Last year, the height of the coronavirus pandemic shifted how the world thought about technology and the companies running the show. Different companies across different markets have struggled to cope with declining sales and demand. Now, once the industry has moved past the pandemic’s height, more of the struggles have come to roost. But it’s not all bad; the year has also seen a few new trends popping up. In all their glory, here are the top tech news of 2021.
The memetic rise of GameStop
The year started with one of the largest bangs that the stock market has seen in a long time. Though it didn’t spark as much talk outside of those who already have some knowledge of trading, the sudden meteoric rise of GameStop’s stock market value heralded a year’s worth of change coming to finance and fintech. And no one saw it coming, except for a little corner of Reddit called r/WallStreetBets.
“Like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal.” This is how the subreddit currently describes itself. And it couldn’t paint a more accurate picture of what the forum has single-handedly done.
Back in January, a r/WallStreetBets heavily laid on the speculation that GameStop, a game retailer in the United States, had its stock undervalued and buying would be the best investment option today. And they were right… in a way. Thousands of Reddit-borne buyers fooled the market into thinking that yes, GameStop was indeed undervalued. The stock ballooned to ridiculous proportions in a short span of time, causing the market to effectively stop further trading. Even fintech apps, like Robinhood, which allowed regular people to buy and sell stocks on their own, was forced to limit how people bought the stock.
The entire controversy was a saga on its own. And though non-traders won’t really care about it, the issue was just the first of many that plagued fintech.
The flood of misinformation
GameStop showed more than just the volatility of the stock market. It showed how an idea, presented the correct way to the correct audience, can spread uncontrollably and uproot all other ideas. Such is the story of misinformation.
Anyone who’s been on the internet in the last five years is privy to the spread of misinformation. However, the phenomenon reached new heights right when the world needed correct and accurate information the most. It didn’t wait long either. At the start of the year, a wave of misinformation sparked an insurrection movement in the United States following the U.S. presidential elections.
And it didn’t stop there. After its stint in politics, misinformation plagued the healthcare world casting misplaced doubts over currently available COVID-19 vaccines. More and more people willfully chose the comfort of Facebook posts over scientifically proven medicine. Getting people to vaccinate is still an unbearable problem today. (Get vaccinated, folks!)
Social media is woefully (and perhaps tardily) enacting anti-misinformation measures to prevent unsubstantiated and biased claims from spreading like wildfire. Is it too late? Still too early to tell. Either way, social media has a lot to atone for.
Frances Haugen takes on Facebook
Facebook has been under the scrutinous eye of the law for a while now. The American government has persistently tried to catch the social media network on anti-competition and privacy charges. While courts have already demanded testimony from Mark Zuckerberg, the company is still standing. That is, until a single whistleblower renewed the fight against Facebook.
As a part of Facebook for a few years, Haugen was exposed to the numerous problems inside the company. Throughout the year, she worked with a nonprofit whistleblower firm to facilitate the reveal of internal Facebook documents. Those documents implicated Facebook in a host of accusations from fomenting toxicity among teenagers to destabilizing whole countries overseas.
Though the documents never revealed anything that the world didn’t know about yet, Haugen strengthened the case against the platform especially in the public eye. The case is still ongoing, but its effects are already palpable.
Facebook changes the meta
Facebook has its own reasons for creating a new company. On paper, the company will tell you that it’s for product diversification purposes. Outside of the press release, one can always argue that a new company name divests Facebook from its sketchy history as… well, Facebook. Regardless, the new meta is here.
This year, Mark Zuckerberg created a larger umbrella company for Facebook’s dealings outside of the social media platform. Called Meta, the new company is paving the way for what Zuckerberg calls the “metaverse,” an upcoming ecosystem of wearables and connected devices.
Naturally, the metaverse is another cause for concern among pundits. Facebook is already notorious for its improper privacy practices. The company owns an inordinate amount of information about its users. If Facebook develops the ability to use that information across so many advertising-hungry platforms, it has the potential to create a dystopic nightmare against privacy and cybersecurity.
