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ZDNET editors' favorite tech products of 2023

ZDNET put together our favorite products we tested or bought in 2023 that would make great holiday gifts for everyone left on your list.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Kayla Solino
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra | Best robot vacuum mop
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra
Best robot vacuum mop
View now View at Best Buy
Whisker Litter-Robot 4 | Best robot litter box
An orange cat in a black robot litter box
Whisker Litter-Robot 4
Best robot litter box
View now View at Hello.whisker
Sonos Era 100 | Best smart speaker
Sonos Era 100
Sonos Era 100
Best smart speaker
View now View at Amazon
Meta Quest 3 | Best VR headset
Meta Quest 3
Meta Quest 3
Best VR headset
View now View at Best Buy
Hatch Restore 2 | Best sunrise alarm clock
A Hatch Restore 2 clock on a nightstand and lit-up bright yellow
Hatch Restore 2
Best sunrise alarm clock
View now View at Amazon
OnePlus Open | Best foldable phone
OnePlus Open in hand
OnePlus Open
Best foldable phone
View now View at Amazon
Samsung Freestyle 2 | Best projector
A white Samsung Freestyle 2 projector on its battery base next to a pink Xbox controller
Samsung Freestyle 2
Best projector
View now View at Samsung
Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses | Best smart glasses
Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses
Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses
Best smart glasses
View now View at Best Buy
Bose Quiet Comfort Ultra Over-Ear Headphones | Best noise-canceling headphones
Bose QuietComfort Ultra in White Smoke and the Bose Music companion app
Bose Quiet Comfort Ultra Over-Ear Headphones
Best noise-canceling headphones
View now View at Bose
GE Cync Neon Light Strips | Best smart light strip
GE Cync Neon Light Strips
GE Cync Neon Light Strips
Best smart light strip
View now View at Best Buy
Show more (5 items)

Lots of new tech ranging from foldable phones to robot vacuum mops hit stores in 2023. Here at ZDNET, tech is our job, and we've done hands-on testing with enough tech products this year to know which ones are worth splurging on and which will actually be useful to you (or someone who you need a holiday gift for) in the upcoming year. 

Also: The best holiday tech gifts under $100

We asked ZDNET staff for the best products that they either went hands-on with or purchased themselves this year. These are our favorite tech products of 2023 that are worth buying, from smartphones to headphones to robot litter boxes and more. 

ZDNET editors' favorite tech products of 2023

Price: $1,200

Roborock S8 Pro Ultra features: Reactive 3D Obstacle Avoidance | 6000Pa suction power | Empty wash fill dock

If you've been wanting a robot vacuum or mop, this is the one. This Roborock serves as both a vacuum and a mop. On the vacuum side, it has a 6,000 Pa rating, which outperforms most other robot vacuums regarding carpet. For the mop side, it can clean and dry the mop pad and refill the clean water automatically without you ever needing to.

ZDNET's video editor, Beth Mauder, said this kept her home clean during her maternity leave earlier this year.

"It helped give me a little bit of sanity during those tough weeks," she said. "Is it pricey? Yes. Did my house need as much help as possible with a newborn? Yes."

 Review: Roborock's new 2-in-1 vacuum is expensive, but my floors tell me it's worth every penny

Price: $699

Whisker Litter-Robot 4 features: Dimensions: 29.5 x 22 x 27 inches | Power: 15 Volt DC | Weight: 24 pounds | # of cats: Up to 4

This robot litter box changed the game for me (and my cat Norbert) -- after using it, I will never return to a regular litter box. It's much quieter than other robot litter boxes I have seen, and the free compatible app provides excellent insights into your cat's health and routine.

Review: Tired of scooping cat litter? The Whisker Litter-Robot 4 does it for you

The Whisker app lets you know when your cat is in the box, when a cleaning cycle is happening, and when a cleaning cycle is complete, as well as an entire history and your cat's average usage. I also love the smart scale built into the Litter-Robot 4, which automatically records your cat's weight each time they use it so that you can keep track of any weight gain or weight loss.

Price: $199

Sonos Era 100 features: Amplifiers: 3 Class-D digital amplifiers | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 | Voice control: Sonos Voice Control, Amazon Alexa | Microphones: Far-field, Trueplay tuning, toggle off switch

Looking to upgrade your smart speaker experience? Our smart home expert Maria Diaz recommends the Sonos Era 100, saying it's "the best speaker of its size that I've ever tested." While it's not compatible with Google Home devices, it does support Amazon Alexa and Sonos Voice Control.

It's perfect for smaller spaces like apartments, providing booming bass and crystal-clear vocals. And even at full volume, it doesn't lose its sound quality.

Review: Why I recommend the Sonos Era 100 to most people this holiday season

Another big bonus is that the Sonos Era 100 has Bluetooth connectivity, so if you have guests who want to play something on the speaker, they can do so without downloading the Sonos app.

Price: $499

Meta Quest 3 features: Display: LCD with 2064 x 2208 pixels per eye | Refresh rate: 90Hz (up to 120Hz) | Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 | Storage: 128GB and 512GB

Virtual reality is getting better and better with each new product announced, and the Meta Quest 3 is the best VR headset by far. It is less bulky to wear thanks to a curvier design, and an improved cushioning system means that even those who wear glasses can wear it.

