It’s that time of year: CES 2022 is where the world’s tech creators and innovators show off the awesome gadgets we’ll be drooling over throughout this year – and we’re honouring the best of them in our CES 2022 Awards.
CES 2022 wasn’t as much of a spectacle as the huge tech show usually is, with many big-name companies pulling out for safety reasons, but it still went ahead and didn’t lack for innovation and mind-blowing new technologies.
As is always the case when picking favourites from such a strong selection of gadgets, there’s a huge amount of stuff that only just missed our list. There’s no shade on those products here, it’s that the products we’ve picked below stood out to use that little bit extra.
Some of what we’ve chosen is wildly creative, some of it’s impossibly cool, and some just looks really damn useful… but crucially, it all looks like it’ll genuinely improve our lives, and we can’t wait to try it all out.
Best phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
The fan edition of the Galaxy S21 features some of the best bits of one of the best smartphones of the last year, for an affordable price. While this does mean some features are trimmed back, the S21 FE provides an impressive feature set that will please most users.
Firstly, it features the same Snapdragon 888 5G processor as the original S21, but with a larger 6.4-inch 120Hz AMOLED display, and a bigger 4500mAh battery to power it. There’s still 8GB of RAM (though a 6GB version is also available) and a choice of 128GB or 256GB storage.
While the rear cameras aren’t as high resolution, you still get a 12MP wide angle and main camera, plus a 8MP telephoto with a 3x zoom. Plus the front camera is a more resolute 32MP.
The latest Galaxy S22 offering is potentially just weeks away from release but if you want to save some cash, the S21 FE is better value than the regular S21and you can pre-order it right now.
Best laptop: Dell XPS 13 Plus
Brave is a term that many have uttered with regards the new look Dell XPS Plus. The XPS was already a great-looking machine (and absolutely one of the best laptops on the planet) but this radical new look, in our opinion, is a huge success.
It’s a stripped-back design, the type that you wouldn’t expect from a mainstream PC manufacturer, but it looks gorgeous. The spaceless keys stretch the full width of the shell and the touchpad blends seamlessly into the top plate. It also introduces a touch bar in place of the function keys with a range of useful ways to use it.
Inside it not only uses the very latest 12th-gen Intel processors, but it runs them at the higher 28W power for even greater performance. Some will miss the headphone jack and MicroSD slot, and if you need to attach lots of peripherals this isn’t the model for you. However, the clean and simple look is destined for big things.
Best gaming laptop: Alienware X14
Alienware’s X-series went a long way to downsizing the traditionally heavyweight bodies of the best gaming laptops by going a lot thinner. The X15 and X17 managed to still provide gamer-worthy power while placing it into a regular-sized 15-inch and 17-inch body. This marvel was achieved through some clever thermal technology and four efficient fans.
The new X14 model reduces the size further, offering a laptop that is truly portable. Due to the smaller size, it only uses two fans and while still capable of impressive performance, this is more of an entry-level model than the larger X-series and M-series laptops.
There’s a smaller power pack and USB-C charging too, so it really does take up much less space in your bag. For those looking to game and travel light or take their first steps into a dedicated gaming machine, the X14 looks like a winner.
Best health tech: BCool
This digital thermometer doesn’t need charging, doesn’t need batteries replacing, and doesn’t mercury or other harmful chemicals. The BCool is powered just by giving it a few shakes before use, turning the kinetic energy into power.
You can then take a reading by moving it across someone’s forehead, with no contact needed. The reading is displayed on the device, but you can also have the readings synced to the BCool app on your phone. In the app, you can assign readings to different family members, and even keep notes.
The readings are stored on the actual BCool thermometer to, and they don’t get erased when you change battery or anything like that… because you’ll never change the battery! You just juice it up with a jiggle when it’s needed.
This is exactly the kind of innovation we like to see in health technology: it makes it more reliable and easier to get the information you need. In this age of viruses that bring fevers, the BCool is an ideal tool.
