This story is part of the GP100, our list of the 100 best new products of the year.


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In 2022, Big Tech not only stretched its legs and marked a return to big, in-person hardware events — it also introduced a host of truly new gadgets worth being in-person to see.

From the flashy (and super-large) Apple Watch Ultra, to a turntable for Sonos nerds, to the return of a classic Leica film camera, these are the best new gadgets that 2022 had to offer.

Apple Watch Ultra

a person scuba diving wearing an apple watch
Apple

Why It’s Notable: The Apple Watch Ultra is by far the most exciting smartwatch that Apple has made in years. It's got a completely new design, new features and capabilities — and an all-new button.

The Big Picture: The Apple Watch is by far the world's most popular smartwatch and has been for years. In fact, Apple likes to brag that it's moved more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry in the last several years, hinting at a claim to the mantle of "most popular watch" full stop. But for the past several years, the Apple Watch as been boring. Comparing the Series 4 to the most recent Series 8, you'll find better specs but basically identical design, interface and battery life, with some slight divergence in feature set.

a person wearing an apple watch
Apple

The Apple Watch Ultra is an entirely different animal, however. It's the biggest, brightest, most rugged, longest lasting, best sounding and most capable smartwatch that Apple has ever made. At nearly $800, it's also by far the most expensive. Designed for extreme people doing extreme activities — endurance athletes, hikers and even recreational scuba divers given that it can function as a dive computer — or anybody who just wants the biggest and most badass Apple Watch out there.

But perhaps the most notable feature of the Ultra is that it's the first Apple Watch ever to introduce a new physical button. In addition to the digital crown and side button (which ever Apple Watch since the Series 1 has had), the Action button — the big orange button on the left side — is unique because it can be customizable to do things like quick-start workouts, start a stopwatch or turn on your flashlight. It's one of the many things that make the experience of using the Ultra truly feel different than any other Apple Watch, and likely the start of a whole new line.

Apple
Apple Watch Ultra
amazon.com
$749.00
Size: 49mm
Weight: 61.3 grams
Battery Life: up to 36 hours

Sonos Sub Mini

sonos sub mini on a floor
Tucker Bowe

Why It’s Notable: For years, Sonos' only subwoofer cost hundreds of dollars more than even its premium speaker. The Sub Mini puts a truly terrific Sonos system in reach of people who have less to spend.

The Big Picture: The Sub Mini isn't actually that revolutionary — it's essentially a smaller version of Sonos's excellent (but pricey) $749 Sub — but Sonos fans have been begging for a more affordable wireless subwoofer for seemingly forever and at $429, the Sub Mini finally quenches that thirst. The Sub Mini works basically the same as the larger Sub. It wirelessly connects your Sonos system and adds more on the low-end, but it also allows your other Sonos speakers to focus more on the mids and highs. The end result is an all-around better sounding system. It's the perfect upgrade for anybody with either of Sonos's smaller soundbars, the Ray or Beam 2, or even a stereo paired set of Ones.

Sonos Sub Mini
sonos.com
£827.00
Woofers: Dual 6-inch push-push/slot loaded
Frequency response: As low as 25 Hz
Amplifier: Class D

Dall-E beta

dall e artwork
Courtesy

Why It's Notable: The most revolutionary image-making consumer product this year isn't a camera, it's a deftly trained algorithm, able to translate text prompts into stunning imagery and redefining "art" in the process.

The Big Picture: Open AI, a San Francisco based artificial intelligence research company, rose to prominence with an algorithm called GPT (for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) that was able to take a user-provided string of text like "Jack and Jill went…" and continue it on indefinitely with AI generated text. In January 2021, Open AI revealed Dall-E, a modified version of GPT that can generate images based on text prompts. It promptly set the creative world ablaze. It's safe to call AI-generated imagery (led by Dall-E) a milestone in how man interacts with machine. Dall-E, even in its early form, is able to produce incredible images from the most improbable prompts in styles that are often indistinguishable from human artists.

DALL·E beta
openai.com
$15.00
Access: Open Beta
Cost: $15 for 115 Images
Our Favorite Prompt So Far: "An oil pastel drawing of an annoyed cat in a spaceship"

Sony WH-1000XM5

headphones and phone sitting on a desk
Tucker Bowe

Why It’s Notable: The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the company's new and redesigned flagship noise-canceling over-ear headphones, and the best wireless headphones for most people.

