The hardest part of curating this list every year is narrowing it down! These are all gadgets I’ve tried myself, bought, and recommend to my family and friends (that’s you) as well. Let me know if I left any of your favorites off of this list!
Also, if you click on a link below to buy an item, Techish might receive a (very) small affiliate commission. This is no way affects what we recommend.
1.) Lume Cube LED Light: $69.95 BUY IT HERE
For Zoom calls, kick your ring light up a notch with this video conference lighting kit from Lume Cube. The kit includes a panel mini-LED light with both brightness and color temperature adjustability, as well as an additional softening diffuser and multiple mounts.
2.) Epson Home Cinema 2250: $980 BUY IT HERE
The reason I like it so much is that it casts a crystal clear image on pretty much every wall, curtain, ceiling, and outside garage door, I’ve used it with. The set-up is crazy simple, and I really like the voice-search feature too. For less expensive and more portable choices, my favorites include, the XGIMI Mogo-Pro ($549) and the BenQ HT2050A ($649). I wish I could find others in the $200-$300 dollar range that delivered as well as these, but I have yet to discover them!
3.) Oculus Quest 3: $299 BUY IT HERE
If ever there were a year to try a gadget that can drop you into an alternate reality, this is it. THE OCULUS QUEST 2 LETS you travel the world from the comfort of your couch, play games, get a total body workout, take a much-needed mental health break, and jump into Guided Tai Chi, or even meet up with friends at a virtual concert in Venues.
4.) Nanoleaf Smart Rhythm Light Panels (Prices vary by shape/size) BUY IT HERE
Nanoleaf’s colorful light panels are some of my favorite smart home tech these days, with their vivid colors, incredible effects, app controls, and easy installation. I have quite a few sets of panels in my home, Canvas squares, Hexagons, and of course, the snazzy Triangle shape, each with custom designs that bring a smile to everyone’s face when they spring to life each day.
5.) Facebook Portal Family of Devices: Starts at $149 BUY IT HERE
For family video calls, nothing beats the Facebook Portal family of devices — period. We’ve been getting pretty comfortable with video-calling during the pandemic, but for those who want to avoid feeling like they’re just in more business meetings, Facebook’s webcam-enabled device is the simplest way to have casual conversations.
6.) Apple’s MacBook Pro M1: $1,000 BUY IT HERE
With a chip-change and other incredible tweaks in speed and performance, Apple’s new M1 MacBooks made the laptop’s biggest leap in years. They are blowing away high-end Windows laptops (and Apple’s own Intel-powered MacBook Pros) and the icing on the cake is the stellar battery life of up to 18 hours. Apple kept everything that made the old MacBook Air so great, including its iconic aluminum wedge design, Retina display, Magic Keyboard — and price.
7.) Lenovo Yoga 9i 14: $1,400 BUY IT HERE
The new Yoga 9i is a 2-in-1 notebook PC that offers consumers a combination of purposeful design, responsive performance, and superior battery life. The precision-machined aluminum chassis, an edge-to-edge glass palm rest, and an optional leather cover reflect the modern aesthetic.
8.) Bidets: $ varies BUY THEM HERE
From the social media favorite Tushy to the mid-priced Bio Bidet unit or the super swanky $1040 Toto Washlet — this is the “it” gift this holiday season. The Bio Bidet here is priced right at $400 and has tons of features such as a heated seat, oscillating nozzle, slow-closing seat and more.
9.) Rad Power eBikes: $1200+ BUY IT HERE
Last year, I named the Rad Runner our best e-bike. Then the maker of the Rad Runner went and one-upped itself. While I love the Runner—and a bunch of other e-bikes, for that matter—space to store these bikes is tight where we live. The RadMini 4 kicks about as much ass, bike-wise, as the Rad Runner, but it can fold up, saving that precious space. And, you can still deck it out with accessories from the Rad ecosystem, including digital screens, crates, extra seats, and more. This is an e-bike is for anyone trying to avoid public transport for the foreseeable future. So … it’s for everyone.
10.) Logitech Brio: $200-ish BUY IT HERE
Maybe your built-in webcam isn’t doing it for you. Maybe you want some control over the look and effects. Logitech Brio is not only an ultra HD 4K webcam, but it also uses Logitech Capture UI, which allows for a ton of customization. You can zoom, change contrast levels, insert dumb face effects, and more. Be the class clown of your Zoom meetings, or I mean, use it for professional reasons. It looks like it’s even back in stock now, but who knows for how long?!
11.) LifeStraw Go: $28 BUY IT HERE
I always have the LifeStraw Go ($28) water bottle by my side. It removes bacteria and all kinds of other little nasties, so it’s perfect for hiking, camping, and even if we have to melt snow to drink, I know it will be safe.
