2018 was a banner year for technology.
And so was 2017. And 2016.
It’s incredibly impressive just how fast the world of consumer electronics has been advancing, to the point that we almost always have something to look forward to with each passing year.
But some pieces of tech are far more interesting than others, or have had a far more lasting impact on the landscape than the rest of their silicon brethren.
Let’s dive into 2018’s most important gadgets, and reflect on how they’ve made the year an awesome one for tech geekery.
1 The LG C8 OLED TV
LG’s transcendental OLED TVs have always set a high water mark for quality, bringing the incredible contrast ratios that were last seen in plasmas and CRTs, while providing incredibly deep and accurate colors and sharp images.
They’ve also been, to be quite frank, frickin’ expensive.
This has somewhat changed with the C8, the latest model of LG’s somewhat more budget-oriented OLED “C” models. Equipped with the next-gen Alpha 8 processor for even better color reproduction, while also adding support or 4K HFR content, the C8 brings all the incredible image quality for which OLED technology is known, while driving the price down to a somewhat more reasonable figure.
Today, you’ll find the C8 for cash prices as low as 76,000 pesos if you look in the right places.
2 The DJI Mavic 2 Pro
In the world of consumer drones, DJI pretty much has no competition, so it’s a wonder that they keep innovating so darn well. The 2016 Mavic Pro was a revelation, with its incredible folding design that packed all the image quality of the much larger Phantom 4 into a package that wasn’t much larger than a bottle of water.
The Mavic 2 Pro is yet another revolution that cements the Chinese drone manufacturer’s position as the apex predator in the industry. Its 1” sensor, the glorious fruit of DJI’s acquisition of legendary German camera maker Hasselblad, is just about as good as the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0’s camera, while omnidirectional obstacle sensing, new intelligent flight modes, and H.265 10-bit video all make for a drone that has no business being as good as it is.
Honorable mention goes to the Mavic 2 Zoom, which uses the same drone platform as the Pro, but eschews the 1” sensor in favor of a 1/2.3” sensor with a 24-48mm zoom lens. While the quality bump isn’t quite there, the zoom feature allows for perspectives that are rarely seen from consumer drones.
3 The Xiaomi Pocophone F1
In a world of high-end phones approaching and even exceeding the 50,000 peso range, one phone sets itself apart from the rest not with a unique feature set, not with premium build quality, but with a price that would make any midrange gadget enthusiast’s jaw drop.
The Pocophone F1 starts at 17,000 pesos, but it packs a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 and 6GB of RAM. Even the legendary OnePlus series, famous for similarly flagship specs at a low price, has its OnePlus 6T at over 30,000 pesos. The Pocophone also nabs the camera sensor from its more expensive flagship cousin, the Xiaomi Mi 8, and loads a gigantic 4000mAh battery for excellent endurance.
All that at a price point that you’d typically see reserved for midrange phones from any other manufacturer. The Pocophone is definitely far more influential than a big flagship that’s inaccessible to most!
4 The iPad Pro (2018)
Every year, a new high-end iPad or iPad Pro comes out, and every year it’s always pronounced as a laptop killer. Every year, these pronouncements end up being wrong, overblown, and fail to take into account the many limitations of Apple’s tablets.
With the 2018 iPad Pro, though, the Apple evangelists might finally be on to something. The new Liquid Retina LCD, also featured on the new iPhone XR, provides stunning color accuracy that is certainly ready for professional-grade video coloring and photo editing. The incredible A12X Bionic SoC bows down to no application, and in some benchmarks has been shown to meet or exceed traditional laptop CPU performance. And the many refinements to iOS, as well as to the professional apps for the iPad Pro, make this the closest that the iPad has ever come to a true laptop killer.
I mean, it had better – it already costs more than many laptops!
5 The Apple HomePod
“Most important” doesn’t have to mean “best.” It could also mean “teaches an important lesson,” and the Apple HomePod is the poster boy for not releasing a product when it’s not ready to challenge the entrenched winners on their own turf.
Apple has long been known for its walled garden approach to things. Most of its devices only really play well within its own proprietary ecosystem of services. With the HomePod, Apple’s attempt to enter the smart home voice assistant world falls terribly flat specifically because of this approach.
