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The Engadget Podcast

The Engadget Podcast is back and ready to explore how tech is helping (and hurting) our lives. Senior Editor Devindra Hardawar and Reviews Editor Cherlynn Low dive into a big question every week: Is Microsoft making better PCs than Apple? What's the state of Android versus iOS? Expect to hear the rest of the Engadget crew, along with the occasional expert guest, as we analyze the tech landscape and chat about timely topics.

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Engadget News

Here at Engadget, we cover consumer tech from every angle. Sometimes that means we publish more than 40 posts in a single day. It's a lot, and sometimes you're just too busy showering, commuting and filling out TPS reports to read a news story. To keep up with your hectic schedule, we're posting audio versions of select news stories, so that you can still get the gist even when you're too busy to look up from what you're doing.

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The Best of CES 2023

And we're back. After canceling our CES plans in 2022 (and not even having the option of attending in person in 2021), the Engadget team sent a dozen staffers to CES 2023 this week, including reporters, editors and videographers. It's too soon to say how many stories and videos we've published — in fact, we have more good stuff coming — but suffice to say, it was a lot. Though our team swears the show still wasn't as busy as pre-pandemic years, they were kept busy enough that it felt like a true return to form, not just for us, but for the tech industry at large.

One thing that never stopped was Engadget's annual Best of CES Awards program, although this year marks the first time in three years we've been able to base our judgments off of a full slate of in-person hands-on experiences. All told, we're handing out a dozen awards this year, including the most prestigious: Best of the Best. As always, our awards attempt to capture what we think people will still be talking about weeks, or even months, after the show concludes, from wireless TVs to an electric Ram concept truck to a $1,000 stand mixer that should make dough blending almost foolproof.

As ever, too, we endeavored to weed out the vaporware, not to mention the things that got attention solely for being dumb. (Hello, multiplesmart pee gadgets and a $3,800 "self-driving" stroller that only works when the baby isn't on board!) If you're curious about all the frivolity anyway — and who can blame you? — you'll find all of our coverage, serious and irreverent, right here. But for just the good stuff, you're in the right place. – Dana Wollman, Editor-in-Chief

Best Accessibility Tech: L’Oréal Hapta

L'oreal

Rather than showing up to CES with a viral beauty gadget, L’Oréal debuted an assistive lipstick applicator that will be useful to millions. The cosmetics company worked with utensil maker Verily, which produces stabilizing and leveling cutlery for people with limited hand and arm mobility, to create Hapta. The result is a sturdy grip-and-gimbal system that lets those with limited finger dexterity or strength more independently apply lipstick. Though there are some quirks the company needs to iron out before releasing the Hapta in December, it’s impressive that this is both a finished product and has a relatively affordable suggested retail price of $150 to $200. It’s also a device that caters to an often overlooked segment of consumers, and can be expanded to work with more makeup applications. Of all the accessibility-related products we saw this CES, the Hapta is the most unique, while being actually helpful. — Cherlynn Low, Deputy Editor, Reviews

Best Gaming Product: Sony Project Leonardo

Sony

Project Leonardo is Sony’s first piece of gaming hardware designed specifically for people with limited motor control, and it happens to look pretty neat at the same time. Project Leonardo is a controller kit that’ll work out of the box with the PlayStation 5, offering two circular gamepads lined with swappable buttons, third-party accessory ports and other customizable inputs. The controllers lie flat on a table or they can be mounted on a standard tripod, and they can be paired with a DualSense to turn all three devices into a single gamepad, offering plenty of flexibility for players.

To build its new PS5 accessory, Sony partnered with advocacy organizations including AbleGamers and SpecialEffect, just like Microsoft did with the (wildly successful) Xbox Adaptive Controller. Project Leonardo represents another positive step for accessibility tech in video games, a market that’s filled with surprises and primed for growth in 2023. — Jessica Conditt, Senior Reporter

Best Heath & Fitness Product: Valencell blood pressure monitoring prototype 

Valencell

Valencell has been making optical heart-rate sensors for years, but at CES 2023 it unveiled a new fingertip monitor that offers “cuffless” blood pressure monitoring. Instead of an unwieldy inflating sleeve, this fingertip clip uses photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors to measure blood flow patterns. This information is combined with algorithms and the user’s age, weight, gender and height to create a blood pressure measurement, without the need for calibration. We might have seen similar technology in earlier stages of development, but Valencell’s technique of combining data makes for the most compelling device yet. Valencell plans to eventually offer the blood pressure monitor to clinics and hospitals, alongside an over-the-counter version for personal use, pending FDA approval. — Mat Smith, UK Bureau Chief

Best Home Theater Tech: LG Signature OLED M3

Engadget

LG unveiled several new OLED TVs at CES this year, but the standout was the Signature OLED M3, a 97-inch 4K giant. What’s most interesting about the M3, however, isn’t its screen – it’s the tech inside of it. More specifically, the M3 is designed to receive video and audio wirelessly, through a separate box that LG says you can place up to 30 feet away from the TV. Outside of a power cord, the M3 itself is cable-free; instead you plug your media streamers, cable box or game consoles into the breakout box, and all of it is beamed over a wireless link.

The company dubs this wireless transmission tech “Zero Connect” and claims this proprietary standard can provide three times the speed of WiFi 6. Among other connections, the Zero Connect box includes three HDMI ports that can play in 4K at 120Hz, including one eARC port. While it does require line-of-sight to work – there’s a rotatable antenna built into the box – in our brief experience with the set, we found the signal quality remained steady even in a crowded room. If Zero Connect can eventually make its way down to LG’s more reasonably priced TVs, it could provide an exciting new level of versatility. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer

Best Laptop: Lenovo Yoga Book 9i

Lenovo

By axing the traditional, physical keyboard and putting two 13.3-inch OLED screens on the Yoga Book 9i, Lenovo could potentially shake up modern laptop design in a way we haven’t seen since the original Surface Pro a decade ago. And while there are some issues that will need to be ironed out, the potential this new design offers is undeniable. When you prop up the Yoga Book on its kickstand, it becomes much more than a standard clamshell. You can have two screens stacked on top of each other or side-by-side depending on your needs. Meanwhile in standard laptop mode, you have the freedom to choose between a virtual or detachable Bluetooth keyboard – both with customizable widgets, not to mention built-in stylus support. It’s a level of flexibility and adaptability that traditional laptops simply can’t match. And unlike overly ambitious concepts in the past, this dual-screen notebook is actually coming out (sometime this spring for around $2,000) so we can see how it will truly fare in the real world. — Sam Rutherford, Senior Writer

Best Mobile or Tablet Tech: WPC Qi2 charging standard

Engadget

When Apple added MagSafe charging to the iPhone back in 2020, it created an incredibly simple and convenient way of juicing up its phones. And now, at CES 2023, the WPC (Wireless Power Consortium) has released details on the Qi2 charging standard that will finally bring similar functionality to the rest of the handset market. Not only does the new spec include support for Magnetic Power Profiles which will pave the way for handy charging disks that can snap onto the back of your phone, it will also allow for important features such as foreign object detection and up to 15-watt charging with the potential to raise power output even further in the future. And perhaps most importantly, because Apple is a member of the WPC, Qi2 shouldn’t be a weak MagSafe knock-off when it arrives on retail devices later this year in Q4 2023. — Sam Rutherford, Senior Writer

Best Robot or Drone: KEYi Loona

Loona

Historically, robot pets tend to be lacking in the cutesy department. Loona, the futuristic companion from KEYi, with its big puppy dog eyes and wiggling ears has the adorable thing locked down. Loona is smart enough to scurry around your living space without running into walls or off of countertops, but the real magic is in its expressiveness. It’s impressive what you can do with a small display, four wheels and two “ears.”

Beyond her charms, Loona also comes loaded with sensors for responding to your voice, gestures and touch and a collection of games that turn the virtual pet into quite the clever companion. These same sensors also make her a capable home security bot and something of a STEM tool for kids via a graphical programming option to teach Loona new “interactions.”

Put all this together and you have a capable home robot that just happens to love having its ears tickled. What’s not to love about that? — James Trew, Editor-at-Large

Best Smart Home Product: GE Profile Smart Mixer

GE

Baking requires precision and, depending on the recipe, can often feel like a juggling act. So it impressed us to see GE Profile's Smart Mixer, which has a built-in scale to accurately weigh ingredients, plus voice control so you don’t have to push buttons when your hands are otherwise occupied. The Smart Mixer is a high-end stand mixer in its own right, with a motor that’s speedy enough to whip up emulsions. But it gets its smart home edge from that integrated scale, app connectivity and voice control.

Indeed, the app component will probably be particularly useful for novice bakers, offering over a dozen step-by-step recipes. App guidance for cooking is nothing new, but here, the mixer knows what you’re making and will adjust mixing speeds as needed to ensure nothing is over- or under-worked.

For experienced bakers, the scale, timer and voice control are likely to have greater appeal. Scale and timer readouts appear on the front-facing digital display, which also shows you the mixer’s current speed setting. Changing that setting is as easy as asking Alexa or the Google Assistant to do it for you, provided you have a smart speaker linked. With a starting price of $999, it’s by no means a cheap appliance, but the suite of innovative smart features made this one of the more memorable smart home gadgets we saw at the show this year. — Amy Skorheim, Commerce Writer

Best Transportation Tech: Ram 1500 BEV Concept

Stellantis

The Ram 1500, one of America’s most iconic trucks, is charging into the 21st century with a “revolutionary” battery electric pickup concept. The eponymously named Ram 1500 Revolution BEV Concept shown off at Stellantis’ CES 2023 keynote packs high tech everything into a sleek and aggressive body design. The BEV concept features dual-motor AWD, four-wheel steering, animated grille emblems, taillights and badging. Additionally, it has an integrated movie projector, AI assistants that respond to voice commands from both inside and outside the vehicle, as well as a Shadow Mode that trains the truck to follow along behind its dismounted driver from a safe distance.

Ram envisions this feature being used on job sites where workers would otherwise have to repeatedly get in and out of the truck between short drives. The BEV Concept itself won’t be entering production — ditto for most concept vehicles — but it will directly inform the design decisions going into the 2024 Ram 1500 EV, which will launch next year alongside Stellantis’ fully electric Jeep. — Andrew Tarantola, Senior Reporter

Best TV Tech: Samsung Micro LED

Samsung

CES has long been a show where tier-one manufacturers show off the latest and greatest in TV technology, giving us a preview of how normal people will be able to deck out their home theater setups once the tech goes mainstream. This year was no exception, even though Sony surprisingly didn't show off any new televisions. What felt most significant in 2023 was Samsung's continued advancements in its MicroLED TVs. The technology first debuted in 2018 with the company's gigantic 146-inch TV dubbed "The Wall" that cost as much as a house, but now we're seeing Samsung bring it to 50- and 63-inch TVs that will actually fit in people's living rooms. Sure, the cost will likely still be prohibitive for all but the wealthy, but hopefully in a few years we'll see these stunning screens available at a price more households can afford. — Nathan Ingraham, Deputy Editor, News

Best Wearable: German Bionic Apogee

German Bionic

Our favorite wearable this year takes technology beyond the wrist-bound devices we’re used to seeing and puts it on your hips and over your shoulders. German Bionic’s new Apogee exosuit builds upon the company’s Cray X exoskeleton that it showed off at CES last year, resulting in a lighter, smarter wearable. Designed for commercial use, the Apogee exosuit helps workers complete physical tasks without inflicting as much strain on their bodies. The suit can offset up to 66 pounds of load to the lower back per lifting motion, plus it helps reduce fatigue overall with walking assistance.

The Apogee is German Bionic’s lightest exosuit to date and it’s designed to be worn for long periods of time, assisting workers without getting in the way. Plus, the company’s IO architecture constantly collects and analyzes data about workers’ activity while they’re wearing the suit, so it can then provide feedback via the onboard display or audio alerts when unsafe movements are detected. We’re almost disappointed that the Apogee will only be available in warehouses and other commercial settings – various Engadget staffers suffering from chronic back pain are eager to give it a go. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

Best in Show: Sony Project Leonardo

Sony

Project Leonardo is Sony’s first piece of gaming hardware designed specifically for people with disabilities, and it represents another positive step in the world of accessibility tech. Project Leonardo is a controller kit that will be plug-and-play with the PlayStation 5, working in conjunction with existing Sony hardware and popular third-party accessibility accessories. The controller kit includes two circular gamepads lined with swappable buttons, four 3.5mm AUX accessory ports and other customizable inputs. 

