May 18, 2021

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The Best and Biggest Gadgets You Should Know About This Month

17 min read

Spring is here, and so are the gadgets! This April was host to Apple’s first major event of the year, which brought the announcement of its long-awaited “AirTags” but plenty of other gadgets came out this month as well. Here are the highlights you should know about.

AirTags

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Apple

Apple has finally announced the tiny item-tracking device that has been rumored for over a year and which works in its Find My network. It’s called AirTag and it’s a little circular gadget that you can place on your keys, in your wallet or stick them on your devices.

A single AirTag costs $29. A four-pack costs $99. They will be available on April 30.

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Apple TV 4K (with a new remote)

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Apple

Apple announced a new updated version of its Apple TV 4K that comes with an all-new remote. The updated Apple TV 4K has a faster processor and supports high frame-rate HDR. It can also adjust the color balance of your TV so that whatever you’re watching looks best. The redesigned remote that ships with the new Apple TV 4K has a new five-way touch controller instead of the trackpad, a dedicated power button to turn on/off your TV, and the Siri button has been moved to the side of the controller.

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Colorful M1 iMacs

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Apple

Apple announced new iMacs that are decked out with its M1 processing chip, 24-inch display, a thinner design, a smaller base, a 1080p webcam, improved microphones and better speakers (that support Dolby Atmos). The new iMac will be available in seven new colors, too, including red, white, blue, green, purple, orange and yellow.

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iPad Pro 2021 (M1)

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Apple

Apple announced new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with its M1 chip, as well as a new Thunderbolt USB-C port, support for 5G and a significantly improved camera system. The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a new Liquid Retina XDR display, similar to the Apple Pro XDR display. The 11-inch model of the M1 iPad Pro will not have this fancy new screen.

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HyperJuice Magnetic Wireless Battery Pack

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This is a 5,000mAh portable battery that magnetically clips to the back of the iPhone 12. It charges via USB-C, however it does not support the super fast 15-watt wireless charging that MagSafe promises; it tops out at 7.5-watts of wireless charging speeds.

Price: $40

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Naim Audio Mu-so 2 Wood Edition

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Naim Audio released the Mu-so 2, the second generation model of its all-in-one wireless speaker, back in 2019. Compared to the original Mu-so, it has six new individually amplified drivers, a new processor with 10 times the power, the ability to stream tracks up to 32bit/384kHz. It has support for AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Tidal, Spotify Connect, Roon, and Bluetooth, all topped off with HDMI ARC and optical connections so you can use it as a soundbar. Now Naim has released a special edition version of the Mu-so 2 that has a wood exterior (instead of steel) and a golden hue. It costs $600 more than the standard Mu-so 2.

(Check out our original review of the Mu-so 2, here.)

Price: $2,290

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Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold

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Xiaomi announced its first ever foldable smartphone this week. The Mi Mix Fold shares a similar look and feel to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold. It can fold inward and vertically, which allows you can use it like a traditional smartphone, or you can unfold it and use it as bonafide tablet. Additionally, it has a number of the specs you’d expect in a premium smartphone, such as a snappy processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 888), a fancy camera system, a beautiful OLED display and support for wireless charging. The catch? It’s only available in China right now.

Price: TBA

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Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal

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The Beoplay Portal is a luxury gaming headset (B&O’s first) that’s designed to work perfectly with all Xbox consoles (Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One) thanks to the Xbox Wireless protocol. There’s no boom microphone, either, which means that the Beoplay Portal, with its built-in Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, can be paired with your smartphone or computer when you’re not gaming and used as wireless noise-canceling headphones.

Price: $499

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Pioneer DJ VM Series of Active Monitors

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Pioneer DJ announced a new line of active near-field speaker monitors that are designed to emulate the sound of a studio or club, but in your own space. There are three different-sized models: VM-50 ($169), VM-70 ($229) and VM-80 ($289). Each speaker will be decked out with a 4 mm-thick aluminum front baffle, Class D amplifier, Aramid fiber cones and Vortex Bass Accelerator, all of which, according to the company, are designed to “accurately reproduces sounds, including deep low-end frequencies while cutting out unwanted vibrations.” Each model will be available in early April.

