The degree to which we are admittedly obsessed with products around here could easily cause people to call us materialists. But we think it's less sinister than that.
Each and every day, products come along that seek to change the way we live our lives. It's a neverending deluge, frankly, but we spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find the very best of them because we're firmly of the belief that the most successful products out there are capable of enriching our lives in one way or another.
Whether it's by making mudane daily tasks a little easier, helping us to take better care of ourselves or simply providing brief moments of joy in a world that seems to grow more troubling by the day, each of the items below will leave you wondering how you ever lived without them.
Nebula Capsule 2
One of our favorite projectors — for both its portability and price — gets a worthy sequel. Dubbed “the world’s first Android TV pocket camera,” the soda-can-sized Nebula offers a brighter screen (up to 100”), Google Assistant and 60% louder audio, along with access to thousands of movies, shows and more from Google Play and YouTube ... oh, and Android games, which you can play with the included gamepad.
You can grab a worthwhile 50+ inch, 4K TV for about $400 these days, but you’ll need to amp up the sound on those slim screens — for that, try Sonos’s compact soundbar. It’s Alexa-enabled and you can pair it with a couple of Sonos Ones to get the surround, you-are-there (but thankfully not and much more comfortable) experience. Also, it takes about a minute to set up.
Apple Watch Series 4
A completely revamped take on the Series 3, this sleek fitness monitor is now thinner, with a larger display and haptic feedback. But the killer upgrade here is an ECG app, which indicates whether your heart rhythm shows signs of atrial fibrillation, as well as fall detection, which can automatically call emergency services if you’ve had a major incident.
Huawei MateBook X Pro
It’s not quite a Mac killer, as more than one article dubbed this powerful yet ultra-slim laptop. But the Matebook X Pro is certainly a worthy alternative for those who prefer the PC experience and also want a touchscreen. Bonus points for the recessed camera, which only pops up and turns on when you want it to.
Samsung’s recent line of QLEDs feature some fantastic picture quality (like a billion color shades), tons of smart home tech (voice control, integration with other smart appliances and even a news/weather information display when the TV is in passive mode), a single slim cord for power and data that stretches 45 feet, and a separate box so you can connect all your other devices out of sight. Speaking of out of sight, the set also has Ambient Mode, which basically means the picture mimics the wall behind the TV in order to blend in, chameleon-style, with your living room surroundings.
As founder Todd Lawrence notes, the cabinets are built for “whisky collectors who were looking for a secure place to show their collection without having to worry about bottles going missing or accidentally being opened by drunk friends.” The cabinets feature steel-plate construction, a vault door with three 25mm locking bolts, a machined aluminum tri-spoke handle, interior LED lights and a UL-certified electronic lock system. And, for protection and display purposes, a bulletproof window.
Foursquare Rum Premise
Aged in sherry and bourbon casks, this limited-edition high ABV spirit from Barbados might be the first rum to win over the high-end whiskey market — so much so that the distillery has been unofficially dubbed “the Pappy of rum.”
A bigger trend overseas, but thankfully a new rash of ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails have hit the market here. BTL SVC is a new line of classic drinks (Old Fashioned, Negroni) with some tasty new takes — including the 1934 Cosmo (crafted from vodka, dry curacao, fresh lime juice and housemade raspberry gomme) and the Spicy Maid (tequila, cucumber, cayenne, mint bitters).
New Riff Bourbon
The American whiskey trade is booming, and new bourbons are popping up everywhere from California to the Catskills. But Kentucky remains the region with the strictest standards for ingredients and process, all of which upstart New Riff Distilling adheres to. Sour mash only, all copper stills, no chill filtration, bottled in bond: it all comes together in a bourbon with a high rye content (30%) that's spicy and slightly on the strong side (100 proof) without becoming overwhelming.
The team behind NYC’s Death & Co deliver a beautiful looking cocktail book (natch), but it’s the presentation here that should get you excited. Basically, the authors start with six core cocktails that you know and love (from the Old Fashioned to the Daiquiri) and progress the recipes from there. Once you understand these drink templates, you can truly begin to master cocktailing.
DIMS Barbican Bar Trolley
In 2018, you couldn’t throw a stone without hitting an ad for a direct-to-consumer furniture startup. But in a crowded space, DIMS stood out, collaborating with nameworthy design studios from around the world on each new piece in their slowly growing collection. Our favorite? The Barbican, a steel bar cart that can double as a serving tray, rolling record player jockey or end table.
The Floyd Sofa
Floyd is a true American success story. The Detroit company was founded on a genuine (and ingeniously simple) innovation: the Floyd Leg, aka table legs that can be clamped to flat surfaces to create makeshift tables. That innovation spawned a fleet of products, the latest of which is this sofa. What makes it so great? It can be taken apart, flat-packed and moved on command, as well as extended to accommodate a bigger space if and when you move into one.
