When it comes to the new tech toys, this year has seen some pretty interesting gizmos hit the shelves. We've seen a rise in the development of remastered retro technology, as well as all kinds of quirky smart devices. Here's a list of some of the best gadgets I played with this year. Oh! And there's a worst too.
If we had to sum up the HP Sprocket in one word, it would be ‘fun’. This little pocket printer is ultra portable and pairs with iPhone and Android handsets. We spend so much time on social media that it’s refreshing to be able to print memories in the form of a cute sticky-backed printout. These wallet-sized photos can be pulled from your camera roll or social accounts and edited with filters, borders, emojis and text before printing using a Bluetooth connection. The best part is that you won’t run out of ink as it uses Zink (zero-ink) technology. The only ongoing cost would be printing sheets, which are available in a set of 20. A must-have for the retro cool factor.
When Apple announced the AirPods, social media went into a frenzy; they were mocked before they went on sale, and the memes followed. We boldly took these wireless earbuds out in public for testing when they hit our shores, and quickly realised that functionality wins, regardless of what you look like. It takes seconds to pair them to an iPhone and they work like a charm. They don’t fall out of your ears and the sound quality is great. Due to its petite size, you can get away with wearing them in situations where bulky headphones just won’t do. Customise the double-tap function on each pod to either play/pause music, skip tracks or use Siri.
The biggest hit of the year is without a doubt the Nintendo Switch. It has revolutionised gaming by allowing new ways to interact with the console. You can “switch” it up by starting a game in the comfort of your living room, and then picking up where you left off from just about anywhere using the console in tablet mode. The controllers can be used in various ways – split into two, traditional mode and side by side. Face-to-face interaction encourages social gaming. Exclusive titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey are some of the year’s highest ranked games, with the former grabbing the game of the year awards.
FAIL OF THE YEAR: 3D TV
Despite TV manufacturers removing 3D models from their line-up early this year in the South African market, many retailers are still selling 3D glasses and TV sets for exorbitant prices online. The truth is, most of us don’t even like 3D movies, so who thought consumers would want to view anything with over-sized goggles balancing on their noses in their own homes? They’re uncomfortable, headache-inducing and generally just a bad idea. Avoid falling into the trap of purchasing a set of 3D glasses by saving your money for something better – 4K Ultra HD TV. Hopefully, we will see a drop in the price soon; it has been an expensive year.