Editors' Choice

Best of 2021: Our favorite video games

100% subjective list

Published

on

We’ve always been of the opinion that selecting the “best game” is impossible. Different games appeal to different people. Even the most renowned games turn off some players. So, instead of a best games list, we just pooled together our game reviewers to share their favorite games of 2021.

Tales Of Arise

Tales of ARISE

Rodneil: Tales Of Arise quenched my thirst for a high-fantasy game. I’ve always liked single-player RPG adventures since I grew up spending a lot of time on Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. While Arise is no Final Fantasy, it certainly has all the elements I yearn for: Engaging characters, rich world/s, and balls-to-the-walls bombastic action. There’s also plenty of sidequests and collectibles to keep you busy long after you’ve beaten the game.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Rodneil: It’s been said over and over by so many people that I feel cheap repeating it here, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart really does feel like you’re playing a high budget Pixar film. It has charm, heart, and is overall a damn good time.

The game is also the flagship PS5 exclusive of 2021 with developer Insomniac Games taking full advantage of what the hardware has to offer.

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… 

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…_20210422071307

Rodneil: This game felt like a throwback to JRPG mechanics from my childhood but also a bit more modern. It is, after all, a remake/remaster of a game that was only released in Japan (The US version featured a main character that’s older).

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… has all the foundations of NieR: Automata which is easily the more prominent title of the two. It has plenty of similar gaming elements. There’s enough gameplay variety to keep you on your toes and a really deep and thought-provoking emotional story that will have you wanting to complete it multiple times to get the whole picture.

Inscryption

Leez: If you like card games, Inscryption needs to be on your wishlist. Inscryption is a horror card deck-building video game. Developed by Daniel Mullins Games and published by Devolver Digital, the game carries over the creator’s artistic chaos. You might find some of the game’s plot familiar to Pony Island.

Inscryption is set in a dimly-lit cabin where the player tries to escape by beating a demonic force in a card game. Granted that this game was released during Halloween, you might think it doesn’t hold its own outside the spooky season. You’d be sorely wrong. The game delivers on tough strategies and will definitely lure you in with some head-scratching mechanics and foreboding plot.

Unpacking

Leez: Unpacking is a point-and-click decoration and puzzle game developed by Witch Beam. And, my god, this game is *chef’s kiss*. The game feels like a stunning memoir. It captures impeccable detail from its pixel art to material sentiments, all the way to sound. Plus, the game unapologetically gives you the space to shift, move, organize, and unpack your way through someone’s possessions.

The game is fundamentally simple, short, and charming. I find it hard to find anything that would irritate anyone who plays this game. Unless unpacking just isn’t something you like then, don’t play this game. This game is lovely. It’s what I needed while I was undoubtedly panicking and stressing out about everything and anything. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a comfort game for you too.

Scarlet Nexus

Gab: Released earlier this year, SCARLET NEXUS is an action-packed anime RPG with a rather rich and deep story to build around. Whether you play as Yuito Sumeragi or Kasane Randall, you will explore the ins and outs of New Himuka as you uncover the secrets behind the world’s impending destruction. Of course, a good anime RPG won’t be complete without the intense action brought to you by easy-to-master combat mechanics.

I enjoyed my first run as Yuito so much that I opted to do the whole game again from Kasane’s perspective. The thing that you will like the most about SCARLET NEXUS is how unique yet intertwined the story of the game is. It takes a little while to piece the puzzle, but when pieced together, it’s just beautiful!

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Gab: This was a surprise to a lot of people simply because it just looked like Nickelodeon’s version of Super Smash Bros, but this was a pleasure to play. Sure, from top to bottom, it’s pretty clear that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is similar to Nintendo’s most popular fighting game. However, it nails the fundamentals and doesn’t try to overwhelm you with too many things to worry about.

Although the cast of characters might be a little limited compared to Smash Bros, it’s good enough to bring lots of familiar faces to the mix. If this game went for total nostalgia to the 90s kids, it certainly did a good job there. If you’re looking for another game to play (and even compete) with your friends and family, this is a must try!

