Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX tech billionaire, had been the richest man in the world for less than a week at the beginning of January when he lost the spot to the previous richest man in the world, Amazon and Blue Origin tech billionaire Jeff Bezos. That was just about the most riveting tech development from the very beginning of 2021—our minds were occupied by events rather more pressing—until mid-January, when the biggest brands (and quite a few tiny ones) virtually gathered to display their latest at the annual CES trade show.
At the show, devices weird, innovative, and incredibly useful were shown off and bragged about. There was a neat little wireless charging dock, but there was also a flying car and a robot that plays the piano. There was a slew of 5G smartphones, versatile laptops, and luxury TVs, and quite a few inventions that reflect our desire for a cleaner, less diseased world, like a high-tech, transparent, light-up N95 face mask from Razer that’d make the wearer look like a character from the glitch-tastic Cyberpunk 2077.
Here, we’ve gathered up the gadgets we’re most excited to test out in our own homes, many of which are set to be released later this year. Even if you’d never consider actually owning one of them, it’s still cool to see where the industry is heading—sustainable and smart continue to be buzzwords—and what it’s steering clear of. (Besides, you’d have to be a billionaire yourself to be able to afford half of them.) If the best tech featured at CES 2021 doesn’t entice you, hold tight. It’s only January. Just like you can rely on tech billionaire giants to keep getting richer, you can always rely on tech companies to release gadgets throughout the entire calendar year.
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Learn More moorebot.com
In a confluence of the surveillance state, heightened home security concerns, and consumer interest in baby cams and robot vacuums, Moorebot revealed a robot that functions as an autonomous surveillance camera on wheels, powered by AI tech. Basically, those Monster Truck-looking tires give it the self-driving mobility advantage over mounted cameras. Instead of one of those “Beware of Dog” signs, you’ll need one that reads “Beware of Robot.” Potential apocalyptic scenarios abound.
Razer Project Brooklyn
Learn More razer.com
This concept for a next-gen gaming chair might be better described as a luxury gaming pod. An arc of a retractable 60-inch OLED screen provides a panoramic view. Ergonomic cushions cover the seat and arms. RGB lighting pipes the chair. A table folds in and out for PC-to-console ease. And, much like the haptic feedback incorporated into Razer’s surround sound headset, the chair’s frame is equipped to vibrate throughout gameplay. It’ll be better than any ride at Universal. But, alas, it’s just a concept.
Ampere Shower Power
Buy From $59, kickstarter.com
Shower speakers are a very real if hyper-specific category of Bluetooth speaker. Having one will change you as a human being. CES saw a new contender in the subcategory, a Bluetooth speaker made from recycled materials that attaches directly to seemingly any showerhead and uses the flow of water to power itself. Or rather, hydropower itself. Like a watermill for music, more or less.
Arcade1Up Legacy Edition Cabinets
Learn More arcade1up.com
Arcade1Up is well aware we’re all suckers for nostalgia, so it keeps chugging along with its line of retro-inspired home arcades. At CES, the gaming company revealed its new Legacy Edition series of cabinets, the first three of which each honor an icon of gaming days past: Atari, Capcom, or Namco. All three cabinets come with 12 games from their designated icon. And all three cabinets are pretty cool to look at.
Buy $490, feelcove.com
If Cove delivers on its promise, it could fix the entire American workforce. Imagine. That promise is the reduction of stress, attained by wearing this head band-type thing for 20 minutes a day. Through light vibrations behind the ears, Cove allegedly activates the part of the brain that regulates anxiety. Honestly, we’re so stressed we’d try anything, including wearing this rather unfashionable and startlingly expensive device.
Otterbox Gaming Accessories
Learn More Pre-order starts January 25, otterbox.com
Otterbox, the company that keeps all your expensive shit safe, announced a 2021 gaming accessories line in partnership exclusively with Xbox. As you’d expect, there is a grippy Xbox controller shell so you can game safely, and an Xbox controller case so you can carry safely. Then there’s this claw that you see here, to transform mobile gaming with a controller into one conjoined ecosystem (safely!).
