The hottest personal gadgets, according to the technorati, run the gamut. The ubiquitous smartphone tends to anchor digital life, but beyond those trusty rectangles, in slab or folding form, there are more choices than ever — and those in the know reach for everything from tried and true accessories to cutting-edge hardware.
Karinna Grant’s must-have device befits her role as co-chief executive officer of The Dematerialised, a virtual fashion marketplace based in London. “[It’s] my Ledger Nano X, a hardware crypto wallet where I keep my digital fashion NFTs safe — which is on brand,” she says, laughing.
Introduced at CES 2019 and launched in 2022, Ledger’s Bluetooth-enabled Nano X packs a crypto hardware wallet into a compact form that looks like a thumb drive. It’s capable of securing more than 5,500 coins and NFTs, allowing users to manage their crypto from their phones.
For Neha Singh, CEO of virtual retail platform Obsess, there’s a twist: To help run an operation that builds future-forward immersive digital shopping experiences for fashion, beauty and other brands, the high-powered executive relies on older tech: her classic wired earbuds from Apple.
“I still use them for all of my meetings, because I can’t trust the Bluetooth buds to last all day,” she explains. “[But] some people ask me on video calls, ‘Oh, you’re still using that?’”
Perhaps they didn’t notice Gen Z’s fascination with the corded i-accessory, which powered a tech nostalgia trend that ushered in 2022. The headphones aren’t as antiquated as one might think — Apple still sells them online and in stores for a fraction of the price of its wireless versions.
In his work at IDC’s devices and displays team, research director Ramon Llamas may track a lot of gizmos, but the one he finds essential in his personal life is his Google Pixel smartwatch.
“I like the Fitbit health and fitness features to keep me in shape, and because I’ve been a Fitbit user for years, there was no learning curve for me,” he says. “I also like the Google-branded applications and experiences — Wallet, Home, Maps and YouTube Music — that I use regularly. These make life convenient, so that I don’t have to reach for my phone or wallet. And because it’s LTE-enabled, I can leave my phone at home to charge up and still be connected.”
The long-awaited Pixel Watch, announced in October, pays off Google’s Fitbit $2.1 billion acquisition in 2019, integrating the quantified fitness platform into its WearOS device. The wearable features scratch-resistant 3D glass, with jewelry-inspired stainless-steel finishes and an array of available straps. Owners can customize the watch faces and interface to track fitness, run Google apps, manage a smart home, pay for goods and more. The watch works best with Pixel smartphones, but pairs with any Android running version 8 or later. The Google Pixel Watch, as featured, retails for $349 (Bluetooth/Wifi) and $399 (4G/LTE).
When it comes to gadgets, 2022 brought a slew of new devices, along with a resurgence of old ones, to vie for your consideration, including:
Apple Watch Ultra
Active users may favor the rugged Ultra model over the Series 8, with its larger, brighter screen, longer battery life and more pronounced buttons, while others will favor the latter’s more elegant, sleeker profile, especially in the Hermès edition. But in terms of functionality, they offer similar features and performance, making it a somewhat subjective choice. Of course, if crash detection and a skin temperature sensor — the new models’ most notable changes — don’t matter much, the company still carries the previous Series 7, as well as the Watch SE and, inexplicably, the Watch Series 3. In any case, for iPhone owners, there’s no better way to add smarts to the wrist.
Meta Quest Pro
The virtual reality headset caused a stir this fall, mainly due to its hefty $1,500 price tag. But it’s not aimed at consumers — it’s targeting companies and developers. Still, well-heeled early adopters may find it hard to resist, as the device is the company’s most advanced VR hardware to date. The tech company is risking it all on VR, mixed reality and the metaverse, as it contends with critics, worried investors and financial challenges that just excised 11,000 staffers. The Pro offers the best glimpse of what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has in mind, at least for people who don’t mind shelling out for it. Others may want to pick up a consumer-oriented Quest 2, which is still on offer, or wait for the Quest 3.
And, as a special mention …
Stand-alone Digital Cameras
File this in the “what’s old is new again” category: Gen Z’s fascination with yester-year continued in 2022, as stars from Charlie D’Amelio to Dua Lipa hit the feeds with point-and-shoot cameras. So, although relics like the Sony Cybershot DSC-W220 (above) aren’t new, they seem to be this year’s Instax camera.
If you’re worried about taking bad snapshots without the help of Apple, Google or Samsung’s camera software, don’t be. Apparently raw, unfiltered shots, even with bad lighting, are not only forgivable, but actually add to “authenticity” cred. So with the holidays coming up, feel free to snap away.