While it's typically a bit of a lull when it comes to new tech releases, February has brought us a pretty nice haul of gadget releases and announcements this year. Here are the highlights.
BenQ X1300i 4LED Gaming Projector
BenQ announced the X1300i and it's marketing it as the first true gaming projector that's optimized for the PS5 or Xbox Series X. The 3,000-lumen projector will play 1080p content — so not true 4K content — at extremely low latency (8.3ms@120Hz), which is needed for competitive gamers. Additionally, it has built-in speakers and an Android TV operating system so it functions as any traditional smart TV — but it can create up to a 150-inch screen.
Wyze Bulb Color
It seems like just yesterday that Wyze was known just for its $20 smart home camera, the Wyze Cam, but in the past year (or more) the company has pushed out a line of affordable smart home gadgets. Now, it's announced the Wyze Bulb Color, its first set of color-changing smart bulbs. It works exactly the same as the company's existing Wyze Bulb, but now you can select from nearly infinite — or 16 million, according to the company —colors and temperatures to get your ambiance just right. It works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
Price: $35 (4-pack)
Nomad MagSafe Cases for iPhone 12
Nomad, one of the most popular makers of smartphone cases, announced its first iPhone 12 cases that fully support MagSafe. This means they're fully compatible with MagSafe accessories and can wirelessly fast-charge at up to 15-watts. There are two MagSafe cases that Nomad offers, which are essentially just MagSafe versions of the company's existing and popular Rugged and Rugged Folio lines.
Xbox Wireless Headset
Microsoft has announced a new wireless headset for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The aptly-named Xbox Wireless Headset is basically a way nicer gaming headset than the company's existing Xbox One Stereo and Wired Chat headsets. The earcups are actually rotating volume control dials, similar to the company's noise-canceling Surface Headphones, and there's high-quality boom microphone. Additionally, the headset supports all the latest surround sound technologies, including Dolby Atmos.
The headset is available for pre-order right now and shipping set for March 16. (But beware, these things are selling out fast.)
Amazon Cuckoo Clock
Amazon announced three new products — a cuckoo clock, a smart sticky note printer and a smart nutrition scale — that fall under the company's new "Build It" program. You can't actually buy these products yet, however, because "Built It" is essentially a Kickstarter-like program where if enough customers back a certain product, then it gets made. So, if interested, you can pre-order any one of the previously-mentioned products and, given that it's Amazon and most of these products will likely be fully backed, it'll ship to you in the coming months.
Throwboy 1984 Throw Blanket
While technically not a gadget, this throw blanket is too cool not to mention. It's made by Throwboy, a company that has made a name for itself making pillows and blankets modeled after classic Apple devices (like the first iPhone and iPad), and this specific throw blanket is modeled after Apple's first Macintosh that was released in 1984. Too cool.
Satechi R1 Bluetooth Presentation Remote
Satechi released a Bluetooth clicker that's perfect for controlling presentations on your Mac or iPad. The R1 clicker looks similar to an Apple TV remote (which people admittedly have a love/hate relationship with) but has special buttons to control presentations on PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides and Prezi. It even an integrated laser pointer.
OWC Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C Cable
OWC announced a universal USB-C to USB-C cable that's fully compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 4, USB 3 and, most importantly, Thunderbolt 4. It can basically do anything you need out of a USB-C cable. It can connect and support any USB-C device, whether it's a pair of headphones or a new laptop. It can deliver power up to 100 watts and transfer data up to 40Gb/s. And it can connect your laptop up to an 8K monitor.
Pro-Ject Phono Box RS2
Pro-Ject announced its latest flagship phono preamp, the Phono Box RS2, and it's designed to be paired with Austrian company's higher-end turntables. It's incredibly fine tune-able, with wide gain control and support for both RIAA and DECCA equalization standards. Throw in the fact that it's steel-and-aluminum chassis — it's available in either silver or black — and it's just a great looking audio component for people looking to upgrade their home hi-fi system.
