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So you’re flush with gift cards and $5 checks from grandparents but aren’t sure what in the wild world of e-commerce is noice and what’s noise. Luckily, the PopSci staff is always searching for tech toys that live up to the hype. One of the perks of the job is we get to go hands-on with a ton of stuff every year, so when something stands out it’s either really dope or truly helps us cope. Eager to share our personal discoveries with equally passionate gadget geeks, we’ve put together this short list of our No. 1 purchases in 2023 so you can shop for the best things with confidence.

Fellow Stagg EKG Pro Gooseneck Electric Kettle



Fellow’s maximized minimalism designer accessories aesthetic has become iconic in barista circles (and corners), and for good reason. This electric kettle, available in multiple finishes, sits on a minimalist base equipped with a 1200-watt quick-heating element and coin-shaped sleek LCD screen so you can quickly dial in to-the-degree temperature/set a brew stopwatch for the coffee-brewing method/tea type you’re using. And the gooseneck spout allows for precise saturation. The standard edition is a proven workhorse, but I recommend you go all-in and splurge on this newer Pro edition. For an extra $30, it adds a high-resolution color LCD, plus more scheduling options/guide modes/temperature hold time adjustments (Wi-Fi upgradeable if/when new features get released). I’ve found it invaluable as my mood swings like a jittery overcaffeinated pendulum between pour-overs and French press coffee, oolong and Earl Grey teas. — Tony Ware, associate managing editor, gear and reviews

Red Wing


Some things you wear just because they look good, and some things you wear just because they feel good. Then there’s that rare third category, the things that constantly make you feel good about your look. The Red Wing Iron Ranger 6-inch boots are a $350 investment in timeless style for decades to come. These rugged oil-tanned full-grain leather service boots—originally crafted for Minnesota miners—are distinctive and dependable, carrying a long legacy and manifesting raw denim’s perfect complement. To get them to their optimal state, however, they demand respect. First, they run big, and the right pair can be anywhere from one half- to a full size smaller than your sneaker size. Second, the break-in period is rough. Real rough. Am I going to let a boot break my will? Maybe, though it might break my body first. However, after a couple of weeks and five to eight wear sessions, the leather upper and the cork midsole mold to your feet and reveal themselves as now perfectly yours, setting the stage for enviable polish, comfort, and longevity. — Tony Ware, associate managing editor, gear and reviews

Squid Industries Squiddy B

Squid Industries


I have never met a fidget device that scratches my itchy brain quite like this one from Squid Industries. It’s styled after a balisong (or butterfly knife), which typically includes a blade sandwiched between two handles attached to hinges on one end. The design allows it to flip open in a practical use case quickly, or perform elaborate tricks. The Squiddy B is plastic instead of metal and replaces the blade with a dull, spatula-like plank that won’t leave you with a stab wound if you mess up a trick. It has a learning curve, and I’m still horrible at the more advanced tricks, but that’s part of why I like it so much. I can mindlessly flip it or concentrate on practicing the skills depending on my mood. The lowly fidget spinner can’t compete. — Stan Horaczek, executive editor, gear and reviews

Garmin Instinct GPS Smartwatch



I’m a fan of Garmin’s Instinct line of rugged outdoor watches, and those with the solar-charging option can keep ticking for a long time without being plugged in. These adventure watches can be expensive, however, so I bought a gen-one model without solar when it was on sale. These are great everyday timepieces that aren’t too bulky and come in handy for tracking outdoor activities, as well. — Rob Verger, Technology editor

Ninja NC299AMZ CREAMi Ice Cream Maker

One of PopSci‘s “Best of What’s New” winners for the home category in 2021, the Ninja CREAMi easily makes any frozen dessert you can fit in its pint containers. If you can freeze it, you can turn it into ice cream, and the machine has several other settings for milkshakes, mix-ins, and more. The only real limiting factor is how good you are at combining ingredients. — John Kennedy, DIY editor

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen Cookbook

Crafted by Sean Sherman, James Beard award-winning chef and member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, this acclaimed cookbook goes beyond sharing recipes and culinary anecdotes: It shares a new vision of foods and dishes that are truly native to North America. That means no dairy or beef products and no grains. Despite the dietary exclusions, the ingredient lists are rich, diverse, and easy to access. You’ll learn about fishing, foraging, and, best of all, sustaining yourself from the land you live on. — Purbita Saha, deputy editor

Elden Ring

Elden Ring is officially the “Game of the Year,” at least according to the Game Awards. Personally, I think it lives up to that title (and then some)! This game has over 200 hours of content in the first playthrough, and even then, it has high replayability. It has thrilling combat that feels great (hello, parries), an open world packed with secrets to discover, and one of the best stories Hidetaka Miyazaki has ever crafted (though he had some help from George R. R. Martin). And if you’re worried that this Fromsoftware or “Soulsborne” game is too difficult, don’t be! This is their most accessible title ever. Play Elden Ring! — Jess Boddy, associate editor, special projects

Bitmap Books’ Game Boy: The Box Art Collection

Bitmap Books


As a fan of retro video games, my jaw dropped when flipping through Bitmap Books’ Game Boy: The Box Art Collection. Lovingly assembled, the hardcover book contains scans and screenshots of titles from the Game Boy’s entire library—both domestic and abroad—along with information on each title. It’s clear this was a labor of love, and supporting Bitmap Books is one of the surest ways to guarantee video game knowledge is preserved for generations to come. — Brandt Ranj, commerce reporter