The Big Picture: Sony has been arguably the most important name in noise-canceling headphones for the last several years — yes, ahead of Bose and more recently Apple. The Sony WH-1000XM5 take things to another level.

The "Sony M5s" have been redesigned from the ground up so they look, fit, feel and fold very differently from their predecessors, the already-superb M4s. They have new drivers making the sound is cleaner, tighter. They have way more processing power (thanks to a second processor dedicated to active noise-cancellation) so they're significantly better at blocking out the cacophony of the outside world. And, with twice as many mics as their predecessors, their call quality has been greatly improved as well.

sony headphones on a table
Tucker Bowe

Like Sony's previous flagship noise-canceling headphones, the M5s are overflowing with features. You can fine-tune settings for EQ, noise-canceling and transparency so they perfectly meet your needs. You can customize swipe and tap controls. And thanks to LDAC support, the M5s can stream higher-quality audio than more other wireless headphones.

The only downside is that Sony bumped up the price by $50, but in an age where it's more and more common for wireless headphones to cost more than $500 — you can thank Apple's $549 AirPods Max for that — the $400 Sony M5s almost feel like a steal. Not to mention that they're easy to score at a discount if you keep your eyes open.

Sony
Sony WH-1000XM5
amazon.com
$399.99
$348.00 (13% off)
Drivers: 30mm dynamic
Battery Life: 30 hours (ANC on)
Supported Audio Codecs: AAC, LDAC, SBC

KEF LSX II

kef speaker on snowy rocks
Cam Oden

Why It’s Notable: The LSX II is the best-sounding active speaker system you can bu, and its second generation is more versatile than ever.

The Big Picture: The second-generation LSX is an excellent all-in-one active speaker system for anybody looking for true hi-fi stereo sound — it's essentially a smaller and more affordable version of the KEF's well-revered LS50 Wireless II. Like its predecessor, the original LSX, the LSX II is a simple plug-and-plug system that supports a wide variety of wired and wireless streaming options. The difference with the "II" is that KEF improved their sound and made them more capable. Thanks to new USB-C and HDMI-ARC connections, it's easier than ever to use the KEF LSX II as desktop speakers or even a soundbar alternative, increasing the value of this already killer set of speakers.

KEF LSX II
amazon.com
$1,399.98
Max resolution: up to 24bit/384kHzup to 24bit/384kHz
Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Wired connectivity: HDMI ARC, Toslink optical, USB-C, AUX

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

man wearing bose ear buds
Bose

Why It’s Notable: When it comes to active noise-cancellation, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II leave all other wireless earbuds in the dust. That includes the latest options from Apple, Sony and Sennheiser.

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The Big Picture: Given the sheer volume of wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation these days, it's difficult to get excited about another pair — even if it's made by Bose. But the QuietComfort Earbuds II are simply different. Bose completely redesigned these second-generation earbuds. They're noticeably smaller and more comfortable to wear. They sound better, in large part to a new CustomTune technology that adjusts sound based on the shape of your ear canals. But most significantly, they have the most powerful and complete noise-canceling abilities of any wireless earbuds we've ever tested to date. And it really isn't close.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
bose.com
$279.00
Battery life: up to 6 hours (per earbud)
Water-resistance: IPX4
Charging: USB-C only

Victrola Stream Carbon

victrola record player on a shelf
Tucker Bowe

Why It’s Notable: The Victrola Stream Carbon is the first turntable that works natively with Sonos and allows you to wirelessly stream vinyl to any Sonos speaker in your home, no extra components required.

The Big Picture: Until now, it hasn't exactly been easy to connect a turntable to your Sonos's wireless speaker system. You needed a turntable with an external phono preamp, and then you needed to hardwire it to a Five (or older Play:5) speaker via a line-in connection. If you had one of Sonos's more expensive streaming amps, the Port or Amp, you could hardwire the turntable to that, too.

victrola record player
Courtesy

The Victrola Stream Carbon simplifies things considerably. It was designed in partnership with Sonos and is the first turntable that works natively with the Sonos speakers out of the box. You simply plug in the Stream Carbon and an app walks you through the quick setup process. When done, your records will automatically play on your Sonos speakers every time you fire up the Stream Carbon.

