Photo Credit: Akhil Arora/Gadgets 360
Being a consumer is like a job, as a disgraced comedian once rightly said. We spend hours poring over the options at our disposal, looking at the features, going through reviews — a culture we at Gadgets 360 contribute to — and wondering what's best suited for our needs. Sure, it seems crazy, but it also makes sense. After all, you work hard to earn that money. As you scroll below, you'll find that some of us didn't find anything worthwhile to spend said hard-earned money on in 2019. Meanwhile, most others found joy in new phones, tablets, laptops, headphones, subscriptions, or gaming consoles. Thus, in this Best Tech of 2019 article, we detail our favourite purchases from the world of technology this year.
Abhinav Lal: Zomato Gold
I'm going to nominate my Zomato Gold subscription as my tech purchase of the year. You may say, “Hey, that's not really tech, is it?”, and I'd mostly agree with you. But, hey, it's a premium offering by a consumer tech platform and seeing that I've reaped benefits several times over its cost already, I'm nominating it.
If you'd recall, Zomato earlier this year started Gold on delivery as well, making it rather decent value for money as long as you have participating restaurants in your neighbourhood. I got a 12-month subscription for Rs. 1,800, and since this was during Zomato's anniversary celebrations, I also got five Rs. 200 cashbacks on delivery orders, bringing its cost down to Rs. 800. I recouped that in two dine outs — and have been using it for delivery as well.
As for my wishlist last year, it included a virtual reality headset, but I've been unable to convince myself to take the plunge on a mid-level offering. Maybe this year we will see a reduction in prices as the tech becomes more mainstream.
Buy: Zomato Gold
Aditya Shenoy: Nothing
At the start of the year, I was looking to buy a Sena 30K for my daily + weekend rides. After some thorough research found out that it won't be able to survive the monsoons here. So dropped plans of picking one up. Surprisingly I haven't bought a single new tech product this year. I did buy a V6 Communicator since the one I had got drenched in the rains and conked off.
An Android Auto head-unit for my car is still on my wishlist, but I think I'll look for it next year.
Akhil Arora: Nothing
True to what I'd predicted over 300 days ago, my tech wishlist stayed empty for all of 2019. Of course, I cheated and browsed through sales like any bargain-loving human, but I was never enticed to hit the buy button. That doesn't mean I didn't purchase anything. I picked up an iRobot Roomba 600 series at the start of the year and a Mi Air Purifier 3 towards the end of the year. One was a present, and the other a necessity — have you seen the data?
But I wouldn't say I'd recommend either. If you're looking for a robot vacuum or an air purifier, I've realised it's best to stay away from entry-level products.
The Roomba is good at cleaning, but it's very dumb. I live in a 3BHK and given how frequently I've to interact with it during cleaning, it really stretches the definition of the word “robot”. As for the Xiaomi one, it seems to do the job, but I don't trust its AQI readings even though it has a new sensor. So without a separate air quality monitor, there's no way to tell how good a job it's doing.
My favourite tech product for 2019 then? 404 Not Found. Sorry for wasting your time, ...again.
Akshay Jadhav: Google Home Mini
This year I got a decent deal on the Google Home Mini during the Big Billion Day Sale on Flipkart. It was available for Rs. 2,299. I bought it just for casually listening to music at home. However, now my parents listen to their old playlists the entire day on it and they love the Home Mini's ease of use with voice commands. Also, the fact that it can work as a Bluetooth Speaker is a cherry on top for me. It has certainly been the best purchase in 2019.
Buy: Google Home Mini
Ali Pardiwala: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
I've made a couple of big purchases this year, but the one device I've found more useful than anything else is the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. Considering how many televisions I've reviewed this past year, this device is an invaluable tool of my trade. And of course, it's helped me get access to a wide range of TV shows, movies, and videos across various streaming services up to 4K and HDR.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is, quite easily, one of the best streaming devices you can buy today. It's the best Rs. 5,999 I've spent this year, and has made my television viewing experience far more entertaining and easy.
Aman Rashid: iPhone 11 Pro
I am a die-hard smartphone enthusiast, which is why I like to upgrade to a new smartphone every year. And for many people around me, it is a waste of money to upgrading to a new phone every year, but this has become somewhat of a hobby which I am unable to ignore. So my favourite tech purchase of 2019 is the iPhone 11 Pro.