12.) Therabody Theragun: $350 BUY IT HERE
Since we can’t go get a massage and my family won’t dig their elbows into my neck, back, or legs the way I reeallllly need to work out all the knots, this medium priced Theragun is a total life-saver. Percussive therapy was an overnight hit, and if you’ve never done it, it may seem painful or just wrong, but trust me when I say it helps. The Therabody Theragun is definitely made for those who need something heavy-duty, but there are much cheaper, less intense options out there, too. Regardless, if you struggle with muscle pain or tight shoulders (who doesn’t?), definitely look into this one.
13.) Playstation 5: $399/$499 BUY IT HERE
Next-generation videogame consoles come but once every seven years or so, and 2020 was that year for both Sony and Microsoft. Both newly released consoles blow past all previous specs, with beefier controllers, impressive lighting effects, and almost zero load time—while remaining compatible with many of your older games, too. And both come with slightly more affordable siblings for those who don’t mind dropping some features. Picking one over the other would be like deciding between Schitt’s Creek and Queen’s Gambit —literally, that—so we decided to feature them both. The real challenge will be finding either in time for the holidays.
14.) Apple iPad Air: $600 BUY IT HERE
The new iPad Air is the best tablet out there right now. It takes design cues straight from the Pro with the flat edging, full screen (with Face ID and Touch ID), Pencil (with the most accurate writing and markup ability in any iPad, except for the Pro), and that brilliant Magic Keyboard. These all help this iPad stake its claim as the most reasonable “laptop replacement” tablet I’ve seen to this point. So if you’re looking for hardware to surf the web, stream stuff, and do basic documentation, plus anything else you would normally do on your phone save for that size issue, this is your go-to.
15.) Arcade 1Up Countertop Arcade: $230 BUY IT HERE
Because not all gaming has to be so next-gen, this throwback to when I was a teen is a huge hit in my household and beyond.
16. Apple Airpods Pro: $242 BUY IT HERE
Best true wireless earbuds of 2020 for quality, fit, design, and overall usability. Water-and sweat-resistant added active noise-cancellation, controls with a tap, these are awesome.
17. LG OLED TV C9 with AI ThinQ: $2,197 BUY IT HERE
The LG ThinQ is a remarkable TV in every sense. It has an amazing picture, a killer frame rate, and of course, keeps up with the new consoles and HDR gaming. LG’s operating system is a lesser-known one but one that’s highly accessible, and the remote even has pointer tech—like the Wii—and a joystick for navigation. The picture is easily the clearest and deepest I’ve seen in this price range, and while it is by no means a cheap TV, it’s the best picture you can get without upgrading to 8K.
THROWING THIS ONE IN HERE…
Best Affordable TV: TCL 6-Series 4K Mini-LED QLED TV: $400 BUY IT HERE
If you’re looking for a TV for under a thousand bucks, it’s this one. I gush over TCL just because it is an affordable brand with some of the greatest quality, UI, and remote design out there. The picture and frame rate are representative of a TV that should cost you $500 more, and the outward design, while not as thin as some higher-end boxes, makes use of a really pretty silver frame to blend right into any type of thoughtful home décor.
18. PhoneSoap 3: ($79.95) BUY IT HERE
This timely gadget promises to clean-up — and charge up — your phone at the same time. The company claims their device kills 99.99% of germs and bacteria — and it seems to work exactly as advertised. Since washing an iPhone with soap is out of the question, the PhoneSoap 3 is the next best thing and can also clean additional items such as credit cards, keys, or earphones.
19. Apple Watch Series 6: $479 BUY IT HERE
The Apple Watch has been huge for me during the pandemic, for exercise — keeping tabs on my progress when I might otherwise lose track of any improvements due to my isolation, has a walkie-talkie feature, tells you how long to wash your hands, and all kinds of other great new stuff you’ll be glad to have in a smartwatch.
20. Tubshroom: $13 BUY IT HERE
This is the third year in a row that the humble Tubshroom makes my “best of the year” list. It is an absolutely brilliant way to keep hair and other gunk from clogging your drain. It is so simple and totally inexpensive. But it solves a yucky problem. Just replace the drain with this one and you are done fishing hair from the drain forever. (I bought five this year – one for everyone in my family…)
21. GoerTek solar battery charger: $36.80 BUY IT HERE
This is the ultimate portable solar charger for traveling, outdoor adventures, and everyday use. It’s not only the best solar USB charger for iPhone and Android smartphones but you can also use it to charge your tablet or GoPro camera.
22. BlueAir Pure 211 Air Purifier: $300 BUY IT HERE
When wildfire smoke turned our skies orange here in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this year, I did an exhaustive hands-on review of all the top air cleaners. This is the perfect mid-range device that does the job while looking pretty spiffy too. Read the full story here.
