15 Coolest Tech Products You’ll Want to Buy This Year
Behold the next wave of gadgets, gear, and services that will transform our lives in the coming year.
Right now, you can experience the awesomeness of VR gaming with an Oculus Rift and a powerful enough PC. Or you can wait a little longer for the arrival of the Oculus Quest, which bills itself as “the world’s first all-in-one gaming system built for virtual reality.” No PC needed. Just put on the VR headset, grab the controllers, and commence battle in whichever universe you choose to immerse yourself.
Samsung’s foldable phone
No doubt the Samsung Galaxy S9 is pretty sweet, and reports of what the Galaxy 10 holds in store are even sweeter, but it is the prospect of Samsung’s foldable phone that really has tech geeks freaking out. As reported by CNET, the device is a tablet with a flexible screen that folds in half to become a phone. There isn’t a hinge—the screen itself folds. “It uses a new display technology called Infinity Flex Display that lets you open and close the device over and over without any degradation,” reports CNET. In the meantime, these are the places you should never store your cell phone.
Room-wide wireless charging
There are a bunch of great wireless charging stations for iPhones and Androids out there, but soon placing your device on a station or even thinking about charging will vanish. The next wave of chargers promises to automatically refuel our phones as soon as we walk into a room. Think about it in the same way your phone connects to Wi-Fi, only this will leave you with plenty of juice to check work email (i.e. watch cat videos) all the way home.
Phones are about to get crazy fast. As PC Mag explains, 5G is about to go nationwide, with AT&T leading the charge. The technology known as 5G (which stands for 5th Generation) will offer these three things, says PC Mag: “greater speed (to move more data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).” Just look out for these 10 tech myths you need to stop believing.
“Sound on Display” panels
BGR.com reports that Samsung will be revealing its “Sound on Display” (SoD) panels at CES 2019. SoD panels allow sound to come straight out of the picture, so no speakers are necessary. “By using vibration and bone conduction,” writes BGR.com, “Samsung’s Sound on Display technology gives the company the opportunity to place yet another component beneath the screen’s surface, leaving even more room for the display.”
Samsung is always pushing the limits of television. In 2017, it introduced TVs with QLED screens, which Samsung says offer unrivaled brightness levels, black levels, and ability to reproduce colors, according to Digital Trends.
When something breaks and needs a new part, more and more of our lives will involve running to a 3D printer rather to the hardware or toy store. There are many 3D printers available to choose from, ranging greatly in quality and price. If you’re in the market for one, you might consider the highly-rated and moderately priced Comgrow Creality Ender 3 3D Printer Aluminum DIY. Among its features: the ability to resume printing even after a power outage or long lapse occurs, two-hour assembly, quiet operation, and lifetime tech support. Check out 20 of the coolest things made with a 3D printer.
Smart homes that care
Handy and useful items like touchscreen door locks and smart thermostats help keep us safe and comfortable, but according to a study from CB Insights, our houses are poised to kick things up a notch. CB Insights predicts an exploding market in smart homes geared toward care for senior citizens. In January 2018, the study notes, Google patented the use of always-on optical sensors in places like bathrooms to capture data on cardiovascular function. Yes, your house will be making house calls.
How important is gaming in our lives? The experts at Newzoo predict that “2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137.9 billion on games.” Clearly, gaming isn’t just something that people do to pass the time—it is at the center of their world (and for some, their paycheck.) Many gamers will spend thousands of dollars on suped-up gaming computers that make the action faster and more visually dazzling, and also make their bedrooms look like the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. In a breakdown of the best offerings, PC Gamer crowned the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 as “perfect for PC gaming on a budget.” Available on Amazon for $715, it’s a great place to start for those first making the jump, and it’s easy to upgrade when the need for more speed arises.
Amazon’s editors write, “The average drone user is looking for something that provides good video quality, is small and portable enough that they can tote it along on trips even if they’re not sure they’ll be flying, and ideally costs less than $1,000. The DJI Mavic Air is the one model we’ve found that checks all of those boxes.” Coming in at just under $700, the editors loved its 4K camera and that the battery gives it a flight time of over 20 minutes. Plus, they note, “it folds into a burrito-sized package that weighs slightly less than a pound.”
You can say that the Apple Watch is the gold standard of wearable tech—in that just like gold, it is not cheap. But most gadget gurus say it’s worth the price, putting it in their top picks for wearables due to its versatility and ease of use. The Apple Watch Series 4 offers several upgrades, described by CNET: “a larger, crisp display that shows more with less bezel, super fast speed and a louder speaker. It adds high and low heart-rate detection, fall detection with SOS trigger, and an FDA-cleared ECG app for more detailed heart readings.” Prices vary on Amazon between $415 and $485 depending on the inclusion of cellular service. Apple watches are just one of the things you should always buy on Amazon.
Amazon isn’t selling self-driving cars…yet. CB Insights reports that this past summer, Amazon and Apple both successfully applied for patents in the AV (autonomous vehicles) space. Amazon’s patents were geared toward safety features, like detecting child passengers and automatically taking appropriate safety measure like enabling child locks on rear doors. CB Insights goes on to say, “Amazon might even use its technology to limit a car from going to certain locations, like a bar if an underage driver is in the car.” Apple’s patents, CB Insights notes, were mostly geared toward the comfort of the ride: speed, acceleration, braking, and turning operation. “Hypothetically, when a customer enters a car, Apple’s facial recognition algorithms will recognize a passenger and monitor things like posture, eye movement, and heartbeats to gauge comfort level.” In the meantime, don’t miss the weird car features you probably don’t realize your car already has.
Bloomberg reports that LG is on the verge of unveiling a new TV that can roll up like a poster. More details from Bloomberg: The 65-inch TVs will “retract automatically at the touch of a button like a garage door” and “will sport organic light-emitting diode or OLED screens, which produce crisper images and fold more easily than traditional LCD or liquid-crystal display panels.”
Smart home hubs
In the battle to become your home’s command center, Google Home Hub and Alexa-enabled Echo are in a virtual tie, with one expert at Slate giving Google a slight edge for having smarter A.I. If you’re in the market for one, and not sure which direction to go, the price tag could be the differentiator. In that case, the $25 Amazon Echo Dot is your winner. This review from Tom’s Guide explains why: “[The] Echo Dot is half the price of most other hubs, making it an inexpensive investment for those just getting into smart home automation.” In terms of functionality, Tom’s Guide offers these details: “In addition to turning your lights and other devices on and off, the Dot can also read news headlines, weather reports, sports scores, and a host of other things.” These are the smart home devices that are worth every penny.
ASUS is fast becoming the standard in Chromebooks, and has announced plans to launch a Chrome OS tablet at CES. There are only a handful of true tablets in the Chromebook landscape, and experts believe ASUS’s entry into tablets will rachet up competition—and capabilities.
The death of shopping has been greatly exaggerated. While it is true that malls and other traditional retail centers are suffering, pop-up shops and online sales are thriving. Adobe says that online holiday spending approached $125 billion this past season. “Over 1 dollar in 6 of retail will be spent online,” according to their study. And while most of those transactions happen from computers and phones, a new way of shopping is about to go big: virtual shopping. As reported by CB Insights, many retailers are moving in this direction. “In August 2018, for example, Walmart was granted a patent that would allow customers to strap on virtual reality headsets and sensor-laden gloves to interact with a Walmart store in a virtual world. Autonomous robots would then fulfill these virtual orders in a Walmart factory.” Bonus: no whining kids! In the meantime, you can kick-start your virtual shopping with our list of Amazon products you’re almost guaranteed to use every day.