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

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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.

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.

best products of 2016 smart home bestproduct text lockup transparent onblack v3Sure, 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.

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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.

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amazon echo dot

best products of 2016 winner vertical badges runner up

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.

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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!

VR is in a tailspin, and the sales numbers prove it

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Smart Home

Which is better, the Amazon Echo or the Google Home? We took a look at both

What happens when you compare the Google Home vs the Amazon Echo? Both smart speakers have good qualities, but what happens when you compare they're features side-by-side? We think one of these smart gadgets wins over the other.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.

Alexa for PC invades your notebook, signs a truce with Cortana

We took a look at Alexa for PC running on the first notebook to ship with Amazon's digital assistant pre-installed, the Acer Spin 5 convertible 2-in-1. Does she add value to the Windows 10 platform?
Virtual Reality

Got a Gear VR headset? These are the apps and games you've got to try

Before you put on your new Gear VR headset, you should know which apps and games are worth downloading. Whether you're a fan of documentaries or arcade games, here's a list of the best Gear VR apps and games to be had.
Smart Home

GE’s scan-to-cook microwave comes with a bonus Amazon Dot for a limited time

The Alexa-aware GE Smart Countertop Microwave takes the mystery out of cooking by scanning food packaging barcodes the for correct settings. For a limited time, GE is bundling an Amazon Echo Dot with the new microwave.
Emerging Tech

New VR horror game gets scarier if your heart rate isn’t fast enough

In new VR game Bring to Light, players can strap on a heart rate monitor to personalize the fear factor. Get too comfortable, and the game’s A.I. will know to ramp up the terror.
Smart Home

A.I.’s humorous side: The funniest things to ask Alexa

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant has a wide repertoire of funny responses, jokes, and hidden replies that you can have fun with. Here are the best funny things to ask Alexa, and examples of what her responses are.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo devices get steep discounts for Prime Day

In advance of Amazon's biggest sale of the year -- Amazon Prime Day -- some of the company's most popular Alexa-powered smart home devices are getting their prices slashed in a major way.

Prime Day is today! Here's everything you need to know to win the day

Amazon's fourth-annual Prime Day starts on July 16, offering Amazon Prime users deals on hundreds of items. We've got the full scoop on what you should expect from Amazon Prime Day 2018.
Home Theater

Yamaha’s RX-S602 packs MusicCast Surround wireless tech into a slim package

Yamaha’s new RX-S602 A/V receiver takes the company’s MusicCast Surround technology, which lets you wireless connect your surround speakers, and fits it into a sleek, space-saving package.

Walmart slashes Google Home prices for Prime Day

Prime Day is a great time to find great deals on Echo devices, but if you use Google for all of your smart home needs, Walmart is offering steep discounts on Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max to stay competitive.

Samsung’s moon-hopping VR experience in NYC is like space camp for adults

For the next year, Samsung will let you simulate walking on the moon, thanks to the Gear VR, Galaxy S9 Plus, and a complicated harness system that was developed in partnership with NASA.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Smart Home

Samsung’s S9 and S9+ Prime Day bundles include an Echo and an Echo Spot

Samsung's Amazon Prime Day bundles include an Amazon Echo, Echo Spot, and a Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Starter Kit for no extra charge with Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ smartphones. The bundle savings equals $430.

With flip-out lenses, the Vuze XR transforms from 360- to 180-degree VR camera

The Vuze XR is a compact, dual-lens camera with an integrated handle and a neat party trick: The back-to-back lenses can flip forward to transition from 360-degree two-dimensional video, to 180-degree three-dimensional video.
Emerging Tech

World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

An amusement park in Germany unveiled the world's first waterslide that requires riders to wear a virtual reality headset. Here's what went into making this waterlogged VR dream a reality.

Your next virtual reality headset will require just one USB-C cable to connect

Microsoft, Oculus, AMD, Nvidia, and Valve are joining forces to create a new VirtualLink specification. The new tech is designed to replace the HDMI, USB, and power cables needed to connect a VR headset to a PC with a single USB-C cable.
Emerging Tech

Nintendo Virtual Boy emulator lets you enjoy VR like it’s 1995 again

Compared with today's VR headsets, Nintendo’s ill-fated, head-mounted Virtual Boy display now looks massively dated. However, thanks to modern Oculus Rift headsets, you can now relive it.