CES 2021: The 20 Best Things We Saw at the Consumer Electronics Show
The Best Of CES 2021
For the first time in its 53-year history, the Consumer Electronics Show (shortened to CES) went virtual. While the format was different, the show still featured a ton of product announcements from some of the world’s biggest tech companies.
We attended virtual conferences, took meetings over video calls, and even live streamed product unveilings, to find 20 gadgets deserving of our “Best Of CES 2021” award.
We chose our CES 2021 award winners based on design, functionality and innovation, fosucing on unique products that help solve everyday problems, upgrade our life, or push the limits of technology. Scroll through to see the companies and products that made our Best of CES 2021 list.
LG G1 OLED TV
LG’s OLED TVs are generally considered among the best televisions you can get on the market, and the company’s new G1 set is another big leap forward.
The flagship 4K TV uses a new, custom-made a9 processor to automatically adjust its brightness, color fidelity, and audio based on what you’re watching in real time. It supports Dolby Vision (better colors) and Dolby Atmos (surround sound) out of the box. This means you’ll have the best possible viewing and listening experience of any TV out there.
LG managed to eek out even more performance by changing the physical design of the set to “refine the wavelengths of light” to make its screen brighter and improve color reproduction. The G1 literally uses physics to boost performance.
With the G1, LG refines its OLED TV line to the point where nothing comes close. Purchase: $TBD at LG.com
Razer Blade Pro 17
Razer’s upgraded Blade Pro 17 has proven once again that you don’t have to choose between a gaming PC and a laptop when this single unit offers a fully immersive and dynamic gaming experience.
Razer refreshed its entire line of Blade 17 laptops, but we’re especially impressed with the base model, which offers extreme performance at an impressive price.
The machine has NVidia’s high-end GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, 16GB of memory, 512GB of storage, an 8-core Intel Core i7 Processor, and a wide array of ports. That’s a lot of computer in a package that’s just 0.78 inches thick and just over six pounds.
If you’re a PC gamer who travels a lot, or want the freedom to plug into a monitor at your desk and a TV on in your living room without plugging and unplugging several cables, the Razer Blade 17 is a big step forward. Purchase: from $2,299 at Razer.com
Sony RA5000 Speaker
One of Sony’s big CES announcements was a big push into surround sound by introducing the RA5000, a new speaker that can take advantage of Sony’s “360 Reality Audio” technology.
If a song has a 360 Reality Audio mix, the speaker can fire different sounds out of different drivers (the part of a speaker that creates sound) to simulate a multi-speaker setup. Sony has also brought 360 Reality Audio support to its headphones, including the recently-released WH-1000XM4 (one of our picks for best noise-cancelling headphones).
The technology is complicated, but the result is simple: Play music through this speaker, and you’ll have a deeper, richer, more immersive experience. Purchase: $TBD at Sony.com
V-Moda M-200 ANC Headphones
V-Moda has long been a go-to audio brand for DJs, but they’re bringing their premium look and new features to the masses with these M-200 ANC Headphones.
The Bluetooth headphones feature V-Moda’s unique hexigon-shaped ear cup, and their metal outer shields can be replaced with new ones that match your look. The cups themselves are made with 100% premium polyurhtine for extreme comfort, which is key during long listening sessions.
V-Moda didn’t skimp on the tech features, either. The M-200 ANC get up to 20 hours of music playback when noise-cancelling is enabled, and support fast charging. Their drivers were designed to fit perfectly in their housing, which optimizes audio quality by reducing sound reflection.
V-Moda definitely didn’t sweat the details with these headphones, and their effort paid off big time. Purchase: $499 at V-Moda.com
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Earbuds
Soundcore’s Liberty Air 2 Pro are the latest totally wireless earbuds from one of our favorite audio companies.
The small, sleep earbuds support active noise cancellation for noisy commutes, with IPX4 water resistance for the gym, and a six-microphone array for clear voice calls. Soundcore says the buds get six hours of battery life with noise-cancelling turned on, and an additional 15 hours of playtime thanks to their charging case.
Soundcore includes nine silicone eartips (more than any other headphones by far) to ensure a perfect fit, which is essential for good bass and sound isolation. There were a lot of headphones unveiled at CES this year, but the Liberty Air 2 Pro’s impressive technology and sleek look helped them stand out. Purchase: $129.99 at Soundcore.com
JLab JBuds Clip-On Speakers
JLabs is onto something really innovating with the JBuds, a pair of clip-on speakers that you can attach to any pair of glasses.
The accessory basically turns your glasses into a set of Bluetooth headphones, except your ears aren’t blocked, so you can hear the world around you. This makes them the perfect audio accessory to take on outdoor walks, or wear when exercising.
JLab says the JBuds can get up to eight hours of music playback per charge, and have a range of around 30 feet. They weigh just under 12 grabs, so they’ll add a little weight to your glasses, but not much.
