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Android Authority's favorite non-phone tech that got us through 2020
Over the past few weeks, we’ve posted a lot of “best of” lists to summarize the year. Most of those lists obviously revolve around smartphones. If you want to know what we really think is the best phone of the year, here you go. But what about our favorite tech of the year that wasn’t a phone?
That’s what this list is all about! Here, you’ll find a selection of tech products that became favorites of people who work here at Android Authority. In a very dark year, these were the bright lights that helped us get through the chaos.
The only hard-and-fast rule for this list is that no phones were allowed. Other than that, all products were fair game. The product doesn’t even need to have been launched in 2020. It just needs to have been an indispensable piece of tech that we fell in love with more than any other during the year.
Without further ado, let’s get to the products! If you’re feeling talkative, we’d love to hear all about the tech that got you through 2020. Just head to the comments and let us know.
Nintendo Switch — Jimmy Westenberg
Although it’s been very difficult to get a Nintendo Switch this year, those who were able to snag one have been very happy with it. In a recent AA poll, we found that 87% of our readers are at the very least content with their ownership of a Switch in 2020.
You can now add our Managing Editor Jimmy Westenberg to the list. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite tech of 2020:
I purchased a used Nintendo Switch right before the pandemic hit. To say that it’s helped me get through COVID-19 would be an understatement; I’ve sunk countless hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Mario Odyssey, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Switch isn’t perfect. My lightly-used unit suffered from Joy-Con drift. After replacing one joystick, I’m now experiencing it on the other one! Hardware issues aside, though, this is one of my favorite technology purchases ever.
G-Shock watch — Adam Molina
We love smartwatches here at Android Authority. However, not everyone needs a watch that’s connected to their phone. Not everyone wants notifications on their wrists or battery life that only goes for a few days at the max. Also, not everyone wants to spend hundreds of dollars on their watch.
I was never a big G-Shock guy until I saw the all-black G-Shock GA-2100-1A1, lovingly known as the “CasiOak.” I spent months trying to find one and then I finally managed to snag one towards the beginning of this year. But as is the case with watches, G-Shock then released another model that I fell in love with. This all-gray GA2110ET-8A. Luckily, I managed to pick one up before word of its existence got out. The overall aesthetic is minimal and being one of the slimmest watches G-Shock has ever released I find it wears super comfortably on my wrist. Plus, it’s still a G-Shock so I don’t need to baby it like I sometimes do with older mechanical pieces. I look forward to bringing it with me on a few adventures next year.
ECOVACS Deebot T8 — C. Scott Brown
My apartment is all hardwood floors with zero carpeting. I also have two cats. If you do the math, you’ll understand why a robot vacuum is essential in my home.
For years, I depended on the iRobot Roomba 690. It never was a top-of-the-line model and didn’t age well at all. I decided to go with the ECOVACS Deebot T8 after our own Kris Carlon wrote a glowing review on it for Android Authority.
What can I say except that Kris was totally right? The Deebot absolutely destroys the Roomba by pretty much every metric. It’s faster, quieter, more efficient, and even mops while it vacuums. You can tell it to clean one section of the house and you never need to put down physical laser barriers to prevent it from falling down the stairs. I love this gadget and probably won’t ever go back to iRobot again.
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo — David Imel
A laptop is a laptop, right? Although they come in all shapes and sizes and colors, most laptops all do the same thing.
Not so with the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo. The novel device features a second smaller screen at the top of the keyboard. It’s kind of like what Apple tried to do with the much-loathed MacBook Touch Bar but taken to a degree in which it actually becomes useful.
Our own YouTube guru David Imel finds that secondary screen to now be indispensable to his workflow. Here’s why the ZenBook Pro Duo became his favorite tech in 2020:
I didn’t think I would care about dual-screen laptops, but they’ve totally changed how I do computing. I’ve been using the ZenBook Pro Duo since November 2019 but at this point I can’t see myself switching off it. It has its quirks, but I’m hooked.
Sony PlayStation 4 — Joe Hindy
Although the Sony PlayStation 5 is all anyone talked about this year, it certainly wouldn’t have helped anyone get through 2020. Even if you did get your hands on one for release day, you’ve only had about a month-and-a-half to use it.
