Looking Back at the Year in Tech Gear
This Year in Gear: 73 Notable Tech Products Released in 2017
With a deluge of new products hitting store shelves and browser windows every day, it’s easy to lose track of everything that happens in a year. So, to jog our memories a bit as the year winds to a close, we combed through our Today in Gear archives and other news briefs to reflect back on all of the notable products we discovered in 2017. The result is a new series we’re calling This Year in Gear, and we hope you’ll enjoy reviewing this snapshot of the tech industry’s work as much as we have. Think we missed something, or just want to sound off on any trends you noticed? Let us know by dropping a comment on Facebook, Twitter or email.
Klipsch Heritage Wireless Three Tabletop Stereo System
Klipsch’s newest tabletop speaker is a beautiful mid-century revival, featuring a rectangular shape, wood veneer and copper-spun knobs and switches.
Twelve South MagicBridge
Combine your Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 into one clean, minimal, lap-friendly surface.
Killspencer Utility Dopp Kit
Killspencer’s new Utility Dopp is sturdy (it weighs a whole pound), and it’s a handsome way to carry your goods on the go. It sports black, full-grain leather and an easy-to-clean nylon interior. Three accessory pockets, a four-loop Mil-Spec elastic organizer and a pencil holder (sized for the Apple Pencil) are sure to keep all your tech and travel goods in place. And it’s made in the USA.
Beoplay H4 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
From Beoplay, a satellite company of Bang & Olufsen (the Maserati of hi-fi audio), comes an all-new pair of wireless headphones. The H4 headphones are made of lambskin, aluminum, stainless steel and rugged braided cord. They last up to 19 hours on a single charge, and they’re Beoplay’s most modestly priced over-ears. And the sound? Magnificent, just as you’d expect.
Bang & Olufsen Beolit 17 Portable Speaker
This is the kind of Bluetooth speaker you keep front-and-center in your living room, where all can see; throughout the house, all will be able to hear. The speakers — a full-range driver, two passive bass radiators, three mid-tweeters — bump the finest-quality sound, and the battery lasts up to 24 hours.
Tivoli Model One Digital Speaker
The 1950s called. They’re super jealous of this speaker. It nails the retro look right on the head: a boxy wooden cabinet, fabric speaker grill, brushed aluminum knobs and dials. Beneath its retro skin, though, is the latest audio tech: CD-quality wi-fi and Bluetooth streaming, multi-speaker configuration, FM tuner and more.
Linn Klimax 350 Speakers
Audiophiles need not be convinced of the greatness of Linn speakers. They know it well. Non-audiophiles, let’s try to unpack the jargon used to describe these towers: they use proprietary DAC technology called Katalyst (ensures zero quality loss from digitally transmitted files); something called Exakt technology emits incredibly natural sound (all frequencies arrive at your eardrum simultaneously); and 3,000 watts of power means, well, they’re really fucking loud. TL;DR: these are insanely nice speakers, which is no surprise coming from Linn.
Grado GH2 Headphones with Cocobolo Wood
For 64 years, Grado has been handcrafting some of the world’s finest headphones in a small, family-run Brooklyn shop. Among Grado’s most distinguished headphone models is the GH2, which is now being offered with cocobolo wood, a rare South American wood prized for its acoustics (it’s frequently used in fine instruments) and its gorgeous grain (it’s also used in high-end furniture, chess sets and more).
NVIDIA Shield Streaming Media Device
The titans of streaming devices — Apple, Google, Roku — have fresh competition. NVIDIA, whose claim to fame is top-tier PC graphics cards, released a powerful streaming device with all the necessary features: 4K HDR video, voice search and more. But one feature sets it apart from the others: used in tandem with NVIDIA’s GeForce gaming rig, the Shield can cast high-resolution games from your PC to your TV.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+
Samsung’s flagship is here. Find out why it’s the next evolution in smartphone design.