Best headphones: Mark Levinson No 5909
Bluetooth headphones and active noise cancellation are not exactly new inventions, but the technology has often been overlooked at the higher end of things – there are some ultra-premium options among the best wireless headphones, but you can count them on one hand. But now audiophile hi-fi company Mark Levinson is seriously cranking up the quality of cordless cans with the No 5909 headphones, which will cost $999.
For that price, you’ll get a sumptuous aluminium and leather build, 40mm beryllium drivers, adaptive noise cancellation with a transparency mode, LDAC and aptXTM high-res wireless streaming, and sound tuning by the same team behind Mark Levinson’s elite amps and turntables – which cost a lot more than these headphones do.
These really are designed to bring out all the subtle nuances and hidden detail that audiophiles crave from their setups, but can do it without requiring a rack of equipment. We’re so excited to see big hi-fi names taking us into a new era of wireless sound quality.
Best speaker: Victrola ME1
Victrola will be a familiar name to vinyl fans, having been associated with record players for over 100 years (and the company has some new models for that at CES 2022 too), but it’s the company’s new Music Edition Bluetooth speakers that we’ve fallen for this year.
The ME1 in particular caught T3’s eye, thanks to its resemblance to that great icon of portable music: the Walkman. The big flat sides and rounded corners; the line of buttons down the side; the funky colours… it just feels right to play music on this on the go.
It comes in black, silver, blue, red and green finishes, and you can actually get leather carrying cases for it too. It offers 12 hours of battery life per charge, which isn’t bad at all. The two-inch speaker driver and bass radiator promise full and rich sound quality.
It’ll cost $99.99 when it releases in spring 2022 – we can’t wait to try it, or its larger ME2 sibling.
Best TV innovation: Sony A95K
This the first TV announced that includes the new QD-OLED panel type (which Sony is called ‘New OLED’), which is a groundbreaking new way of making TV screens. It uses the self-illuminating pixels of OLED (which is what gives the best OLED TVs their incredibly precise HDR performance) paired with the Quantum Dot colour-changing technology that gives QLED TVs their gorgeous colour and brightness. It’s the best of both worlds!
As a result, this TV should offer higher brightness levels than other OLED TVs, but with the same darkness performance, while also providing more vibrant and rich colours than basically anything we’ve seen before.
Sony won’t be the only company using this technology – Samsung will release a TV using it too – but it is the only one with an actual product to announce at CES, giving it a head start on the competition. We absolutely cannot wait to get this TV into our testing chambers, because it could redefine what we expect from movies at home.
Best TV: LG 42-inch C2
When new fancy screen technology appears to up-end our list of the best TVs, it tends to first arrive in larger sizes, filtering down to more compact sets over the next year or two. But OLED technology has taken much longer than that to come in smaller sizes, which is a huge shame, because those with less space for a TV should be able to enjoy its fantastic HDR performance too.
That’s why we’ve chosen the first ever 42-inch OLED TV, part of the the LG C2 range, as our TV pick from CES 2022. This is going to be a fantastic upgrade for people looking for an excellent TV for watching movies in bed, or for a gaming room, or just for a compact living space.
The LG C2 includes LG’s most advanced image processing yet to make everything look great on its 4K screen, and the range features a bright panel than last year’s LG C1, so HDR video will be even more effective. And its HDMI 2.1. ports mean it’s totally future-proofed for gaming and connectivity – and though we don’t have prices for the LG C2 yet, we expect it to stay as competitive as previous models, making this 42-inch model a serious competitor for movie lovers with small rooms.
Best TV accessory: Samsung Eco Remote
What if devices that need very little power could draw it from the energy that’s just sort of floating around the modern world? Last year, Samsung introduced a remote that included a solar panel, so that you wouldn’t need to charge it or change batteries… in theory. In practice, how often do you leave your remote bottom-side up in bright enough sunlight to provide energy? So the new version of the Samsung Eco Remote adds a new way of passively generating power: from the radio waves generated by Wi-Fi.
