March 3, 2024
best tech gifts of 2021


Our lives are increasingly tech-heavy. With the rise of streaming at home, Zooming and Slacking at work, smart homes and even video doorbells, every place we go and every part of our lives is linked to cutting edge technology. And there are certainly no signs of things slowing down anytime soon.

With so much tech in so many places, it can be hard to differentiate the good pieces of gear from the bad ones, in part due to the sheer volume of options out there. Buying the perfect tech gift can often mean spending hours sifting through pages of products and consumer reviews, something most of us simply don’t have time for. Here at Pop Mech, we pride ourselves on finding, testing, and recommending the best gear for everyone who doesn’t have the time to do it themselves. Which is why we’ve crafted a handpicked list of our favorite gadgets to ease your gift getting process.

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Personalize Your Lighting

Philips Hue Smart Bulbs

One of the most popular smart bulbs for a reason, Philips’ Hue bulb series is awesome. Its robust LED technology means it lasts for decades and can adjust its color and hue to millions of different settings. Controllable through the Hue app, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa, you can even program these bulbs with routines like wake-up and bedtime to imitate the sun’s natural cycle.


Find Your Stuff

Tile Mate

There’s nothing worse than losing your keys. Or your wallet. Or a backpack. You get the idea: losing stuff sucks. With Tile’s classic Tile Mate tracker, you can find all your essentials easily. 

The built-in corner punch hole loops easily, and the small size fits into pockets, wallets, and bags without issue. Then, when you lose something, the 250-foot tracking range and very loud buzzer make locating simple and easy.


High-Tech Everyday Sneakers

Allbird’s Wool Runner Mizzles

Available in mens and womens

Normally we wouldn’t put sneakers on a tech list, but Allbird’s Runner Mizzles have such a bevy of unique features that we had to give them a shoutout. They are machine-washable, feature bio-based water-repellent coating, and are made out of reusable materials. On top of it all, they are super comfortable.


Durable At-Home Power

BESTEK Power Strip

As recommended in our best power strips list, Bestek’s eight-outlet power strip is perfect for home offices thanks to its spacious eight outlets and useful four USB ports. 

Aside from a clear on-off switch, the BESTEK features ample power and surge protection, meaning less worries as you plug in all your home office equipment.


A Great Travel Charger

Anker PowerPort PD 2

Figuring out which chargers to pack while traveling is a huge headache. That’s why we love Anker’s PowerPort PD 2: it simplifies the packing process. With USB-A and USB-C charging at up to 20 watts, you can ditch your handful of power bricks and just pack this one. Its small size and folding plug make it especially suited to on-the-go charging. It’s a top-tier charger for mobile devices of all kinds.


Upgrade Your Typing Experience

Keychron K2 Keyboard

Especially when compared to typing on thin, cramped laptop keyboards, the Keychron K2 is a wonder. Its compact form factor and wireless connectivity options make it familiar, but its quality mechanical switches and keycaps offer a vastly superior typing experience when compared to any laptop out there. 

Anyone who works on a laptop for a living can appreciate the productivity and ergonomic boosts gained from using the Keychron K2.


Quality Sound Anywhere

Anker Soundcore Portable Bluetooth Speaker

As recommended in our best bluetooth speakers list, Anker’s Soundcore speaker is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers around. 

Its small form factor, IPX5 water resistance, durable casing, simple controls, and USB recharging make it a great speaker for road trips, barbecues, pool parties, and outdoor adventures. That’s not even mentioning its great price and solid sound.


The Best Starter Drone

DJI Mini 2

Drones have shifted from a high-end military tool to a widespread consumer good in only a single decade, thanks in large part to DJI. For anyone looking to break into the hobby, DJI’s Mini 2 is one of the best beginner options around. 

Affordable, portable, and easy to learn with DJI’s dedicated controller, the Mini 2 offers solid video and photo quality and stable connectivity thanks to DJI’s Ocusync.


