Technology moves at warp speed. By the time you unbox that shiny new gadget or install that new software update, it’s time to move onto the next big thing.
The scope of technology stretched far beyond smartphones and laptops this year. Sure, we saw Android smartphones mature and catch up to the iPhone with premium materials and powerful cameras, but we also got “hoverboards,” and more affordable drones, and our first real taste of consumer VR. Wearables, particularly, smartwatches, are also finally becoming mainstream with fashionable styles and intuitive use cases.
The very best of these products were awarded Mashable Choice. These products excelled within their product categories and delivered on value, quality and function.
Here are Mashable’s picks for the most outstanding tech products of the year — products worth every penny.
20. Dell XPS 13
Dell’s XPS 13 is an absolute stunner of an ultraportable laptop. Somehow, Dell managed to squeeze in a 13-inch screen into a chassis that’s fit for a 12-inch laptop. With a beautiful display, great performance and big battery life, the XPS 13 set the bar really high for other Windows laptops. Though there are a bunch of models to pick from, the $999 model definitely hits the sweet spot of price for the whole package.
19. Samsung Galaxy S6
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is arguably one of the best Android phones of the year. Samsung finally ditched the plastic for metal and glass, and the result was a gorgeous, ultra-thin, premium-feeling phone with an equally spectacular Quad HD-resolution display. A ridiculously fast 16-megapixel camera and fast wireless charging round out Samsung’s flagship smartphone.
18. LG G4
LG didn’t follow the bandwagon with a metal phone. Instead, its G4 doubled down on features its competitors were dropping. Removable battery? Check. MicroSD card slot? Check. The G4’s best feature, however, is its 16-megapixel camera; thanks to the f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization, the camera is unequivocally the greatest when it comes to low-light performance. The camera even has a manual mode and can shoot in RAW, features normally reserved for professional cameras.
17. Samsung Gear VR
Most VR headsets from the Oculus Rift to the PlayStation VR aren’t slated to become commercially available until next year. If you want VR now, the simplest and cheapest entry point is Samsung’s third-gen Gear VR. The $99 headset is not only extremely affordable, but it improves on many of the issues that plagued the first and second versions. It’s lighter, comfier, and supports four phones (Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge ).
16. Apple MacBook
At 2 pounds and a little over over half an inch thick, the new MacBook gives new meaning to thin and light laptops. The 12-inch Retina display is to die for and battery life is solid at 9 hours of web browsing. The two polarizing changes are its single USB-C port and redesigned keyboard, which uses a “butterfly mechanism” and has less key travel. At $1,299, the new MacBook is a bit on the pricey side, but make no mistake, this is what the every laptop will look like in a few years.
15. DJI Phantom 3 Standard
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is not the most decked-out drone you can buy, nor is it an underpowered one that will snap in half, either. For $699, the Phantom 3 Standard is a reasonably priced consumer drone that has all the earmarks and performance of a pro unit. It’s easy to set up, has an amazing HD camera and flying it is straightforward.
14. Apple Watch
Eight months after the unveiling, Apple finally launched the Apple Watch, its take on the smartwatch. The Apple Watch has its fair share of issues — it can be slow and confusing to operate at first — but it’s without a doubt the most fashionable smartwatch out there. Available in two sizes and a dizzying array of band styles, the Apple Watch offers something for everyone at all price points, starting from $349 all the way up to $17,000.
13. Sphero BB-8
Disney and its toy partners are milking the Star Wars franchise for all its worth, but none is perhaps more adorable than the $149.99 Sphero BB-8. The little ball ‘bot works just like in The Force Awakens and rolls around at a speedy pace when paired to an iOS or Android device. The new cutest droid in the entire galaxy succeeds because it’s more than a toy. It’s a digital companion that will entertain Star Wars-loving fans of all ages.
12. Samsung SSD T1
Samsung’s Portable SSD T1 ticks both the security and speed checkboxes, and does so in a package that’s smaller than a standard business card. The T1 offers AES 256-bit hardware encryption (NSA-level protection) and is so fast it can move a 3GB file in eight seconds over USB 3.0. We moved a 15GB 4K movie from a MacBook Air to the T1 in 37 seconds; in comparison, a regular hard drive took 3 minutes. The price for all that speed doesn’t come cheap: $500 (although you can find it for as low as $376 on Amazon and other online retailers).
11. Polaroid Snap
The Polaroid Snap digital instant camera is Polaroid’s most exciting product in years. The $99.99 digital camera may look like a toy, but there’s no denying the photo stickers it prints out with its built-in ZINK printer are charming. At a time when you can take as many digital photos as your memory card can store, it’s nice to be able to touch and hold your photos.
