A camera that changed my life. A printer that I not only didn’t scream at, but actually love. And Amazon’s Alexa, with stellar hi-fi sound, in the form of a Sonos speaker.
It’s time for my annual look back at my favorite tech gadgets, devices and services, for 2017.
One amazing Sony camera
Sony RX10IV camera has a whopping 24mm-600mm zoom lens.
In the top spot is the camera that I contend changed my life because I’m able to take photos in a different way. The Sony RX10IV ($1,700) has a whopping 24mm-600mm zoom lens — think of photographers at a sporting event with their massive lenses — in a compact camera body. The focus is fast and sharp. Because it can snap hundreds of photos in seconds, I’ve pulled off street shots I never knew were possible. You’ll never be able to do this stuff with your iPhone. It’s a great way to dramatically improve your travel, wildlife and street photos. (For a gallery of RX10IV images, check out some samples here.)
The printer that you can love
Yes, there is a printer on this list. After years of cursing at my always-hungry color printers, I finally have one that I’m proud to say I adore.
Old way: a color printer with six different colors of ink in which one was always out. Thus, I couldn’t print anything.
New way: This $99 Brother HL-L2340DW printer only uses black ink, and the cartridge that came with the printer says it is good for around 2,000 pages. I’m so happily in the world of black and white now for boarding passes, recipes for the wife and movie tickets.
Who needed color anyway?
Apple’s long exposure trick
iPhone long exposure trick on the iPhone 8 Plus
The update to Apple’s IOS mobile operating system is controversial. Some people hate it, but I like the bolder graphics, and the photo features. Best of all is the hidden gem that lets you simulate a long exposure from the camera, giving you dreamlike flowing water when used with Apple’s Live Photos mode. This is definitely worth the upgrade.
Alexa never sounded so good
Amazon Alexa has never sounded or looked better.
Sonos is the pioneer at making great Wi-Fi speakers that bring the songs off your computer back into high fidelity. This year, it adapted its format with the $199 Sonos One to bring Alexa into the best-sounding speaker Amazon’s digital home personal assistant has seen. It puts the classic Echo, Dot and other Amazon speakers, as well as Google’s Home and Mini, to shame. Quite frankly, Alexa never sounded so great.
T-Mobile saved us money
T-Mobile storefront in Times Square
We switched wireless service to T-Mobile service this year, and my life changed for the better. Not only is my monthly bill more than half of what it was with Verizon, but all those pesky telemarketers that were calling me all day long on my cell phone are now either blocked, or labeled as such, as “Scam Likely. “ The feature is called Scam Block and it’s a winner!
Tech for the solar eclipse
Photographer David Sternberg of Vermont looks at his take of the solar eclipse at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph, Mo.
Rodney White, The Des Moines Register
August 21, 2017 was the greatest day of the year, had you been in the path of totality. If you were not able to make it to a place where the moon fully eclipsed the sun for a minute or so, technology was there to bring it right to you. We captured it with our cameras, iPhones, GoPros, 360 cameras and more, and watched it streaming from NASA high-altitude balloons in the sky. It was a great day for the world, not to mention technology, which brought the eclipse to more people than ever viewed earlier editions.
Cheaper streaming options
We remember when streaming players used to cost $100. Now, you can get in for as little as $30 with the Roku Express, a tiny attachment which connects to the HDMI port on the back of your TV, and opens up to thousands of programs from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more. The entry-level unit doesn’t broadcast in 4K, and the remote is a little wonky, but it’s only $30–who cares! For our money, it works nearly as well as the top of the line unit, and we’re thrilled to see prices come tumbling down.
The steadiest GoPro
Image of GoPro HERO6 camera.
We’re a fan of GoPro cameras for capturing wide shots of the world, action video of bike and roller blade rides, and best of all, for having the easiest and highest quality tools for capturing time-lapses of the world gone by. The new $499 edition, out in 2017, has just what GoPro’s have needed for years–image stabilization, to make those action shots less shaky and more watchable.
Apple AirPods are cute, sound great
While they technically were released in 2016, it was only for the last two weeks, and it was in 2017 when these tiny, wireless, bluetooth headphones became available to the masses. By the end of the year, they were as good as sold out.
And for good reason. They have great sound, they’re cute, and they work really well. You know the tech products that say they’re easy to use, but actually require hours of learning first? Not the AirPods. You charge them, open your iPhone and voila–they’re on. Here’s to hoping Apple solves its supply issues in 2018 and gets more AirPods into customers hands.
Fusion guitar lets you jam like a pro
The Fusion guitar sells for $999
Finally, we saved the best for last: An electric guitar that doesn’t need an amp, because it has a built-in one, right above the strings.
You charge up the Fusion Guitar like any tech device. You push the “on” button, and not only do you have power, but great tone as well. Then, to top it off, you can slip an iPhone into the cradle and swipe open a guitar app like IK Multimedia’s Amplitube. The app mirrors the rocking sound of classic amps, your volume goes up several notches and you’re just wailing on “the axe.” With the app, you can jam along with tracks, record, or just drive the people crazy, because you’ll refuse to put this guitar down.
Another case of technology improving our lives — even if it makes it harder on those around us.
What were your favorite gadgets of 2017? Please join me on Twitter, where I’m @jeffersongraham.
Copyright 2017 USATODAY.com