Over the past 12 years there have been 12 T3 Awards and a dozen T3 Gadgets of the Year. It’s the biggest prize in tech and previous winners have included Nintendo Switch, various Apple iDevices and, on one memorable occasion, the Google Nexus 7 tablet. We must have got through a lot of Champagne that year.
Reflecting the kind of year it’s been in tech in the 2017-18 season, this year’s Gadget of the Year shortlist has a lot of very strong candidates with no obvious stand-outs. Literally any of the nine nominees could win, but only one will, unless something very odd happens.
We’d love to hear your choice for gadget of the year, so if you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find a poll asking you just that…
Gadget of the Year 2018: the shortlist
Amazon Echo Spot
Echo Spot: a round window on the world
We start, for alphabetical reasons, with the Echo Spot. The best looking Amazon home AI yet, the Spot added a camera and small-but-perfectly-formed video screen to the familiar Alexa template. The industrial design of the Spot was also a step forward from the Echo’s worthy but slightly dull visual origins, being rather like a prop from a prestigious 1970s sci-fi film.
The screen is very useful for anyone wanting to make video calls to loved ones, while Alexa’s litany of skills and allegedly amusing easter eggs continue to grow at a pace main rival Google Home can’t really match.
HomePod: for lovers of music and Apple products, a must
A very different type of home AI, Apple’s effort will not have had Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s, er, Google shaking in their virtual boots when it comes to intelligent responses, apps, or smart home control. However, Apple HomePod smashes them to pieces when it comes to playing music in glorious high fidelity.
The first weapon in the arsenal of Apple’s AirPlay 2 mobile streaming platform, HomePod is also a fantastic ally to Apple Music, letting you search for new sounds via voice control or your iOS device. Non-Apple owners are not going to fill very welcome at the HomePod party, but iOS true believers will love it.
Apple iPhone X
Apple’s second nod in this most vaunted of categories is for the phone that brought us ‘the notch’. Perhaps due to its slightly more ‘premium’ price, and a slightly ill-advised launch that saw various middle-aged men in chinos marvelling at how Apple’s cutting-edge tech could transform them into animated, talking turd emoji, people were not sure how to take the Apple iPhone X at launch.
Almost a year on, however, and every flagship, notched or notchless, is still being compared to the X. The all-round excellence of its design, build and internal tech will be remembered long after the vision of Tim Cook as a brightly-coloured, talking poo.
Dell XPS 13
It’s entirely possible there could have been yet another Apple entry here, but the Dell XPS 13 out MacBook Pro’d the MacBook Pro. Sumptuous in design, specced to the gills and reasonably priced for such a great tech showcase, this year’s Dell flagship kept the Windows torch burning brightly.
Inside there’s an 8th-generation Intel Quad-Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, while the immaculately finished exterior is fronted up by a 4K screen that packs plenty of pixels yet is distinctly lacking in bezel. The 2018 Dell XPS 13 is “the best laptop money can buy” according to no less an authority than us.
Huawei P20 Pro
Hooray for Huawei
Huawei was already in the big league in terms of sales but the Huawei P20 Pro took the brand to a new level of acclaim and prestige. Adding a triple camera array, designed in collaboration with the experts at Leica put the P20 Pro right on the front rank of phone photography, while there was further applause for the lavish build quality and excellent battery life.
Huuawei’s design made room for a front fingerprint sensor and a massive screen, without feeling over-sized, while the iridescent colour gradients used for the casing looked suitably premium. The P20 Pro is the pinnacle of Huawei’s mobile devices to date, and points to an even brighter future for the former challenger brand.
Microsoft Xbox One X
Xbox One X: back in black
When it comes to pure power, the only game in console town in 2018 was the Microsoft Xbox One X. Not that PS4 Pro is exactly a slouch but Xbox really pulled out all the stops for this one.
Capable of native 4K HDR graphics and doubling as a UHD Blu-ray player, the Xbox One X more than justifies its price in tech terms. More importantly, there are now games coming out that really take advantage of all that pixel-shifting oomph, such as Forza Motorsport 7, Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, all of which glisten with 4K, HDR splendour. Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of War are both lurking in the, er, shadows, for release later this year…
Oculus Go: technology from the future, fabric and design from a sports bra
As far as many punters are concerned, this is what VR should always have been like. Oculus Go removes the wires, doesn’t require you to use your precious smartphone as a screen, is easily portable, and doesn’t make you look like a big, futuristic idiot.
The design of the Go has been extremely well thought through, using techniques borrowed from, among other places, the sports bra industry. As a result it’s comfortable to wear for extended periods, compact and lightweight. The built-in surround speakers are another nifty touch.
At the brilliantly affordable price Oculus has gone for here, you won’t get the kind of experiences offered by a full-size Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, but there are still plenty of thrills to be had, via an ever-growing app store.
Samsung Galaxy S9
Galaxy S9: highly polished
It’s not been a massive seller so far, the Galaxy S9 – but that’s what can happen when you try to improve on near perfection. The S8 was 2017’s best mobile and Samsung evidently took a “not broke/don’t fix it” attitude to its successor.
Still, look past the broadly similar headline specs and appearance and you’ll find even more polish has been applied to the S9. The dual-aperture camera is improved, and then there’s… Animoji! Hoorah! In terms of innovation, X factor or whatever you want to call it, the S9 is not likely to win this prize… but in terms of pure quality, it’s in with a shout.
There can be only (Sonos) One. Oh hang on, there’s two…
Perhaps, Echo Spot is a more complete home AI and maybe, Apple HomePod is a better music speaker (it should be; it’s way pricier). But as a combination of the two, backed up with support for seemingly every music streaming service known to humanity (plus a few that frankly are not), Sonos One was unbeatable in 2018. At least until Sonos Beam came along and repeated the trick, in soundbar form.
For a speaker of this size and price, the Sonos One sounds fantastic, and the implementation of Alexa is really good. It’ll slot into a current or future Sonos system (both multi-room and as the rear surrounds in a 5.1 setup), but it’s also a great standalone music and AI speaker. A decent looker, too…
Now have YOUR say…
So that’s enough of our opinions. What do you fancy as the Gadget of the Year 2018? Tick a box, and let us know…
Share this post if you enjoyed! 🙂