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2017 in Review – Makers and Breakers In Technology

With our feet high and dry on the shores of 2018, we at VR Zone thought it prime time to look back at 2017, and how technology has developed and impacted us throughout the year. 2017 has seen the release of many new products, from CPUs and graphics cards to cameras and gaming consoles. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest news and their effects on the world of technology.

The Good

AMD CPUs

AMD’s Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs brought competition back to the CPU market. Source: AMD

2017 saw the release of AMD’s Ryzen and Threadripper line-up, bring competition back to the CPU market. With twice the core count at a lower price, Ryzen handily beat Intel’s then mainstream Kaby Lake processors. After nearly a decade of dominance by Intel, AMD’s latest processors have brought about lower prices and better performance, pushing Intel to increase the core counts in its latest 8th generation Coffee Lake processors. With Ryzen 2 and Cannon Lake hopefully to come in 2018, we are certainly hoping that there will be greater improvements and better prices for CPUs in the year to come.

Camera Releases

The Nikon D850 is the best full frame DSLR money can buy. Source: Nikon

The year has also been a great one for photographers. Early in the year, Sony announced the Sony A9, a camera which received rave reviews from many photographers worldwide. With much better speed and improved handling over previous mirrorless cameras, the A9 may well be the camera to persuade more professionals to embrace mirrorless systems as their primary cameras. Then on Nikon’s 100th anniversary in July, Nikon announced the D850. It swiftly earned great reviews from all quarters as well, becoming the first DSLR to score 100 in DXOMark’s ratings, proving that there is still life in the DSLR market and that it is not going to go away anytime soon.

Bezel-less Smartphones

The Galaxy S8 is one of the best selling bezel-less smartphones in 2017. Source: Samsung

While the first mainstream bezel-less smartphone, the Mi MIX, was released in 2016, 2017 is the year that the bezel-less smartphone became mainstream. With the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and LG G6 early in the year, most of the flagship phones of 2017 embraced the high screen-to-body ratio and the 18:9 screen format, resulting in many beautiful designs and smaller phone sizes. Though better design is always good, we are hoping that 2018 would bring about improvements in the battery life of smartphones, which so far has remained the biggest gripe for users the past few years.

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies, ICOs

Ask anybody to name the biggest (tech) news in 2017, and many will certainly mention bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has soared to record highs this year, exceeding USD19000 in the middle of December, before crashing to USD11000 and recovering again towards the end of the year. 2017 also saw the rise of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), with many businesses and investors eager to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Is Bitcoin a bubble? Will cryptocurrencies and ICO see greater regulation? 2018 will certainly be the year we see the answers to these questions. Stay tuned for our Bitcoin 101 series coming in the next few weeks, as VRZone takes a deep dive into the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency market to bring you everything you need to know about cryptocurrencies.

 

The Bad

WannaCry and the Rise of Ransomware

Contrary to popular belief, ransomware have actually been around for quite a few years. However, it was only this year that ransomware hit the mainstream, with the WannaCry outbreak knocking out the computer systems of hospitals, banks and government offices throughout the world. It was followed a few months later by the NotPetya outbreak, using the same EternalBlue exploit to gain access and encrypt files, holding them for ransom. While the attacks have caused huge economic damage, especially in nations that were badly affected, a key lesson learned by many was the importance of keeping their systems updated with the latest security patches.

Graphics Cards

The GTX 1080Ti is one of the fastest graphics cards of 2017. Source: NVidia

If 2017 was a great year for CPUs, it certainly is the opposite for GPUs. While mainstream 4K 120Hz gaming is becoming increasingly possible and popular, Nvidia’s 10 series graphics cards remain the undisputed king, with 2016’s GTX 1080 and Titan X simply being displaced by 2017 GTX 1080Ti and Titan Xp. The lack of competition in the market in recent years has led to ever increasing prices, made worse this year by the cryptocurrency craze. Top end AMD and Nvidia cards are being snapped up by miners worldwide, leading to shortages and driving prices to even higher levels.

EA’s Microtransactions

EA received much backlash over its microtransactions model in Star Wars Battlefront 2. Source: ea.com

With the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2 in November, Electronic Arts (EA) was pulled into a huge controversy over “loot boxes” and its microtransaction model. The massive backlash led to EA suspending the microtransactions a day before its launch, with its stock price taking a beating in the process, as gamers across the globe protested on online forums and cancelled pre-orders for the game. We certainly hope that EA would rethink its pricing models for future releases, as microtransactions, while a great fit for mobile games, are not really suitable for the PC games market.

The Dying Headphone Jack

The iPhone X lacks a headphone jack, like many other flagship phones of 2017. Source: Apple

Besides bezel-less screens, the new trend for smartphones in 2017 seems to be a disappearing headphone jack. While major brands like Samsung, LG and Oneplus have committed themselves to the headphone jack, major releases by Apple and Google have omitted the jack entirely, forcing more and more people to lead the dongle life. While the companies claim that removing the headphone jack is necessary for increasingly slimmer phones, there are many users out there who would certainly be willing to trade a millimetre or two of thickness for the convenience of being able to use their own pair of wired earpieces.

Daniel Adi.
Daniel is a Senior Writer and the Chief Phone Screen Polisher at VRZone. A student in Economics and Computer Science, Daniel is as interested in the policies of Merkel and Largarde as he is in the musings of Alexa and Cortana. Always itching to take things apart, Daniel prefers to dwell on the more technical side of technology.

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