What makes the JBuds so interesting is that you can clip them onto any glasses. Similar audio brands build speakers directly onto a set frame, so you have to choose to wear their glasses (which frankly, aren’t always that stylish). By giving offering you the freedom to turn any pair of glasses into headphones, JLab has made one of the most interesting pieces of audio equipment we’ve seen since the launch of AirPods. Purchase: $49 at Jlabaudio.com
GE Cync Smart Camera
GE has jumped head-first into the smart home game, upping the ante significantly with its Smart Indoor Camera.
The device, which falls under GE’s new “Cync” brand, offers privacy and security in a compact package. The camera has all the standard features: night vision, 1080P video capture, motion sensing, and a two-way microphone and speaker system, but stands out in a couple of ways.
First, it has a physical shutter, which you can close to prevent the camera from recording any audio and video. You can flip the shade up or down whenever you like, and the camera will respond appropriately. The second piece is that you can have the camera save video to a MicroSD Card instead of the cloud. This will save you from having to pay a monthly fee for cloud storage and give you complete control over the footage.
GE may be a little late to the smart home game, but their Smart Indoor Camera proves they’re serious about making the best gear out there. Purchase: $TBD at Gelighting.com
Kensington Studio Pro
Kensington’s Studio Pro can transform an iPad into a desktop-ready machine in seconds.
Apple’s tablet sticks onto the Studio Pro magnetically, giving the setup a clean look. The aluminum frame matches Apple’s aesthetic, and basically turns the iPad into an iMac. The Studio Pro’s base is a wireless charging pad that can charge two devices simultaneously.
The Studio Pro is poised to become a work from home essential for any serious iPad user. Purchase: $TBD at Kensington.com
Panasonic Klipsch Car Speaker System
For a long time, car audio meant a CD player or tape deck connected to so-so speakers. Panasonic’s partnership with Klipsch completely changes the game.
Their auto audio system contains 20 perfectly-positioned speakers and one subwoofer to offer an engrossing music listening experience as you go. The system supports Dolby Atmos, the most sophisticated version of surround sound that’s just taking off in the home audio world.
This car audio system isn’t going to be ready for a while, but it’s so far and above anything else we’ve seen in this category, it’s hard not to get excited. We may not be able to go anywhere right now, but with speakers like these, it’s always a good time for a drive. $TBD at Panasonic.com
Car tech has gotten a lot more advanced in the past few years, with giants like Apple and Google building software to take the experience of using a smartphone with you on the road.
Pioneer’s DMH-WC5700NEX is an in-dash receiver that can bring all of these new features to an older car. The 6.8-inch touch screen panel can run Apple’s Car-Play or Android Auto, and has Amazon’s Alexa built in.
These technologies let you control your car’s stereo system using your voice, and let you use apps like Google Maps for navigation. These features are cool and useful, but most of us wouldn’t get an entirely different car to have them.
Pioneer’s DMH-WC5700NEX can breathe new life into your older car’s entertainment system, and a auto upgrade that’s actually worth your time. Purchase: $TBD at Pioneer.com
Roland VERSELAB MV-1
Every indie musician wishes they could record their tracks at Abbey Road or Electric Ladyland, and Roland’s VERSELAB MV-1 can get you pretty close without having to leave your home.
A great home studio system, the VERSELAB s a 16-step rythem sequencer, multi-track recorder, and microphone all in one. It supports the latest audio effects too, like auto-pitch to help touch-up your vocals. The MV-1 is designed to work with Roland’s Zenbeats app to create, edit, arrange, and master music. These functions typically require individual pieces of equipment, so the MV-1 cuts the cost and space requirements for a home studio.
At its heart, the MV-1 is an all-in-one recording solution that elevates what’s possible for the home musician. Purchase: $699 at Roland.com
Belkin BOOST↑CHARGE™ PRO 2-in-1 Wireless Charger Stand with MagSafe
MagSafe — a.k.a. fast, wireless charging using magnets — is one of the iPhone 12’s most impressive features, and Belkin’s new charger really takes advantage of it.
The stand has a magnetic charger up top, and a wireless charging pad built into its base for other accessories, like Apple’s AirPods. The minimalist look and use of premium materials like aluminum are a perfect match for your Apple devices.
Belkin’s BOOST↑CHARGE™ PRO 2-in-1 Wireless Charger Stand with MagSafe is the perfect example of a forward-thinking tech company making an accessory that will actually improve your everyday life. It doesn’t look half-bad either. Purchase: $99.95 at Belkin.com
TCL R648 8K TV
TCL’s R648 is a big upgrade to its current 6-series TV line, which includes the best LED TV I’ve ever used.
The main upgrade is in the TV set’s 8K resolution, which will provide stunning clarity when you watch 4K video, and prepare you for when 8K content is finally available in the next few years. By offering the best of the best right now, you won’t have to worry about upgrading for a long time.
