Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX tech billionaire, had been the richest man in the world for less than a week in early January when he lost the spot to the previous richest man in the world, Amazon and Blue Origin tech billionaire Jeff Bezos. That was just about the most riveting tech development from the beginning of 2021—our minds were occupied by events rather more pressing—until this week, when the biggest brands (and quite a few tiny ones) virtually gathered to display their latest at the annual CES trade show. At the show, which runs through Thursday, devices weird, innovative, and incredibly useful have been shown off and bragged about, the most interesting of which we’ve gathered here.
Even if you’d never consider actually owning one of these gadgets right now, it’s still cool to see where the industry is heading—and what it’s steering clear of. (Besides, you’d have to be duking it out with the other tech billionaires yourself to be able to afford some of it.) Here’s the best tech from CES 2021 so far, most of which is set to be released later this year.
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Otterbox Gaming Accessories
Learn More Pre-order starts January 25, otterbox.com
Otterbox, the company that keeps all your expensive shit safe, announced a 2021 gaming accessories line in partnership exclusively with Xbox. As you’d expect, there is a grippy Xbox controller shell so you can game safely, and an Xbox controller case so you can carry safely. Then there’s this claw that you see here, to transform mobile gaming with a controller into one conjoined ecosystem (safely!).
Pre-Order $100, mode.co
Give it a few years, and there will no longer be such a thing as an unanswerable question about weed. Mode, for its part, will take care of how much did I just smoke, how long should I inhale, what’s in this strain, and did I like that strain’s high last time I tried it, to name a few. The Mode device is universal, so it’ll support your inserts of choice, and the data it collects from the insert and your usage is funneled to an app that’ll tell you most of what you need to know about your own weed-smoking lifestyle. It even has haptic feedback to signal your hand it’s time to exhale. Get ready to see cannabis tech like this flood the market.
TCL Wearable Display
Learn More tcl.com
This gadget is either brilliant or useless; it could go either way. The premise is simple enough: Take the quality of a 1080p OLED TV but apply it to the relatively tiny area of glasses to circumvent the need for a giant screen. The goal it to make the wearer feel as if they’re gazing upon a high-quality, 140-inch TV screen that’s four meters away from their face, presumably because they don’t in fact own such a TV. No points for street style, but big props for innovation.
TCL 6-Series 8K Roku TVs
Learn More tcl.com
Back in the realm of TVs that look like TVs, one of TCL’s other CES announcements was an expansion of its much-liked (by us and others) 6-Series line to 8K models. Do you need an 8K TV? Let’s just say it’s nowhere near necessary. The PS5 and Xbox Series X both are 8K compatible, which is a point for gaming in 8K, but nearly all streaming services are not. Still, TCL is known for making great TVs that cost less than you’d expect, so perhaps this’ll be the first model that brings 8K to the people.
Pre-Order $549.00, trovaofficial.com
Trova Home is much like the safe you’ll find behind the sliding closet door in a hotel room, only smarter, sleeker, and endlessly nicer to look at. So, more like a distant third cousin to the hotel safe. A bit over 14 inches on its longest side, it can be securely bolted to a more immovable object. Paired with an app, you can tap your phone on the scanner to immediately access the compartment, or go through the biometric security on the app itself. And there are humidity sensors and odor concealers, in case the items you’re securing are particularly…pungent. It’s expected to ship in spring.
Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station
Buy $59.99, satechi.net
If you are the proud owner of a enough devices to make regular use of this charging station, perhaps unplug? If you will not unplug, then know that Satechi’s new dock is loaded with one Qi wireless charging pad, two USB-C charging ports, and two USB-A charging ports, all neatly divided—and, as images of wire fires likely just popped into your head, equipped with over-temperature protection.
JBL Tour Pro+ Earbuds
$199.95, available May 30
Another year, another eight thousand iterations of earbuds. But JBL is about as reliable as audio gear companies come. This year at CES, it revealed a new Tour line, comprised on these truly wireless buds and a pair of over-ear cans. The buds are intriguing because they promise Adaptive Noise Cancelling, which Apple’s AirPods Pro currently dominate the market on, as well as features that let you use just one bud to make calls or listen to music, which is a complicated endeavor with the AirPods Pro. All things considered, these ought to be solid earbuds for 2021.
LG Transparent OLED TV
No release or pricing information available
Out in the farthest reaches of cool TV technology, LG teased an invention that may or may not ever come to fruition: an OLED TV for the bedroom with a transparent screen. That screen, according to the Verge, is 55 inches across, and it can settle at 40 percent transparent even while you’re watching something—more transparent than past attempts at this TV technology.
myQ Pet Portal
Pre-Order $2,999, myqpetportal.com
For all those who adopted a new pup during lockdown, then promptly learned that opening and closing and opening and closing and opening and closing the door to let the pup out through the workday was pretty damn annoying, here’s an invention that’ll strike you as useful as hell. The myQ Pet Portal is a low-key dog door that comes with a Bluetooth sensor for the collar, so that when the dog indicates he’d like to come in or go out, the door either opens automatically or sends a message to the owner to open it through the app. It’s seamless, it’s secure, and it just might be worth the price.
Samsung Solar Cell Remote Control
Available with all Samsung TVs in 2021
Samsung is churning out new and improved TVs this year, like all years, which we’re sure are great. But on a more atypical note, Samsung is nodding to sustainability with a reimagined remote control equipped with a solar cell for power. Not that you’d have to go stick the thing on the back deck to recharge; indoor lights can power it up, as can a standard rechargeable battery (via a USB-C port). Samsung estimates that’ll save, well, a lot of AAA battery waste in years to come.
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