High tech products just keep getting better and better. This year was an especially wonderful year for impressive devices of all different types. So here are just a few of the most popular tech devices from 2016.
Smartphones, very popular tech devices, reached a peak this year with three different manufacturer’s offering their best phones ever:
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
The Samsung Galaxy S7’s have great OLED screens. The larger S7 Edge features a curved edge screen and some special Edge software features. Both versions have excellent build quality, a useful always-on display, and great battery life. This was the first smartphone to have a really phenomenal camera. Their 12-megapixel camera was one of the first to expand the size of the CMOS and individual pixels resulting in a camera that excels in low light. The microSD card slot gives you great storage space. The S7 supports wireless charging. Add that to the certified IP68 water-resistant rating and this a phone is hard to beat.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
Not to be outdone, Apple released the iPhone 7 in two versions one smaller and one larger. With their always-wonderful build quality, this is their sleekest phone yet. Apple added water resistance, additional storage (still non-removable), and stereo speakers. This phone has no headphone jack, but Apple includes an adapter in the box so you can use your headset through the charging port. My side-by-side comparison shows this camera is very close in quality to the excellent camera of the S7. Unfortunately the iPhone 7 doesn’t support the wireless charging of the Galaxy S7 that I’ve come to love.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL
The Google Pixel rounds out the trio of excellent smartphones that were brought to the market in 2016. Like the competition, this phone is offered in two sizes, both of excellent build quality. The cameras in these phones have garnered rave photographic reviews and can compete admirably with the Apple and Samsung cameras. Google sweetens the pot for photographers by offering free unlimited photo storage for photos of all sizes with this phone. Google’s proprietary anti-shake mechanism makes movies taken with this phone especially spectacular.
The AMOLED screen is excellent and this is the first phone to offer the new Android 7.1 Nougat operating system which has many excellent features. The Pixel is speedy, responsive, and has good battery life but doesn’t offer water resistance or wireless charging.
4K or Ultra HD televisions are among the most popular tech devices this year. Prices have dropped. Netflix and Amazon are offering 4K movies so this is a good year to move to 4K. On top of that TVs are thinner than ever and if you get a 4K TV that supports HDR you will get improved picture quality.
Two manufacturers compete for the best televisions of the year with affordable prices. The LG OLED series offer the blackest blacks and truly excellent picture quality. It also offers HDR technology. While there are some LG OLED’s more expensive, their B series is the most affordable. Prices have dropped dramatically for the holiday selling season. The 55” B6P is now selling for about $1,700. Still a bit pricey, but you get a lot for your money.
Samsung doesn’t sell OLED screens, but their SUHD quantum dot technology produces one of the best LED pictures available. The Samsung 8000 series supports HDR and is well priced with the 55” screen selling for about $1,300.
You can spent more and you can spend less, but these two TVs give you a lot for your money.
Both Alexa, the voice of the Echo and the Google Home Assistant, “Hey Google” can give you news, check your daily schedule, play games, tell corny jokes, play music, answer questions, and control home devices.
Having been on the market longer, the Amazon Echo has the lead here with many more controllable home devices, the capability of reading books, and the ability to order Amazon products.
Google Home is well-priced at $129 and is off to a promising start. Amazon, however, has the price lead with the Amazon Echo Dot. It is a much smaller version of the Echo without surround speakers. It has similar abilities as the bigger Echo and the Google Home device and sells for just $49.
These devices are outstanding and well worth the cost. To get the most out of them, especially for playing music, you will want to subscribe to Amazon Prime ($99 a year, first month free) or for Google, YouTube Red ($10 a month, first 6 months free with the purchase of a Google Home.)
Bluetooth speakers are everywhere this year. Since everyone’s hearing is slightly different, it is best to listen to these speakers before you buy. I can, however, steer you toward two of my favorites. The EU (Ultimate Ears) are high end but reasonably priced speakers from Logitech. They have a variety of speaker types. The Roll 2 speaker, shown below, is highly portable and still sounds great.
The Megaboom and Boom 2 speakers are waterproof and durable. You can use the free PartyUp app to link them together to get whole-house sound. Or invite your friends who own these speakers and link them with yours to get a real party mode.
Bose speakers never disappoint. Try the Bose SoundLink Bluetooth speakers for excellent sound quality and good features. These speakers come in a variety of models with a variety of prices.
2016 has been a great year for digital devices. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!!