Here at Review Geek, we’re ready to say goodbye to 2020 and never look back. We’re even more excited to think about 2021 and all of the wonderful gadgets and technological advances it undoubtedly has in store for us. In fact, we got the team together this week to discuss the upcoming tech we’re hoping to see next year.
Some of us have high hopes for specific products and brands and would be thrilled to see a new, more powerful version of a product we already know and love. Others are more focused on more general aspects of technology and are hoping to see what else could be done with a particular idea or gadget.
Either way, we’re excited to see what 2021 has in store for us. Let’s dig in and see the upcoming tech that’s on everyone’s minds.
Cam Summerson, Editor in Chief: Nothing (and Everything)
When we started talking about writing this piece, I struggled to come up with something that I’m excited about for 2021. Over a week later, and I’m still sort of at a loss.
But that’s not because there’s nothing to be excited about—it’s that I think we’re at a really good place with technology right now. Smart home tech has gotten more accessible and more powerful. Smartphones are better than ever. In just one short year, I’ve seen the true wireless earbud market completely transform—there are truly great options out there at every price point. Next gen console gaming is now. M1 Macs are already available. Despite being a mostly not great year in most ways, 2020 has been a good year for tech.
So that puts me in a precarious position. Sure, I’m excited about new tech for 2021—there’s always something to be excited about, after all—but I can’t think of anything in particular. I joined my colleague Michael in a call for a Chromebook Duet 2 because that was my favorite product of 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jabra does with the Elite line because the 85t are the best wireless earbuds on the market right now. But these are both products that I’d be completely fine with if they didn’t have successors in 2021 (which is unlikely, especially for Jabra).
So what am I excited for? Nothing in particular, and everything in general.
Josh Hendrickson, News Lead: Surface Duo 2 (Plus Plugs and Pinball)
As the News Lead at Review Geek, I’m always scouring for the next big tech thing to write up. And Cam’s right; in some ways, there’s not a lot coming just this minute. We’ll see more at CES, but for right now, my list is small. There are a few certainties.
I’m looking forward to the Wyze Outdoor Plug because it’s an incredibly affordable outdoor smart plug from a well-known company. I can’t wait for Arcade1Up’s pinball machine either, which will come someday at some point.
But one thing tops all the rest, and I know absolutely nothing about it—the Surface Duo 2. I don’t even know if that’s the name. For a hot minute, I owned the $1,300 Surface Duo. I spent my cold hard cash because I believed in the vision. And yeah, I knew there would be compromises, but I accepted them. When I finally got the Duo in my hand and turned it on, it made a terrible first impression. But it won me over. Here’s the thing: it’s not a great phone. It’s a fantastic desktop in my pocket. I got more work done thanks to its dual screens, and scouring the news on the go was easier than ever.
Then the USB-C port broke. Or rather, the plastic housing around it snapped off. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t acceptable for a $1,300 phone. It just seems like Microsoft tried to go too thin. And that desire for a slim profile led to too many compromises: no NFC, no wireless charging, no water resistance, a terrible camera. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the literal plastic case breaking into pieces from just plugging my phone in to charge. So I returned my Surface Duo.
Despite those problems, I miss it all the time. I still believe in Microsoft’s vision for a pocketable multitasking powerhouse. I don’t know that Microsoft will come up with a second Surface Duo this year. But that’s how the company usually works. And I’m already saving up to give it a second go-’round when I can.
Michael Crider, Reviews Editor: A 2nd-Gen Lenovo Chromebook Duet
In 2021, I’d like to see a second-generation Lenovo Chromebook Duet. The Duet from last year is great, a near-perfect little tablet computer. But there are a few tweaks I’d made to change it into an even better one, albeit with a slightly higher budget. First of all: extend it to a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio, more like the Surface Go, to make it more comfortable as a tablet when using it without a keyboard.
And speaking of the keyboard, make that a little better, too—the floppy board on the original is its low point. Something closer to the magnetic keyboard seen on the ThinkPad Fold or the old Pixel C tablet would be ideal. I’d add a fingerprint unlock (since Chrome OS doesn’t have face scanning yet), and maybe bump up the screen size just a tad.
Lastly, I’d fix whatever problem kept the monitor output on the USB-C port locked to 1440×900—any modern machine needs at least 1080p support. And I’d want to fit under a $400 price tag, giving Lenovo enough extra budget to bump up those materials and internal components.
