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Best of Gadgets of 2016

It's that time of the year when purse strings are loosened to splurge on the latest gadgets.
By Tushar Kanwar | December 27, 2016

Televisions
The buzz words in the TV segment this year were all about OLED TVs and curved screens, but a previously little known brand pulled a rabbit out of the hat this year. We’re talking about the 55-inch Super 3 X55 4K Smart TV from LeEco, which retails at a jaw-dropping sub sixty grand price point. To put it in perpective, that’s a third or a fourth of what buying an equivalent 4K TV from LG, Sony or Samsung will set you back! Even at this bargain basement price, the X55 doesn’t scrimp on design, performance or connectivity, so if you’re planning on picking a big screen TV this season, this should top your list. Your wallet will thank you, for years to come!

Cameras
Pick up the latest iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S7 and you can be sure most of your photography needs will be well taken care of, but if you’re looking for stunning photos without hauling around the bulk of a Nikon/Canon digital SLRs, try the fourth generation of the Sony RX100 on for size. Not only does it pack in the legendary RX100 image quality that will pulverize smartphone images, but newly added 4K video and 1000 frames per second slow-motion shooting make the RX100 IV just about the perfect holiday camera. It’s pricey, but this is the new compact camera to save up for. Folks looking for more range but equally no-compromise images should spend a bit extra and pick up the Sony RX 10 III prosumer camera – it offers near DSLR level images with a 24-600mm range that would financially ruin you if you were to buy multiple DSLR lens with that much reach!

Laptops
The Apple MacBook Air remains a practical, all-purpose everyday machine and while the MacBook Air is an easy recommendation, the Windows side of the equation finally has some credible competition. The HP Spectre 13 – the world’s slimmest laptop – certainly has undeniable appeal, but the Dell XPS 13 is our pick for the best no-compromise Windows 10 laptop this year. Packing a stunning edge-to-edge 13-inch display into a form factor typically reserved for 12-inch-display laptops, the XPS 13 packs a formidable specs punch and still manages enough juice to last close to 10 hours between charges.

Personal Audio
Frequent travelers have long sworn by the Bose QuietComfort series of noise cancellation headphones, but with the QuietComfort 35, Bose has done one better. They’ve finally gone wireless, yet Bose has ensured that the QC35s still pack in the same class-leading noise cancellation with an audio signature that’s pleasing to most ears. What’s more, Bose’s latest headphones last about 20 hours between charges, and top up quickly over microUSB in about two hours of charging, so they’re good for the longest long-haul flights. If you’re looking for something for the entire family, try the well-priced Mi Bluetooth speaker from Xiaomi.

Budget Smartphones
‘Twas a time when recommending a sub-10-grand phone used to be fraught with compromise, but today there’s almost problem of plenty in this segment, with excellent offerings from Lenovo (Vibe K5 series) and Coolpad (Note 3) Plus to Honor (5C). But clearly, our runaway favorites for this segment are the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and the Redmi 3s Prime. They’re both around the magical-10-grand mark and deliver incredibly well thought-through and mature offerings… and then there’s that legendary battery life! Spend a little more and there’s the Moto G4 Plus, a worthy successor to the incredibly popular series. Each of these offer capable specs at the right price – but snagging one of these in time may prove to be the real challenge.

Mid-Range Smartphones
“High-end flagships for half off” – who can resist the charm of the sub 30-grand segment, a segment which regularly calls into question the logic of spending half a lakh on the Samsungs and Apples of the world. You can pick the LeEco Le Max 2 for its insane spec sheet, or the compact and powerful Xiaomi Mi5, but the phone that has won praise and deserved acclaim is the OnePlus 3. It’s got it all – premium design, a clean and stable Android version and hardware specifications that blow premium flagships clean out of the water, without the wallet busting.

Premium Smartphones
If you’ve got some extra cash and are looking to go all out on a dream phone this year, you’re in luck. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 series of high-end flagship smartphones— the S7 and the S7 Edge - are its most refined offerings ever, and the winning combination of design and performance…not to mention the best camera in a smartphone, period. The new iPhones are in town too, and while design-wise not much has changed save for two new black colour variants, the phones represent a significant performance upgrade. Thanks to the new models, last year’s models have seen an enticing price drop as well… let the festivities begin!

 

olmdesk@outlookindia.com

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