Gadgets & Technology

Best Tech of 2018: Gadgets 360 Staff Pick Their Favourite Purchase of the Year


Another year has flown by, but not without several tech purchases being added to the already long list of gadgets that various Gadgets 360 team members already own. We’re always looking for a chance to talk about gadgets, and the end of the year is a convenient excuse.

Surprisingly, routers were a popular choice among the team this year, and as you would expect, smartphones feature rather heavily as well. We have the audiophiles in the house chipping in with their picks as well.

Here are the best tech-related purchases Gadgets 360 staff members made in 2018, which includes everything from gaming consoles to writing apps, and a whole lot more.

 

Abhinav Lal: Alienware 15 R3
Alienware 15 R3 served my purpose of having a gaming machine that I could use in several cities, and it was just as powerful as I expected. While there were a few glitches here and there — most of which were to do with Windows 10 — I’ve been satisfied overall.

Aditya Shenoy: AKG N60 NC
The AKG N60NC (wired) is the gadget I bought this year. I bought it during a trip to Dubai and happened to walk into a Samsung outlet that was selling the last few units for 50 percent off. After quickly checking out the reviews of the product online, I managed to pick it up for AED400 (around Rs. 7,800) which is a steal compared to the Rs. 24,000 price on Amazon India. These headphones have good audio quality and the noise cancellation is a boon on flights. I wish I’d gotten my hands on the wireless model because I have to carry a dongle with me at all times.

Buy: AKG N60NC

Akhil Arora: Jabra Elite 65t
A little less than a year ago, I brought up my requirement for a headphone upgrade and the fact that I was debating between in- and over-ear picks. That internal discussion continued for five months in 2018, before I landed on the former. With a last-minute twist. Instead of wired in-ears — the Beoplay H3 — I opted for the wireless freedom of the Jabra Elite 65t.

Sure, the sound quality would never match up but tell that to the ease, convenience, and multi-functionality. Wearing them is a breeze, using them between multiple devices feels like the future, and they’ve a very good fit. I can use them on the bike, while running, dance with them, and fall asleep without annoyance and worrying.

Buy: Jabra Elite 65t

 

Akshay Jadhav: Poco F1
Having been stuck with a budget Android phone for a year, I recently decided to upgrade to a new phone — the Poco F1. The price to performance ratio is outstanding, without sacrificing much on any major features. The only small downside might be the plastic or as the company likes to call it the “polycarbonate” back and the build quality, which to be honest I am perfectly fine with because of every other aspect being close to perfect in this price bracket.

Additionally, I installed Nova Launcher Prime as soon as the phone got delivered because no one wants to deal with intrusive ads and Nova Launcher lets you hide unwanted apps as well. Since phone makers keep churning out new phones with incremental upgrades — I’m looking at you, OnePlus 6T — I hope I’ll get about 2-3 years of use with my POCO F1.

Buy: Poco F1

 

Aman Rashid: Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Being a phone enthusiast, I like to purchase a new flagship smartphone every year and I have always wanted to purchase the Samsung Galaxy Note since the second generation came out, but every year plans changed, and I ended up with a different flagship phone altogether.

But this year I finally purchased the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and I would like to report, that the beautiful AMOLED display, good set of cameras, the S-Pen, the battery life, no notch and so many other good things about the Note 9 have not disappointed me.

Buy: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

 

Gagan Gupta: Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch was on my wish list last year, and sure enough, I picked one up in March. No second guessing here — it has quickly become my gaming platform of choice. After playing through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart (which I still play with my kid on weekends), I am currently playing Diablo III: Eternal Collection and NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 on it. From the day I bought it, it has been the second device I don’t leave home without, after my phone of course.

Honorable mention to George Foreman Grill, which has made my life easy and my food delicious. With my meals planned in freezer bags over the weekend, I just thaw the meats overnight and grill them in the morning, and I have a delicious office meal ready in 10 minutes. It’s a must have for any one on a keto diet and for grilled meat lovers.

Buy: Nintendo Switch

 

Harpreet Singh: TP-Link Deco M5
I finally managed to switch to a mesh-based wireless system this year. The TP-Link Deco M5 is something that fit my budget and wireless coverage requirements. It comes with three satellite units and takes just a few minutes to setup. While it’s simple and works just fine, I do miss the advanced settings you normally get on most wireless routers. Nevertheless, it’s a trade-off I’m willing to live with as long as I get decent wireless coverage around the house, at all times.

