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Another hellish year on this mortal plane is about to come to a conclusion. Soon, hopefully, the abject mediocrity will fade and we’ll forget everything that was boring or bland. Instead, we’ll remember only the very best and the very worst. Being that this is a blog ostensibly about gadgets we felt it was important to remind you of the twenty very best gadgets from this year. Hopefully you’ll remember some of them with fondness as the world grinds on.

Samsung Galaxy S8

All images: Gizmodo

In a year when going bezel-less was the hottest smartphone trend around, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 did it best. There’s no notches or cutouts to distract from that gorgeous display, and the remaining slivers of bezel are nicely balanced, giving the phone a stately, poised sort of look. On top of that, the S8’s dual-pixel camera has the fastest autofocus you can find in a phone, and with a price tag that’s $400 less than an iPhone X, it almost seems cheap! I just wish Samsung made better use of the S8’s bonus button, instead of reserving it solely for Bixby. – Sam Rutherford

Sony WH-1000XM2

People think Bose makes the best noise-cancelling headphones. Sorry, Bose. It’s Sony now. These wireless cans are your new best friend on planes, trains, and in noisy offices since they block out all background noise while delivering impressive audio quality. The sturdy build quality and slick styling seem like an added bonus for a set of headphones that just work. – Adam Clark Estes

Lowepro Urbex Backpack

Does the perfect backpack exist? Can it ever exist? Everyone needs to carry something different to and from work every day, but Lowepro has come very close to perfection with its Urbex backpack by optimizing it for modern electronics. Gone are the DSLR-cradling padded pockets that Lowepro packs are known for. They’ve been replaced with zippered pouches for tablets and thin laptops, as well a smaller gear bag inside—ideal for storing charging cables, backup batteries, and countless tiny accessories—that can be accessed from the side without having to actually remove the backpack first. – Andrew Liszewski

DJI Spark

Teeny, tiny drones used to be a joke. They’d get blown into the trees anytime a gentle breeze came through, and they couldn’t deliver anything in terms of camera footage. The DJI Spark is a game-changer. Despite its size, this little quadcopter delivers almost all the same features as DJI’s celebrated line of full-sized drones. Plus, it’s fun as hell to fly. – Adam Clark Estes

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

It’s positively retro looking, but the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon isn’t slow or dull. It’s fast, with solid battery life. It’s also super thin, and so light you will constantly forget you have it in your bag. And it’s spill proof! Plus there is no laptop available that has a keyboard quite as nice to type on. But you really have to love the chunky plastic look, because this laptop ignores the design tenets Apple’s popularized and stubbornly clings to an old school look. It should be obnoxious, but boy is it charming. – Alex Cranz

Sphero R2-D2

Sphero could have easily thrown together a remote control R2-D2 toy that rolled around on three legs and bleeped and blooped and Star Wars fans would have lined up to empty their wallets. What the company instead created is the most detailed and functional miniature version of the famous droid, and one of the best Star Wars toys of all time. Not only can R2-D2’s third leg retract, Sphero’s engineers actually referenced the computer animation files from the recent movies to ensure that as the leg retracted, Artoo’s movements perfectly matched his on-screen counterpart. And yes, the toy also makes those wonderful bleep bloop noises you can’t get enough of. – Andrew Liszewski

Nebia Shower

The Nebia Shower System is not a smart shower, but very much a product born of Silicon Valley. With money from tech celebrities Tim Cook and Eric Schmidt, Nebia found a way to significantly reduce water waste while simultaneously rethinking how a shower’s supposed to feel. Standing underneath the Nebia shower head is like bathing in a thick, fluffy mist. It’s the perfect way to wash away a night of stress-reading Twitter. But be warned, curious minds: The Nebia is best suited for either warm apartments or summer months. If your home always feels too cold, or if you rely on underpowered steam technology to heat your house, at times you may find the Nebia doesn’t feel hot enough. If you live in a modern apartment building, or far away from the bitter chills of New York, you should be fine. – Harrison Weber

Intel Optane Memory

It was just two years ago that Intel and Micron Technology announced an entirely new form of computer memory that was non-volatile like flash, but nearly as fast as DRAM. The tech has since been limited to storage devices that cost thousands of dollars. Intel Optane memory is the first attempt to employ the tech at a level priced for people like you and me and it’s been worth the wait. The stick, which ranges in price from $45 to over $70 depending on storage size, lets you speed up old hard drives, sometimes giving them twice the speed. That’s a handy speed bump for a cost of dinner and a movie – Alex Cranz

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has never been a company that cared about bleeding edge specs. Despite that, the company managed to make the most exciting game machine of the year. The Switch can play games at home on your big TV, or you can grab it and go and enjoy the exact same games on the road. Its detachable Joy-Con controllers can be removed and used independently or combined to give you something a little more traditional. And backing all this up is hands-down the best first-party game lineup of any console. With more than 10 million consoles sold to date, the Switch is already closing in on the Wii U’s lifetime sales in less than a year. Nintendo is killing, and this is just the start. – Sam Rutherford

Google Pixelbook

This is the laptop I think about at night. It’s the one I recommend to my friends, suddenly becoming a Chrome OS advocate despite not really liking Chrome OS in its current state. This is a laptop that will convert you if you’re not careful, because this is easily the best hardware released this year. Nothing is as balanced and slim. The two tone glass and aluminum finish looked bland on the Pixel 2, but looks stunning on the Pixelbook. Yes, the pen costs extra, and the lag when drawing means this still isn’t the 2-in-1 for you if you fancy yourself an artist, but if you’re a writer pondering an iPad Pro than skip the iPad and get the Pixelbook instead. You won’t regret it. – Alex Cranz

