2021 Forecast: Which Tech Products Should You Actually Upgrade this Year?

If we must live our lives surrounded by screens, the picture should be perfect.

Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.

As we continue to spend most of our daily life in digital spaces, many of our once tried-and-true devices are starting to show their shortcomings. If you weren’t sure it was time for an upgrade at this time last year, you have probably made up your mind by now.

When shopping for a new piece of high-price tech, it pays to invest in something built well enough to work for a while. However, the deal-oriented among us are not quick to fall for the bells and whistles of brand new 2021 releases. Especially recently, the rollout of new iPhones, video game consoles and other tech necessities has been a bumpy ride in terms of day one functionality and availability.

To help aid your research. we have scoured the internet for the best tech upgrade options we think you should consider in 2021. Whether you opt to purchase last year’s model, wait for some bug patches or charge full steam into the newest version of your favorite toys, here are a few suggestions to help you get the best possible value out of your next tech purchase.

Upgrade to a 2020 TV – Or Wait for a Solid Deal on a New One

samsung 4k tv inbody
Credit: Samsung

The best times to purchase a TV are during Black Friday season and in early Spring when new models have been announced. In both cases, you can find plenty of TVs from the previous year on sale for way less than their original prices. Unless you already have a cutting edge television manufactured in 2020, the difference between a 2021 model and last year’s is negligible.

If you’re wondering whether you should upgrade your TV in 2021, ask yourself, “Do I already have a 4K TV?” If you don’t, now is your moment, as you can regularly find 50″ (or bigger) 4K TVs on sale for under $500.

For anyone who already has 4K in their life, you’re probably better off waiting a few more years. Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of 8K-optimized media available, and the purported upscaling ability of 8K TVs seems touch and go at this stage of development.

At the same tine, a newer 4K TV might be worth it if you care about increased HDMI 2.0 support and the latest and greatest QLED/OLED picture. If that’s the case, you can still get a shiny and new-to-you TV for substantially less when you buy last year’s model. If you’re deadset on a 2021 model TV, it’s worth waiting until the holiday shopping season begins.

Here are a couple popular 2020 TV deals to consider:

Check out Budget Options from Popular Smartwatch Brands

galaxy watch 3 apple watch se inbody
Credit: Samsung | Apple

The Apple Watch Series 6 made quite a splash when it released back in September, but is it necessarily the best upgrade option for 2021? On one hand, the Series 6 offers new features like the S6 chipset, blood oxygen sensor and Ultra Wideband.

Aside from these highlights, the Apple Watch SE offers most of the same new features for $120 less than its beefed-up sibling. Plus, it looks like an Apple Watch, so no one else will be able to tell the difference.

Apple Watch SE (GPS) 44mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band – Sale Price: $269.98 | Reg. Price: $309.99

Shared updates between the Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE include:

  • WatchOS 7 with Family Setup
  • Fall detection
  • Noise level monitoring
  • Altimeter

Unfortunately, Android users have little use for a smartwatch that requires a paired iPhone. Fortunately, a worthy contender hit the shelves this past August — the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 (41mm, GPS, Bluetooth) Smart Watch – Sale Price: $299 | Reg. Price: $399.99

Samsung fans rejoiced over the company’s return to a sleek rotating bezel design, further enhanced by thousands of unique watch faces to match your needs and personal style. This watch is priced similarly to the Apple Watch Series 6, but the addition of expanded music storage, trip detection and FDA-approved ECG tracking boosts the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 a notch above its 2021 competitors.

Looking for a New Gen Video Game Console? Wait and See

PS5 with accessories
Credit: Sony

Chances are, hardcore PlayStation and Xbox fans already own (or plan to purchase) their next gen console of choice. If you are looking to buy a new console and aren’t sold on either, it might be a good idea to wait a little while before purchasing a brand new one.

Early versions of new consoles are prone to bugs and technical issues, which can feel like a slap in the face after paying full retail price. Consoles tend to get cheaper as time goes by, you may find a PS5 or Xbox Series X for significantly less as early as the end of 2021. By the time the price drops, there will be a better selection of games to choose from, and in many cases you can by the PS4/Xbox One version now and get the next gen version for free.