The controllers were designed so that they don't need to be held – instead, they lie flat on a table, or they can be mounted on a tripod or stand. Both controllers can be paired with a DualSense to turn all three devices into a single gamepad, offering plenty of flexibility for players. 

To build its new PS5 accessory, Sony partnered with advocacy organizations including AbleGamers, SpecialEffect and Stack Up, much like Microsoft did with the revolutionary Xbox Adaptive Controller. Though there's no release date or price for Project Leonardo quite yet, Sony is seizing on an opportunity to expand the PS5 playerbase while making its hardware more inclusive, and we're likely to hear much more about the controller kit in the coming months. 

The market for accessibility tech in video games is filled with surprises and primed for growth in 2023, and Project Leonardo is at the forefront this year. — Jessica Conditt, Senior Reporter

Engadget’s favorite games of 2022

What a year for gaming. While 2022 may not have enjoyed as many AAA releases as in past years, the ones that weren’t delayed into 2023 were stellar and the indie development scene more than made up for the lack of big-budget titles. Some of our favorite releases this year came from small, ambitious teams that delivered fresh ideas. As is tradition, the Engadget team came together to extol the virtues of our favorite releases from the past 12 months.

Bayonetta 3

Bayonetta 3 is a delicious amplification of the series’ most ridiculous themes. It indulges in absurdity without disrupting the rapid-fire combat or Bayonetta’s unrivaled sense of fashion and wit. Bayonetta 3 is joyful, mechanically rich and full of action, plus it allows players to transform into a literal hell train in order to take down massive beasts bent on destroying the multiverse. Bayonetta elegantly dances her way through battles, dropping one-liners and shooting enemies with her gun shoes in one moment, and turning into a giant spider creature the next.

The Bayonetta series just keeps getting weirder, but that doesn’t mean it’s losing its sense of satisfying gameplay along the way. In the franchise’s third installment, Bayonetta is powerful, confident and funny; she’s a drag queen in a universe loosely held together by witchcraft, and the chaos of this combination is truly magical. – Jessica Conditt, Senior Reporter

Cult of the Lamb

Sure, you’ve played Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, Hades and The Binding of Isaac – but what if you could play all of them at once, in a single adorable demonic package? That’s Cult of the Lamb, baby.

Cult of the Lamb is part social and farming simulator, part dungeon-crawling roguelike and all-around fantastic. After being sacrificed and resurrected, you’re instructed by a grand, dark deity to start your own cult, managing worship services, agriculture, cooking, marriages, deaths and much more. You must also venture into the wilderness to battle demons and recruit more followers. Keep in mind that you’re a lamb, which makes all of this exceptionally cute.

Cult of the Lamb is a brilliant balance of satanic dungeon crawling and cult simulation, offering more action than Animal Crossing and more casual farming mechanics than Hades. Cult of the Lamb is incredibly satisfying, and it’s rich in gameplay, story and environments. Most of all, it’s cute as hell. – J.C.

Elden Ring

There was never going to be a version of this post that did not include Elden Ring, FromSoftware's big push into open-world Berserk-inspired sword and sorcery.

Yes, there's something to be said about the earlier, more linear Souls games forcing players down a path of increasing gloom and difficulty (cue the hallmark rasping laugh of an NPC who seems to know precisely how screwed you are), how the inevitability of that experience allowed the devs to craft a bespoke gameplay loop of apprehension, frustration, discovery and the eventual reward of mastery. I love that stuff! But Elden Ring tried something new, effectively playing a shell game with those four player states, and making discovery the new initial draw.

My big "aha!" moments in Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne arrived when I'd finally spotted a shortcut or sussed out a boss's hidden weakness. Elden Ring retained that. But what really made the good brain chemicals flow was just… roaming around. Reaching the top of some lava-ridden mesa. Or finding a way onto some seemingly inaccessible islet. The grandeur of the settings and knowledge FromSoft wouldn't make me work for a slice of geography devoid of treasures to loot and dudes to hack apart made the effort worthwhile.

Some fans adore the limited palate of Sekiro which essentially tells players, "git gud or quit." Call me a bad gamer (accurate) but I prefer the maximalism and flexibility that Elden Ring brought to the table. Want to grind until every boss is trivial? How about a hitless all-remembrances run? Either, and anything in between, is valid. Allowing for challenge and accessibility makes Elden Ring a beautifully executed twist on the formula FromSoft has been honing for nearly 30 years. – Avery Menegus, Senior News Editor

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Sometimes, games you were once really looking forward to playing just sneak past you at launch. That’s totally true of Ghostwire: Tokyo, a game from Tango Gameworks, which also created the underrated horror game The Evil Within and its sequel.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is different to those, though. It’s often… funny. Sure, there are grotesque Japanese folklore monsters and creepy faceless men-in-suits to hurl magic at, but there are also ghosts trapped in toilet cubicles that need a few extra rolls of toilet paper, or park trees that need to be magically cleansed for nearby spirits to feel at ease. You play through a first-person perspective, using elemental attacks, charms and a spiritual bow and arrow set to take down an array of spirits that have invaded a substantial patch of central Tokyo. If you’ve heard the game described as Yakuza, but with ghosts, well, it’s a completely different kind of game. But the beautifully rendered buildings, interiors and streets definitely hit similar notes. Due to a supernatural attack on the city, you won’t bump into any other humans, pretty much through the entire campaign, which adds an eerie air to the entire game. It’s either ghouls trying to kill you, or spirits that need your help to move on.

The main game is short but punchy enough. It feels like a game that was banking on DLC to round out a lot of the more ambiguous plot questions players might have, but it’s uncertain whether that will ever happen. It’s still a fun supernatural game that takes a different approach to horror, with some mind-bending set pieces that bring some of the more imaginative parts of games like Control into the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. And who doesn’t want to be stalked by hundreds of paper eyeballs? – Mat Smith, UK Bureau Chief

God of War: Ragnarok

When I was first introduced to Kratos, the God of War, he was on my PS2, taking a stroll along a Cretan wharf, casually tearing a few Minotaurs in half. Things only went downhill from there. For a full three mythos-crushing game installments, things only went downhill from there. I mean, by the end of GoW III you had to dig pretty far down the Pantheon talent list to find a surviving deity.

But when we were reintroduced to Kratos on the PS4, we were not given back the pale ball of vengeful fury and barely-contained ultraviolence that we had grown to know and love. This new one was, well, not softer but at least not quite so hard-edged as before. This was a Kratos with bad knees who old-man grunted when he stood; a Kratos with a son he struggled to connect with but still reared in a dangerous and unforgiving world, demi-god or not. This was a more relatable Kratos, one that had aged alongside the gamers that inhabit his form in the intervening console years, with concerns and motivation beyond most efficiently chain slashing his way through enemy hordes.

I think a big part of what made God of War the Game of the Year in 2018 was that progression away from thinly-veiled plot points serving as excuses for more blood, boobs and button smashing; and towards a more mature, measured examination, not just of Kratos’ relationship with Atreus, but the larger theme of how to process familial loss, its accompanying grief, and to move forward from the pain.

Ragnarok is both an affirmation of Kratos’ reformation and a lodestar for the future of the God of War franchise. I’m not going to spoil the rich and nuanced multi-arc-with-just-a-hint-of-time-travel storyline for those who have not yet played but it, in my opinion at least, is the best written of the series. This is a game with cutscenes you’ll want to sit through. Combine that with well-paced skill-adjustable action, huge maps packed with treasures and secrets, an expansive supporting cast and star-studded voice acting – not to mention a menagerie-worth of mystical wildlife just begging to be torn limb from limb – and you’ve got yourself one of the best games of 2022. — Andrew Tarantola, Senior Reporter

Horizon Forbidden West

Sony’s first-party studios have generally done sequelsright, and Horizon Forbidden Westis no exception. The first game had one of my favorite narratives, as protagonist Aloy learned what happened a thousand years prior to bring about the mysterious world she (and the player) inhabit – one where mankind lives in relatively primitive tribes trying to stay safe from giant animal-like machines run amok.

Forbidden West delivers even more of what worked in Horizon Zero Dawn. Aloy remains a steadfast, righteous and occasionally stubborn protagonist who continues to grow as she uncovers more secrets about the world around her while fighting a totally unexpected force bent on destroying Earth as she knows it. The twists of Forbidden West don’t quite match the first game’s reveal of how the world we know evolved into the world Aloy inhabits. But the narrative is still rich and complex, and the new parts of what was once the American southwest that you get to explore are rendered in stunning detail. It’s one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played.

As with any good sequel, combat and traversal around the world have been refined – there are more weapons than ever, and you can customize them to match your play style or the particular enemies you’re facing. Melee combat against humans and machines alike has also been significantly upgraded, and new items like a grappling hook and hang glider make getting around quicker and more fun. And nearly all the machines from the first game return, along with some colossal new enemies that present a massive challenge, but also a massive bit of satisfaction as you figure out their weak spots and systematically take them down.

I think my favorite new thing of Forbidden West, though, is the relationships you build with your friends. In the first game, Aloy is mostly a lone wolf, occasionally partnering with people here and there but mostly doing things on her own. In Forbidden West, though, you establish a posse of capable and likable companions, some old and some new, all of whom bring something different to the table in your massive quest. Trying to fend off the end of the world feels just a little bit easier when you have friends by your side. – Nathan Ingraham, Deputy Editor

Immortality

With Immortality, indie game director Sam Barlow has delivered a tribute to the surreal films of David Lynch, with a dose of Hitchcock for good measure. Similar to Her Story, it's also entirely about scrubbing through video clips, except this time it involves footage from three unreleased genre films spanning several decades. Your job? To figure out what happened to the actress Marissa Marcel.

Geared more towards cinephiles than mainstream gamers, Immortality can be frustrating if you're not operating on Barlow's wavelength. But if you're a fan of surreal cinema, and you enjoy diving into behind-the-scenes footage, it's a game with endless rewards. The mystery will get you started, but the spooky atmosphere and excellent performances will keep you hooked. – Devindra Hardawar, Senior Editor

Marvel Snap

After getting burnt out on Hearthstone a few years ago, and superhero movies more recently, the last thing I expected to hook me in 2022 was a comic book-themed collectible card game. But then the fine folks at Second Dinner released Marvel Snap and it quickly became my favorite time waster. Because a match lasts less than five minutes, you can easily play a round during commercials, while waiting for the train, or in the bathroom (I’m not judging). And while decks cap out at just 12 cards, there’s a surprising amount of depth with a huge variety of effects and counters. Meanwhile, thanks to appearances from lesser-known characters like Hell Cow, Devil Dinosaur and the Infinaut, the game has prompted me to learn more about Marvel lore than any of the movies ever did. So even though the game is a little barebones at the moment (the only mode is a basic ranked ladder but more features are on the way), Marvel Snap is sure to be a game I continue playing long after I’ve forgotten about whatever happened in the latest Spider-man movie. – Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter

Neon White

What do you do when you love speed running and score chasing, but you're generally not very good at it? You play Neon White

Like all good games, Neon White is simple to learn, and difficult to master. The basic ask is that you vanquish every demon from a level and head to a finish marker. It plays like a fast-paced first-person shooter, with the complexity coming from your weapons, which are cards that can either fire or be spent for a special movement or attack ability. The real challenge comes from the scoring system, which grades you based on the time you took to complete a level.

There are just shy of 100 levels, all begging to be learned, repeated and perfected. Despite its first-person shooter visuals, it plays out more like a cross between Trackmania and a platformer. You'll quickly turn that bronze medal into a gold, and then an "ace" that is supposedly your ultimate target. Then you'll see the online leaderboards and realize you've left some seconds on the table. Then you'll randomly achieve the secret red medal on a level, say "oh jesus" and realize that there's a whole hidden tier of perfection for you to attain.

The trick is that everything feels smooth, and fast. From my first gold medal time up to the top-ten-in-the-world run I showed my pretending-to-be-interested friends, every time I turned on the game I felt like a master, inches away from perfection. There are multiple paths through each level, ridiculous shortcuts to discover, and near-infinite degrees of satisfaction waiting after every good run.

The main negative point, for me, is the story, which plays out like a visual novel. I love the genre, and had heard good things about the game's characters, but found the narrative overly slow and just generally dull. There is mercifully a "fast forward" button, and once you've played through everything, a level select screen that lets you jump right into the action.

