2016 has been an interesting year for technology.
Most of the devices we’ve seen this year are incremental upgrades from devices of previous years.
In fact, 2016 has been more about software than hardware. There have, however, been a few standout devices.
The Top 10 Gadgets of 2016
Here’s a roundup of our top 10 gadgets of 2016:
1. Nintendo Switch
Nintendo hasn’t been able to compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft in the gaming arena for ages.
Their previous attempts at gaming consoles – both handheld and home bound – have failed to gain traction on the mass consumer market.
The company had been teasing a mysterious new console for ages and, in October, they finally unveiled the Switch.
While many details about the console are not yet known, the most interesting “feature” of the device is its modular design.
Capable of being used as either a home bound console, which is connected to your TV, or as a handheld console, the Switch looks set to turn the gaming world on its head.
More info about the Nintendo Switch will be announced by the company on 12 January 2017.
2. Amazon Echo
Amazon is known as the online retailer. But, lately, the company has been branching out and exploring unexpected avenues.
The most surprising product from the tech giant is the line of Echo speakers.
Available in different sizes, and at different price points, the Echo speakers are smart speakers which use an AI assistant known as Alexa to help you with certain things.
You can ask Alexa what the weather is, ask her to order an Uber for you, or she can control certain smart home connected devices.
Cost: From R1 085 on PriceCheck.
3. Marshall Major II
Marshall is one of the most well-known names in audio. So, when they release a pair of headphones, expectations are high.
The Major II headphones live up to those expectations.
Featuring padded, leather covered ear cups and retro rocker styling, it’s clear that this is a Marshall product.
Able to work as either wired headphones – using a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack and cable – or wirelessly, they bring great sound no matter where you are.
Thanks to a foldable design, you’ll also find transporting them to be easier than you expected. One thing that’s missing is a carrying case. But, other than that, the Major II headphones bring great sound and top-notch features to these premium headphones.
Cost: From R1 599 on PriceCheck.
Watch our review of the Marshall headphones below:
4. Samsung Gear Icon X
Thanks to Apple and Motorola dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagship handsets, everyone is looking at wireless headphones as an alternative means of listening to music.
Samsung (who already has wireless headphones available) has taken full advantage of this with the launch of the Gear Icon X.
Not just a pair of wireless earbuds, the Icon X can also function as a fitness tracker.
Cost: From R2 499 on PriceCheck.
5. Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft has taken to making their own hardware, which looks to be the best thing for the company.
Long considered to be the software workhorse and not the creative force that Apple is, Microsoft’s new Surface Studio is challenging that perception.
The company’s first desktop aims to redesign what we think of as an all-in-one PC.
Not only is the the display a whopping 28 inches, it’s also touchscreen and supports stylus input.
Packing either an Intel i5 or i7 processor, up to 32GB RAM, and an NVIDIA graphics card, the Surface Studio is set to be a powerhouse device.
Not currently available in South Africa.
6. iPhone 7 Plus
Apple’s iPhone has long been seen as the standard for smartphones and, this year, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus continue Apple’s tradition of refining their existing products.
The 7 Plus is not only the larger of the two handsets, it’s also fits iPhone with a rear-facing, dual-camera setup.
The second rear-facing camera is a 12MP telephoto lens, which supports up to 10x optical zoom (thanks to software tweaks).
This means that you can now add depth perception to your images, as well as capture them in RAW DNG format.
Cost: From R17 499 (for the 128GB model) on PriceCheck.
7. Google Pixel
Google’s Nexus range of smartphones is no more.
The search giant has replaced the Android purist’s favourite smartphone with a new range, simply called Pixel.
While the hardware for the two new devices (the Pixel and the Pixel XL) is actually made by HTC, you’ll find none of the company’s branding on this handset.
From a design perspective, the Pixel and Pixel XL, bear a striking resemblance to Apple’s iPhone. But, that’s where the similarities end.
The Pixel and Pixel XL both run a special version of the latest Android OS, Nougat. This is designed to showcase the software as well as Google’s new AI Assistant.
8. DJI Phantom 4
The Phantom 4 is the latest high-end commercial drone from DJI.
It has two optical sensors, which scan for objects in the way of the drone and automatically redirect the drone around those objects.
It also has a new “Sport Mode”, for advanced flyers, to give you a taste of what drone racing feels like. In “Sport Mode,” the Phantom 4 can fly 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour) and ascends and descends more rapidly than in other modes. The craft’s acceleration and top speed in “Sport Mode” also means it can reach locations for shots faster and capture shots you couldn’t get before.
All of these features, coupled with the world’s first aerial stabilised 4K camera, makes this one of the best drones on the market.
Cost: From R18 999 on PriceCheck.
9. Xiaomi Mi Mix
Known as the Apple of China, Xiaomi has widely been criticised for it’s copying of Apple’s flagship products.
With the release of the Mi Mix, a concept phone that actually went on sale, that perception has been obliterated.
The Mi Mix looks like no other phone on the market, thanks to the display which takes up 91.3% of the front of the device.
The only bezel that exists on the front of the phone is at the bottom.
Xiaomi has ensured that the Mi Mix doesn’t just look good, but that it also packs some of the best specs of any smartphone currently on the market. These include 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 821 chipset, 128GB onboard storage, and a 4400mAh battery.
The Xiaomi Mi Mix is not currently available in South Africa.
10. PS VR
Virtual reality is the biggest new medium in technology. With every tech company worth its salt throwing its ring into the VR game.
Playstation has also entered the fray with Playstation VR.
The best thing about the PS VR is that it plugs directly into your PS4.
It has a 5.7-inch OLED screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, split across both eyes, which provides a roughly 100-degree field of view.
It also has a six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer) and nine LEDs that let the PlayStation’s camera tell where players are.
Cost: From R6 499 from PriceCheck.