Master & Dynamic Navy MW60 Over-Ear Headphones
Outstanding hi-fi wireless headphones, with stainless steel details and supple lambskin earpads, now available in navy and silver.
Western Digital My Passport External 1TB SSD
Western Digital’s fastest, most advanced external hard drive to date. With its USB-C port, it reaches data-transfer speeds of up to 515MB per second — fast enough for glitch-free virtual machines and for impatient videographers. For those who don’t use USB-C, it also works with USB-A, 3.1 (second generation), 3.0 and 2.0. Available in 1TB, 512GB and 256GB.
Bose Revolve Bluetooth Speakers
Bose have announced what it’s calling its best Bluetooth speakers ever: the Bose SoundLink Revolve and SoundLink Revolve Plus.
Master & Dynamic MA770 Wireless Speaker
The Master & Dynamic MA770 Wireless Speaker is a fantastic concrete monolith of premium sound.
Dell UltraSharp 27-Inch 4K HDR Monitor
Dell’s first UHD Alliance Premium–certified HDR10 display. (Basically, third-party inspection has shown that the display contains the latest, most advanced technology.)
DJI Ronin 2 DSLR Gimbal
If the original Ronin helped launch the careers of countless aspiring filmmakers, then the Ronin 2 will help those now-successful filmmakers sweep award ceremonies. Just about everything has been upgraded: better motors, a wider array of supported cameras (including RED cameras), seamless integration with a variety of mounts, real-time smart features, dual battery system and more.
LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3
LaCie’s storage dock is made for creatives who need hard drive space of cosmic proportions (up to 20TB) and who primarily use Apple products (it has two Thunderbolt 3 ports). It has all the other standard ports, like USB 3, USB 3.1 DisplayPort, SD and CF, and transfers files at 440MB per second.
Nintendo 2DS XL
These days Nintendo seems to giveth as often as it taketh away. Remember how badly you wanted the NES Classic? Too bad; it’s gone. Now Nintendo’s giving again. The company announced (out of nowhere) the Nintendo 2DS XL, which falls between Nintendo’s 3DS XL and 2DS. It’s basically the same device as the 3DS XL, without the 3D functionality of the upper display. It also costs $50 less. — Tucker Bowe, Associate Staff Writer
LEGO Saturn V Rocket
Standing over three feet tall, LEGO’s Saturn V Rocket is an homage to NASA. The kit includes all three stages of the rocket, a lunar lander, command service module and three stands for displaying the model horizontally. (Time to clear some shelf space.)
Logitech Slim Folio iPad Keyboard
Laptop or tablet: the debate is a polarizing one in which both sides argue convenience versus features versus computing power. Logitech just threw a wrench into the conversation in the form of the Slim Folio iPad case. It’s equipped with an integrated Bluetooth keyboard and props up your tablet in the optimal position for typing; plus it protects it from damage and its battery supposedly lasts four years. Did the laptop just receive a deathblow? We’ll wait and see.
Dell UltraSharp 32 8K Monitor
Remember when 1080p was as HD as it got? Oh, those were simpler times. No longer can we be blissfully unaware of what real resolution (we’re talking 33.2 million pixels) looks like. It’s like seeing the world through a new lens. A sharper, more colorful, tilting, swiveling, height-adjustable lens.
Hulu Live TV
Streaming is great, but it’s not a replacement for live action when it comes to sports and news. Hulu Live TV delivers all the offerings of Hulu’s normal service, plus access to live news coverage from outlets like CNN and FOX, and games as they’re played from the NHL, NBA, NFL and more. Your current cable TV provider will not be happy.
Fender Mustang GT Wireless Bluetooth Amps
Musical mainstay Fender officially has the most advanced amplifier technology on the market. The Mustang GT — which is available in 40-, 100- or 200-watt sizes for home, studio or stage — is the first fully wi-fi- and Bluetooth-compatible guitar amplifier. That means you can stream music through it, program the amp settings wirelessly and access Fender’s new (and massive) catalog of digital presets through the Fender Tone app. The musical possibilities are basically endless.
