Just like the past few years, 2019 was a good time to be a fan of tech and gadgets. Consumer electronics just continues to grow and impress, with the year seeing new categories rock the landscape and old categories make significant advancements in their space.
While we’re still sour about the complete absence of hoverboards, robot housekeepers, and flying cars in our lives, we’re still pretty stoked to have seen a bunch of cool, new stuff this year. Here are our coolest gadget picks for 2019.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch
The largest member of the MacBook family is also the best laptop Apple has produced. Sure, it loses some of the minimalist aesthetic that has defined the brand, but it more than makes up for it with an excellent keyboard, a gorgeous 16-inch Retina display, and revamped AMD graphics that allow you to do so much on a portable machine. The six-speaker setup is arguably the best speakers we’ve heard in a laptop, too, not to mention we highly appreciate the optional 8TB of SSD storage in the maxed out configuration (not that we can afford it or anything). On the downside, Apple still hasn’t brought back an SD card reader and you only get four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, but we’ll take it. Suffice to say, this is the kind of laptop you will have few things to complain about – a refreshing break from a company that’s been going the opposite way with their laptops the last few years.
Last year, true wireless earbuds were plagued by many problems. From Bluetooth stability and low battery life to seemingly inconsistent performance, we just weren’t sold on the category. This year, companies made large strides. True wireless earbuds have become smaller and more discreet. They’ve become more stable to use, with a steadier connection that allows you to enjoy listening without the occasional drops. Their battery life has also been better.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 is arguably the best true wireless earbuds to come out this year, with excellent sound quality that outpaces anything near its price range. It has powerful active noise cancellation, a very reliable Bluetooth connection (no drops and perfectly synced audio), and eight hours of playback with noise cancellation off (it goes to six hours with noise cancellation running). The carrying case also comes with a battery that holds up to 24 hours’ worth of power, so you can get over a day of non-stop use with this thing before plugging in.
- SONY AUTHORIZED DEALER - Includes Full SONY USA WARRANTY
Samsung Space Monitor
Designed to clamp on the edge of the desk, this edge-to-edge monitor takes up as little space as physically possible. It has a movable arm mount that lets you raise the display higher or lower, move it left or right, and even tilt it at various angles, allowing you to get the best position for your ideal viewing angle. And the arm doubles as a way to hide cables, so it can help keep your desk clutter-free. It’s such a simple but useful take that LG is already releasing their own version next year.
- Space saving design with integrated arm stand provides 40 more usable desk area
Garmin GPSMap 66i
We’re big fans of the current generation of satellite communicators, which allow you to keep in touch wherever you are in the world without the exorbitant price tags these devices once required. Garmin has been a strong player in the field with their InReach devices. With GPSMap 66i, the outfit is combining satellite communication with GPS navigation, giving you a tool that combines two popular outdoor devices into one, so you can have one less thing to bring along to your adventures. It has all of the communication features in Garmin’s InReach devices, so you can trigger SOS calls anywhere, perform two-way messaging, and update loved ones of your location every 10 minutes, along with preloaded topographic maps, satellite imagery, multi-GNSS support, cellular connectivity, and all sorts of sensors to keep your fully informed about the environment you’re exploring. And it has a battery that can go a full 200 hours between charges, although that gets much shorter with the satellite connection running (goes down to 35 hours if the connection is constantly on).
- Large 3” Sunlight-readable color display for easy viewing
Truth be told, we’re still not sold on VR. Experiencing virtual worlds with a monstrosity strapped to your face just doesn’t seem necessary, since we’ve been getting lost in open game worlds in our big screen TVs just fine. Still, it has its proponents who believe it’s the way of the future. If you’re looking to make the leap into VR, the Oculus Quest is easily the best way to experience the darn thing first hand.
First, it doesn’t require hooking up to a PC or inserting a phone anywhere. Instead, it’s standalone, with its own OLED screens and the ability to run apps directly through its onboard storage. Of course, the experiences there will be pretty limited (storage tops out at 128GB), so it also supports plugging into a PC for more elaborate engagements. Next year, it might even get a hand-tracking feature via software update, which will allow you to interact with the virtual worlds without using controllers.
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
The newest generation of Dell’s convertible laptop is arguably the best ultraportable of the year. With a larger 13.4-inch display, bigger MagLev keyboard, and bigger trackpad, it’s even more convenient to use than its predecessors, all while coming in 8 percent thinner, so it’s even more svelte. It gets a redesigned hinge that makes switching from laptop to tablet even easier, as well as an optional stylus (Dell Premium Active Pen) that attaches magnetically to the laptop when not in use. Other features include WiFi 6, dual fans, HD400 certification, optional 4K UHD panel, two Thunderbolt 3/DisplayPort slots, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm slot.
Nintendo Switch Lite
Much as we love the Switch, we have to admit: it’s not quite the ideal handheld console. It’s quite big, somewhat heavy, and the battery life can leave you hanging. Plus, there’s no D-pad – a mainstay element of nearly every gamepad. We appreciate the effort, but if you use a Switch mainly as a portable device, you’ll definitely want to… uhm… switch to the Lite model.
It’s smaller, lighter, and has a tad more battery life. More importantly, though, it feels better, with controls that are more suited for portable gameplay, making it feel like a proper successor to Nintendo’s long line of portable consoles.