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CES 2021 Top Picks Awards: The best new products and announcements
Android Authority‘s CES 2021 Top Picks Awards highlight the best new products and announcements from the trade show that kickstarts the tech calendar. Our CES Awards cover a broad swathe of product categories, so grab a seat, get comfy, and join us as we beam into the first digital CES in fabulous virtual Las Vegas.
See also: Everything announced at CES 2021
Phones & Wearables
Best smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S21 series
No surprises here – Samsung always steals the spotlight wherever the next Galaxy’s long shadow falls. The Galaxy S21 series is no exception, with the S21 Ultra delivering the best of the best with Samsung’s characteristic style and an updated design. Just…with no charger.
Best affordable phone: TCL 20 5G
If your pockets aren’t quite deep enough for an ultra-premium flagship, TCL can still get 5G in your hands for €299. As the feature gap between super-expensive phones and more affordable phones continues to shrink, the mid-range once again becomes the most interesting smartphone segment and TCL is leading the charge.
Best mobile innovation: LG Rollable
Yes, we’ve seen rollable phones before but it makes sense that LG Mobile would drop a rollable concept given what LG Display has been up to lately. What’s even better is that LG says it’ll be releasing a consumer device featuring the tech this year. Can. Not. Wait.
Best new mobile tech: Samsung Exynos 2100
The Exynos 2100 marks a milestone for Samsung, being its first flagship SoC without custom CPU cores since 2015’s Exynos 7420. The new 5nm chipset uses Arm’s Cortex cores exclusively, as opposed to Samsung’s usual Mongoose cores. Expect to see it powering some international Galaxy S21 variants.
Best mobile accessory: Anker PowerWave Go 3-in-1 Stand
AirPower who? If you own an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods, the Anker PowerWave Go 3-in-1 needs to be on your radar. It allows you to wirelessly charge all your devices simultaneously, and its charging stand design is much nicer than a flat wireless charging pad. It even has a detachable 10,000mAh charging pad for your phone.
Best wearable: Mudra Band
The Mudra Band is an Apple Watch strap, but it’s also an impressive wearable in its own right. Equipped with proprietary sensors and Bluetooth, it can be used to program gesture controls for your Apple Watch, meaning you can control your smartwatch with one hand — the same hand the watch is on.
Best budget wearable: Honor Band 6
If you need a basic fitness tracker, the Honor Band 6 is definitely worth checking out. It offers a large display, 14-day battery life, 5atm water-resistance, heart-rate and blood oxygen monitors, and SpO2 and menstrual cycle trackers — all for just $35.
Best wearable innovation: Quantum Operation’s wearable glucose monitor
Japan’s Quantum Operations has built a working prototype of a non-invasive wearable glucose monitor. That means no finger pricks or needle-sticks needed to measure your blood sugar. There’s currently no consumer release timeframe but this will be big news for diabetics when it eventually hits shelves.
Home & Entertainment
Best TV: Samsung 110-inch 4K MicroLED TV
With a price tag of $156,000, the Samsung 110-inch MicroLED is far from practical and beyond the reach of most consumers — but it’s still wicked looking. MicroLED is still a very new technology, delivering all the advantages of OLED without the possibility of burn-in. New technology often demands an extreme premium, but in time this technology will undoubtedly reach mainstream consumer pricing.
Best budget TV: TCL 6-Series 8K TVs
TCL is known for undercutting the bigger TV brands by a significant margin, and now TCL is prepping to make 8K more affordable as well. The new 8K 6-Series TVs will feature AIPQ upscaling, mini-LED backlights, and the popular Roku smart TV platform. There’s no word on pricing yet but given TCL’s history, we can expect it to be much less than the competition.
Best TV innovation: Sony Bravia Core
Sony Bravia Core isn’t your typical streaming service, instead, it’s an exclusive platform for newer Sony Bravia XR TVs. Think of it as a service that lets you stream 4K Blu-ray quality movies right into your living room. While other streaming services offer 4K, Sony’s Pure Stream technology streams videos at up to 80Mbps, providing near-lossless quality.
Best tablet/convertible: HP Elite Folio
The HP Elite Folio is the perfect device for your home entertainment and business needs, transforming seamlessly between laptop and tablet. Inside there’s a Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 processor, 5G support, and battery life that can last up to 24.5 hours when watching local video. If you’ve dreamt about a convertible laptop you can use for days without ever charging, this might be as close as we’ve ever seen.
Best smart home product: LG WashTower
The washing machine is one of our least appreciated appliances, something we use all the time but never really think about. The LG WashTower wants to improve our laundry experience, using AI to better understand your clothes washing habits. Even better, the washer communicates with your dryer, so the right settings will be chosen automatically.
Best smart home innovation: Hex smart security system
Today’s smart home security systems can be pretty cumbersome, but Origin Wireless AI’s Hex promises exceptional security without all the extra hardware — there are only two devices required. What makes the Hex so innovative is the way it detects motion. Instead of utilizing countless sensors all over the house, the Hex uses Wi-Fi signal waves to detect motion throughout your home.
Best robot vacuum: Roborock S7
The Roborock S7 doesn’t revolutionize the robot vacuum category, but it helps refine it. The S7 is better than its predecessor at handling stains, has a smarter mop mode, and even has the power to empty itself. No need to vacuum or dump the bin after, what’s not to like?
