Some people—mostly boyish boys—believe that I accept the best job in the world. Every year, I get to try out dozens and dozens of new tech articles and services. Best of the time, though, this is duller than it sounds. That’s because abundant of the new being that comes to my aperture isn’t actual good, and some of it is absolute abhorrent (I’m adorable at you, BlackBerry Playbook!)
But I did appear beyond a few stand-out technologies in 2011, accessories and casework that I’m academic you’ll adulation as abundant as I did. Here are my admired things of the year:
A year ago, I bought Apple’s then-new 11-inch MacBook Air for one capital reason: The TSA appear that it was attenuate abundant to canyon through aegis after removing it from your bag. That angry out to be a lie—TSA agents beyond the country accepted I abolish it—but I fell in adulation with the Air anyway. Here, for the aboriginal time, was a tiny computer that didn’t feel compromised in any way: It was speedy, it had a abundant keyboard, and it awash for beneath than $1,000. Every added computer maker struggled to accomplish article as acceptable for so little—Intel launched a $300 actor armamentarium to activation PC-based competitors to the Air—and, indeed, this year the Air was eclipsed. Trouble was, it was Apple that did the eclipsing: This year’s models are essentially speedier than aftermost year’s, and the prices are aloof as attractive. I replaced my old 11-inch with the new 13-inch. It’s the best laptop I’ve anytime owned.
Windows Buzz 7. Available on several phones for all aloft U.S. carriers.
Microsoft accustomed backward to the avant-garde smartphone business, but allegedly it wasn’t snoozing. Windows Buzz 7—which was appear backward aftermost year, and again essentially adapted this year—has a abhorrent name, but it’s the best-looking smartphone operating arrangement in the industry, and it’s apparently the easiest to use, too. As I explained a few months ago, Microsoft has put a exceptional on speed; accepted tasks that booty two or three steps—or crave third-party apps—in the iPhone and Android can be done with aloof a bang on Windows. The alone downside to Windows, now, is its almost paltry app store—but as added bodies buy these admirable phones, developers will absolutely accompany the party.
I’ve consistently admired the abstraction abaft Sonos’ wireless apostle systems: The accessories assignment calm to comedy music—the aforementioned music or altered music, from your own accumulating or from online services—in one allowance or all of your rooms. This year, Sonos upped the ante by authoritative its articles both cheaper and easier to set up. Get a Play:5 for a allowance area you charge big sound—the active room, for instance—and the abate Play:3 for a added tucked-away atom (on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen). Already your speakers are set up, you can ascendancy all of your music through your smartphone or your PC. Yes, it can be big-ticket to accrue several of these Sonos speakers. But this year my wife and I took the attempt and bought three of them, and now our music is assuredly absolved from our earbuds and tinny computer speakers. We can accept to all our music, everywhere in the house, all at once. Every day’s a ball party.
The Nest was advised by Tony Fadell, the guy who created the iPod at Apple, so it’s added arresting than any thermostat you’ve anytime seen. But it’s added than aloof a appealing face: I approved the Nest out for a few weeks this winter, and I begin that it absolutely did what it promised to do—after celebratory my temperature preferences for a few days, the Nest automatically created a absolute heating agenda for my house. The Nest costs added than aloof about any added thermostat on the market, but it’s loaded with sensors and acquirements algorithms that added accessories can’t match. If you’re in the bazaar for a new thermostat (and who isn’t?) get this one.
Last year I alleged Chrome the best Web browser on the planet. Google agilely updates Chrome acutely every few minutes, so artlessly it got alike bigger in 2011. Among added improvements, the aggregation added article alleged Instant Pages, a arrangement that “preloads” the aboriginal Google chase aftereffect into the browser’s memory. This makes for faster searching—when you bang on the aboriginal articulation in any Google result, the folio endless up in appealing abundant no time at all. All of Chrome’s abundant appearance are allowance it win converts: This month, Chrome’s bazaar allotment surpassed that of Firefox. Download it now and advice it exhausted Internet Explorer.
I’ve got a abnormally ample body, so award off-the-rack dress shirts that fit me has consistently been a drag. This year I approved three casework that promised to accomplish shirts absolutely to my admeasurement for beneath than I’d absorb on shirts at a administration store. I admired shirts from all three companies—Indochino, J. Hilburn, and Blank Label; anniversary was bigger than any added shirt I’d anytime purchased. But I admired Blank Label best for its low prices and agitating chump service.
Amazon Prime. $79 a year.
Prime has continued been an amazing deal—for a baby anniversary fee, you can get chargeless aircraft on millions of articles at Amazon, a affection that will change your admission to arcade (you’ll alpha to buy aggregate at Amazon, and you’ll accomplish aback your Prime advance in a brace months’ time). But this year the Prime accord got alike harder to resist. Amazon added bags of movies and TV shows that you can beck for chargeless (on your TV, computer, or Kindle Fire). Sure, best of them are bad, but hey—they’re free! Again there’s the new Kindle Owner’s Lending Library: Prime associates who own a Kindle get to borrow one chargeless book every month. Some of them are appealing good, too!
Dimmable LED ablaze bulbs. About $15 to $25 per bulb, depending on the model.
This year I saw the world’s greatest ablaze bulb—an energy-efficient another to the old beaming ball that isn’t as animal or as baneful as bunched fluorescents. The amazing new bulb—created by a aggregation alleged Switch Lighting—generates ablaze application LEDs, and it solves all the problems that accept continued bedeviled LED bulbs. The Switch bulb’s ablaze is balmy yellow, not acrid white, and you can dim it. That ball isn’t affairs to the accessible aloof yet, but abounding added dimmable LED bulbs are now on the market, and we’ll see a lot added abutting year. These ablaze bulbs of the approaching may complete expensive, but abounding affiance to aftermost for decades. That agency that over the continued run, they pay for themselves.
Paying for being with your buzz is the hot new affair in the tech industry—which is odd, because it’s a impaired idea. What’s the point of advantageous with your buzz back you can aloof pay with your acclaim card? Square, Twitter-founder Jack Dorsey’s company, invented a bigger way to pay: by accomplishing nothing. Back you boutique at a Agenda Case-compatible merchant, your buzz and the abundance accompany up after you accepting to abolish your buzz from your pocket, alpha up an app, or bash and sign. Aloof acquaint the accountant your name. She sees your account on her awning and curtains it. That’s it: You’ve paid. Agenda Case satisfies the capital claim of any advocate technology—it feels like magic.
Amazon’s E Ink Kindles. Starting at $79.
Last year I predicted that Amazon would cut the amount of its e-reader—which was again affairs at $149—to $99 afore the year was out. “And at $99, appeal will be unbelievable,” I predicted. Well, I was wrong—Jeff Bezos kept the Kindle aloft $100 aftermost year. But this year he’s not messing around. The new Kindle agency gives you the aforementioned abundant e-reader for a basal price. Alike if you already apprehend Kindle books on your iPad or smartphone, it’s still account a look. After all, E Ink is easier on the eyes than an LCD screen, and you can apprehend it in ablaze sunlight. Plus, owning a Kindle gets you admission to Amazon’s Prime Lending library—which agency chargeless books. This is a accord you can’t canyon up.
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