Connected smart home devices need to comply with Apple’s HomeKit system, which is just so much less widespread than other solutions. Meanwhile, the HomePod only works with Apple Music, so if you’re running Spotify, you’re out of luck.
Google Home and Amazon Alexa have a far more widespread range of supported products and services, and simply outperform Apple in this regard.
6 GoPro HERO7 Black
The iconic action camera just gets better with every iteration, but 2018’s GoPro HERO7 Black might just be the biggest jump in a long time.
With 4K video at 60FPS, the HERO7 Black already pulverizes the competition and opens up a new world of clarity for action cam footage. Few cameras of any kind offer this sort of resolution and smoothness package.
On top of this is GoPro’s new HyperSmooth stabilization technology, a combination of hardware optical image stabilization, and highly advanced software stabilization, which results in gimbal-like footage in even the roughest of rides. It even works at 60FPS, unlike the HERO6’s stabilization mode, and is far more effective than virtually every non-gimbal camera stabilization technique out there.
7 The Oculus Go
Every VR headset of the modern era has come with the caveat of needing to be tethered to a sufficiently powerful computer or an appropriate video game console, or perhaps would need a sufficiently expensive smartphone to be slotted in right in front of your face.
With the Oculus Go, all that changes. This standalone headset provides access to over a thousand VR games without the need for any additional devices, while positioning itself at a much lower price point than any of the big-name models.
It doesn’t skimp on the quality, either. At 1280x1440 per eye, the screen-door effect is greatly reduced, while the build quality and inner lining make it very comfortable to wear.
8 The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
DSLRs and high-end mirrorless cameras have been viable for filmmaking for a long time. Sean Ellis’s 2013 film Metro Manila is said to have been shot on a Canon EOS 5D.
However, nothing quite beats a camera that’s specifically designed for video, and Blackmagic Design, creators of the famous Cinema Camera and URSA camera, know this well.
Their latest release, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, is a tremendous step up over their last portable solution, the 2013 Pocket Cinema Camera. The new BMPCC 4K, as its name implies, features 4K video recording, along with a whole host of other improvements.
First up is the fact that high-quality raw 4K can be recorded straight onto the camera without an additional recorder. This already makes it rare among similar cameras.
Next is that it has support for recording raw 4K footage directly to USB-C SSDs, providing a cheaper solution than loading up on expensive CFast cards. It also has a mini-XLR mic input providing phantom power, truly making it an all-in-one cinematographic solution.
And finally, imagine all of this power in a package that costs just $1300, or 86,000 pesos at local retailers. That’s a good deal cheaper than many dedicated filmmaking cameras while providing very similar results and features.
9 The nVIDIA GeForce RTX series
It had been two years since the last major release when nVIDIA’s RTX 2000 graphics cards finally made it to the market. Two years had consumers waiting with bated breath for the next generation of excellent performance jumps, and perhaps the promise of single-GPU 4K at an affordable price.
Instead, they got RTX memes.
Don’t get me wrong. Raytracing technology has a myriad of applications in the gaming market, and when performance reaches acceptable levels, and developer adoption is widespread, then it’ll be worthy of mention.
But right now, RTX is less killer app and more mood killer, as the RTX 2000 cards were launched at absurdly high prices with little to show for in terms of performance improvements.
Then, the RTX benchmarks came out, and even the mighty RTX 2080 Ti fell to its knees, barely capable of 1080p gameplay at 60FPS when the RTX features were turned on in Battlefield V. Performance was improved in the game in a much later patch, but by then the damage was done.
It seems that we’re going to have to stick around with our 1060s and 1070s a little longer.
10 The PlayStation Classic
Back in November, the news came out that Sony was using an open-source emulator for its PlayStation Classic, its challenger to Nintendo’s wildly successful SNES and NES Classic consoles.
Last week, it was found that hacking the SNES Classic and putting a PlayStation emulator on it allowed it to run PlayStation ROMs better than the PS Classic could. This was attributed, among other things, to the use of PAL ROMs in the PS Classic.
These, as well as the lack of DualShock support, and a variety of missing classic titles that should definitely have made it into the console over some of the selection, made this retro console a sour memory.