Devialet Phantom I
We've been big fans of Devialet’s beautiful-yet-alien-looking wireless speakers for years, and we got a new one: the Phantom I. It still looks and works the same as the company's previous Phantom speakers — its two opposing woofers pulsate against one another, in perfect symmetry, without ever touching — but the French audio company has made the Phantom I more power efficient, so it supposedly sounds way better. They also gave it support for AirPlay 2 and a fancy new physical remote. As for price, well, it's still expensive. The Phantom I comes in two versions — 103dB or 108db — and they cost $2,200 and $3,200,
Poly Studio P21 Personal Meeting Display
Poly's new 21-inch monitor is pretty neat because it's specifically designed for video calls. It has an excellent microphone and a webcam with a built-in shutter. There are ambient lights built into the sides of the monitor to make sure your face is always well illuminated. Additionally, the base of the P21 monitor works as a wireless charger. You can check out The Verge's article for more information on the P21 monitor. (Other information, like screen resolution, have yet to be released.)
KEF Mu3 Noise-Canceling Wireless Earbuds
In my mind, KEF is best known for its superb passive and active speakers, like the new LS50 Meta and LS50 Wireless II, but the company has thrown its hat in the true wireless ring for the first time. The KEF Mu3 are wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation and they're priced very similarly to their main competitor, Apple's AirPods Pro. The Mu3 promise to have an excellent battery life (nine hours per earbud, with the case adding an extra 15 hours ) and support for high-resolution audio. They also have an IPX5 water-resistance rating. You can buy them now from KEF's website.
McIntosh MHA200 Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier
McIntosh pulled out all the stops for its new super-fancy headphone amplifier. The MHA200 is packed with glowing vacuum tubes, a pair of the company's Unity Coupled Circuit output transformers (which are also integrated in McIntosh's much larger speaker amplifiers), a multitude of connectivity options, a wonderfully tactile volume knob and a signature McIntosh look. It's expensive, for sure, but it's also designed for discerning audiophiles for who care about one thing: pristine sound.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level
The Beosound Level is a unique take of the portable home speaker because, well, Bang & Olufsen expects that it will last you a really long time. Like many many years. It has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, similar to the Sonos Move, but it also has what B&O is calling a "modular design." Basically, it's designed so that it can be taken apart and that its various components can be replaced, like the chipset or the battery, when they become antiquated in the future. It's also designed to sound and look great for years and years. The Beosound Level will be available in late April.
Klipsch Forte IV Loudspeakers
The Forte IV are the newest addition to Klipsch's famed Heritage Series. They're an improved version of the original Forte loudspeakers, which were first debuted in 1985 and one of the company's best selling speakers of all time. The Forte IV have a vastly improved sound thanks to a host of acoustic enhancements, but they still have the classic wood exterior that make them look timeless. You can buy them in four finishes: American Walnut, Natural Cherry, Black Ash and Distressed Oak.
JLab Audio Talk USB Microphone
JLab Audio is best known for affordable headphones and wireless earbuds, but now it has announced a new line of high-performing USB microphones — called the Talk Series — that are designed for gamers, streamers and podcasters. There are three different microphones in the series, ranging from $49 to $149, and they are essentially more affordable alternatives for people who don't want to spend the extra dough on competitors like the Blue Microphone.
Twelve South SurfaceSnap
The SurfaceSnap is a unique and elegant cable management solution. It's a leather band with button snaps that can be attached to the side or underside of a desk via an adhesive (and it leaves no trace when removed). You can purchase the SurfaceSnap in two different colors, black or grey. ($30 gets you a three-pack.)
Polar Verity Sense
Polar released a new optical heart monitor sensor that can be worn on your arm or your temple (if you're swimming). It's designed for people who don't necessarily wear a wrist-bound fitness tracker or smartwatch, or are doing an exercise that isn't very friendly to wrist jewelry, like martial arts, swimming, dancing or boxing. It's a nifty accessory for people who use Polar Flow, Polar’s free fitness and training app, or wear one of the company's smartwatches.