Price: $169+

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Casio GSW-H1000 Smartwatch

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The Casio GSW-H1000 is the company’s first G-Shock smartwatch that runs on Google’s Wear OS. (It’s also the first G-Shock smartwatch with a color display.) As with Casio’s previous G-Shock smartwatches, the GSW-H1000 is super rugged, with excellent shock- and water-resistance, and comes with all the necessary sensors (GPS, compass, heart-rate, accelerometer, gyrometer and altitude sensor) as well activity-specific tracking features you’d expect from a premium sport smartwatch. It will be available in the middle of May.

Price: $699

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Belkin Magnetic Phone Mount with Face Tracking

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This isn’t a wireless charging stand. Belkin’s new phone mount is designed to work with the latest iPhones, as it uses MagSafe to magnetically hold it in place. What makes it super unique is that uses face tracking (via Belkin’s companion app) and a 360-degree rotating base so that your iPhone’s camera can follow you as you walk around your room; it’s feels similar to what the Amazon’s new Echo Show 10 can do with its own rotating base. It seems like the ideal little gadget for people making videos on TikTok or YouTube, however, it won’t work with certain video calling apps, such as FaceTime or Zoom.

Price: $65

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Cambridge Audio Evo

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Cambridge Audio’s Evo is a high-end streaming amplifier that can basically do it all — you just need to add speakers. It supports pretty much every sort of streaming you’d want (including AirPlay 2, Chromecast,Qobuz, Roon Ready, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect and Bluetooth). And its HDMI ARC connection means you can you use it as your home theater’s hub. Also, it’s beautiful. The Evo has a 6.8-inch display to show album artwork, a wonderfully large volume knob, and its wooden trim is the cherry on top.

The Evo comes in two models. The Evo 75 ($2,250) is rated at 75 watts per channel and the Evo 150 ($3,000) at 150 watts per channel.

Price: $2,250

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Nomad MagSafe Mount for iPhone 12

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This is Nomad’s latest accessory for people who have an iPhone 12 and Apple’s MagSafe Charger. The MagSafe Mount is a weighted desktop accessory that holds Apple’s MagSafe Charger in place so that when you pick up your iPhone 12, the charger doesn’t come with it. Its stainless steel body weighs in at right around one pound.

Price: $50

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Fujifilm Instax Mini 40

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The Instax Mini 40 is the Fujifilm’s latest entry-level instant film camera. Like the Instax Mini 11 before it, the Instax Mini 40 is fairly straightforward and simple shooter. It has two main frills: a flash and a pop-out zoom lens (for selfie photos). The big selling point compared to the Instax Mini 11 is that the Instax Mini 40 definitely looks more like a vintage film camera. but that retro vibe comes at $30 price hike.

Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 40 will be available for purchase at the April.

Price: $100

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Samsung Galaxy A Series

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Samsung just announced its 2021 series of Galaxy A smartphones, which are essentially way more affordable alternatives to the company’s flagship Galaxy S21. They have less premium builds and generally not-as-great camera systems, but they actually don’t skimp out on that many flagship-level features. The three new Galaxy A smartphones that you should know about are: the Galaxy A32 5G ($280), the Galaxy A42 5G ($400) and the Galaxy A52 5G ($400). All three have basically the same design; a rear triple camera system (at least); and, as you can likely tell by their names, they all support 5G. They’re some of the most affordable 5G smartphones that you can buy.

Price: $280+

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THX Onyx

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THX, the brand best known for movie theater sound, has released its first-ever hardware product. The Onyx is a portable headphone amplifier and DAC combo that’s meant to plug into your smartphone or laptop and bring the best sound out of your wired headphones. It has a USB-C connection so you’ll be able to use with most new age smartphones or laptops; you’ll need a Lightning dongle if you have an iPhone.

Price: $200

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Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro

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This is Ring’s most advanced outdoor floodlight camera ever. It’s basically a more advanced version of the company’s first Floodlight Cam. It adds a new radar sensor that enables new 3D motion detection and “Bird’s Eye View”, just like the recently released Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2, which this allows it to better detect and even create a top-down map of the movement (within the app). When motion is detected, the high-powered LED lights will kick on and light up your backyard.

It’s available for preorder right now and will be available everywhere in early May.