Buy: TP-Link Deco M5

Jagmeet Singh: iPhone X
I’ve always favoured buying a year-old Apple device instead of picking a pricey, brand new model. In 2018, I followed the same principle and picked the iPhone X as my iPhone of the year. It has the same design as the latest iPhone models and offers decent performance for my daily tasks. Also, I’m presently getting a day-long battery life, which is sufficient as I plug in the device after reaching home.

Since the design of the iPhone X is identical to the iPhone XS, I can also blindly pick any of the covers and cases meant for the latest iPhone model. I’m also not a big fan of large screens on phones. The 5.8-inch OLED panel is thus fair enough for me.

Buy: iPhone X

Jamshed Avari: Samsung SSD 860 Evo 1TB
2018 has been a year of moderation, after a number of splurges in 2017. Inflation and the falling rupee have also made tech buys less tempting. The one bright spot has been the falling prices of SSDs — competition and denser flash memory technology have resulted in some pretty good deals popping up from time to time.

I impulsively picked up a 1TB Samsung SSD 860 Evo when the price seemed too good to pass up, and I feel pretty pleased every time I see a game’s load screen or a progress bar whoosh past. Since then, prices have fallen again.

If you can buy one in the USA right now, it’s going for $129 (just under Rs. 9,000) which is an absolute steal, at slightly over half its current price price in India. If you can’t afford that, 120GB models can now be commonly found for under Rs. 2,000, and 240GB models for around Rs. 3,000.

There’s practically no reason anymore not to have an SSD anymore.

Kunal Dua: Netgear Orbi
My favourite tech purchase of the year was the Netgear Orbi, which managed to edge out the HomePod and the Sony WH-1000XM2. Why? Well, you’ll have to watch this video to find out.

Buy: Netgear Orbi

Prabhakar Thakur: iPhone 6S
The only tech that I bought in 2018 was the iPhone 6S in the beginning of the year. A thing of the past? Maybe. But, no one can deny that it is as good as — if not better than — most phones around us. My first stint with an iOS device. And what an experience! But the sad part is, looking at the new iPhone launches and their prices, I am not sure if I will be able to upgrade to any of them.

Buy: iPhone 6S

Pranay Parab: Yakuza 0
There are three things that I bought in 2018 that were good enough to make it to this list. The first is a Pigeon plastic chopper that sped up the onion chopping process and spared me countless tears while cooking. Unfortunately it broke down after about eight months of heavy use. Then there are two Mac apps that I subscribed to and use every single day — 1Password and Ulysses. 1Password is the best password manager out there and Ulysses is my favourite writing app on Mac and iOS. Both have served me very well.

However, the top pick for me would be Yakuza 0, which is a PS4 game that I purchased in the last week of December 2017 and started playing only in February this year. Not only does it have an excellent main story with some breathtaking storytelling, but it also has lots of fun minigames and sidequests.

I spent over 90 hours playing this game and enjoyed every minute of it. The combat in this game is so good that many times I just took my character around Kamurocho to battle random enemies. Even after spending so much time in this game, there still are a few games that I haven’t played (batting cage is one of them).

I’m looking forward to playing other games in this series and exploring the story arcs of Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima.

Buy: Yakuza 0 for PS4

 

Rishi Alwani: iA Writer
My favourite tech purchase of 2018 isn’t a smartphone, a game console, a storage device, or a kitchen appliance. In fact, it’s definitely the most boring thing on the list. It’s iA Writer.

This minimal word processor has been my go-to app for all my writing this year after Ulysses thought it would be a good idea to charge a subscription for continued usage and crash ever so often (though Pranay seems to have had better luck with it). It syncs flawlessly across devices, supports markdown, and allows for a focussed, distraction-free writing experience like no other.

Buy: iA Writer for macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows.

