We get our hands on a lot of tech, electronics and gadgets here at Underscored. You’ll see most of them in full reviews and product roundups. Many are exceptional products, some are mixed bags, and others are straight-up misses.
But what about the devices and accessories that have stood out among the hundreds of products we test? That’s where this guide comes in. These are the coolest tech products we’ve tried. Check back frequently, as we’ll be updating this list regularly.
Sometimes the simplest updates make for the best surprises. That’s how we feel about the Echo Dot with Clock. Honestly, it’s nearly the same as the 3rd Gen Echo Dot, but it adds an LED dot screen to the front to show you the time, a cute animated version of the weather, and even a timer. Do we wish Amazon had updated this with more use cases? Yes. But the addition of the screen with just a few display functions is a winner in our eyes.
When we think about the products we left at our work desks before quarantine, we’re upset we didn’t pack the Base Station Stand by Nomad. This $99.95 wireless charging stand is as stealthy as it is sharp. The all-metal build ensures the stand won’t tip over, and the charging surface is padded leather. There’s an LED light that intelligently dims itself at night, thanks to an ambient light sensor. It can charge at up to 10 watts, and ships with a braided cable and an 18-watt USB-A power adapter. You’re ready to go out of the box.
We called them the best true wireless earbuds — and for good reason. They’re still at the top of the mountain, pumping out music and taking calls. The active noise cancellation function lets you drown out the world and focus on work.
The entry-level smart speaker, which comes in black or white, can fill a room with sound, despite its relatively small rounded square build. And since it’s a Sonos speaker, you can stream your favorite tunes from hundreds of services: Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, Sirius XM and countless others. With the onboard microphones, you get your pick of Alexa or the Google Assistant.
At $60, the PopSockets PopPower Home is slightly costly for a wireless charger, but it’s a necessity if you rock a PopSocket. Our biggest complaint with those handy phone holders or stands is that they block wireless charging. Well, the PopPower Home is a wireless charger with a hole in the center so you can place your phone with a PopSocket on and still charge. It fixes our biggest complaint and likely a big pain point for PopSockets fans.
You might not think a wall charger could be cool, and we felt the same before discovering this tiny charger from Anker. The PowerPort Atom III Slim is extremely thin, but can push out 30 watts. Yes, you read that right. That means fast charging for many devices: iPhone 11, 11 Pro, SE, S20, S10, Pixel 4 and even OnePlus 8. It can also charge the Apple MacBook Air. This was a go-to grab for traveling, and now that we’re working from home, we’re reaching for it even more.
This is the most expensive item on this list, but Samsung’s Sero is seriously impressive. It wowed us at the Consumer Electronics Show, because it’s essentially a QLED TV that lives on a stand and can flip from horizontal to vertical — and you don’t have to move a muscle. Its motor completes the transition. It’s got a 43-inch screen and is just really cool. You can mirror a show on Quibi or a TikTok from your phone, and the Sero will move to the proper orientation for the best viewing.
Yes, we love the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite, but did you know it doesn’t support Bluetooth headphones? Well, AirFly by TwelveSouth is a simple dongle that fixes it in a snap. You’ll plug the AirFly into a headphone jack and connect your Bluetooth earbuds to the AirFly. Problem solved. And this works great on airplanes and at gyms, as well.
The Switch Lite gives you everything you love about the Switch, minus the ability to connect it to a big screen. It comes in fun colors (like aqua or coral) and features a 5.5-inch display. You get all the core controls, such as two joysticks and even a D-pad. The best part: It’s super portable and lets you play from anywhere. It also supports all your favorite Switch games, like Animal Crossing.
For a base price of $329, you get a large amount of value. Let’s run through the main specs: 10.2-inch Retina display, A10 Fusion Chip, iPadOS and 10 hours of battery life. You also get a 1.2-megapixel camera on the front and an 8-megapixel on the back. It supports the Apple Pencil and (finally!) features Smart Connectors.
Going along with the 7th Gen iPad, Logitech’s Combo Touch is the ultimate accessory. It provides you with a rugged case, complete with a slot to hold the Apple Pencil. The stars of the show are the keyboard and trackpad. You can take full advantage of iPadOS and get more done with the iPad.
Want a pair of wireless earbuds that can handle a full workout but offer easy pairing with your iOS? The Powerbeats Pro are exactly that. These true wireless earbuds keep the classic earhook design, but cut the cord that connects them. These offer fast pairing with Apple devices (iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS) and connect fast with Android through the companion app. Sound is well balanced with a strong bass.
This speaker has it all. Durable: check; 360 sound: check; booming bass: check. The UE Boom 3 keeps the vertical cylindrical design and lets you customize the color. It can handle water and dust, offers easy pairing through Bluetooth and will last for more than 12 hours. It’s an easy way to pump up the party.
The most affordable iPhone is a clear winner in our eyes. It has a sharp 4.7-inch Retina HD display — and yes, it’s an LCD, but one of the sharpest we’ve tested. The single-lens camera on the back snaps great shots and supports Portrait Mode. The best thing is the processor inside: It’s powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which is the same chip that powers the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. You get all of this for $399 unlocked.
Looking for a fun and customizable lighting solution? Then Nanoleaf’s Canvas lights deserve a look. Just make sure you have some wall space. These flat square lights stick to the wall with a tiny adhesive strip and connect to each other easily. You can set these up in almost any pattern — we even made a Baby Yoda with 46 panels. Any way you cut it, the Nanoleaf Canvas lights are a fun way to spice up your room.
Amazon’s Fire TV brand is likely a recognizable name, and the Stick is likely a familiar product. The Fire TV Stick 4K is an affordable and pint-sized way to add thousands of channels to your TV. Better yet, it will future-proof you for a while, since this supports full 4K, and it just plugs right into the HDMI port on the back of your TV. You get a remote with Alexa built in, so you can ask for your favorite shows in addition to controlling playback.
DJI’s Mavic Air 2 is the drone to beat so far in 2020. With its ability to detect and avoid objects on its own while following a subject, and its impressive 48-megapixel photos and 8K Hyperlapse videos, all with a flight time of 34 minutes, there’s not much you can’t do with this drone. Did we mention it has a 10-kilometer range? That’s roughly 6.2 miles; we did the math. When you’re ready to get a Mavic Air 2, go with the Fly More bundle ($988; dji.com), as it comes with three batteries, a carrying case, and extra propellers. You save yourself some money in the long run, and you’re able to fly for over 90 minutes out of the box. Pretty impressive.
Samsung’s bean-shaped earbuds, the $169.99 Galaxy Buds Live, feature long battery life, wide-ranging sound and an interesting take on noise cancellation. They also don’t look exactly like normal earbuds: The Buds Live just kind of float in your ears and stay put, thanks to a wing tip at the top of the ear. These don’t fully block out the world around you, but they deliver an open active noise cancellation experience that lets some of the world in. These are perfect for the work-from-home world we are in.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.