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December 8, 2017

Harish’s Favorite Things of 2017

by John_A

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Harish’s Favorite Things

2017 turned out to be a very interesting year for tech — budget phones got much better, and flagships continued to push boundaries with bezel-less displays and significantly-improved cameras. I got to try out a ton of phones and accessories, and ended up buying a whole lot of gear I’ll probably not use all that much.

From phones to accessories and hardware, these are my favorite things of 2017.

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Galaxy Note 8

Samsung didn’t put a foot wrong this year. The Galaxy Note 8 has everything you need in a phone, and then some. With a gorgeous Super AMOLED panel with minimal bezels, excellent dual rear cameras (with OIS on both sensors!), beefy internals, sleek design, and S Pen, the Note 8 is the complete package. This is the phone to beat going into 2018.

$923 Buy now

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Xiaomi Mi A1

At the other end of the spectrum is Xiaomi’s Mi A1. The first in the new wave of Android One devices, the Mi A1 punches significantly above its weight. The phone has a 5.5-inch Full HD panel, Snapdragon 625, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, dual 12MP rear cameras, and a 3000mAh battery. All this and the promise of quick updates for under $250, and it’s easy to see why the Mi A1 is such an easy recommendation.

$226 Buy Now

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Google Home

A year after its debut, Google Home continues to be a great option if you’re looking for an internet-connected speaker. Assistant has picked up a ton of new features, including the ability to set reminders (finally). With the device now selling for just $79, there’s no reason not to get one.

$79 Buy Now

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Marshall Stanmore Multi-Room

I bought the Stanmore three years ago, and it continues to be one of my best audio purchases. Marshall rolled out an updated variant of the Stanmore a few months ago, which has the same great sound and retro flair, but with a slew of new connectivity options: Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect in addition to Bluetooth and a 3.5mm jack. It’s $100 costlier than the Bluetooth-enabled version of the Stanmore, but it’s worth the investment.

$450 Buy Now

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Sphero R2-D2

If you’re interested in Star Wars, you should take a look at Sphero’s app-controlled R2-D2. The attention to detail is astonishing — particularly when you consider the fact that it costs $125. It also comes with an integrated speaker, flashing lights at the front and rear, and a ton of programmable actions.

$125 Buy Now

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Sony MDR-1000X

The MDR-1000X is just as good as Bose’s QC-35 at blocking out sound, and offers much better audio quality. The build quality is also better, you get a durable carrying case, and playback controls on the left earcup. A no-brainer if you travel a lot.

$289 Buy Now

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Mi Robot Vacuum

I bought Xiaomi’s Mi Robot Vacuum on a whim, and it turned out to be a great purchase. The vacuum has the same motor as a Roomba 980, and comes with a navigation system that automatically maps out the interior of your house. You can control it from your phone, set automated cleaning schedules, and monitor it in real-time as it cleans your house. How cool is that?

$319 Buy Now

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Zotac Magnus EN1070

My primary PC is running a GTX 1080, and I picked up a Magnus EN1070 a few months ago to as a living room gaming machine. I needed a beefy PC in a compact form factor, and the Magnus EN1070 is ideal in that regard. The device is barely larger than my router, but it comes with a 2.7GHz Kaby Lake Core i5-7500T CPU, GeForce GTX 1070, slots for two SSDs (one M.2 and one 2.5-inch), up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, two HDMI 2.0 out, USB-C port, USB 3.1 Gen2 port, and two USB 3.0 ports. And you get Wi-Fi ac as well as Bluetooth 4.2.

I ended up buying a barebones edition and slotting in 8GB of RAM, a Samsung 960 Evo M.2 SSD, and a 1TB mechanical drive. You’re looking at around $1,500 including the memory and storage, but it is absolutely worth it.

$1,099 Buy Now

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ASUS RT-AC5300

I’m not sold on mesh networking yet, and until there’s a beefier option available, I’m continuing with ASUS’ arachnid-wannabe RT-AC5300. I switched to a Gigabit internet plan six months ago, and upgraded from my trusty AC1900-class RT-AC87. The AC5300 has excellent range, insane throughput, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two 5GHz bands. I managed to significantly increase the throughput to my work machine — going from 300Mbps to around 500Mbps — with the AC5300.

$297 Buy Now

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Yeelight LED bulbs

Yi Technology’s Yeelight LED bulbs effectively undercut Hue while still offering a similar feature-set. The main differentiator is that you don’t need a centralized hub to get started with the Yeelight bulbs, significantly lowering the barrier to entry. You can also control the bulbs via either Alexa or Google Assistant.

$25 Buy Now

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