Every year brings a deluge of new tech focused on delivering new experiences, changing how we interact with systems and platforms (dare I say the world) and building completely new ideas. 2022 was no different. From new entries in established markets to devices once only applicable to commercial or industrial realms becoming accessible to anyone with an interest.
That’s the purpose of these tools at their heart. The word “gadget” carries a certain adolescence to it, but the things accomplished by them are quite amazing. OK, some are delightfully goofy, and there is merit in that too. Let’s get into the best 2022 had to offer.
Apple Watch Series 8
Apple remains the standard bearer in the wearable market, though there are some Android-based competitors nipping at their heels. While the company introduced the outdoors-ready and rugged Apple Watch Ultra, its latest edition of the classic Apple Watch gets the nod for building on the tech giant’s wearable goals with new ovulation tracking and an improved temperature sensor for health and sleep tracking.
Google Pixel Watch
The company that built Android finally decided to get into the wearable market this year, and they nailed it pretty well on the first try. The Pixel Watch integrates well with other devices in the Pixel library, puts Google’s purchase of Fitbit to good use with plenty of health tracking tools and does everything you’d expect a smartwatch to do.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
Samsung’s smartwatch is the sleekest out of the bunch, but it isn’t all style. The Galaxy Watch 5 boasts improved sleep tracking and coaching and steps closer to the Apple Watch in terms of biodiagnostic monitoring thanks to a larger backplate on the watch face. But, style does matter to some, and Samsung’s array of watch straps are the most eye-catching out there, even if they are (like everyone’s) proprietary.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
The hoss of Samsung’s latest Android tablet line is big in size and functionality. The other devices in the Galaxy Tab8 series are stellar upgrades for the leading non-Apple tablet, but the Ultra takes the cake for its expanded camera interface and Auto-Framing function for video calls. Its 14” display is the best size to take advantage of the ability to open multiple windows and linking the tablet to your Samsung PC as a second monitor.
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 With 5G
The 5G Surface Pro 9 shows the promise of what can be in the line’s future. It is possibly the best device for video calls and video conferencing, especially in noisy environments that require solid and consistent noise cancellation. Tweaking the infrastructure to relieve the CPU and GPU of certain social processes also lets it flourish as a media and gaming device and lays a pathway to better optimization down the road.
Apple iPad Air
You can’t talk about tablets without mentioning iPad, and Apple’s update to the iPad Air feels like the best offering from the company this year. It’s perfect for all the lounging-centric use cases, but putting the M1 chip in it also boosts it as a pro-level device. No, it doesn’t replace the iPad Pro, but it creates a more affordable device that can perform some of those tasks. It’s the closest to equilibrium that Apple has gotten in recent years.
Meta Quest 2
Look, I know Meta released the work-focused, suped-up Meta Quest Pro headset this year as it tries desperately to make widespread buy-in of Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the Metaverse happen. But people that actually use VR right now aren’t excited by Microsoft 365 integration (sorry, virtual Excel fam). What keeps the market running right now is gaming and media experiences, and the Meta Quest 2 is still the best option when factoring price and performance even two years after it hit the market.
AnkerMake M5 3D Printer
3D printers are great for businesses, but they’ve also found a place as a household device for those wanting to futz around with a fun tool (as long as you aren’t using it to build ghost guns!). Anker’s first attempt at building a 3D printer works for both focuses with higher printing speeds than its competitors without compromising quality. It opens up intriguing avenues for creativity, giving people a tool to build to their whimsy at a price that sits attractively below higher priced devices.
Airpods and Samsung Buds are quality, albeit trendy, names in the earbud market, but Sony keeps quietly building some of the best Bluetooth buds out there. Though actively unsexy in name, the WF-1000XM4 earbuds are likely the best noise-canceling buds among a slew of competitors focused on improving the same feature. Their battery life is superb, the audio quality is crisp and the design looks striking while others keep trying to smooth the edges. They simply stand out.
The Sonos Arc soundbar delivers top-quality audio and smart home integration in a package that looks fashionable slotted in with the rest of your living room decor. The sub-$1000 device has Dolby Atmos compatibility and works with both Google Assistant and Alexa for hands-free control, and delivers a soundscape that won’t force you to snag a subwoofer if you don’t want to. It’s the complete package that leaves plenty of room for customization depending on how complex you want your home theater journey to be.