It also uses a newer backlight system containing mini LEDs, which means it’ll produce far better lighting than a current-generation 4K TV, creating an even more realistic picture. There were a lot of TVs announced at CES this year, but TCL’s R658 is the one to watch. Pricing: $TBD at TCL.com
Samsung HW-Q800A Sound Bar
Samsung has a flurry of CES announcements, but its sound bars are what really caught our attention.
The new HW-Q800 is its mid-range option, offering a 3.1.2 speaker system you can fit underneath your current TV. Samsung’s latest innovation is called Tap Sound, and it allows you to send music from your phone to the sound bar when they touch.
The sound bar also suports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, so it can play surround sound music without rear speakers. Samsung also introduced SpaceFit Sound, a technology that calibrates how the HW-Q800 should sound in your room, regardless of its shape and size.
Samsung’s HW-Q800 has the innovative technology and hardware to make any living room or bedroom into a home theater. Purchase: $TBD at Samsung.com
Linksys AXE8400 Router
If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that a fast, stable internet connection is a necessity, not a luxury.
Linksys’s AXE8400 is one of the very first WiFi 6E enabled routers, and it uses three frequencies (2.4GHz, 5.0GHz, and 6GHz) to achieve faster speeds, longer range, and the ability to connect up to 65 devices at once.
This triple-threat makes it a worth replacement for some mesh WiFi systems, which requires multiple routers in different points in your home. Most of your tech can’t take advantage of WiFi 6 speeds, but you’re in for a pleasant surprise the next time you upgrade.
When you consider its performance, minimalist design, and extra features, the AXE8400 leaves any router we’ve seen in the dust. Purchase: $449.95 at Linksys.com
ASUS ROG Swift PG32UQ Monitor
Video games has become a bigger industry than movies and sports combined according to Marketwatch, which is why ASUS’ upcoming ROG (Republic of Gamers) monitor stood out at CES 2021.
The 32-inch display has a sharp 4K resolution, and uses a new tool called a “Reflex Latency Analyzer” to determine how quickly your mouse clicks and keyboard presses are registered by your computer. It also supports a 144Hz refresh rate (standard monitors are 60).
Gamers need this type of fidelity to remain competitive during online play, but it’s impressive that ASUS built all of this tech into such a big display. In essence, the PG32UQ is no-compromise external monitor, and gamers shouldn’t settle for less. Purchase: TBD at ROG.Asus.com
Lenovo IdeaPad 5G
Lenovo’s IdeaPad 5G seriously ups the ante in the world of portable, powerful laptops.
Its namesake feature is a built-in 5G antenna, which lets you connect to a sattelite for internet when WiFi is not available. We’ve gotten used to this feature on our phones, but before 5G, this technology wasn’t good or fast enough to use on a computer.
Lenovo says the IdeaPad 5G to offer “PC performance with smartphone capabilities,” and it’s delivering. The computer features a 14-inch 1080P display, 720P HD camera, 8GB of memory, up to 512GB of storage, and has a current-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Being able to use your computer anywhere is a game changer, and Lenovo is leading the way with the IdeaPad 5G. Purchase: $TBD at Lenovo.com
OtterBox Mobile Gaming Clip
Gaming on the go used to require dedicate hardware like the GameBoy, PSP, or Nintendo Switch, but smartphones changed all of that.
OtterBox’s Mobile Gaming Clip is a mobile gaming accessory that let you attach an Xbox controller to your Android smartphone or iPhone to give you a more premium experience on your portable device. The company designed its accessory specifically to work with the Xbox One (or Series S/X) controller.
The OtterBox Mobile Gaming Clip solves a problem smartphone gamers have had for years better than any accessory we’ve seen so far. Purchase: $29.95 at OtterBox.com
HyperX Cloud Revolver + 7.1 Headset
The rise of online gaming — especially the spike in 2020 — has made gaming headsets a must-have accessory. HyperX really improved their game with the Cloud Revolver + 7.1, an over-ear headset designed to deliver audio with extreme precision.
The headset simulates 7.1 surround sound, so you can hear your opponents coming from any direction. Its detachable microphone can deliver clear sound to your teammates, making it easier to make plans, change strategies, and coordinate movements without distractions.
We’re especially fond of the controller built into the Cloud Revolver’s cable, which lets you adjust the volume of your game and microphone with the push of a button.
If you take gaming seriously, the HyperX Cloud Revolver + 7.1 can help elevate you to the next level. Purchase: from $119.99 at Hyperxgaming.com
Who says headphones can’t have personality? Urbanista’s Miami is a pair of over ear headphones that come in four striking colors. Even more impressive is what you’ll find under the hood.
The headphones support active noise cancellation, get up to 50 hours of music playback per charge, and have an ambient mode that filters important sounds (i.e. the sound of cars approaching when you’re on a walk) into your ears seamlessly with your music. They’ll even pause your music if you take them off for a few seconds, and resume playing when you put them back on.
These features have become standard on headphones over $300, but the Miamis are $150. In terms of features, aethetics, and value, you won’t find a better pair headphones than this. Purchase: $149.99 at Urbanista.com