This year, I thought I would try something a little different with TheCanadianTechie Gift Guide 2016. Instead of just having the traditional gift guide posts about what tech products to buy (which will be posted later this week), I thought would incorporate my fellow techies and have them talk about what their favourite product(s) of 2016 was.
A few times in my career, I’ve been forced to eat my words. One particularly embarrassing occasion was when I proclaimed Soylent would never take off. (Whoops!) But the one that carries the most weight was the overturning of my firmly held belief that it was impossible to make a pair of noise-canceling headphones that sounded as good as regular headphones. Sure, active noise-canceling shuts off all the distractions and annoyances around you, but it makes your music sound hollow and flat, like all of the air has been sucked out of the room. Bose was the worst offender in my book. The company has made mountains of cash on noise-canceling headphones, but they all sound kind of terrible. The Bose cans were made of flimsy plastic and felt cheap too. How could a company with such strong principles in high-fidelity audio produce a flagship headphone with so many problems?
Then I heard the QC35, the newest Bose top-of-the-line noise-canceling headphone that came out in the summer of 2016. The chip is redesigned, the noise-canceling tech is vastly improved, and the build quality is miles better than before. I tested them for a few weeks, and I very quickly fell in love with them. The noise-canceling tech no longer introduced any chirpy artifacts into the audio. Even better, music sounded dramatic and alive. Battery life is nuts; 20 hours. I urged all of my friends to try them, and several of those friends bought themselves a pair soon after. The QC35 is now my top recommendation for a travel headphone. After years of pooh-poohing active noise canceling, I finally feel good enough about it to shut up and enjoy the silence.
If you would like to read more in-depth, here is a link to Michael’s full review of Bose QC35.
2016 has been a great year for tech, especially in phones, though Samsung had a somewhat difficult year. I`m a Google fan and the newly released Pixel phones are big news for Google, but it’s another product they announced this year that’s gotten me excited: Google Home.
Google Home represents a lot of the facets of Google’s tech advancements over the years, combining their voice recognition and contextual search prowess with their new focus of machine learning to finally deliver a personal assistant that can integrate with a smart home.
The potential for Google Home is what is exciting for me at the moment, we’ve seen what Amazon can do with Alexa, but with Amazon’s limited reach – they’re non-existent here in Australia – Google Home offers an opportunity to really see what Google can do in this arena.
You can find out more about Google Home, here (but currently, the Google Home is only available in the US, with no Canadian or Australian availability announced yet).
The gift I’m giving everyone this year is either an Amazon Echo or a Google Home. These so-called smart speakers are hard to explain to people—“you know, it talks to you! And sets timers and stuff!”–but as soon as you have one it becomes hard to live without. The Home’s the better option, I think, since it’s cuter and cheaper, but either one is an awesome way to find out the weather, play music, set timers, order pizzas, play goofy games, and get answers to all those random questions you have but normally wouldn’t want to do all the work to answer. Plus, they’re really fun party tricks: every time someone comes over for dinner, I get to feel cool showing them how it all works. That’s worth the price all by itself.
If you would like to read more in-depth, here’s a link to David’s full review of Google Home.
The gift I WANT this year? A Boosted Board 2. If you live in a city, or a town, or really anywhere other than the middle of the desert, an electric skateboard is both ridiculously fun and insanely useful. The grocery store that’s juuuust too far away to walk to? Suddenly super accessible. When you can go 20-plus miles per hour, for six miles on a charge, suddenly your whole town becomes a few minutes away. The whole thing is light enough to carry and small enough to stash in the trunk of your car. It’s part toy, part future of the automobile. And did I mention it’s REALLY fun?
Jon Rettinger is the president & Editorial Director of TechnoBuffalo. Find him on Twitter: @Jon4lakers
If you’d like to see Jon talk more in-depth about the Surface Book with Performance Base, here’s a link to Jon’s full video review.