Ah, 2018. The year of notched smartphones, privacy scandals and artificial intelligence – you brought us plenty of political contention, healthy scepticism about our digital privacy,
To close 2018, I’ve come up with my top three picks from this year’s innings. These are personal choices, so they can be subjective. Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter if you agree with my choices (or not!)
1. Apple iPad Pro 2018
Last year’s iPad Pro was a powerhouse, but this year’s is almost perfect. Barring accounts of poor structural rigidity and personal difficulties in adjusting to iOS-handicapped file management, the iPad Pro 2018 counts itself amongst the most powerful and portable mobile computing devices.
With benchmark scores that rival even desktop-grade PCs, the iPad Pro 2018 excels at all current heavy-duty creative uses: image and video editing and heavy gaming. Next-gen computing applications like full-fledged, multi-layered Photoshop, along with AR platforms enabled with ARKit 2.
2. Nikon Z-series Mirrorless Cameras
Nikon’s have had a rough few years, especially with the advent of the mirrorless camera, especially Sony’s super-successful line of alpha devices. Slowly being relegated to professional reportage, sports and wildlife fields, Nikon punches back in quick succession. Setting one firm foot into prosumer territory with the D850 and D500, and then following it up with a solid attempt to reclaim mainstream consumer enthusiast photography with the Z-series cameras.
The Z7, which we tested, proved to cover all bases. Full-frame? Check. In-body image stabilisation? Check. Light and compact? Check. Great glass? Check. There’s complaints about the single XQD card slot, but there’s not enough anecdotal evidence about XDQ reliability for there to be an issue with not having dual card slots.
Perhaps most spectacular was the Z-series’ video capabilities. IBIS on the body and VR in the lenses resulted in great footage. 120fps in FHD, 4K UHD recording at 30fps with no crop factor. Ouch, Canon. Touch-sensitive, tilting screen is a given, and is useful.
3. ROG Phone
The Android world has been stagnant for a while. Same chips, same specs, and same form factors – until the ROG Phone came and changed it all. Flinging the doors to completely new category of mobile devices wide open, the ROG Phone brings features that gamers really need. First are the side-mounted USB-C ports, that allow for ergonomic charging while the device is held in landscape. Otherwise, the included AeroActive cooler attachment can be snapped on the phone’s back to keep it cool.
There are ultrasonic AirTriggers on the on top left and right of the device that emulate triggers found on console controls. But most interestingly, there’s a whole assortment of attachments that turn your ROG Phone into a Gameboy-style two-screen device, or give thumbstick-and-button controls that don’t block the display. Otherwise, there’s a PC dock that turns your ROG Phone into a desktop machine, enabling you to attach a mouse and keyboard for better gameplay.
The GoPro Hero 7 Black amazed us with its best-in-class Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) algorithm, Hypersmooth. Its improved UI made switching between modes really easy.
The ASUS ZenBook Pro 15 UX580GE pushes the boundaries of what’s possible on a compact laptop system. With Intel’s 8th Gen i9 processor on board, this powerhouse packs GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics. But that’s not the selling point of this year’s ZenBook Pro – it’s the Intelligent Touchpad, which they’ve christened “ScreenPad”. While it might be in its infancy, it’s got plenty of real uses, doubling as a handy interface especially if you’ve got a physical mouse handy.