When it comes to tech gadgets, the coolest ones will always stop you in your tracks. You find yourself wanting them even if you suspect you don’t absolutely need them. But even if you don’t need them, it’s nice to treat yourself from time to time, and the best gadgets will still be incredibly useful and make your life easier.
And with our list of the coolest tech gadgets, we sought to find devices that fit this bill. Maybe they’re not as essential to your day-to-day life as a smartphone or a laptop, but they’re the products you lust after; they’re the ones you end up blowing your tax refund on.
Whether that’s a new gaming console like the Nintendo Switch, a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2 or a robovac like the iRobot Roomba, these products are the statement items that you’ll tell your friends about the next time you talk to them, or show off when you have people visiting.
So if you’re looking for ideas on cool tech gadgets to splurge on, keep scrolling to see our picks.
1. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
Samsung’s newest foldable phone definitely tops the list of coolest tech gadgets of 2021, even though it’s only available for pre-order at the moment. It’s a full-size smartphone touch screen that folds into a 4.2″ compact design for portability and convenience. The frame is made of sturdy aluminum that protects the hinge and the front and back cover are made of the toughest glass Galaxy Z has seen thus far. It’s got a 1.9″ cover screen that displays pressing notifications and it’s got Flex Mode for hands-free selfies.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Phone
2. Sonos Roam Smart Speaker
While the Nest Audio and Amazon Echo all have their relative merits as Wi-Fi smart speakers, and the UE Wonderboom 2 is the platonic ideal of the Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Roam is a hybrid speaker that offers the best of both worlds with minimal compromise. When connected to a Wi-Fi network, the Roam can take advantage of better audio quality and voice-controlled integration with Google Assistant and Alexa. When connected to your phone via Bluetooth, you can take the Roam wherever you want and have access to audio as long as your phone battery isn’t dead. Best of all, the Sonos Roam still links up with your existing ecosystem of Sonos products, giving you another speaker in your multi-room setup.
3. Oculus Quest 2
Virtual reality might be taking its time to have its ‘iPhone moment,’ but it is still very much the next big thing when it comes to the coolest tech gadgets. And there is not a single VR device that flashes that promise more than the Oculus Quest 2. Without the need for a powerful computer or special equipment, you can simply strap the Quest 2 to your head, pick up the controllers and move freely in VR space thanks to its inside out technology, which uses cameras on the outside of the headset to track your movement in the space around you. The Oculus Quest is currently sold out, but we expect inventory to rebound ahead of the holiday season, so stay tuned.
Oculus Quest 2
4. 2020 Apple M1 MacBook Air
Apple’s latest rendition of the MacBook Air is the best laptop you can buy, and transformed the entire industry when it was released back in 2020. Not only does it contain faster chips than 98% of laptops currently for sale, it’s got an 18 hour battery life that’ll last you all day. It’s also been built without a noisy fan, and nearly ever review when it first came out touted that it could handle every task thrown at it without one.
It’s equipped with 8GB of speedy memory, a stunning 13.3″ retina display and is compatible with many of the existing apps you use to work — including Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft 365 and Google Drive. It’s also built with the now infamous Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU that operates at speeds 3.5x faster than previous models while using less energy.
M1 MacBook Air
5. Anker Nebula Solar Portable Projector
Typically when you think of home theater projectors, you assume they require an overly involved installation process and a PhD-level knowledge of gear to set it all up. But we are in an era where you can pull out the Anker Nebula Solar. Barely bigger than a book, you can point it at a wall, and have it projecting an 120-inch, 1080p version of your favorite Netflix movie with out needing to configure the picture settings or find a power outlet.
Will this replace your fancy 65-inch 4K HDR TV? Absolutely not. But for those moments when you’re really craving that movie theater experience at home (and really, who hasn’t over the last year?), you’ll understand why this made our list of cool tech gadgets.
Anker Nebula Solar
6. Apple AirPods Max
Apple’s latest headphone drop came with a surprising price tag, but one that only Apple, with its caliber of products, could pull off asking for. These headphones are built with 3D surround sound that adjusts based on your environment and head position, and they’ve got Active Noise Cancellation that blocks out the rest of the world with the press of a button. The headphones themselves have a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions for a great fit. They’re also built to seamlessly switch between devices, and have on-head detection so your music will pause if you need to remove them for a second. They come in five different colors, including this sleek Space Gray.
