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With 2021 coming to a close, we're looking back on the products that wowed us. Despite unprecedented supply chain issues, shipping delays, rising retail costs, and two—yes, two!—basement floods at the Reviewed labs, we managed to test over 2,000 products this year. And, as ever, we found a lot of great, inventive, and affordable products that we're happy to recommend.
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What was trending with our readers? Face masks and other covid-related purchases slowed, but it was clear that mentally recovering from 2020 took some time, as stories about pillows, letting your pets sleep in the bed, and soothing stressed-out skin surged early in the year. By summer, you were venturing out into the world again, only to be met by endless flight cancellations and roving gangs of cicadas. But as the end of the year approached—bedraggled and exhausted though we all may be—seasonal instincts kicked back in and holiday gift guides prevailed.
The Reviewed Best of Year awards are the culmination of everything we loved. Spanning ten categories—Major Appliances, Kitchen & Cooking, Laundry & Cleaning, Tech, Smart Home, Parenting, Health & Beauty, Pets, Style, and Sleep—we bestowed our highest honor on 134 winners, just a small fraction of the total number of products we tested.
Congratulations to all the winners. Scroll down to see a few of the highlights or jump over to the complete list of 2021 Best of Year winners.
The Frigidaire Gallery FG4H2272UF has it all: beauty, brawn, and value. As a French-door model, it is quite affordable while still offering superior storage space and nifty features like an adjustable deli drawer that can also double as a wine chiller or freezer. The best refrigerator we've tested, the FG4H2272UF showed us it's a workhorse as well, boasting above-average performance in keeping a consistent temperature and humidity retention. Read the full review.
Kitchen & Cooking
The Philips Airfryer XXL was the most user-friendly air fryer we tested, making it our top choice. During testing, this air fryer made our favorite french fries thanks to the combination of crunchiness, tenderness, and potato flavor that make great fries so delectable. Battered Nashville hot chicken came out with a crackling crust as if it had been deep-fried, and hamburgers rivaled ones made on the grill. What makes the Philips Airfryer our top pick is that it’s consistently the very best at air frying, even with large family-size portions of healthier fried foods. Read the full review.
Laundry & Cleaning
In the robot vacuum world, the iRobot Roomba j7+ sets the bar for navigation and design. When we put the j7+ to the test, we found a model that can deftly maneuver around furniture and avoid dog feces with ease thanks to forward-facing cameras and machine learning. The j7+’s excellent navigation allows it to get near-total floor coverage, keeping up with a full-sized vacuum over the course of a week. Plus, you can use the iRobot Genius app to specify what rooms or parts of rooms you want to be cleaned and when. Being so programmable and flexible makes the iRobot Roomba j7+ an indispensable tool for cleaning. Read the full review.
The LG C1 is one of the best TVs we’ve ever tested, thanks to its jaw-dropping picture and impressive array of future-facing features. Being an OLED TV, the C1 is capable of perfect black levels, extra-wide viewing angles, and rich, true-to-life color. If that weren’t enough, the C1's spec sheet is a laundry list of must-have hardware and software extras for gamers and cinephiles alike, including HDMI 2.1 for 4K gaming at 120fps, Variable Refresh Rate, and Dolby Vision HDR support. You simply won’t find a better TV for your money right now. Read the full review.
The Nest Doorbell (battery) is the best video doorbell option for any front door. It offers wired or battery installation, and also comes with appealing free features like a three-hour event history and intelligent smart alerts that can tell you when a package gets delivered or a person crosses its path. Pair it with an optional Nest Aware subscription and you’ll unlock even more home security features like Google’s Familiar Faces, which can alert you when Uncle Herbert or Aunt Bettie shows up. Read the full review.
If you're looking for a great pair of volume-limited headphones for kids, the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones are the best that we've tested. Though the noise cancellation may seem like a luxury feature for many children, it's an awesome addition for kids who have sensory issues. For other children, the noise cancellation helps reduce the urge to crank the volume to the absolute max. Read the full review.
Health & Beauty
Skip salon appointments and achieve your own voluminous blowout at home with the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer. This clever appliance took our tester’s wavy-curly hair from towel-dried and damp to dry, sleek, and full of body in a matter of 20 minutes—a process that could take up to an hour with a hair dryer, round brush, and flat iron to achieve the same bouncy, shiny results. It's also so well priced it could pay for itself in one salon visit. Read the full review.
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, the Sleepypod Air gets your pet there safely and securely. The pet carrier’s wire construction meets airline size regulations and easily folds under seats during takeoff and landing. On the road, its straps securely buckle into a car's seat belt—and most importantly, the brand says it regularly crash-tests its products. The features don’t end there: It opens on multiple sides, folds flat for storage, and even transforms into a bed. It’s no wonder that after multiple rounds of testing, the Sleepypod comes out on top again and again. Read the full review.
After testing 54 pairs of women’s undergarments, it became evident that American Eagle’s sister brand Aerie reigns as the champion of women’s underwear undies across all style categories from panties to briefs to thongs. The seamless boybrief impresses with its full coverage support and buttery soft modal, nylon, and elastane blend. Its cotton boybrief makes that pair out of super-soft cotton—not the scratchy stuff of other brands—that stays in place with no bunch or rolling. The brand has so many options for fabrics, styles, and materials, you’ll find one that suits your preferences. No matter what style of underwear you lean toward, Aerie won’t do you wrong. Read the full review.
The Tuft & Needle Original is a dream of a bed. It's made with two layers of foam that lack the traditional "memory" people often associate with foam mattresses. Instead it has a sensation that's best described as floating—it gently cradles your body's contours without that sinking-in feeling. This is a firm mattress, and as such could be too supportive for side sleepers (in which case we'd suggest checking out the Nectar mattress, below). The bed is ideal for back and stomach sleepers, who will find its supportive surface a welcome reprieve at the end of the day. Its construction and materials don't tend to retain as much heat as a number of other foam mattresses we've tested, making it a good choice even if you're prone to sleeping hot. Read the full review.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Welcome to Reviewed's 2021 Best of Year awards