Indulge tech picks: 8 best gadgets of the year 2020
This has been a year like no other, a year where we’ve tried to stay safe indoors (to whatever extent possible) and relied increasingly on gadgets to get our work done, keep in touch with our families and friends, study or even…just to stay sane through it all! Over this year, we’ve seen some excellent smartphones and used some great laptops and wearables, but beyond these, there have been some truly exceptional products that have passed through my doors. This is our spotlight on the Indulge Tech Picks for Gadgets that impressed in 2020.
Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P
Robotic vacuums are not exactly new, but the interest levels in having an electronic lackey take care of the daily sweeping and swabbing truly took birth in the lockdown. The Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop P stands apart as one of the few options that brings in a vacuum and a mopping function at a…Xiaomi price point…and does a darn good job to boot! With the robotic vacuum finally going on open sale recently, this should top your shopping lists for the new year ahead!
Dyson V11 Absolute Pro
The Dyson V11 Absolute Pro cord-free vacuum was launched pre-pandemic, but one truly started appreciating how much Dyson has managed to elevate the humble vacuum cleaner with the lockdown. The V11 Absolute Pro not only ups the levels of suction with a 125,000rpm motor but also brings in a new high-torque cleaner head that dynamically adapts between carpets and hard floors, adjusting the power (and therefore battery usage) based on the cleaning load it senses. One quick sweep tells you all you need to know about how much the vacuum can extract from seemingly clean surfaces, and the new circular LCD on the back gives you a quick sense of how much of the battery you have left. There is a place in your home for robotic vacuum cleaners, but for everywhere else, the Dyson is hard to beat.
OnePlus TV 55U1
With their QLED lineup priced out of reach for most budget buyers, OnePlus launched a more affordable set of LED TVs with the U series. The OnePlus TV 55U1 delivered capably for the price – it looked good, offered Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support, and, like OnePlus phones, is made better with thoughtful software additions without the bloatware creep. It goes up against the Mi TV 4X 55 and the TCL C715, both of which you should consider depending on your needs. And then there’s the all-new Mi QLED TV 4K 55 (review coming soon).
Of the soundbars I reviewed this year, Sony’s HT-G700 stood out, not only because it came with a wireless subwoofer, support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio and passthrough for Dolby Vision HDR, but that it was super easy to set up and use. For the price, the HT-G700 impressed with its depth, scale and dynamics, and is an ideal companion for a big screen 4K TV in your life.
Amazon Echo 4th Generation
It looks nothing like the Echos that have come before it, and the overhauled design allows the Echo to pack in a larger 3-inch woofer for that added thump. Music from the Echo is more room filling than other speakers at this price point, and it borrows from the room tuning smarts to estimate the shape and size of the listening space and adjust the audio accordingly, stuff we’ve seen in pricier smart speakers. The Echo then is a solid upgrade from the previous generation, and a great start for building out your smart home. Folks looking for something for the Apple ecosystem could look at the HomePod mini, which sounds remarkable for its size (full review coming up).
Apple iPad Air
Apple’s refreshed iPad Air (2020) borrows a lot of what we liked in the iPad Pro – thinner bezels, Magic Keyboard and 2nd-generation Apple Pencil support and that new squared off industrial design – and adds in the blazing fast A14 Bionic chip for all the demanding apps and multitasking and a pandemic-friendly Touch ID sensor on the power/sleep button! Unless you have a need for the higher storage options or the faster refresh rate ProMotion display that’s reserved only for the iPad Pro, you will be doing yourself (and your wallet) a favor by picking up the iPad Air.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
Android tablets typically come with a disclaimer: Google just doesn’t put in enough of an effort on making Android (or Android apps) more tablet friendly. But you have to hand it to Samsung for trying nonetheless, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+. With its 12.4-inch Super AMOLED high-refresh rate screen and a top-tier Snapdragon chipset all packed into a premium metal build, this is without a doubt the best Android tablet around. Even with Android’s frailties on tablets, Samsung has to be commended on how much better DeX makes the S7+ to use on the daily. Add the pricey keyboard cover, and you may even be tempted to use that multimedia consumption-oriented screen for some work!
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Air/iPad Pro
Whether or not you feel the iPad is ready to be the only computer in your life, the Magic Keyboard is, in my opinion, one of the best accessories you can spring (a lot of money) for, for your iPad. Snapping the iPad Pro/Air on is immediately transformative, with its scissor-switch keys, responsive trackpad and ‘just right’ elevation bridging the gap between the tablet the attached iPad used to be and the quasi-laptop it becomes. If your workflows are like mine – writing, browsing, image and video editing – the Magic Keyboard will reward iPad Air/Pro owners handsomely.
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar