Top Technology of 2015

Technology moves at warp speed. By the time you unbox that shiny new gadget or install that new software update, it’s time to move onto the next big thing. Here are Mashable’s picks for the most outstanding tech products of the year — products worth every penny.

10. Google Nexus 6P

After last year’s too-damn-big Nexus 6, Google came to its senses and released the more reasonably-sized Nexus 6P. Built by Huawei, the Nexus 6P packs in all of latest and greatest smartphone specs (including a lightning-quick fingerprint sensor) in an all-metal body that feels great in the hand. The Quad HD screen is stunning, the battery really does last “all day,” and Android 6.0 Marshmallow without any bloatware is a godsend. And for the first time, a Nexus phone’s cameras don’t suck. The fact Google’s selling it for only $499 unlocked is like icing on a cake.

9. Windows 10

With Windows 10, Microsoft listened to its users. Windows 10 brought back the desktop as the front-facing interface and restored the Start menu. Microsoft’s latest operating system also brought Cortana, the built-in assistant from its mobile devices, and a brand new lighter and faster web browser called Microsoft Edge. Other features like Continuum crunch the OS into a touch-friendly interface. Best of all, Microsoft is making Windows 10 free for Window 7/8/8.1 users for the first year.

8. Apple TV

The box may not look too different, but Apple completely overhauled the experience on the new Apple TV. No longer a hobby, the new Apple TV runs tvOS and opens the doors for apps of all kinds to proliferate. In addition to the brand new interface and universal search, Apple redesigned the remote control with a glass touchpad and Siri voice controls. $149 for a 32GB model gets you through the door and $169 boosts you up to 64GB.

7. Samsung Gear S2

Most round-shaped smartwatches are duds because they’re essentially running software designed for rectangular displays. Samsung’s Gear S2, however, is thoughtfully designed with purpose and speed. To navigate around the Tizen-based OS, you simply rotate the bezel. Also, unlike Samsung’s million previous smartwatches, the Gear S2 is extremely comfortable to wear. The $299.99 price tag also makes it cheaper than the cheapest Apple Watch. There’s also a classic model that’s more suited for dress shirts and blazers if the S2’s sporty design isn’t your cup of tea.

6. Swagway X1

Walking is lame. At least, that’s what “hoverboard” makers like Swagway want you to believe. Why walk when you can roll down the street like a boss from the future? Hoverboards like the Swagway X1 put personal mobility vehicles on the map this year in a huge way. At the same time, they also stirred up controversy after several of them exploded over the holidays, airlines banned them, and certain cities declare them not street-legal. The Swagway X1 goes for $400, which is on the low-end, but hoverboards can be found north of $1,500.

5. iPhone 6S/iPhone 6S Plus

The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are evolutionary — as opposed to revolutionary — updates to the last year’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus. Usually, an “S” model year is a modest upgrade with faster hardware under the hood, but the 6S and 6S Plus are more than that. Apple added 3D Touch, boosted the cameras to 12 megapixels on the back and 5 megapixels on the front, added 4K video recording, a Touch ID sensor that’s twice as fast and a stronger metal body. Most important of all: It comes in rose gold. Every iPhone is the best iPhone ever and the 6S is no different.

4. Volvo V60 Polestar

Polestar’s tuned Volvo V60 might not be better than its competition, but it’s the most fun Volvo sports wagon to date. Then Polestar bolts on bigger wheels, bigger brakes, suspension that is 80% stiffer than stock, and a 2.5-inch stainless steel full-flow exhaust system with twin 3.5-inch tail pipes. The result is a car that accelerates like a Mercedes-AMG, brakes like a BMW, spits and crackles like a Jaguar F-Type, but looks like a safe family hauler. If you’re going to consider the V60 Polestar, realize you’re going to have to suffer the ridiculous looks of strangers and a suspension that feels like it’s not quite yet sorted.

3. Apple iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is the biggest iPad ever and a clear nod to Microsoft’s Surface Pro devices. When paired with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro transforms into a powerful productivity workhorse. The iPad Pro is so powerful, it can edit three 4K video streams simultaneously in iMovie. Apple’s giant tablet isn’t for everyone, but for those who need to get “real work” done, the iPad Pro is up for the task.

2. Microsoft Surface Book

The Surface Book is a not exactly a laptop. It’s an evolutionary convergence of tablet and ultra-portable design innovation. Made from magnesium, the Surface Book is both solid and sturdy. Press a button on the keyboard and the screen detaches to become its own turbo-charged tablet. The screen is brilliant, Windows 10 is smooth and the pen input is significantly more accurate than other styli. With Surface Book, Microsoft’s taken every lesson it’s learned from years of watching others build Windows laptops and done them all one better.

1. Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is part Bluetooth speaker, part personal voice assistant, and 100% awesome. The $179.99 tube is controlled entirely with your voice and understands commands to play music, tell you the weather and read headlines. The biggest reason to buy the Amazon is how it easily integrates with existing smart home devices from Philips’ Hue Lights to Samsung’s SmartThings. Connecting supported third-party smart home gadgets is super easy, and Alexa, the voice assistant, is responsive to the extreme. Using the Echo is so intuitive, you wonder how Amazon figured out the smart home before Apple and Google did.

If you love gadgets and always have to have the most up to date technology in your life, you sound perfect for one of the many Information Technology courses we have on offer for you here at The Sheffield College!

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