Apple AirPods Max
7. Sony SRS-RA5000 360 Reality Audio Speaker
With the ability to make the listener feel like they are standing in the middle of a concert, Sony’s SRS-RA5000 360 Reality Audio Wi-Fi speaker could be revolutionary. But this isn’t just a fancy piece of hardware; 360 Reality Audio is an entire platform for music-focused 3D sound. Similar to a movie-focused format, such as Dolby Atmos, Sony is promising to deliver live content so that we can enjoy shows and concerts in these pandemic times.
Equipped with seven separate drivers, the SRS-RA5000 can detect the room its in and disperse the audio throughout a room to create an immersive effect. But in the times you’re not using this speaker for live performances you can also connect to your favorite music service via Chromecast, Bluetooth or Spotify Connect. And if you have a collection of smart home devices, you can also use this speaker as an Alexa or Google assistant hub.
Sony 360 Reality Audio Speaker
8. Apple Watch Series 6
With each passing year since its 2014 launch, the Apple Watch has continued to become more and more useful in the lives of the average person. Whether it’s conveniently providing phone notifications, tracking workouts, monitoring vital signs or making calls without having a phone nearby at all, there is so much that this little wearable can do. The latest iteration, the Apple Watch Series 6, even comes with a very timely feature that will let you monitor your blood oxygen levels. If you’re suffering from Covid-19, monitoring SpO2 can be a key in determining when you should visit a doctor or hospital to be treated. And if the last seven years have been any indication, the Apple Watch will only grow to be more useful in the future.
Apple Watch Series 6
9. Sony WF-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Headphones
Sony’s XM4 earbuds were another hotly anticipated tech release this year that we followed closely, and got a chance to review. One of our tech specialists has been using them consistently for months and loves them, you can view his full review here. If you’re looking for high-quality earbuds that aren’t AirPods, these are it. They’ve got industry-leading noise cancellation built-in as well as an Integrated V1 Processor for exceptional sound quality. The call quality is crystal-clear, and the bone-conduction sensor can clearly detect and isolate voices even in noise environments. They’ve got 8 hours of battery life even with noise cancellation turned on, and they’re IPX42 water-resistant.
Sony WF-1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds
10. Awair Air Quality Monitor
Awair is a smart indoor air quality monitor that not only gives you regular updates on the temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, VOCs and particulate matter, but syncs seamlessly with your Alexa and Google Assistant as well. It delivers your updates to you via the Awair Home app and provides in-app tips to improve the health of your space from top to bottom. The app also has a “Trend” tab where you can see changes in your air quality and compare to historical data of air quality readings.
Awair Element Indoor Air Quality Monitor
11. Apple iPad Air
We still think it’s kind of insane that Apple took many of the best aspects of its iPad Pro — namely the slim-bezel design and compatibility with the Magic Keyboard — dropped them into the newest iPad Air and offered it at a very reasonable price. As a result, for less than $600, you get a device that lets you stream Netflix and Spotify, FaceTime with your friends, doodle, draw and design with the Apple Pencil, and even use it like a traditional laptop. Even if tablets are not completely essential in most people’s day-to-day lives like phones are, it’s undeniable that an iPad is deeply pleasurable to use. If you can afford one, don’t deprive yourself of the coolest luxury gadget around.
Apple iPad Air
12. Chromecast with Google TV
Your TV might have a smart streaming interface such as Roku or WebOS, but those are no comparisons to the revamped experience that comes with the new Chromecast with Google TV. Not only is this an excellent 4K HDR streaming device, but the best streaming device you can buy right now. The reason for that is twofold: Not only is this the first Chromecast device to come with a remote, which is the most convenient way to browse content on your TV, but Google TV is a revamped version of Android TV that is built around you and the content you watch. You see, it pulls in all the services you subscribe to and shows you watch, then makes custom-tailored recommendations on the home screen. But you still get all the benefits of Google Assistant and using Google Cast to push content from your phone.
Chromecast With Google TV
13. Google Nest Mini
As one of the first companies to make artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology available to the average person, Google is still the top dog when it comes to voice assistants and smart home platforms. And perhaps its most radical move was the Nest Mini, a small and cheap speaker that is fully imbued with the powers to command your smart home.
Once you get used to the particular ways of interacting with a voice assistant, it’s rare when you have to raise your voice or repeat yourself to get the Nest Mini to understand you, even when you’re on the other side of the room, half-asleep at 1 a.m., telling it to turn off the lights, shut off the TV and lock the doors.