Best work-from-home product: Asus Fanless Chromebox
The Asus Fanless Chromebox is the perfect productivity workstation for those that mostly work from the cloud, think Mac Mini but for Chrome OS. As the name gives away, this latest Chromebox has a fanless design that makes it quiet without risk of overheating. You have a choice between an Intel Celeron 5205U or an Intel 10th-gen Core processor, which is plenty of power for Chrome OS. Best of all, it’s only $399.
Computing & Gaming
Best monitor: LG UltraFine OLED Pro
This gorgeous 32-inch 4K display is LG’s first OLED monitor. It features individually dimmable pixels and a bevy of ports including two DisplayPorts, 3 USB-A ports, a USB-C port (with 90W power delivery), HDMI and…a headphone jack (we love you, LG).
Best laptop: Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE
While 4K might be all the rage for console gaming, gaming laptops and 4K rarely mix. This all changes with the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, which sports a 15.6-inch 4K screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. As if that wasn’t enough, you also get a secondary 14.1-inch touchscreen that lifts up when you raise the lid.
Best affordable laptop: Acer Chromebook Spin 514
Acer’s last Chromebook ditches Intel in favor of AMD Ryzen, and the results are very impressive. The Spin 514 is fast, flexible thanks to its convertible tablet design, and gets up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge. All that for under $500 — not bad, huh?
Best gaming laptop: Razer Blade 15
It’s not just 4K laptop gamers avoid, as 1080p is still the standard due to slower response times and refresh rates from higher resolution displays. The Razer Blade 15 makes 1440p more appealing than ever for gamers, delivering an impressive 240Hz refresh rate. This machine is perfect for gamers looking for a high-resolution experience without compromise.
Best gaming accessory: HyperX Alloy Origins 60
The HyperX Origins 60 is the very first 60-percent mechanical keyboard from the brand. Despite its smaller size, the HyperX doesn’t sacrifice functionality when compared to its full size models. It’s affordable too, at just $99.99.
Best PC: Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10
The Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 is a great gaming desktop for those that crave simplicity but wish for flexibility when it’s time to upgrade, all thanks to its tool-less chassis that lets owners easily swap out or upgrade drives, memory, and other components. This special edition includes AMD’s latest Ryzen 3000 Series processor and either an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU or an Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series processor.
Best PC innovation: AMD 5000 Series
AMD revealed its Ryzen 5000 series laptop chips based on the Zen 3 architecture. Destined for 150+ notebooks this year, Ryzen 5000 Series silicon is built on TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing process and offers up to eight Zen 3 CPU cores in ultra-thin laptop form factors.
Best Chromebook: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
The successor to the original Galaxy Chromebook gets a cheaper price point by dropping the 4K OLED display in favor of a Full HD QLED panel and ditching the i5 for i3. That alone drops the price from $999 to $699 but you can get an even cheaper Celeron-powered version for $549 if you need to stretch your budget even further.
Audio & Camera
Best over-ear headphones: V-Moda M-200 ANC
V-Moda is bringing the heat with the M-200 ANC over-ears. These stylish, durable, well-equipped Bluetooth 5.0 cans look a treat and promise 20 hours of wireless playback. You can even pair them simultaneously to two devices via Bluetooth multipoint so you don’t have to fiddle around with Bluetooth settings on your phone and laptop ever again.
Best in-ear headphones: Sennheiser IE300
At $300, the Sennheiser IE300 earbuds had better sound good, but knowing Sennheiser’s premium audio quality, they definitely will. Each of these detachable premium MMCX earbuds contains a 7mm extra-wide band transducer for clear, accurate audio reproduction.
Best affordable headphones: Edifier TWS NB2 Pro
True wireless. ANC. Bluetooth 5.0. Water-resistant. Seven hours of playback with active noise canceling enabled. For $99, the Edifier TWS NB2 Pro pack a heck of a lot of good into a very affordable package (and praise Jebus they don’t look like AirPods). Sign us up.
Best speaker: JBL Charge 5
Surprise, surprise, JBL picks up an award for the Charge 5. The Charge series is to portable speakers what Kleenex is to tissues: synonymous. The class-leading JBL Charge 5 has a 7,500mAh battery that serves as a battery pack, USB-C, IP67 rating, $179 price tag, and, oh yeah, killer sound.
Best audio innovation: Sony 360 Reality Audio Creative Suite
Sony and Virtual Sonics, Inc. have teamed up to introduce the 360 Reality Audio Creative Suite, a plugin that promises to make the creation of 360 Reality Audio content more accessible. The new content creation software is compatible with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) and is supported by Deezer, Nugs.net, and Tidal.
Best audio accessory: Jlab Jbuds Frames
$50. And change. At that price, the Jlab Audio Jbuds Frames are firmly in “why not?” territory… and we love that. These clip-on audio enhancements for your existing spectacles or sunglasses feature 16mm dynamic drivers that direct sound into your ear without buds, bone conduction, or wires. Neat.
Best soundbar: LG QP5 Éclair
Among LG’s suite of new soundbars lies the diminutive Éclair, a tiny, discrete 3.1.2 soundbar with a wireless subwoofer and support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. At less than a foot long, the QP5 Éclair packs a lot — five drivers, no less — into a very small package.
Best camera accessory: Sony Airpeak
Sony’s making drones? It’s definitely CES. This is pretty big news. The Sony Airpeak is a Sony Alpha camera-carrying drone that will be a big hit with well-financed content creators that love Sony footage so much they want it from their drone footage too. And don’t mind strapping their a7S iii to a drone. What could possibly go wrong?
*Note: We don’t have a best camera winner this year because, uhh, no one announced a new camera at CES. Definitely a weird one this year folks…see you in 2022!