Price: $250

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JBL 4309 Bookshelf Speakers

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The JBL 4309 studio monitors are essentially smaller and more affordable versions of the company’s high-end 4349 studio monitors, which run for $7,500. Each 4309 loudspeaker is decked out with the company’s 1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch mid-bass driver and twin-firing reflex ports, so that it sounds as dynamic as its larger sibling. And each speaker looks stunning, with a blue baffle, wooden veneer (either walnut or black walnut) and cloth grille — they’ve already been given a 2021 Red Dot Design Award. The JBL 4309 studio monitors will be available for purchase this June.

Price: $2,000/pair

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Canon EOS R3

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Canon announced the development of the EOS R3, the company’s most high-end mirrorless camera to date that’s most definitely aimed to compete against the Nikon z9. It will be the first EOS series camera to be equipped with the company’s new 35mm full-frame, back illuminated, stacked CMOS sensor. It will also have a DIGIC X image processor “for high-speed image processing that realizes high-speed continuous shooting of up to 30 frames-per-second.” And, according to the released photo (above), it will have a pretty robust body with a built-in vertical hand grip. No price or release date have been announced.

Price: TBA

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Roku Voice Remote Pro

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Roku announced three different new(ish) products this week. There’s its new entry-level 4K player, the Express 4K Plus, which replaces the Roku Premiere. There’s the Streambar Pro, which is basically a renamed version of the Smart Soundbar (now defunct). And, most notably, there’s the Roku Voice Remote Pro. It’s the first Roku remote that comes with a rechargeable battery and offers hands-free “Hey Roku” voice commands. It also comes with a headphone jack and a dedicated button for Apple TV+. The Roku Voice Remote Pro costs $30 and will work with any Roku TV or streaming device.

Price: $30

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Beosound Emerge

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Bang & Olufsen’s newest high-end wireless speaker, the Beosound Emerge, is designed to blend in with the other books on your bookshelf (although it kind of looks a little like a shrunk down version of the Flatiron building). It’s a relatively small powered speaker supports a number of wireless connectivities, including AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Chromecast and Bluetooth. It can be set up to work as a smart speaker that responds to “Hey Google” voice commands, too. It will be available this fall in either black or gold (the latter will cost an extra $200).

Price: $699+

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Spotify Car Thing

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Spotify

Spotify has officially announced its first-ever gadget. It’s called Car Thing (yes, really) and it’s essentially a glorified Spotify remote for people who have cars with no built-in Bluetooth. The other feature that makes it better than just using your smartphone to control your Spotify music in your car is voice control — it responds to “Hey Spotify” voice commands to play sounds or playlists, as well as play/pause and skip tracks. In addition to voice commands, you can control Car Thing via its navigation buttons, large knob and touchscreen.

Car Thing is a very limited device, but the cool thing is that Spotify is offering it to Spotify Premium subscribers for free — but you have to apply for one through Spotify and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get one.

Price: Free (plus shipping)

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Microsoft Modern Webcam

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Microsoft’s newest webcam is a pretty basic option. It supports an HD video (not 4K) and connects to your computer via USB-A (not USB-C). It comes with a privacy shutter and has a built-in LED light that will indicate when it’s on. If you’re looking for a fairly affordable option that will upgrade your laptop or desktop setup, this looks to be a solid option. It will be available this June.

Price: $70

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DJI Air 2S

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The DJI Air 2S is the next-generation version of the DJI Air 2 that was announced last year. The big upgrade is that the Air 2S has a 1-inch sensor, which is twice the size of Air 2’s size and similar to the sensor in the company’s flagship Mavic 2 Pro, allowing the Air 2S to take much higher-resolution photos. It can also shoot better video, 4K at up to 60fps instead of the Air 2’s 4K at up to 30fps. The big downside? The DJI Air 2S is $200 more expensive than the DJI Air 2.

Price: $999+

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

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The all-new Surface Lap 4 has the exact same design as the 2019-released Surface Laptop 3. The big difference is that Microsoft is allowing you to choose which processor you want: either an 11th-generation Intel processor or AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series. The advantage of the AMD processor is that it promises incredible battery life (up to 19 hours). The Intel models are a little more expensive and don’t get the same battery life, but improved performance and, thanks Intel’s Iris Xe graphics card, better graphics.

Price: $999+

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Plugable USB-C Voltage and Amperage Meter

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If you’re interested in finding out how much power your device is getting while it’s charging, this $30 accessory is exactly what you want. It connects between your device and your USB-C charging cable, and then measures the voltage, amperage and the directional flow of the electrical current — and it shows you what’s happening in real time. And don’t worry, it won’t affect data transfer of your USB-C cable.

