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The year is wrapping up, and as we all look back on the best songs, best movies, and best books that made 2022 great, we also turn to the technology that made our lives easier. Big-name brands like Samsung, Apple, and Amazon all debuted new and innovative products this year, while some other lesser-known brands came out with their own useful gadgets and unconventional concepts.
We asked ZDNET staff what the best products were that they reviewed or purchased this year, or those gadgets that just downright impressed them. These are the best tech products of 2022 -- from smartphones to laptops, to TVs, and more.
Tech specs: Processor: Apple A16 | Display Size: 6.7 inches | Storage Options: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Rear Cameras: 48MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 12MP telephoto | Front Camera: 12MP f/1.9 | Colors: Silver, Space Black, Gold, Deep Purple | Weight: 240g
Even though Apple releases a new iPhone every fall, this year's iPhone 14 Pro Max is actually worth the upgrade.
The features worth noting include Dynamic Island, an A16 Bionic chip, and a new 48MP main sensor that shoots some of the most detailed imagery our reviewers have ever seen on an iPhone. That new camera also comes with Action Mode, stabilizing your videos if you're filming while moving around in a vehicle or bicycle.
There's also a new eSIM process for number transfers that is not only a smooth experience but a quick one.
Read the review: iPhone 14 Pro packs a lot more innovation for the same price as last year
Our editors said upgrading to this iPhone model is more about functionality than aesthetics, which is a welcome change to Apple's yearly smartphone release.
Tech specs: Display: 6.55-inch OLED with 120Hz refresh rate | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G Plus | Storage: 8GB/12GB RAM with 128/256GB storage | Camera: 50MP wide, 50MP ultra-wide, and 16MP front camera | Weight: 6.82 ounces
We're bummed that the Nothing Phone 1 isn't available in the US (yet) because it is one of the year's most innovative products. Nothing's first phone prioritizes display, software, and design.
At first glance, it may resemble an iPhone, but its exposed back, complete with 20 different glowing glyph patterns you can set up for ringtones and notifications, make it stand out from any other smartphone on the market. The Glyph Interface cleverly doubles as a fill light when taking pictures or shooting video, too.
Inside the phone, the software is a no-frills experience with snappy performance and a battery that is impressive for a phone constantly lighting up.
Read the review: Nothing Phone 1 review: You ain't seen Nothing yet
Our editor who reviewed the Nothing 1 phone even dubbed it "one of the most interesting pieces of tech that I've used in a while."
Tech specs: Battery life: 6 hours | Microphones: 4 in each earbud | Bluetooth range: Up to 30 feet | Voice assistant: Yes | Waterproof rating: IPX4
Bose's Active Noise Cancelling technology provides true quiet and true wireless within these earbuds. Using hidden microphones in the earbuds, they monitor external sound and emit an anti-sound wave to cancel out any noise other than whatever you're listening to.
When you want to tune back into your surroundings, an Aware Mode feature allows you to simultaneously hear your music and surroundings at a lower level. So if you wish to block the sounds of city construction or get into the zone for work, these Bose earbuds are excellent true wireless options.
Read the review: Step aside, AirPods. There's a new ANC champion in town
Our editors love these earbuds for their comfortable fit and overall sound quality with ANC like they've never before experienced.
Tech specs: Display: 49mm 410x502 LTPO OLED sapphire glass touchscreen | Storage: 32GB | Durability: IP6X dust resistance and 100 meters of water resistance | Connectivity: LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, ANT+, multi-band and dual frequency GNSS | Sensors: Optical HR, barometer, compass, altimeter, Pulse Ox, skin and water temperature, depth gauge | Battery: Up to 36 hours
Apple debuted three new versions of its Apple Watch in September, but the Ultra model stands out as a top tech product of 2022. It's Apple's answer to a rugged smartwatch like its Garmin competitor, but with all the Apple Watch features you already know and love, plus some.
The Apple Watch Ultra's additions are built for those who take the outdoors seriously and for athletes of all kinds. New features include night mode, which transforms its display to a bright red for better visibility at night, added microphones and speakers for voice clarity in harsh weather conditions, and a clever feature called Backtrack, which can trace your steps back on the path you took to help you get to safety if you get lost.
We even put this watch through a Tough Mudder 15K event, and it held up through all the climbing, swimming, running, hurdling, and ruthless challenges.
