Skip to main content

Tech I wish I hadn’t bought in 2021

2021 was a spectacular year for boundary-pushing new technology, though it must be said that actually getting your hands on that boundary-pushing new technology required more than a bit of luck and patience. However, even putting supply chain issues aside, not all was roses and rainbows, for not all new tech left me with the warm and fuzzy dopamine buzz I have come to associate with tech purchases. Here follows the tech I wish I hadn’t bought in 2021. Let it stand as a warning that may help others avoid my own wallet-draining mistakes.

S-view case for Samsung S21 Ultra 5G

Samsung S-View Case.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

When I upgraded to the S21 Ultra 5G from the Galaxy Note 9 this spring, I didn’t want to give up the S-pen experience of the Note 9. Fortunately, Samsung has a case that features a built-in S-Pen as well as a cool S-view window in that case. However, this case turned out to be bitterly disappointing. Unless you live in a clean room environment 100% free of dust and grit, then the S-view case is not for you.

If any kind of gunk gets in between the phone and the case, chances are it will scratch the phone screen, which is what happened to me after just a few days of use. Furthermore, unless you use gloves or wipe the phone screen each time before closing the case, that cool S-view window will leave a huge mark from the oil on your skin that is difficult to wipe off. This is as much a condemnation of the S21 Ultra screen as the case, as my Note 9 and the S8 never suffered from more than one or two minor scratches.

I still love the S21 Ultra for its amazing camera system, and I’m still glad I bought it in 2021, I just wish I hadn’t bought Samsung’s top-end premium case to go with it.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

Yes, I just now praised the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, and yes it is on my list of the tech I’m glad I bought in 2021, but I’ve already partially explained just now in my critique of the S-view case, I have a love/hate relationship with this phone. Beyond the durability issues, it’s just kind of disappointing to use. It cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t feel like a phone that costs a lot of money as my Note 9 did, or even the S21 Ultra’s biggest rival, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, does.

In addition to its screen durability issue, it also has a particularly low-quality USB-C port that has completely worn out after less than a year of use. The only reason I love it and why it also made the list of tech I’m glad I bought is its fantastic camera system and admittedly awesome processing power. It’s a zippy phone to be sure, and the screen is bright and beautiful so long as you manage to keep it free of scratches. However, at the same time, I can’t help but regret the purchase due to unfortunate issues that have somewhat soured me on this device.

Alienware Aurora R10

Alienware Aurora R10.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

There’s nothing really wrong with the Alienware R10, but I’m having serious buyer’s remorse given the recent update to Alienware’s Aurora desktops. I bought my R10 in June, partly because I feared prices were going to skyrocket, or that parts shortages would grow even worse. However, none of that panned out, and to be honest, I’m a little disappointed with some aspects of this PC. For one, it runs pretty hot and loud, so when I’m playing a demanding VR game, it sounds like a jumbo jet preparing for takeoff, even with the water-cooled CPU.

The newer Aurora desktops dramatically reduce this problem I’ve had with my R10, with more space in the case. They also have clear side panels that reveal a much better looking interior rather than the ugly, spartan mess that was the older model. I can certainly live with my R10; it’s powerful and does everything I need it to, but it hurts to have your paranoia disproven and to realize you jumped the gun just a few months too soon with a major purchase.

Haida rear ND filter kit for the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 S lens

Haida rear filter kit for 14-24mm S.
Andy Zahn / Digital Trends

A small and very niche tech purchase to be sure, but also one that left me disappointed for a number of reasons. First of all, I want to make one thing clear: the filters themselves are great. They allowed me to capture some spectacular images this summer and didn’t create an unnatural color cast or cause a loss of sharpness in my images. My beef is with the kit as a whole.

For one, installation is a difficult process that requires disassembling and reassembling a $2,400 lens with the filter holder in place. This task is a cold sweat-inducing process that I think I could only recommend to those experienced with operating on such an expensive device. Furthermore, the included screwdriver is of very poor quality and broke during the installation process.

Inserting the filters themselves is a bit tricky, but more importantly, I appear to have received a defective model that creates strange reflections in images captured with it, even without any filters in the holder. Haida has great tech support, but since I contacted them after removing the filter holder, I would have to repeat the whole process twice more in order to do the necessary troubleshooting. Quite frankly, I don’t want to roll the dice and risk my lens yet again, so the filter kit has been set aside awaiting my nerve to return, and currently, that prerequisite is still missing without a trace.

