2017 is almost over. For many of us, there are reasons to be sentimental and there are reasons to be blissful we can just pierce on. That’s how we feel about tech from this year, too. We’ve polled any member of the Ars Technica reviews group about their favorite and slightest favorite tech products of 2017. Each staffer has done their own selections and combined their own explanations.
We’re holding a extended clarification of tech product here. It’s not all about gadgets—a preference can be software, a service, or even a feature. Note that every one of these choices is a personal selection. In the reviews, we aim to yield adequate context and pattern information to give readers a very clever clarity of the pros and cons of any product so they can make their own, sensitive decisions about what tech works for them and what doesn’t—because everybody has opposite priorities and needs. We do share the personal opinions, since that’s partial of reviewing a product, but we try to do that in a way that helps strength out that context.
Here, we’re just pity the personal picks. Sometimes there’s a disproportion between the best tech product of 2017 and your favorite.
These are the favorites—well, half of them are, anyway. The other half are products that we don’t caring for. Below, you’ll find the selections from staff listed in alphabetical sequence by last name.
Here’s to a 2018 loaded with new favorites.
Favorite: OnePlus 5T
The Google Pixel XL 2 is the best Android phone you can buy, but I’m a fool for good, inexpensive devices, so I’ll have to collect the OnePlus 5T as my favorite product of the year. OnePlus has customarily offering high-end specs with a low price, but with the tradeoff of a antiquated design. This year OnePlus went all out in the pattern department, producing a slick, slim-bezel device that looks just as good as these $800-$1000 phones, but at a $500 cost tag. The aluminum physique and a near-stock build of Android is mostly an upgrade over a Samsung or LG flagship. Sure, there are some tradeoffs. You won’t get the day-one updates of the Google Pixel or the top-tier camera, but all OnePlus ships is “good enough” for the bill unwavering consumer.
I really wish some-more companies would take a pitch at making a good phone that isn’t at flagship prices. It feels like many companies only try for their ultra-expensive phones and then possibly just don’t recover anything cheaper than that or recover phones that are clearly subpar junk. we skip strategies like Motorola when it was a Google company, and you had 3 good phones—the Moto E, the Moto G, and the Moto X—all along the pricing spectrum.
Least favorite: Samsung Bixby
My slightest favorite product of the year is substantially Samsung’s new voice assistant, Bixby. We’re used to Samsung shoveling piles of half-baked program out the doorway with every smartphone release, and certain enough, Bixby is a slow, frequency operative “me too” product, with no redeemable qualities. Bixby is some-more irritating than the common terrible pack-in program since it elevates Samsung crapware to the hardware level. There’s a hardware Bixby symbol on both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, and while routinely you can omit program you don’t like, there’s no ignoring that hardware button.
After a recoil from customers, Samsung finally relented and allowed users to invalidate the Bixby button. A passed symbol on the side of the phone is frequency ideal though, and Samsung ought to strictly support remapping the button. Third-party remapping solutions are available, but they are janky hacks that mostly break.
Voice assistants are all about accessing an ecosystem of services, so it doesn’t make a ton of clarity for Samsung to even be in this business. Siri is useful since it is on all your Apple products. It allows you to save information in all your favorite Apple apps and entrance Apple services. The Google Assistant is useful since it’s on many Google and Android products (including on Samsung phones) and any voice commands entrance the Google apps you’re using bland anyway. For example, in both of these systems, asking for directions will launch Apple or Google Maps, respectively, and environment a sign will use Apple or Google Reminders.
Samsung doesn’t have an ecosystem of apps and services for Bixby to block into, so it is mostly relegated to determining the phone hardware. If Samsung does have some kind of suitable app for this data, the information is sealed into that singular piece of hardware. Samsung doesn’t sync information opposite inclination the way Apple does, and it doesn’t have the engorgement of Web interfaces that Google has. Bixby is just so limited, it’s not worth using.
And that’s not even mentioning the delayed speed, bad voice recognition, and ubiquitous bugginess of Bixby. Samsung, you’re good at hardware—stick to that. Bixby is not going to happen.
Favorite: iPhone X
I haven’t been anxious with the iPhones of the past few years. we viscerally disliked the surfboard design. Neither distance felt utterly right, either; the 4.7-inch model’s screen was just a little too small, but the Plus seemed laughably outrageous to me.
I wished that, for one singular year, Apple would stop trying to make the thing thinner and faster and instead do the 3 things we actually want—give me better battery life, pierce the pattern brazen aggressively, and deliver new facilities that would stir developers to bring me cold new app experiences.
Two out of three? I’ll take it. The iPhone X found a ideal honeyed mark between the two sizes. The (almost) edge-to-edge display creates a thespian impact, along with the peculiarity of the OLED panel. Apple’s display calibration elevates the iPhone above the competition. (And no, the nick doesn’t worry me at all.) The TrueDepth sensor and AR components open doors for app developers to innovate again, after the app ecosystem had begun to feel stale.
The pattern things is neat, but it’s the possibilities for new apps and interactions that make this my collect of the year. After a few years erratic in the woods, Apple is heading again—at slightest for a while. We’ll see what 2018 and 2019 bring.
Least favorite: Facebook
This collect is too obvious—I know it is. But we trust Facebook reached new lows in 2017, and they’re so low, we can’t suppose picking anything else. It’s not about politics or feign news. It’s about assertive feeling to every user—something no tech company should ever get divided with.
Facebook is magisterial with purposeless features. It’s trying to perform every kind of tech-related online service, from selling to news. Because it’s so dominant, it gets divided with pushing out better products and services from would-be good tech companies on both the Web and mobile.
This was the year of Facebook video. Facebook paid video-production companies pennies to furnish hours and hours of terrible live video filled with code integrations. The social media hulk used its News Feed algorithm to prerogative publishers who just combined terrible infographic videos that literally showed essay content in big fonts against a video background. Think of the human hours squandered examination those videos instead of reading articles—or examination videos that are actually good.
This was also the year of Facebook doubling down on its truth that it should confirm what information is applicable to you, the user, and what’s not. Here’s a hint: Facebook picks the information that has the many income behind it. On Facebook, users aren’t the customers—they’re the products being sold. we don’t consider we should put up with that from tech products in 2018. And yet, I’m not confident it’s going to get any better.