It’s time for our annual look back at our favorite devices that aren’t exactly mainstream.

This past year in technology has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. Supply chain concerns made it more difficult to purchase various items, like the PlayStation 5 and low-cost cellphones, but despite these obstacles, we witnessed a slew of worthy devices competing for our attention. A handful stood out as true standouts in what was a fantastic year for tech fans. This is a different perspective on tech gadgets that have influenced the conceptual level of what we expect from gadgets.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 (Samsung)

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 was intended to have a broader appeal, but no one expected the phone to have such a long-lasting influence. Although Samsung has been making foldable phones for a few years, the Z Flip 3 seemed like the company’s first complete success. It’s appealing, colorful, and trendy, and the phone starts at $1000 (Rs 84,999), the lowest price we’ve seen for a foldable handset. Aside from the price, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 mastered the concept of a foldable phone that can replace your standard smartphone. With the Z Flip 3, Samsung addressed many difficulties, such as durability and battery life, that limited the commercial potential of previous generation foldable phones. This third-generation Galaxy Z Flip 3 is without a doubt the greatest.

iPad mini

The new iPad mini wowed us with its simplicity as well as the larger concept of a companion device that isn’t a smartphone. On paper, the iPad mini is merely a smaller version of the iPad Air, but holding it in your hands and using it is a bizarre experience. The iPad mini is a regular iPad but not a tablet in the traditional sense, which is where Apple’s “Think Different” strategy comes into play. Because of its compact size and portability, this device functions as an expanded version of the iPhone. We don’t yet know how Apple intends to fully use the iPad mini’s potential, but its small factor is undeniably interesting and full of hidden ideas just waiting to be discovered.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is a genre-defining portable speaker that was created with the goal of simplifying music listening on the road. That strategy, combined with the basic appearance and excellent audio fidelity, keeps Sonos in a class of its own. The speaker supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and its triangular form makes the Roam stand out in a crowded market. In terms of music quality, portable speakers can be hit or miss, but the Sonos Roam does practically everything right. Its audio performance far outperforms that of the competition, and the portable speaker generates clear, crisp, and well-balanced sound. Furthermore, the battery life is incredible, reaching 10 hours. It’s a touch pricey, but a Sonos gadget has never been inexpensive.

Nintendo Switch OLED

When a device reaches its fifth year of life, its popularity peaks, and sales begin to slow. However, this was not the case with the Nintendo Switch. The newest Switch OLED is reaching out to a broader range of customers and growing its user base. What works in the Switch’s favor is its distinctive form factor, which makes it difficult for competitors to imitate the idea. Even with the new Switch OLED, Nintendo has attempted to avoid 4K graphics and greater performance. Instead, it concentrated on the minor details that improve the user experience and gameplay. The fact that the Switch is both a home system and a portable console is a significant lure, but what also drives sales is access to Nintendo exclusive games that aren’t available on any other platform, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

iMac M1

The iMac M1 is more than just an update to the world’s most popular desktop computer. The new iMac exudes a profound, artistic, and imaginative vibe. It’s not surprising that creating an all-new, all-colorful iMac would be both deliberate and challenging. Daring, because the objective would have been to design a one-of-a-kind yet familiar all-in-one desktop computer. The screen is larger and roomier than that of its predecessor, although the computer is only 11.5mm thick. The M1 chip keeps the iMac quiet and cool. The iMac was designed with a lot of good ideas, and the result is fascinating. The new iMac has a distinct personality, which is why it is referred to as a personal computer.

All-in-One HP Chromebase

The HP Chromebase AIO went overlooked as the year’s most “cute” appearing all-in-one desktop computer. The HP Chromebase AIO, on the other hand, combines several ideas: the desktop computer can function as a TV, a smart speaker, and a huge tablet floating in the air. Perhaps the fact that this Chrome OS-powered workstation can be rotated a full 90 degrees is what sets it apart. The ability to rotate the 21.5-inch screen from landscape to portrait mode alters the way you view content. The fabric-wrapped base with a Bang & Olufsen speaker is another highlight of the Chromebase AIO. There was also a 5MP camera for video calls, an Intel Core i3 processor, and a keyboard with decent key travel. It’s a shame that this HP model is still not available in India. The HP Chromebase AIO is an excellent buy at $599.

ROG Flow X13 from Asus

Call it a game-changer or a breath of new air, the Asus ROG Flow X13 was a laptop that no one expected to see. The Flow X13 attempted to address the fundamental concerns that users had with high-performance gaming laptops with a solution that required a novel approach. Asus came up with the notion of an external GPU (or a companion eGPU) to add graphics capabilities to a gaming laptop in order to make it lightweight and powerful. This strategy undoubtedly had certain drawbacks, but it provided a solution to a problem. The Flow X13 is pricey, yet it’s powerful enough for modern AAA gaming without losing form size or processing power.

Nothing ear (1)

Nothing, a new start-up launched by Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus, is gaining popularity among customers. Tony Fadell, the inventor of the iPod, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, and YouTuber Casey Neistat is among those who have invested in the startup. The Nothing ear (1) has everything we want in a pair of fully wireless earbuds that are not only inexpensive but also unique. Although the audio quality is subjective, we appreciated the looks and design, which combines retro and futuristic elements. The Nothing earphones are a steal for the price. They have premium features such as noise-canceling, water and splash resistance, and customizable gesture controls.