Phillips Performance Audio TAG6105 headset

Phillips Performance Audio TAG6105 headset.

I needed a good secondary headset earlier this year, and I wasn’t looking to spend much on it, so I settled on the Phillips Performance Audio TAG6105 because it seemed to be generally well thought of and was reasonably priced. On the plus side, it was one of the most comfortable headsets I’ve ever used and was remarkably durable in terms of build quality. However, it suffered from a serious and unbearable noise defect.

That might have been solved if I’d sent it in for a replacement, though judging from discussions I read around the internet regarding this issue, there was every possibility the replacement would also be defective. I ended up opting for a refund because this headset also has an absolutely awful microphone. Save yourself the headache and steer clear of the Phillips Performance Audio TAG6105!

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite.
Andy Zahn / Lifewire

I love the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s an amazing little console that is capable of running the kind of games you’d normally only see on a hulking great tower you plonk down by a TV or monitor. The Switch Lite is super portable, and not even a smartphone is as effective a method of killing time while you’re away from home. I have no major complaints about the device itself as it is now — it’s the future of it that concerns me.

Perhaps the biggest problem plaguing the Nintendo Switch is the lurking prospect of “Joy-Con Drift”, where the joysticks on Switch controllers can fail over time resulting in constant drifting motion of the cursor. While this is a problem that plagues all Switch systems, in the original and OLED versions, the Joy-Con controllers are removable, and therefore replaceable should Joy-Con drift set in. With the Switch Lite that’s not the case, as the Joy-Cons are fused to the device. While my Switch remains fully functional since I bought it back in August, I live in dread of the drift.

In hindsight, I think I should have sprung the extra $100 for a Switch with removable Joy-Cons so that the dread of Joy-Con Drift would not be such a dark cloud hanging over my enjoyment of this otherwise awesome gaming console.


I honestly had to stretch to think of things I wish I hadn’t bought in 2021. The truth is that most tech available in the second decade of the 21st century is fantastic, so long as you stay away from shady, obscure brands. Mainstream products are generally high quality with only minor nitpicks to lay against them. For that reason, my list of the tech I’m glad I bought in 2021 is significantly longer.

Andy Zahn
Andy Zahn is a freelance writer and photographer living on a small farm in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens. He currently writes…
CES 2022 shows the very convoluted future of video game tech
Asus ROG Flow Z13 gaming laptop.

A lot has changed about the technology we use to play video games. For decades, players needed to have a PC, console, or portable device (whether it be a Game Boy or iPhone) to game. Nowadays, the lines between all three of those categories have blurred. Devices like the Nintendo Switch have sparked a portable console revolution, while cloud gaming is making companies rethink what devices gamers need to play AAA titles.

That philosophical shift has been on full display throughout CES 2022. Manufacturers showed up in full force to unveil incredibly powerful devices that further break the established gaming mold. While there are plenty to ooh and ahh at, but this year's show highlights just how convoluted gaming tech has become.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2022 Awards
CES 2022 Tech for Change Awards Post Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world's biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place -- and at CES 2022, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from water-conserving showers to affordable electric trucks. But of all the world-changing tech on display this year, these four innovations impressed us the most:

Whill Model F
No matter how advanced or capable they might be, most powered wheelchairs available today suffer from the same fundamental flaw: They aren’t easy to transport when they’re not in use.

Read more
The best smart lights of CES 2022
GE Cync lights set up in gaming room.

CES 2022 is rapidly drawing to a close, and in the midst of it all were a few new smart lights that caught our eye. Let's see what's new from the show and what you might want to include in your next smart lighting upgrade.
GE Cync

GE's lighting brand Cync unloaded 11 new smart bulbs, covering all the form factors you could ask for, including filaments, candelabras, and globes. It pledged to support Matter in the future, too, which is good news for playing along with your other smart home devices. Expect to see these on store shelves at Lowe's, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon in March, with price points starting at $12. You can read up more about Cync's other announcements, including smart thermostats and security cameras.

Read more