Despite its storytelling, and a couple of overly long levels that had me gnashing my teeth, Neon White was easily the most fun I had with a game this year. I played on Switch and PC, but a couple of weeks ago it landed on PlayStation as well, and I imagine I'll be starting up a new campaign and playing it all over again soon.– Aaron Souppouris, Executive Editor

OlliOlli World

Most of the time, single-player narrative-driven games are where I spend most of my gaming time. But once a year, I come across a game like OlliOlli World that I can play for minutes or hours at a time because the gameplay is just so satisfying. The goal in OlliOlli World is simple: become a skateboarding god. You do that by progressing through five worlds, each of which has a dozen or more individual stages, each with a wildly unique course to traverse.

Unlike the earlier games in the OlliOlli series, World is a bit more forgiving at first. It’s much easier to pick up and start pulling off wild moves and combos than ever before. But it’s still fiendishly challenging – if you want to beat every challenge, you’ll need lightning-fast reflexes and the mental stamina to change up your tricks and moves constantly. But once you get fluent in the game’s mechanics, you can enter a flow state where you’re just making moves purely on instinct.

The level and character design in OlliOlli World only enhances this effect. Like the earlier games, each of the five biomes has its own unique characteristics, but in all cases the levels are extremely colorful and interactive, with tons of eye candy and bizarre creatures hanging out in the background. And you can customize your character with clothing and items you pick up for completing challenges, letting you express your personal style in a huge variety of ways. There are also competitive aspects, like the daily challenge where you compete against nine other skaters to post the top score in your group. And every time you visit a level, you’ll see a “rival” score to try and beat. There’s always something pushing you to skate even better in OlliOlli World. – N.I.

Overwatch 2

Overwatch is my second favorite game of all time. Despite sharper, faster-paced gameplay, some much-needed quality-of-life improvements and the free-to-play shift I've wanted for years, Overwatch 2 isn't quite at that level yet. It's too rough around the edges.

The monetization changes felt like a gut punch. In fairness, many of the high-end skins cost around the same as what you'd pay for outfits in other major free-to-play titles. But newcomers now need to pay up if they want cosmetics that have been in the game for six years – items that veteran players were able to earn for free only a few months ago. Players also need to pay for the premium battle pass, grind through the free tier or wait until it's easier to unlock new heroes in later seasons before getting access to the latest characters.

And yet, Overwatch 2 has a hold over me like no other game. It's still the best multiplayer title around, with a rich lore, a wonderful cast of characters and a colorful aesthetic that helps it stand out from many other games on the market. The ping system is an excellent addition for accessibility, and the four new heroes that have joined the lineup since launch are all a blast. Some of the major hero reworks, especially the Orisa one, have been a resounding success.

As much as I enjoy the game as it is now, Blizzard has laid the foundations for an even more exciting future. Next year will bring long-awaited, story-driven co-op missions to the franchise – until now, we've only had a taste of those during seasonal events. After getting a sneak peek at some of the stuff that's on the way to the PvP side in the next few seasons, including a new core game mode and the season four hero, I can't see myself putting this game down anytime soon. – Kris Holt, Contributing Reporter

Rollerdrome

Roll7

Rollerdrome is lush. It’s incredibly stylish, taking cues from 1970s Hollywood sci-fi but with an attractive cel-shaded filter over every scene. Even better than its stunning visuals, Rollerdrome has smooth, precise mechanics that allow players to fall into a flow in every level. The game is all about gliding through the environments on rollerblades, picking up speed and doing tricks while dodging and shooting enemies, managing weapons and controlling time – and it all comes together in a thrilling dystopian bloodsport.

It’s a joy to dodge, dodge, dodge and then leap into the air, slow down time and take out the people shooting at you, refilling ammo and collecting health in the process. Meanwhile, an unsettling story of corporate greed unfolds naturally beneath the rollerblading bloodshed, keeping the stakes high. Rollerdrome was a sleeper hit of 2022, so if you’ve been napping on this one, now’s the time to wake up and play. – J.C.

Stray

When I fall in love with a game, it’s the setting that gets me, which maybe explains why I wandered around Fallout 76’s Appalachian wasteland long after most people had left – I wanted to live there. I want to live in the futuristic city where Stray takes place too, but since I’m neither cat nor robot, I wouldn’t be allowed. In the game, you play a standard orange tabby with no special abilities, apart from those given to most felines like agility and jumping prowess. Through a mishap, you find yourself trapped in a domed city populated exclusively by amiable humanoid robots, and you eventually team up with a small drone that lets you “talk” with those androids.

To find your way back to your cat family outside the city, you solve puzzles, fight mutant bacterial blobs and generally follow your curiosity. The cityscape is a gorgeous, multi-level cyberpunk playground that feels a little less hardcore than Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City, with plenty of woven rugs to scratch and pillows to nap on. In fact, scratching, napping and otherwise doing cat stuff not only unlocks achievements (I was particularly proud to earn the one for getting a paper bag stuck on my head) they’re also integral to the game.

As my colleague Jessica Conditt said in her review, Stray is “downright joyful.” By leaning into the cat premise, it creates a whole new gaming perspective – you can’t do stuff humans can do, but you can do stuff cats do, like shimmying through small holes and jumping on pipes and bookcases. Living 12 inches off the ground for the cumulative eight hours or so it took me to play the game, I finally understood why cats want to jump on top of everything. The view is just better up there. – Amy Skorheim, Commerce Writer

The Last of Us Part I

A ton has been said about how The Last of Us Part I is a remake of a game that was originally released for the PS3 and then remastered a year later for the PS4. (Oh, and it’s coming to PC in early 2023, too.) So, it’s not exactly an essential release if you’ve played it before. But for people who may have heard about the upcoming HBO show and want to know what all the fuss is about – or anyone who loved Joel and Ellie’s journey the first time – this PS5 version is the definitive way to experience this story.

The game has been entirely rebuilt from scratch, and it shows in everything from the ruined post-pandemic cities and surprisingly tranquil forests and mountains to the detail found in collectibles around the world. Most crucially, though, the facial animations are simply stunning. Everyone you encounter, whether a lead character or an NPC you only see once, looks amazingly detailed and realistic. Of course, that means the hordes of infected humans hunting you are even more disturbingly detailed than ever, as well.

The updates aren’t just skin deep, either. Enemies are smarter and more cunning than ever, thanks to developer Naughty Dog using the upgraded AI system they implemented in 2020’s The Last of Us Part II. Humans are more aggressive about flanking you and a lot easier to lose once they find you, while the Infected are even better at hearing you trying to sneak by. There are a host of other updates, big and small, perhaps the most important of which is a massive suite of accessibility features so that almost anyone can give this game a shot.

What hasn’t changed is the story and script – but that isn’t a problem, given that The Last of Us was already well-known for its outstanding performances and plotting. The debate on whether or not The Last of Us Part I was really “necessary” will likely continue, but don’t spend too much time thinking about it. If you’ve never played the game before, this is the way to do it. And if you’re like me and play it every year or two, this is the best way to do so. – N.I.

Tunic

How do you write about a game that’s best experienced without expectations? That’s the challenge of saying something meaningful about Tunic. You can speak to its influences – primarily The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, with a dash of Soulslike combat – but that doesn’t do the game justice. Worse yet, it fails to capture its appeal. I could also mention its haunting soundtrack by Lifeformed and Janice Kwan or the austere beauty of its art style. But again that’s not quite what makes Tunic so special.

I’m being purposefully vague because to say more would be to rob the game of its magic. So I’ll leave you with this: It’s fitting Tunic casts you as a cutesy fox because the game has a knack of making you feel so clever anytime you work through one of its many mysteries. Do yourself a favor and try to play this one without turning to the internet if you run into a roadblock. On the other end is one of the most rewarding gaming experiences in recent memory. – Igor Bonifacic, Weekend Editor

Triangle Strategy

As a longtime fan of the SRPG genre, no game in the last decade has managed to evoke classics like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre more than Triangle Strategy. I admit it’s a bit of a slow burn and it gets a bit text-heavy, but with multiple endings (including a New Game+ mode), a deep roster of characters and rewarding turn-based combat, this game has it all. And thanks to its art style, which masterfully blends old-school sprites with a modern 2.5D approach, this game looks and feels like a love letter to those all-time greats of the late 90s. If you’re a fan of tactics games, Triangle Strategy is a must-play. – S.R.

Vampire Survivors

I had such good intentions for my Steam Deck. I swore I'd use it to get through my Steam backlog and stream a bunch of games from Xbox Cloud Gaming and Stadia (RIP). Sure, I do those things, but only on the rare occasion I can rip my attention away from Vampire Survivors.

It is a rudimentary-looking game with very basic controls. You'll face hordes of monsters, but because your weapons autofire, the only real control you have is using the thumbstick or touch controls to move your character. You'll need to carefully juke away from some enemies while getting close enough to kill others and pick up the experience gems they drop. After you collect enough gems and level up, you’re able to select another weapon or powerup.

This is where many of the game's intricacies come in. You'll get a random selection of weapons and power-ups to choose from at every level, as well as the ability to make your items more powerful. If you find the right pairings, you can evolve weapons into ultra-powerful forms. Vampire Survivors is the perfect distillation of the power fantasy. Flesh out the right build and you'll carve through bosses that once seemed unbeatable like a lightsaber through ice cream.

This game begs you to keep coming back. Since it debuted in early access last December, developer Poncle has frequently updated the game with more characters, weapons, items and levels. Part of the joy is in building different loadouts that can demolish enemies with ease. Vampire Survivors also shares some DNA with casinos. There's an explosion of color and some upbeat, tension-filled music whenever you open a treasure chest, along with a delightful chime whenever you grab a gem – you will hear that a lot. These aspects don't exactly make it easy to put the game down.

I love my Steam Deck. I love Vampire Survivors. Together, they have a toxic hold over my desire to play other games. I could simply uninstall Vampire Survivors from my Deck, but, really, what's the point when I can just play it on my phone now?– K.H.

Wordle

Mike Kemp via Getty Images

For a while in 2022, a word game brought the world together. Because it’s the same puzzle for every single player each day, Wordle was a giant inside joke amongst solvers across international boundaries. At Engadget, for example, London-based Mat Smith could give me hints or laugh at my inability to guess a word he got.

I also loved sharing and seeing the little blocks that showed how many tries it took us to solve the word. It was a chance to both bond and brag – the perfect gaming experience. Plus, whenever a word was controversial, whether it was spelled in US or UK English, for example, I loved the inevitable debate that would result. In 2022, Wordle gave us an elevated form of watercooler conversation fodder, but for the entire world.

Although technically launched in 2021, Wordle found widespread popularity in 2022. It was born from software engineer Josh Wardle’s desire to make a word game for him and his partner Palak Shah to play together. But it was when the user base expanded beyond his family to encompass the entire globe that Wordle took on a life of its own.

Countless iterations were spawned, building on the format and name… which itself was based on Wardle’s last name. You may have seen examples like Heardle, Worldle, Squirdle, Absurdle and more, using the puzzle’s format for us to guess songs, countries and other subjects. As always happens with anything popular, hundreds of websites published guides to beating the game, while scores of clones popped up in the Android and iOS app stores, hoping to cash in on the fever. Wardle later sold the game to the New York Times for an undisclosed sum that was reported to be in the low seven digits, and soon, just as quickly as the fever started, the game’s popularity subsided. Thanks to Wordle, we all may be leaving 2022 just a little bit savvier about the most common letters and words in the English language. – Cherlynn Low, Deputy Editor

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Getting into a new role-playing game series can be hard sometimes. This is especially true when you’ve allied yourself with a certain studio or series – and we are into double digits in the Trails series, not to mention the juggernaut that is Final Fantasy. It’s trickier to reorient yourself to completely new gameplay dynamics, series in-jokes that fly over your head and just, well, things being different.

That means I’m late to playing critically acclaimed RPGs – I have to be in the right mindset. So how did Xenoblade Chronicles 3 weasel its way into my heart? I think it’s because I was told by several people, both gaming critics and friends, that it was a perfect entry into the series, regardless of whether you’d played its predecessors. They weren’t wrong.

It’s a nice game to approach with a blank slate because it goes through around three different tonal gear shifts before you entirely know exactly what the heck is going on. While I don’t want to ruin the anime-nodding plot twists, several of which you will see coming from a mile away, the game starts with a sci-fi, steam-punk high-concept scenario. Teen warriors on two factions are pitted against each other, waging wars with mechs, but also close-range weapons. It turns out direct kills are the only way to leech their enemy’s life force, building up a store in their base’s “flame clock” and ensuring a squad’s survival. They have to fight, to live.

Noah and two of his allies clash against Mio and her retinue, and after the battle ends in a draw – and I get to enjoy a slick, anime-styled battle movie between all six – the fates conspire to ensure this is your group of warriors, and only they can save the world.