Price: $30

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Anker PowerConf C300 Webcam

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Anker is getting into the webcam market. The PowerConf C300 is a 1080p webcam that connects to your computer via USB-A. The neat thing about it is that Anker has integrated an AI chip that enables what the company is calling “smart framing,” which allows the webcam to keep you in focus as you move around the screen. The PowerConf C300 is available right now.

Price: $130

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Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Generation)

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Amazon has announced the second-generation versions of its 2019-released Echo Buds. The company claims that the new wireless earbuds have a 20-percent smaller design and they have improved active noise-cancellation (but they’re not Bose branded like the first-generation Echo Buds). They also support USB-C charging instead of micro-USB. Also, similar to Apple’s AirPods, you’ll be able to purchase the new Echo Buds with or without a wireless charging case. They’ll cost $120 or $140 with the wireless charging case, but right now Amazon is running a promotion, dropping each for $20 — that’s right, you can get the new wireless earbuds for $100.

Price: $100+

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Urbanista Los Angeles ANC

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The coolest thing about Urbanista’s new wireless noise-canceling headphones, the Los Angeles ANC, is that there’s a chance you never have to plug them in to charge. Yep, they’re solar powered. The headphones are made of a Powerfoyle solar cell material that can charge with any kind of light — even ambient light — so you don’t have to be wearing them outside on a sunny day. The headphones will cost around $200, although there’s no word yet on when they’ll be available.

Price: ~ $200

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Bowers & Wilkins PI7

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Bowers & Wilkins announced its first two pairs of wireless earbuds this week. There’s the PI5 ($249) and the PI7 ($399). Both models deliver active noise-cancellation and have a wireless charging case. The main difference is that the flagship models, the PI7, support higher-resolution audio (it supports Bluetooth AptX Adaptive streaming) and packs a 9.2mm driver unit that’s modeled after the company’s high-end loudspeakers. Maybe the most interesting thing about the PI7 is that their charging case can double as a Bluetooth transmitter (it comes with a 3.5mm and USB jack) in case you want to listen to your wireless earbuds on an in-flight entertainment system or a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth, like a Nintendo Switch.

Price: $399

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Fitbit Luxe

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Fitbit Luxe is the company’s newest fitness tracker and it’s designed as “luxury” or fashion-forward gadget. It works and looks similar to the company’s other thin fitness tracker, the Inspire 2, but the Luxe adds an AMOLED display – it’s the company’s first fitness tracker with a color display, just like it’s more expensive smartwatches — and a stainless steel casing, which you can get in either gold, silver or black. It has some more advanced tracking abilities, such as skin temperature and stress levels, as well as the more entry-level abilities, like tracking steps, calories, heart rate and sleep.

The Fitbit Luxe is available for preorder now, with shipping to start later in May.

Price: $150

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Polaroid Go

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The Polaroid Go is the company’s newest entry-level instant camera — and it’s tiny. Weighing just over half a pound, it’s about the size a small portable speaker or medium-sized. But despite it’s diminutive size, the Polaroid Go still packs all the same features as last year’s Polaroid Now, including flash, a built-in timer, and a button that shoots double exposures. It also has a new reflective selfie mirror for, well, shooting selfies. The Polaroid Go uses smaller instant film than most of the company’s other instant cameras, however.

It’s available for preorder now for $100, or bundled with film for an extra $20.

Price: $100

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Sony ‘Silent White’ WH-1000XM4

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Sony

To date, Sony has offered its flagship noise-canceling headphones, the WH-1000XM4, in black or silver colors. This week it added a third color: “silent white.” It’s a true white that, despite its pristine look, Sony promises is very stain resistant. Aside from the look, it boasts the same internals and sound quality as all other WH-1000XM4 headphones. The silent white color will cost you about $50 extra and be available (as a limited edition release) this summer.

Price: $399

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Epos H3 Gaming Headset

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The Epos H3 is a wired gaming headset that’s compatible with the latest PlayStation and Xbox consoles (as well as previous generation), as well as the Nintendo Switch and PC. At $119, it’s relatively affordable considering it adds plush ear pads, a large and satisfying volume dial, and a high-quality boom microphone. It’s available in either white or black models.