Related: The Best Tech Gifts
Google Nest Mini
14. Amazon Echo Show 8 Smart Display
Smart displays are quickly gaining popularity because of their versatility. Whether you need a supercharged alarm clock in the bedroom, a sous chef in the kitchen, a hub for your smart home gear or a way to make video calls, a good smart display can handle it all. The Amazon Echo Show 8 is particularly flexible because its screen size means you can use it in a variety of settings without it taking up too much space. It’s equipped with an 8″ HD screen and stereo sound. You can hook it up with other compatible Amazon devices and control your entire home, from the lights to the security cameras, from one visually-oriented place.
Amazon Echo Show 8
15. Philips Hue Color LED Bulbs + Smart Button + Echo Dot Starter Kit
When it comes to smart home gear, using a Philips Hue bulb for the first time is akin to eating a really nice steak, or sipping an expensive whisky: Once you try it, you don’t want to go back to the ordinary stuff. And though this cool tech gadget may cost $75, it gives you the perfect taste of what the smart home is really about. Simply screw this bulb into any light socket, pair it with your phone (or speaker that is powered by Google Assistant/Alexa), and prepare to be impressed by the fact that you can control your lighting from anywhere in the home with your phone or voice (or the included wireless dimmer that can magnetically mount to your wall).
Want to turn your kitchen bright green? Pastel pink? Deep Purple? Go for it. Want to dim the lights in a nice soft white glow? You can do that too. And it’s a pretty good deal for the price considering you get a few bulbs, a Hue bridge, a fully programmable smart button that can activate your favorite lighting scenes and an Amazon Echo Dot so that you can control all of this with your voice. Spend a few weeks with this set up in your home and it will have you considering what else you’ve been missing when it comes to other smart home gear.
Philips Hue Starter Kit
16. Sony WH1000-XM4 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Considering that we spent most of 2020 and the start of 2021 in the confines of our homes, you’d think that we wouldn’t have much use for the best noise-cancelling headphones. But between loud neighbors, noisy roommates or the constant presence of family and significant others, home isn’t as quiet as it used to be. But with the Sony WH1000-XM4 headphones strapped on your head, that cacophony of shuffling feet, loud conversations and blaring televisions can be reduced to a murmur, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. It doesn’t hurt that these are also some of the best-sounding headphones around, so you can also listen to your favorite jams like never before.
17. Tile Pro Bluetooth Trackers (2-Pack)
Bluetooth trackers have been an interesting concept for the last decade, but it’s only recently that the technology has truly caught up with the idea. In their infancy, Tile trackers could give you a general sense of where you left your keys or purse or phone. But as Bluetooth continues to evolve, you can now track a lost item with an unnerving level of accuracy and even call upon others to help you find a lost item.
The best tile trackers can give you live updates on the location of an object you’re looking for, as long as you’re within 400 feet. And if you’re no longer within range, it will tell you the last known location of the object, as well as notify any other tile users who come within range of it to contact you. Best of all, these trackers even have ringers on them so you can remotely trigger them to help you find that phone buried under a blanket.
Tile Pro Bluetooth Trackers
18. iRobot Roomba i7+
Roomba makes some of the best robot vacuums around, and this is their elite model that comes with a ton of high-end features, and a sizable price tag to match. Why should you spend upwards of $700 on a vacuum cleaner? Well, this one’s built with a power-lifting suction system that’s 10x stronger than other robot vacuums, and it’s got vSLAM navigation that builds a Smart Map of your home so it covers every inch. You can also program specific areas of your home into the app and order it to clean just a specific area if there’s a mess. It’s also equipped with dual multi-surface rubber brushes built to not get stuck on pet hair and a high-efficiency filter that traps 99% of dog and cat allergens.
iRobot Roomba i7 Robot Vacuum
19. Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Fan
This isn’t your typical cooling tower fan. This is a high-end purifying machine from Dyson and one of the best gadgets you can get for keeping your home clean, filtered and a comfortable temperature. It’s equipped with both HEPA and activated carbon filters that remove gases and 99.97% of microscopic allergens and airborne particles. It’s got built-in sensors that detect air quality levels in the environment and adjust filtering accordingly, and the Air Multiplier technology delivers 77 gallons of smooth air per second, and is designed to circulate it through the entire room. You get full reports via the Dyson Link app on your filter status and air quality, and changing the filter is quick and easy. If you’re in the market for a top-notch air purifier, this is one of the best.