But the tech is what really impresses: dual 2064 x 2208 LCD panels that refresh up to 120Hz and 110 degrees horizontal and 96 degrees vertical field of view (FOV), which perfectly blends digital overlays with your surroundings.

ZDNET's editor-in-chief Jason Hiner recommends it to anyone who is intrigued by what Apple Vision Pro might offer.

Review: I tried Meta's Quest 3 VR headset and the mixed reality experience was next level

Price: $200

Hatch Restore 2 features: Requires Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | Included sounds like white noise, pink noise, nature, and more | Dimmable clock | Gradual sunrise alarm

If you require a white noise machine in the background to feel well-rested, the Hatch Restore 2 is an excellent choice since it combines your sleep and waking requirements into one helpful device. In the accompanying app, you can program the clock to play white noise while you sleep and wake you up with a sunrise simulation when you choose.

Review: I replaced my phone alarm with this smart sunrise clock. The results were night and day

I especially like that you can select from meditations or deep breathing exercises to add to your nighttime or morning routines. 

Price: $1,700

OnePlus Open features: Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Display size: 6.3 (outer) and 7.8 inches (inner) | Storage options: 512GB | Rear cameras: 48MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 64MP telephoto | Front camera: 32MP (outer) 20MP and (inner)

Of all the foldables that debuted in 2023, ZDNET was especially impressed with the OnePlus Open. The phone is shockingly lightweight and comfortable to use, has a beast of a camera system, is one of the fastest-charging phones this year, and the inner display has almost no crease -- an aspect that had plagued every other foldable competitor.

ZDNET editor June Wan said he uses the OnePlus Open for photo and video editing and running emulators.

"Being able to emulate a Nintendo DS on a foldable is literally game-changing," he said, adding, "I'd recommend the OnePlus Open to tech enthusiasts who live on the bleeding edge and power users who can use the extra screen real estate for graphics-intensive tasks."

Review: OnePlus' first-ever foldable makes Samsung and Google's look outdated – and it's near perfect

Price: $600

Samsung Freestyle 2 features: Resolution: Full HD (1080p) | Lumens: 550 lumens | Contrast ratio: 100000:1 | Voice control: Bixby, Amazon Alexa, SmartThings

This is one tech product I tested this year that I genuinely wanted to keep. This projector, of course, plays movies and TV shows, but it also allows you to stream and play your favorite games without needing a separate console, thanks to the addition of the Samsung Gaming Hub.

Review: Samsung's latest swiveling projector is secretly the best gaming console you can buy this holiday season

Its portability means you can bring it anywhere to set up and watch a movie or play a game. I was particularly impressed with the device's sound from its built-in 5W 360-degree speaker that packs quite the punch.

Price: $329

Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses features: Camera: 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera | Resolution: 4032 x 3024 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | Battery: 4 hours

We weren't expecting this tech product to be this good, but the Meta Ray-Ban smart glasses are our top wearables that launched this year. They're much lighter and more comfortable to wear than the previous model. And the charging cradle actually looks like a premium Ray-Ban carrying case.

The audio playback on these is also surprisingly crisp, with an immersive sound to get you in the groove without disturbing those around you.

Review: Meta's $299 Ray-Ban smart glasses may be the most useful gadget I've tested all year

Wan said the photos and videos he's captured on these glasses are comparable to the ones from his phone.

"That's fantastic for me because I'm able to interact and test products (especially at briefings and demos) like I normally would without needing to hold a camera," he said.

Price: $379

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Over-Ear Headphones features: Weight: 8.96 oz (254 g) | Battery life: 24 hours | Bluetooth: Yes (5.3) | Multipoint: Yes

Building upon Bose's popular QuietComfort models, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones improve on the high and low frequencies so that, even at low volumes, the layering of vocals and instrumentals is discernible.

Plus, this model has a new wind noise reduction feature, so gusts of wind won't disrupt your podcast or while you're making a phone call.

Review: Bose QuietComfort Ultra review: A rightful heir to the ANC throne

ZDNET associate editor Jada Jones said these headphones are "undeniably the best that Bose has to offer."

"I love their comfort and design, and the noise-canceling is the best on the market," she said.

Price: $80

GE Cync Neon Light Strips features: Voice Control: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | Lumens: 150 lumens

Sure, smart bulbs are cool, but in 2023, we were more impressed with smart light strips. These ones from GE Cync let you shape them into whatever you want, which makes them perfect for a kids' room, office, or game room.

"What I love the most about these is the fact that they don't fail; they're seamlessly smart and never disconnect, work flawlessly with Alexa, and you can customize the colors however you want," Diaz said.

Choose from millions of vibrant colors, between warm, amber light tones (2000K) and cool, bluish tones (7000K). Unlike Philips Hue smart lights, you don't need a hub for these to work; you just need the Cync app and a Wi-Fi connection.

How did we choose these products?

To compile this list, we asked ZDNET writers and editors what their favorite products they reviewed/purchased were in 2023. We only considered products we actually used and would recommend to our friends and family to buy.

Were all these products released in 2023?

All of these products were released this year. However, we also included some products at the bottom that are some of our favorites from past years.  

What are some other top tech products worth considering?

Here are a few of our favorite products from previous years we would recommend as gifts for yourself or someone else.

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