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The best and worst gizmos of 2016 - Part II

Rajiv Makhni zooms in on more products that either amazed or failed to make a mark

brunch Updated: Dec 31, 2016 18:42 IST
Rajiv Makhni
(Clockwise from top left): Acer Swift 7 laptop, LG 4K OLED screen, GarminFenix 3 smartwatch, Oombrala, Mahindra e20 plus and HTC Vive
(Clockwise from top left): Acer Swift 7 laptop, LG 4K OLED screen, GarminFenix 3 smartwatch, Oombrala, Mahindra e20 plus and HTC Vive

It’s part two of how Technology fared in 2016. Some more of the best, some disappointments, the downright worst mixed up with some really weird stuff. Time to give out some A grades and also make some companies stand in the corner.

The good

LG 4K OLED

OLED finally became reality on a big screen and everything we wished for on a superlative display was achieved. LG has set some truly high standards for what a TV can showcase. You can watch Game of Thrones on it and also see one play out in the TV Industry as the competition tries to catch up in 2017.

Mahindra e2o Plus e Car

A Tesla for most is out of reach pocket and geographical border wise. Thus Mahindra stepped up its game and came out with a brand new electric car that ticked all the boxes. New look, good range and terrific tech inside out. It is time to seriously consider an electric car now!

LeEco 4K 55 inch

4K resolution TVs were in everyone’s buy basket, unfortunately most wallets couldn’t keep up with that high resolution. Until Le Eco decided to play Santa early in the year. A 55 inch 4K TV for about Rs 60,000. All heaven broke loose!

Samsung S7 Edge

The award for most resilient phone of the year goes to the S7 Edge. After the debacle of the Note 7, the S7 had to once again pull it’s own weight and make it back to the best seller list. Despite being almost one year old, the S7 still managed to be hot without exploding!

Xiaomi Air Purifier

Take a polluted country, add a media and citizen frenzy, blend in a air purifier that does more than just clean the air, price it at a ‘one for each room’ level and then don’t have enough stock to address a demand you set on fire! That’s simple Air Purifier 101.

HTC Vive

VR lived up to most of its hype mainly because of this one device by HTC. Full range body movement, sensational graphics and controllers that actually worked. The Vive Next Edition may well be announced at CES 2017

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Most dismissed it as incremental and boring in looks, forgetting that the dual camera lens, water proofing and better battery life actually makes this a great choice for iOS users. Yes, those millions that won’t ever switch, rain or hellfire.

Google Pixel XL

Google played a dangerous game this year. Killed off the Nexus line, designed a new phone from the ground up, priced the new Pixel at iPhone prices, went super aggressive on marketing and sat back to reap the benefits. The scoffing competition was outpixeled on this one.

The Terrific Trio

Each one of these notebooks deserves it’s own little space here but its impossible to choose which one is better. The HP Spectre 13, the Acer Swift 7 and the Dell XPS 13 set a new standard for light and powerful. Brand Ambassadors Deepika and Anoushka made sure the thin and beautiful message wasn’t lost either!

Garmin Fenix 3

A Runners Watch plus a Fitness Band plus a super premium Smartwatch, Garmin pulled off the only real piece of wearable tech that made users smile and also get fit. The Fenix 5 (No Fenix 4, apparently the number 4 is pure bad luck in Taiwan) may just blow the rest out of the water.

Microsoft Surface Studio and Surface Dial

Microsoft may well be the dark horse innovator of the year with the Hololense and then the superb Studio and the Dial that turned haptic feedback and control into a all new tech revolution. If only Microsoft could do the same for its Windows phones.

The Not-So-Good

Wireless charging

It has been a sad debacle for wireless charging. Poor implementation by most companies, no wireless charger inside the box and very poor use case has made sure that 2016 was a year full of wires and chargers and adaptors.

The sold out game

Many companies continued to resort to this free headline publicity method. Nintendo did it with the NES Classic, many Smartphone companies stage managed it as did some TV and air purifier launches. Shame on us for falling for this again and again!

Modular phones

Google bid farewell to Project Ara and all the other companies drove bigger nails into the modular coffin by releasing some terrible ways of screwing in add ons to your already over burdened phones. Modular wasn’t the way to go in 2016.

Oculus rift

The Rift basically Drift(ed) away. Lacklustre software and titles, controllers that didn’t work at launch and a VR experience that literally left people shaking their heads. Oculus delivered an early turkey in 2016!

Samsung Note 7

It came in hot, got hotter and finally became the stuff of legends. Not in a good way. Samsung followed up with washing machines that were recalled for being too shaky and capped it off with billions of dollars in losses! 2016 will be a year Samsung may like to forget.

Smartwatches

The category disappointment of the year. Already something that people didn’t want, most companies added fuel to the fire by making some truly terrible watches that weren’t very smart. Expect very few new Smartwatches in 2017 and some very smart people who wont buy those either.

GoPro Karma

GoPro wanted in on the Drone market, made a really kick ass foldable one and then forgot to add the one feature that is kind of critical. They should fly! A critical flaw had them randomly falling from the sky. Karma truly caught up with GoPro this year!

Oombrala

This umbrella will never leave you wet. It has got sensors within that tell you if its going to rain and reminds you to carry it. Except it needs a phone to connect with and most of the times didn’t work well. The final proof that not every thing needs to be Smart.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, January 1, 2017

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