Jack Dorsey takes flight from Twitter
And speaking of big moves in the social media world, Jack Dorsey announced his departure from Twitter as CEO and chairman this year. The announcement, which will take effect next year, sees a change in the winds for the long-standing social media platform. Dorsey is one of the co-founders of Twitter. Given how much the platform grew over the years, the founder is now relinquishing his reins for fresher (and more specialized) blood.
not sure anyone has heard but,
I resigned from Twitter pic.twitter.com/G5tUkSSxkl
— jack⚡️ (@jack) November 29, 2021
When Dorsey leaves the company, Parag Agrawal, who started as an engineer with the company, will act as the new CEO. On the other hand, Bret Taylor, a seasoned entrepreneur, will become the next chairman. The announcement itself is worthy of a spot on this list. But it will certainly take another year before the world sees how the new leadership affects the platform.
We’re out of chips
Moving on from the social media industry, let’s take a look at the world of smartphones. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about smartphone makers this year. The world, as it has been for the past year, is still struggling under a profound shortage of semiconductors. Companies started pushing for a bounce back from last year’s slump. But, amid the excitement of new smartphones this year, no one can quite get them yet.
And it looks like the shortages won’t go away
And it looks like the shortages won’t go away just yet. Several experts in the industry, including the heads of companies themselves, have speculated that product delays will last until next year at the earliest.
New chips in the house
It’s not all bad, though. The tech industry is slowly realizing its crippling reliance on third-party chip manufacturers for their components. Naturally, if a company relies too much on another supplier for components, a delay in the latter will inevitably cause a similar delay in the former.
The industry’s leading companies have finally fulfilled their dream to reduce supply delays: the start of a self-sustaining ecosystem. Late this year, Google unleashed the much-awaited Pixel 6 series. Underneath its unique exterior, the flagship series sported Google’s first-ever in-house processors called the Tensor. Google was so excited for the release that they announced the Tensor months ahead of the Pixel 6’s release.
Though all eyes are on Google now, the rise of the Tensor highlights a new trend which, with enough luck, will spread to more smartphone brands next year. It isn’t an entirely new trend either. Prior to Google’s Tensor, Apple and Samsung already had long-standing chipsets of their own. However, the Tensor has sparked a new movement to reduce reliance on others for components. OPPO is currently working on its own chipsets. Apple, despite its in-house chips already, is still working on switch more of its components (like its 5G modems) to in-house production.
LG has left the building
While we’re at the topic of smartphones, one brand deserves a round of applause: LG. Earlier this year, LG announced an abrupt departure from the smartphone business. Throughout the years, the South Korean company pioneered new form factors for smartphones. Years ago, owning an LG flagship was the Android equivalent of grabbing a new iPhone. It was that fresh. However, the brand eventually dropped off, bowing to performance chasers like Samsung. LG has tried various strategies to resurrect its dominance to no avail.
LG’s exit is no surprise then. Instead of dwelling on a dwindling smartphone business, LG leaves the industry to focus on its other markets. It’s still a shame, though. Prior to its exit, the brand already promised an upcoming renaissance headlined by the unique LG Wing. Apparently, it wasn’t enough. Now, instead of a promised renaissance, the LG Wing ended up as a swan song for LG’s former presence in the industry.
Now, as we wind down a tour of the tech industry for 2021, let’s end right where we began: the future of fintech. Remember when the GameStop brouhaha weaponized a meme to game the stock market? NFTs are the culmination of this evolution of finance and fintech. Instead of using memes to sell stock options, the meme themselves have become the new product.
You might, of course, know NFTs because of how they can sell literal memes. Ever wanted to own the first instance of a meme? How about the first-ever tweet? NFTs made it possible to sell memes as pieces of artwork.
However, NFTs aren’t just about memes. Non-fungible tokens, as they are otherwise known, introduced a legitimized way to sell digital art (or anything digital for that matter). Think of how the art world operates. By now, there are thousands of reproductions of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, but there is only one original painting punctuated by an authenticated signature and profile. NFTs are basically putting authenticated signatures on digital media using blockchain technology.