Don’t Underestimate Compact Laptops in 2021

inbody dell XPS 13 Laptop 9310 2020
Credit: Dell

Now that Dell has released its updated XPS 15 machine, this is a great time to score a deal on another beast of an Ultrabook from a couple of months prior — the new and improved 11th generation Dell XPS 13. Boasting improved clock speeds that can clock 4.7GHz using the Core i7 model, this speedy machine is great for users who need a lot of processing power for CPU-hungry tasks. The Intel Evo rebrand is not just a shiny new name, either. According to our November 2020 review, the XPS 13’s wake-up response moves at a breakneck speed and boots up before the laptop is fully unfolded. With a friendlier price point than the competition, maximize frugality and performance with the Dell XPS 13.

Dell XPS 13 11th Gen 13.3in Laptop – Sale Price: $1,029.99 | Reg. Price: $1,158.99

Keeping in line with the “tried and true machines with enhanced processing power,” the best Apple laptop upgrade for 2021 is undoubtedly the late-2020 MacBook Air model. The latest MacBook Air shares the same screen, webcam, fingerprint sensor and keyboard as its most recent predecessor, but the brand new M1 processor boosts speed and allows the computer to run iPhone and iPad apps natively. Some of these experimental features are still being hammered out on Apple’s end, but don’t let that stop you from snagging a deal if you find one.

MacBook Air (Late 2020)  – Price: $999.99

Take Advantage of the AirPods Max Hubbub — But Get the Same for Less!

sony wh1000xm3 headphones
Credit: Sony

The cultural impact of Apple’s AirPods (and more recently, AirPods Max) has sparked a revolution in the world of noise cancelling headphones. Adaptive sound control and fluid touch controls have become industry standards, but why pay $550 for Apple’s latest headset when you can score a set of Sony WH-1000XM3s for less than half the price?

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Sale Price: $233 | Reg. Price: $299.99

Active noise cancellation adjusts automatically based on your surroundings, and the quick attention mode feature allows you to quickly pause media by covering the ear cup with your hand. With a cozy fit and touch-controlled settings, this beloved Sony standby is an affordable option for your 2021 tech upgrade.

It’s not quite fair to attribute the economic value of these wildly popular Sony headphones to the release of the AirPods Max. During recent sales, the Sony WH-1000XM3 have been known to drop to around $180 now that the minimally-updated WH-1000XM4 model is available.

Buy a 2020 Camera or Wait for New Releases

inbody Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body Black
Credit: Fujifilm
Most 2021 camera models are still rumors at this point, so it’s best to consider notable 2020 releases if you are looking to make a purchase soon. If you are looking for a compact, user-friendly and affordable option, look no further than the Fujifilm X-4 Mirrorless Digital Camera.

Most retailers are selling this camera for its regular price, which pushes the Adorama PC accessory bundle a few steps ahead of the competition. In addition to the Fujifilm X-T4’s class-leading autofocus, 4K video capability, stabilized image sensor and 26MP APS-C sensor, this bundle also includes:

  • Corel VideoStudio SE
  • Painter Essentials 7
  • PaintShop Pro 2019
  • AfterShot Pro 3
  • An impressive array of peripherals, accessories and storage

Still holding out hope for a sweet deal on an upcoming 2021 release? Set up a Deal Alert and we will contact you when the product you’re looking for falls within your set price range.

Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any product before you apply.

Oliver Pretl-Drummond

Oliver Pretl-Drummond is a copywriter, memoirist and Scorpio living in Baltimore, MD. Primed by years of recreational research spirals, they've helped Slickdeals document hundreds of arcane store policies and hidden coupon tricks for the greater good of deal hunters everywhere. They spend their days seeking and sharing killer deals on budget travel, sound systems, home goods and tech. By night, their free time is reserved for making bass music while consuming exotic caffeinated beverages with their partner and growing family of yucca plants.

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