Funded on Kickstarter earlier this year, Varia comprises a mix-and-match collection of six core furniture pieces (steel “frames” and wooden “tops”) that can be reassembled into 25 different use cases, from end tables to work desks to dining tables to headboards.
Carl Hansen & Son Indoor/Outdoor Collection
In 1959, Danish architect Bodil Kjær designed what very well may be the most beautiful patio collection of all time. Fifty years later, it’s been revivified by his countrymen at Carl Hansen and Søn, who have faithfully redrawn his designs in teak wood, a material that’s used in luxury boat-building for its exceptional natural weatherproofing — which makes it equally apt for outdoor furniture.
Wrensilva Loft Stereo Console
Hand-built in San Diego since 2016, Wrensilva is a company whose sole mission is to ensure that your music looks as good as it sounds. Their walnut speakers, consoles and vinyl storage solutions are exquisite, and this year they added a very millennial member to the family: a console with a built-in vinyl player that seamlessly pairs with your existing Sonos system.
Seventy2 Survival System
State Farm for the zombie apocalypse, basically. Uncharted Supply Co. worked with first responders to design a waterproof pack filled to the brim with essentials that’ll keep you alive no matter the situation.
Otterbox Trooper Soft Cooler
Pack this thing with 50 cans of something tasty and hike out to the lake. Happy summer.
Southern Tide BOTE SUP
BOTE’s colorful SUP collab with apparel Southern Tide is an 11-foot, inflatable masterpiece. Comes with a pump, paddle, fin and waterproof pouch.
Nemo Filling Camping Pillow
Waking up at sunrise ain’t so fun with a sore neck. You’ll need this memory foam pillow from New England-based NEMO.
Slim Iron Grill Table
Just peel off a couple teak wood panels, and you’ve got a metal cooking surface eager to grill up some sausages.
McIntosh MT2 Precision Turntable
Ok, so yes, it is a bit of a stretch to call a $4,000 turntable "entry level," but we're talking about McIntosh here, whose top-of-the-line decks max out at just under $10k. The MT2 is the most approachable model they've released, and to absolutely no one's surprise, it astounds in both performance and appearance.
Master and Dynamic MW07
Beautiful acetate earbuds from one of the world's top audio companies, the MW07s boast impressive, clear sound that's as full and detailed as any you'll find.
The splash it made upon its release was minor in comparrison to lots of other Apple product launches, but the Homepod is without a doubt one of the best bluetooth speakers on the market, capable of filling a room like few others its size. If you're firmly set in the Apple eco-system (Apple Music, iTunes etc.), you won't find a better option anywhere.
A massively powerful amplifier (125 watts per channel into 8 ohms) from the new kings of home audio that allows users to integrate Sonos and non-Sonos speakrs alike, whether they're bookshelf, floorstanding, in-wall, or outdoor. The Sonos Amp can also easily power a home theater system or any turntable with a built-in preamp.
When it comes to high-end noise-cancelling headphones, it can seem like splitting hairs trying to pick a favorite, but this year we give the top spot to the Sony WH-1000XM3 (we know, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue) for its outstanding isolation and highly customizable sound.
Emily: The Cookbook
The debut cookbook from the couple behind beloved restaurants EMILY and Emmy Squared gives homecooks the chance to recreate insanely popular (and delicious) plates like the EMMY Burger and Detroit-style square pizza.
Cozyna Air Fryer XL
As we get older, it stands to reason that we try finding new, slightly less unhealthy ways of cooking. Finally, thanks to the Cozyna Air Fryer, we get to do so without sacrificing flavor. The new XL model, which, like all Air Fryers, allows you to fry with 70% less fat, features a touchscreen and eight pre-sets.
Hario Thermal Carafe
The dark secret of pour-over coffee is that, while, if prepared properly, it might taste great, that sh!t gets cold way too quickly. Hario's thermal carafe, which sits comfortably beneath your favorite pour-over device and keeps your coffee hot for 90 minutes.
Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano
With the help of just about every media outlet on the planet, Anova has been spreading the gospel of sous vide for years now, but in 2018, they released their smallest and most affordable precision cooker ever. For just $64, you get a full-featured circulator that will forever change how you cook at home.
Miyabi Hibana Chef's Knife
An exclusive collboaration between Miybi and Sur La Table, this 8" chef's knife features a beautiful handle design and an even more beautiful 49-layer Damascus pattern on the blade itself.
We put our statisticians to work and concluded that approximately one gazillion articles were written about “Tesla killers” in 2018. The only one that backed up that qualifier was the I-Pace.
Gateway Bronco (Modern Day Warrior)
“I thought this was 50 Best New Products of 2018,” you say. Yes, Gateway is now building brand-spankin’-new first-generation Broncos with full approval from Ford.
Tesla Shooting Brake
Leave it to the Dutch to take the gold standard of electric vehicles and make it utilitarian. The RemetzCar Shooting Brake (or station wagon) was a one-off Tesla Model S that got enough folks hot and bothered (including us) that they’re now offering more up for sale.
