Devices and technology that moved the needle this year, both in terms of form and functionality—and a few that simply made our lives a bit better.
After the fold
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Finally, a foldable phone that doesn’t feel gimmicky or a prototype but one that actually works and is available for mainstream purchase. The Samsung Z Fold 3 moved the needle in many ways this year, and became a cultural moment. With a larger-on-demand screen, this flagship phone is not only better for playing games, reading, or watching videos, it also lets you operate multiple apps on the same screen — a dream for most smartphones even with their 6-inch screens. Plus, for those who have always hankered after the style factor of early flip phones, this is the closest they are going to get to the vintage tech without compromising on performance and features. What’s not to love!
MacBook Pro M1
The new MacBook range is not simply iteratively good — it represents a genuine step forward in terms of technology and processing power. Granted, it’s a bit of an investment, but experts around the world agree that it’s pretty much the best laptop out there today in terms of performance and battery life, to name just two features. The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are the first to feature the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, advanced versions of Apple’s M1 custom chips built on system-on-a-chip technology, which offer performance comparable to pro-grade Mac desktops at a fraction of the power consumption and size. In all ways, a game-changer.
Nothing comes from Nothing
Nothing (ear) 1 earpods
Most Apple Airpods copycats were mediocre products till Nothing came along. One of this year’s buzziest gadgets, the Nothing Ear (1) ultra-light wireless Bluetooth earbuds from the London-based consumer tech brand is nothing but a game-changer. The Ear (1) delivers advanced bass, mid, and treble performance with a 11.6mm driver and spacious air chamber, and it comes with three Active Noise Cancellation modes. It is also sweat and water splash resistant, making it ideal for sports, and an three high-definition microphones that cut background noise like wind during calls. It gives up to 5.7 hours of listening time and up to 34 hours with the case – charging the case for 10 minutes delivers up to 8 hours of power — charges wirelessly and is compatible with Qi chargers. Additionally, the company recently announced that the ear (1) is now carbon neutral.
A calmer world
Calmer by Flare Audio
Calmer is a small device worn in the ear that helps reduce stress by reducing stressful sound frequencies without muffling sound. It uses non-electric technology to reduce mid and high frequency distortion in our ears without having a detrimental effect on hearing. How does this reduce stress? Many sounds trigger the human ‘fight or flight’ response, which was an essential part of our evolution in order to perceive and respond to threats, but in the modern world where physical threats are minimal, this added resonance is loading us with unnecessary stress, believes Calmer. Calmer removes the resonant effect of the Concha, the small shell-shaped tube that connects to our ear canal which normally resonates mid frequency sounds, by using a tiny waveguide inside our ears. Calmer has been found to be especially useful for those with hearing sensitivities, such as many people on the autism spectrum. It is also a great way to tune out unwanted sound when you’re trying to work/read on the Metro.
RayBan Stories Smart Glasses
Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses are the latest in wearable tech. Till we have access to the Metaverse, these smart glasses are an intro to wearable AR, actually powered by tech from Meta, which let you take photos and videos, listen to music and calls, and share content directly to your social media channels.
Nothing to lose
Haven’t we all, at some point, wished for a device that would help us locate lost keys, glasses, wallets, earphones and even smartphones (when it is on DND; it happens ok)? The Apple AirTag is just such a device which lets you track the object through the Find My app, where you can also track down your Apple devices and keep up with friends and family. You can play a sound on the built-in speaker by going to the new Items tab in the Find My app, or say “Hey Siri, find my wallet”. If it’s hiding nearby — like under the couch or in the next room — just follow the sound and your search is over. At ₹3190.00, it is pretty affordable — though not affordable enough to attach to every pair of socks, alas.
Polaroid’s most creative connected analogue instant camera has five new lens filters and extra tools that you can activate through the Polaroid mobile app, plus tricks like light painting, double exposure, manual mode and more. Give your smartphone camera a rest and take old-fashioned film for a spin.
View from the Top
DJI FPV Drone
An FPV (First Person View) drone was, till now, mostly for the professionals and drone-racing pilots taking part in competitions. DJI released its first consumer-friendly FPV drone this year, which transmits the view from its camera to the user through a headset. This basically means that you see what the drone sees — a thrilling experience given that the drone can move at a speed of 140km/h and can reach top speeds in just a couple of seconds. With a range of 10 km, you can travel further without moving an inch than ever before. This is, simply, the most immersive flying experience out there.
Now, picture this
LG C1 OLED TV
Cnet calls the LG C1 OLED TV “the best high-end TV for the money” and with good reason. There’s the astounding picture quality, which OLED TVs practically guarantee, of course, but by all accounts the LG C1 is something special, delivering great visuals in both High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) modes. It’s also possibly the best gaming screen around, with four four HDMI 2.1. With a sleek, minimalist design that will add a dash of style to your living room, it’s also a plus that the TV is available in a variety of screen sizes: 48 inches, 55 inches, and the rarer 65, 77 and 83-inch versions.
Let there be light
Dyson Lightcycle Morph
The Lightcycle Morph standing lamp tracks the colour temperature and brightness of local daylight and adjusts brightness accordingly. It can act as an ambient light, a reading light, or spotlight. Dyson claims its LED lasts a whopping 60 years with eight hours of use a day.