There’s never such a thing as a quiet year in tech, as 2023 emphatically proved. It feels like CES was just yesterday, and now it’s nearly time for the next show. For now, it’s time to reflect on our favourite tech of the year.
Although AI, foldables, and spatial computing made headlines throughout the year, it’s often the affordable and mid-range devices that draw the most attention. We saw a lot of interest in the phone, home entertainment and appliance spaces, with a lot of well-known brands introducing major upgrades to popular devices in 2023.
All of us at GadgetGuy and Theory of Invention love technology. We’re always eager to try out the latest devices to see what will be the Next Big Thing. From everything we’ve used this year, whether it be for work or play, read on to find out what made our favourite tech of 2023 lists.
Chris Button: GadgetGuy Editor
MacBook Pro (M2 Max)
2023 marked the first time I used a MacBook as my main computer. I’m a lifelong Windows PC user but have historically had a foot in each camp thanks to my fondness for iPhones. Gee whiz, the M2 Max MacBook Pro is one heck of a laptop. Fast, quiet, and sleek, it’s easily the best laptop I’ve ever laid hands upon.
It’s since been superseded by the even more powerful M3 variant but remains an example of how much Apple has got right since launching its M-series chips. I was also super impressed by the MacBook Pro’s speakers. After years of encountering compressed laptop speakers, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear such good audio from a computer.
Being an iPhone user, the seamless interplay between Apple devices is an absolute dream. There’s no convoluted setup or fiddly workarounds required: it just works. It’s not a cheap device by any means, and most people don’t need the raw power it possesses. But for how well it handled all my work throughout the year, it’s one of my favourite pieces of tech in 2023.
Turtle Beach Stealth Pro wireless gaming headset
Nearly every weekend, I play video games online with my best friends. At the top of our most-played pile is Fortnite, which makes us incredibly basic, but basic is good and I won’t hear otherwise.
I’ve used a bunch of different headsets over the years across varying price ranges. Many headsets sound decent but are often let down by poor mic audio or flimsy build quality. After using the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro, it’s become my go-to accessory for gaming with friends. It’s a premium wireless headset in a lot of ways, especially due to its durable build and secure fit. I sound clear to my teammates and hear all sorts of small details when playing games.
There are several quality-of-life inclusions I simply love about the Stealth Pro. I love that I’m never caught out by a flat battery because it comes with a spare to keep on charge. The included charging cradle also functions as a passthrough controller charger, which is extremely handy when USB ports are at a premium. Plus, you can use the headset with Bluetooth devices like your phone or a Nintendo Switch.
Another, perhaps overlooked, feature I appreciate is the ability to enable foldback voice monitoring. I struggle with auditory processing, so being able to hear my voice clearly while wearing headphones helps make communicating easier.
Anika Hillery: Content Director
Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wire-Free
So I got a wireless Arlo Essential Video Doorbell. Not to know when the groceries are delivered, or that the solar salespeople have returned, but to be alerted when our elderly family member exits the house. Going for a stroll isn’t off-limits of course, but when you’re a falls risk and don’t always remember the way back, it’s safest to do it in company.
And the Arlo has kept good guard. We’ve been able to contact neighbours and family to bring our explorer back home, and even talk him out of leaving in the first place via the built-in speaker and microphone.
The Arlo is not perfect, though. The battery needs recharging way (way) more frequently than the manual suggests, and network lag means any two-way talk is far from real-time (not the device’s fault, to be fair). Oh, and you must buy a Chime ($60) if you want it to work as an actual doorbell. Fortunately, it found a way to compensate.
A recent recording revealed in clear HD which neighbour has been entering my front yard to drop his bags of dog poo into my red bin. I shared the video on the family WhatsApp and with co-workers, so it might turn up on Facebook and then everyone will know. That might put an end to his crap.
Makita 18V Brushless Hedge Trimmer (600mm)
It can be a good thing when an old, faithful and familiar product packs it in, because you get to discover what you’ve been missing. Lighter, more powerful, with bigger blades, an adjustable handle, less vibration, less noise, and no power cord to get in the way, the Makita 18V Brushless Hedge Trimmer (600mm) sure is fancy. It is in every way better than the Steam Punk-like electric hedger that’s kept our acres of Lilly Pilly and Murraya in shape over the last 8 years. It’s easier to use, does a better job in less time, and gives those who wield it the appearance of skills they don’t possess.
The problem is I don’t own one. The borrowed, try-before-you-buy experience I got was so full of thrill, however, that you can see where this is going. So dear family, I understand it’s a bit late to get this beautiful tool under the Xmas tree, but Mother’s Day is coming up fast.
Marcel Melick: Director of Strategy and Partnerships
Apple Watch Ultra
The first thing I noticed when getting this watch was the battery life. No longer did I have to stress about charging my Apple Watch every single day. Another obvious change was the larger and much brighter display, which is both excellent and tough. This toughness, coupled with the titanium case, has surprised me on many occasions, like accidentally scraping it along a brick wall or even dropping it face-down on the bathroom floor tiles.