Price: $119

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Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 28

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Bang & Olufsen

Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 28 is a pair of luxury floorstanding speakers that promise excellent sound and copious connectivity options. Each speaker has three 3” full range drivers, a 1” tweeter on the front, and a down-firing subwoofer, and they’re packed with technologies that allow you to calibrate the sound to your specific room. The speakers support AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth, as well as wired connections such as Ethernet and line-in/optical. The other cool thing is that the speakers come with a replaceable connectivity module, which the company claims make them essentially future-proof.

Price: $14,750/pair

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Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360

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Samsung

Samsung announced two new Galaxy Books this week. There’s the Galaxy Book Pro, which is a traditional laptop, and the Galaxy Book Pro 360, which is a convertible laptop with a touchscreen display. Both are Windows-powered machines that are optimized for people with one of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones (thanks to having support for apps like Samsung SmartThings and Samsung Notes). The biggest upgrade with both is that they are the first Galaxy Books with OLED displays, so they should be brighter with more contrast (aka better for watching movies!).

Both new Galaxy Books are available for preorder right now. They’re expected to ship on May 14.

Price: $1,000 (Pro); 1,200 (Pro 360)

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Simplehuman Cleanstation

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Simplehuman

Simplehuman is best known for its excellent and well designed (and yes, expensive) trash cans, and the company has taken that same ethos and integrated into its first-ever UV smartphone sanitizer. The Cleanstation works kind of like a toaster; you place your smartphone into the top, it automatically lowers, sanitizers and (30 seconds later) rises up a clean smartphone. Its UV light chamber sanitizes all around the smartphone, so you don’t have to sanitize each side separately. And it’s available in three aluminum finishes: brushed, slate or white.

Price: $200

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AudioQuest JitterBug FMJ

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AudioQuest

AudioQuest’s latest gadget, the JitterBug FMJ, is a noise filter that plugs into the USB port on your smartphone or computer and significantly reduces the noise that is inherent to all USB ports. It’s designed to act as a liaison between your device and external DAC, and help your music sound cleaner and clearer. It also has a metal exterior (FMJ stands for “full metal jacket”) so it should be a more durable and higher-quality version of the company’s existing JitterBug.

Price: $60

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Twelve South Forté

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Twelve South

Twelve South announced a new wireless charging stand, the Forté, that fully supports MagSafe. This means that when connected to an iPhone 12, the Forté will be able to fast charge it at 15 watts, which is twice as fast as any wireless charger that doesn’t support MagSafe. The other cool thing is that the magnetic puck can be rotated flat and thus turn into a wireless charger for your AirPods or AirPods Pro.

Price: $40

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Nomad Base Station Mini

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Nomad

Nomad announced a smaller and more affordable of its Base Station wireless charging pad. The Base Station Mini looks almost identical to the company’s existing wireless chargers — a combination of metal and leather — but it’s only large enough to charge one wireless device at a time. It’s powered by USB-C and as an integrated LED that lights up to let you know when it’s charging. It costs $60, but you’ll need a separate 20-watt USB-C wall adapter to get the most out of it because Nomad doesn’t include one. (Nomad can bundle its own USB-C adapter for an extra $14.)

Price: $60

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PopSockets PopGrip Slide Stretch

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If you’ve been frustrated by the fact that PopSockets’s grips haven’t worked with the newest iPhones (because of their flat sides), well, you’ve not been alone. Fortunately, the company has announced an updated version of its PopGrip Slide Stretch so that it fits the iPhone 12. They don’t have any kind of adhesive and the new PopGrip Slide Stretch can easily slide down your iPhone 12 so you can wireless charge it via MagSafe.

There are several different designs that you can choose from and they all cost just $15.

Price: $15

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Amazon Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 10 Plus

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Amazon announced two new and upgraded versions of its Fire HD tablets this week. There’s the Fire HD 10 and the larger Fire HD Plus, both of which have been updated with brighter screens, slimmer bezels and more RAM, as well as a front-facing camera that’s better positioned for video calls. As per usual, these tablets are designed for people who want a significantly more affordable tablet that an entry-level iPad, which starts at $329.

The Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 10 Plus will cost $150 and $180, respectively. Both are available for preorder right now, with shipping set to start at the end of May.

Price: $150+ (HD 10); $180+ (HD 10 Plus)

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