First of all… a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you who will read this. We at TekTalk thank you for your support in reading our content, listening to our podcast and if you happen to share these blogs, it is very much appreciated. Personally, it was an incredible year for TekTalk as we grew into a full fledged site, delivering reviews and experiences of products and services we used. There were good, bad and some ugly things we had to check out so without further ado, lets summarise the best (and some of the worst) of 2014.
At TekTalk towers, we have had the pleasure of personally using some great phones this year. From the high-end monsters like the HTC One M8, iPhone 6, Nokia Lumia 1020 and LG G3 to mid-range excellence like the Moto G and then to the entry level awesomeness of the Nokia Lumia 520.
With that said, there was only one winner for me. I said it in my review of the device and I will repeat that here. The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact entered in the shadow of the Note 4, the iPhone 6 and even its own bigger brother, the Xperia Z3 and proceeded to blow me away in almost every catergory. Yes it lacks the QHD screen inane gimmicks associated with many flagships released this year but to me, that is a good thing. It is a smartphone that does what you expect from a smartphone and does so extremely well. It managed to ‘out-iPhone’ the iPhone as a device you just pick up and use. It took the crown from the big guns and didn’t even make a fuss.
BEST BUDGET/PREMIUM TABLET
It was a lean year for tablets. News of declining sales were consistent throughout the year as consumers realised that their iPads and Android tablets could run most applications comfortably for 2-3 years rather than the 1 year manfuacturers seemed to claim. With that said, we saw some beauties and my pick of the bunch was the Tesco Hudl 2 and Surface Pro 3.
The Hudl 2 from Tesco was bought as a companion for my Chromecast and also for some light gaming and is now such an important part of my life, I’ve recently bought 2 more to give out as gifts (God bless gift vouchers!). It’s exceptionally well built, runs apps so smooth that you’ll wonder why this is £250 rather than the bargain £130. It is the essense of what a tablet is in the modern household; a consumption device and a gateway to other devices.
On the flip side, the Pro 3 is the direct opposite. A tablet that can replace your laptop, says Microsoft. And boy are they right. I was initially reluctant to buy in but after many weeks thinking, I went against my advice of sticking to the Pro 2 and instead bought an i5 256gb Pro 3. I sold my iPad mini 2, MacBook Air and the Pro 2… That in itself shows how incredible this device was, being able to replace all of that. Sure, I ended up buying the Hudl 2 later anyway but to have one device replace 3 which total around £1500 in value is serious stuff. And then the device itself; a sleek, powerful and multitasking wonder that is a work of art when displayed on the desk. On its own, it is responsible for the excitement being generated as Microsoft enters 2015 with more buzz than any time in the last decade.
Battery packs. I went travelling this past September and these things saved my ass for the entire trip. Going to the subcontinent, if you want to be sure of two things and that is mosquitoes are everywhere and you will need consistent power because of frequent power cuts. For me, I took an Omaker 10000mAh pack, a 50,000 mAh ALLPOWERS battery pack and a couple of Citus 8800mAh battery packs. Serious power for a month’s trip, I know. Although the ALLPOWERS unit didn’t deliver the entire 50,000 mAh, the price (£14.99) meant I was crazy thinking I would expect that much anyway. All in all, it powered my One M8 for 12 charges which is nearly 30,000mAh. Impressive. They would also be my surprises but something else beat them to it.
UNDERRATED GADGET OF THE YEAR
This is going to be SUPER niche but I truly think they did not get the attention they deserve this year. So here is the shout-out for the most underrated gadget of the year! They are the bundled earbuds you get with an unlocked purchase of the HTC One M8. Incredibly random, right? Well, I seriously think these are my underrated gadget of the year, probably of the decade so far. You think of bundled ear-buds and you get images of crappy EarPods from Apple or the cheap crap that is bundled with Nokia (RIP) phones, not the ones that had excellent sound quality, perfectly even sounds across the board and good looks too. HTC might not sell as much as Samsung in the Android marketplace but their quality of product from smartphone right down to the ear-buds is superb. Long may it continue.
OVERRATED GADGET OF THE YEAR
Mac OSX Yosemite. Good God was this shoved down the throats of every consumer by tech folks and Apple, and whilst it’s features were impressive in the demonstration, they’re nothing to ride home about. Dare I say, aside from 2-3 features, the rest is purely a gimmick that will be used the same amount of times anything ‘S’ related from Samsung will be used. Upgrading on my MacBook Air, I felt very disappointed that that was the result of all the hype. In fact, it just made me all-the-more curious as to what Microsoft has in store with Windows 10.
SURPRISE OF THE YEAR
Chromebooks. Now, I know the concept has been around for years but this was the year I tested a HP Chromebook 11 and was blown away by how useful a cloud only Laptop can be. As a productivity machine, I found myself doing pretty much all of my Podcast rundowns, reviews, blog posts, and social media responses on a Chromebook and doing that very very well. Ultimately, it didn’t replace my Surface Pro but that wasn’t the point. It opened my eyes to what will be the future in 5 years’ time. Microsoft knows that which is why their philosophy is mobile first, cloud first now.
A very close second in this category was the Amazon Fire TV. Considering the next category was Amazon at its low point, this was an excellent product from them with some cool features. The voice search is superb with the only downside is cross-app useability and the interface is smooth as you would like. In its first attempt, Amazon knocked it out of the park and with future updates it will only get better. Scary thought.
The Amazon Fire Phone. Nothing more can be said… Just the Fire Phone. For shame.
Note that this is purely my own thoughts (Imtiaz Farooq) and they do not reflect the general consensus. If you have differing thoughts, please comment down below or hit us up on Twitter. I’m @Tweet_Imty… thank you for reading.