Aside from the easy setup process, the Stream Carbon has some advantages for Sonos owners. The large volume knob (which lights up) controls the volume of any Sonos speaker that is grouped with the Stream Carbon (so you don't need to worry about adjusting volume in apps or on individual speakers). You don't need a specific (expensive) Sonos speaker, like you did in the past — even a lowly One will work with the Stream Carbon. And the fact that the Stream Carbon doesn't need to be wired to any Sonos speaker or component means you place it anywhere you want in your home. It's a huge upgrade for vinyl on Sonos.

Courtesy
Victrola Stream Carbon
crutchfield.com
$799.99
Turntable: belt-drive, semi-automatic
Cartridge: Ortofon 2M Red
Speeds: 33-1/3 and 45 RPMs

Leica M6 (2022)

camera on a counter
Courtesy

Why It’s Notable: One of the most storied brands in photography is bringing an iconic film camera back into active production.

The Big Picture: Film photography is an excellent antidote to bad digital habits like taking two dozen pictures when one will do, or guess-and-check-ing every shot you take. But there's serious speed bump to anyone trying to get in the game: no one's really making film cameras anymore. Well, they weren't. This year, Leica has brought its analog M6 back into production, for the first time since 2002. The rangefinder-style 35mm comes with a built-in light meter, a body milled from solid brass, a mechanically-controlled cloth shutter, and a $5,295 price tag. Yes, you can probably get a great, functioning film camera from the 80s off eBay for a tenth of the price or less. But suddenly, you don't have to.

Leica M6
Leica leicacamerausa.com
$5,295.00
Lens mount: Leica M bayonet
Shutter speeds: 1 s - 1⁄1000 s
Film speed range: ISO 6 - ISO 6400

Cinestill 400Dynamic

a camera surrounded by film
Courtesy

Why It’s Notable: There's a new all-condition color film in town, and it looks fantastic.

The Big Picture: Film photography is arguably more trendy than it's been since the advent of digital cameras, but today's analog enthusiasts are armed with far few filmstocks than their forebears had. That's what makes Cinestill's new 400Dynamic such a big deal. The new, crowdfunded color film was developed by Cinestill and its manufacturing partners to develop a film that marries technology from motion picture and still photography stocks for a hyper versatile color film that can produce stellar results in a wide range of lighting conditions in 35mm and medium format cameras alike.

400Dynamic
Cinestill bhphotovideo
$15.00
Formats: 35mm, 120, 4x5
Film Type: Color negative, C-41
ISO: 400

M2 MacBook Air

mackbook sitting on a table
Tucker Bowe

Why It’s Notable: For the first time since 2018, Apple completely redesigned its most popular entry-level MacBook, while outfitting it with a powerful M2 chip.

The Big Picture: Apple's MacBook Air line has been an easy recommendation for most people looking for a laptop that runs macOS — especially in the two years since Apple made the switch to its own silicone. They're affordable, lightweight and have great battery life. Plus they're more than powerful enough for the average person who browses the web, answers some emails and maybe even does some light photo editing work.

Well, the newest M2 MacBook Air checks all those same boxes without even getting out of first gear.

two macbooks on a table
Tucker Bowe

Even without all the under-the-hood upgrades, the new M2 MacBook Air is exciting as hell. It's the first MacBook Air to receive a drastic redesign in years. It has a bigger and brighter display, a thinner and lighter design, a Touch ID button, better speakers and finally an upgraded 1080p webcam. It comes in some new exciting colors, too, including "midnight" (it's blue).

Maybe most exciting is the fact that Apple brought back MagSafe charging. Not only does this charger magnetically snap on to the M2 MacBook Air and fast-charge in wonderfully nostalgic fashion, but it also frees up one of your two Thunderbolt USB-C ports so you can charge or connect your other accessories.

The M2 MacBook Air is a little on the pricey side for an "entry-level" laptop — and we'd probably recommend spending the extra $200 on upgrading from the base storage — but you're getting a laptop that looks and runs like the new hotness. And in large parts thanks to its super powerful and efficient M2 chip, you know it's going to last for years and years.

