Iteration over innovation was a big theme in tech this year — a lot of our favorite gadgets simply got better. That’s certainly not a bad thing, as everything from the iPhone 14’s improved cameras and safety features to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2’s truly remarkable noise cancellation all went a long way toward making our daily lives just a tiny bit better. We also dove headfirst into the world of virtual reality for the first time with one headset emerging as the clear winner, and spent countless hours gaming in order to pick out the best gaming monitors and controllers for playing like a pro.
After yet another year of rigorously testing all of the latest tech products to help you figure out what’s actually worth buying, here are the big winners in every category.
The iPhone 14 is the best new iPhone for most people, particularly if you're coming from an iPhone 12 or older. Those willing to invest in a more significant upgrade should go with the iPhone 14 Pro.
If you prefer Android, the Galaxy S22 (or the larger S22+) is the way to go. These phones offer beautiful displays, long battery life, superb cameras and some of the best performance we've ever gotten out of a smartphone. Plus, these phones look great, with a glass-and-metal build that comes in four attractive colors.
If you’re looking to spend less than $500, it doesn't get better than the Google Pixel 6a. This slick phone has the same speedy Google Tensor processor as the more expensive Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, delivers all-day battery life and gets you a clean Android experience with no annoying bloatware.
For those still rocking with a Series 4 Apple Watch or older, the Series 8 is a great upgrade and also a good choice for first-time smartwatch buyers. With a familiar feel, the Series 8 has excellent performance, beautiful design and lot of new features.
The Galaxy Watch 5 is the best Android smartwatch for most people, offering long battery life, good performance and plenty of fitness tracking capabilities.
The AirPods Pro 2 are as good as it gets for Apple users, offering some of the best sound, controls and active noise cancellation you can find in a pair of buds. Existing AirPods Pro owners don't need to rush out and upgrade, but everyone else is in for a treat.
The $199 Sony LinkBuds S offer excellent sound, strong noise cancellation and Sony’s actually smart Adaptive Sound Control to tailor performance to your surroundings. The LinkBuds S are a good buy for Android users, with support for LDAC high-res audio, and they work well with iOS too.
The Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds 2 offer the best noise cancellation you can get in earbuds, along with great sound, so if you're looking to tune out the world around you for travel, office or home without resorting to a big over-ear headphone, this is the way to go.
The Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones don’t sound as good as sealed earbuds like the Beats Fit Pro, but we loved them for running and hiking since they let you hear your surroundings as clearly as you would without wearing headphones at all.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 improve on the XM4, with a slimmer design and refined noise-canceling microphones — it's the best over-ear Bluetooth headphone you can buy right now. XM4 owners have little reason to upgrade, but for anybody else, the XM5 are the high-end headphones to get.
This latest update to the Bowers & Wilkins Bluetooth flagship offers superb sound and great build quality in a package that should appeal to those looking for sound quality above all else in a wireless headphone.
The 1More SonoFlow wireless over-ear headphone sounds better and has more effective noise cancellation than anything we've tested at its low price. If you want all of these features on a budget, look no further.
The MacBook Air M2 is the best Apple laptop for most people, perfect for everyday multitasking and able to handle a good amount of gaming and video editing. It's the fastest laptop you can get for the money, and an especially big upgrade if you're coming from an Intel-powered Mac.
The Dell XPS 13 is the best Windows laptop you can buy, offering a stunning display, a great keyboard and long battery life within an attractive, slim design that's easy to take anywhere.
The iPad Pro M2 is the best tablet out there for serious creatives who want the power of a laptop and the flexibility of a touchscreen. It's one of the most powerful machines we've ever tested, outpacing every tablet we’ve ever tested — and some laptops.
The Galaxy Tab S8+ impresses with a vibrant, clear display that’s great for play and has plenty of power for nearly any task, from drawing to video calls. And it works great with the rest of Samsung's Galaxy products.
The latest Amazon Fire 7 tablet is a great affordable option for kids or anyone who needs a no-frills device for reading and watching shows. It's perfect if you need an extra device in the house or when you’re taking a car trip or vacation.
Indoor security cameras
Arlo’s Essential Indoor Security Camera is built with privacy in mind, easy to set up and inexpensive, with a monthly storage plan. The video quality is top-notch, motion alerts are prompt and audio sounds great.
Ring’s Indoor Cam isn’t just cute and affordable — it’s an impressive performer, with crisp video and accurate motion alerts. The small footprint lets it fit anywhere and it has deep integration with Amazon’s Alexa platform and Ring’s home security products.
The Logitech Circle View has a wide viewing angle, sharp video and solid built-in privacy features. It's been around for a couple of years, but it's still the best camera for Apple households.
Outdoor security cameras
Ring’s Floodlight Cam Wired Plus gives you the complete outdoor security camera package. It has a floodlight with ample brightness, easy setup, solid video and audio quality and motion alerts that keep you in the loop on what’s going on around your home.
Arlo’s Essential Spotlight Camera is battery-powered, records 1080p video, can be installed nearly anywhere around your home and is among the most affordable cameras we tested.
As its name implies, Eufy’s Floodlight Camera 2 records 2K video that looks fantastic, has bright floodlights and, best of all, has internal storage that forgoes the need to sign up for a subscription to see recent clips.
Apple HomeKit fans don’t have too many options when it comes to outdoor cameras, but the Eve Outdoor Cam offers full HomeKit Secure Video integration, effective lighting, solid video quality and reliable activity notifications.
The Meta Quest 2 is the most affordable, easy-to-use and intuitive VR headset available. The stand-alone device doesn’t require a beefy gaming PC, gives you access to a huge game library and has solid visuals and lightweight, ergonomic controllers. Battery life is a little short, but it is the best headset for anyone interested in getting started with VR.
An extraordinary audio/visual package, the Valve Index is the PC-based VR headset to get, thanks to its excellent "knuckle" controllers and wealth of great software on SteamVR. It certainly helps that the excellent Half-Life: Alyx is included for free.
PC gamers that are put off by the Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro 2’s higher price points and want something more powerful than the Meta Quest 2 should try HP’s Reverb G2. Expect an easier setup than other PC options, alongside an impressively high per-eye resolution.
Until the PlayStation VR 2 arrives in 2023, the original PSVR is a wonderful option for PS4 and PS5 owners looking to step their toes into VR. From impressive first-party titles to a handy cinematic mode for playing non-VR games and movies in a theater-like setting, there’s still much to appreciate with this headset.
Featuring a high 2448 x 2448 per-eye resolution within a seriously comfortable design, the HTC Vive Pro 2 is a worthy option for individuals with deep pockets. Unlike its PC-based competitors, the Vive Pro 2 offers add-ons such as body tracking and wireless functionality — if you're willing to pay an extra fee.
For gamers who don't have the fanciest systems — and that's a lot of us — the 27-inch Alienware delivers excellent performance, with a better combination of color accuracy and faster response time than any other monitor we tested.
Asus' top-of-the-line 4K monitor has the best picture quality we tested, along with incredibly low input lag — it's expensive, but it's the best gaming monitor we've found, and for serious gamers who can make the investment, it's the one to get.
With an incredible picture and speedy performance, this ultrawide OLED from Dell delivered the fastest response times in our testing and should satisfy any gamer looking for an immersive experience.
For gamers on a budget — especially first-person shooter fans — this small monitor with great color accuracy, HDR support and a fast 360Hz refresh rate really delivers.
PC gaming controllers
The Xbox Wireless Controller's excellent ergonomics, build quality and near-universal compatibility make it the best controller for any kind of PC gaming.
The DualShock 4 is still one of the most comfortable controllers you can buy (particularly if you prefer a PlayStation-style layout), and its motion controls and touchpad can be utilized in some neat ways for PC games.
The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller feels nearly as good as the core Xbox pad for a fraction of the price, and packs useful programmable buttons that even pricier options lack.
With a sturdy, substantial design, lots of swappable components and a ton of software customization options, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is the best option for competitive gamers or those willing to pay for maximum comfort and durability.