Fluance Ai61 Bookshelf Speakers



Powered bookshelf speakers are my favorite audio hardware category, and Fluance’s Ai61s offer everything I could ask for. The speakers have USB, RCA, and optical inputs, plus support for Bluetooth, so I’ve been able to connect them to everything from a turntable to my smartphone without an adapter. Soundwise, the Ai61s punch well above their weight, offering deep bass and smooth midrange without distortion at high volumes. The company even made sure the volume knob felt good to turn, although I’ll admit to using the included remote a lot of the time. If you’re short on space but want big sound, these speakers get my highest recommendation. — Brandt Ranj, commerce reporter




I’ve always wanted to get into PC gaming, but my preference for the Mac and distaste for tower-shaped computers has always held me back. Bosgame’s Mini PC has solved that problem for me. The lunchbox-sized PC fits neatly in my home entertainment center, and is powerful enough to play the titles I want at 1080P without struggling. Its integrated graphics card may not be able to handle Elden Ring at 4K and 120fps, but for mid-tier games (or older titles) it’s just fine. The convenience of being able to hit a button and have a console-like experience using Steam’s Big Picture mode is well worth the price of admission. — Brandt Ranj, commerce reporter

NormaTec Pulse 2.0 Leg and Hip Recovery System



I’ve had pain in my feet and legs due to chronic plantar fasciitis since I was only six years old. A friend and fellow athlete introduced me to these boots, and I love them. They are really helpful after a tough swim or dryland workout. I’ve typically paid per session to use them at a recovery center or gym, but would love to be able to sit at home and watch Jeopardy! while getting some sweet compression therapy. The bags inflate and deflate to give your legs and feet a nice massage that helps reduce pain, improve circulation, and improves recovery. It’s a crazy expensive gift, so I hope that inflation hasn’t affected the North Pole quite so much. — Laura Baisas, science news writer

Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Recovery System



These also make my legs feel amazing and are super easy to use. They’re great if you are an athlete, work on your feet all day, or just want to give your legs some TLC. — Laura Baisas, science news writer

PURITO Daily Go-To Sunscreen

It’s just a great product—it’s inexpensive, has amazing SPF performance (Korean sunscreens FTW), has a smooth texture that doesn’t leave a white cast or oily residue, absorbs beautifully, doesn’t stain my white shirts, and it doesn’t peal. I honestly don’t know why people are not only buying this SPF. The only drawback is that it’s an import, so it takes a bit longer to get to you, but honestly, that only matters because we’re spoiled kids who expect things to be on our doorstep in 24 hours. — Sandra Gutierrez, associate DIY editor

Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote

I live in a cold apartment and am also a person who gets cold easily. This space heater from Lasko keeps me cozy and comfortable as the temperatures drop. It heats a cold room super fast thanks to its oscillation, and I’ve never been afraid that it will catch on fire. The remote means I can turn it on without getting out of bed or off the couch. And that remote is attached to my hip at all times because this heater has made me infinitely less cold-cranky when the temperature hits below 45 degrees. — Amanda Reed, commerce staff writer

Kenny Hoots Mini Hero Tabletop RPG Treasury

The pandemic finally allowed me to embrace my inner tabletop RPG fan, and these handmade gaming accessories are gorgeous, handy, and super fun to use. For the truly discerning D&D dungeon master, you really can’t beat these bespoke kits and battle maps made in New Orleans. — Andrew Paul, news writer

Planta and Reframe apps/subscriptions

I guess these aren’t officially “things,” but this was definitely a year of getting my stuff together, in terms of keeping plants alive and being more conscious of the way alcohol affects our lives. Planta and Reframe both kept me on track, offered help when I needed it, and, in general, made me feel less clueless and stressed about what sounds like pretty simple stuff, but it turns out is hard. Would recommend spending a lil extra $$. — Sara Kiley Watson, news editor

Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50

The Vitamix FoodCycler isn’t cheap, but I love how it converts the banana peels, coffee grounds, and newspaper I produce daily into something useful. I pop the scraps into the device, and I’ve got several cups of fertilizer for my plants and neighborhood trees a few hours later. — Jen McCaffery, commerce special projects director

Welly Traveler 20oz insulated bottle

There’s no shortage of water bottles to choose from, but Welly’s Traveler takes it up a notch. This vacuum-insulated stainless steel bottle keeps your favorite drinks hot for 12 hours or cold for 24. It’s also designed with a removable infuser for enhancing your beverage of choice. The Traveler is also dishwasher safe, and Welly donates 1% to clean water efforts around the globe for each purchase. — Jen McCaffery, commerce special projects director

Bearaby Cotton Napper knitted weighted blanket

Whether I’m curling up with a book or streaming “White Lotus,” the Bearaby Cotton Napper is a cozy companion. This blanket comes in four weights (10, 15, 20, and 25 pounds) and wraps you like a hug. Its chunky, knitted design is made from organic cotton that’s OEKO-TEX-certified for not using any artificial fillers. And this wrap comes in a range of subtle colors (Midnight Blue, Moonstone Grey, Asteroid Grey, Evening Rose, and Cloud White) that look great on your couch. — Jen McCaffery, commerce special projects director

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