Apple
M2 MacBook Air
apple.com
$1,199.00

Chip: Apple M2 silicone
Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina
Battery life: up to 18 hours

Kindle Scribe

a person writing on a kindle scribe
Courtesy

Why It’s Notable: The one e-reader to rule them all has found a new killer feature: you can write on it.

The Big Picture: Since its initial release 10(!) years ago, Kindle's Paperwhite has been beaten out by good ol' paper pulp in one key area: Yes, the Paperwhite looks like paper, but you can't write on it. But now the Kindle Scribe has arrived — with a pen. Various tablets have beat Amazon to the punch, most notably the reMarkable tablet, but with its 10.2-inch backlit screen, and the full might of Amazon's ebook infrastructure behind it, the Kindle Scribe is all but destined to quickly become the king of the space and bring scribbleable e-ink to the masses.

Kindle Scribe (16 GB)
Amazon amazon.com
$339.99
Storage options: 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB
Screen: 10.2-inch 300 ppi Paperwhite display
Physical page turn buttons: No

S95B OLED 4K QD Smart TV

a tv on a tv stand
Courtesy

Why It’s Notable: Samsung is making its first OLED TV in years, bringing a suite of technologies into one beautiful picture.

The Big Picture: OLED TVs are renown for their deep inky blacks, a degree of contrast made possible by panels that can turn off each light individually. But, for years, Samsung has invested in a different technology it calls QLED, marrying quantum dot technology with backlit LCD panels. The result is a display that can't beat OLEDs contrast, but can offer bold, bright colors. With the S95b, Samsung is putting out its first OLED TV in years, bringing its quantum dot tech to an OLED display for a best of both worlds picture that comes at a reasonable price point.

S95B OLED 4K QD Smart TV
Samsung samsung.com
$2,099.99
$1,449.99 (31% off)
High-Dynamic Range: Quantum HDR OLED
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Picture Processor: Neural Quantum Processor 4K

Nothing Phone 1

the nothing phone
Courtesy

Why It’s Notable: The Phone 1 touts high-end specs, beautiful design and an affordable price tag — but its innovative lighting system is what makes it a true standout.

The Big Picture: Nothing's first foray into smartphones hits different. True, the Phone 1 has a similar silhouette as an iPhone, but with a mostly transparent back — you can see its wireless charging coil, exposed screws and its unique lighting strips — it's simply gorgeous. The coolest thing about the Phone 1, however, is that Nothing invented a new kind of notification system based on the 900 LED lights integrated in its back. Depending on if it's a call, text, app notification or if you're asking your voice assistant something, a different light array starts flashing. And you can customize these lights (via an app) in a variety of different ways. The idea is that you can know what kind of notification you're getting without sound and without looking at the screen. And nothing has been done like that before.

Courtesy
Nothing Phone (1)
nothing.tech
$475.00
Operating system: Android 12 with Nothing OS
Display: 6.55-inch OLED
Processor: QualcommSnapdragon 778G+

Meta Quest Pro

meta quest pro
Courtesy

Why It's Notable: The Quest Pro is the most exciting new VR headset in years. It offers people who are seriously into virtual reality a higher-end, more professional and more comfortable option than the Quest 2.

The Big Picture: Virtual reality has been trending to a more entry-level realm in recent years. A prime example is Meta’s Quest 2, which starts at $400 and delivers a pretty seamless VR experience intended for the masses. The Meta Quest Pro is an attempt to build on that success and take it in a different direction. It’s still an all-in-one VR headset — so there’s no wires or need to connect to a PC or console — but it’s more powerful and sleek, with better face-tracking and cameras with full-color passthrough, a move towards the inevitable future of Augmented Reality but also vastly improved mixed reality experiences where you can place and use 3D objects and an real-world environment. Its launch has been shaky. Few apps are able to make full use of the Pro’s horsepower, or live up to its aspirations of bringing working professionals into VR. Nonetheless, it’s a landmark shift in how Meta is approaching virtual reality.

Courtesy
Meta Quest Pro
www.meta.com
$1,499.99
Type: Standalone VR headset
Resolution: 1,920 x 1,800 (per eye)
Processor: Snapdragon XR2+ Qualcomm