It’s waterproof, so I can wear it confidently when swimming, has a depth gauge and tells you the water temp. Other features I love, but may not necessarily need, are the Action Button, which I use to start a workout, and the speakers that make taking a call easy whenever my phone is not in reach.
Not so much an individual product but a number of products, Belkin’s range of Apple-compatible devices plays an important role in my everyday life.
ScreenForce UltraGlass has saved the screen on my iPhone 14 Pro Max on at least three occasions this year. It’s looking a bit sorry right now but with the warranty they offer, I just have to send it back to them and they’ll replace it free.
Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD has served me well over the years and I use it every working hour of my day. Although they now make Thunderbolt 4 docks, the features and reliability of this product make it an essential tool of trade for me.
BoostCharge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with MagSafe makes overnight charging of my iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods not just simple, but unclutters my nightstand and bedside of the many chargers and cables required to do the job conventionally.
Jay Marshall: Art Director
Coros Heart Rate Monitor
After trying the Coros Apex 2 Pro GPS watch earlier in the year, I was keen to test out the brand’s heart rate monitor to see how it fared. Other than wrist-based sensors found on many modern smartwatches, a chest strap is one of the main ways to measure an accurate heart rate. It’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, which is why the Coros HR Monitor stood out.
Taking the place of an uncomfortable chest strap, the HR Monitor is an armband made from a soft fabric. The result is something that is actually comfy to wear. So comfortable, in fact, that it’s easy to forget you’re even wearing it.
I was impressed by how accurate its readings were when compared to a chest strap. Coros claimed that the HR Monitor’s technology was better than a wrist-based sensor, so it was good to see such accurate results. It syncs quickly and easily, making the armband a perfect companion for fellow running enthusiasts.
Mac Mini (M2 Pro)
Apple’s latest version of the Mac Mini impresses on all fronts. Its small size saves loads of desk space, and the sleek design pairs nicely with any office setup. Equipped with an M2 Pro chip, it powers through any tasks you throw at it. Just as impressive as its ability to motor through creative and productivity tasks is how quiet it is.
Depending on which specs you opt for, this pint-sized desktop computer starts at a pretty reasonable $999. It’s also great if you need to connect lots of different devices as part of your workflow. We’re talking Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI 2.1 connectivity, plus Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 support. It’s an all-around great machine in a small package.
James Blasina: Digital Coordinator
Logitech G Pro X Superlight 2 wireless gaming mouse
As the token FPS gamer of the team, I really couldn’t look past Logitech’s latest gaming mouse, the Pro X Superlight 2. I was a huge fan of the previous iteration, but started seeing problems with the scroll wheel which influenced my decision to upgrade to the latest model.
Boasting a boost in responsiveness, a slightly lighter weight and a surprisingly longer battery life, this mouse is the pinnacle for competitive gamers. Unfortunately, it does come at a hefty price, but I won’t look back.
Roadie 3 automatic guitar tuner
I have a decently large collection of guitars and I frequently play in different tunings so it can be annoying to manually tune my guitar every time. That’s where the Roadie 3 steps in. This automatic tuner is placed on your tuning pegs and automatically adjusts your tuning with a quick pick of the string. It also has a great feature for restringing guitars that quickly unwinds your old strings and then can retune your new strings.
The Roadie 3 works on a large range of stringed instruments such as acoustic, electric and classical guitars, ukuleles, banjos and more! This model doesn’t tune bass guitars, but there is another version for four-string players.
Valens Quinn: Managing Director
Samsung S95C 77-inch OLED TV
This is a breathtaking TV both in terms of its sheer size and image quality. There’s something so pleasing to the eye when it comes to OLED panel tech – maybe it’s the inky blacks, how it reveals hidden details in dimly lit scenes, or that you can look at it from nearly any angle and it doesn’t fade.
Whichever way, Samsung’s Quantum Dot technology also means that colours are bright and vibrant, especially those reds, plus I like the SmartHub interface, which is straightforward to use. And it’s all wrapped up in an ultra-thin and svelte package with the One Connect box, which is a clever way to keep your cables neat and tidy.
DJI Osmo Pocket 3
It was a tough one to decide between the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 and the DJI Mavic 3 Pro Cine drone. Both are fantastic tools for video creators, but the Osmo Pocket 3 really impressed me with its versatility and clever design.
This little camera has a built-in 3-axis gimbal for capturing smooth and fluid videos, along with object and face tracking, and a load of attachments to help extend battery life, affix it to things and more. Its image quality was also impressive thanks to a 1-inch CMOS sensor with 4K recording at 120 frames per second, and you can swap easily to portrait mode for native social filming.
On the audio front, which is often sub-standard when it comes to portable cameras, there’s integrated wireless connectivity for two of DJI’s Mic 2s, and one is included in the kit. The Osmo Pocket 3 is a great little camera to take with you on the move, and it takes quality to the next level compared to most camera phones.
Thanks for your support of GadgetGuy throughout 2023! After rattling off our favourite tech, we’re on break starting on 22 December 2023, returning on 8 January 2024 ready for another big year.