Read the review: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through a Tough Mudder: Here's how it held up
What impressed us most about this specific Apple Watch is that while it's powerful enough to get through intense environments and situations, it's reliable as a standard smartwatch with a stunning display made of premium materials.
Tech specs: Sizing: 6-13 | Material: Durable titanium and PVD coating | Colors: Silver, black, stealth, gold, rose gold | Water resistance: Up to 328 feet | Sensors: Heart rate, blood oxygen, PPG, skin temperature, 3D accelerometer | Connectivity: Bluetooth Low-Energy | Battery: Up to 7 days
For this writer, this is the No. 1 tech product I purchased in 2022, and it's changed the wearable game for me forever. As someone who hates wearing watches and loves wearing rings, the Oura Ring was a no-brainer, but its technology and in-depth and accurate data make it even more of a win.
The Oura Ring is known for its quality sleep tracking, and the insights are much better than what you'd get with a Fitbit or other tracker. For example, it shows you things like your HRV balance, temperature changes in your sleep (which can act as a period predictor), blood oxygen levels, and how long you were in each sleep stage.
Its activity tracking is also quite impressive. It'll track your steps, calories burned (including active calories), your heart rate during a workout, and your training volume.
In 2022, Oura introduced the Horizon model, which removes the flat spot at the top of the ring to make it entirely round like a regular ring.
Read the review: Oura Ring Gen 3 Horizon: Same features, no more flat spot
This smart ring is your answer if you're looking for something to replace your bulky watch.
Tech specs: Display: 12.4'' Super AMOLED (2,800 x 1,752) at 120Hz | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | OS: One UI Tab 4 based on Android 12 | Memory: 8GB RAM with 128GB/256GB (expandable via MicroSD) | Camera: 13MP wide, 6MP ultra-wide, and a 12MP front | Connection ports: 1x USB-C 3.2, 1x MicroSD card slot, keyboard pins | Weight: 1.26lbs
In February, Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab S8 series, and the S8 Plus captured our attention in our testing. Our editors even named it the best Android tablet on the market.
This tablet improves the experience of the Tab S8 with a larger 12.4-inch Super AMOLED 4K display, an S-Pen stylus, up to 256GB of internal storage, and long battery life. It also has Samsung's DeX platform, which turns this tablet into a laptop-like experience to get your work done on the go.
Read the review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus review: The best Android tablet for most people
We were especially impressed by its hardware and the promise of up to five years of software support and Android 12L, which can only make it even better.
Tech specs: Display: 10.2-inch 300 ppi Paperwhite display| Battery life: Up to 12 weeks (at 30 minutes per day) | Weight: 15.3 ounces | Storage: 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB
When Amazon announced the Kindle Scribe in September, we immediately wanted to try it. It brings together the best of both worlds: a tablet and an e-reader, and it is the first-of-its-kind product from Amazon.
It has the same functions you've come to know and love in a Kindle, like 300 ppi glare-free screen, weeks of battery life, and adjustable warm light. But it also can use Amazon's Basic or Premium Pen to take handwritten notes or underline important quotations within the book you're reading.
Your notes are automatically organized by book in one place, so you can browse, review, and export them via email. It also comes with preset templates to help you create notebooks, journals, and lists, but it also can create sticky notes in Microsoft Word and other compatible Word documents.
Read the review: Amazon Kindle Scribe: 7 ways it could be even more remarkable
We liked that you get the best of the competitor product, the ReMarkable 2, along with Amazon's robust ecosystem of services you're already familiar with if you're a Kindle user.
Tech specs: Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display | Processor: Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU | Memory: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD camera | Connections: MagSafe 3 charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2 Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports | Colors: Silver, starlight, space gray, midnight | Weight: 2.7lbs | Battery: 15-18 hours
As far as laptops go, there's arguably nothing more powerful on the market right now than Apple's M2 chip, which you'll see in the 2022 MacBook Air. The 2022 MacBook Pro also has this processor, but the MacBook Air is less expensive, lighter, and slimmer than the Pro.
While the MacBook Air was once known as Apple's most basic laptop, this 2022 model sets it on the same playing field as the Pro, making it a powerhouse laptop that can do everything from streaming your favorite show to video editing.