The radio waves filling our some are extremely low power, but so is the internal power need of a remote, so the Eco Remote can pick up these waves and trickle charge its battery by using them to excite circuitry. This principle is actually how NFC works, it’s just that NFC has a very short range. The Samsung Eco Remote can be left anywhere.
It’s such a clever idea to harness existing ‘waste’ energy this year, and though it won’t save anything meaningful on your power bills, it’s great that you just won’t have to think about juice for your remote again. The new Eco Remote will be included with Samsung’s 2022 QLED TVs, so will be a part of the package with most of the best Samsung TVs next year.
Best soundbar: LG S95QR
Here at T3, we can’t resist a gadget that does something no one else has done before. The core boxes here a powerful Dolby Atmos setup, with a front soundbar, subwoofer and two wireless rear speakers – pretty standard stuff, though the total power output of 810W is already a cut above most of the best soundbars.
But this is no ordinary Dolby Atmos setup. Instead of the customary two or four upfiring drivers, the LG S95QR features five upfiring drivers for height. LG says this should help extra clarity and directionality to the height channels from Dolby Atmos, and when combined with the nine channels of regular surround sound, this might be the best soundbar yet for positional audio that really creates the ‘dome’ of sound that Atmos promises.
Best smart home device: Arlo Security System
It was inevitable that Arlo would eventually get around to a full security system, given that its products already dominate our guide to the best security cameras. But we didn’t expect the new system to be quite so innovative – though perhaps that was foolish.
At the centre of the Arlo Security System is a hub with a keypad, as is usually the case for these kinds of things. You can arm and disarm on the unit, or using the Arlo app. The hub will tie into Arlo’s security cameras, naturally, making use of their speakers and motion detection. The hub itself also has a siren, plus motion and smoke/CO alarm sensors.
But the really clever part is the sensors, each of which is small at just 1.1 inches wide, yet does everything. They detect motion, they can sense door/window openings or tilt, they can pick up water leaks, they detect light/temperature changes, and they can recognise smoke or CO alarms from standard alarms. So you can use one type of sensor in any position and it’ll do the right job, keeping things really simple. This is next-level smart security, and it does it by being less complex, not more. We love it.
Best connected home device: Linksys Hydra Pro 6
In some ways the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 is a step back from last year’s incredible Wi-Fi Hydra Pro 6E model, but this new model takes the best of that router and puts it into something far more affordable, bringing the speeds of Wi-Fi 6 to more people.
The Hydra Pro 6 is a seriously powerful router. It has a range of 2,700 sq ft and can deliver download speeds of up to 5.4Gbps – basically more than any ISP is likely to deliver. It can support more than 30 devices at a time and should you need even more coverage for your home it can be linked up with other Linksys units to form one of the best mesh networks.
It doesn’t offer the new 6GHz band that’s part of Wi-Fi 6E, but it does offer the best possible connection you can get using the 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels. And right now very few devices support Wi-Fi 6E anyway. The best part is that this speedy home router costs under $300 /£170.
Best tablet: Asus ROG Flow Z13
Tablets can fulfill many of the tasks that we commonly use laptops for, from browsing the web and watching movies to word processing and mobile gaming. However the processing power of most tablets mean they are better for light use and aren’t up to complex tasks.
That’s not the case with the Asus ROG Flow Z13, which is designed for exactly that. In fact, this tablet is designed to compete with the toughest of laptop challenges: serious PC gaming. We’re not talking mobile friendly app games here, this is ready for full on high definition, fast frame rate action.
The Z13 runs Windows 11 Pro and underneath that innocuous exterior is a 12-gen Intel Core i9 processor, an GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, up to 16GB RAM and 1TB storage. That’s a serious spec for any laptop but for a tablet, it’s mind blowing. You can even attach an external graphics card if you really need an extra boost. Oh, and that screen is a 4K 120Hz display.
Thanks to the attachable keyboard and kick stand, you can operate the Flow Z13 like a laptop but just as easily remove them and hold it in your hands. Who needs a gaming laptop when you can have a tablet this good?