With a wide range of classes to wield and master, as well as the ability to add a guest warrior to your squad pretty much any time throughout the game, battles initially seem chaotic, but I soon got attuned to the rhythm. Defenders will coax enemies into targeting them, allowing your heavy-hitting attackers to wail on them from the side or back – positioning is crucial. Meanwhile, your healers will ensure your defender doesn’t fall and amp up damage either with area-specific skills or targeted attacks on enemies. Also, your epic, charge-them-up-in-battle Interlink attacks are accompanied by such a high-energy soundtrack, it’s hard not to feel like a hero.

There are some big pacing problems in places, and when you get the ability to combine with your allies and form powerful Evangelion-esque avatars, you wonder exactly what can stop them at times. But it’s a vast adventure with several compelling side quests to fill out your time in Aionios. Annoyingly, it’s won me over – and I have since downloaded the original Xenoblade Chronicles (and its sequel) to play in 2023. – M.S.

The best free games for 2023

Gone are the days when free games equated to ropey puzzle games and knock-off clones of games that had a price tag. These days, courtesy of in-app payments and the ease of offering both a sample of a title alongside its full-fat version, there are actually plenty of great games to play without spending a dime. Following the continued success of titles like Fortnite, the level of quality across mobile, PC and consoles has never been higher. Put your card away, and consider this your starting point.

Genshin Impact

Hoyoverse

At launch, many of us assumed Genshin Impact was a tenuous Zelda: Breath of the Wild copy with impressive anime graphics and not much else. But this turned out to be a very different game Nintendo’s action RPG, with over 50 characters, at this point, to play as. The world is rich and varied. It’s also a huge accomplishment for a free game that’s found a huge chunk of its audience on smartphones.

While battles with foes form a major part of the game, a lot of the joy and satisfaction comes from customizing that army of characters, building up a collection of loot and strengthening them further. While there is an entire microtransaction system baked into the game, much of the game is playable (and enjoyable) without having to spend a dime. Did we mention it’s totally gorgeous?

Play Genshin Impact

Overwatch 2

Blizzard Entertainment

Even though Blizzard has improved the onramp for new players this time around, Overwatch 2 still has a steep learning curve. Stick with it, though, and you’ll get to indulge in perhaps the best team shooter around. Overwatch 2 has a deceptively simple goal — stand on or near an objective and keep the other team away long enough to win. It’s much more complex in practice. To the untrained eye, matches may seem like colorful chaos, but Overwatch 2 has a deceptively simple goal — stand on or near an objective and keep the other team away long enough to win.

It’s much more complex in practice. Blizzard reduced the number of players on each team from six to five. That, along with across-the-board character tweaks, has made gameplay faster-paced and more enjoyable than the original Overwatch. There's a greater emphasis on individual impact, but you'll still need to work well with your teammates to secure a victory.

Now featuring a cast of more than 30 heroes, each with distinct abilities and playstyles, you’ll surely find a few Overwatch 2 characters that you can connect with. The first batch of new heroes are all a blast to play. There are many great (though often fairly expensive) new skins to kit them out with too. The game looks and sounds terrific too, thanks to Blizzard’s trademark level of polish. At least until you figure out how to play Overwatch 2, you can marvel at how good it looks.

Play Overwatch 2

Fortnite Battle Royale

Epic Games

Fortnite is a social space as much as it is a game. Where else can you see Spider-Man doing John Cena's "You Can't See Me" taunt next to Indiana Jones dancing to a Dua Lipa song, or Ariana Grande hanging out with Goku while you catch up with friends in voice chat? It also happens to be a great video game with a clear path to victory. Drop onto the island, grab some weapons and gear and try to be the last player or team standing as a storm pushes survivors closer to each other.

Epic made Fortnite far more approachable earlier this year when it introduced a Zero Build mode, which prevents players from building structures for cover. If you have the skills to box an opponent into a skyscraper in mere seconds, by all means, go for it in the other modes, but Zero Build levels the playing field for new players.

Play Fortnite Battle Royale

Fall Guys

Mediatonic/Epic Games

Fall Guys is a different flavor of battle royale. Sure, there can still only be one player or squad standing tall at the end, but there are no guns in sight here. It's essentially a platformer in the vein of MXC or Takeshi’s Castle, in which only a certain number of players will qualify from each obstacle-laden round.

It’s also maybe the goofiest and purely enjoyable multiplayer game around. You don’t necessarily need to win to have a good time. It’s hard to feel aggrieved, even when another player shoves you off a ledge to knock you out. It rarely feels mean-spirited even when another player messes with you.

With developer Mediatonic adding more levels and cute cosmetics fairly frequently, the game rarely feels stale. Whenever you return to Fall Guys after a break, you’ll probably run into a new type of bedlam.

Buy Fall Guys

Apex Legends

Apex Legends

From the studio that brought you Titanfall, Apex is a 60-player deathmatch with teams consisting of three people each. The goal is for your team to be the last one standing in Kings Canyon, where you’ll have to loot and fight your way to survival using characters like Octane, an adrenaline junkie whose ultimate move is deploying a jump pad that catapults you into the air for sneak attacks.

You can download it and use the majority of Apex’s characters without having to spend any money. That said, you will have to shell out some cash to access to certain content, including weapon skins and new characters such as Wattson. If you don’t like the cartoonish aspect of Fortnite, and if you’re a fan of the action-packed Titanfall gameplay, it doesn’t get much better than Apex.

Play Apex Legends

Dota 2

Dota 2

Dota 2 has one of the steepest learning curves of any game. Only after sinking hundreds upon hundreds of hours into the five-on-five MOBA can you even begin to understand the deep game mechanics, 100+ unique characters and team strategies. But the fact Dota 2 is so challenging makes those big plays and hard-fought victories all the more satisfying. The sky-high skill ceiling means there's always something to learn, and if you eventually make it into the pro ranks, one tournament win can turn you into an overnight millionaire.

Play Dota 2

Pokémon Go

Niantic

When Pokémon Go launched in 2016, there were some obvious omissions, such as trading and player-versus-player trainer battles. Now, almost every problem and missing feature has been addressed. The game isn't perfect, but the fundamentals — walking around outside, spinning Pokéstop signs and catching critters — make this a truly unique and health-beneficial experience for Pokemon fans. The daily "research" quests and timed events, which boost the appearance of certain monsters, are a great excuse to log in every day. Niantic continues to expand the Pokédex, too, so that your collection is never quite finished.

Play Pokemon Go

Call of Duty: Warzone

Activision

For years, Fortnite was the battle royale of choice for younger players, until Call of Duty: Warzone came along. Boosting by interest during the pandemic, the free-to-play battle royale has persisted through numerous iterations of the Call of Duty franchise, with new maps, game modes and weapons helping to push the player base above the 100 million mark. The core game requires you to either drop in solo or as part of a team and duke it out with up to 149 other players, running between different points of interest to forage for weapons, tactical items and vehicles. If that wasn’t enough, a wall of gas will force you into increasingly tight areas.

Warzone offers some fresh takes on the traditional battle royale formula. For example, if you die, you will be sent to the ‘Gulag’ to fight with other downed players for a one-time chance to redeploy back into the game. Should you lose, teammates can still ‘buy’ your return, but requires them to first earn enough in-game money to afford it. Following the release of Modern Warfare 2, Warzone was overhauled. It got a new map, Al Mazrah, which is the largest playzone in the game’s history. Loadouts – a system that allowed players to customize a Primary and Secondary Weapon, Tacticals, Lethals and three Perks before the game – have been changed too. 

Play Call of Duty: Warzone

What we bought: Our favorite books of 2022

We may not have had quite as much unfettered reading time as we did in the lockdown days of the COVID pandemic, but Engadget’s editors have still managed to pick out, peruse and ponder a broad variety of this year’s most intriguing books. Whether we learned how to wield a wok, listened to life lessons from Hideo Kojima, or dove into the seedy underbelly of an alt-universe 1940’s San Francisco, here are a few of our favorites from 2022.

Razzmatazz by Christopher Moore

Harper Collins

Classic noir cinema was a staple in my house growing up — I mean, my first celebrity crush was on The Thin Man series co-star, Myrna Loy — so any story from the days when mugs were mooks and gals were dames holds sway over my heart. But The Thin Man, like the rest of the media made at that time, only showed a very narrow, very male, very white view of life. Christopher Moore’s latest novel, Razzmatazz, adds some much needed color to the otherwise black-and-white world of noir.

Razzmatazz is the second title for Moore’s satirical murder mystery series, following 2019’s Noir. In this latest installment, we’re returned to Post-WWII San Francisco as bartender Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin and his cadre of misfit friends hustle to survive in Fog City. Now, helping disappear your best friend’s girlfriend’s abusive husband is one thing but, as the team soon learns, stealing back a possibly magical, definitely priceless, heirloom from the local Tong is another entirely — and that’s before some madman starts murdering the city’s drag kings.

Razzmatazz is a smart and just a bit snarky adventure mystery featuring a diverse and developed cast of characters, fast-paced action that seamlessly transitions between the varying viewpoints of said ensemble and doesn’t get bogged down in world building. At around 350 pages apiece, Noir and Razzmatazz will each provide a solid weekend’s entertainment and, if you’re still looking for more Moore after that, check out 2020’s Shakespeare for Squirrels. – Andrew Tarantola, Senior Editor

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

Penguin Randomhouse

I always look forward to new Blake Crouch releases because his writing is vivid and fast-paced, so much so that I can see the movie version playing out in my head as I devour his latest title in just a couple of days. This year’s Upgrade was no exception – we’re in a world in which gene editing is real yet highly regulated, and we follow Logan Ramsay, a member of the Gene Protection Agency as he tries to apprehend those who may be involved in nefarious gene-editing activities.

But after a violent encounter on a mission, Logan starts to feel less and less like himself and more like a better version of himself. He can read faster, he’s physically stronger and he needs less sleep. He soon finds out his genome has been hacked, and he also discovers he’s part of a much larger plan that could change humanity as he knows it. As he works to stop this plan from being executed, he’s forced to confront some of the darkest parts of his past and the tarnished family legacy he’s been working so hard to escape.

Crouch excels at putting readers into his protagonist’s shoes, forcing them to feel the same anxiety, dread and confusion inflicting his main characters. But to think that produces an overall unpleasant reading experience would be incorrect: Upgrade is an intriguing thrill ride that moves at break-neck speed, while posing a lot of questions about humanity as a whole. – Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Harper Collins

On its face, Notes on an Execution may seem like a typical examination of a serial killer. The novel begins with Ansel Packer counting down his last 12 hours before he’s to be executed for killing many women. But Danya Kukafka is much less interested in this murderer as she is in telling the stories of three women who were all affected by Ansel in some way. We follow Lavender, Ansel’s mother, as a lost teenager pushed to the brink as she struggles to protect her children and herself; Hazel, Ansel’s sister-in-law who watches her twin lose herself in this toxic relationship; and Saffy, the lead investigator on Ansel’s case with more hidden trauma than you might expect buried just under the surface. But these women aren’t victims with a capital V. Instead, they work to flip the serial-killer narrative on its head by focusing our attention on the fact that, despite everything, they survived. Notes on an Execution is a dark, engaging story with lovely prose and a surprisingly, underlying element of hope at the end of it all. – V.P.

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Our Missing Hearts, in the grand tradition of near-future dystopian fiction like The Handmaid’s Tale or 1984, presents a vision of our country that feels far too close for comfort. In Ng’s third novel, she writes of a 12-year-old boy named Bird and his father, who live in a United States where laws enshrining America-first culture have been put in place following years of economic and social turmoil.

In this world, Asians have been made the scapegoat for all of America’s ills; while Asian Americans are still technically free and full citizens, many of them are under the thumb of police and subject to various degrees of violence from so-called “real” Americans. And any parents deemed to be un-America could have their children immediately confiscated – no questions asked. As in any good dystopia, books deemed unpatriotic have also been seized and destroyed, including a book of poetry by Bird’s mother, a woman who disappeared years earlier.

This story is simultaneously small and universal. The meat of the narrative focuses on Bird pushing to learn more about his mother and the circumstances of the world he’s living in, and there are only a handful of major characters. At the same time, Ng skillfully paints a plausible picture of an America that’s given in to its worst instincts. Ng has pointed out multiple times that all the atrocities being committed in Our Missing Hearts are things that have taken place in the US or other parts of the world already – not a comforting thought.

