This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.
Like a shark, technology always moves forward, but who said anything about a straight line? This year has been full of twists and turns that illustrate how true innovation sprouts in unexpected directions. From Google’s $400 phone that redefines the category on price as much as features to Apple’s triumphant resurrection of the long-lost rectangular desktop computer, the year has been replete with refinement and revitalization. Inventing the future is only half the battle. After that, you’ve got to get it right.
Products are listed alphabetically.
Alienware Area 51m Laptop
Laptops are growing thinner by the minute, which is great for throwing them in your backpack, but has effectively set their specs in stone. Alienware’s beefy Area-51m laptop valiantly swims against the current with its 17-inch screen and 1.2-inch-thick body that provides a unique superpower: this eminently upgradable beast lets you swap out your RAM, CPU and even GPU with ease. Yes, it’s more suitable for a suitcase than a briefcase, but this is the rare laptop you’ll be able to use for a decade.
Maximum Processor: 9th Generation Intel Core i9-9900K (8-Core, 16MB Cache)
Maximum Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6
Maximum RAM: 64GB, 4x16GB, DDR4 2400MHz
• How to Buy a Mechanical Keyboard, For Gaming and Beyond
Apple Mac Pro
Despite ludicrous powerhouse specs, like 28 CPU cores, 1.5TB of RAM and a whole mess of GPUs, Apple’s newest Mac Pro is arguably a masterclass in restraint. Unlike the 2013 “trash can” design that saw fit to fix what wasn’t broken, Apple’s latest overkill computer harkens back to the modular, rectangular retro-chic form of the mid-2000s for an exceedingly good reason: it just works.
Maximum Storage Capacity: 4 TB
Maximum GPU: 2x Radeon Pro Vega II Duo + Afterburner accelerator card
• The Most Ludicrous Specs of the Overkill Mac Pro
• Apple’s Line of New Pro Products, Ranked by Pro-Ness
Watch Now: The 10 Best Technology Products of 2019
It’s been more than a decade since Netflix kicked off the streaming age in earnest, and in that time, innumerable competitors have popped up to lay claim to your eyeballs. It’s into this crowded space that Disney+ is making its monumental landing. With an unparalleled archive including everything from all 30 seasons of The Simpsons to the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters, the promise of new content from juggernaut franchises like Star Wars, and a low $7-per-month price tag, it’s destined to be a game-changer the likes of which only a behemoth like Disney could deliver this late in the streaming wars.
Classic Properties: Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Walt Disney Classics
Supported Devices: iOS, Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and more
Upcoming Series: The Mandalorian, She-Hulk, Loki and more
• Change These TV Settings Before You Start Streaming
The Ronin-SC, DJI’s latest stabilizing gimbal — born out of camera-mount tech used on its drones — is designed with the masses in mind. Made specifically to stabilize popular mirrorless cameras, it’s smaller and lighter than DJI’s older two-handed models, making it a better buy for photographers of all stripes. Add to that the ability to physically track a subject and remote control from your smartphone, and what you get is a pro-photography tool that’s more accessible to hobbyists than ever before. .
Gimbal Weight: 2.4 pounds
Maximum Payload: 4.4 pounds
Battery Life: 11 hours
• DJI’s Ronin-SC Might Be the Perfect Handheld Gimbal for Mirrorless Cameras
Big-picture medium-format cameras have largely been the purview of studio and landscape photographers who typically have the luxury of taking their time to carefully set up shots — and tens of thousands of dollars to spend on their kit. By pairing the creature comforts common to cheaper mirrorless cameras, with a luxurious medium-format sensor at a price that, while still astronomical, is significantly less than its competition. The Fujifilm GFX100 is making one of photography’s more exclusive formats available and practical for a new generation of shooters.
Viewfinder: OLED, 0.5-inch, 5.76 million dots
Number of Effective Pixels: 102 million
Video: 4K video at 30fps
• Fujifilm’s GFX100 Is a Steal for Pro Shooters
Google Pixel 3a
In a field of increasingly four figure phones, Google’s Pixel 3a is notable not just for its screamingly modest $400 price tag. This comfortably competent, pleasantly plastic midrange phone also includes a stunning, flagship worthy camera that punches way above its weight. The result? A phone that’s not only a terrific value, but that challenges the very notion that a top not camera is a premium feature, and argues that it is instead an absolute necessity.
Display: 5.6-inch, OLED, 1080 x 2220 pixels
Headphone Jack: Yessir
• What’s the Catch With Google’s Wildly Cheap New Phone?
The Kindle has been the reigning king of e-readers for more than 10 years, but Amazon isn’t resting on its laurels. The 2019 model of its flagship Oasis reader is the latest — and maybe final — step in the brand’s quest to perfectly emulate paper. Its ability to delicately change the color temperature of the screen to easy-on-the-eyes shades of yellow is a small tweak to a winning formula, but one that may represent the end of a very ambitious journey.
Display: 7-inch touchscreen
Shades of Grey: 16
• Amazon’s Cheapest Kindle Now Has a Front Light
By the standards of its technological ancestors, the Oculus Quest feels like a pipe dream. The all-in-one headset is a perfect storm of features pilfered from impressive but flawed predecessors. Wireless design, heaps of horsepower, hand-tracking controllers. An astonishingly experience, tied up in a bow with a comparatively low $400 price point, the Quest represents a new, accessible path for VR that could live up to the hype the original Oculus Rift fell short of.
Display: LED, 1600 x 1440 pixels per eye
PC: Not Required
• Oculus Just Made VR Cool Again
Samsung Space Monitor
Monitors may be getting thinner, brighter and crisper but they’ll always take up space on your desk, whether you’re using them or not. Samsung wants to change that with its Space Monitor, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the beginning of the year. With its adjustable built-in arm stand, it can do more than be a beautiful 4K display — it can also get out of the way and give you back your precious desktop real estate when you need it.
Screen Size: 27-inch or 31.5-inch
Resolution: 4K UHD
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
• This Is the Perfect Monitor for a Minimalist Desk
Sony a7R IV
Resolution or speed? Once, photographers were forced to choose between cameras with maximum autofocusing power and high frame-per-second shooting and ones with huge megapixel counts. The Sony a7R IV blows that dividing wall to pieces. With a 61-megapixel back-side-illuminated sensor, autofocus points covering 99.7% of the frame, and 10 frame-per-second shooting, it’s the best of both worlds. Sure, the menus are clunky and the video isn’t perfect, but the a7R series continues to redefine expectations as to what a camera can do.
Maximum Resolution: 9504 x 6336 pixels
Sensor Type: Full frame
Autofocus Points: 567
• Everything You Need to Know About Sony Cameras
The 10 Best Audio Products of 2019
Record players spin vinyl and amplifiers amplify. But this year’s best audio releases have brought us innovations in how. Read the Story
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