While 2021 wasn't 2020 -- there was no global recession and there were fewer restrictions on activity -- it was still a challenging year for companies launching new tech products. The worldwide chip shortage and the supply chain crisis tied the hands of tech companies. Plus, consumers loaded up on so much tech last year that demand wasn't as brisk for some products in 2021. Nevertheless, the bullet train of innovation kept racing forward and there were billions of people buying tickets for a ride.
As we do each year, CNET evaluated the most important products in the biggest categories in consumer tech. Our goal is to find the most recommendable product in each category and subcategory and designate it as the CNET Editors' Choice. The end result is always to provide the clearest and most useful advice to our audience.
The best tech products offer a combination of performance, design and value. All of the products on our list have been rigorously tested by CNET's team of subject matter experts. Also, we don't hand out an Editors' Choice until the product has been in the hands of the general public for at least a week, to make sure there aren't any bugs, glitches or other surprises that didn't show up in our testing.
All of that is what makes the CNET Editors' Choice badge a hallmark of excellence in consumer tech. It's our signal that a product is among the best of breed in its category and is a good value for the money.
In 2021, as the world worked its way toward post-pandemic normalcy, technology continued to remain critical in connecting us virtually so that we could work, collaborate, educate, entertain, socialize and encourage each other from afar. Tech keeps reimagining life, society and the world -- and the transformation continued to accelerate this year.
So here they are, the best products of 2021.
Phones, smartwatches, earbuds
Computers, laptops, gaming
Home entertainment gear
Useful tech for your smart home
Powerful services and software