Objects of Desire: The 10 Coolest Tech Gadgets You Can Buy in 2021
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When it comes to tech gadgets, the coolest ones will always stop you in your tracks. You find yourself wanting them even if you suspect you don’t absolutely need them. But even if you don’t need them, it’s nice to treat yourself from time to time, and the best gadgets will still be incredibly useful and make your life easier.

And with our list of the coolest tech gadgets, we sought to find devices that fit this bill. Maybe they’re not as essential to your day-to-day life as a smartphone or a laptop, but they’re the products you lust after; they’re the ones you end up blowing your tax refund on.

Whether that’s a new gaming console like the Nintendo Switch, a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2 or a robovac like the iRobot Roomba, these products are the statement items that you’ll tell your friends about the next time you talk to them, or show off when you have people visiting.

So if you’re looking for ideas on cool tech gadgets to splurge on, keep scrolling to see our picks.

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1. Nintendo Switch

When it comes to imagination, there are few who could have dreamt up the Nintendo Switch as a concept, let alone predicted the insane levels of success the little console would enjoy. Part-traditional gaming console, part-handheld console, this hybrid device can connect to your TV or exist as a self-contained unit when you’re out of the house. If you’re with a friend, you can detach the Joy-Cons from the unit and each can function as its own controller. And carrying on the legacy of the Wii, there are even games that make great use of motion controls.

Say what you want about any of the Xbox and Playstation consoles: Yes, they’ve often had the best and biggest games from developers around the world. They’ve been at the forefront of game-centric innovation and cutting-edge technology. But, not a single feature on those consoles is as fun as the ones you’ll find on the Nintendo Switch.

a circuit board: nintendo switch © Provided by SPY nintendo switch Buy: Nintendo Switch $299.99 ??

2. Google Nest Mini

As one of the first companies to make artificial intelligence and voice recognition technology available to the average person, Google is still the top dog when it comes to voice assistants and smart home platforms. And perhaps its most radical move was the Nest Mini, a small and cheap speaker that is fully imbued with the powers to command your smart home.

Once you get used to the particular ways of interacting with a voice assistant, it’s rare when you have to raise your voice or repeat yourself to get the Nest Mini to understand you, even when you’re on the other side of the room, half-asleep at 1 a.m., telling it to turn off the lights, shut off the TV and lock the doors.

Google Nest Mini © Provided by SPY Google Nest Mini ??

3. Oculus Quest 2

Virtual reality might be taking its time to have its ‘iPhone moment,’ but it is still very much the next big thing when it comes to consumer technology. And there is not a single VR device that flashes that promise more than the Oculus Quest 2. Without the need for a powerful computer or special equipment, you can simply strap the Quest 2 to your head, pick up the controllers and move freely in VR space thanks to its inside out technology, which uses cameras on the outside of the headset to track your movement in the space around you.

In a time where we don’t have many places to escape to, the Oculus Quest 2 offers up an infinite number of destinations . . . even if they’re only virtual.

a close up of a box: Oculus Quest 2 VR Headset © Provided by SPY Oculus Quest 2 VR Headset Buy: Oculus Quest 2 $299.00 ??

4. Philips Hue Bulb with Dimmer

When it comes to smart home gear, using a Philips Hue bulb for the first time is akin to eating a really nice steak, or sipping an expensive whisky: Once you try it, you don’t want to go back to the ordinary stuff. And though this bulb may cost $50, it gives you the perfect taste of what the smart home is really about. Simply screw this bulb into any light socket, pair it with your phone (or speaker that is powered by Google Assistant/Alexa), and prepare to be impressed by the fact that you can control your lighting from anywhere in the home with your phone or voice (or the included wireless dimmer that can magnetically mount to your wall).

Want to turn your kitchen bright green? Pastel pink? Deep Purple? Go for it. Want to dim the lights in a nice soft white glow? You can do that too. Sure it’s just one bulb, but it will have you imagining the possibilities of what you can do with multiple bulbs, a Philips Hue bridge, a few more smart speakers, a smart lock, a video doorbell . . .

(You get the point.)

graphical user interface © Provided by SPY Buy: Philips Hue Bulb ??

5. Anker Nebula Capsule Max

Typically when you think of home theater projectors, you assume they require an overly involved installation process and a PhD-level knowledge of gear to set it all up. But we are in an era where you can pull out the Anker Nebula Mars II. Barely bigger than a soda can, you can point it at a wall, and have it projecting an 80-inch, HD version of your favorite Netflix movie with minimal effort.

