Editors' Choice

Best of 2019: Our choices for the best games

Remasters, remakes, realism, and returns

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It’s safe to say that the year 2019 was the year of comebacks and realism in video games. The age of technology truly dawned upon many of our longtime favorites, even those from our childhood.

As we wrap up the year, let us recognize the games that truly made their mark. These are our picks for the best games of 2019!

Apex Legends

As Fortnite: Battle Royale made its claim as the best free-to-play battle royale game, EA and Respawn Entertainment dropped the bomb. In one bold sweep, Apex Legends stood out from the rest of the competition. Incorporating battle royale gameplay with hero classes, no fall damage, and vast terrains. What made this game even more unique was its relatively strict adherence to team-based matchmaking.

Other features players lauded over for this game included customization options for heroes and weapons. Also, every new in-game season brought with it new heroes, new maps, and its version of limited-time modes (LTMs). Overall, Apex Legends stacked up as a formidable player for competitive battle royale games this year.

Devil May Cry 5

There’s always a way to make action games real fun, then there’s Devil May Cry 5 fun. This game gives you full freedom over your approach towards combat with a full range of attacks. This, on top of simple level design across the story, superb character design, and an interesting storyline makes it a great game.

Where Devil May Cry 5 mostly shines through involves the storyline and its combat mechanic. While going through a half-day story behind the motives of the characters, you learn more about their movesets. In understanding how their combat styles work, creativity and freedom kick in — enriching the story in your own way.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

The studio that brought you Dark Souls gave you another controller-smashing addition to the franchise. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice features the painstaking, heart-stopping action you need, with the difficulty to show for it. Apart from exploring the wonderful scenery of ancient Japan, it details the fable of the Shinobi.

Despite the obvious and infuriating difficulty spike, gameplay is rich filled with fighting. Not only that, but several features such as faster means of traversal, stealth, blocking during combat shine bright. It’s a must-have for anyone looking to challenge themselves in the most extreme way possible.

Mortal Kombat 11

The Mortal Kombat series has come a long way from its 2D arcade days of the 90s. The classic gore-style fighting game introduced refreshed gameplay and fighting tactics fit for combo-savvy gamers. All while staying true to its basic combat form of punching, kicking, and blocking — and finishing your opponent in the most horrifying way possible.

The gore around the latest iteration of the franchise has not changed. Brutality is put under the spotlight with several added features to compensate. In essence, Mortal Kombat 11 serves the public once more with all the brutal fatalities and crushing blows. And who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned “fatality” to cap off a stress-filled day?

Days Gone

Surviving a zombie-infested wasteland in the United States with very few humans is one scary sight. Days Gone completely furthers that, and adds a little bit of factions and territories in between. This game is one true reflection of how one simple plague can turn one entire region of a country into an abandoned wasteland.

Combat and stealth become your best friend, along with Deacon’s trusty motorcycle. Zombie encounters vary depending on size and scale, all of which pose their own challenges. With a wide selection of weapons and vehicle upgrades, surviving the world of Days Gone seems all too easy.

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

On its 20th anniversary, Crash Team Racing made a glorious comeback. Apart from enhanced graphics and designs from the polygonal original, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled ushered in several new and repackaged features. Also, the once-believed PlayStation exclusive branched out to two more platforms, increasing the player pool in the process.

Since its release, major characters across Activision’s biggest remasters within the last three years have been included in this game. New features, including new maps and customization options served as a great way to reintroduce a beloved racing game to the new generation. This, on top of numerous nominations puts this remake among the top racing games for 2019.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

All while technically an expansion of Monster Hunter: World, Iceborne drops such big a hammer that it borders the line of being a full-fledged successor. The game brings a new story, more monsters in the overworld, improved gameplay — that makes it the ideal suggestion for first-timers. 

Other major improvements for longtime fans include new gear, fast-paced upgradability, and new fight mechanics. It’s as if Capcom went haywire putting so many improvements, but it all paid off. All these improvements contribute to a richer storyline and wider world to explore even for new players. 

Borderlands 3

On the basis of pure hype, Borderlands 3 did its due diligence with all of its fans. For months in 2019, tease after tease rolled out, garnering the attention of the franchise’s rabid fanbase. When the game finally came out, it certainly made the long wait truly worth it.

The fast pace shooter game delivered its brand of insane action while improving key aspects of its gameplay. Not only that, you even get the classic art design and the insane amount of weapons at your disposal. It’s a joy to play through the game in its full glory, that you will be willing to start from scratch over and over again.

Untitled Goose Game

Face it, when this game first came out, it seemed like mere child’s play. The Untitled Goose Game had one very simple mechanic: you’re a goose hellbent on annoying the human race for your enjoyment. However, it’s the comedy behind the madness that allowed this game to truly flourish — most especially, its meme quality.

The game takes you through mere mundane tasks, but actually presents a difficulty curve to them. When you feel frustrated towards the game, the goose can release those feelings for you through honking. It presents a cathartic escape from everyday life, even if the premise seems so childish. So much so, that people all over the world made memes from the game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

For years, the Call of Duty franchise produced significantly better versions of their games. With this latest iteration of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward decided to revisit the drawing board. The end result was some excellent weapon action and customization, questionable map design, and steady gameplay across all game modes.