The bar for new Cadillac vehicles is higher than other marques simply because the name will always be synonymous with luxury. That and their desperate need to have an Escalade-level hit makes people weary, but when we drove the XT4 crossover earlier this year it felt like an optical illusion (the smaller facade giving way to a cavernous, family-friendly interior) and drove like a dream.
Zero Motorcycles Zero S
Our favorite motorcycle of the year is … electric. If you’re laughing, it’s because you’re trying to hide the fact that the unbridled, non-combustion-engine-needing power of the Zero S frightens you.
Goodlife Alpaca Shawl Cardigan + Alpaca Sweater Pant
2018 shall be remembered as the year in which the lowly sweatsuit finally attained “elevated” status, with designers across the menswear spectrum utilizing better fabrics, more tailored fits, and luxe details to marry the worlds of comfort and style like nobody’s biz. And nobody did it better than Goodlife, who knocked it out of the park with this butter soft, artfully waffled kit that looks as good at a city brunch as it does on the couch.
Nike Air Max 270
Your correspondent is a longtime devotee of the Air Max, counting the 90, 95 and 97 among his favorite sneaker silhouettes of all time. And thus it was with great excitement/relief that I greeted the launch of the 270 in February, another huge win for Nike and an instant classic deserving of a lauded spot in the Air Max pantheon. Doesn’t hurt that they’re also the comfiest pair of sneakers I have ever worn.
Barbour Beacon Sports Jacket
Any time two entities as legendary as British jacket maker Barbour and British world saver James Bond get together, it’s worth taking note. In this year’s case, it was with a handsome update to the utility jacket sported by 007 in 2012’s Skyfall — tartan lined heavy duty waxed cotton to keep out the elements (you’ll remember Bond’s titular family estate was in the Scottish Highlands), with reinforced shoulders and elbows as well as roomy bellow pockets that add a healthy dose of character whether or not you’re actually sport shooting or fighting international baddies.
Shinola Silhouette Mickey Runwell
This year marked the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse, with Disney getting in on the collaborative action with everyone from Ray-Ban to Vans to Rag & Bone. For our money though, Shinola’s clean, understated take on the iconic Mickey watch is the best of the bunch — playful enough to honor the originals, but with enough cheeky elegance that we could (and probably will) wear it with a tux at some point.
Black Lapel Traveler Suit
The problem with most “travel” suits is that either a) they don’t actually work, or b) so much synthetic material is used to combat wrinkles that your kit winds up feeling cheap and breathing poorly. Black Lapel CEO Warren Liao solved for both issues (and his jet-setting schedule between New York and China) with a specialty wool from legendary Italian mill Tallia di Delfino, which fights both wrinkles and stains and also boasts a nice bit of stretch for legging it out through airports. Add fun details like hidden money/passport pockets and a secure loop to hang my sunnies and you’ve got your new travel go-to.
Harry's Body Wash
It was only a matter of time until Harry’s expanded beyond your mug. But we weren’t prepared for them to offer up the best olfactory bang for your buck with the heretofore unexplored scents of Stone, Fig and Shiso.
American Crew Fiber Cream
Have you moved on from the classic Crew puck? This new fiber cream will draw you back into their timelessly scented graces with only a small dab keeping your locks in order all day.
House 99 Moisturizer
Normally, we’d start with the caveat that House 99 products will not make you look like its founder David Beckham. That is, if this spirulina- and quinoa-extract moisturizer didn’t make us feel like half a billion bucks.
All Good Sunscreen
Earlier this year Hawaii banned sunscreens that harm coral reefs. It doesn’t start until 2021, but switch over to All Good’s biodegradable, non-nano zinc sunblock and you’ll get ahead of the planet-saving trend (and not look like a mime).
Hims Hair Kit
As easy as buying from an infomercial, but with hair-loss prevention that actually works. Send photos of your scalp to one of Hims’ medical professionals and get a prescription of Finasteride (the generic hair loss pill), or the whole shebang with shampoo, topical solution and even gummy vitamins.
Mirror Interactive Home Gym
It's about time mirrors stopped judging and started helping. This full-length display streams interactive workout classes into your home while monitoring your daily progress.
TRX Tactical + Conditional Training Program
For the outdoor athlete with big arms and a bigger beard. TRX’s Tactical pack includes the usual door anchors and non-slip grips, plus a 12-week conditioning program aimed at capturing peak field fitness.
Rhone Tactical Trackpant
We’d recommend wearing Rhone’s new trackpants to the … track, but they’ll perform just as admirably on a trip to the grocery store. Subtle in everything but their comfiness, you’ll never want to take them off.
The Mover Pack by Everlane
Don’t overpay for a gym bag. The best in the basics game dropped one this year for just $78, and it’s an absolute beaut.
Vi Trainer Headphones
As one of our editors once put it, “If Mr. Miyagi and Siri had a baby, this is what you’d get.” Vi is a pair of headphones with a built-in voice trainer, which forces you to run better and more often.
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