CNN Business Staff
Shortage of supply is everywhere. New smartphones have been affected by shipping delays and video game consoles are nearly impossible to find. But as we do every year, CNN Business employees are reflecting on the technology, services, and apps that made a big impact on our everyday lives in 2021 — not just the most in-demand products on holiday wish lists. Can be hard to come by.
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Here’s what impressed our editors, journalists and producers the most – and not only helped us survive 2021, but also brought some joy during another tumultuous year.
lenovo smart watch
The Lenovo Smart Clock ($29) is an inexpensive, basic alarm clock that allows me to leave my phone in another room before bed and not look at it properly when I wake up. I was worried at first that it wouldn’t turn off and I’d be late for work, but it’s always worked. And it’s great to be so far away from my phone. Whenever I need to really focus on a writing task without distractions, I even throw in Freedom, a free website blocker, for a set time period. It has been a huge help and keeps me from checking social media and other websites which suck my time. , Nathaniel Meyerson, Retail Reporter
During another year of working from home when my movement involved walking from my couch to my desk and back again, Lia Bertha’s Pilates app, Be the Method, was a huge boost to my mental and physical health. Is. The range of class formats and times make it easy to take a 15-minute midday cardio break from work or end the day with an hour of slower, more meditative activity. An annual subscription costs $159.99 (or $17.99 per month), and the app fully appreciated the way I exercised from home. , Claire Duffy, Technical Writer
Philips Smart Hue Light Bulb
The idea of connecting your lightbulb to your WiFi was, at first, completely useless to me. But I’ve become a big fan of the Philips Hue smart light bulb (starter kits start at $59) and control my apartment’s lights with just my phone. It makes moving through the apartment a lot easier, even if it makes me a little lazy. , John General, Video Producer
I used to bike daily, but with two young kids, it’s almost impossible to find time to hang out. This year I dedicated myself to getting back on the bike, at least indoors. In May, I bought a Peloton ($1495, plus $39 for monthly classes), and it really has been life-changing. I’ve been using it on most days every week for a quick workout, and my husband — who was initially skeptical about the purchase — has become a devotee. Eight months later, we are in much better shape and are really happy to be back in a healthy routine. , Rachel Metz, Senior Technical Writer
I stole my dad’s old GoPro Hero 5 Session ($699) that he wasn’t using, and it’s been a great gadget during Year 2 of the pandemic. I swapped bars and restaurants extensively for outdoor California activities due to business closures and safety concerns. This fun backpacking, camping and kayaking trip is made for some good sage’s eyes. There are also newer models on GoPro’s website, but I liked this version. — Rishi Iyengar, Technical Writer
Common Sense Media App Review
For many families, mine included, handing little fingers a tablet to meet the inside days has become a necessity. But thanks to Common Sense Media’s apps review, I’m in awe of how my son spent his screen time this year. The organization researches, rates and reviews apps, TV shows and books to find the best options for age-appropriate and growing minds. I swapped a handful of apps for apps that encourage fantasy play, problem solving, and creation — apps he likes and really learns from. , Samantha Kelly, Senior Technical Editor
As someone who tends to lose their keys in the middle of a couch cushion, I’m glad I have a button that can tell me when my item is exactly three feet northwest of my current location. Apple’s AirTags ($29 each) can be tied to keys, cars, bookbags, remotes, and other things you want to track. Its precise search feature has saved me so much time and many headaches. , Jennifer Korn, author
Whirlpool Side Fridge
Some mark the pandemic by the lockdown periods. I mark it by refrigeration equipment. One year in a row, we nervously bought a large chest freezer and stowed it in the corner of our little galley kitchen to store all the foods we couldn’t fit in our 20-year-old’s fridge. Then, in a burst of post-vaxx optimism, we ditched the freezer—only to find our old-fashioned fridge broke. Before we somehow scored the Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator ($1700), a bleak period of mini-fridge shortages followed. Whirlpool: Enough space to support good and bad times side by side. , Seth Feigerman, Technical Editor
google nest hub
Putting a screen on a smart speaker makes it quite smart. The Nest Hub (on sale for $59) is primarily a digital photo frame that intelligently displays photos from recent events and anniversaries but also syncs with Google Photos and is easy to manage. It also works with Google’s video calling app, Duo, and if you keep it on the bedside table, it’s an unobtrusive smartphone replacement if you’re trying to kick your phone addiction without losing the alarm. , David Goldman, Managing Editor
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