Satechi USB-C Watch AirPods Charger
Satechi just announced a nice new charger for people who have AirPods Pro or AirPods (with a wireless charging case) and an Apple Watch. The dual-sided gadget that plugs into your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro via USB-C and can be flipped depending on which device you want to charge. On one side it's an Apple Watch charger. On the other side it's an Apple Watch charger. It's available exclusively from Apple.
Ikea Gaming Collection
Ikea is jumping on the gaming boom in a big way. Its new line of furniture is designed specifically for gamers on a budget. The collection includes 30 different products, including several different desks, gaming chairs and storage solutions. All are available in matching black, grey and white colorways.
Monoprice SB-600 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos System
The SB-600 is a complete 5.1.2 that costs less than $500, making it one of the most affordable surround sound systems you can buy. It has a host of connectivity options, including coaxial, optical, USB and a 3.5mm line-in jack. It also has built-in Bluetooth for streaming music when not watching TV.
Mophie Wireless Charging Stand+
Mophie's latest wireless charging tree is capable of charging up to three devices simultaneously, including your iPhone, AirPods Pro and Apple Watch.
Zero Halliburton AirPods Pro Case
Zero Halliburton is well-known for its government-grade suitcases and now it's taking its skillset to gadget accessories. Its new AirPods Pro case is designed with the same aluminum-inspired material as its iconic luggage and comes with convenient carabiner clip. Despite its rugged material and larger size, the case will still allow your AirPods Pro to work wireless chargers.
Sony FX3 Camera
Sony announced its smallest cinematic camera to date: the Sony FX3. It's a high-end digital filmmaking camera capable of capturing 4K video at 120fps (or 1080p video at up to 240fps) and it's jam-packed with features from the company's Cinema line. Maybe most significantly, it's about the size of the Sony A7C — so you can easily wield it one-handed and slip into a backpack. The Sony FX3 will be available later in March.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2
Ring announced the Video Doorbell Pro 2, the next-generation version of its well-reviewed video doorbell — and it adds two big upgrades. First, it adds a new radar sensor that enables new 3D motion detection and "Bird's Eye View" features; this allows it to better detect and even create a top-down map of the movement taking place in front of your door. And secondly, the camera has an improved field of view so that it can capture the delivery person's entire body — head to toe — when they drop off a package.
The Video Doorbell Pro 2 is available to preorder today and will ship at the end of March 2021.
Anker Magnetic Wireless Portable Charger
Anker announced a 5,000mAh portable power bank that magnetically connects to the back of an iPhone 12. It works like a MagSafe accessory, but it charges via USB-C and can only output 5-watts of power. If you want to add extra power to your iPhone 12 (or an iPhone 12 mini, more likely) without buying a battery case, this is what you want to buy.
Nomad Rugged Case for iPad Air
Nomad has extended its line of Rugged and Rugged Folio cases so that they fit the latest iPad Air. Specifically, it features a cut out so you can use the new fingerprint ID that's been integrated into the side power button. The leather cases are available in two colors: black or brown.
Nerf Hyper Blasters
Nerf announced a new line of serious blasters for people who take Nerf guns seriously. There are three new blasters — the Hyper Rush-40 ($30), the Hyper Siege-50 ($40) and the Hyper Mach-100 ($70) — each which are able to rapid fire projectiles at fast speeds (up to 110 feet per second) and then quickly reload. The Verge has the exclusive story.
This one's not a gadget, but it's certainly worth noting: Spotify announced a new lossless streaming service, called Spotify HiFi, that will be capable of streaming CD quality audio. While this news has been a long time coming, Spotify has yet to announce pricing or how many lossless quality tracks it will have, so we can't really compare it just yet to Tidal, Amazon Music HD, Deezer and Qobuz, all of which already stream CD quality audio. Spotify HiFi will launch later this year.