But as bleak as this world is, the book is filled with moments of unexpected beauty and small triumphs. Perhaps most crucially, there’s a sense that while an extremist minority currently may rule over a more sensible populace, there’s a way out of the darkness. Our Missing Hearts isn’t a light story, but it’s an important one, artfully told by a writer who can deftly weave together a compelling narrative with poignant social commentary. Ng may have made a big impact in popular culture with Little Fires Everywhere (and its accompanying Hulu miniseries), but Our Missing Hearts feels like her definitive work thus far. – Nathan Ingraham, Deputy Editor

The Creative Gene by Hideo Kojima

Simon and Schuster

Hideo Kojima is a video game designer best known for the Metal Gear series, which popularized the stealth genre and had a plot that could charitably be described as ridiculous. Perhaps shamefully, I am a Kojima fan. His studios’ games are often in dire need of an editor and almost constantly tow the line between insight and navel-gazing. Sometimes, they’ve also seemed incapable of treating their female characters with respect. But they are always bursting with ideas, trying things with an unmistakable voice and a ceaseless, pulverizing earnestness. His post-apocalyptic delivery sim Death Stranding is at once laughably on-the-nose (one hard-to-kill character is called “Die-Hardman” AKA: John McClane, of course), and one the most enchanting games I’ve played in the past decade.

I give you this background to help explain how I ended up reading Kojima’s book, The Creative Gene, earlier this year. (It was technically published in late 2021.) Instead of telling some weirdo techno-thriller or a behind-the-scenes look at game development, though, this is a collection of previously published essays about the books, movies and other cultural objects that Kojima finds essential to his being. Like his games, it can border on hokey and self-mythologizing, but it is disarmingly honest, personal and anti-cynical.

In many ways, the Metal Gear games are about identity – who we are and how we got there. That’s more or less what Kojima gets at here; for about 250 pages, he raves about things he likes with a tangible verve, not to recommend them to consumers, but to explore how they’ve shaped his experience. More than a memoir, though, The Creative Gene is an appreciation of how art of all stripes can spark inspiration in a recyclable process.

The prose is nothing extraordinary, and there are certainly more essential subjects out there. While you don’t need to be a gamer to get something out of this, having a familiarity with Kojima’s work doesn’t hurt. Still, The Creative Gene’s sincerity and enthusiasm are easy to appreciate in a time of widespread detachment. – Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Penguin Randomhouse

Emily St. John Mandel delivered one of the essential reads of the pandemic when she published The Glass Hotel in March 2020. It was no small feat given she previously wrote the award-winning Station Eleven, a novel that’s set partly after a world-ending flu. Given that there was a five-year gap between Station Eleven and Glass Hotel, I didn’t dare hope one of my favorite authors would release a new novel so soon, and that it would be as good as her previous works. Thankfully, Sea of Tranquility does not disappoint.

It shares many of the same strengths as Mandel’s past novels, including a brilliant sense of atmosphere and prose that rewards close reading. Sea of Tranquility is also in conversation with Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel in a way that will delight fans. That’s not to say you need to have read those books to enjoy her latest, but it may make you look at them (and Mandel’s career) in a new light. Add to that themes that will resonate with anyone who has lived through the past two years and you have one of the best books of 2022. – Igor Bonifacic, Weekend Editor

What we bought: Our favorite gadgets of 2022

While plenty of gadgets cross our desks, we at Engadget also end up buying a lot of things for ourselves throughout the year. In 2022, some of us upgraded our TVs while others invested in new cookware and deskaccessories that upped our productivity. But there are plenty of things we've been loving recently that haven't made it onto the site. Here, our staffers look back on the year that was by gushing about their favorite items they bought this year.

Nest Hub Max

Sam Rutherford / Engadget

I got a Nest Hub Max last year for Christmas and over the past 12 months, it’s probably brought me more joy than any other gadget. By setting Google Photos to automatically upload pictures of my son to an album linked to the Nest Hub, every day I’m treated to a slideshow of all the fun times we’ve had. When people say kids grow up fast, they’re totally right. But as a photo viewer with voice controls, the Nest Hub max lets me relive those memories while being also an important part of my smart home control center. – Sam Rutherford, Senior Reporter

55-inch LG B2 OLED smart TV

Valentina Palladino / Engadget

In prioritizing big purchases for our new home, I knew I wanted to get a better TV and soon. Not only did we need a new one quickly for our living room while my fiance used our old one in the basement he’d claimed as his man cave, but I also wanted to see if I could get a good deal during Amazon’s October Prime Day event. I ultimately decided to splurge on the 55-inch LG B2 OLED smart TV when it dipped under $1,000 during that period. To say the difference from our old LED TV was instantly noticeable is not hyperbole: as soon as we set the thing up, we were stunned by the quality. Blacks are deep and colors are much more vibrant than on any TV we’ve had before.

We’ve watched a lot of things on it so far, from live sports to documentaries to sitcoms and everything looks much sharper and more colorful than we’re used to. We’re also pleasantly surprised by LG’s webOS. This is the first TV we’ve used with it and it was super easy to get accustomed to. We like how you can customize your homescreen and navigate either with the arrow keys on the remote or the convenient little cursor that flies around the TV screen. We now refer to it as the “good TV” in the house, with my fiancé opting to watch his weekly sports games on the B2 rather than in his basement sanctuary. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

Chase Bliss Gen Loss v2

Chase Bliss

I have made no bones about my love of all things lo-fi and broken. What can I say? I like warbles. In my quest to make every instrument I own sound like it’s coming out of an old tape player I’ve tried a number of things, but in June I pre-ordered the Generation Loss MKII and I think my search is now complete.

The Generation Loss is one of the most popular lo-fi pedals ever made, and last year its creator, Tom Majeski of Cooper FX, joined the relentless experimenters at Chase Bliss. One of the first orders of business was updating his classic pedal. It’s pitched as a “VHS duplicator,” but that is greatly underselling things. While the original Gen Loss was just sort of a generalized tape simulator, the MKII version digs into the highly specific sonic characteristics of a variety of tape-based devices.

The company pulled apart and analyzed VHS players, Tascam Portastudios and dictaphones in an effort to find out what makes them unique. It covers everything from the subtle frequency drop off of old ¼-inch tape running through a reel-to-reel machine, all the way to the crushed hum that results when you make a copy of a copy of a VHS cassette. And if you’re not into the newer version that faithfully recreates particular tape formats, you can always throw one of Chase Bliss’ patented dip switches to turn on classic mode. — Terrence O'Brien, Managing Editor

Apple MagSafe Duo charger

Mat Smith / Engadget

I’ll admit it: My favorite gadget of the year is, well, something I bought last year. In spring 2021,I picked up Apple’s MagSafe Duo charger, which can charge both your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time, all in a fold-up, compact form factor. While I could (and have) used it at home to charge my Apple devices overnight, I picked it up as a compact charging kit for when I traveled. As we all know, 2021 was not the year for roaming the globe. But as travel restrictions were lifted this year, I finally got to see if the pricey charger was worth the investment.

Yes, $129 was a lot for a dual charger, but it fulfilled the brief of using just a single cable and being so much more compact than most rival Apple Watch standup chargers. It unfurls like a makeup compact, meaning it can slip into anyone’s luggage with ease. Yes, I could take the Apple Watch cable, but in recent years these cables have USB-C, not USB-A sockets. Unfortunately, a lot of hotels (and charging plugs) still don’t have those, and if I’m visiting a different country, there are only so many things I can charge at once with a travel adapter.

After unfolding the two sides, the magnetic puck for Watch charging can also be folded out at 90 degrees, attaching to the wearable and allowing me to see the time when it’s set up. The small footprint means it fits on most nightstands and bedside tables at hotels, guest rooms and even window ledges. If space is at a premium, you can fold it around to charge a single device, whether that’s the watch or your iPhone. The MagSafe charger spot can also wirelessly recharge my AirPods if I ensure they’re in the correct position.

It’s not perfect. I’m increasingly frustrated at the sluggish charging speed when wirelessly charging my iPhone – even if this isn’t a problem when charging overnight. Hopefully, Apple will bring out another model that’s hopefully cheaper and faster to charge. When Apple eventually ditches Lightning, it’ll need to make a new one anyway. – Mat Smith, UK Bureau Chief

Bissell SpotClean Pet Pro

Bissell

Our new house has carpet on the second floor and, while it’s in pretty good shape, there were some stains we wanted to remove if possible before moving in. We also have a cat who occasionally eats too fast and, well, I probably don’t have to tell you the rest. Investing in a spot cleaner seemed like a no-brainer, and I’m glad I went with Bissell’s SpotClean Pet Pro. It’s fairly light at 13 pounds and not very big, so I can tote it around by its carrying handle to any place in my home. All you have to do is fill the solution tank with the proper ratio of cleaning liquid and water, plug the machine in, turn it on and use the included handle to scrub away stains.

I first used it on some of the carpet’s existing mystery marks and they easily came out after a few minutes of elbow-greased scrubbing. The SpotClean’s handle has a button that lets you control the amount of solution it sprays out, and while it’s running, it’s constantly sucking up excess water, filling up a separate tank with the dirty bits. The hardest part of using it is the scrubbing you have to do, and how much weight you want to put into it is totally up to you. I found most light stains came out quickly and without too much effort on my part, but I did spend more time on tougher spots. I also love that I can use this to deep clean upholstered furniture, like our old couch which is in desperate need of a refresh. This spot cleaner certainly isn’t the sexiest purchase I’ve made for our new home, but it’s one that will keep it looking fresh and clean for longer. — V.P.

Tushy Classic Bidet 3.0

Tushy

Everyone likes a clean butthole. I don’t think that’s a controversial thing to say. But while toilet paper does a decent enough job, sometimes it just doesn’t get the area clean enough. Which means you end up using more TP, potentially clogging the toilet in the process, and you still might not feel like it’s completely clean. That’s why I recently purchased the Tushy Classic 3.0, an affordable bidet that can fit with my existing toilet.

I’ve long wanted one of those fancy Japanese bidet toilets. But not only are they expensive, they require remodeling my bathroom with an additional outlet, which I simply can’t justify at the moment. The Tushy Classic 3.0, on the other hand, is only $130 or so, and it gets the job done at a fraction of the cost. Installing it is easy. All we did was attach it to our existing plumbing and we were done in about 10 minutes. It doesn’t use any electricity either. Turning the knob adjusts the water pressure while moving the toggle adjusts the angle of the spray nozzle.

We’ve been using it for a few months now, and we really do love it. We almost look forward to going number two, which is a strange thing to say. As a woman with monthly menstruation, I really appreciate that it helps get me much cleaner than with toilet paper alone. I think we end up using less TP as a result, too. I’d probably want to upgrade to a fancier bidet in the future, but for now, the Tushy Classic 3.0 more than does the job. — Nicole Lee, Commerce Writer

Blueland hand soap

Blueland

Before we moved into our new home, we had nearly exhausted the available storage in our apartment. Our tiny bathrooms had little to no space to store extra hand soap, bath wash and other necessities, so I resorted to stuffing our linen closet to the brim – so much so that I had to lean on the door to get it to close properly. So I turned to Blueland, which makes hand soap, cleaning supplies and the like that come in small tablets inside compostable pouches, and most of their formulas are plant-based, vegan and more environmentally friendly than cleaners you’ll find in big-box stores. All you do is drop the formula tablet into a container of water, shake it up and let it sit for a while until the whole tablet dissolves and then you can use the product.

I was immediately impressed with the foaming hand soap for a few reasons. First, a couple of packets took up significantly less space than even a refill jug of the soap I was previously buying, plus I liked the fact that I was purchasing one less plastic bottle by switching. Second, the soap actually worked as advertised. I had tried a couple of eco-conscious hand and dish soaps before this, and most of them had left me disappointed because I felt like they didn’t clean as well as standard solutions. But Blueland’s hand soap foamed up nicely and actually left my hands feeling clean after every wash, with no weird residue left behind.

I started off using the tablets in a mason jar outfitted with a foaming pump lid, but I’ve since graduated to Blueland’s own glass hand soap bottles, which are hefty and luxe. Ultimately, Blueland solved a few problems for me: I don’t have to waste as much space storing hand soap refills, I don’t have to create as much waste since I’m not buying those single-use plastic bottles anymore and I don’t even have to remember to buy hand soap when I go shopping because I get refills sent to my door every few months. — V.P.

Fujifilm XF 27 mm F/2.8

Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

Earlier this year, when I started dabbling in photography as a hobby, I decided the best way for me to start honing my skills was to have my Fujifilm X-T30 with me at all times. The only issue was that, even the relatively light XF 35mm f/2 bought was a little too bulky to go everywhere. I ended up snagging one of Fuji’s 27mm pancake lenses used a few months back, and it’s barely left my camera since. More importantly, my camera has barely left my side since.

