Cameron Summerson, Justin Duino
At the end of each year, I like to think about all the gadgets that have hit the scene in the past 12 months. While 2020 has been a strange year, to put it mildly, there have been some great gimmicks on the Review Geek collective desktop this year. Let’s take a look at the best of the best.
What makes a gadget the “best”?
Man, that’s the question, right? Sometimes the best product is the one with the most powerful specifications. Sometimes it’s the one that fits a certain niche. Sometimes it’s the one with the best value for money. Honestly, it’s hard to pin down a single description of “best,” so we’re using a few different stats to decide.
Value for money: If something performs as well or better than the competition for less money, it’s great value for money. This is an important factor that goes into determining which products of a given category are the best for a given year.
If this is the benchmark: some products may be a bit more expensive than others, but if they become the standard by which all others are measured, that makes that particular product a benchmark for a given category . It’s hard to beat that.
If it is truly innovative: innovation counts. This is what moves a whole category forward.
These different stats work on top of each other, which you’ll notice as you read our award winners. Best value usually sets a precedent by which other devices of a given category are measured, for example.
So yes, there you go. Now let’s talk about the best things this year.
Smartphone of the Year: Pixel 4a
In most years, choosing the best smartphone is a challenge. But for 2020, it was actually pretty easy. the Google Pixel 4a presents unprecedented value in smartphones, as it ticks almost every box most users could want: great battery life, great camera, good screen, solid performance… you get the idea.
And all this for $ 350. In my mind, there is no better smartphone for the money, which is why it easily earned our pick for Smartphone of the Year for 2020. The only other serious consideration we had this year was the Pixel 4a 5G, which is a bit bigger and a bit faster than the “regular” 4a. But at $ 500, I feel like it narrowly missed the value presented by the Pixel 4a. (It’s an equally great phone, though).
Gadget of the Year: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet
Real talk: it was my favorite product of the whole year. the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet was the first perfect 10/10 review I have ever given, and over six months later, I still stand it. For under $ 300, you get a glossy convertible design that’s a tablet and laptop all in one. Best of all, everything you need is included in the box – tablet, kickstand, and keyboard are all part of the package.
To me, it’s the advanced Chrome OS tablet. It works exceptionally well as a laptop of this size, but when you need it for a tablet, it’s also great. With Android apps thrown into the mix, it’s the only “Android tablet” worth buying. Like the Pixel 4a, there simply isn’t a better value today.
Laptop of the Year: Lenovo ThinkPad Extreme Gen 3
There are laptops, then there is the Lenovo ThinkPad Extreme. This third-generation product is monstrous in almost every sense of the word: it’s fast, beautiful and powerful. The guts of beast mode play a big role here, after all, you don’t pack a laptop with a 10th gen Core i7 chip, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a discrete NVIDIA graphics card for nothing.
But the star of the show here is still the absolutely stunning 4K OLED panel. We’ve looked at two versions of the Extreme now and have come away blown away because of this big and beautiful display. If you want brain, muscle and beauty this is the buy machine. Of course, if you don’t have close to $ 3,000 for a computer, you can skip the OLED and get it with an IPS … but you’ll be missing out.
True wireless headphones of the year: Jabra Elite 85t
Until a few weeks ago, anyway. the Jabra Elite 85t are the new benchmark. Not only are these the best sounding headphones I’ve ever heard, but they’re incredibly comfortable, have great ANC and HearThrough, and great battery life. This is the first set of headphones that in my opinion are completely better than the AirPods Pro in every way.
True Wireless Earphone of the Year
Smart Home Gadget of the Year: Wyze Cam v3
Wyze has long offered some of the best gadgets for the smart home, but the Cam v3 really takes things to a level. It’s not only incredibly affordable at just $ 20, it’s weatherproof for outdoor use and has a starlight sensor for color night vision. There is no other camera on the market that comes close at this price.
And these are just the most significant improvements over the Cam’s predecessors. There are also smaller (but still significant) upgrades, such as multiple mounting options, a wider field of view, smoother video, accessory support, and a whole lot more. With all of the Cam v3 upgrades, it was easy to get the Smart Home Gadget of the Year.
Streaming Gadget of the Year: Chromecast with Google TV
Just when I thought streaming gadgets couldn’t really improve significantly, Google comes up with the new Chromecast. The update Google tv The interface is excellent and makes my life of “ugh what do I want to watch today” easier.
Not only that, but it also fixes my biggest annoyance with YouTube TV live interface, so it’s a win-win. Plus, it’s only $ 50. There is literally no reason not to have one.
Game of the Year: The Last of Us Part II
We don’t do a ton of game reviews here at RG (let me know if you’d love to see us do more!), But that doesn’t mean I can’t pay homage to not only the best game of the year but the one of the best games of all time in The Last of Us Part II.
The first The Last of Us is my all-time favorite game (I’ve played it over 30 times), but still entered Part II with a fair amount of skepticism. It’s a title that divides of course, but at the end of the day it’s just as powerful as the first game from a story standpoint. If you’re a fan of the original, you have to approach it with an open mind, but if you can do it, it’s an amazing game. The best, even.
Work From Home Accessory of the Year: Fluidstance Slope
2020 was the year a group of people were unwittingly immersed in the world of working from home. And while you might think there isn’t a lot of innovation in “putting a whiteboard in your office,” Fluidstance has found a way to make the whiteboard more useful. Instead of a whiteboard stuck to the wall next to your desk, the Slope is a whiteboard that sits right below your monitor so it’s always in your face. It’s brilliant.
When I reviewed The Slope in August I said it “reminds me of writing stuff on the rocks” – and four months later, I’m still agreeing with me here. Slop lets me quickly jot down things I need to do, then erase them when I’m done. No wasted paper and no missed tasks. Bam. Winner winner, chicken dinner. And also the Work from Home accessory of the year.
Smartphone accessory of the year: Satechi Trio wireless charger
We’ve tested a bunch of different wireless chargers this year, but none have impressed more than the Trio by Satechi. This three-in-one Qi charger is designed to handle an Apple Watch, headphones, and phone at the same time, and it does so exceptionally.
The problem with most pad type chargers is that you have to line up the gadget just to charge it. I don’t know what kind of magic Satechi is using here, but you can almost throw a phone near the charger and it will work. It’s pricey at $ 120, but it performs better than any other multi-device charger we’ve tested this year, so it delivers on what it promises.
Cereal of the Year: Peanut Butter Chex
This year I started doing grain reviews, mainly because I like cereals. In fact, MyFitnessPal tells me that 26% of my diet consists of grains. I’m not sure what to do with the remaining 74%, but I should probably eat more grain.
And although I started doing cereal reviews this year, I didn’t do as many as I wanted. Really, Peanut Butter Chex are to blame here as this is my new favorite. This is essentially the only cereal I have eaten since I looked at it in August. I went like a box a week. Seriously. Best grain ever … or at least this year.