Forza Horizon 5

Gab: Honestly speaking, investing into the Forza Horizon series was the best decision I made last year from a racing game perspective. This time around, the fifth iteration of one of most popular racing simulation games takes you to the sights, sounds, and streets of Mexico. It’s nothing particularly new, but every Forza game just feels different each time.

With more cars to choose and more roads to race on, the possibilities in Forza Horizon 5 are completely endless. Of course, you still get to do ridiculous stunts, buy relatively fancy houses, and compete in races across dangerous terrain. Plus, honestly if you ever wanted to learn how to drive a Corvette, this game gives you a realistic feel to it. If only I had enough room to create a driving simulator setup, right?

CES 2022

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2022

Plenty of new gadgets and tech to be excited about this year and in the future

Published

on

CES 2022

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 2022

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

CES 2022

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

CES 2022

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.

CES 2022

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

CES 2022

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

CES 2022

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

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

CES 2022

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.

Continue Reading

Editors' Choice

Best of 2021: Lifestyle Favorites

Discoveries that complement our new way of living!

Published

on

Lifestyle n. the way in which a person or group lives.

This year, the GadgetMatch team discovered lifestyle products — accessories, technology, and other essentials — that complement their new way of life.

These discoveries helped improve the team’s lifestyle, and will continue to do so in 2022 and beyond.

instax Link WIDE: Favorite novelty

In an era where we’re losing time, people, and places — fleeting memories are being immortalized. Instant printers such as the instax Link WIDE helps turn your favorite moments into films or tangible pieces of memories you can hold on to even when everything else has already changed.

Apple AirPods 3: Favorite wireless earbuds

Among all the wireless earbuds that came out this year, Apple’s AirPods 3 still proved to be the king — focused on features that make it appropriate for most people. The upgrades are significant to attract both those looking to upgrade from the previous AirPods, or those who are looking to get their first one. Further, this device is stamped with the GadgetMatch Seal of Approval!

realme Hair Dryer: Favorite styling device

Your hair is your crown, so it makes sense to keep it healthy and make it look presentable at all times. The realme Hair Dryer helped us care for our hair and scalp, and even helped skyrocket our confidence after a good blowout.

Galaxy Watch4’s Body Composition: Favorite device feature

In our quest to lose fat and gain muscle, we’ve come to love the Galaxy Watch4‘s new Body Composition tool. The technology is called Bio Impedance Analysis — basically, little charges of electricity are shot through your body to tell how much is fat, and how much is skeletal muscle. It’s definitely a feature we enjoy using in our fitness journeys.

realme Beard Trimmer: Favorite grooming device

The realme Beard Trimmer ticks the right boxes that first-time groomers would look for: affordable, sleek, premium-looking, easy-to-use, and offers precise cutting. Time to achieve that sexy stubble!

Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick Edition: Favorite fashion piece

From the get-go, the FreeBuds Lipstick looks, feels, and delivers on lavish lipstick vibes. If you don’t look closely, it can definitely fool you! But if you think it’s just a pretty-looking device, that’s where you’re wrong.

The Huawei FreeBuds Lipstick is a lovechild of lush luxury design and cutting-edge technology. It’s still a pair of wireless earphones that offer both a stunning appearance and an excellent audio experience!

Anker Nano Pro: Favorite travel accessory

Even with its compact size, the Anker Nano Pro can charge your smartphones smartly and quickly — making it the perfect charging essential to bring wherever you go. It also comes with yummy colors to match your personality!

Nintendo Switch OLED: Favorite gaming console

You still probably don’t need a new Switch (if you currently own one) but you’re really going to enjoy playing on this larger, more vibrant screen.

It reminded us why we love the Switch so much — we can play our favorite games as we would on any other console, but easily take it with us as a portable gaming device on the train, on a holiday, at the park, or just when we would much rather chill outside our patio.

NanoLeaf Lines: Favorite smart home accessory

The NanoLeaf Lines transform your homes into something like a YouTuber’s home, but with more personality. Its ultra-lightweight lightbars create sleek linear layouts and geometric shapes so you can have a unique space that you can call yours.

