With chill economic winds blowing, the gadget-buying frenzy of the pandemic has abated. But you can’t put the brakes on innovation. Here is some of the best tech that debuted in 2022.
EAH-A800 Technics headphones
Wireless earbuds are all the rage these days, but you can’t beat the aural experience of a pair of high-quality over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones. Technics deliver a reasonably lightweight pair with excellent sound quality for music playback and phone calls. Multipoint Bluetooth Connection, lets to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. The noise-cancelling technology here is industry-leading and the ambient mode lets you wear them out on the busy streets while still being able to hear what’s going on around you. Topped off with a hefty 50 hours of music-listening time on a single charge.
I’m a consummate note-taker so the year draws to a close with a pile of nearly two-dozen notebooks beside my desk. That’s not very practical or sustainable. But I’ve just discovered a better option for 2023 – a reusable notepad where your writing can be dabbed away with a damp cloth. Even better, the accompanying smartphone app lets you scan your scribbles before erasing them, so you can upload them to Google Drive, or your cloud provider of choice. The software also does a fair job of reading your handwriting, so you can search your stored notes online. The Rocketbook’s pages are made of thin plastic but feel comfortable to write on with the accompanying Frixion pen. I tried writing notes on my iPad with a digital pen and gave up. This is my new go-to notebook.
Price: $64 (12 pack of Frixion pens $42)
Microsoft Surface laptop Go 2
If you want a Windows-based laptop that’s lightweight and offers decent computing performance for basic daily tasks, you can’t go past the Go 2 from Microsoft. It’s a rare breast these days, offering a 12.4-inch screen and weighing around 1.1kg. It’s better suited to typing than a tablet/keyboard combo, but more svelte than other laptops on the market bar the MacBook Air. The Surface aesthetic gets more refined each year and while the hardware inside won’t suit power users, the selling point here is portability.
Price: From $1,099
Philips Hue Light Strip
I picked up a beautiful vintage drinks cabinet on Trade Me during the year, which now takes pride of place in my lounge. But cocktail hour really comes to life thanks to the Philips Hue LED light strip I’ve added to the back of it, which illuminates the wall behind the cabinet to a colour and tone of my choosing. With the Hue app I can set a tasteful colour scheme, wirelessly connecting to the 2-metre light strip. Ideal for adding mood lighting flourishes to a room and combined with a Philips Hue bridge device can be used in conjunction with other light strips and bulbs.
Panasonic LZ2000 55 inch
Once you go OLED for movie viewing, you will never go back. So it is with Panasonic’s LZ2000, which builds on the success of previous models such as last year’s JZ1000 to deliver one of the best cinematic experiences you’ll find in a TV at this price range. That’s down to the high-quality OLED panel, Panasonic uses, which produces incredibly life-like colours and incredible image quality. Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog on Netflix looked particularly stunning on the LZ2000. All of the streaming apps are supported and a new speaker set-up on the TV’s rear gives much improved audio performance. Minimalist, stylish and delivers the goods when it comes to viewing pleasure.
Apple Watch Ultra
Apple is courting adventurers with its latest and greatest smartwatch, the Apple Watch Ultra. While its essentially the same as an Apple Watch 8 on the inside, Ultra is wrapped in a titanium chassis, making it a bit chunkier, but also suitable for diving (100m rating), mountain climbing and escaping to the rugged outdoors. There are enhanced health-tracking and safety features, a wide range of activity-tracking features and three-day battery life. This is a credible effort to compete against the likes of Garmin, with all the attributes Apple Watch lovers know so well.
Price: From $1,499
Amazon Fire TV Stick
If you want a cheap and convenient way to stream content to your TV, Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick is worth a look. It’s a rectangular stick that plugs into a USB port and connects to your Wi-fi network. A user-friendly remote then lets you navigate apps on your screen, including TVNZ+ and Three+, Neon, Sky Sport Now and the usual global streaming services, Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video among them. The TV stick supports 4K-resolution video, as well as Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for the best image quality and Dolby Atmos for audio. The Alexa voice assistant will help you search your streaming subscription options with voice queries. You can also use it to control your lights, and thermostats and view Ring security cameras on the screen. Great value for money.
Nothing Phone 1
Are you bored with the current line-up of smartphones on the market? Longing for something a bit different, like Samsung’s sleek Flip 4 with its foldable screen, but are put off by the price ($1,699). Nothing may have something for you. This mid-range Android smartphone’s claim to fame is not a fancy camera or insanely long battery life. It’s the Glyph Interface, an array of LED lights on its transparent case, which light up with different patterns of colours to indicate different ringtones and notifications. It Gives the Nothing Phone 1, which is clearly modelled on the iPhone 12, a fun, robotic look and feel. The phone’s specifications are respectable and the NothingOS software that runs it, based on Android 12 is stripped back and intuitive. A fresh approach to phone design that won’t break the bank.
Price: $829 (via parallel import)
Artificial intelligence has been the hidden hand in our lives for years. But in 2022 it came to life in the form of delightful machine learning tools that created beautiful artworks and uncannily accurate articles. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that delivers detailed answers to inquiries. It draws on the GPT-3.5 language technology, made up of an AI computer model that has been trained on vast amounts of text. As a result, it can replicate a university-level essay, with just a few written prompts. It’s only as good as the information it draws on, but ChatGPT has wowed people around the world with its ability to respond coherently to complex questions. It’s fun to play with and hints at how we will increasingly use search engines to find answers to the big questions.
Price: Free while in early release
Ecovacs X1 Omni
Introducing the X1 Omni into your housework routine comes with a steep learning curve, but once you’ve sent it off to map out your house, you can basically leave the vacuuming and floor mopping to the circular robot. A host of sensors and AI tools help Omni detect floor surface types, adjusting the sucking power when it encounters carpet and avoiding collisions with furniture. A built-in camera acts as a useful security feature – you can set off Omni to check on the house and view the footage remotely. A handy docking bay allows it to empty itself of dust and dirty water and recharge itself. A big outlay, but think of the time you’ll save.