Power On-the-Go

Anker PowerCore Essential 20,000PD

For frequent flyers and commuters, there’s nothing worse than a dead outlet. Thankfully, a quality power bank like Anker’s PowerCore Essential solves that problem, offering mobile power to all your small devices with USB-A and USB-C connectivity. Able to charge smartphones and headphones multiple times over, this power bank lets you travel outlet-free.


Charge Devices Wirelessly

Yootech Wireless Qi Charger

Why plug your devices in when you can just rest them on a wireless charging pad? With more and more mobile tech integrating wireless charging, now is a great time to get onboard through Yootech’s wireless Qi charger. 

With a simple design and wide ranging compatibility, this is a great wireless charger for anyone trying the technology for the first time. Just be aware that it doesn’t come with a power adapter.


Plug In All Your Gear

Anker USB-C Hub 8-In-1

As recommended in our best USB-C adapters list, Anker’s 8-in-1 USB-C hub turns any middling laptop into a fully compatible workstation. Aside from the usual suspects like USB-A and HDMI ports, this hub features Ethernet, SD, microSD, and charging passthrough ports, putting it a cut above the competition.


A Robot Gains Control

‘All Systems Red’ by Martha Wells

In a space-faring future ruled by corporations, a Company droid designed to be a heartless killing machine gains sentience. What is its new agenda? Mostly watching a lot of TV and trying not to be discovered. 

The first in a series of award winning sci-fi novellas, All Systems Red is Martha Wells at her best: funny, introspective, action-packed, and full of heart.


Powerful and Minimal At-Home Speakers

Audioengine A2+ Speakers

As recommended in our best computer speakers list, the A2+ are some of the easiest pairs of speakers to endorse. Modern, compact, and not too pricey, these speakers excel because of their wide ranging connectivity—Bluetooth, USB, 3.5mm, LR analog, it’s all here. Whatever you connect will sound great thanks to an excellent stereo soundstage and built-in sound card.


A Library at Your Fingertips

2021 Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite was already the best digital reader around. 2021’s updated model added the one feature it was truly missing: adjustable warm light for reading in the dark. Add a clear display, great brightness, and a comfortable form factor, and this e-reader is a great option for any avid reader.


Ditch Cable TV

Chromecast with Google TV

Cable TV is on the decline, and for good reason. With stellar streaming options like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Apple TV, and ESPN+, it’s never been easier to ditch cable. Plugging a Chromecast into your TV makes that process a whole lot more enjoyable. 

With an easy setup, simple interface, and included remote, Chromecast and Google TV make it easy to enjoy all your favorite streaming services from the comfort of your home theater.


For Work-From-Home Warriors

Logitech C920S Webcam

For anyone spending a lot of time working from home, the quality of your webcam has gotten very important. For nearly every kind of work-from-home setup, Logitech’s C920s webcam delivers a vast improvement to daily Zoom calls and conferences. As recommended in our best gaming webcams list, the C920s provides great video quality at an affordable price.


A Stunning Speculative Sci-Fi Collection

‘Exhalation’ by Ted Chiang

A collection of short stories by award winning author Ted Chiang, Exhalation will send your mind racing with its big, existential questions and take your breath away with its incredibly human answers. Exhalation is less about grandiose space battles and more about how humans handle time, space, life, death when they are bent and twisted into new shapes.


For Capturing the Action

GoPro HERO 8

GoPro has been a must-have camera for action videography for years. Even with advances in camera and smartphone tech, GoPro’s crystal clear video capture of high-octane activities like skiing and mountain biking cannot be beat. 

The GoPro HERO 8, while not the newest model available, is an amazing balance between quality, features, and price. For anyone who always wanted a GoPro, but never took the plunge, consider the HERO 8.


World Class Games

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a one-of-a-kind gaming console. With a hybrid design that lets you play on your TV or on the go, it’s a great console for kids and commuters alike. 

But the main draw is its stellar game library, featuring must-play titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A great gift for gamers of all ages.


The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are some of the best noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested. With industry-leading noise cancelling, an excellent soundstage, great battery life, and comfortable memory-foam padding, it’s no surprise that these headphones are top-rated from basically everyone. 

With gesture controls on the right earcup and physical buttons on the left, the WH-1000XM4s are easy to use and easy to enjoy at home or on the go.