Andrew Heinzman, Staff Writer: Inexpensive Wireless Headphones and Earbuds
While there aren’t any specific products that I want to see in 2021, I am excited about the future of cheap wireless headphones and earbuds. Some of the headphones I’ve tested in 2020, like the TaoTronics TT-BH085 headphones and the Aukey EP-N5 earbuds (which I’m writing a review for now) manage pack decent audio quality, effective ANC, and fantastic battery life all for under $100. It’s nice to know that the average person can get a “premium” pair of headphones without breaking the bank, and it makes Christmas shopping a little easier too.
That said, I don’t expect manufacturers to improve the audio quality of their cheap wireless headphones and earbuds. We’ll see improvements in ANC and battery life, which are the quality-of-life features that regular people care about, but people who want to get the best sound for their dollar are better off buying bare-bones wired headphones.
Suzanne Humphries, Freelance Writer: The Chipset Wars
As far as I can tell, the most exciting thing in 2021 will be the chipset wars that are coming. Apple has already shown off the impressive potential of first-party chipsets with their M1 MacBooks. And judging by the construction of said MacBooks, there’s only more hidden potential sure to come, with the possibility of better cooling, RAM, and optimized software.
AMD has also been consistently putting Intel to shame recently, and 2021 looks to be a year we see competition within the gaming laptop market explode, powered by AMDs Zen 3 CPUs and the NVIDIA 3000 series GPUs. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 showed what was possible with these AMD CPUs in the driver’s seat, and building on that foundation promises to bring about a new level of portable powerhouse laptops.
On the mobile side, Samsung is expected to show off a new Exynos system on a chip (SoC) in January. This could move the Galaxy line away from Qualcomm chips and potentially pave the way for more powerful foldable devices that Samsung seems to be heavily investing in as the future of mobile.
Meanwhile, Google is rumored to be working on a first party chip to power their Pixel line, and I for one am crossing my fingers that the rumors are true. I’ve only owned Pixel smartphones since they were first released, so it’s exciting to think that 2021 will likely be the year we see Google truly start to compete as a flagship phone maker.
Lastly, Intel and Qualcomm have been comfortably dominant as the go-to chip makers for years, and even if only half of the rumors and promises are true, it still means that the giants have serious competition and that only spells good fortune for the consumer. Cheers to the year of new chips!
Eric Schoon, Freelance Writer: Upgrading to the GMMK Pro
The GMMK Pro is a keyboard that’s first of its kind, as it brings many of the premium features the mechanical keyboard community has been used to for years now to a larger market. You see, most high-end mechanical keyboards are sold through group buys—a crowdfunding system that works similarly to something like Kickstarter. The stock is always limited, and with how much the community is growing, that’s only becoming a larger problem. But the GMMK Pro is going to be kept in stock continuously, so picking it up once it’s fully released won’t be an issue.
And on top of that, the GMMK Pro is just about my ideal keyboard; the 75% layout is compact yet functional, it’s made from quality materials, the software looks good, and, most importantly to me, it’s hotswappable, so no soldering required when it comes to replacing switches. I’ve been looking for a keyboard with that specific combination of features since I got into mechanical keyboards, and the GMMK Pro seems to be the solution I’ve been looking for. I’m definitely planning on upgrading to it next year.
Not only does the GMMK Pro look like a great keyboard itself, but its mere existence is a positive sign for the market of mechanical keyboards. As the hobby becomes more and more popular, market-available options like the GMMK Pro are a necessity. And while the Pro is the first of its kind, I have a hard time believing it will be the last. I think by the end of the year, we will have seen more companies offer similar keyboards, which can only be a good thing for consumers.
Peter Cao, Freelance Writer: Apple Silicon and High-End Wireless Headphones
As a longtime Mac user, the biggest thing I’m looking forward to in 2021 is more Mac computers switching to Apple Silicon. We’ve already seen what the company can do with its M1 chips on the MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. All three products have insane performance without sipping a ton of battery. Personally, I just want a near-silent 16-inch MacBook Pro with insane battery life and similar performance to the M1 chip.
Opposite from my colleague Andrew, I’m excited to see more high-end wireless headphones and earbuds come to market. Headphones such as the Drop + THX Panda prove that you can provide great high-end wireless headphones without compromising on sound quality.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’m hoping that active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones and earbuds continue to push technological boundaries. Earbuds such as the Jabra Elite 85t and headphones such as the just-announced AirPods Max show hope that you can have excellent ANC with truly great sound.
That said, I’m hoping that great headphones and earbuds continue to come down in price. As an audiophile, I want more people to experience better sound without having to break the bank.
A Final Word…
Well there you have it. From premium headphones and chipsets to pinball machines and foldable mobile devices, we’ve all got tons of gadgets and goodies to look forward to in 2021. Hopefully, there’s some tech you’re looking forward to seeing next year, as well.