Will this replace your fancy 65-inch 4K HDR TV? Absolutely not. But for those moments when you’re really craving that movie theater experience (and really, who hasn’t over the last year?), this projector can provide a nice reminder of what that was like.

a close up of a speaker: Anker Nebula Capsule II © Provided by SPY Anker Nebula Capsule II Buy: Anker Nebula Capsule Max $469.99 ??

6. RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger

Wireless charging is a technology that in many ways sums up the essence of many of the cool gadgets on this list: It seems like an unnecessary luxury on paper, but you don’t realize how damn useful it can be until you start living with it. Wireless Qi charging pads like the RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger don’t scream excitement at first. But put one next to the couch, next to the bed and on your desk at work. Over time, notice how many times a day you start throwing your phone and wireless earbuds on it. Sure it might only save you a few seconds over plugging a cable in, but over the span of five to 10 years, that’s a convenience that will add up to a lot of saved time.

a close up of a phone: ravpower fast wireless charger © Provided by SPY ravpower fast wireless charger Buy: RAVPower Fast Wireless Charger $22.99 ??

7. Tile Pro Bluetooth Trackers (2-Pack)

Bluetooth trackers have been an interesting concept for the last decade, but it’s only recently that the technology has truly caught up with the idea. In their infancy, Tile trackers could give you a general sense of where you left your keys or purse or phone. But as Bluetooth continues to evolve, you can now track a lost item with an unnerving level of accuracy and even call upon others to help you find a lost item.

The best tile trackers can give you live updates on the location of an object you’re looking for, as long as you’re within 400 feet. And if you’re no longer within range, it will tell you the last known location of the object, as well as notify any other tile users who come within range of it to contact you. Best of all, these trackers even have ringers on them so you can remotely trigger them to help you find that phone buried under a blanket.

a close up of a device © Provided by SPY Buy: Tile Pro Bluetooth Trackers $49.99 ??

8. iRobot Roomba 614

When you think of the future, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For more than a few of you, the answer was probably robots. The idea of robots being able to do all the tedious day-to-day tasks we don’t want to is a fantasy that has been around nearly as long as the light bulb itself. But in the last two decades, that daydream has resulted in some extremely cool tech gadgets, and the most fully-realized of these robots is the humble robovac.

Roomba was the first big robotic vacuum company to burst on the scene with a functional product, and in 2021, they’re still at the top of their game with the Roomba 614. From the first time you charge it up and turn it on, this thing can map out a room all on its own, figure out the most efficient way to clean your floors, learn what objects and areas of the house to avoid, and return to its base when its battery is running low. Sure, you may need to use an actual vacuum every now and then for a deep clean, but for regular weekly cleaning, this thing makes life so much easier.

a close up of a speaker: iRobot Roomba 614 Robot Vacuum © Provided by SPY iRobot Roomba 614 Robot Vacuum Buy: iRobot Roomba 614 $199.00 ??

9. The Ridge RFID Wallet

The Ridge is best known for its minimalist approach to wallets, but what makes these wallets one of the coolest tech gadgets around is their ability to block radio frequency identification signals (RFID), otherwise known as near-field communication (NFC). Because these communications technologies are housed in things like our credit cards and office keycards, hackers have created devices in recent years which can swipe that data from your card when it’s sitting in your back pocket. The Ridge’s wallets block these radio frequencies so that hackers cannot access them. This is a huge benefit for anyone who worries about having their identities stolen.

Although this carbon fiber version is the priciest version you can buy, we love the overall look and matte finish. And weighing in at only 1.6 ounces, you won’t find a lighter wallet from The Ridge.

a circuit board: ridge carbon fiber wallet © Provided by SPY ridge carbon fiber wallet ??

10. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is the oldest device on this list and it really says something that after eight years, it’s still one of the coolest tech gadgets you can buy. Sure it’s received a few upgrades over the years (mainly to the display), but it’s functionally the same device it was when it first appeared. And that functionality is to put an entire library’s worth of books into the palm of your hand. We mean that literally: Not only can this thing store thousands of texts, but you can also sync it up with your local library account and digitally check out books.

But what we love most is how seamlessly it all comes together. The hardware itself is light and easy to hold, which ensures you won’t get hand fatigue after a few hours of reading. The 6-inch e-ink touchscreen is responsive and easy on the eyes, which is essential for navigating the various facets of the Kindle software (reader, library, store). The Kindle Paperwhite may be considered a niche device, but it’s the best sort of niche device: one that actually makes life easier.

text: Kindle Paperwhite © Provided by SPY Kindle Paperwhite Buy: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite $129.99 ??
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