To recap, I haven't had great experiences using an iPhone. I have had two iPhones in the past, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 7 Plus. And with the iPhone 11 Pro, I was a bit skeptical before purchasing it because of my experiences with iPhones and the exorbitant prices the current Apple phones come with. But I was simply swayed away by the looks of the device. Unlike many people out there, I really like the triple-camera design at the back which makes it stand out from every other phone out there. And, the stainless-steel frame which you don't get to see in flagships from other manufacturers. Moreover, the phone's performance is top-notch, battery life is great, and the cameras are also a step-up from the last generation.
It has been almost 3 months since I purchased the iPhone 11 Pro, and I have to say I am really enjoying the iOS experience on this device. Looking forward to the iPhone 12 Pro or whatever Apple decides to name it.
Gaurav Shukla: LG G7 ThinQ
Even though smartphone prices have continued to go up with each passing year, I am yet to increase the budget that I had set for my smartphone purchases years ago. Hence, with just Rs. 30,000 to spare for my new smartphone, LG G7 ThinQ caught my eye. LG isn't the most popular smartphone maker around; in fact, you will be hard-pressed to find LG smartphone owners these days. But, in my opinion, the company's flagships are often some of the best value-for-money phones around if you are fine with waiting for a few months after the phone's launch in India and don't want to go for a Chinese smartphone brand.
Bought in the start of this year, the LG G7 is yet to disappoint me. The phone packs some impressive specifications for an older smartphone and is very easily going to last me another year. Having said that I do hate the massive screen but sadly that is a reality of the Android smartphone market right now, and the phone's cameras aren't great.
With Mi LED 10W smart bulb as my only other tech purchase, there is little competition for LG G7 ThinQ for my favourite tech purchase this year.
Buy: LG G7 ThinQ
Harpreet Singh: iPhone XR
I didn't spend a lot of money on tech products this year, I'm going to end 2019 with a lot still left on my wishlist. But I did upgrade my smartphone this year. I switched from an iPhone 7 Plus to the iPhone XR, after spotting a decent deal online.
It seems like a decent upgrade to me. I like the battery life on the iPhone XR, but I miss the physical home button and Touch ID. I like the fact that it has support for an eSIM as a secondary connection even though I don't really need one. I do love the camera though, nothing Pixel-like but since I only capture photos for Instagram and Snapchat, it gets the job done.
Buy: iPhone XR
Jagmeet Singh: Microsoft Surface Go
I often do some work while commuting. Checking for new emails or responding them while on-the-move is quite feasible through a smartphone. But I usually spend my travel time in writing new feature pieces or transcribing recent interviews that both require a compact PC-like machine. I do carry my work laptop, but in the recent past, I observed the need for an even smaller device that I can take with me in most of the places. I found the iPad as an early solution. However, I ended up purchasing a Microsoft Surface Go.
Since the Surface Go provides me with the full Windows experience, I can not just open apps that are limited to iOS (read iPadOS) but also access all major software packages that I used to have on my desktop or work laptop. The portable design of the Surface Go also makes it an easy-to-carry machine and the optional keyboard adds productivity. Likewise, the touchscreen experience on the device is also on par with my iPhone. The only thing that lacks here is the battery life that gets exhausted in five-six hours of regular use. Nevertheless, there is a USB Type-C port that supports the Power Delivery (PD). So I use a compatible power bank for charging on-the-go.
Buy: Microsoft Surface Go
Jamshed Avari: iPad Pro
After promising myself that I wouldn't buy anything unnecessary this year, I stumbled across a ridiculously good deal on a second-hand previous-gen iPad Pro that I simply couldn't pass up. Did I actually need it? Not at all. Was it a good impulse buy? Absolutely! My previous iPad no longer receives iOS updates, I get to play high-end games, and the huge screen is just glorious. You can have a full-sized A4 page up, which is great for reading and especially for sheet music. Creative apps such as Synth One really feel transformed on the bigger screen and the stereo speakers are a revelation too. Moreover, it's so light that I can just take it anywhere. Now to find an equally good deal on a keyboard cover...
