The weirdest CES ever staged is now over. But no one will be striking booths in Las Vegas or hustling out of $1,000 a night hotel rooms today with all the cool gadgets they’ve shown off all week. That’s because there wasn’t that much new tech shown off. Much of CES was a rehash of the preceding weeks — and even months — of announcements. It made the all-digital affair even weirder! But there was still some cool stuff that left us pumped for 2021 and some absolutely wild stuff that had us by turns laughing, cringing, and just scratching our heads at the audacity.
We’re only going to see more stuff as the year goes by too. Countless companies have hinted at big news in the coming weeks, and with major competing shows like IFA and Computex likely still happening later in 2021, plenty of companies could be holding their niftiest gadgets for consumer electronics shows people can actually attend in person.
The Best Gadgets of CES 2021
While Lenovo didn’t try to reinvent the 2-in-1, by combining an even sleeker design with a new titanium-clad body to create its thinnest ThinkPad ever, the new ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga just feels a bit more special. And as someone who appreciates a good multi-tasker, not only does the X1 Titanium Yoga feature a convertible 360-degree chassis, it also comes with full stylus support for drawing and notetaking, and updated specs including 11th-gen Intel chips, Thunderbolt 4, and a tall 3:2 display perfect for all sort of productivity. The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is simply a premium laptop made beautiful. — Sam Rutherford
Last year the Wi-Fi 6 standard promised to improve wifi speeds and performance on a crowded network by using clever engineering tricks to increase the bandwidth of each wireless channel so that more devices could operate simultaneously with less cross-channel interference. But it was more of a band-aid solution to an ever-growing problem. Wi-Fi 6E promises to future-proof wifi for a while by introducing a new 6 GHz band to wifi’s existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The 6 GHz band offers 59 separate non-overlapping channels so that multiple devices can operate at higher bandwidths at the same time. (Think 8K smart TVs streaming 8K content.) The best part is that older legacy devices won’t be able to access the 6GHz band, only newer devices (which should be arriving later this year) which should ensure the new band doesn’t immediately fill up with traffic. — Andrew Liszewski
The Mudra Band is a strap for the Apple Watch that gives you the ability to control it one-handed. There are sensors that read electrochemical signals to interpret your various hand gestures. For instance, you can tap your index finger and thumb to dismiss a call, or close your thumb to skip a music track. There’s a ton of potential for this type of device, in terms of both accessibility, but also hands-free convenience. And, it’s not vaporware. The band is $US180 ($234) and is expected to ship in March. — Victoria Song
It’s a 2-in-1 gaming laptop. Yes, a true 2-in-1 with 360-degree hinges. The included GPU could pack a better punch (it’s just a GTX 1650), but the rest of the specs are pretty solid: a new AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS mobile processor, liquid metal instead of regular ol’ thermal paste, and a choice between a 120 Hz or UltraHD 4K display covered with Corning Gorilla Glass. For anyone who wants the option of a better GPU, the Flow X13 pairs with Asus’ XG Mobile, a compact eGPU that supports up to an RTX 3080. Pricing the two together is expensive — $US3,000 ($3,895) — but I’m hoping Asus sells the Flow X13 separately or at least makes the XG Mobile available with other GPUs soon. — Joanna Nelius
I know it might be weird to be this excited about a fridge just because it makes a new kind of ice, but innovation in the fridge space has been pretty scant the last few years. Everything has seemed to revolve around screens or windows in doors and that’s just not a thing most people need or want. Good ice is a thing everyone can appreciate, and while the Bespoke is likely to be way too pricey for the average person its ability to produce good, or pebble, ice means this technology is finally coming to fridges. If this means a fridge four years from now can help me make a drink as satisfying as a Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper at Sonic I’m all in. — Alex Cranz