Now, investors and collectors are paying for NFTs, claiming ownership over digital art. Though it seems like a passing trend, the market has saturated immensely with the sale of these tokens. And, though the future is still murky for NFTs, it does reveal a future ripped away from traditional media and finance lingo: a future where even simple GIFs can cost thousands of dollars.
Healing from the pandemic?
A lot of things happened to the tech industry this year. Though most are still struggling with the effects of the pandemic, other industry players have introduced new ways to work around problems and present ideas to the world. As the world slowly (and hopefully) heals from the pandemic, we look toward a new and brighter future. It’s a new year, and the horizon is bright.
GadgetMatch Awards: Best of IFA 2022
The best of the bunch from the biggest tech show in Berlin!
IFA returns in 2022 with the best tech releases, most of which are novel and peculiar. Here are the best of the bunch from the biggest tech show in Germany.
Best Smartphone: Honor 70
The HONOR 70 captures what the midrange market needs. Being a well-rounded device in terms of performance, battery life, and gaming prowess, along with a superior set of cameras makes it easily a smart choice for a daily driver.
It can be easily someone’s GadgetMatch, especially if photography and videography are a priority for the user.
Best Innovation: LG OLED Flex
LG’s 2022 OLED TV lineup is nothing short of amazing. With their brand spanking new OLED Evo tech, their TVs offer the same deep black and image clarity we’ve come to know and love. But it takes a leap in brightness making it even better. For the extra oomph and wow factor, LG decided to put all of that tech in a curved panel. Wild. Just wild.
With the LG OLED Flex, not only do you get the best of LG (OLED Evo, Game Optimizer, Multiple picture modes), but you also get it in a curved panel that’s great for working with up close and personal.
Best Foldable Laptop: ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED
So, ASUS looked at foldable smartphones and thought “Hmm… why don’t we make it BIGGER?” The ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is the first of its kind at its size. Unfolded you get the massive 17-inch display in a body that’s not exactly for one-handed use. It can be propped up in multiple modes: PC, Laptop, Book, and Tablet.
It’s a first-generation device so expect some kinks here and there. One might think that this isn’t the most practical thing in the world. But that’s not the point. ASUS is experimenting with something new and this one certainly fits that bill. Plus, it’s also quite the conversation starter.
Best Smart Kitchen: LG MoodUP Fridge
LG lit up the mood at IFA 2022 with its MoodUP Fridge, targeting younger demographics who like to blend cutting-edge technology with intuitive features and bolder designs. The fridge pushes for customizability with its color-changing LED door panels. It can easily change the kitchen’s mood and aesthetic, and with its flexible design, anyone can achieve a stylish, integrated kitchen within their reach.
Best Product Design: LG Aero Furniture
LG is expanding its Object Collection with the LG Aero Furniture, a table that doubles as an air purifier. At a time when we have to be more mindful of our health while maintaining a certain aesthetic, a piece of furniture pulling double duty is a novelty that we aspire to have in our homes.
After all, Aero Furniture uses multi-stage filtration, combining an Ultra-fine Filter, a Dust Collector Filter, and a Deodorization Filter in one. Moreover, it comes with UVnano technology that reduces viruses and bacteria by up to 99.99 percent.
Best Conventional Laptop: Lenovo ThinkBook 16p Gen 3
While not the best-looking laptop announced at IFA 2022, the Lenovo Thinkbook 16p Gen 3 features best-in-class hardware: AMD Ryzen 9 H-series processors, NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU, up to 32GB of dual-channel LPDDR5 RAM, up to 2TB of dual-SSD storage, a pair of Dolby Atmos speakers, Full HD web camera with IR, sufficient 71Whr battery, and a 15.6” 2.5K IPS with 165Hz refresh rate plus HDR400 VESA Certified.
And with IFA 2022’s sustainable technology in mind, this laptop is also certified to be eco-friendly with EPEAT Gold rating plus certifications from Energy Star and TCO 9.0.