Nadeem Sarwar: Samsung Wireless Powerbank
2019 was the year I shelled out the most when it comes to purchasing tech goodies. I got myself the Acer KG241QP gaming monitor that offers 144Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time at a sweet discount on Amazon. I also burnt my earnings on a Redgear MK881 Invador mechanical keyboard with the Kailh Blue switches, and of course, RGB lighting effects. But my favourite tech purchase of the year was the Samsung Wireless Powerbank (EB-U1200CPNGIN).
This one's not your average, blocky power bank. Aside from a USB Type-A port and a USB Type-C port, it also has a circular Qi-certified wireless charging pad that supports the in-house Wireless Fast Charge tech. It lets me simultaneously charge a phone and a wearable device (or another wireless charging compatible phone, which happens to be the Pixel 3 in my case). The 10,000mAh battery is enough to juice up the phone's battery thrice, and the build quality is also top notch. It comes at a premium over rival 10,000Ah power banks, but the versatility it offers is unmatched.
Prabhakar Thakur: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick was my favourite purchase this year, though I did not really “buy” it. It came with a Samsung TV that I bought (not a smart TV). It has changed my TV viewing experience for good. With Fire TV Stick's clean UI and decent voice remote, I don't have many complaints about the device.
This one doesn't support 4K videos, but I have no qualms about it because of the expense of the amount of data that will be needed should I raise the video quality that much.
Buy: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Roydon Cerejo: iPhone XR, Fire TV Stick, and PS4 Pro
I may have gone a little crazy this year with my tech purchases. My first one was an iPhone XR back in April, when the big discounts and cashback offers began. An excellent device with more than a day-long battery life which even rivalled the iPhone XS. Plus, the fact that it was available in India at an effective price which was even lower than what it was being sold for in the US, made it a no-brainer.
My second-best tech purchase has been the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. The reason it makes the list is because I managed to snag one during this year's Black Friday sale, for just $25! (roughly Rs. 1,800). It's also a lot faster than the standard version, supports faster Wi-Fi and of course, can do 4K streaming.
My last big tech purchase of this year is the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro. Yes, I'm aware that the PlayStation 5 (PS5) will be launching around this time, next year, but like every new console generation, the true potential of it will most probably only be realised till a few years in the console's lifecycle. By then, we'll also have newer revisions which may fix any teething issues of the launch models, possibly a Pro model and most importantly, more affordable prices out by then.
Pro tip: If you're looking to get the PS4 Pro, keep in mind that the only official bundle with India warranty is the one with the extra controller. All other bundles on Amazon and Flipkart of the Pro that include free games, are direct imports and don't have a valid Indian warranty.
Sumit Garg: Nothing
I have spent a lot of money this year. My biggest purchase has to be a new car, but did I make a tech purchase for myself? Well, no. Yes, I did buy two Redmi 8A smartphones, but those were gifts for my family members. Other than that, personally I did not find anything that amazed me in tech this year and because of that I didn't make any tech purchase this year.
Tasneem Akolawala: Amazon Echo
I didn't make any big tech purchases this year, nothing that makes for a worthy mention. Although, I did make a tiny Amazon Echo purchase in January for the house. It's proved to be quite handy, especially to satiate the growing curiosity of my kid. For those unaware, the Echo range of smart speakers from Amazon comes with Alexa voice assistant built in. It lets you ask questions, request songs, ask for recipes, and set reminders – and responds with voice-based answers. I'd recommend it as a nice addition to your home entertainment space. I bought the second-generation Echo, but it would be ideal to buy the third-generation speakers now. Amazon offers a slew of Echo speakers in different forms and functionalities.
Buy: Amazon Echo
Yousuf Jawed: Realme Earbuds 2
After using OnePlus wireless bullets for an year then getting back to old tech like wired headphones is tough but I did make a choice now and it is Realme Buds 2. These Realme earphones are good in terms of sound quality within the price bracket. The braided cable make you believe it is stronger and practically doesn't get tangled. The length of the wire is very generous, and it comes with a rubber clip. I also appreciate the drivers and the chambers they are housed in, redesigned to give better sound quality. The magnetics snapping feature of the buds are very handy. So, yeah, this was my tech purchase on the year.