There were plenty of predictable new tech things in 2021, like the latest iPhones or laptops. These are some of the weird, fun, or just useful things we tried out and actually recommend — from e-bikes to a cheapo phone stand, guitar pedals, and even a ’70s-style role-playing game.
These items were independently selected by staff and except where noted, they spent their own money on it. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication.
AirPods Max — $549 at Apple
Look, Apple’s AirPods Max are some expensive headphones — like months’-worth-of-groceries expensive (Apple loaned BuzzFeed a pair to review.) And let’s be honest, your current earbuds probably sound pretty great and have more daily use cases. But if you feel you need over-ear headphones, the AirPods Max are a really good choice. They pump out clear, gloriously rich sound with solid separation. I am no audiophile, so I’ll not belabor this with “omg a unique magnesium cone!” minutiae. What I will say is that these headphones adeptly handled everything I threw at them, from the most annoyingly quiet Sufjan Stevens to colon-rupturing Swedish math metal. And they nailed the low note on Beastie Boys’ “Shake Your Rump,” which is the bass metric all headphones should be judged on. Beyond this, they’re thoughtfully designed, though their precious little charging purse is a bit much. So, yeah, if you’re intent on purchasing some high-end headphones, you’re not going to go wrong with these. But also: Groceries are a fun thing to have. —John Paczkowski
Casper Glow Light — $116 at Casper
It’s a very nice ambient light. You spin it to make it brighter or dimmer, which is both fun and handy. I use it as a bedside light and also as mood lighting in the living room when I watch TV at night. Then I can shut everything off and go to the bathroom or back to bed using just this light, which makes me feel like I’m in an old-timey movie using a candlestick. Convenient and pleasant! —Shannon Keating
Apple AirTags for my TV remote and rubber remote case — AirTags: $29 for one or $99 for four at Apple. Case: $7.99 at Amazon.
The remote is by far the worst part of the older-model Apple TVs. It’s somehow super slippery in your hand and so light it feels hard to control. It’s super thin and small, the perfect size for losing between couch cushions. The newest 4K Apple TVs come with an improved remote, which is sold separately for $59, but that’s way more than I want to spend.
So instead I put one of these rubber covers on my current remote. It makes it grippy and easy to hold, and the bright …….