XTREME Coffee Machine: Favorite home appliance

You don’t have to take a walk or a drive-thru in the cafe a few blocks away, especially when you have XTREME Home’s 1.5L Coffee Machine. It made brewing coffee easier even if you’re used to traditional brewing methods, or you’re just learning how to serve coffee for your loved ones.

Samsung The Frame 2021: Favorite TV

The best technology is the kind that fades into the background. Samsung’s The Frame offers the ability to display art, customize the way the art looks, and have its display optimized for displaying it. And its no-gap wall mount lets it sit flush against a wall. If you value art and design, then Samsung The Frame can easily be your GadgetMatch.

Tempo Move: Favorite workout technology

Tempo’s new sub-$400 system fits into a console table, and we’re loving it! Not only that they have a lot less space than regular home gym systems, but it also uses advanced tech like the LiDAR sensor on your iPhone.

LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier VoiceOn: Favorite health device

If you’re someone who’s tired of maskne and uncomfortable masks, then this is something for you. Especially if you intend to talk throughout the day — it makes sure you’re both heard and protected.

Arcwave Ion: Favorite sex technology

The Arcwave Ion helped resolve tension in the age of self-distancing. Our Associate Creative Director proudly took a trip to the Big O and made his sensual sessions reach new heights. Certainly, it’s a device to support you in self-discovery, and self-pleasure while your carnal desires can’t be fulfilled for now.

Ford Territory: Favorite vehicle

Ford Territory

Whether going on a ride alone or with friends and family, the Ford Territory gave us superb comfort and convenience so we can own every moment. As a car, the Ford Territory is more than worthy as a daily driver. As a tech device, the Ford Territory packs in so many creature comforts to keep its riders entertained throughout a drive. It’s definitely a car you’d love to own as a techie today.

JBL Horizon 2: Favorite speaker

Horizon 2

The JBL Horizon 2 provides a multi-faceted sound system for any living space. It comes with speakers with great audio quality suited for those lovely sound trips while indoors. With relative ease, you can connect almost any kind of device with Bluetooth and enjoy hassle-free volume control.

Mujjo Leather Wallet Case: Favorite smartphone case

You can never go wrong with leather, especially Mujjo’s leather wallet cases. They’re functional, efficient for commutes and short-distance trips, durable, stylish, and looks better over time.

Sierra Blue: Favorite color

Sierra Blue is definitely not a color of the year, but a statement to consider and incorporate into your looks and style in the months to come. It’s charming, sophisticated, and subtly makes you look neat, polished, and well-groomed.

adidas UltraBoost 21: Favorite sneakers

The latest iteration of the adidas UltraBoost is more performance-oriented and more comfortable at the same time. You can go into an adidas store and try them on, and we’re certain you’ll walk away impressed. Maybe, you’ll also walk away wearing these sneakers — like we did.

Lenovo M2 Electric Scooter: Favorite mobility solution

Lenovo parades the M2 Electric Scooter as a creative, mobility solution that allows commuters to travel short distances safely and securely. At a time where safe, effective public transportation is scarce due to the pandemic, an electric kick scooter is a warm welcome.

Sony a6600: Favorite camera

When one of our cameras went under repair at the height of the pandemic, we sought solace in the prowess of the Sony a6600. It’s compact, lightweight, yet powerful enough to take on our needs when it comes to product photography, lifestyle shoots, and video production.

Hometown Cha Cha Cha: Favorite Netflix Originals

Hometown Cha Cha Cha is a healing series for a reason. When we live in an era where it’s difficult to process grief, the Netflix Originals series showed us how people uniquely process their emotions in between cheerful banters, heartwarming scenes, and kilig moments.

Continue Reading

Editors' Choice

Best of 2021: The biggest tech stories of the year

ICYMI, here’s 2021 in a nutshell

Published

on

Tech Stories

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

Tech Stories

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

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.

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

Tech Stories

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

Tech Stories

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.

OMG NFT

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.

Continue Reading

Trending