10. Google Nexus 6P
After last year’s too-damn-big Nexus 6, Google came to its senses and released the more reasonably-sized Nexus 6P. Built by Huawei, the Nexus 6P packs in all of latest and greatest smartphone specs (including a lightning-quick fingerprint sensor) in an all-metal body that feels great in the hand. The Quad HD screen is stunning, the battery really does last “all day,” and Android 6.0 Marshmallow without any bloatware is a godsend. And for the first time, a Nexus phone’s cameras don’t suck. The fact Google’s selling it for only $499 unlocked is like icing on a cake.
9. Windows 10
With Windows 10, Microsoft listened to its users. Windows 10 brought back the desktop as the front-facing interface and restored the Start menu. Microsoft’s latest operating system also brought Cortana, the built-in assistant from its mobile devices, and a brand new lighter and faster web browser called Microsoft Edge. Other features like Continuum crunch the OS into a touch-friendly interface. Best of all, Microsoft is making Windows 10 free for Window 7/8/8.1 users for the first year.
8. Apple TV
The box may not look too different, but Apple completely overhauled the experience on the new Apple TV. No longer a hobby, the new Apple TV runs tvOS and opens the doors for apps of all kinds to proliferate. In addition to the brand new interface and universal search, Apple redesigned the remote control with a glass touchpad and Siri voice controls. $149 for a 32GB model gets you through the door and $169 boosts you up to 64GB.
7. Samsung Gear S2
Most round-shaped smartwatches are duds because they’re essentially running software designed for rectangular displays. Samsung’s Gear S2, however, is thoughtfully designed with purpose and speed. To navigate around the Tizen-based OS, you simply rotate the bezel. Also, unlike Samsung’s million previous smartwatches, the Gear S2 is extremely comfortable to wear. The $299.99 price tag also makes it cheaper than the cheapest Apple Watch. There’s also a classic model that’s more suited for dress shirts and blazers if the S2’s sporty design isn’t your cup of tea.
6. Swagway X1
Walking is lame. At least, that’s what “hoverboard” makers like Swagway want you to believe. Why walk when you can roll down the street like a boss from the future? Hoverboards like the Swagway X1 put personal mobility vehicles on the map this year in a huge way. At the same time, they also stirred up controversy after several of them exploded over the holidays, airlines banned them, and certain cities declare them not street-legal. The Swagway X1 goes for $400, which is on the low-end, but hoverboards can be found north of $1,500.
5. iPhone 6S/iPhone 6S Plus
The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are evolutionary — as opposed to revolutionary — updates to the last year’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus. Usually, an “S” model year is a modest upgrade with faster hardware under the hood, but the 6S and 6S Plus are more than that. Apple added 3D Touch, boosted the cameras to 12 megapixels on the back and 5 megapixels on the front, added 4K video recording, a Touch ID sensor that’s twice as fast and a stronger metal body. Most important of all: It comes in rose gold. Every iPhone is the best iPhone ever and the 6S is no different.
4. Volvo V60 Polestar
Polestar’s tuned Volvo V60 might not be better than its competition, but it’s the most fun Volvo sports wagon to date. Then Polestar bolts on bigger wheels, bigger brakes, suspension that is 80% stiffer than stock, and a 2.5-inch stainless steel full-flow exhaust system with twin 3.5-inch tail pipes. The result is a car that accelerates like a Mercedes-AMG, brakes like a BMW, spits and crackles like a Jaguar F-Type, but looks like a safe family hauler. If you’re going to consider the V60 Polestar, realize you’re going to have to suffer the ridiculous looks of strangers and a suspension that feels like it’s not quite yet sorted.
3. Apple iPad Pro
The iPad Pro is the biggest iPad ever and a clear nod to Microsoft’s Surface Pro devices. When paired with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro transforms into a powerful productivity workhorse. The iPad Pro is so powerful, it can edit three 4K video streams simultaneously in iMovie. Apple’s giant tablet isn’t for everyone, but for those who need to get “real work” done, the iPad Pro is up for the task.
2. Microsoft Surface Book
The Surface Book is a not exactly a laptop. It’s an evolutionary convergence of tablet and ultra-portable design innovation. Made from magnesium, the Surface Book is both solid and sturdy. Press a button on the keyboard and the screen detaches to become its own turbo-charged tablet. The screen is brilliant, Windows 10 is smooth and the pen input is significantly more accurate than other styli. With Surface Book, Microsoft’s taken every lesson it’s learned from years of watching others build Windows laptops and done them all one better.
1. Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo is part Bluetooth speaker, part personal voice assistant, and 100% awesome. The $179.99 tube is controlled entirely with your voice and understands commands to play music, tell you the weather and read headlines. The biggest reason to buy the Amazon is how it easily integrates with existing smart home devices from Philips’ Hue Lights to Samsung’s SmartThings. Connecting supported third-party smart home gadgets is super easy, and Alexa, the voice assistant, is responsive to the extreme. Using the Echo is so intuitive, you wonder how Amazon figured out the smart home before Apple and Google did.
Source : Mashable