Pre-Order $100, mode.co
Give it a few years, and there will no longer be such a thing as an unanswerable question about weed. Mode, for its part, will take care of how much did I just smoke, how long should I inhale, what’s in this strain, and did I like that strain’s high last time I tried it, to name a few. The Mode device is universal, so it’ll support your inserts of choice, and the data it collects from the insert and your usage is funneled to an app that’ll tell you most of what you need to know about your own weed-smoking lifestyle. It even has haptic feedback to signal your hand it’s time to exhale. Get ready to see cannabis tech like this flood the market.
TCL Wearable Display
Learn More tcl.com
This gadget is either brilliant or useless; it could go either way. The premise is simple enough: Take the quality of a 1080p OLED TV but apply it to the relatively tiny area of glasses to circumvent the need for a giant screen. The goal it to make the wearer feel as if they’re gazing upon a high-quality, 140-inch TV screen that’s four meters away from their face, presumably because they don’t in fact own such a TV. No points for street style, but big props for innovation.
TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TVs
Learn More tcl.com
Back in the realm of TVs that look like TVs, one of TCL’s other CES announcements was an expansion of its much-liked (by us and others) 6-Series line to 8K models. Do you need an 8K TV? Let’s just say it’s nowhere near necessary. The PS5 and Xbox Series X both are 8K compatible, which is a point for gaming in 8K, but nearly all streaming services are not. Still, TCL is known for making great TVs that cost less than you’d expect, so perhaps this’ll be the first model that brings 8K to the people.
Pre-Order $549.00, trovaofficial.com
Trova Home is much like the safe you’ll find behind the sliding closet door in a hotel room, only smarter, sleeker, and endlessly nicer to look at. So, more like a distant third cousin to the hotel safe. A bit over 14 inches on its longest side, it can be securely bolted to a more immovable object. Paired with an app, you can tap your phone on the scanner to immediately access the compartment, or go through the biometric security on the app itself. And there are humidity sensors and odor concealers, in case the items you’re securing are particularly…pungent. It’s expected to ship in spring.
Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station
Buy $59.99, satechi.net
If you are the proud owner of a enough devices to make regular use of this charging station, perhaps unplug? If you will not unplug, then know that Satechi’s new dock is loaded with one Qi wireless charging pad, two USB-C charging ports, and two USB-A charging ports, all neatly divided—and, as images of wire fires likely just popped into your head, equipped with over-temperature protection.
JBL Tour Pro+ Earbuds
$199.95, available May 30
Another year, another eight thousand iterations of earbuds. But JBL is about as reliable as audio gear companies come. This year at CES, it revealed a new Tour line, comprised on these truly wireless buds and a pair of over-ear cans. The buds are intriguing because they promise Adaptive Noise Cancelling, which Apple’s AirPods Pro currently dominate the market on, as well as features that let you use just one bud to make calls or listen to music, which is a complicated endeavor with the AirPods Pro. All things considered, these ought to be solid earbuds for 2021.
LG Transparent OLED TV
No release or pricing information available
Out in the farthest reaches of cool TV technology, LG teased an invention that may or may not ever come to fruition: an OLED TV for the bedroom with a transparent screen. That screen, according to the Verge, is 55 inches across, and it can settle at 40 percent transparent even while you’re watching something—more transparent than past attempts at this TV technology.
myQ Pet Portal
Pre-Order $2,999, myqpetportal.com
For all those who adopted a new pup during lockdown, then promptly learned that opening and closing and opening and closing and opening and closing the door to let the pup out through the workday was pretty damn annoying, here’s an invention that’ll strike you as useful as hell. The myQ Pet Portal is a low-key dog door that comes with a Bluetooth sensor for the collar, so that when the dog indicates he’d like to come in or go out, the door either opens automatically or sends a message to the owner to open it through the app. It’s seamless, it’s secure, and it just might be worth the price.
Samsung Solar Cell Remote Control
Available with all Samsung TVs in 2021
Samsung is churning out new and improved TVs this year, like all years, which we’re sure are great. But on a more atypical note, Samsung is nodding to sustainability with a reimagined remote control equipped with a solar cell for power. Not that you’d have to go stick the thing on the back deck to recharge; indoor lights can power it up, as can a standard rechargeable battery (via a USB-C port). Samsung estimates that’ll save, well, a lot of AAA battery waste in years to come.
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