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Year In ReviewYear In ReviewWe look back at the best, worst, and most significant moments of the year, and look forward to next year.

We’re in a pretty stable place right now when it comes to gadgets. For the most part, we’re currently stuck in a cycle of continuous, minute iterations to the same ol’ tech and it’s hard to get excited about that. But the gadgets below didn’t just end up being our favorites, they also did a good job of getting us hyped up for what’s ahead. Sure, there were disasters this year—one of the products on this list even started out as such! That said, these are some of the very best gadgets of 2019. You might disagree, but you would be wrong.


Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

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Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
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This is what Apple should have been making for years. Apple is one of the wealthiest companies in the world, but its laptops have lately been minimalist nightmares better suited to art museums than offices. The MacBook Pro 16 manages to capture much of the aesthetic while being a really good laptop you might actually want to use on a regular basis. But beyond being a great Apple laptop, it’s also just a great laptop. The keys are lovely, the monitor gorgeous, the charger svelte despite its power, and the processor and GPU are fast as hell. The price is high, but we’ve all stomached the Apple tax for a lot worse. — Alex Cranz


The North Face Futurelight

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Photo: Andrew Liszweski (Gizmodo)

At CES 2019, The North Face revealed what sounded like an impossible product. A waterproof fabric that repelled the elements like rain, snow, and spilled coffee, while allowing warm air to escape in the other direction so that keeping dry in a storm wouldn’t mean you’d just end up soaked in sweat anyway. The company developed a new manufacturing process called nanospinning that weaves microscopic fibers into a complex web-life structure that can be layered with other fabrics to create waterproof garments suitable for every climate. Unlike traditional raincoats that can feel like you’re wearing a plastic bag, jackets made with Futurelight are actually remarkably comfortable, and genuinely keep you dry inside and out. But with price tags starting at $500, you might want to wait a few years for the price to come down. — Andrew Liszewski


Samsung Galaxy Fold

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Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
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After starting out as little more than than a glorified piece of junk, the Galaxy Fold showed off the potential of foldable phones and why you might want one. Well, maybe not right away, but in the future when flexible screen tech gets a bit more affordable. Fragility aside, the Galaxy Fold’s expandable screen can replace an entire bag of gadgets, from single-purpose things like e-readers to larger gadgets like tablets and more. And because its $2,000 price tag often shocks people into disbelief, it’s easy to forget that the Fold is a beast of a phone with second 4.6-inch screen on the outside, a total of six cameras, and a massive 512GB of onboard storage—all of which comes as standard. Yeah, it’s expensive and not super durable, but for power users and phone enthusiasts, after using a Galaxy Fold, “normal” phones just don’t quite cut it anymore. — Sam Rutherford


Fossil Hybrid HR

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Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)
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Smartwatches are getting more advanced with each passing year, but there’s still plenty of people out there who’d rather a simpler wearable. For those folks, Fossil Hybrid HR is probably the most exciting hybrid smartwatch in years. It’s reminiscent of the Pebble thanks to its low-key yet elegant e-ink display, and unlike the clunkier hybrids of old, it features heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and two weeks of battery life. Sure, there aren’t super-advanced features, but you get all your notifications just fine. It’s $195 price tag is pretty good for everything it does and a bargain compared to fancier smartwatches. — Victoria Song


Intel Ice Lake

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After half a decade, Intel’s big move to the 10nm process came this year. What has been surprising about Ice Lake is how good it actually is. When you have to wait as long as we all did for Intel’s new generation of processors you’d expect a complete clunker. But while supply of the product has been less than stellar, the actual processor suggests Intel knows how to do more than make minute iterative speed update. Not only is it fast and extremely power efficient, Ice Lake has GPU capabilities as robust as what you’d find from its competitors. — Alex Cranz


Philips Hue Lights with Bluetooth

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Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)
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Philips Hue makes some of the best smart lights around, but getting started can be kind of a pain, especially if you don’t want to set up a dedicated hub. Thankfully, Philips’ new Hue bulbs with Bluetooth make testing out smart lights even easier, giving you the ability to connect up to 10 Hue lights over Bluetooth to a single mobile device. This makes it easy to pick and choose which rooms or fixtures you want to upgrade without investing in unnecessary hardware, and you still have access to most of the same color controls and smart routines you get on regular Hue lights. And you’re okay down the line too, since every Bluetooth Hue bulb also supports ZigBee. All you have to do is buy a Hue Bridge and you can upgrade to a full-on Hue system with ease. — Sam Rutherford


Analogue Mega SG

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The miniaturized Super Nintendo Classic Edition made it easy to enjoy retro 16-bit Nintendo games on a modern TV, but similar hardware released for Sega Genesis fans were always buggy, laggy, and utterly disappointing. Analogue’s Mega Sg changed all that. Instead of underpowered software emulation, it ran on a custom-designed FPGA chip allowing it to play classic Sega Genesis and Sega Master System cartridges flawlessly, and with better sound than even Sega’s original hardware could deliver. When partnered with custom Sega-themed wireless controllers from 8BitDo, there’s really no reason to ever dig your old Genesis out of your parent’s basement. — Andrew Liszewski


Nintendo Switch Lite

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Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
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The Switch is an exceptional piece of hardware, but the Switch Lite feels like a Platonic ideal. The frustrating flex and flimsiness of the Switch was exchanged for a sturdy product intended almost exclusively for travel, with snappy buttons, a smaller, but sharper screen, and solid battery life. Every time I reach for a Switch now I find myself reaching for the Lite. Sure it can’t do everything the Switch can, but it can play the games I want to play and it takes up less space in my bag and less weight in my hands. It finally makes the Switch platform feel like the successor to the 3DS we’ve been waiting for. — Alex Cranz


Google Pixel 3a

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Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
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For all the people who say they just want a phone that’s fast, has a good camera, and won’t break the bank, the Pixel 3a is exactly what you need. On the outside, the Pixel 3a keeps it simple with a plastic body (and a headphone jack), while on the front, you get a vibrant OLED screen, something you don’t normally see on a $400 handset. But the Pixel 3a’s real magic is being able to capture the same HDR photos as Google’s flagship Pixels, so no there’s no trade-off in image quality. And with Android 10 and the full Pixel software experience on the inside, the Pixel 3a has practically everything you could ever want from a mid-range smartphone. — Sam Rutherford


Apple Airpods Pro

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There isn’t anything necessarily “pro” about the Apple Airpods Pro. They’re just damn good earbuds that improve on all our issues with the originals. The fit is improved (not by much), as is the battery life (again not by much), and while the active noise canceling will never rival Bose or Sony’s over-ear cans, it’s certainly welcome in a tiny set of buds with little passive noise canceling. What really transforms the Pros from a nice if expensive upgrade to something truly great is the sound quality. Compared to the AirPods and a lot of other truly wireless headphones the AirPod Pros are exceptional. — Alex Cranz


DJI Osmo Mobile 3

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Photo: Andrew Liszewski (Gizmodo)
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Being able to capture gorgeous 4K videos on a device that slips into a pocket makes you wonder how people in the ‘80s survived carrying around clunky shoulder perched camcorders. Those relics did offer one benefit over modern smartphones, however: they were very easy to keep steady and capture smooth videos. The Osmo Mobile 3, the third iteration of the company’s smartphone stabilizer, works wonders at improving videos filmed with a mobile device. At $120 it’s the cheapest version yet, and when coupled with DJI’s camera app you can even film while running down the street without making your audience puke during a test screening. It also cleverly folds up nice and small so you’ll actually want to pack it for your next sightseeing trip. — Andrew Liszewski

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