Read the review: Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review: Sleeker, faster – and more expensive
We also like the magnetic MagSafe connector's return and a new quad-driver stereo speaker system that makes video calls, presentations, and streaming sound impressive. Other notable specs: 500 nits of brightness on the display, the option for more RAM, and an all-day battery life.
The 2022 MacBook Air redefines what users expect from a highly portable laptop.
Tech specs: Screen size: 65-, 75- or 85-inch | Resolution: 7,680 x 4,320 | Picture processor: Neural Quantum Processor 8K | Color: 100% Color Volume with Quantum Dot | Adaptive picture: Optimized/EyeComfort | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Ports: (4) HDMI, (2) USB 2 ports
Yes, $2,300 for a TV is a lot of money, but hear us out: the Samsung Neo QLED 8K QN800B series gave us a peak into the future of TVs, and we are here for it. With some of the most beautiful pictures our writer has ever seen on a TV screen, it's one impressive TV.
From drastically improving the level of detail in pictures to making scenes from award-winning movies more color-accurate, these future-forward aspects are a rarity with mainstream TVs and a big reason why the QN800B costs as much as it does.
Read the review: Samsung's 8K TV gave me a glimpse of the future—and a big reason to look away
Honestly, we can't wait until 8K TVs become the norm to binge-watch our favorite shows in vivid detail.
Tech specs: Connection: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi | Interoperability: Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings | Voice control: Amazon Alexa and Google Home | Weight: 3.2 ounces
Perhaps the cheapest product on this list at under $20 for a two-pack, this smart plug can upgrade your devices like lamps or fans to make them work seamlessly with your existing smart home setup.
This little plug fits into your standard electrical outlet and lets you schedule or automate lights, holiday decorations, security cameras, or that one thing you always forget to turn off before leaving your house.
It doesn't require a separate smart hub since it works over Wi-Fi and connects through the Kasa app, so you don't have to buy extra gadgets for it to work.
Read the review: I got the $3.49 smart plug on Prime Day, here's how it went
We love that it doesn't tie you to a single smart assistant and monitors your energy usage if you want to lower those utility bills.
Tech specs: Touchpad type: Touchscreen and keypad | Lock type: Keyed or keyless deadbolt | Door thickness: 13/8" to 2-1/4" | Grade: Commercial Grade 2 | Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit | Connectivity: Wi-Fi or Bluetooth | Weight: 4.5lbs
There are lots of smart locks on the market, but this one grabbed the attention of our smart home writer the most.
Its sleek and streamlined design, a reliable auto-unlock, and built-in DoorSense to let you know if you left the door open or ajar all make this lock stand out among competitors.
Read the review: Yale Assure Lock 2 review: A genius lock…once you get it installed
Our writer said it was "by far one of the best smart locks I've used," and we're taking their word for it.
Tech specs: Form factor: 60% | Switch type: Proprietary "Lekker" analog switches | Keycap type: Black double-shot PBT with shine-through legends | Lighting: Customizable per-key RGB with animated and interactive effects | Available layouts: ANSI (US) and ISO (Europe) | Connectivity: Replaceable USB-C cable (USB-C to USB-A cable included) | Weight: 1.33lbs
While the gaming market is saturated with products to enhance your gaming experience, this gaming keyboard is the best.
This gaming keyboard from Wooting allows for customization and excellent companion software, so you never have to upgrade your keyboard again.
The RGB lighting that gaming keyboards are known for is customizable on a per-key basis, including unique lighting effects.
Read the review: I'm a keyboard enthusiast and this is the best gaming keyboard right now
Perhaps the best part? You never have to have software running in the background and never have to install constant updates.
Tech specs: Form factor: Open-backed, over-ear | Drivers: Dynamic, open | Frequency response: 10Hz-30,000Hz | Impedance: 28-ohm | Microphone type: Noise-cancelling, bi-directional electret condenser | Connectors: Interchangeable 2.5 m PC cable with 3.5 mm microphone and headphone connectors and 1.5 m console cable with 1 x 3.5 mm TRRS connector | Weight: 10.2 ounces
This gaming headset has developed an almost cult-like following in the gaming world, and we now understand the hype.
While it's not as flashy as other gaming headsets on the market, it makes up for the audio quality of its built-in mics and the depth and directionality of its sound. As our writer puts it, "You won't just hear the direction your enemies are coming from, even through walls -- you'll know exactly how far away they are."
