This year, we were gifted with some of the best gadgets that truly made an otherwise crazy year more enjoyable. From the first iPhone with 5G to pocket-sized PCs and the next-generation WiFi standards, here are some of our picks for the best tech gadgets that were released in 2020.
iPhone 12 Mini
Only weeks after the iPhone 12 was released, it quickly became the best-selling 5G phone in the world. With its 5G tech, the iPhone 12 Mini is now the smallest and fastest smartphone of 2020.
Apple’s newest iPhone features more 5G bands than any other smartphone on the market. That means it offers the greatest coverage, and it is fast enough to download an entire high-definition movie in seconds.
The iPhone 12 also features Apple’s new Ceramic Glass screen. The tech giant created this new material with nano crystals that give the screen four times better drop performance than the previous iPhone model.
The Surface Duo is Microsoft’s first foldable smartphone, but it’s much more than just a phone. Microsoft claims that the Surface Duo is a “new category” of smartphones because it combines the functions of a phone, tablet, and computer in one device.
This “pocket-sized PC” features a taskbar at the bottom of the screen, just like a Windows computer. Microsoft also partnered with Google and created a new operating system for this device, so you can run Android apps and Windows apps on the Surface Duo.
With its dual screens, you can even run two apps at the same time. Microsoft said that the Duo’s two screens will make it easier for you to process information, which will save you time and change the way that you work.
Every year, Apple releases a new line of MacBooks, but this is the first time the company has ever released a computer with its own proprietary processors. The MacBook Air features the new M1 chips, which Apple claims offers the “world’s best CPU performance per Watt.”
Apple’s 2020 M1 chip is based on ARM tech, which was originally designed to work in smartphones and tablets. This technology was optimized for low-power systems, such as smartphones and tablets, where size and power efficiency are critically important. Because of this, the MacBook Air is so efficient that it doesn’t require a built-in fan.
The processor also makes Apple’s new budget laptop 3.5 times faster than the previous model and faster than 98% of PC laptops sold in the last year. Plus, the MacBook Air also has an 18-hour battery life, the latest WiFi 6 technology, and up to 16 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage space.
While solid-state drives (SSDs) are not new, the T7 Touch is the best external hard drive in years. This 2 TB drive is about the size of a credit card, but it delivers transfer speeds greater than 1 GB/s (gigabytes per second). That means it’s nearly 10 times faster than a traditional hard drive.
This rugged little SSD has an aluminum case, and it can withstand drops up to six feet without being damaged. It also protects your privacy with a built-in fingerprint sensor. This way, you don’t have to worry about your data falling into the wrong hands if you lose it.
With USB-C and USB-A connectivity, the T7 Touch works with Mac and Windows computers alike. It also works with Android devices, smartphones, gaming consoles, and more.
If you have internet dead zones in your home, you might want to invest in a WiFi mesh system. This tech gadget comes with a router and at least one “node” that you can place anywhere in your home to bring the WiFi to you.
While WiFi mesh systems have been around for years, we saw the first WiFi 6 tech come to mesh systems in 2020. This next-generation WiFi technology brings faster speeds, lower latency, increased network efficiency, more bandwidth to accommodate more devices, better performance in heavily-congested areas, and improved power efficiency for your connected gadgets.
Each of the Netgear Nighthawk nodes offers 1,500 square feet of WiFi coverage, and you can add as many nodes to your network as you want. This dual-band mesh WiFi system delivers speeds up to 1.2 Gbps on the 5 GHz band and 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band.
The HomePod Mini is Apple’s first budget smart speaker. While it is still more expensive than many other smart speakers of 2020, the HomePod Mini only costs one-third as much as Apple’s previous model.
Like the original HomePod, the Mini was designed for music. At just 3.3 inches tall, the HomePod Mini delivers room-filling sound. With its unique design, the sound is pushed down and out the bottom of the device to deliver 360-degree audio, so you can place it anywhere in the room.
This smart speaker also comes with Siri built-in, and Apple’s smart assistant is smarter than ever. Now, Siri can connect to your iPhone and let you use your apps directly from the HomePod Mini. That means you can use voice commands to make calls, check your calendar, play music from your iPhone, and more.
While this is not the first streaming device Google has released, the 2020 Chromecast is the first to come with a streaming service built-in. While previous versions of the Chromecast only let you “cast” content from your phone to your TV, this model comes with Google TV.
Google TV is a streaming platform that lets you access over 700,000 movies and TV shows from streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Disney+, and more. It even gives you personalized recommendations based on what you’ve been watching, so you don’t have to spend as much time searching for your next show to binge-watch.
This is also the first Chromecast to come with a remote, which features a Google Assistant button, so you can control your TV with voice commands. The 2020 Chromecast lets you stream video in 4K at 60 frames per second, and it supports Dolby Vision for more vibrant color, contrast, brightness, and detail.