For TV shoppers on the hunt for the largest possible display on the tightest budget, I’ve got some great news: TCL is going big in 2021. The company’s new XL Collection will feature three 85-inch display models, including a 4K QLED powered by Roku TV, a 4-Series with Roku TV, and an 8K QLED TV. Options! We don’t know just yet how much TCL will be charging for two of those three, but we do know the 4-Series (85R435) will retail for $US1,600 ($2,077), which is a ridiculously good deal for a display this size (and if you can wait a while, that price will likely go down closer to the holidays). Everybody’s debuting monster screens this year, but TCL’s XL displays will likely be a tough deal to beat. — Catie Keck
The Weirdest Gadgets of CES 2021
Weird doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and in the case of Razer’s two concept gadgets for CES 2021, Razer is presenting different methods for dealing with some of the everyday troubles people might be facing this year. One one hand Project Brooklyn represents the ultimate evolution of a gaming chair, and even with its over-the-top 60-inch rollable OLED display and RGB lighting, it’s something that practically any gamer would love to have at home. Meanwhile, Project Hazel is an innovative take on a standard reusable mask, offering the kind of protection people need from airborne viruses while addressing a lot of the problems people have with traditional cloth or paper face coverings. Honestly, the main thing keeping these concepts in the weird territory instead of hopping over to our best list is that both are closer to fiction than something you can actually buy. — Sam Rutherford
Keurig dominates the pod-based food space, while others like Juicero have spectacularly failed to try and muscle their way in. While the machines promise the experience is all about convenience, there are some big trade-offs to the approach. Pods need to be manufactured and recycled, and the per pod cost usually means if you’re not using the device multiple times a day, it’s just not worth it. The ColdSnap also looks like a beast of a machine, and seems like it would take up a LOT of space on your counter for the convenience of soft-serve ice cream in just 90 seconds. You can buy ice cream makers for less than $US100 ($130) that take longer, but you also get to use all your own ingredients. — Andrew Liszewski
The Panasonic nanoe Hair Dryer (EH-NA67-W) actually gets its name from a feature where the hair dryer draws moisture from the air around it (which is presumably very humid after a bath or shower) and then blasts your locks with “tiny, moisture-rich particles” that Panasonic claims are “1,000 times more moisture-packed” than the charged ion particles that other hair dryers employ to achieve the same hydrating effect. It also features a unique oscillating quick-dry nozzle that quickly moves back and forth in an attempt to dry hair quicker and with less effort. At $US150 ($195) it falls somewhere between a cheap department store hairdryer and Dyson’s premium offerings and it could be neat if that very weird-sounding tech actually works. — Andrew Liszewski
Both AMD and Nvidia had some nice mobile-related news at CES 2021, but new news doesn’t mean exciting news, and a massive shortage in the GPU space meant both companies seemed to have refrained from making the much bigger announcements fans expect. We’ll get the Radeon 6700 and the RTX 3070 Super someday, but not at CES. — Joanna Nelius
Speakers built into the headrest of your car seat that pop down to pipe the music into your ears is a very awesome idea, but I’m not sure its necessarily a practical one. Speakers on either side of your head seem like a good way to do some damage to your noggin in the case of an accident, and it will be absolutely annoying if you’re driving along with a friend and they abruptly deploy their speakers. There’s also the way it kind of kills the in-car sing-a-long that’s practically required if you have two or more people in a car and someone is being a kickass with the AUX cable. I don’t hate Harman’s Personal Audio Headrest platform, but it definitely seems like a weird solution to a problem few people have. — Alex Cranz
Samsung Eco Remote Control
I’m thrilled to see a TV maker moving away from single-use AA or AAA batteries that will likely wind up in the trash. If Samsung is to be believed, its new Eco Remote Control — which will ship with all of its new 2021 QLED 4K and 8K TVs — can charge via light as well as through a USB-C port, and Samsung says the remote can last up to two years on a single charge. That’s not too bad if you’re buying a TV you hope to have for the next 10 years or longer. I’m cautiously optimistic about this remote, but I’d like to see it in action before I get too pumped about the future of TV wands. It certainly seems like a step in the right direction, though. — Catie Keck
It’s a taint…bandaid…that zappies the no-man’s-land between the scrotum and anus to stop premature ejaculation. Do I really need to elaborate? — Victoria Song
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for local Australian pricing and availability for these gadgets.