Beyerdynamic Xelento Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones
Beyerdynamic’s original Xelento headphones are known, among audiophile circles, for being among the highest-quality (and most expensive) hi-fi in-ear headphones available. Now, Beyerdynamic has removed the cord from the original Xelento, opting instead for a Bluetooth connection.
Amazon Echo Show
Virtual assistants are “hands-free” up to a certain point. We can ask all sorts of complex questions, but as soon as we ask them to actually show us something, like music lyrics or a YouTube video, we’re forced to pull out our phones and use some clumsy companion app. The solution is the Echo Show: basically, all the greatness of the Echo, with an added screen and camera, video calling, security-camera live streaming, video news briefings and more.
The original Nokia 3310 was basically a functional, colored brick. It had an 84 x 48 monochrome screen (just like your first iPod) and excelled at one job, and one job only: making calls. 17 years later, in an age where you can unlock your phone with your eyes, the Nokia 3310 has been redesigned, still sporting the shortest spec sheet of any phone. The updated device has a standby time of one month (or 22 hours of talk time), a 2MP camera and completely low-tech, basic 2G connectivity for calls and texts. And yes, you can still play Snake.
Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, has officially revealed a design-focused gadget company called Essential Products, that purportedly could be the next great tech superpower a la Apple, Samsung and Amazon. The smartphone they announced — simply named Essential — is a premium device designed to go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 7, Samsung S8 and Google Pixel: it’s distinctly minimalistic, with zero logos; its nearly bezel-less display, according to The Verge, reaches all the way to the top of the phone; and its titanium-and-ceramic body will be strong enough to survive a drop test.
LG ProBeam Laser Projector
Most projectors you’ve experienced, either in movie theaters or living rooms, cast light using a system of mirrors and lamps. The projectors you haven’t experienced, but will very soon, use lasers, a light-casting technology that’s superior to lamps in nearly every way. (Bigger screens, better visuals, longer lifespan, instant on/off.) Problem is, laser projectors come at a premium. LG’s newest laser projector, however, is comparatively affordable and no bigger than a football. Consider it the best reason yet to finally build that home theater you’ve been day-dreaming about.
ROLI Seaboard Block
The word “revolutionary” is not a word we use lightly. No one should. We reserve that word for things like the ROLI Seaboard Block — perhaps the future of electronic music. Essentially, the Block is a miniature version of the original Seaboard Rise, a revolutionary electronic key-less keyboard that’s played like some kind of extraterrestrial rubber slab: sounds are made and manipulated by striking, gliding, sliding, pressing and lifting. And the craziest part: anyone with even the most basic understanding of music can pick it up and start playing.
Xbox One X
We could talk about the 8-core custom AMD CPU, the 12GB GDDR5 of graphic memory or the 6-teraFLOP GPU, but really, all you need to know is that Microsoft’s forthcoming upgraded gaming console is its most powerful ever. Games will load faster and run smoother, and graphics will be crisper and more life-like than ever (4K!). All that, packed into a sleek matte black geometry that’s smaller than its predecessor.
Logitech G PowerPlay Wireless Charging Mouse Mat
Wireless is a norm. Wireless charging, however, isn’t there yet. That’s why a gaming mouse with the ability to charge wirelessly while in use is no small feat. The PowerPlay relies on electromagnetic resonance in order to maintain a steady stream of power from the mat, which can be customized with a soft or hard surface, to the mouse, even during fast-paced shotgunning. Dead batteries will never interfere with fictional digital combat again.
Samsung Frame TV
Samsung’s Frame TV makes use of its huge 4K display even when you’re not watching TV. When not in use, the screen will become a work of art, displaying photos from a gallery of 100 professionally curated images, or your own uploaded photos. The TV’s border can be optioned in black, walnut, beige, and white; the whole set sits flush with the wall, allowing the gorgeous display to truly double as a wall-mounted piece of art.