Best fitness tech: Wondercise Flex Bike and Cycle Studio
Most new fitness products want to be the new Peloton. After all, the brand took fitness machines and made them cool, and convinced users to pay a huge subscription on top. Wondercise, however, has a bigger chance than most.
Its new multi-position Flex Bike ties into the company’s Cycle Studio app to offer a range of training workouts, live streaming, realtime feedback and even the ability to broadcast your own cycle sessions to a wider audience. This is part workout class and part social media platform for athletic influencers.
The Flex Bike itself has a number of benefits over the likes of the Peloton too. Firstly in can be placed in four postions, including two recumbent and two forward facing. The design folds up, so it can be easily stored when not in use and it doesn’t have a screen built in, so it keeps the cost down. Instead it suggests you place the bike in front of your home TV.
While there’s no price yet for the bike, Wondercise studio is free or just $9.99 (£7/AU$14) a month or $89.90 (£66/AU$125) per year for the VIP ad-free version.
Best monitor: Samsung Odyssey Neo G8
Picking the best gaming monitor just became a little more difficult. Or maybe it just became easy, because the Samsung Odyssey Neo G8 not only boasts an incredible spec sheet but it looks fantastic too.
As a baby brother to the huge 32:9 49-inch Odyssey G9, the G8 is a more manageable 32 inches and has a standard 16:9 ratio. That’s not small in anyone’s book but it will at least fit on most desks.
Bu like the G9, the Odyssey G8 features a Quantum Mini-LED display with a 4K resolution, 240Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time. All that results in an exceptionally sharp and detailed image with phenomenal HDR performance and super smooth motion that’s perfect for gaming.
If you want to go bigger, Samsung also topped the G9 with a new Odyssey Ark which has a curved 55-inch display using the same technology. But that feels like overkill, even for us.
Best gaming accessory: JBL Quantum TWS
There’s no shortage of options for true wireless earbuds but the JBL Quantum TWS have some clever features that make them stand out from the crowd. These Bluetooth headphones come with a USB-C dongle to also allow them to connect to non-Bluetooth devices.
This means that as well as connecting to your phone or laptop you can hook these up to a PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch or other gaming device. And it’s not a case of either-or – you can still be connected to another Bluetooth source at the same time and receive audio from both.
As you would expect the Quantum TWS earbuds also feature active noise cancellation, six microphones for voice clarity and an eight-hour battery life (plus another 16 hours in the case). There’s 3D audio too to provide full surround sound when gaming.
While over-ear headsets are likely to remain the tool of choice for gamers, these in-ear buds are the most gamer-friendly that we’ve seen to date.
Best smartwatch: Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Garmin led the way on Smartwatch updates at CES 2022, with this new Venu 2 Plus being the standout model. The new model is an update to the existing Venu 2 and Venu 2S models, adding a voice assistant and voice calling to the device.
The Venu 2 Plus is a 43mm watch – that sits halfway between the 45mm Venu 2 and the 40mm 2S. This make the device ideal for even smaller wrists without being too small for larger ones.
It features the same great AMOLED display and fitness features as we saw on the Venu 2, including 24/7 heart rate tracking, advanced sleep monitoring and more than 25 workout types to monitor. It also boasts a great nine-day battery life – though this is slightly less than the older models due to the voice features.
Best home appliance: KOHLER PerfectFill Smart Bath Filler and Drain
This isn’t the kind of thing we usually give our ‘appliance’ award too, since the bath hasn’t generally been counted as a member of the white goods family (despite usually being more white than your average washing machine). But this idea sounds so good that we just couldn’t resist giving it this gong.
The PerfectFill Smart Bath does what the name implies: it’s a system where a smart drain, tap and bath combination work together so that you can use a voice command (or the Kohler app) to order a bath drawn exactly to your preferred specifications. Depth and temperature will be just how you like them, and you don’t have to think about it at all.
This obviously has some real practical benefits when it comes to getting the perfect bath ready for kids, as well as the luxurious benefit of meaning that you can have the most relaxing and soothing bath possible every single time.
