CNET stage at CES 2020

James Martin/CNET

If 2020 has only taught us one thing, it’s just how important digital technology is to our lives.

From the computers, smartphones and tablets we use to create and consume content and communicate with each other, to the routers, monitors, cameras and nuts-and-bolts gear that make our digital ecosystems work, we relied on tech to stay connected even as we were apart. Throw in how key TVs, smart speakers, smart home gear, software and online services were for many of us, and you can understand why CNET’s job of chronicling the best tech released every year took on heightened importance in 2020. 

Our advice team worked at home and lived at work, setting up ad hoc testing labs in living rooms, basements, garages and even in their backyards. Even though some products were delayed due to supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, tech companies went the extra mile to make sure they could deliver on their product promises in the second half of 2020, as Jason Hiner, CNET’s editorial director for advice, notes in this year’s list of CNET’s Editors Choice. 

We picked 57 products that we think got it right across five categories: mobile tech, computing (including desktop, laptops and tablets), home entertainment, smart home and services and software (and yes Zoom, which became a verb thanks to quarantines and stay-at-home orders across the globe, made the list).

“The best products combine a mix of performance, design and value,” says Hiner. “Of course, in a year marked by a recession, value has additional gravitas — and you can see that reflected in our picks.”

How does this all work? Our team of experienced reviewers look at lots of new products and decide which ones we’ll include in roundups and which might end up on our lists of interesting products. But only the most notable products get full reviews and end up in our Best Lists. From those Best Lists, the team meets and discusses the products they feel deserve an Editors’ Choice call out.  

And as always, the team usually waits until at least a week after a product has been released and in consumers’ hands before making it an Editors’ Choice pick. That’s just to make sure there aren’t any quality control issues that show up after many people have gotten a chance to use them and tell us about their daily experiences. 

Thanks to Hiner and all our editors who turned their personal spaces into testing centers: mobile experts Eric Franklin, Sareena Dayaram, Jessica Dolcourt, Vanessa Hand Orellana, Patrick Holland, and Lynn La; home entertainment experts David Katzmaier, Eli Blumenthal and Ty Pendlebury; computer experts Dan Ackerman, Josh Goldman, Lori Grunin, Joe Kaminski and Scott Stein; smart home experts Rich Brown, Brian Bennett, Steve Conaway, Ry Crist, Andrew Gebhart, Molly Price, Dave Priest, Julie Snyder and Megan Wollerton; and software, apps and services experts Alison DeNisco Rayome, Shelby Brown and Rae Hodge.

Take a look at our full list of Editors’ Choice picks and let us know what you think. As we move into 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine promises to help us return to whatever new normal awaits. While we don’t know how long that will take, we do know that tech will continue to be key to how we continue to live, work and play.

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