CES 2022 is just about in the books, and after a week of meeting with some of the biggest tech brands around the world and testing out exciting new gadgets, we’re ready to reveal our picks for the products you should be keeping an eye out this year.
After deciding on our CES 2022 finalists, we picked our winners based on a number of factors. Some of these products improve on gadgets we’ve already tested and love, while others provide some very practical benefits for folks looking to stay productive from home, track their lost stuff or keep active. We also gave awards for products that are just plain cool, while still offering plenty of value to the average consumer.
From breathtaking new TVs to innovative smart home tech to dual screen laptops, here are our picks for the best CES 2022 gadgets that we think will actually be worth your money this year.
The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 wins our best laptop award because it does something truly innovative — combining a main ultrawide 17.3-inch screen with an 8-inch companion LCD display next to the keyboard. It might look strikingly over-the-top, but once we got our hands on it, we quickly realized how practical it could be.
For example, you can jot down notes on the pen-compatible small screen while watching a presentation on the main display, use the LCD as a virtual number pad while crunching through spreadsheets, or even take advantage of a waterfall mode that lets you extend a web page across both screens. When you combine that with the same quality keyboard we’ve enjoyed on previous Lenovo laptops and the power of the latest 12th Gen Intel processors, the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 could be the perfect multitasking machine for folks who don’t have the space for a proper dual-monitor setup. And with a starting price of $1,399, it’s not much more expensive than a typical mainstream laptop.
CES 2022 gave us lots of promising gaming laptops, but the Asus ROG Flow Z13 stood out from the pack by offering a 2-in-1 design that could open up new ways to game on the go. Essentially a Microsoft Surface for gamers, the Flow Z13 packs respectable specs into a relatively compact tablet with a kickstand, making it perfect for getting an impromptu Rocket League session going when you’re on the go with friends. It also functions as a full-on laptop when you snap on the detachable keyboard — and unlike with the Surface, you actually get one out of the box.
The Flow Z13’s beautiful 4K display stood out in our brief hands-on time, and with up to Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics inside, it’s equipped to play most modern PC games at solid settings. It’s also compatible with Asus’s ROG XG external graphics dock, meaning you can transform it into a much more powerful gaming PC for a true 4K experience. Asus already makes our pick for the best gaming laptop, and the company’s knack for crafting powerful, well-designed gaming machines has translated extremely well to this unique 2-in-1.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha S has long been our pick for the best wired gaming headset, but what if there was a wireless option that you almost never had to recharge? That’s the idea behind the $199 HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless, which makes the beloved Alpha headset cord-free for the first time while promising a stunning 300 hours of battery life. We’ll have to put that claim to the test of course, but that could make a big impact in terms of reducing the amount of times you have to hit pause just to juice up your headset.
Long battery life aside, the Cloud Alpha Wireless looks like it’ll deliver on many of the things we already love about Hyper X’s headsets. That includes improved drivers that promise a lighter design without sacrificing the sound quality of the wired model, as well as the comfortable memory foam earcups that have made HyperX headsets a longtime favorite of ours. If you’re in the market for a premium, long-lasting wireless headset for your PC, PS4 or PS5, this is one to watch.
The Alienware 34 QD-OLED takes our CES gaming monitor award because it combines two display technologies we already love and brings it to the gaming space for the first time. It’s the world’s first quantum-dot OLED monitor, meaning you get the bold blacks and striking contrasts of an OLED screen and the rich, bright colors made possible by quantum dots — a technology that’s impressed us quite a bit on some of the best TVs.
When you wrap that all up into a 34-inch ultrawide curved display with a rich 3440 x 1400 resolution, you have what’s shaping up to be a very promising display for getting lost in the latest PC games. The Alienware 34 QD-OLED also holds lots of potential beyond gaming, with a Creator Mode that lets you activate different color profiles designed specifically for visual work and content creation.
The Samsung Smart M8 is a 32-inch monitor with all the necessary screen tech and ports to provide a great work-from-home setup. It also boasts an entire Tizen Smart TV interface and supports casting standards like AirPlay, allowing it to double as a TV.
So the Smart M8 is a 2-in-1 monitor and smart TV — fully-fledged in both areas. It’s QLED panel will deliver sharp contrast points and vibrant colors. You’ll be able to open streaming apps natively on the display or cast content from your Apple-device with AirPlay 2. It has slim bezels all around and a tiny stand designed to take up minimal space. If you live in a studio, this could easily double on your desk as a monitor and act as a TV when you want to wind down at the end of the day. We’ve only seen this combo once before on the M7, but it wasn’t as fleshed out with a fully integrated interface. By combining a computer monitor and QLED TV into the same product, the M8 stands to deliver a big amount of value for the price.
Jabra already makes some of our favorite wireless earbuds, and the new Jabra Elite 4 Active just might be the company’s best offering yet in terms of sheer value. For $119, these buds impressed us with their secure fit, crisp sound quality, long battery life and dependable active noise cancellation throughout long weeks of use.
They work well with both Android and iOS devices, and do a whole lot more for the money than the $129 AirPods 2 while largely matching the pricier $149 Galaxy Buds 2 on features. If you’re looking for an affordable pair of workout buds — or just want tons of features for less than the price of AirPods — the Elite 4 Active are the first great earbuds of 2022.
Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE is a promising budget phone that delivers flagship features for a relatively affordable $699. It’s a bit of a tough sell when you put it up against the excellent $599 Google Pixel 6, but there’s a case to be made for the Galaxy S21 FE. It trickles down the best features from the S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra, which performed well in our testing and led the entry-level to be our runner-up pick for best smartphone.
It’s very fast in use, in line with the Pixel 6, thanks to a Snapdragon processor and the 4,500mAh battery quickly gets through an entire day. If you’re a fan of Samsung’s take on Android, you’ll be right at home. Additionally, with three cameras on the back, you get the same wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lens that impressed us on the standard S21. The latter can even take up to 30x Space Zoom shots, which process very well. The Galaxy S21 FE will likely be the entry-level Samsung phone to beat in 2022. It’s best for someone who wants a Galaxy-ecosystem device that doesn’t compromise on the camera.
Sony seems to raise the bar every year for OLED, but for 2022 that bar is pushed even higher thanks to a brand new panel — the QD-OLED or Quantum Dot OLED.
The new QD-OLED builds off the previous OLED panel used in Sony’s A90J, but adds in Quantum Dots to deliver improved vibrancy and a higher overall brightness level. Sony’s betting that this will better showcase the full spectrum of color — essentially more direct, vibrant, realistic representation of individual colors for a better overall image. This happens in milliseconds and is all controlled by the Bravia XR processor. This chip still aims to find the focal point of a given scene in the same way a human eye identifies this one. And in our testing last year on the A90J, this proved to be a differentiator for a more compelling image, especially when upscaling content. The A95K QD-OLED aims to take the A90J — our current luxury TV pick — to another level. That means a better picture that can get brighter than any other OLED and housing it in a stunning build with the screen going to the very edge.
Since Apple’s Find My network is open for other devices to use, we had a feeling that an AirTag for our wallets would eventually arrive. Chipolo’s Card Spot is just that. This $35 credit-card-shaped tracker connects to the Find My network for an accurate and precise locating experience. That gives it an edge over competing Bluetooth trackers, especially if you have an Apple device.
Card Spot lives in the Find My app on all your Apple devices. If you leave it behind, you can get notified. You can ping it, mark it as lost and see it on a map to track it down. It’s ready to be slid in your wallet and get to work after it’s set up. And you’ll just hold it next to your iPhone to complete that in a matter of seconds. The downside? The battery isn’t user-replaceable and that means once it’s dead — Chipolo promises two years — it’s really dead. You can send it back to them for 50% off a new tracker, though.
As CES brings every year, The Freestyle is a weird, unique and eye-catching gadget. It’s an ultra-portable projector that weighs in at under 2-pounds and sits in a stand that lets you send the display to any surface. It also can act as a groovy lava lamp or cast a starry night while you sleep. And it’s a smart speaker with both Bixby and Amazon Alexa support.
That’s a laundry list of features, and they don’t come cheap at $899.99. But The Freestyle stands out to us because it provides a Samsung-quality display that can go anywhere — it can be a TV on your ceiling or a wall or an extended display broadcasting onto your desk. For TikTok enthusiasts, it can make a fake window with rain on your wall. It’s a portable screen that is functional for work and play. And we have a feeling this might trigger a shockwave of copy-cat products in the years to come.
Ring’s Glass Break Sensor is a simple smart home gadget, but it’s an important one that’s been a long time coming. It also plugs and plays into our top pick for a security system, the Ring Alarm Pro, and keeps the effortless setup and intuitive experience that we’ve come to expect from the Amazon-owned brand. What impresses here is that Ring uses AI (artificial intelligence) processing to identify the sound of glass breaking correctly.
It’s two-fold as it will help ensure proper alerts and carefully listen for ambient sounds in the territory where glass is broken. A single sensor can also listen for the sound up to 25-feet away. We’ve seen similar tech like this via Alexa Guard (a $4.99 a month service) on Echo speakers and displays, but it doesn’t integrate with the alarm service. This way, if there is an intruder, Ring can contact the proper authorities. But the teams at Amazon and Ring have proven that they can adequately detect audio. This solution from Ring is the full circle approach you need for a security system.
Sony’s Bravia Cam is doing two extraordinary things — it’s rethinking how a camera can be used alongside a TV and changing how the TV can customize the viewing experience for you. The latter is a first-of-its-kind solution for a TV set and it’s called “Ambient Optimization Pro.” Based on where you’re sitting and how the camera views you, the Bravia Cam will work with the TV to adjust the picture settings for an optimal view while adjusting the sound for the best audio experience. Even neater, if someone joins you on the couch or if you move from the left to the right, the Bravia Cam will adjust the TV accordingly.
The Bravia Cam goes further to help conserve energy. It can dim the display if it sees you walking out of the frame and eventually turn the panel off once it’s detected no activity for a bit. It’s also keeping an eye to see how close you are to the TV and will even prompt you to move farther away. We think parents will appreciate this.
It will also enable gesture controls to move through channels and menus and even adjust the volume with your hands. And as a TV camera should, the Bravia Cam will power video calls, but it’s only going to work with Google Duo at launch. Similar to gestures, we hope that Sony will continue to expand on both of these features and how they work via software updates.