Read the review: This headset's directional game sound is so good you'll feel like you're cheating
This headset does it all for just under $170 -- no small feat in the gaming world.
Tech specs: Sensor technology: Darkfield high precision | DPI: 200-8,000 DPI | Buttons: 7 (Left/right-click, back, forward, App-Switch, wheel mode-shift, middle click) | Connection: Bluetooth or Logi Bolt USB for up to three devices | Weight: 4.97 ounces
This year, Logitech made the best wireless mouse even better by releasing the Logitech MX Master 3S.
This latest generation features an electromagnetic scroll wheel that provides speed and precision for whatever documents or web pages you scroll through.
You can customize the seven-button input layout with the Logi Options+ app and even set up gesture-based inputs for quickly switching programs or controlling two computers simultaneously.
Read the review: Logitech MX Master 3S review: The best mouse gets even better
Logitech also added "Quiet Click" switches to this model, making it worth upgrading from its predecessor (and your Apple Magic Mouse).
Tech specs: Screen size: 32 inches | Dimensions: 63 inches x 20 inches; 1.6 inches deep | Weight: 40 lbs | Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi | Membership fee: $25/month with up to 7 profiles
Working out at home just got an upgrade with this new workout mirror.
Using Motion Engine technology, the Fiture Mini provides uninterrupted yet immediate form feedback while you're doing your reps.
You can choose from nine different class types from 10-60 minutes and varying from beginner to advanced level workouts. The quality of the instructors is also impressive, and you'll feel like you have your own personal trainer in your living room.
Read the review: I replaced my gym workouts with a fitness mirror. Here's what happened
Plus, it's cheaper than other competitor workout mirrors (and less expensive than a Peloton).
Tech specs: Mapping / Path planning: Yes | Dustbin Capacity: 400 ml / 13.53 oz | HEPA filter: Yes | Carpet Boost: Yes | Wet mopping: No, but works with Braava Jet M 6 | Other features: PrecisionVision Navigation, P.O.O.P. guarantee, Easy robot integration
ZDNET video producer Beth Mauder has tested several robot vacuums, and her favorite to use throughout her house is the the Roomba j7+. She uses it on the carpet, tile, and rugs. After a few initial runs, the j7+ has a great understanding of a home's layout. Once the robot vac has that solidified map, you can go to the iRobot app and choose your cleaning method. You can select which rooms you want cleaned, in what order, and you even have the ability to have the j7+ clean a room once or twice before moving on to its next task.
What sets Roomba vacuums apart from others is how intelligent the robots are. It uses PrecisionVision Navigation to recognize and avoid common household objects like socks, cords, shoes, and pet waste. If you're a new pet owner, iRobot's P.O.O.P. (Pet Owner Official Promise) guarantee will help you rest easy leaving your Roomba j7+ and pet out in the same area.
The Roomba j7+ doesn't have mopping capabilities, but it does pair beautifully with the Braava Jet m6. The two are both iRobot products so they use the same technology to tag team your vacuuming and mopping needs. We tested both of these robots out, so be sure to check out our full reviews below.
Read the review: Roomba j7+ review: A life-changing robot vacuum
Read the review: Braava Jet m6 review: A must-have robot mop
While we think the above devices are the best of the best, we do have some honorable mentions of products that grabbed our attention throughout the year.
We asked ZDNET writers and editors what their favorite products they reviewed/purchased were in 2022 to compile this list. We also considered new and groundbreaking products that gained popularity over the year, as well as technology that is bringing something new to the sector.
Most of these products were released this year, but some, such as the Kasa Smart Plug Mini and the Drop + EPOS PC38X gaming headset, were previously released. We were just super impressed with them this year.
No one can predict the future, but three tech trends on the verge of a breakthrough in 2023 are foldable smartphones, virtual/augmented reality and the metaverse, and ambient computing.
With Samsung finally successfully executing its foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip 4, other phone makers will likely take notice and enter the market (especially to bank on that millennial nostalgia of the flip phone).
VR and AR grow in popularity every year, and Big Tech has been spending big in this sector, so it's only likely to continue to grow in 2023. In addition, headset technologies are getting easier to use, so we could see more innovative headsets hit the market over the next year.
And ambient computing-the technology we see in smart home devices-is getting better and better, meaning 2023 could mean our homes get smarter with new and exciting gadgets.