Dyson Pure Cool Purifying Fan
20. The Ridge RFID Wallet
The Ridge is best known for its minimalist approach to wallets, but what makes these wallets one of the coolest tech gadgets around is their ability to block radio frequency identification signals (RFID), otherwise known as near-field communication (NFC). Because these communications technologies are housed in things like our credit cards and office keycards, hackers have created devices in recent years which can swipe that data from your card when it’s sitting in your back pocket. The Ridge’s wallets block these radio frequencies so that hackers cannot access them. This is a huge benefit for anyone who worries about having their identities stolen.
Although this carbon fiber version is the priciest version you can buy, we love the overall look and matte finish. And weighing in at only 1.6 ounces, you won’t find a lighter wallet from The Ridge.
The Ridge Carbon Fiber 3K Wallet
21. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle Paperwhite is the oldest device on this list and it really says something that after eight years, it’s still one of the coolest tech gadgets you can buy. Sure it’s received a few upgrades over the years (mainly to the display), but it’s functionally the same device it was when it first appeared. And that functionality is to put an entire library’s worth of books into the palm of your hand. We mean that literally: Not only can this thing store thousands of texts, but you can also sync it up with your local library account and digitally check out books.
But what we love most is how seamlessly it all comes together. The hardware itself is light and easy to hold, which ensures you won’t get hand fatigue after a few hours of reading. The 6-inch e-ink touchscreen is responsive and easy on the eyes, which is essential for navigating the various facets of the Kindle software (reader, library, store). The Kindle Paperwhite may be considered a niche device, but it’s the best sort of niche device: one that actually makes life easier.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
22. Razer Kishi Gaming Controller
We’ve written about the Razer Kishi before, and this innovative controller is one of the coolest tech gadgets of 2021 for mobile gamers. Now that Apple has introduced the lightning-fast A14 processor in the iPhone 12, mobile gaming has taken a huge step forward. However, while the iPhone is fully capable of playing some great games, the iPhone’s ability to act as a controller is somewhat lacking. The modular design of the Razer Kishi lets you snap the controller onto both ends of your iPhone, mimicking the design of traditional video game controllers. This gives you the precision, control and full array of buttons you need to master the competition.
Razer Kishi Mobile Game Controller
23. Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable
We love this Bluetooth record player, which is often out of stock due to its popularity among vinyl record collectors and audiophiles alike. Sony’s record player offers both Bluetooth and USB outputs, so you can listen to your favorite records however you like. On top of the sleek, minimalist design, this record player lets you easily connect to wireless speakers. You can also turn your vintage vinyl records into digital MP3 files to listen to them on the go, which is a really cool feature. Most importantly, this record player provides super clear audio that will let you disappear into your favorite albums.
Sony PS-LX310BT Bluetooth Record Player
24. Nintendo Switch
When it comes to imagination, there are few who could have dreamt up the Nintendo Switch as a concept, let alone predicted the insane levels of success the little console would enjoy. Part-traditional gaming console, part-handheld console, this hybrid device can connect to your TV or exist as a self-contained unit when you’re out of the house. If you’re with a friend, you can detach the Joy-Cons from the unit and each can function as its own controller. And carrying on the legacy of the Wii, there are even games that make great use of motion controls.
Say what you want about any of the Xbox and Playstation consoles: Yes, they’ve often had the best and biggest games from developers around the world. They’ve been at the forefront of game-centric innovation and cutting-edge technology. But, not a single feature on those consoles is as fun as the ones you’ll find on the Nintendo Switch.
25. Amazon Smart Plug
This little wall wart might seem underwhelming compared to many of the other cool tech gadgets, but you might be impressed with how much you like this $24 smart home accessory once you start using it.
Head out on vacation and can’t remember if you left a fan or window AC unit running? If it’s plugged into this, you can simply open up your Alexa app and cut off the power. Have a lamp that you love, but it doesn’t work with a smart bulb? Use one of these to make a dumb lamp very, very smart. On top of all that, Alexa has some impressive power monitoring tools, so that if you have more than one of these around your home, you can figure out which appliances and electronics around the house are costing you the most money and you can adjust your usage behavior accordingly.
This affordable smart plug is often on sale, and Prime Members can often order it at a 40% discount.
Related:The Best Tech Under $25