Samsung 49-Inch QLED Gaming Monitor
Forty-nine inches. Give that a thought for a moment — it’s over four feet. You’re likely staring at, what, a 13-inch laptop monitor? A five-inch phone display? This curved 1800R curved display features a 32:9 aspect ratio to compensate for its unique shape — perfect for immersive desktop gaming.
McIntosh MA9000 2-Channel Integrated Amplifier
The MA9000 pushes 300 watts per channel and has “enough power to properly drive virtually all loudspeakers,” according to McIntosh. Additionally, the MA9000 has a 32-bit built-in DAC, an integrated headphone amp and ten analog connections (so you’ll be able to integrate it with the system you already have). It supports high-resolution DSD256 and DXD 384kHz files.
Mighty Portable Clip-On Spotify Player
I’ve been dreaming for years of a way to play my Spotify music on a run without bringing my phone. My prayers have been answered with the Mighty. Think iPod shuffle, but built for Spotify. This little square connects to your Bluetooth headphones and belts out your Spotify playlists — just load the device up through the mobile app before heading out.
Bossa Sound Moonraker Speaker
Two futuristic Sputnik-esque speakers, placed atop three natural wood legs, made with your choice of ash, walnut or teak. They’re also remote-controlled and come with all the necessary cables for connecting to your preferred audio source.
Penclic Mini Keyboard K2 Wireless
Penclic is a Swedish brand that blends productivity with comfort. Their keyboards are ergonomic, sleek, and focused on quality design. The Mini K2 looks like a vintage take on your standard iMac keyboard, but helps reduce the pain associated with typing for long periods of time.
Ataribox Game Console
Atari released some details and the first rendered photo of its upcoming gaming console, the Ataribox. Unlike the Nintendo NES and SNES Classic consoles, the Ataribox comes with a lot of ports (SD card, HDMI, four USB ports) so you’ll be able play classic games (like Pong or Space Invaders) as well as what Atari is calling “current gaming content.” (Will they be releasing new games?) Exact details on specs, pricing and release date are still unknown. – Tucker Bowe, Associate Staff Writer
After Two Decades, Klipsch Brought Them Back
The iconic speaker hasn’t been in production for 21 years, but now it’s back — a three-way design, 12-inch woofers, titanium compression drivers and 15-inch rear-mounted bass radiators.
Western Digital My Book Duo 20TB Desktop Hard Drive
A staggering 20TB of storage. That’s enough space for, like, one season of Game of Thones.
Sandisk 400GB Micro SD Card
Behold: the world’s largest capacity memory card. And it’s no bigger than your fingernail.
Logitech Craft Keyboard
This new keyboard features a touch-sensitive dial that adapts to what your working on so you can have more tactile control.
Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 Floorstander Speaker
A standout in Bowers & Wilkins’ new 700 Series, a collection of speakers and audio equipment intended to bring studio-quality sound to your living room.
Jaybird RUN True Wireless Sport Headphones
Jaybird’s first foray into true wireless technology — no wires of any sort, just individual Bluetooth-enabled earbuds.
C by GE Sol Alexa-Enabled Lamp
Imagine if an Amazon Echo turned silver and sprouted a luminescent halo. That is the C by GE Sol.
Amazon Echo Spot
The Echo Spot is part Echo Dot, part Echo Show, and part Alexa-enabled security camera.
Retro Games C64 Mini
Following in the wake of Nintendo’s SNES Classic, the C64 Mini is a charming resurrection of the best-selling ’80s home computer, the Commodore C64. It plugs into any modern TV’s HDMI port, includes a joystick and comes with 64 classic games pre-installed. It’s expected to drop in early 2018, at a suggested retail price of $70.
Belkin 3.5mm Audio + Charge Rockstar
Apple has caved (slightly) and started selling an iPhone adapter with a Lightning port and a traditional headphone jack; if you own an iPhone 7 or iPhone 8, you’ll be able to charge your phone and listen to music on your favorite wired headphones at the same time. It should be noted that Belkin makes this adaptor, not Apple, but its availability at Apple Stores should put skeptical minds at ease.
