The Best Gadgets of 2022

The Best Gadgets of 2022

The gadgets that best represent the turbulent year that saw us going outside again.

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2022 Best Gadgets
Graphic: Twemoji

For better or worse, 2022 saw millions of workers who had been spending the past couple of years in hastily made home offices start returning to their daily commutes, but tech makers aren’t forgetting the lessons they learned since the sudden shift to work from home kicked off. Laptops are more popular than ever, webcams are finally getting good, and 2022's hybrid work market didn’t slow down at all.

Pandemic development momentum hasn’t stopped, yes, but that also applies to fun shit. Following on the heels of the laptop boom, the gaming handheld space is becoming much more diverse, no longer dominated solely by options from the likes of Nintendo or Sony. The Steam Deck has ushered in an era of affordable handheld gaming PCs, and cloud gaming services and even devices are making themselves available for those who don’t want to splurge on a full computer.

Hobbyist devices like drones are also taking off now (not sorry for the pun), with new options from mainstream companies like DJI giving prosumers options between novelty toys and full-on Hollywood rigs.

There were plenty of excellent gadgets, gizmos, and services all around this year, so join us as we walk you through some of our favorites.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

A photo of the Galaxy Z Fold 4
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I can’t stop talking about this foldable smartphone, to the point that I fear I’m getting on people’s nerves. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, its folding hybrid smartphone, is the perfect accessory for anyone willing to switch to something actually new. Admittedly, it’s a different kind of lifestyle, having a smartphone that folds out into a tablet–you’ll default to tablet mode most of the time. In my experience, that resulted in some battery life shortages, since the Z Fold 4 has a smartphone-sized battery powering it. But everything else about it is excellent. I don’t miss the iPhone 14 Pro Max when I’m with it—and I prefer Android’s way of dealing with the bigger screen.

- Florence Ion

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MacBook Air With M2

MacBook Air With M2

MacBook Air M2
Photo: Michelle Ehrhardt/Gizmodo

It might not be the most inventive pick, but the MacBook Air with the M2 processor is easily our favorite laptop of this year. It’s not for gaming or extended heavy workloads, but if the MacBook Air with M1 updated the Air line to feel appropriately modern inside, the M2 version keeps all of the same benefits and finally has an outside to match.

There’s a notch, yes, but the area around the notch finally opening up means thinner bezels and more screen real estate to work with, all without making the machine larger. The notch serves a good purpose, too, since it houses a 1080p webcam, which means no more fuzzy calls with coworkers. MagSafe charging returns to the Air’s left-hand side, and the bottom of the laptop is now flat rather than wedge-shaped, despite the laptop as a whole being thinner.

The function row’s keys are also full size, and there’s some new colorways. All in all, a professional looking and feeling device that makes older models feel ancient.

- Michelle Ehrhardt

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Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
Photo: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

Apple’s walled garden isn’t for everyone. For Windows users, we usually like to recommend the Dell XPS 13. But now that Dell’s split that line’s higher-end models off into a new chassis with a keyboard that we found frustrating to deal with, we’re instead giving our accolades to the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED.

This year saw both Asus and Acer, often unsung when it comes to their productivity laptops, pushing out machines that rival MacBooks in power, weight, battery life, and display quality. AMD’s Ryzen 6000 series chips are no joke, and when you attach them to a high resolution 16:10 OLED screen, you’ve got a compelling alternative to a MacBook.

11 hours and 10 minutes of battery life isn’t quite Apple level, sure. But it’s more than enough to last you through a single work day. That Star Trek-like logo on the S 13 OLED’s lid seems to indicate that Asus is moving towards the future.

- Michelle Ehrhardt

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iPad 10th Generation

iPad 10th Generation

Photo of the iPad 10th generation in different colors
Image: Apple

The entry level iPad was always the affordable option you bought for kids, parents, and anyone not worried about specs or the latest and greatest features. And while this year’s 10th generation iPad only features 2020's A14 Bionic chip under the hood, it finally ditched the Lightning port for USB-C on the bottom, and said goodbye to the home button, maximizing its screen real estate while pushing Touch ID to the sleep button on the top edge of the tablet. The 10th generation iPad also debuted in a fun assortment of colors—silver, blue, pink, and yellow—but the biggest reason to choose it over the iPad Air, and even more powerful iPad Pro models, is that Apple finally moved its front-facing camera to the side edge of the tablet, making it easier to maintain eye contact while using FaceTime with the iPad in landscape mode.

