There is never a shortage of wonderful products to be released at the end of each year. Almost always, though, it’s the ones who stick with you and make the biggest impact you never saw coming. As I began compiling a list of the 25 Best Gadgets, Devices, and Articles Reviewed Here at Newsweek for 2022, some caught my eye more than others. Those were the ones that really shaped me, for better or for worse.
Most of these products had a positive effect, but not all. T-Mobile’s Home Internet, the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra, and Pixy all oscillated between moods. Sometimes it’s frustrating when a product doesn’t live up to its potential, especially when it’s that close – as in the case of a small drone. Some products keep coming to mind while others disappear for whatever reason, but these are the ones that stuck with me this year.
When Snap acquired a drone manufacturer a few years ago, it was unclear why Snape was interested in the company. Maybe it had technology or patents that Snap wanted, or maybe it was employee talent. Fast-forward to the summer 2022 release of Pixy, and it turns out Snap just wanted to build its own drones for consumer photography.
Pixy presented an enticing promise of simplified drone photography that was then easily shared across social media platforms. It worked well enough to capture my imagination, but it wasn’t without its flaws. Though Pixy was largely a surprise when it was announced by the company, the biggest shock came a few months later when Snap suddenly discontinued the product. This left its mark on me, both coming and going, whiplash-style.
Super73 isn’t a new company, but their products are becoming more and more popular and trending – so I was curious about their beefy motorcycle-themed electric bikes. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the new R Brooklyn at first, but it only took me a few rides to become completely convinced of this fast, comfortable e-bike.
In fact, I haven’t been able to get this bike out of my head since I sent the test unit back. The long padded seat, fat tires and bouncy suspension made the bike a joy to ride around. Although I’ve only tried this particular model, I assume my positive attitude applies to most of the company’s vehicles. The only thing stopping me from jumping on one of these e-bikes? The proud price. But maybe someday.
It’s not often that a highly advanced device ends up delivering what it promises. The June Oven not only did it, it exceeded my expectations for a smart home kitchen product. It wasn’t released in 2022, but I finally got a chance to try it this year.
The June is a connected countertop oven that also helps you with meal prep. It has Wi-Fi and can be controlled remotely from your phone, and it also has a camera inside. Want a peek inside the oven to see your food live when you’re upstairs? You can. Better yet, the camera is also used for food recognition. So if you place frozen waffles in June, they will see them and automatically offer a temperature and time to cook them.
I loved using the built in temperature probe for chicken which I’m paranoid about always undercooking. My kids and wife have all opted for the oven’s touchscreen and various smart features. Even the cooking pans that come with them are some of the nicest I’ve ever used. All in all, it’s hard to see other smart ovens currently on the market as anything but shockingly inferior.
T Mobile Home Internet
Cable Internet companies fear that T-Mobile and other mobile networks will invade the private Internet space. I know this because, for one, Cox Cable has a large piece of text on its website claiming that it offers better internet than 5G. I tried T-Mobile’s Home Internet Service in June and have been using it ever since. My first month with it was a positive experience. The speeds were constant in the range of 200 Mbit/s. I was only charged $50 per month and had no data caps.
Since then, some of my enthusiasm has evaporated. There are days or times when speeds drop to the point where streaming services are constantly buffering. Eventually, I may switch to fiber in my area for really faster speeds, but either way, this experiment with a cellular network for home internet was mostly successful. It was instructive how the modem can be placed where it has the best reception in the house. And for people who aren’t in places with fast internet, it opens up new possibilities.
Beat Encode Plus
Since about 2020 I no longer carry physical keys with me. One reason for this is smart locks. That year, the Schlage Encode Plus was the first to support Apple’s Home Key, which allows iPhones and Apple Watches to unlock a door that’s in close proximity.
When I come home from a run, still slightly out of breath, with just my Apple Watch, all I have to do is hold it up to the Encode Plus. It’s a magical experience. The feature will eventually come to cars and spread to more lock makers to become commonplace, but it was certainly a game changer this year.
ZTE Axon 40 Ultra
Most people will not buy the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra. In fact, I’d be surprised if a significant number of people had even heard of cell phones. Since the iPhone 14 Pro received a redesigned cutout for its front camera – dubbed Dynamic Island – it was hard to forget the Android phone that positioned its camera below the screen.
This was the first opportunity I’ve had to spend some time with a screen-only phone. I was surprised at how much I didn’t notice that the front camera wasn’t visible. It gave me a new perspective on whether the notch or any of those other phone cameras really need to get smaller and disappear from view. So far, the software does not take advantage of these top center properties on the screen.
Apple Watch Ultra
Leading up to the Ultra debut, there were rumors of a higher quality, larger Apple Watch. One of the Ultra’s surprises is its mostly reasonable price tag of $799. The Apple Watch Ultra comes with cellular and a titanium case, which helps justify its price point in the lineup. Even more surprisingly, the Ultra’s 49-millimeter size didn’t feel too outrageous on my wrist. I wasn’t expecting to upgrade to the Ultra from a Series 7 watch, but after wearing the latter for a week I decided to make the jump.
I immediately enjoyed the long battery life and the action button, which can call up training tasks, for example. The Ultra is a smartwatch for those who want it big. Another point to note is that now that Apple has branched out and tweaked the physical design of the Apple Watch, the cat may be out of the bag with even more variations to come.
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