Skip to main content

Best Products of 2016: Overall winner

The best product of 2016 showed us a whole new world in our living rooms

ar vr idc report best product of 2016 htc vive

Overall Winner
HTC Vive

Yes, we picked a VR headset — again — as best product of the year.

Last year, we praised Samsung for the accessible Gear VR, an affordable, entry-level headset that introduced mainstream buyers to a technology many of them couldn’t even fathom before trying it. Like Ford’s Model T, it was clunky and limited, but still a revelation to anyone stuck in the horse and buggy days of two dimensions.

Related Videos

If Samsung’s Gear VR was the Model T of virtual reality, HTC’s Vive is the ‘65 Mustang.

Powerful, evocative, and … okay, still not sexy, the Vive unlocks a level of VR immersion most of us only dreamed of. We mean that quite literally, because spending an hour exploring other worlds inside the Vive is a bit like a waking dream you won’t want to wake up from.

Sure, you can pick up laser pistols and mow down wave after wave of marauding robots in games like Space Pirate Trainer. But you can also romp around Tokyo feeling like Godzilla in Google Earth, cause mayhem heaving mugs of coffee at virtual coworkers in Office Simulator, or thoughtfully construct life-size vehicles in Fantastic Contraption.

The Vive’s defining feature, room-scale VR, means you can explore any of these virtual environments by walking around the real room you’re in, giving it a Holodeck level of immersion completely unmatched by any other device. Even with its new controllers, the Oculus Rift is a watered-down imitation.

The Vive isn’t in every living room, of course, and it’s not likely to be. Yes, it’s damned expensive. No, it’s not perfect yet, and we would kill to snip the cables off the back. But the fact remains: If you didn’t get a chance to try the HTC Vive, you missed out on this year’s most exciting new device.

Read our review button


Runner up
Tesla Model S P100D

The world’s fastest production car is now an EV. Just let that milestone sink in. This humble sedan can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds without burning a drop of gasoline. Now consider this: It also drives itself on the highway. Tesla isn’t just surpassing traditional automakers, it’s embarrassing them by rewriting the rulebook at every turn.

amazon echo dot

Runner up
Amazon Echo Dot

“Alexa, play some Billy Joel.” “Alexa, turn up the heat.” “Alexa, tell me a joke.”

Amazon’s original Echo already introduced us to the attentive personal assistant Alexa, but the Dot is taking the next step: putting her in every home for $50. With a lower price and growing list of abilities, Amazon is making the smart home a reality, one robotic dad joke at a time.

Read our review button
Whew! Rough year. Fortunately, we got some amazing tech out of it. Digital Trends’ expert editors picked the most amazing gadgets in their respective categories, then convened as a panel to pick the one that towered above them all. Join us every day between now and Jan. 1 as we recap our favorites, and build up to the big Best of 2016 reveal!

Editors' Recommendations

Forget the dealership: Vroom wants you to browse cars in virtual reality
vroom vr news

Buying a car is supposed to be an exciting and fun experience, but once you've hit the fourth dealership it can get pretty tiring. What if you could eliminate a few of your choices without ever having to step inside a physical showroom? Vroom, the online car retailer, wants to help with 2016's hottest trend -- virtual reality.

That's right, even car retailers are jumping on the virtual reality bandwagon. It seems like the right step forward, though -- why waste time driving around to several dealerships, especially if you have a fairly large set of cars you're interested in? With Vroom's VR showroom, you'll hopefully be able to narrow your search down a little.

Read more
‘Fallout 4’ might just be the HTC Vive’s killer app
Fallout 4 DLC

The VR community is in an awkward place. HTC Vive headsets are shipping out to consumers as fast as they can order them, but the medium is really searching for a game it can sink it's teeth into. At E3 this year, Bethesda announced that it wants to provide just that with Fallout 4 for the Vive.

E3 2016: Titanfall 2 goes meta in multiplayer mode

Read more
Updated HTC Vive Headset and Controllers Leak Ahead of CES 2016
htc vive leak retailer headset and controller photos rumoredhtc retail

New photos posted Thursday on Reddit revealed what appear to be updated designs for the HTC Vive headset and controllers. The leak comes just a few weeks ahead of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, where virtual reality headsets, including the Vive and the Oculus Rift, are expected to take center stage. Reportedly found by two separate redditors digging through the Vive developer site, the new hardware generally seems to add another layer of polish, with compositional changes and steps taken to keep wires and sensors out of site.

The headset looks similar to the current developer kit, but now features a smoother faceplate with a small camera at the bottom-center. The sensors have been sealed in, though the distinctive sensor divots remain. The HTC logo has been moved from the center of the plate to a much more subtle position on the end of the vertical strap, which is completely visible now as the over-head running wires seems to have been removed.

Read more