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From the ashes of the Google Chromebook Pixel rises the Pixelbook. Weighing just 2.2 pounds and measuring 10mm thick, it’s Google’s lightest and thinnest laptop yet — and arguably its most luxurious. It’s the first Chromebook to offer built-in Google Assistant support; the new touchscreen-friendly Pixelbook Pen stylus ($99) is sold separately. A 360-degree hinge allows the aluminum-body laptop to morph into a tablet. Prices start at $999 for 128GB of storage and climb up to $1,649 for 512GB. — Emily Singer
Bowers & Wilkins PX Noise-Canceling Headphones
And they’re more adaptable than absolute noise-canceling headphones.
Google Home Mini
The Google Home Mini is a $29 Amazon Echo Dot alternative. It’s cheaper than ever to get Google Assistant into your home.
Google Home Max
The $399 Google Home Max is a Sonos and Apple HomePod competitor. It also supports Bluetooth and boasts a 3.5mm audio jack.
The most popular multi-room speakers can now be controlled by the most popular virtual assistant.
Seagate BarraCuda Pro Hard Drive
This 12TB hard drive is designed for creative professionals who shoot a ton of 4K video and need a place to store it all. If you’re one of those, Seagate says this is the fastest high-capacity hard drive you can buy today.
Amazon’s New Kindle Finally Solves a Major Travel Gripe
Reading in the pool is now an option.
Mark Zuckerberg stated at the Oculus Connect conference that his next goal for the company was to get one billion people into VR. That seemed like a long shot, considering most good VR systems are super expensive and require a high-end computer or console to plug into. The Oculus Go simplifies things. Coming in early 2018, the $199 standalone headset has a built-in screen (2560 x 1440) and won’t kill your phone’s battery. It’s designed for watching services like Netflix and playing immersive games. (It’ll be cross-compatible with all Gear VR games.)
The Analogue Super Nt Lets You Play All SNES Games in 1080p
And it only costs $100 more than the SNES Classic.
Sennheiser HD 660 S
The successor to the beloved HD 650.
Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 Is Twice as Powerful as a MacBook Pro
Microsoft is offering a 15-inch model for the first time.
ZTE Axon M
The flip phone is back (sort of). The ZTE Axon M is a new Android that’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The foldable phone has two identical HD screens that fold back onto each other with a hinge. The foldable design enables you to use the phone in several unique modes; you can stretch one app over two screens and you can mirror screens, which allows you and a friend to sit across from each other and watch the same Netflix show on one device). You can also keep the phone folded and use it with one hand.
The trade-off is that there’s no rear-facing camera (the front camera pulls double duty), not to mention the phone itself is much clunkier than your iPhone.
Gnarbox, a portable backup storage drive and editing system for photographers on the go, now comes in a 256GB capacity. It’s the first major update to the device, which launched last year. Additionally, Gnarbox now works in tandem with Adobe Lightroom Mobile and iOS 11’s new Files app, allowing photographers a seamless mobile editing workflow. Gnarbox’s ultimate goal is to effectively eliminate the need for a laptop to edit and store photos while traveling; the new 256GB version is one step closer to achieving it.
Saber Power Bank by Romeo Power Technology
The Saber is a serious portable power bank with 86 watt-hours of power. It’s also pretty hefty, at 2.2 pounds. According to Romeo Power Technology — an energy storage company founded by engineers and designers from SpaceX, Tesla, Samsung and Amazon — the Saber is powerful enough to charge most smartphones 10 times over, and laptops twice over. It has two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and an AC outlet, meaning it’ll work with most of your devices. It also has an IP67 waterproof rating. — Tucker Bowe
UE Blast and Mega Blast Speakers With Alexa
Ultimate Ears have been making popular Bluetooth speakers for years. They’re taking a step in a new direction with the Blast and Mega Blast. The speakers look similar to UE’s Boom series of Bluetooth speakers but are slightly bigger and have Amazon Alexa built in (a first for UE). They are wi-fi- and Bluetooth-enabled, so you can walk around your house or yard and interact with them almost exactly as you could with an Amazon Echo. If you get disconnected from your wi-fi, they’ll still work as rugged and portable Bluetooth speakers. — Tucker Bowe
Bose QC35 II Noise-Canceling Headphones
Bose’s new QC35 II headphones are similar to last year’s QC35, with a few added perks.
iPhone 8 Plus
This the second best smartphone that Apple has ever made. But it’s arguably the iPhone you should buy.