For Extended Productivity

Logitech G305 Lightspeed Wireless Mouse

As much as touch pads have improved, the precision and ergonomics offered by a dedicated mouse cannot be beat. Anyone looking to take advantage of mouse precision will be pleased with Logitech’s G305 Lightspeed mouse. 

Lightweight and comfortable, the G305 connects wireless with a universally compatible USB-A receiver, offering a very responsive feel compared to Bluetooth options. The familiar form factor has everything you need to enjoy the keyboard and mouse life at a low price.


The Foundational Sci-Fi Space Opera

‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert

A seminal work of science fiction and space opera, Frank Herbert’s Dune is a classic for a reason. Dense with world-building, intrigue, and political machinations, Dune is a wildly original vision of the future that manages to make poignant critiques of our present. And don’t worry, the massive sandworms are just as cool in the book as they are in the movie.


A Starter Smart Assistant

Google Nest Mini

Despite how recent the technology is, smart home assistants have flooded the market, making choosing your first a bit of a nightmare. For anyone interested in diving into the world of smart assistants, Google’s Nest Mini is a great option thanks to its simplicity and affordable price. Use it as a speaker for music or podcasts, or integrate it with your other smart home accessories for a connected house.


Notes in Your Pocket

LEUCHTTURM 1917 Pocket Notebook

Yes, we all have note apps and online documents on our phones, but they are not the same as writing in a real notebook. LEUCHTTURM makes many high quality notebooks, but none are as convenient as the 1917 pocket notebook. 

It fits in a pocket, open flat, features ink-proof paper, a cloth page marker, and an elastic band for keeping things closed. The 1917 is truly a notebook everyone can appreciate.


Outdoor Solar Lighting

SolarPuff Lantern

From fun backyard ambience to portable camping light, Solight’s Solarpuff lantern is a unique outdoor lighting option. It’s waterproof, collapsable, portable, solar-powered, and floats on water, making it a great tool for providing outdoor ambience during any backcountry adventure. The multiple light modes, including low, medium, high, blinking, and multicolor, are a great bonus as well.


Rechargeable Illumination

Anker Bolder LC40 Flashlight

As tested in our best flashlights of 2021 roundup, Anker’s Bolder LC40 combines a great quality design with USB recharging to create an excellent flashlight for everyone. Small and durable, the LC40 is IPX5 water-resistant, features an aluminum body, boasts over eight hours of battery life, and is small and light enough for camping or backpacking.


A Smartwatch for Everyone

Apple Watch SE

Similar to Apple’s iPhone SE, the Apple Watch SE delivers a high quality, low cost version of one of Apple’s best products. Much cheaper than the latest Apple Watch but containing most of the same features, the Watch SE offers a great smartwatch experience thanks to fast speeds, intuitive software, great battery life, and a comfortable fit.


For the Pros

14-Inch Apple MacBook Pro

The 2021 MacBook Pros are, simply put, some of the best laptops ever made. Utilizing Apple new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, these laptops crush any task, including professional video editing and graphic design work. 

With gorgeous displays, improved 1080p webcams, great battery life, and versatile port options, these laptops are incredible tools for technical professionals. They are expensive, but even with the baseline 14-inch model, you are getting an incredible machine.


For iPhone Owners

Apple AirPods (2nd Gen)

Apple’s AirPods are kind of a big deal. They essentially made wireless earbuds mainstream, thanks to a simple design, easy connectivity, great battery life, and a stellar case. Today, even with more premium options available, the simplicity of Apple’s baseline AirPods make them a great gift for any iPhone user carrying wired headphones.


DIY Home Security

Ring Alarm 5-Piece Kit

As recommended in our best home security systems list, this 5-piece kit is the perfect entry-level package for anyone looking into DIY home security solutions for an apartment or condo. It includes a base station, a keypad, a contact sensor, a motion detector, and a range extender, all of which are easy to set up and simple to control via the Ring app. 

Unlike traditional security systems, Ring offers a month-to-month monitoring plan, meaning more flexibility for frequent movers.

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