- Andrew Liszewski

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Onyx Boox Leaf 2

Onyx Boox Leaf 2

Photo of the Onyx Boox Leaf 2
Photo: Gizmodo

The e-reader market has long been dominated by two major players: Amazon and its Kindle devices, and Rakuten Kobo with its own line up of ebook readers, each having exclusive access to their own online book stores. With the Onyx Boox Leaf 2, avid readers don’t need to pledge allegiance to either company, because the e-reader runs Android 11 (with a customized front-end) with full access to the Google Play Store. That means users can not only load both the Kindle and Kobo Android apps, but other ebook sources, games, and even productivity apps like Gmail. The hardware is solid, too, with the Leaf 2 offering dedicated page turn buttons and a beautiful 300 PPI E Ink screen.

- Andrew Liszewski

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Steam Deck

Steam Deck

Steam Deck
Photo: Phillip Tracy/Gizmodo

Earlier this year, we called the Steam Deck “glorious but unfinished.” Now that it’s got more updates, improving stability and adding better support for docking and external monitors, I’m ready to just call it glorious. Yes, it’s still a touch heavy and drains quickly if you don’t limit the FPS or TDP. But that you can make those tweaks speaks to the customizability of the experience, and lately, I’ve been using it more often than my Switch or my PS5.

The beauty to the Steam Deck is that it’s a full gaming PC. Most of the games in my decades old Steam library work on the thing, and I can even install programs from other stores on it, too. I’m only limited by its Linux operating system, though intrepid gamers can install Windows on it.

It’s much more powerful than the Switch, which makes playing games like God of War on it possible in a way that would never work on Nintendo’s machine, but being the oddball I am, I’ve been using it to play indies and retro titles that don’t have Switch ports (God of War is also only on PC and Sony machines, so AAA gamers definitely get some extra variety here, too). Curling up in bed with my Steam Deck and a text heavy title isn’t too dissimilar to reading a book, and the sheer comfort of the experience means I’m finally getting through my massive Steam backlog in a way I wasn’t when I had to sit at my desk or deal with a fiddly living room PC. It’s also great for logging into MMOs from bed to deal with daily grinds, and if I want a big screen for something more action-heavy, I can just plug it into my dock and either play natively or stream from my PC, depending on the title. The best part? I’ll be able to easily take my Steam library with me to whatever my next gaming device is, but I couldn’t say the same for the Switch.

Handheld gaming PCs aren’t a new thing, but the Steam Deck is affordable in a way that past entries from the likes of GPD and Aya haven’t been. Now, though, we’re seeing promising competitors like the Aya Neo Air, and the future of handheld gaming looks brighter than ever.

- Michelle Ehrhardt

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Your phone + Backbone One

Your phone + Backbone One

A photo of the Backbone One on an iPhone
Photo: Damon Beres / Gizmodo

Sure, the Steam Deck can natively play my PC game library and has a bigger screen. And sure, Logitech’s G Cloud streaming handheld has incredible battery life. But I already have a powerful smartphone, so why can’t I play games on that? Whether you’ve got the Pixel 7 or last gen’s iPhone 13 Pro, you can snap on a controller like the Backbone One, which announced this year that it’s available for Android, and start playing games as if your smartphone were a bonafide handheld console (because it is!). The Backbone One works with some local games, cloud gaming services like Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass, and even emulators—most of which will let you remap the buttons. And best of all, when you’re not gaming, you still have your smartphone for everything else.

As much as we love the Steam Deck and still recommend it for anyone willing to splurge, don’t forget that you probably already have a handheld device that can game better than the dedicated machines of years gone by.

- Florence Ion

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Matter

Matter

A photo of Matter light bulbs
Image: CSA

The Matter smart home protocol, the new standard that promises to “unite them all,” was finally launched this year. While it’s not an actual gadget, the year in the smart home slowed to a crawl as we all waited for Matter to show up. It was initially supposed to debut in early 2022, but was pushed back to help the standard bake a bit more before every known connected gadget manufacturer had to start switching over its supply chain to support it. We’re still not at the level where Matter-connected devices are freely available on the shelves of your local brick-and-mortar tech store. Expect to see Matter getting even more airtime after CES 2023, where we’ll see all the devices that will connect with it.