Grovemade Wireless Charging Pad
Most of the latest flagship smartphones — save for Google’s Pixel 2 — support wireless charging. And most wireless chargers don’t look all that great. Grovemade’s wireless charger costs a significantly that others, but it also looks more fit to live on your nightstand or desk.
Razer has been building high-end gaming laptops, desktops and accessories for years. Good ones. Really good ones. Now the company is taking its first leap into smartphones with the Razor Phone. It’s designed as a “gaming” smartphone. It has a 5.7-inch display, Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM, 64GB of built-in storage and a big 4,000mAh battery. That said, other than its specs, the only real thing that makes it a gaming smartphone is its Game Booster app, which, according to The Verge‘s Vlad Savov, can “prioritize system resources for games [and] specify your desired resolution.” It also has a pretty good dual 12MP camera system. You’ll be able to preorder Razor Phone soon, with shipping set to commence on November 17.
Tivoli Audio Model Sub
Tivoli Audio has always been known for its great-sounding, distinctively retro speakers. Case in point, the company’s Model One Digital and Cube speakers. Now, Tivoli Audio has announced a new product, the Model Sub, which gives off similar retro vibes. It’s a subwoofer that you can wireless connect to Tivoli’s Model One Digital tabletop radio, or Cube and Sphera speakers. Or you can pair it with any home speakers via a line-in if you’re looking to build out your surround sound system.
Anker Zolo Liberty Wireless Earphones
The Zolo Liberty are Anker’s first pair of truly wireless earphones. They’re also, to my knowledge, the most budget-friendly truly wireless earphones you can buy, costing $50 less than what the AirPods and Google Pixel Buds both go for $159. Better still, they’ll work with the smart assistant that’s on your smartphone, and a single charge will give each earbud roughly 3.5 hours of playtime.
Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier
Okay, forget that this little box magically transforms mediocre digital sounds into heavenly analog ecstasy. Just look at it. Its surface-level beauty alone — weighted aluminum golden dials, machined switches, genuine walnut veneer — make this heritage-inspired amplifier deserving of any audiophile’s workstation.
Bose Noise-Making Sleepbuds
These are Bose’s first pair of wireless earbuds designed to help you sleep. They have the same noise-isolating eartips found in Bose’s other earphones, like the QC30s ($300), and combine that with a sound-masking technology; it’s noise-canceling, but instead of working with your music Bose says it works with sounds specifically engineered to “sooth” you. The Sleepbuds work with Bose Sleep App, which will ensure that you still hear alarms.
The OnePlus 5T is the company’s new flagship smartphone. It looks similar to the OnePlus 5 that was released only a few months ago in June, the main difference being that the 5T has a full 6-inch OLED display. Yep, almost zero bezels. The fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back of the phone, similar to one the Google Pixel or LG V30. It also boasts an impressive dual camera system, a supposedly faster face unlock than Face ID (although it’s unclear how secure it is right now) and, yes, it still has a headphone jack. Essentially, it’s a full-screen smartphone with high-end specs that only costs $499, making it a supreme rival to the Essential Phone.
Amazon Prime Video on Apple TV
We’ve known that Amazon Prime Video was coming to the Apple TV for a while, but that doesn’t make this news any less exciting: it’s finally here. You can now officially download the app on Apple TV 3rd generation devices or later, and watch Man in the High Castle or Transparent as long as you’re a subscriber.