Best TV: TCL X925 Pro 8K Mini LED
Other than its slim and sophisticated-looking mechanical design, it also packs the latest and greatest TV innovation like OD-Zero Mini LED, Quantum Dot, better 8K upscaling, 120Hz VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), IMAX-enhanced feature, and many more.
Even audio quality wasn’t compromised with its 160W Channel 5.1.2 surround sound system consisting of 25 speakers in total. This is probably the TV in our wildest dreams.
Best Smart Appliance: LG Styler ShoeCare & ShoeCase
If you’re one of the legit sneakerheads, you would totally cop these two. Unlike traditional shoe racks and shoe boxes where you place your dirty shoes after using them, these new shoe care products by LG are equipped with TrueSteam technology that guarantees clean sneaks all the time.
The LG Styler ShoeCare ensures utmost care and protection for different types of shoes like leather, suede, and even sports footwear. Meanwhile, the Styler ShoeCase is the best way to ShoeCase (I mean showcase) your limited-edition sneakers – either bought retail or from the pesky resellers we all seem to hate. Best of all? It protects your shoes from humidity and UV light which will make your sneakers last longer than usual.
Best Gaming Monitor: Odyssey Ark
As far as gaming monitors go, the Odyssey Ark from Samsung seems the most far out. It’s the world’s first 55-inch 1000R curved gaming screen. It also happens to be 4K with 165Hz refresh rate. But really, one look at this thing and you’ll how much it stands out from literally everything else.
You also have to have a pretty deep desk to make sure you’re now being swallowed hole by this colossal piece of tech. It has an Ark Dial which lets you adjust its orientation. This gives us Cockpit Mode where the curved screen is positioned vertically. Yes, it’s as insane as it sounds.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Huawei P50 Pro: Camera shootout
Can Huawei’s latest flagship phone keep up with the Samsung’s greatest Galaxy yet?
The Huawei P50 Pro may not be a direct rival to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in terms of camera hardware (that’s more the Galaxy S22+), but this is also a good chance to compare and see if Huawei’s latest flagship can keep up with the biggest brother in the whole Galaxy S22 lineup.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 13MP f/2.2 shooter while the P50 Pro has a 12MP UWA camera of the same aperture — albeit with difference in the overall focal length / angle.
There’s a gap between the main cameras The S22 Ultra has a 108MP while the P50 Pro has a tad smaller 50MP camera — but both still having an f/1.8 aperture.
Can the smaller sensor keep up with the bigger one?
For a fair and square fight, I only used the first telephoto camera of the Galaxy S22 Ultra versus the Huawei P50 Pro’s sole zoom lens.
When shooting in Portrait Mode, one smartphone uses its 3x Telephoto Zoom lens while the other sticks with its 50MP wide camera. But which is which?
Once the sunset is out, smartphones tend to change their AI algorithm in making low-light shots brighter but with less noise
Unlike low-light photos taken using the Auto Mode, Night Mode is more suitable for making night shots pop with the right amount of highlights, shadows, and contrast altogether.
BONUS: 10x Zoom
The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a dedicated 10x telephoto lens while the P50 Pro only relies on digital zoom and AI when zooming in on 10x.
Which are your top photo picks? It may already be obvious to some of you at the beginning but here are the results:
Photo A – Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Photo B – Huawei P50 Pro
Despite Huawei not making the P50 Pro+ variant, it’s still safe to say that this camera shootout between the top-tier flagship phones of each brand is still pretty close.
Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra may have the better camera hardware out of the two, but it doesn’t mean that the P50 Pro is a slouch when it comes to camera performance.
As a matter of fact, it was able to keep up from day ’til night. If we’re looking at the specifics, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a wider main camera whereas the P50 Pro has a wider ultra-wide camera. The difference in optical zoom lenses was also evident.
But in some shooting scenarios, the Galaxy S22 Ultra won especially when it comes to processing HDR (High Dynamic Range), sharpness and details, as well as overall exposure and contrast in most wide and zoomed shots.
And just like in my P50 Pro review, the AWB (Auto White Balance) when using Night Mode (or shooting in low-light for that matter) leans more into the warmer range of the spectrum whereas the Galaxy S22 Ultra is more on the cooler (or maybe neutral) one.