Best sleep device: Sleepme Dock Pro Sleep System
Temperature controlled beds are next-level comfort. Once you’ve experienced a bed that cools and warms to your perfect temperature, you’ll never want to go back. This is one of those systems. And the beauty here is that you can use it with any mattress.
The Dock Pro Sleep System comes in a number of different parts. First, there’s the Dock Pro control unit, which provides the cooling and heating. This Wi-Fi enabled unit pumps the water over the Chillipad Pro mattress pad. This pad has a stretchy fabric to fit snugly over your existing mattress and a new tubeless design for comfort.
The Sleepme Insight sleep tracker comes separately and fits underneath the mattress pad. This provides the sleep tracking information and feeds back to the app. This subscription based app provides sleep data and can even adjust your temperature settings for better sleep.
The system isn’t cheap but it’s very customizable – you can even choose between having it for one or both sides of the bed. Paired with the right mattress this will be one bed you’ll never want to leave.
Best home appliance: Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra
After robot vacuums, the real win has been robot vacuums that also mop, giving those non-carpeted areas the clean they deserve. The problem was that though many of these dual function devices could deposit the dust back in the docking station, the mop had to be manually cleaned and its water refilled. This generally took the autonomous nature away from the device – as you were forced to constantly attend to it.
The Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra has a solution however that means you can once again leave your robovac to its own devices. This model comes with an ultra-dock that not only empties the trash but also cleans the mop pad and fills the reservoir for you. All of this means that you can go weeks, if not months without having to interact with it.
The robot itself also boasts all the latest technology, including its ReactiveAI 2.0 Obstacle Avoidance System and a VibraRise mop that lifts the mop when it detects a change in surface and vibrates 3000 times a minute to release ingrained dirt from the surface it’s cleaning.
Best personal EV: Okai ES800
Okai might not be a name you’ve heard of but it has been supplying electric scooters to ride-sharing companies such as Lime and Bird for years. Now though, it is releasing models under its own name and they look pretty impressive.
In addition to a more traditional street scooter with a swappable battery, it also revealed this off-road model. The ES800 has a dual drive 1000W with 1800W peak power. This allows it to climb up to 35% inclines and reach a top speed of 37mph.
To allow it to tackle any surface it comes with 12-inch off-road tires and shock absorbers on both front and rear. While an exact weight wasn’t given the information says that it is 30% heavier than regular scooters to add stability, though we suspect that has more to do with that giant motor and battery. Either way, this isn’t a model you’ll want to carry around.
Best electric car: Mercedes Vision EQXX
Electric vehicles played a big part in proceedings for CES 2022, with a number of new models and concepts revealed. However, Mercedes’ Vision EQXX concept, which launched on the eve of CES, stood out.
Not only is this an incredible looking vehicle, it promises a range of up to 620 miles on a single charge. This isn’t just the case of it sporting a huge battery though. The car has been aerodynamically designed to minimize drag and optimise the distance it travels for every kilowatt used.
To achieve this level of optimisation the team used a game engine and collaborated with Mercedes’ AMG Formula One racing specialists. There’s also solar panels in the roof to top up that charge.
While this isn’t a commercial release it is a clear statement of direction from the Mercedes electric team and makes us hugely optimistic for the EQ models that will be released in the coming years.
Broader innovation award: BMW iX Flow with E ink
It wouldn’t be CES without some more extreme technological advances and this year the most talked about had to be BMW’s colour-changing car. The BMW iX Flow is a concept vehicle that features a special body wrap that allows it to change colour at the touch of a button.
The technology uses E ink and the ink particles can be brought to the surface using the electrophoretic technology. The result is rather spectacular and takes just seconds to completely change from white to black or back again.
The concept has a range of uses outside of just personalisation, though being able to drive a black car one day and a white the next is likely to appeal to some. The E ink can be used to help with the thermal properties of the surface – retaining heat on cold days and reflecting it on warmer days. It can also visually show a car’s charge status, availability (for fleets) or flash to help find it.