23. DJI Mini Drone 2: $449 BUY IT HERE
This DJI Mini 2 is the easiest, most fun consumer drone I’ve played with yet. It weighs just over half a pound and fits into the palm of your hand. It can shoot 4K video and RAW photos (a must for anyone who wants more flexibility in their editing). It will stay up in the area for 31 minutes on a single battery charge with a claimed top speed of 35.8 mph.
24. Eero 6 Mesh Network: $249 BUY IT HERE
Mesh networks blanket your home in wireless by sharing the job across multiple radio beacons. I was lucky enough to already have a Netgear Orbi network, yet in my office, I was only getting half the speed I saw in the living room. Buying an extra $149 Orbi satellite fixed that right up. Those looking to set up their first mesh network or upgrade, however, should look at the new Eero 6, which has support for recent devices equipped with Wi-Fi 6. Eero also has a nicer smartphone app than Netgear.
25. NOMAD BASE STATION PRO: $200 BUY IT HERE
This is the sleekest wireless charging station for my i-gadgets that I’ve found yet. It charges up to three devices at one time and adds an elegant touch to any workspace.
26. Best WiFi Extender Netgear Orbi 6: $700 BUY IT HERE
27. Google Pixel Buds: $180 BUY THEM HERE
are the real deal. They sound great, are sweat-resistant, and offer a good fit courtesy of changeable tips and a little tiny fin that holds them in your ears. You can also use these tiny gadgets to keep tabs on your inbox thanks to integration and even though they lack the active noise cancellation of the Airpods Pro, they’ll automatically adjust the volume to match the sound level of your environment.
28. XBox Series X/S: $500/$300 BUY THEM HERE
Next-generation videogame consoles come but once every seven years or so, and 2020 was that year for both Sony and Microsoft. Both newly released consoles blow past all previous specs, with beefier controllers, impressive lighting effects and almost zero load time—while remaining compatible with many of your older games, too. And both come with slightly more affordable siblings for those who don’t mind dropping some features. Picking one over the other would be like deciding between Schitt’s Creek and Queen’s Gambit —literally, that—so we decided to feature them both. The real challenge will be finding either in time for the holidays.
29. Balmuda Electric Kettle: $179 BUY IT HERE
The Japanese toaster company Balmuda has a kettle that not only works great, but looks amazing on your countertop. It has a set power base and a simple LED indicator, and it is remarkably lightweight. If you drink tea or use fancy coffee-brewing contraptions, an electric kettle is a must.
30. Garmin Fenix 6S: $550 BUY IT HERE
The Garmin Fenix 6 is perhaps the ultimate multi-sport smartwatch, and the entire Fenix 6 range is truly top-end as wearables go. It tracks almost every outdoor activity, with GPS and a heart rate monitor that even works underwater.
31. Peloton Bike: $1,895 BUY IT HERE
The Peloton bike has made my top tech list every year since it first came out, and I first went pedals-on with it, in 2015. It’s the only fitness equipment that I, and my whole family, uses all the time. The classes have grown, and we use it for strength, yoga, meditation, and more. It’s worth every single penny… year after year.
32. Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing New Horizon Edition: $479 BUY IT HERE
In this lonely pandemic world, we still want our kids to get together to play, and they can, through safe, collaborative video games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons — This is the single most popular family video game of the pandemic … it lets you create your own paradise as you explore the cheery world. To ease into gaming – I like the mobility of the My Nintendo Switch ($299.99), where you can play on the same system with a total of 4 people, or play together online or over local wireless for fun with up to 8 players. GameStop
33. My Cloud Home by WD: $149 for 4TB BUY IT HERE
This is the one I would give any busy parent: the 2nd gen My Cloud Home by WD This is crazy-simple, easy-to-use personal cloud storage device that preserves your digital life and lets you access it anywhere using the free companion app — and the best part? You walk in your door and it automatically uploads and organizes all your latest photos and videos — You don’t have to pay a subscription fee. (Cost: currently on sale for $149.99 for 2TB).
34. Bartesian Cocktail Machine: $349 BUY IT HERE
I love this machine. It’s so much better than I thought it would or could be and totally helps you keep your spirits up! This handy cocktail machine lets all the adults at home enjoy all of their favorite drinks (think margaritas, whiskey sours, old-fashioneds, and cosmopolitans) with the push of a single button.
35. The Safe: $60-$200 BUY IT HERE
If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that you need to prepare for disaster. The Judy Company emergency prep-kits are simple the best I’ve ever seen. The largest kit has everything you need to keep a family of four safe for 72 hours. They thought of everything, and everyone I love is getting one of these!