While my P50 Pro vs Galaxy S21 FE camera shootout looks more comprehensive with 60 photo sets, being able to show half in this camera comparison article still proves a point that the Huawei P50 Pro can keep up with Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphone yet.
GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2022
Plenty of new gadgets and tech to be excited about this year and in the future
It’s not quite the CES 2022 that many envisioned thanks in large part to the surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. But, there were still plenty of new gadgets and tech to be excited about this year and in the future.
Here are our picks for the best of the best at CES 2022.
Best Auto Innovation: BMW Color Changing Car
CES continues to be the home of possibly the coolest things ever and this Color Changing Car from BMW might just be one of the coolest.
The BMW iX Flow uses E Ink technology to change how the car’s exterior looks. The car contains millions of microcapsules as thin as a strand of hair. Much like the E Ink you’ll find inside a Kindle, electricity causes the microcapsules to shift between black or white. Mind. Blown.
Best Smart Mask: Razer Zephyr Pro
Speaking of cool, Razer just gave us a smart mask that is not only helpful during the pandemic but is also pretty snazzy.
The Zephyr Pro looks just like the earlier version except for one small detail: speaker grilles around your chin. The mask can amplify your voice for up to 60 decibels at a range of one meter. That said, the mask does not have a voice changer, so if you want to sound like Vader, you’ll have to do it manually.
Best Foldable: ZenBook 17 Fold OLED
ASUS has done it again. The company continues to be a pioneer in innovative PCs — from dual-screen creative devices to 2-in-1 gaming machines. This time, they dabble into foldables with the ZenBook 17 Fold OLED.
It looks like a more refined version of the ThinkPad X1 Fold first showcased by Lenovo. The leaps in tech are massive because of its foldable OLED screen the specs that the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED is packing.
Best Sustainability Effort: Lenovo ThinkPad Z
Lenovo is doubling down on sustainability. This is apparent on both the materials used on the Lenovo ThinkPad Z Series as well as the Yoga 6. Here, they used materials like recycled aluminum available in arctic grey or black and recycled black vegan leather.
This extends to the packaging. The materials are made from 100 percent recyclable and compostable bamboo and sugarcane, and the AC power adapter uses 90 percent Post-Consumer Content (PCC).
If you’re the pessimistic type, it’s easy to look at these efforts as nothing more than a corporate attempt to tick sustainability check box. But, this is still a good example and one that other manufacturers can take a cue from.
Best Gaming Laptop: ROG Flow Z13
Technically, ROG is calling this a tablet more than a laptop. The form factor is more reminiscent of Microsoft’s Surface Pro which they say is a device category on its own. Regardless of how you see it, it’s a thin and light, multi-mode device that has the power to handle AAA gaming.
It’s already pretty darn powerful on its own, but like the ROG Flow X13, it can get even more powerful with the existing ROG XG Mobile GPU or the revamped one with an AMD Radeon RX 6850M XT GPU
Best Dual-Screen Laptop: ThinkBook Plus Gen 3
We’ve seen dual-screens on laptops before but not like this. Instead of just occupying the upper part of the keyboard layout, Lenovo opted to put an 8-inch display to the right side of the keyboard of the ThinkBook Plus Gen 3.
Lenovo believes this is a more mobile solution for anyone who is accustomed to using a second screen or display for their workflow. The screen also supports pen input which should also be useful for some creatives.
It’s an unusual placement for such a massive second screen and we’re excited to put it through the paces ourselves.
Best Business PC: Lenovo ThinkCentre neo
Lenovo is no stranger to providing computer support for large corporations. Their ‘Think’ line of devices is present in plenty of offices worldwide. In 2022, they are doubling down on their corporate efforts with the ThinkCentre neo line.
It’s composed of desktop PCs adorned with not only the necessary hardware for proper performance, but also the necessary software for privacy and security. This means companies can rest easy knowing their most confidential information is safe and secure and is easily accessible across their devices.
