Technology advances quickly, and it can be hard to keep up on which gadgets and gizmos made the biggest splash. Fortunately, looking back on 2018, a few big themes developed — televisions became smarter, speakers responded to voice commands. Another interesting trend? Prices became a bit more reasonable for gadgets like the Apple iPhone XR. Here are the top picks in several categories.
1. Phone: Apple iPhone XR ($749)
Apple made waves this year by releasing three different phones (including the iPhone XS and CS Max with an OLED display), but the iPhone XR with an LCD display is arguably the best option. At $749, it still has an extremely fast A12 Bionic processor and a high-end camera.
2. TV: Samsung Q9FN 65-inch ($2,999)
Televisions are smarter than ever. The Samsung Q9FN can read your Wi-Fi settings and password from your Android phone, and it senses when you have an Xbox One connected and can adjust the display for 4K resolution and the best gaming color mode.
3. Tablet: Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch display ($999)
The big news with the Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch released this fall is that it uses a processor that is more powerful than some laptops, including Apple’s own MacBook line. Apps like Adobe Lightroom CC for iPad and Affinity Photo handle high-res images with ease.
4. Laptop: Dell XPS 13 ($850)
At just 2.67 pounds, the Dell XPS 13 is lighter than many tablets (including the Microsoft Surface line) but runs on a screaming fast Intel Core i7 processor. The claim to fame? Dell has figured out how to make the display run all the way to the edges.
5. Desktop: HP EliteOne 1000 G2 34-in Curved All-in-One ($1,794)
For productivity gurus, a curved wide screen like the HP Elite means you have more room for tabs in a browser, and more screen real estate for your apps. It’s also a brilliant gaming desktop and ideal for Skype sessions with a pop-up high-res webcam.
6. Earbuds: Jabra Evolve 65t ($329)
For those who have not quite accepted the reality of using wireless earbuds yet and prefer a wired connection, it’s time to reconsider. The Jabra Evolve 65t sound as good if not better, and have the added benefit of one-touch access to a voice assistant.
7. Drone: DJI Mavic Pro ($999)
Drones with fold-up arms became the norm in 2018, and the DJI Mavic Pro is the best of the bunch. It’s also much quieter and smoother during flight. The Mavic captures in 4K video resolution and doesn’t require a complicated setup.
8. Robot: Neato Botvac D7 Connected ($699.99)
The smartest robots let you leave them alone all day for weeks at a time, and they merrily go about their business. Set on a cleaning schedule, the Neato robotic vacuum will do its work without getting stuck or falling down a staircase.
9. Speaker: Sonos Beam ($399)
Speakers finally embraced the concept of voice control in 2018. The Sonos Beam lets you ask Amazon Alexa questions about the weather, but also syncs to the DISH Hopper 3 receiver for changing channels, finding shows, and raising the TV volume.
10. Camera: Nikon Z7 ($3,400)
A great camera, the Nikon Z7 snaps photos lightning fast, even at an athletics event. It uses a new mirrorless technology to capture stunningly crisp photos at 45.7-megapixels, letting in more light than a traditional DSLR.