With this lens the X-T30 comfortably fits in my Peak Design Field Pouch, along with a cleaning cloth and brush, a notebook and pen, plus my keys. It’s so easy to just grab everything no matter where it is that I’m going. To my parents’ for a birthday dinner? Sure. Grocery shopping? Why not? Just around the block to walk my dog? Seems silly not to.

Obviously, the big feature here is size, but it’s not like you’re making a lot of tradeoffs to get there either. Images taken with the 27mm are insanely sharp. Even wide open at F/2.8 the corners are crisp and contrasty. Would a larger aperture have been nice? Sure. But this is plenty for street photography and family snapshots. My version doesn’t have an aperture ring sadly, but the newer model does. Honestly, my one real complaint is that the minimum focus distance is about 13.4 inches, and I often find myself wanting to get closer to my subject. Still, this is probably the best investment I’ve made in my budding love of photography. — T.O.

Anyday Everyday cookware set

Nader Khouri / Anyday

After a traumatic incident where I accidentally set a small fire in a hotel room during a work trip to Barcelona, I've always been extra careful about leaving metal in a microwave. So when my friend gifted me a set of Anyday bowls, telling me it was safe to place their metal lids in my microwave and cook whole meals with them, I was blown away.

The premise of these glass bowls is that they're designed to cook food in your microwave. The bowls themselves are made from thicker, thermal shock-resistant frosted glass so they'll better withstand temperature fluctuations without cracking. The lids keep steam in the dish to cook your food, and have vents to let out the excess. A silicone rim expands to accommodate extra pressure, and the stainless steel in the lids is curved in a way that Anyday says makes it "100% microwave-safe."

As someone who mostly prizes convenience when it comes to cooking, I'm enamored with my Anyday bowls. I love steaming eggs and fish filets, but I can also cook rice, vegetables, pasta, and make nut butters, cakes and pretty much anything in the microwave with this system. Of course, anything requiring a sear, deep fry or broil won't work, and some of the recipes the company shared on its website are too complicated for my liking. But for making healthy steamed meals, the Anyday system is honestly a godsend (or friendsend). Best part: they're dishwasher safe, so I don't need to deal with the cleanup after. — Cherlynn Low, Deputy Editor

Madewell Zip-Top Transport Crossbody

Madewell

My go-to bag for years has been the Pearl crossbody from Lo & Sons, which I love for its compact size and multiple compartments. But it just wasn’t big enough for all the gear that I wanted to carry around with me. So for my birthday this year, I decided to buy myself a newer, larger, bag. I knew that I wanted it to be a crossbody – it feels more secure to me than a regular shoulder model – and I would prefer it if it had top handles. I discovered Madewell’s Zip-Top Transport Crossbody while I was browsing the web, and it seemed to fit the bill.

I’ve had it for a few months now, and it’s earned its place as my new everyday bag. It’s made from a vegetable-tanned leather that’s soft and worn with a slight waxed finish which feels lovely to the touch. The shoulder straps are detachable so I can swap them out if I want, or I can use just the top handles by themselves. The best thing about it for me is its size: at around 10 x 10 x 3 inches, it’s small enough to not weigh me down, but it’s also surprisingly roomy. It fits all my essentials and then some. That includes my wallet, phone, keys, earbuds, pens, my Kobo Libra 2 e-reader, a portable battery and, if I wedge it in correctly, even my Hobonichi Techo planner.

That said, I wish it had more compartments. It only has two inside pockets, which themselves are not that big. As a result, it’s easy for smaller items to get lost; I often have to spend time searching for my lipstick or hand sanitizer. My current solution is to keep these items in a separate small makeup pouch that can fit inside the bag so that it’s easier to fish out. It’s not perfect, but at least for me, the good outweighs the bad. — N.L.

Purist Mover water bottle

Jeff Dunn / Engadget

I spent $50 on a water bottle earlier this year, and surprisingly, I don’t feel like an idiot months later. That’s because the bottle is the Purist Mover, and it has largely solved the problem of my water picking up a metallic taste after a few weeks. The trick is an ultra-thin, unbreakable layer of glass that lines the interior and helps prevent odors and tastes from transferring. To my taste buds, this has actually worked. I still need to wash the bottle every so often, of course, but so far my water has never tasted like anything other than water.

This might seem like a pointless thing to brag about, but the Mover just feels nice, too. Its textured finish is pleasing to the touch, and its simple design looks high-end – for a water bottle, at least. There are multiple lid and size options available; I went with the 18-ounce model and “Union” spout cap, which has been fine, though the lid tends to make a whistling sound that sounds uncannily like hitting a bong. (Be warned if you’re ever off-camera during a work call.) I still can’t tell anyone they should spend this much on a water bottle, but the Mover does the thing I want, and I’m spending way less on wasteful plastic bottles as a result. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer

Pong's influence on video games endures 50 years later

A game that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. This was the concept Atari founder Nolan Bushnell instilled into Allan Alcorn, a then-24-year-old engineer, prior to the development of one of the most recognizable games of all time, Pong, just over 50 years ago.

Pong, a video game in which a square is bounced between two rectangles controlled by players, was released on November 29th of 1972 by Atari, only a few days more than 50 years ago. Atari sold more than 8,000 Pong arcade cabinets, and a few years later, the home version would become an instant success, selling about 150,000 units of a console that played nothing but Pong. However, despite how much time has passed, and the massive changes the gaming industry has endured, Pong's — and Atari's — influence on the world of video games remains prevalent today. Watch the video below for the full story.

The best Cyber Monday tech deals for 2022: discounts on earbuds, laptops, smartwatches and more

For the past couple of years, Cyber Monday has been almost an extension of Black Friday. In the tech deals space, lots of the discounts and sales we saw at the end of last week are still available now as Cyber Monday deals. There are some new ones, though, which means that even if you bought most things on your gift list during Black Friday, it's worth taking another look online to see if there's anything else you need or something you can get as a gift while on discount. We've collected all of the best Cyber Monday tech deals here so you don't have to go searching for them.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen)

The latest AirPods Pro have dropped to $200 for Cyber Monday.. That $50 discount is the most significant we've seen on these buds that just came out a couple of months ago. The new Pros earned a score of 88 from us for their improved sound quality, excellent Transparency Mode and solid active noise cancellation. We also appreciate the addition of the U1 chip inside the buds' wireless charging case, which enables Precision Finding using the Find My app.

Apple Pencil (2nd gen)

The second-generation Apple Pencil is back down to a record-low price of $89 for Cyber Monday. There are still a couple of iPads that only work with the first-gen stylus, but most of the higher-end models support this one. We consider it to be the best stylus for the iPad, and we like it for its low latency and built-in magnets that let it attach to the side of your tablet.

Apple 10.2-inch iPad

The 2021 iPad remains on sale for $270, which is the best price we've seen it. While Apple did just come out with an updated version, that latest model is much more expensive, coming in at $449. The 10.2-inch iPad is still a great option if you want iPadOS but only have so much to spend. We gave it a score of 86 for its solid performance, improved front cameras and excellent battery life.

MacBook Air M1

Apple's M1-powered MacBook Air is down to $799 for Cyber Monday which is the best price we've seen. Although the M2 laptop is available now, the M1 machine remains a good option if you're upgrading from an aging Intel model. We gave it a score of 94 for its blazing fast performance, lovely Retina display and lack of fan noise.

Apple Watch SE (2nd gen)

The second-generation Apple Watch SE is on sale for $229, which is an all-time-low price. Apple upgrade a lot in this smartwatch — it has a new SiP and a larger screen, both of which help the new SE look and feel more modern. Apple still left some features to the Series 8, include an always-on display, ECG reader, skin temperature sensor and a few others, but if you can live without those upgrades, the Apple Watch SE gives you a ton of value at its relatively affordable price.

Xbox Series S

Not only does Amazon have the Xbox Series S for $60 cheaper than usual for Cyber Monday, but the online retailer will also give you a $40 credit to use on future purchases when you buy the console. That's a total of $100 in discounts and credits, which is one of the best we've seen this holiday season. We gave the Series S a score of 85 for its slim design, 4K gameplay support and FPS boost technology.

iRobot Roomba s9+

iRobot's high-end Roomba s9+ is on sale for $229 if you go to Wellbots and use the code ENG220 at checkout, or $799 at Amazon and other retailers. It earned a spot in our best robot vacuums guide thanks to its slick design, its ability to better clean room corners, its strong suction power and its included clean base.

Chromecast with Google TV

The 4K Chromecast with Google TV has dropped to $40 for Cyber Monday. It's one of the most affordable ways to get Google's streaming OS into your home, along with 4K content support. We like this Chromecast's compact design, handy remote and its smart integration with the Google Assistant.

Sony DualSense controllers

Sony's DualSense controllers for the PlayStation 5 are down to $49 in several finishes. That matches the lowest price we've seen, and depending on what color you choose, comes in either $20 or $25 below the pad's usual price. In general, the DualSense is harder to hook up with a PC than its Xbox counterpart, but its D-pad isn't as clicky, it doesn't rely on AA batteries and its haptic feedback system is much more nuanced.

Crucial MX500 (1TB)

Crucial's MX500 internal drive is down to a new low of $68 for the 1TB version, and you can find discounts on the other configurations, too. We've long recommended this drive for its standard form factor, its sequential reads/write speeds of up to 560/510 MB/s and its AES 256-bit hardware encryption. It also has integrated power loss immunity, which saves all of your work even when there's a power outage.

Jabra Elite 3

Jabra's Elite 3 wireless earbuds are on sale for $50, which is the best price we've seen. Considering these buds start out at less than $100, you won't find some advanced features on them like noise cancellation or wireless charging. However, they pack impressive sound quality for the price, along with a comfortable design, reliable onboard controls and good battery life.

Google Nest Audio

We called Google's Nest Audio smart speaker "a steal at $100" when we reviewed it, giving it a score of 87. And now it's half that price for Cyber Monday. For just $50, you get a smart speaker powered by the AI of the Google Assistant, plus a speaker that delivers surprisingly good sound quality for its size and price point. We did note that the Nest Audio sounds even better as a pair, and now might be a good time to grab two.

Elgato Stream Deck MK.2

Elgato's Stream Deck MK.2 has dropped to $120 for Cyber Monday, which is a record low. We've recommended various versions of the Stream Deck for a while now as an essential accessory for game streamers, but also a handy peripheral for power users to have, too. The MK.2 has 15 programmable buttons that let you trigger actions like launching an app, muting your mic and more, plus you can truly make it your own with a custom faceplate.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT

The excellent and already affordable ATH-M20xBT are on sale for $59 for Cyber Monday, which is a record low. These are our current favorite budget cans thanks to their good sound quality, comfortable design, Bluetooth multi-point connectivity and 60-hour battery life. They may not have as slick of a design as more expensive headphones, or advanced features like noise cancellation, but you can't beat their value.

Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones are back on sale for $229 right now, or 30 percent off their usual price. These are some of our favorite over-ear cans thanks in part to their excellent active noise cancellation and clear, balanced audio. The design isn't as slick as some of our other favorites, but they're comfortable to boot, plus their 24-hour battery life means you'll be able to wear them for long stretches of time without interruption.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones are down to $348 right now, which is the best price we've seen since they came out earlier this year. These are our current favorite wireless headphones, and Sony essentially changed only a few things about the previous WH-1000XM4 to make these cans even better. They have improved noise cancellation and sound quality, plus a slick new design and a solid battery life. We also appreciate their Speak-to-Chat feature and multi-device connectivity.

Google Pixel Buds Pro

Google's best earbuds yet, the Pixel Buds Pro, have dropped to $150, which is $50 less than their usual price. These are the Android-maker's answers to Apple's AirPods Pro, and they are, without a doubt, one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds you can get if you don't have an iPhone. We gave them a score of 87 for their deep, punchy bass, reliable touch controls and wireless charging case.

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

Roku's Streaming Stick 4K is on sale for $25 right now, or half off its usual price. This small dongle connects directly to your TV's HDMI port and streams content in 4K, supports Dolby Vision and offers voice command capabilities via its remote. This updated model also has fast, long-range WiFi and a private-listening feature that lets you listen to your TV's audio video the Roku mobile app.

Fitbit Inspire 3

The new Fitbit Inspire 3 is down to $70 for Cyber Monday, which is $30 off its usual price. We named this the best budget fitness tracker you can get right now, and that's only more true when you can pick it up while on sale. The Inspire 3 is more slim than the Charge 5, and while it doesn't have built-in GPS, you can use its connected GPS feature to map runs and bike rides if you have your phone with you. We also like its automatic workout tracking and long battery life.

Amazon Echo Dot

The latest Echo Dot has dropped to $25, and that's the first real discount we've seen since the device came out a few months ago. Amazon added a bigger speaker inside this Echo Dot for improved sound, and it has a new built-in temperature sensor as well. That will come in handy if you have other smart home devices you control with Alexa because, if the temperature sensor reaches a certain level, you can program a routine to, say, start a fan to keep your environment precisely how you like it. The new Dot can also pair with an Eero WiFi system to add up to 1,000 extra square feet of coverage.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 4 is on sale for $800 right now. Each iteration of Samsung's foldable phones is better than the last, and the Flip 4 is no different. It has a slick design that neatly folds in half, rendering it small enough to slip into your pocket. Not only do we appreciate its attractive and more durable design, but we also like its improved battery life and the increased number of hands-free applications it supports.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung's Cyber Monday deals include the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which is $400 off and down to $1,400. It's certainly the most polished Fold Samsung has created, and we gave it a score of 86 for its brighter main screen, upgraded main and telephoto cameras, sleeker hinge and noticeably better battery life.

OnePlus 10 Pro

You can pick up the OnePlus 10 Pro smartphone for only $549 right now, which is the lowest we've seen it. The standout feature of this handset is its remarkably fast charging technology: you can get a full charge in just over a half hour using 80W SUPERVOOC charging. However, US users are capped at 65W SUPERVOOC, but that's still the speediest charging standard available stateside. Otherwise, we also appreciated the 10 Pro's lovely 120Hz display and its fast face-unlock feature.

iRobot Roomba j7

iRobot's Roomba j7 is on sale for $349 right now, which is the cheapest we've seen it, and you can get the j7+ for $599. This is one of iRobot's latest robo-vacs and it has enhanced obstacle avoidance which lets it navigate around a robot vacuum's arch nemesis: pet poop. It also has 10x the suction power of a standard Roomba, plus support for smart mapping and Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. With the j7+ model, you're also getting a clean base into which the robo-vac will empty its bin after every job.

Amazon Echo Show 5

Amazon's Echo Show 5 is back on sale for $35 for Cyber Monday. This has been one of our favorite smart displays for quite some time, primarily because it acts as a great smart alarm clock. It has a 5-inch display that shows the date, time, weather conditions and more, plus it has a handy tap-to-snooze feature. And if you want it to wake you up visually, too, its sunrise alarm will slowly adjust the screen's brightness to wake you up more naturally.

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite has been discounted to $95 for Cyber Monday. While we consider the Signature Edition to be the best e-reader, period, the standard Paperwhite comes in at a close second. It has a 6.8-inch display with 17 front LEDs for better illumination, plus a water-resistant design, Audible support and a battery that can last weeks on a single charge.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon's most affordable streaming stick is on sale for only $15 right now, which is half off its usual price. This is a good option if you want to upgrade an old, "dumb" TV in your home into a smart one. The Fire TV Stick Lite provides access to Amazon's Fire TV OS, through which you can access services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ and others. The TV Stick Lite supports FHD content, and you can use the included Voice Remote Lite to ask Alexa to show you the content you want to watch. If you want to upgrade a bit to Dolby Atmos, you can get the standard Fire TV Stick for only $5 more.

Blink Mini

Amazon has brought back the two for $30 Blink Mini deal for Cyber Monday. This compact, wired security camera is only meant for indoor use and you'll have to keep it close to an outlet, but it shares all of the basic features with the larger Blink Indoor and Outdoor cameras. It record 1080p video and supports two-way audio, plus it'll send motion alerts to your phone and you can control it via Alexa voice commands.

Your Cyber Week Shopping Guide: Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter. Also, shop the top Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Yahoo Life. Learn about Black Friday trends on In the Know, and our car experts at Autoblog are covering must-shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday auto deals.

The best Black Friday tech deals for 2022

Black Friday is finally here and if you haven't started your holiday shopping, now's the best time to do so. While we've seen some of our favorite gadgets go on sale since the start of November, today's the day you're almost guaranteed to find the best prices of the year across laptops, TVs, speakers, tablets, wearables and much more. But, as usual, the sheer volume of deals across the web today makes it even harder to pick out the gems among them. There are absolutely tech "deals" out there today that are not worth your time. To make ease the burden of deal-hunting, we collected the best Black Friday tech deals we could find right here.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen)

The latest AirPods Pro are on sale for $200 for Black Friday. That $50 discount is the most significant we've seen on these buds that just came out a couple of months ago. The new Pros earned a score of 88 from us for their improved sound quality, excellent Transparency Mode and solid active noise cancellation. We also appreciate the addition of the U1 chip inside the buds' wireless charging case, which enables Precision Finding using the Find My app.

Apple AirTags (4 pack)

A four-pack of Apple's AirTags is on sale for $80 right now, which is $20 off their usual price. That also brings the price per tracker down to $20, which is one of the lowest we've seen. These stocking-friendly gadgets make great gifts for iPhone users who want to digitally keep track of their things. They can use the Find My app to check the last known location of their keys, wallet and other belongings, and use their iPhones to be led directly to their stuff with on-screen directions if it's nearby.

Apple 10.2-inch iPad

The 2021 iPad remains on sale for $270, which is the best price we've seen it. While Apple did just come out with an updated version, that latest model is much more expensive, coming in at $449. The 10.2-inch iPad is still a great option if you want iPadOS but only have so much to spend. We gave it a score of 86 for its solid performance, improved front cameras and excellent battery life.

Chromecast with Google TV

Both the 4K and HD Chromecasts with Google TV are on sale for Black Friday, coming in at $40 and $18, respectively. These two streamers are essentially the same, expect for the resolution that each support: the higher-end model with stream 4K content, while the other tops out at 1080p. They share a compact design and both come with a handy remote that makes navigating the Google TV interface much easier. Plus, you can speak to the Google Assistant through these dongles, calling about it to search for things to watch, answer questions and more.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT

The excellent and already affordable ATH-M20xBT are on sale for $59 for Black Friday, which is a record low. These are our current favorite budget cans thanks to their good sound quality, comfortable design, Bluetooth multi-point connectivity and 60-hour battery life. They may not have as slick of a design as more expensive headphones, or advanced features like noise cancellation, but you can't beat their value.

Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones are back on sale for $249 right now, or 32 percent off their usual price. These are some of our favorite over-ear cans thanks in part to their excellent active noise cancellation and clear, balanced audio. The design isn't as slick as some of our other favorites, but they're comfortable to boot, plus their 24-hour battery life means you'll be able to wear them for long stretches of time without interruption.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones are down to $348 right now, which is the best price we've seen since they came out earlier this year. These are our current favorite wireless headphones, and Sony essentially changed only a few things about the previous WH-1000XM4 to make these cans even better. They have improved noise cancellation and sound quality, plus a slick new design and a solid battery life. We also appreciate their Speak-to-Chat feature and multi-device connectivity.

Google Pixel Buds Pro

Google's best earbuds yet, the Pixel Buds Pro, have dropped to $150, which is $50 less than their usual price. these are the Android-maker's answers to Apple's AirPods Pro, and they are, without a doubt, one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds you can get if you don't have an iPhone. We gave them a score of 87 for their deep, punchy bass, reliable touch controls and wireless charging case.

Elgato Stream Deck MK.2

Elgato's Stream Deck MK.2 has dropped to $120 for Black Friday, which is a new record low. We've recommended various versions of the Stream Deck for a while now as an essential accessory for game streamers, but also a handy peripheral for power users to have, too. The MK.2 has 15 programmable buttons that let you trigger actions like launching an app, muting your mic and more, plus you can truly make it your own with a custom faceplate.

Amazon Echo Dot

The latest Echo Dot has dropped to $25, and that's the first real discount we've seen since the device came out a few months ago. Amazon added a bigger speaker inside this Echo Dot for improved sound, and it has a new built-in temperature sensor as well. That will come in handy if you have other smart home devices you control with Alexa because, if the temperature sensor reaches a certain level, you can program a routine to, say, start a fan to keep your environment precisely how you like it. The new Dot can also pair with an Eero WiFi system to add up to 1,000 extra square feet of coverage.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 4 is on sale for $800 right now. Each iteration of Samsung's foldable phones is better than the last, and the Flip 4 is no different. It has a slick design that neatly folds in half, rendering it small enough to slip into your pocket. Not only do we appreciate its attractive and more durable design, but we also like its improved battery life and the increased number of hands-free applications it supports.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung's latest flagship foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold 4, is $430 off and down to $1,370. It's certainly the most polished Fold Samsung has created, and we gave it a score of 86 for its brighter main screen, upgraded main and telephoto cameras, sleeker hinge and noticeably better battery life.

OnePlus 10 Pro

You can pick up the OnePlus 10 Pro smartphone for only $549 right now, which is the lowest we've seen it. The standout feature of this handset is its remarkably fast charging technology: you can get a full charge in just over a half hour using 80W SUPERVOOC charging. However, US users are capped at 65W SUPERVOOC, but that's still the speediest charging standard available stateside. Otherwise, we also appreciated the 10 Pro's lovely 120Hz display and its fast face-unlock feature.

iRobot Roomba j7

iRobot's Roomba j7 is on sale for $349 right now, which is the cheapest we've seen it, and you can get the j7+ for $599. This is one of iRobot's latest robo-vacs and it has enhanced obstacle avoidance which lets it navigate around a robot vacuum's arch nemesis: pet poop. It also has 10x the suction power of a standard Roomba, plus support for smart mapping and Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. With the j7+ model, you're also getting a clean base into which the robo-vac will empty its bin after every job.

Shark AV2511AE AI Robot Vacuum

The latest version of Shark's AI Robot Vaccum has dropped to $299 for Black Friday. This is one of our favorite robo-vacs thanks to its strong suction power, smart mapping feature and the included clean base into which it empties its bin after every job. We also appreciate that the clean base is bagless, so you don't have to regularly buy proprietary bags for it.

Crucial MX500 (1TB)

Crucial's MX500 internal drive is down to a new low of $68 for the 1TB version, and you can find discounts on the other configurations, too. We've long recommended this drive for its standard form factor, its sequential reads/write speeds of up to 560/510 MB/s and its AES 256-bit hardware encryption. It also has integrated power loss immunity, which saves all of your work even when there's a power outage.

Jabra Elite 3

Jabra's Elite 3 wireless earbuds are on sale for $50, which is the best price we've seen. Considering these buds start out at less than $100, you won't find some advanced features on them like noise cancellation or wireless charging. However, they pack impressive sound quality for the price, along with a comfortable design, reliable onboard controls and good battery life.

Amazon Echo Show 5

Amazon's Echo Show 5 is back on sale for $35 for Black Friday. This has been one of our favorite smart displays for quite some time, primarily because it acts as a great smart alarm clock. It has a 5-inch display that shows the date, time, weather conditions and more, plus it has a handy tap-to-snooze feature. And if you want it to wake you up visually, too, its sunrise alarm will slowly adjust the screen's brightness to wake you up more naturally.

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite has been discounted to $95 for Black Friday. While we consider the Signature Edition to be the best e-reader, period, the standard Paperwhite comes in at a close second. It has a 6.8-inch display with 17 front LEDs for better illumination, plus a water-resistant design, Audible support and a battery that can last weeks on a single charge.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon's most affordable streaming stick is on sale for only $15 right now, which is half off its usual price. This is a good option if you want to upgrade an old, "dumb" TV in your home into a smart one. The Fire TV Stick Lite provides access to Amazon's Fire TV OS, through which you can access services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ and others. The TV Stick Lite supports FHD content, and you can use the included Voice Remote Lite to ask Alexa to show you the content you want to watch. If you want to upgrade a bit to Dolby Atmos, you can get the standard Fire TV Stick for only $5 more.

Blink Mini

Amazon has brought back the two for $30 Blink Mini deal for Black Friday. This compact, wired security camera is only meant for indoor use and you'll have to keep it close to an outlet, but it shares all of the basic features with the larger Blink Indoor and Outdoor cameras. It record 1080p video and supports two-way audio, plus it'll send motion alerts to your phone and you can control it via Alexa voice commands.

Peloton Bike

The original Peloton Bike is $300 off and down to $1,145 for Black Friday. If you're somehow unfamiliar, this is the company's first exercise bike that comes with a built-in screen for taking cycling classes as well as other strength, yoga and bootcamp routines. Also, one of the company's latest gadgets, the Peloton Guide, is on sale for $245, too.