Best Product Refresh: ROG Zephyrus Duo 16
We’ve all heard of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But ROG doesn’t seem to care for it as they continue to build on some of the best form factors they’ve released in recent years – more specifically, the ROG Zephyrus Duo 16.
This was first showcased in 2020 and this year it’s getting specs-boost and plenty of refinements to make it even better. The 2022 version is a Windows 11 machine powered by an AMD Ryzen 9 6980HX CPU and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti laptop GPU at 150W with Dynamic Boost for high-end horsepower.
There’s also a version featuring ROG’s new Nebula HDR tech for the ultimate HDR gaming and movie-watching experience.
Best Wearable: Garmin vivomove Sport
Garmin has just brought out a hybrid smartwatch that’s perfect for casual users. The vivomove Sport blends fashion and functionality, even for an entry-level device. It fuses technology with an analog look so you can always track your health, fitness, and connections.
More importantly, the vivomove Sport carries Garmin’s in-depth features without breaking the bank. Truly a watch to be enjoyed by casual users getting into an active lifestyle.
Best Smart Home Device: Samsung Freestyle
Samsung knows how to stand out with the launch of its portable projector called The Freestyle. It’s a versatile, lightweight device that lets you play music and project videos any way you want it. You can watch a show on the ceiling or project it onto your walls – you decide your entertainment experience.
Further, it can double as a smart light on your corner since you can attach it to a standard E26 light bulb socket. A fun gadget worth adding into your smart home, if you have the budget for it.
Best Gaming Monitor: Samsung Odyssey Ark
Samsung’s push into the PC gaming space is stronger than ever. Turning heads at CES 2022 is this curved 55-inch, 4K behemoth of a gaming monitor – the Samsung Odyssey Ark.
Other than the usual wide-angle usage, it can go into a new vertical cockpit-style rotating display that provides a new gaming experience and allows portrait or landscape orientation for multi-tasking and multi-window setup.
It sounds and looks insane that we feel a little sorry we didn’t get to try it for ourselves on the CES showfloor.
Best Innovation: John Deere 8R Tractor
The intersection between tech and food production is one that isn’t talked about much. Regardless, John Deere continues to innovate in this space. Their latest – the John Deere 8R Tractor – is one for the books.
The tractor is fully autonomous, has multiple cameras for monitoring and can be controlled using Deere’s John Deere Operations Center Mobile app. Farmers can just drop the tractor onto their fields and configure the tractor with simple swipes. They can then leave the field to focus on other tasks while the tractor works. With the app, farmers can change settings, access the tractor’s cameras, and check the vehicle’s status.
Best Lifestyle Accessory: L’Oréal ColorSonic
Dyeing your hair is fun, but quite tedious as a task. And a horrible experiment can send your hair frizzing and looking hideous. With salons still temporarily closed caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are looking for solutions to dye their hair easily and beautifully.
L’Oréal unveiled the Colorsonic — a lightweight, handheld device dispensing the right dose of hair dye, applied through a nozzle of bristles that evenly distribute the color. It makes dyeing your hair easy in less than an hour. So you can dye your hair, rinse, style, and go.
Best VR Device: Sony PlayStation VR2
It’s been over a year since the release of the PlayStation 5. And while it’s still not widely available for everyone, Sony PlayStation has already announced the VR companion for the said console.
The system will come with new sensory features, enhanced control tracking, and higher visual fidelity. On a more technical side, the PlayStation VR2 will come with eye-tracking features, 4K HDR support, foveated rendering, enhanced field of vision, and more responsive controllers called The Sense.
Best TV: Sony A95K
Sony Bravia has always been one of the leaders in TV technology, but in this year’s CES, it looks like they’re taking a big step forward with the Sony A95K.
It features the XR Backlight Master Drive technology which is powered by Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR that precisely controls backlight for incredible brightness, as well as deep blacks and mid tones for a better and more immersive viewing experience.
The Sony A95K is also perfect for streaming and gaming. It has Netflix Adaptive Calibrated Mode and BRAVIA CORE Calibrated Mode for perfect viewing. It also has Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture Mode making it Perfect for the PS5.
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