That’s one of the reasons why our app guru Joe Hindy chose the PlayStation 4 as his favorite tech of the year. Here’s what he had to say:
Over the years, I had accumulated a good number of PS4 exclusives from various sales, but because I’m a social gamer and an Xbox guy (Xbox has better social tools, sorry PlayStation fans!), I rarely found time to sit down and play all these games I owned. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, I contented myself with staying at home by promising myself to play and beat as many of these accumulated PS4 classics as I could. I’ve finished four games so far, including Tales of Zesteria, Tales of Berseria, Final Fantasy VII (the original), and a 170 hour playthrough of Persona 5. I liked Persona 5 so much that I bought Persona 5 Royal so I could play it again. My list still includes Tales of Vesperia and two Ni No Kuni games so my PS4 still has quite a way to go before my little marathon is done. Apparently, so does the pandemic, so I have plenty of time to not go outside.
Sonos One (Gen 2) — Luka Mlinar
If you’re a big music fan, a quality smart speaker is absolutely essential. Not only does it give you easy voice access to your smart home gadgets, but it also will allow you to pump up the jams and drown out the insanity of the world.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder our social and SEO expert Luka Mlinar chose the Sonos One (2nd Gen) as his favorite tech of 2020. Sonos speakers are highly regarded for their audio quality, usability, and design aesthetic. Yes, they’re expensive, but sometimes that extra money is worth it.
Here’s what Luka had to say about it:
Sonos One. It was my gateway drug into the whole ecosystem. When I was moving house it fell from two meters height on a hard floor and it suffered minor cosmetic damage. Products just aren’t built that well these days so this was a pleasant surprise.
Shure Aonic 50 — Lily Katz
Speaking of audio, maybe you are more interested in headphones than smart speakers. Sound Guys Senior Editor and Android Authority Audio Editor Lily Katz knows quite a bit about headphones, and she has been using the Shure Aonic 50 as her headset of choice during 2020.
This is an interesting choice as one would expect her to be rocking the more mainstream Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Bose Noise-Canceling 700 series. However, Lily will let you know exactly why she prefers this model as her favorite tech of 2020 over those other popular choices:
This is a great ANC headset that’s comfortable to wear with glasses. Very good microphone quality, which Shure improved with a recent firmware update. The ANC is effective but not so much so that it’s disorienting (something I’ve experienced with other headsets, and am sensitive to generally speaking).
Apple MacBook Air with M1 chip — Tristan Rayner
One of the biggest things to happen in the world of computing (and the tech industry in general) in 2020 was the launch of the Apple M1 chip. Based on the same Arm architecture as iPhones and iPads, the M1 chip represents a seismic shift for Apple as it moves away from reliance on Intel.
Reviews for the first computers with M1 chips were mostly positive, but still a bit mixed. Tristan Rayner, who runs our awesome newsletter, can’t sing its praises enough, though. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite tech of 2020:
It’s over. Forget it. Look, I loved new 2020 laptops like the Dell XPS 17 and more tiny portables like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Both tempted me to buy this year. But then the Apple M1 chipsets blew the doors off what we expected from computing. While I deeply don’t want to overpay for hardware and have enjoyed being on Windows 10, for my purposes, an M1 MacBook is basically a no-brainer. As an aside, I’d give my next picks to the next-gen gaming consoles and cloud streaming services. It doesn’t matter which. The point is, and what they look like, to me, is the end of stuffing about with my mostly casual PC gaming. And that means I don’t need a laptop that can stretch to gaming.
Elgato Stream Deck — Jonathan Feist
Last but not least, we have the favorite tech device of Jonathan Feist, who runs our sister site DroneRush. Feisty’s choice is a unique product that allows you to hit hardware buttons to perform software shortcuts on your computer. Here’s what he has to say:
As the world was falling apart, I used 2020 to streamline my life. Efficiency has always been important to me, and the Stream Deck has best proved to serve many of my accuracy, efficiency, and quality of life needs. Fifteen little LCD buttons that are completely customized to my needs, with stacking folders to categorize all my tasks. All the shortcuts I need to edit photos in one folder, edit videos in another, and so on. Heck, my keyboard has media controls, and yet I find myself pushing the buttons on the Stream Deck instead. The Stream Deck is monstrously powerful for, you know, streamers, with baked in OBS, Twitch, and other platform integrations, but it’s just as effective as a snippets library for my coding tasks. I’ve considered upgrading from the 15 button to the 32 button model. MORE BUTTONS!!! But then I remember that I’m streamlining, aren’t I?
That’s it for what got us through 2020. What got you through the year?