Roydon Cerejo: Amazon Fire TV Stick
After signing up for the big trio of streaming services (Netflix, Hotstar, and Amazon Prime Video), I finally took the plunge and picked up the Amazon Fire TV stick. This was a bit of a leap of faith since I had bought a Xiaomi Mi Box 3 last year in the hopes of watching my video streams on the big screen, but the clunky UI was a major turn-off and at the time, Amazon Prime Video wasn’t officially available.

The Fire TV stick on the other hand just works brilliantly. It has a very nice interface, the voice-enabled remote is super useful and most importantly, it has all the streaming services that I typically care about, and more.

Buy: Amazon Fire TV Stick

 

Sandeep Sinha: Realme 2 Pro
I upgrade my phone once a year and 2018 was no exception to that trend. This time I bought the Realme 2 Pro. I strongly feel that new brands often provide more value for money by offering better smartphones at lower prices. Once the brand name is established, they start charging a premium just for the name.

This is why I chose the Realme 2 Pro, which has been fantastic so far. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and a whopping 8GB RAM at just Rs. 17,990 and I have no complaints. After using it for a month, I strongly feel that I’m getting excellent bang for the buck.

Buy: Realme 2 Pro

 

Shobhit Varma: Fiio BTR 1
Being a so-called audiophile, I am always on the hunt for new and exciting audio equipment. I have never been a fan of Bluetooth earphones, which I believe trade audio quality for convenience.

The Fiio BTR 1 portable Bluetooth amplifier, which I purchased in March, allows me to use my high-end headphones/ earphones wirelessly without compromising on audio quality.

The Fiio BTR 1 is much more than just a Bluetooth receiver thanks to the AK4376 DAC, which provides better decoding capability, output power, and signal-to-noise ratio as compared to the DAC found inside most smartphones. The Fiio BTR 1 has now been replaced with the Fiio BTR1K which is an even better buy as it comes with a USB Type-C port and can be used as an external DAC.

Buy: Fiio BTR 1

Sumit Garg: OnePlus 5T
I like large screen smartphones and considering my budget at the time, the OnePlus 5T was my best buy in tech in 2018. The phone has proven to be the best bang for buck in my case. Be it gaming or photography or just casually using the phone, the OnePlus 5T doesn’t break a sweat. And yes not to forget about the awesome dash charging in the phone!

 

Tarun Chadha: Jio Phone
No, I didn’t buy an Android smartphone in 2018 but that doesn’t mean I stayed away from new gadgets altogether. I bought the affordable JioPhone, which is Reliance Jio’s 4G feature phone. For Rs. 1,500 it’s a very good phone. After a recent update useful apps such as WhatsApp work on the JioPhone. I think I got a great deal by going for a 4G phone that costs Rs. 1,500.

Buy: JioPhone

 

Tasneem Akolawala: Mi Band 2
I finally decided to purchase a fitness band and decided to go with the budgeted Mi Band 2 to begin my weight loss journey. Having just given birth over a year ago, I gained about 11 kgs, and all the sudden weight gain not only gave me joint pains, but it also made me less active and lethargic.

I wouldn’t say the Mi Band 2 purchase was a turnaround moment for me, but it made me conscious of my steps, water intake, and idle time. As a first time fitness band user, these features actually reminded me to keep myself hydrated, walk the necessary steps to remain fit, and not remain seated for more than one hour.

With all the attention diverted to the newborn, I often used to forget these basic important things needed for my well-being, and the Mi Band 2 helped a lot with that. Now that my kid is a little older, I plan to use the fitness band for a better workout schedule and lose all of those extra kilos.

When I brought the Mi Band 2 this year, the Mi Band 3 wasn’t available in the Indian market. But now it is, so I’d recommend everyone to buy the latest variant as it comes with a new design, a large display, and up to 20 days of battery life.

Buy: Mi Band 3

 

Yousuf Jawed: OnePlus Bullets Wireless
The best piece of tech I bought in 2018 was OnePlus Bullets wireless headset. The headset has similar sound quality which I prefer. I am a person who loves base heavy music and wireless bullets are perfect for that price.

I’m also a OnePlus 5T user so the connection with my phone is seamless and whenever I don’t want to listen to music, I just remove earphones and the magnetic ends snap together, disconnecting them from the phone and pausing the music.

Buy: OnePlus Bullets Wireless

Which was your favourite tech purchase of 2018? Let us know via the comments.

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