We covered nearly a hundred products on our YouTube channel in 2020 and countless more here on the site. But while we return all our review units, there are some products we get sad about having to send back — so sad, in fact, that we end up buying them for ourselves (or at least have wishful thoughts about buying them) because we simply can’t live without them.
What follows are some of the gadgets that our staff really liked.
The Galaxy Buds Live (or the Galaxy Beans as they should have been called) aren’t the perfect pair of true wireless headphones, but they fit my specific needs perfectly. That’s because I wanted a pair of earbuds to wear while cycling. So for starters, they couldn’t be too bulky or have a stem that’d catch on the straps of my helmet. Nor did I want a pair of earbuds that were too good at blocking out environmental noise; it’s more important for me to hear incoming traffic than the end of a guitar solo. That turned the Beans’ open-air design from a negative into a positive for me. Throw in a USB-C port and support for wireless charging, and you’re left with my favorite gadget of the year. — Jon Porter, reporter
The Oculus Quest 2 is a big compromise as a platform, since it ties virtual reality directly to the Facebook service. As a gadget, though, it can’t be beat. The Quest 2 is the first piece of consumer VR hardware without a big and obvious compromise. It’s self-contained and can be used without any wires, but you can also plug it into a laptop to play higher-powered games. It’s light enough to wear without hurting your head, although it’s best when tricked out with an alternate head strap and some special short-cord headphones. And it supports some of the best VR games around, including my personal obsession Beat Saber. The Quest 2 isn’t quite the Nintendo Switch of virtual reality — but it’s surprisingly close. — Adi Robertson, senior reporter
Reviewing the new Peloton bike, the Bike Plus, has been a bright spot in a horrifying year. I’m still testing it and working on the review, but the small bugs I’ve found so far don’t take away from the fact that having a place to listen to good music, sweat, and work out all my 2020 frustrations has been incredible. I need an outlet for everything I’m feeling from being cooped up in my apartment. That said, the bike costs nearly $2,500 with a $40 monthly subscription plan attached. It’s a massive cost that is tempting for me to spend, but I do wonder if, when the pandemic wanes, I’ll crave in-person gym experiences again. — Ashley Carman, senior reporter