Tech Products I Loved in 2021

December 29, 2021 / Ben Bajarin

Spending time using and researching a wide range of products is part of our day job. Few things make us more excited than when we discover a truly amazing product that adds value to our life. Our passion for great products is also a reason we launched the Delight Scale this year. While not all the products on this list were launched in 2021 they were among the list of products I had a chance to experience this year and have become staples of my life.

Tonal: I had wanted a Tonal since the start of the pandemic lockdowns. While most people I know bought a Peloton, which I strongly considered as well, I knew a Tonal would be more up my alley. I purchased a Tonal in August and it was delivered in September.

There are a number of things that make Tonal extremely unique when it comes to home gyms. The main one is the smart AI system and digital weights. The initial setup process highlights this experience by running you through a few movements that assess your strength and give you a strength score. This is relevant for tracking your progress but also allows Tonal to set your weights for you during every workout.

My personal favorite feature is the smart weight modes. These modes include Smart Flex, Chains, and Eccentric mode. Smart Flex increases the weight at varying times during your motion. Chains mode increases the weight near the apex of your movement. Eccentric mode increases the weight during the negative movement. All of these accomplish things not possible with free weights or at a gym and add to the unique experience. My only regret was not purchasing Tonal much sooner!

Remarkable 2: Not many people have heard about the Remarkable E-ink tablet but I have been watching this product since its first iteration. Now on version 2, I have been using it for a few months now. While carrying a dedicated digital notetaking device seems like just an extra device to have and carry, it has truly been worth it.

One of my frustrations using iPad or a product like Surface, which does a great job of notetaking, is how taking notes means losing part of the screen and limiting my ability to multi-task with the device. Where the Remarkable 2 stands out is how it was purpose-built for digital notetaking. In this case, being purpose-built delivers on the simple value proposition I was hoping to accomplish that no other general-purpose tablet could accomplish. I wanted something that truly felt like writing on paper but had all the digital promises like organizing, syncing with my devices, and searching notes.

I have since completely overhauled how I take notes during meetings and have been using Remarkable for brainstorming and during my creative thinking and writing process. Overall, Remarkable 2 has become a valued part of my digital workflow and has gone above my expectations with the digital note-taking experience.

16″ Macbook Pro with M1 Max: There is no debating the M1 addition to the Mac product line is playing a role in Mac’s growth as a business for Apple. While I appreciate the updated design of the Macbook Pro and the overall performance of the M1 Max, there is a single reason this product is on my list — battery life.

I get to test a lot of great notebooks every year and the entire PC ecosystem is making some of the best notebooks in the history of the industry. While there are some competitive notebooks performance-wise to the Macbook Pro with M1 Max, I have never had a battery life experience as I do with this Mac.

On average during my daily workflows, I can get between 14-16 hours of battery life of constant screen-on usage. The caveat with that battery life is when I was using all M1 optimized apps. Battery life varied when using apps not yet optimized for M1. I tried using a few non-M1 optimized apps on a full charge and could still get 10-12 hours of constant use.  None of the apps, or workflows, were terribly CPU or GPU intense and I imagine tas,s like processing 4k video would impact battery life more significantly than the things I do regularly. However, I did notice that even some cloud apps and SaaS apps still took up quite a bit of the processing power of the M1. Emphasizing the point that even in a cloud-based software world, performance will still matter but maintaining more than all-day battery life hopefully be table stakes features for all notebooks going forward.

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