Samsung Chromebook Pro

The Google Pixelbook might have been the best Chromebook made this year, but the Samsung Chromebook Pro is half the price and almost as good. The display is gorgeous, the chassis is light, and the little built-in holster for your S Pen is perfectly placed. Usually a $500 laptop means big, slow, and bulky, but this fairly fast laptop proves that cheap doesn’t have to mean bad. – Alex Cranz


The Dreamscreen is backlighting system for your TV — a series of sticky lights, wires and an app that projects ambient, super-colorful lights from the back of your TV that echo what’s going on at the edges of your screen. This powerful monster is excellent for making gaming on your big screen bigger, brighter, and bleedier.– Marina Galperina

Lego Boost

Lego Mindstorms, based on the cams, gears, and motors that make up the Lego Technic line, is a brilliant way to tip-toe into the world of robotics…if you’re an adult who already has a solid understanding of engineering and coding. The sets can be a little intimidating to kids, and that’s why you have the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox, a simplified version of Lego Mindstorms. Yet it’s still complex and capable enough to build some neat robots. Using a tablet app as your guide, you can build and program autonomous creations with an easy-to-understand drag and drop coding interface that helps introduce kids (and adults) to programming concepts, without frustrating them. It’s all but impossible to get tired of Lego, but this will still help breath some new life into the buckets of bricks under your bed. – Andrew Liszewski

Lenovo Yoga 720

Getting a laptop for under $1000 usually means a lot of compromise. You have to go with Chrome OS if you don’t want something big and heavy. But Chrome OS, while hugely improved this year, still isn’t nearly as productive as Windows 10. Which is why Lenovo’s $880 Yoga 720 is such a wonderful device. It’s a cheap Windows laptop that doesn’t compromise form for price. – Alex Cranz

Sony A7R III

Sony launched not one but two high-end mirrorless cameras this year, and if it weren’t for the Panasonic GH-5, Sony might run away with the whole mirrorless camera category. Despite costing $1,300 less than the $4,500 A9, the A7R III might be the more well rounded shooter. It’s got a whopping 42.2-Megapixel sensor (twice the resolution of the one in the A9), and a new super fast autofocus system that can lock on to your subject’s eye and adjust focus and exposure, all while snapping pics at 10 fps. The A7R III has also borrowed the battery pack from the A9, which gives it double the battery life of previous A7 cams. – Sam Rutherford

The Notch on the iPhone X

The iPhone X is a lovely phone, but without the notch it would look like every other virtually bezel-free phone this year. That would make it boring, and the tenth anniversary iPhone should not be boring. The notch spices things up and due to the complicated engineering demands it instantly makes the phone feel more luxurious. It also holds the TrueDepth camera module that really sets the iPhone X apart from every other devices. That’s cool as hell—provided you don’t have an evil identical twin hanging around somewhere. – Alex Cranz

Halo Carbon Fiber Board

Longboards are definitely cool, and Segways are definitely not cool. Combine them and you’ve got the Halo Board, an actually-not-that-lame motorized longboard. Despite having never ridden a skateboard in my life, the board was easy to get the hang of and fast as hell, and didn’t almost kill me. At 14 pounds and around 1300 bucks, it’s lighter and cheaper than the competition. Watch out for the plastic controller, though, since I managed to shatter it just by storing the board. And watch what you wear while you ride it, or else a Gizmodo commenter might call you a poser. – Ryan Mandelbaum

Tiny Arcades

The smartwatch on your wrist probably has more processing power than the CPU inside an ‘80s arcade cabinet, and despite everything from smartphones to graphing calculators being able to play classic games like Pong and Joust, there’s still something wonderful about these tiny arcade cabinet replicas from Super Impulse. Available in Pac-Man , Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Space Invaders versions, they each feature fully playable versions of those games, complete with sounds, tiny joystick controls, and a glowing marquee on top that will let you build your own well-stocked arcade on the corner of your desk. – Andrew Liszewski

Logitech MX Ergo

It took a few years but Logitech finally updated the best product it makes and brought it firmly into the 21st century. The MX Ergo trackball is the first Bluetooth trackball from Logitech ever, it’s also the first trackball since the M570 was released back in 2010. The wait usually feels like it’s worth it. There’s a movable plate on the bottom of the trackball that lets you adjust the hand position, and an easy to hit button that instantly adjusts the DPI—perfect for gamers or artists in need of precision. The only big problem is that the ball itself is difficult to remove, making monthly cleaning a little bit of a pain. But most of the time I don’t care, because I finally got my Bluetooth trackball. – Alex Cranz

Nvidia Max-Q Design

While powerful gaming laptops with desktop-level components are nice, they’re usually too huge and cumbersome to really be called laptops. That’s what makes Nvidia’s Max-Q initiative so interesting, because by balancing performance and power efficiency better, the company is making it possible to create thin and light 15-inch systems that you might actually want to carry around, with nearly the same performance as more bulky desktop replacement notebooks. The best examples of this is the $2,700 Asus Zephyrus which manages to pack a Max-Q 1080 in a system not much bigger than 15-inch MacBook Pro. Yes it’s pricey, but your back and shoulders will thank you. – Sam Rutherford

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