Sonos One

Sonos' Black Friday deals include the Sonos One speaker for only $175, which is $44 off its normal price. Sonos gadgets rarely go on sale, much less direct on Sonos' site, so the entire sale is one to consider this Black Friday. The One earned a score of 90 from us when it first came out for its attractive design, excellent audio quality and its support for Amazon's Alexa, the Google Assistant and AirPlay 2. Also included in the sale is the Sonos Arc, one of our favorite soundbars, which is $180 off and down to $719.

Buy One at Sonos - $175Buy Arc at Sonos - $719Shop Sonos Black Friday deals

Your Cyber Week Shopping Guide: Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter. Also, shop the top Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Yahoo Life. Learn about Black Friday trends on In the Know, and our car experts at Autoblog are covering must-shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday auto deals.

The best early Black Friday tech deals for 2022

Black Friday may still be a few hours away, but we're already seeing a bunch of great deals on our favorite tech. This comes after a slow trickle of deals popping up across the web ever since the start of November. While we don't have the supply chain issues we did last year, it's still a good idea to start your holiday shopping as early as possible — even if it's just a few hours before the biggest sale day of the year. The sooner you check off items from your list, the sooner they'll arrive and you'll be ready to go for the holidays. To make things easier for you, we've collected the best early Black Friday tech deals here so you don't have to go searching for them.

Bose QuietComfort 45

Billy Steele/Engadget

The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones are back on sale for $249 right now, or 32 percent off their usual price. These are some of our favorite over-ear cans thanks in part to their excellent active noise cancellation and clear, balanced audio. The design isn't as slick as some of our other favorites, but they're comfortable to boot, plus their 24-hour battery life means you'll be able to wear them for long stretches of time without interruption.

Buy QuietComfort 45 at Amazon - $249

AirPods Pro (2nd gen)

Billy Steele/Engadget

The latest AirPods Pro are on sale for $200 for Black Friday. That $50 discount is the most significant we've seen on these buds that just came out a couple of months ago. The new Pros earned a score of 88 from us for their improved sound quality, excellent Transparency Mode and solid active noise cancellation. We also appreciate the addition of the U1 chip inside the buds' wireless charging case, which enables Precision Finding using the Find My app.

Buy AirPods Pro (2nd gen) at Amazon - $200

Apple 10.2-inch iPad

Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

The 2021 iPad remains on sale for $270, which is the best price we've seen it. While Apple did just come out with an updated version, that latest model is much more expensive, coming in at $449. The 10.2-inch iPad is still a great option if you want iPadOS but only have so much to spend. We gave it a score of 86 for its solid performance, improved front cameras and excellent battery life.

Buy 10.2-inch iPad at Amazon - $270

AirTags (4 pack)

Chris Velazco/Engadget

A four-pack of Apple's AirTags is on sale for $80 right now, which is $20 off their usual price. That also brings the price per tracker down to $20, which is one of the lowest we've seen. These stocking-friendly gadgets make great gifts for iPhone users who want to digitally keep track of their things. They can use the Find My app to check the last known location of their keys, wallet and other belongings, and use their iPhones to be led directly to their stuff with on-screen directions if it's nearby.

Buy AirTags (4 pack) at Amazon - $20

Sony WH-1000XM5

Billy Steele/Engadget

Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones are down to $348 right now, which is the best price we've seen since they came out earlier this year. These are our current favorite wireless headphones, and Sony essentially changed only a few things about the previous WH-1000XM4 to make these cans even better. They have improved noise cancellation and sound quality, plus a slick new design and a solid battery life. We also appreciate their Speak-to-Chat feature and multi-device connectivity.

Buy WH-1000XM5 at Amazon - $348

Chromecast with Google TV

Engadget

Both the 4K and HD Chromecasts with Google TV are on sale for Black Friday, coming in at $40 and $18, respectively. These two streamers are essentially the same, expect for the resolution that each support: the higher-end model with stream 4K content, while the other tops out at 1080p. They share a compact design and both come with a handy remote that makes navigating the Google TV interface much easier. Plus, you can speak to the Google Assistant through these dongles, calling about it to search for things to watch, answer questions and more.

Buy Chromecast with Google TV (4K) at Amazon - $40Buy Chromecast with Google TV (HD) at Amazon - $18

Sonos One

Sonos' Black Friday deals include the Sonos One speaker for only $175, which is $44 off its normal price. Sonos gadgets rarely go on sale, much less direct on Sonos' site, so the entire sale is one to consider this Black Friday. The One earned a score of 90 from us when it first came out for its attractive design, excellent audio quality and its support for Amazon's Alexa, the Google Assistant and AirPlay 2. Also included in the sale is the Sonos Arc, one of our favorite soundbars, which is $180 off and down to $719.

Buy One at Sonos - $175Buy Arc at Sonos - $719Shop Sonos Black Friday deals

Google Pixel Buds Pro

Billy Steele/Engadget

Google's best earbuds yet, the Pixel Buds Pro, have dropped to $150, which is $50 less than their usual price. these are the Android-maker's answers to Apple's AirPods Pro, and they are, without a doubt, one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds you can get if you don't have an iPhone. We gave them a score of 87 for their deep, punchy bass, reliable touch controls and wireless charging case.

Buy Pixel Buds Pro at Amazon - $150

Elgato Stream Deck MK.2

Engadget/Will Lipman

Elgato's Stream Deck MK.2 has dropped to $120 for Black Friday, which is a new record low. We've recommended various versions of the Stream Deck for a while now as an essential accessory for game streamers, but also a handy peripheral for power users to have, too. The MK.2 has 15 programmable buttons that let you trigger actions like launching an app, muting your mic and more, plus you can truly make it your own with a custom faceplate.

Buy Elgato Stream Deck MK.2 at Amazon - $120

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT

Audio-Technica

The excellent and already affordable ATH-M20xBT are on sale for $59 for Black Friday, which is a record low. These are our current favorite budget cans thanks to their good sound quality, comfortable design, Bluetooth multi-point connectivity and 60-hour battery life. They may not have as slick of a design as more expensive headphones, or advanced features like noise cancellation, but you can't beat their value.

Buy ATH-M20xBT at Amazon - $59

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 4 is on sale for $770 right now. Each iteration of Samsung's foldable phones is better than the last, and the Flip 4 is no different. It has a slick design that neatly folds in half, rendering it small enough to slip into your pocket. Not only do we appreciate its attractive and more durable design, but we also like its improved battery life and the increased number of hands-free applications it supports.

Buy Galaxy Z Flip 4 at Amazon - $800

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Samsung's latest flagship foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold 4, is $430 off and down to $1,370. It's certainly the most polished Fold Samsung has created, and we gave it a score of 86 for its brighter main screen, upgraded main and telephoto cameras, sleeker hinge and noticeably better battery life.

Buy Galaxy Z Fold 4 at Amazon - $1,370

OnePlus 10 Pro

Mat Smith/Engadget

You can pick up the OnePlus 10 Pro smartphone for only $549 right now, which is the lowest we've seen it. The standout feature of this handset is its remarkably fast charging technology: you can get a full charge in just over a half hour using 80W SUPERVOOC charging. However, US users are capped at 65W SUPERVOOC, but that's still the speediest charging standard available stateside. Otherwise, we also appreciated the 10 Pro's lovely 120Hz display and its fast face-unlock feature.

Buy OnePlus 10 Pro at Amazon - $549

iRobot Roomba j7

Valentina Palladino / Engadget

iRobot's Roomba j7 is on sale for $349 right now, which is the cheapest we've seen it, and you can get the j7+ for $599. This is one of iRobot's latest robo-vacs and it has enhanced obstacle avoidance which lets it navigate around a robot vacuum's arch nemesis: pet poop. It also has 10x the suction power of a standard Roomba, plus support for smart mapping and Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. With the j7+ model, you're also getting a clean base into which the robo-vac will empty its bin after every job.

Buy Roomba j7 at Amazon - $349Buy Roomba j7+ at Amazon - $599

Shark AV2511AE AI Robot Vacuum

Shark

The latest version of Shark's AI Robot Vaccum has dropped to $299 for Black Friday. This is one of our favorite robo-vacs thanks to its strong suction power, smart mapping feature and the included clean base into which it empties its bin after every job. We also appreciate that the clean base is bagless, so you don't have to regularly buy proprietary bags for it.

Buy Shark AI Robot Vacuum at Amazon - $299

August WiFi smart lock

Engadget

August's WiFi smart lock is cheaper than ever at $159 for Black Friday. That's more than $70 off its usual price and a great deal if you're looking for a smart lock that's easy to install over most deadbolts and equally as easy to use. After you put ti on your door, you can use the companion mobile app to remote lock or unlock your home, and you can send limited-time keys to loved ones you who want to have access.

Buy August WiFi smart lock at Amazon - $159

Crucial MX500 (1TB)

Crucial

Crucial's MX500 internal drive is down to a new low of $68 for the 1TB version, and you can find discounts on the other configurations, too. We've long recommended this drive for its standard form factor, its sequential reads/write speeds of up to 560/510 MB/s and its AES 256-bit hardware encryption. It also has integrated power loss immunity, which saves all of your work even when there's a power outage.

Buy Crucial MX500 (1TB) at Amazon - $68

Jabra Elite 3

Billy Steele/Engadget

Jabra's Elite 3 wireless earbuds are on sale for $50, which is the best price we've seen. Considering these buds start out at less than $100, you won't find some advanced features on them like noise cancellation or wireless charging. However, they pack impressive sound quality for the price, along with a comfortable design, reliable onboard controls and good battery life.

Buy Jabra Elite 3 at Amazon - $50

Amazon Echo Show 5

Amazon

Amazon's Echo Show 5 is back on sale for $35 for Black Friday. This has been one of our favorite smart displays for quite some time, primarily because it acts as a great smart alarm clock. It has a 5-inch display that shows the date, time, weather conditions and more, plus it has a handy tap-to-snooze feature. And if you want it to wake you up visually, too, its sunrise alarm will slowly adjust the screen's brightness to wake you up more naturally.

Buy Echo Show 5 at Amazon - $35

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon

The latest Echo Dot has dropped to $25, and that's the first real discount we've seen since the device came out a few months ago. Amazon added a bigger speaker inside this Echo Dot for improved sound, and it has a new built-in temperature sensor as well. That will come in handy if you have other smart home devices you control with Alexa because, if the temperature sensor reaches a certain level, you can program a routine to, say, start a fan to keep your environment precisely how you like it. The new Dot can also pair with an Eero WiFi system to add up to 1,000 extra square feet of coverage.

Buy Echo Dot at Amazon - $25

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon

Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite has been discounted to $95 for Black Friday. While we consider the Signature Edition to be the best e-reader, period, the standard Paperwhite comes in at a close second. It has a 6.8-inch display with 17 front LEDs for better illumination, plus a water-resistant design, Audible support and a battery that can last weeks on a single charge.

Buy Kindle Paperwhite at Amazon - $95

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon

Amazon's most affordable streaming stick is on sale for only $15 right now, which is half off its usual price. This is a good option if you want to upgrade an old, "dumb" TV in your home into a smart one. The Fire TV Stick Lite provides access to Amazon's Fire TV OS, through which you can access services like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ and others. The TV Stick Lite supports FHD content, and you can use the included Voice Remote Lite to ask Alexa to show you the content you want to watch. If you want to upgrade a bit to Dolby Atmos, you can get the standard Fire TV Stick for only $5 more.

Buy Fire TV Stick Lite at Amazon - $15

Blink Mini

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Amazon has brought back the two for $30 Blink Mini deal for Black Friday. This compact, wired security camera is only meant for indoor use and you'll have to keep it close to an outlet, but it shares all of the basic features with the larger Blink Indoor and Outdoor cameras. It record 1080p video and supports two-way audio, plus it'll send motion alerts to your phone and you can control it via Alexa voice commands.

Buy Blink Mini (2 pack) at Amazon - $30

Peloton Bike

Peloton

The original Peloton Bike is $300 off and down to $1,145 for Black Friday. If you're somehow unfamiliar, this is the company's first exercise bike that comes with a built-in screen for taking cycling classes as well as other strength, yoga and bootcamp routines. Also, one of the company's latest gadgets, the Peloton Guide, is on sale for $245, too.

Buy Peloton Bike at Amazon - $1,145

Your Cyber Week Shopping Guide: Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter. Also, shop the top Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Yahoo Life. Learn about Black Friday trends on In the Know, and our car experts at Autoblog are covering must-shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday auto deals.