These Are the Early Winners for Best Tech of 2018
It’s halfway through the fall consumer tech cycle, the time between September’s iPhone XS and XS Max launch and Black Friday. There’s still a lot more to get through, including the upcoming Google Pixel 3 launch and even a second Apple announcement related to a new iPad.
But for the vast majority of tech consumers — with the exception of die-hard Android or iPad aficionados — your year-end tech wishlist should already be coming into shape after six straight weeks of gadget open season. There are also flocks of newly released Amazon smart home devices and powerful laptops that are ripe for the picking.
This is Inverse’s definitive guide to the tech that has taken this year by storm, for now.
1. Best Tech 2018: Amazon Echo Dot Third Generation
Say hello to Alexa’s new crib. Amazon released a third iteration to its compact smart speaker during a surprise product launch in September and it’s improving on what the last Echo Dot pretty much mastered.
If you’re looking for an affordable smart speaker that doesn’t skimp on sound quality, this is it. The Third Generation Dot goes for $49.99, compared to the Second Generation’s $29.99 price tag. Amazon claims the extra $20 will get users 70 percent more sound. That’s on par with last year’s Google Home Mini.
2. Best Tech 2018: MacBook Pro 2018 with a Core i7 Processor
Apple’s new MacBooks with Core i9 processors had some serious throttling issues upon release. But even after shipping a fix back in July, we’re still recommending you pick up the more affordable i7 Core variant, instead.
This bundles together a 15-inch display, six-core Intel chips, up to 32-gigabytes of RAM, and a maximum of 4-terabytes of storage capacity. That kind of memory can hold 1,000 hours of movies and roughly 620,000 photos making this computer a premium choice for laptop power users or video editors dealing with massive files.
While the Core i9 touts more power for an extra $300, the laptop’s ventilation system keeps it from delivering the advertised “Turbo Boost” speeds. Seeing as this MacBook starts at $2,399, pick up the i7 that is more than capable of dealing with daily browsing but can also handle demanding tasks like 3D-model designing.
3. Best Tech 2018: Samsung Galaxy S9+
Samsung released the Galaxy Note 9 in the summer, which garnered a lot of media attention but its Galaxy S9+ phablet is definitely the sleeper and packs a better bang for your buck.
For one, the S9+ starts at $649.99, while the Note 9 begins at $974.99. The S9+ touts a 6.2-inch OLED screen, comes with the same CPU as the Note 9, and even has superior pixel density with 529 PPI to the Note 9’s 516 PPI. This means slightly crisper images.
Sure the Note 9 has 0.2 more inches of screen and can carry 1TB of memory. But for $300 less and cloud storage capabilities, the S9+ will essentially give you everything the Note 9 can, minus the stylus.
4. Best Tech 2018: Axum Gear True Wireless Earbuds
AirPods are undoubtedly a popular choice of Bluetooth earbuds especially for Apple users. Axum’s Gear True Wireless Buds provide the same portability, sleek design, comparable battery life, and superior sweat resistance.
Axum’s headset provides 3 hours of battery life off a single charge, with the charging case holding an extra six charges, coming in at a total of 21 hours. The AirPods are advertised as having up to 24 hours of battery life with their case. That said, they are not touted to be sweat proof while Axum’s pair are specifically made for tough workouts.
They normally retail for $299.99 but are currently on sale for $149.99, $10 less than the AirPods.
5. Best Tech 2018: Lenovo Yoga 920 Laptop
Fancy yourself more of a PC user? The 920 is specifically designed to give you all of the power you need while allowing similar touchscreen capabilities of popular tablets. The screen can be pulled all the way back to begin using it as a touchpad to sketch designs or simply take notes.
The laptop starts at around $1,330 comes with a 13.9-inch display and a i7 Core processor with up to 1TB of storage capacity. Designers on a budget will definitely want consider this computer if they’re looking to upgrade this year.
6. Best Tech 2018: Apple Watch Series 4
Apple’s refurbished Apple Watch has cannon balled into the consumer health market and made a splash. The wearables market is estimated to exceed $51.5 billion by 2022 — double the 2016 GDP of Iceland — suggesting that many users are beginning to integrate these gadgets into their daily lives, instead of just having them as a flashy device.
The Series 4 is bigger than its predecessor, coming in a 44-millimeter face and provides new features, like an incorporated electrocardiogram heart monitor and fall detection.
If you’re looking to accurately track your exercise routine or even just keep tabs on your heart health, this is the clear choice that rises above the rest in the wearables market. The Series 4 starts at $399 for a baseline model with just GPS capabilities, but can get as expensive as $849 for a flashier, 44-millimeter stainless steel case watch with a Milanese loop and cellular features.
7. Best Tech 2018: Instant Pot
Even though this electric cooker was released last year, its popularity has carried into 2018 by selling more than 300,000 units during Prime Day. The multipurpose kitchen appliance combines the capabilities of a pressure and slow cooker allowing users to make stews, soups, and dips by simply tossing ingredients in and pressing a few buttons.
This cooking device uses a microprocessor chip to calibrate the cooking time, temperature, and pressure of four pre-set cooking parameters. This enables customers to simply walk away and be confident that their dinner won’t overcook.
This lazy cook’s helper starts at $79.95 on Amazon and can inspire even the most inexperienced chefs to get cooking.