While VR was the star of last year’s rundowns of new gadgets, it’s mostly gone silent this year. As such, our favorite consumer electronics for the year hail from more conventional categories, from smartphones and speakers to consoles and webcams. Yes, webcams.
Here are 10 of the coolest gadget releases from 2017:
Xbox One X
At first, the Xbox One X seems like an unnecessary upgrade. It plays the same games, runs the same apps, and does the same things as the console’s earlier iterations. We mean, it doesn’t even have VR. What makes it special, though, hides squarely under the hood – a whole lot of processing muscle (six teraflops of graphical processing power, to be exact) that makes it the most powerful console ever made. The most important thing that muscle gets you? Full compatibility with 4K HDR TVs, allowing you to play those same games in native 4K at 60 fps, with pictures dripping in a much wider array of colors than ever before. If you want the best game graphics for that brand new TV you picked up last Black Friday, this console is how you get it.
Amazon Echo Spot
Arguably the cutest Echo ever (people instantly compared it to the Chumby), the Spot is probably the one speaker we can see making its way to every room in the house. From the living room to the bedroom to the kitchen and back, the compact speaker with the circular display just works. Of course, the inclusion of a camera makes people a bit iffy regarding privacy concerns. Then again, you can always cover the camera with a sticker if you don’t want to put up with the potential spying it opens up. And, no, it won’t lose all that much functionality, considering most people use the camera strictly for video calls and baby monitor duties.
Echo Spot – Black
- Echo Spot is designed to fit anywhere in your home. Use 2nd generation far-field voice recognition…
Nintendo stumbled hard with the Wii U, leaving many to question how its innovative hardware and family-friendly game franchises will do next time around. Turns out, the stumble is temporary as the Switch managed to put the Japanese outfit back on the map in a huge way this year. Whether it’s the convertible design (it’s a home console that you can also play on the go), the impressive first-party game lineup, or just the simple fact that it’s so enjoyable to use, Nintendo managed to turn the tide in its favor and things are looking great for the platform going forward.
Apple iPhone X
A radical departure from every iPhone before it, the iPhone X is a preview to Apple’s vision of the smartphone’s future. From the bezel-free display and the banished home button to Face ID and a whole new array of camera tech, it rewrites the rules that Apple has worked so hard to ingrain in people over the last ten years, literally retraining you to use your phone in all sorts of fresh ways. And it works.
The Amazon Echo is a decent speaker, but more discerning listeners probably want something that produces much better sound. Problem is, none of those better options come with the Alexa virtual assistant onboard, which many have come to rely on as an indispensable part of their everyday life. At least, not until the Sonos One came out this year, which puts Amazon’s virtual assistant in a speaker with a much more sophisticated sound profile. That means, getting all the benefits of an intelligent assistant while enjoying a better listening experience.
Mighty Spotify Player
With our phones sitting in our pockets, the need for a portable Spotify player sounds completely nonexistent. However, there are still times when leaving your phone at home or putting it away makes sense, such as when doing your morning runs or doing HIIT circuits at the gym. It’s those times when Mighty comes really handy, allowing you to keep playing music without needing to have your phone anywhere nearby. Yes, it’s not for everyone, but for that segment of the market that does find it useful, the iPod Shuffle lookalike just might be the device they’ve needed all along. And, yes, it supports Spotify’s offline playback feature, so you can keep the playlist running even without an available Wi-Fi network.
Tons of companies have been putting out webcams for the longest time, so you’d think every novel idea has already been done many times over. Well, not quite as it turns out. This year, the Razer Kiyo brought something unique, combining an HD webcam with an adjustable ring light to provide direct illumination to the exact spot the lens is facing, making it a simpler option for game streamers who need that extra light to keep things bright and clear during livestreams.
Sony Alpha A7R III
Combining some of Sony’s flagship A9’s best features in a more affordable body, the A7R III boasts high-resolution imaging at speeds of up to 10 fps, complete with full autofocus and exposure tracking. It pairs those high-performance shooting capabilities with a larger battery than its predecessor, a second memory card slot, and even joystick controls for easier settings adjustment, along 4K video capture, 120 fps slo-mo footage, and a whole load of sweet tricks that put it in the running as one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras in the market today.
DJI’s smallest drone is also its most accessible, bringing aerial photography and cinematography to an even wider audience. Filled with a whole load of intelligent autonomous features, the drone can literally be flown with neither a controller nor a smartphone app, requiring just your hand to take off and navigate. Just tap the button at the back of the drone twice, put it in the palm of your hand, and watch it take off, then direct it to fly higher, go lower, or navigate a specific direction by using simple hand gestures. It’s not flawless (sometimes, the gestures don’t stick), but the Spark goes a long way towards making drones as simple as possible to operate.
Rylo 360-Degree Camera
It’s a distinct possibility that 360-degree content may never take off, which is why the adoption of 360-degree cameras hasn’t been all that impressive. Rylo’s camera, however, differs from most spherical shooters due to the fact that it’s designed for producing standard framed 1080p content, which you extract from the captured 4K 360-degree video using the outfit’s feature-packed software. The camera is far from perfect and the software takes a bit of a learning curve to figure out, but the system crafts a mainstream function for spherical shooters that’s relevant today and shows where other 360-degree camera makers are likely to move towards next year.