surround sound. The result is one of the most value-packed compact soundbars in years, especially if you already own a Sonos speaker or two. Read the full review.

The tubular and white Sonos Roam sits on a bed of red bark
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata
Best Bluetooth Speaker
Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam isn't just a Bluetooth speaker, it's also a Wi-Fi portal to the vast Sonos ecosystem that you can take with you wherever you may ... adventure. With the ability to connect to all things Sonos, from soundbars to smart speakers, the Roam is the most versatile portable speaker we've had the pleasure to test. It also offers a rugged and water-resistant exterior, simple controls, and excellent audio quality that sounds way bigger than it should, making it a go-to speaker for so much more than Bluetooth. Read the full review.

An Apple iPad used to display a photo.
Credit: Reviewed / Matthew S. Smith
Best Tablet
Apple iPad (gen 9)

Apple’s classic iPad is still unrivaled for its versatility and value. For a wallet-friendly entry price, the latest iPad has a faster Apple A13 Bionic processor, a better front-facing camera, and the base model now comes with 64GB of storage. It’s also compatible with Apple’s 1st-gen Apple Pencil, and the 10.2-inch display is the perfect size for note taking, gaming, or simply scrolling through Twitter. Paired with a keyboard, the 9th-gen iPad is a surprisingly fierce laptop replacement, too. Read the full review.

A close-up of the Apple Watch Series 7, in green, showing the new Contour watchface, which wraps the numbers around the edge of the display.
Credit: Reviewed / Jordan McMahon
Best Smartwatch
Apple Watch Series 7

Apple’s latest smartwatch boasts a larger display and faster charging than previous models, as well as automatic tracking for cycling, putting it a step (though a minor one) ahead of the older Series 6. While it’s an iterative update, the Series 7 has all the same heart and fitness tracking features as our previous favorite smartwatch in the world, while being easier to peep at a glance. Read the full review.

Samsung's round and black-banded Galaxy watch sits against a flowery backdrop, it's vivid screen glowing electric blue.
Credit: Reviewed / Joanna Nelius
Best Android Smartwatch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

While the Apple Watch is exclusive to iPhones, Android users have their own exclusive option. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 is a solid smartwatch, powered by Google’s wear OS, that offers nearly as many features as the Apple Watch. It doesn’t have automatic workout tracking, and its app selection isn’t nearly as great, but it performs well and gets the basics right at a very reasonable price, making it the best watch for Android fans—especially those in the Samsung family. Read the full review.

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