2016 was better than ever for the technology enthusiast and saw quite a few dent-making changes in the world of technology. There were a slew of gadgets that a lot of companies came out with and like every year, I drooled over quite a few of them. Out of these, there were three gadgets that made me more excited than I can admit to without getting embarrassed – a smartphone which never settles, a wearable that promises to take care of all your fitness tracking needs and a living room gadget that converts your TV and audio experience on its head.
I said it in June and I say it again, if you are in the market looking to buy a smartphone and want the best experience at a price that doesn’t make you sell you kidney, the OnePlus 3/3T is the phone to buy. With industry leading specs and performance, a gorgeous design and software that builds on Android and adds genuinely useful features, OnePlus 3 was the phone with which the Chinese startup finally delivered on its promises to give us a phone that never settles and kills flagships. Then, they took it to the next level with a mid-year refresh and gave us the OnePlus 3T, with even better internals, a bigger battery and an even better front-facing camera. 2016 was the year that convinced me that for most of the people out there (except the ones that really are into photography), the best smartphone can be bought for INR 30k (USD 400).
Samsung Gear Fit 2
I was never into Samsung products. I didn’t like their make-a-thousand-similar-products-so-that-they-buy-at-least-one approach. All that changed in 2016, but, not because of their smartphones (that said, I do think that the Note 7, before it began blowing up, was probably the best high-end smartphone of 2016). Their wearables were what got me excited. And a lot of that was because of the Gear S2 and Gear Fit 2 (they have ruined their smartwatch with the bulky Gear S3, though). The Gear Fit 2, in my opinion, provides the most bang for your buck with the number of features it packs for less than INR 15k (USD 200). It looks great, has all the bells and whistles that a fitness tracking rookie would want and even packs in GPS for the pros, all for INR 13k (USD 180). In fact, there have been times during the year when I have contemplated selling my Apple Watch and replacing it with the Gear Fit 2 (and I have gone on record saying that the Apple Watch is my favourite piece of technology right now).
Probably the most underrated gadget of the year, the Chromecast 2 has made the biggest difference to how I experience entertainment at home. The small puck, part of Google’s more organized foray into making their own hardware (though it doesn’t get talked about as much as the Pixel and Home), packs the power to bring you features of Apple TV at less than 1/4th the price (INR 3399) and turns your TV into a truly smart TV. Connect it via HDMI to your TV and you can stream TV shows, movies and anything else under the sun from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. There’s even a Chromecast Audio which converts your old speakers or home theatre systems into wireless speakers to stream audio from your devices. The convenience it delivers and the price it delivers that convenience at makes the Chromecast 2, easily, one of the best gadgets to have been released this year.
iPhone 7 Plus (best camera around), Google Pixel (unlimited photo storage, Google Assistant), Apple Watch 2 (fitness-focus), Garmin Forerunner 35 (runner’s delight at a great price), Fitbit Alta (the best looking fitness tracker around), Google Home (talking to Google Assistant), PS4 Pro (the next generation of gaming)
What are your favourite gadgets of 2016?