- Florence Ion

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Sony LinkBuds

Sony LinkBuds

Photo of the Sony LinkBuds
Photo: Gizmodo

Instead of relying on ambient sound boosting modes that can sometimes be awkward to quickly access when you need to hear someone or something while wearing a set of wireless earbuds, Sony’s LinkBuds feature a donut-like design with a hole in the middle that lets sounds pass right through. They’re not the best earbuds for those who prefer quiet solitude, but for cyclists, commuters, or those who want to listen to music while keeping an ear on office gossip, they’re an innovative choice that sound surprisingly good. We’re also in love with a unique feature that lets you tap your temple, not the earbuds themselves, as an easy way to control playback and make volume adjustments.

- Andrew Liszewski

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Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5

Photo of the Sony WH-1000XM5
Photo: Gizmodo


The title of best noise-cancelling headphones seems to switch hands more frequently than the title of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. But this year, it was Sony who once again wore the ANC crown, with its WH-1000XM5s. They’re incredibly lightweight and comfortable, and do an excellent job silencing the world around the wearer through the use of eight microphones and two processors dedicated to just ANC. The WH-1000XM5s also introduced a new design for Sony’s WH-1000XM line, with a thinner headband and a folding mechanism that essentially flattens the headphones to fit inside a slim case.

- Andrew Liszewski

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Nvidia GeForce Now

Nvidia GeForce Now

A photo of a person holding up a controller in front of a cloud-gaming laptop
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

This year, there seemed to be a silent battle going on between the various cloud gaming services. I found solace in Xbox Game Pass after Google’s Stadia announced it was going away, since it offers my favorite Elder Scrolls games. But the winner of the lot is Nvidia’s GeForce Now, because it works with more ecosystems–even iOS/iPad OS. GeForce Now even has a free tier you can play for up to an hour, and it grants cloud access to games you already own on other platforms, like Steam. It also supports ray tracing for some titles and offers the highest refresh rate of any cloud gaming service.

- Florence Ion

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Tamagotchi Pix Party

Tamagotchi Pix Party

A photo of the Tamagotchi Pix Party
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I’m mentioning the Tamagotchi Pix Party, one of the only gadgets I missed when I didn’t have it on me. The Tamagotchi Pix Party is the second-generation follow-up to the Tamagotchi Pix, which launched in 2021. Bandai fixed some of the annoyances of the first-gen Pix, including extending the battery life on a pair of AAA batteries and making the touch buttons more responsive. It also has more replayability than the regular Pix, thanks to its “party” function.

- Florence Ion

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DJI Avata

DJI Avata

Photo of the DJI Avata
Photo: Gizmodo

If you’ve stared in awe at videos of drones zipping through tight spaces at breakneck speeds and assumed you’d be never be able to fly a quadcopter like that, the DJI Avata will make you think twice about your abilities. It’s a redesign of DJI’s FPV drone that was created for pilots looking for the thrill of flying a drone from a first-person perspective, with a much smaller body and full propeller guards to protect the craft from novice pilots or unplanned landings at high speeds. Using the DJI Motion Controller, a handheld joystick that lets you fly a drone using simple motions, the DJI Avata is surprisingly easy to pilot, even if you’ve never taken the controls before. It’s even more satisfying to see the world whizz by at full 1080P resolutions.

- Andrew Liszewski

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Logitech Lift

Logitech Lift

A photo of the Logitech Lift
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

This mouse couldn’t have come at a better time. The Logitech Lift vertical mouse launched when I recognized that whatever my other devices were claiming was ergonomic was exacerbating my carpal tunnel. But I haven’t had any issues since switching to the Lift. Anytime I go back to a regular mouse for playing a game or getting better control in apps like Adobe Lightroom, my wrist immediately screams for vertical orientation.

What’s especially helpful about the Lift is that its abilities are no different than the other Logitech mice I’ve been using for over a decade, so there was only a slight learning curve. The only drawback to the Lift is that its cushiony, comfortable outside is attracted to finger oils and seems to hold on for dear life. But at the very least, its vertical configuration can help alleviate some of the pains of being at the desk all day.

- Florence Ion

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