Online multiplayer still became the star of the show for 2019’s Modern Warfare. Weapon customization, alongside hefty gameplay with your friends keeps things real interesting. Despite map design that hampers team strategies most of the time, a fun mix of combat and teamwork can go a long way.

Death Stranding

Although a recent release, Death Stranding had proven to cross the boundaries of apocalyptic reality and socio-political discourse. Kojima Productions’ latest masterpiece tackles the concept of nationhood for a country divided and wiped out instantly. Apart from the deep storyline, the gameplay is just as realistic as you imagine it to be.

You go through an eternity of trials in an attempt to unite the country once more. For the most part, you are traversing through dangerous lands whichever way to look or turn. And yet, it finds a way to calm you down when a baby in a capsule stresses you out. For a relatively late 2019 release, it’s certainly a title worth putting up there with the best.

CES 2021

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2021

Flying cars, rolling phones, and Ice Cream right at home

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CES has always been the place for dreaming about the future of tech and this year, despite the annual convention being held virtually instead of in Las Vegas like usual, is no different.

We saw plenty of exciting innovations ranging from stuff that we can purchase soon, something for the new normal, and an effin flying car. Yes. If that doesn’t get your gears running we don’t know what will.

So here are our favorites from the tech show.

Best Gaming Laptop: ROG Flow X13 

ROG Flow X13

Gaming laptops have been getting slimmer and slimmer over the years but this one — it’s a gaming laptop the size of an Ultrabook. ASUS managed to pack gaming power — AMD Ryzen 9/Cezanne-HS mobile processor, RTX 3080 — in a 15mm thin and 1.35kg body.

To heighten the gaming experience further, you can pair it with the ROG XG Mobile GPU that gives the Flow X13 the power of a full-sized gaming rig. That’s bonkers.

Best Auto Concept: GM flying Cadillac Taxi

The idea of flying cars has long intrigued the human race. You need not look far than the prevalence of such a vehicle in sci-fi pop culture to see how much we long for it.

General Motors’ flying Cadillac taxi concept is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle, eliminating the need for any runway. It’ll run on a 90kWh battery with 56mph top speed. New flying regulations will have to come but we can’t wait for this to take to the skies.

Best New Smartphone Form Factor: LG Rollable

Smartphones are going through a period of change. What once was just a rectangular piece of slab has seen itself fold, flip, and now… roll.

We’ve seen LG showcase a rollable concept before but the LG Rollable could be the closest thing that might actually… roll out to the market. Details are scarce for now but expect plenty of news and rumors to build up as it gets closer to launch.

Best Laptop: ASUS ZenBook Duo 

The ZenBook Duo, first showcased at Computex 2019, sort of took a gap year in 2020. What we saw instead was a gaming version with the Zephyrus Duo. It makes a comeback now more refined and with internals fit for the new year.

The new ASUS ZenBook Duo is a refinement of this new laptop form factor in every way imaginable — one that, theoretically, should be much more useful than its predecessor.

Best Chromebook: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 has all the bells and whistles of the first generation but it now comes with a QLED panel. Yep, Samsung’s TV display tech has made its way to a notebook. This could just be the beginning.

Best Audio Wearable: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Galaxy Buds Pro

Buds, Plus, Live, and now Pro — not exactly the progression that makes the most sense name-wise but Samsung may now finally have the TWS that can go toe-to-toe against the AirPods Pro and Freebuds Pro.

The Galaxy Buds Pro promises intelligent ANC that adjusts according to your environment and a playtime that’s par for the course for the other buds it’s going up against.

Best Wearable: MaskFone

Ever since the pandemic hit, face masks have come in all shapes, sizes and features — the MaskFone is no exception.

The MaskFone has a mic in the facepiece and two earbuds hanging on wires by the earloops. The mask is made of a water-resistant, breathable, and washable material and includes a pocket for PM2.5 filters. As far as tech goes, this one’s pretty in your face.

Best Kitchen Appliance: ColdSnap

What’s better than getting sweet, icy treats on a dreary day? It’s making those sweet, icy treats at your own home with ColdSnap.

It works like coffee pod machines but instead of coffee, it serves ice cream and other frozen treats from recyclable aluminium pods. Now, you can Ice Cream and chill at your leisure.

Best Smart TV: Samsung NEO QLED 

Samsung’s QLED was already pretty good but turning things up to eleven is their Neo QLED. With this new display tech, Samsung promises improved picture quality — dark areas are darker, bright areas brighter, and so on. Of course, we’ll have to see it for ourselves but it already sounds promising.

Best Wellness Device: Lora DiCarlo Drift, Tilt, Sway

If you can get past snickering like a tween, you’ll realize this offers many… benefits. Inspired by human warmth, the new model mimics the heat we experience from our partners’ bodies. Lora DiCarlo used a nylon-based thermally conductive polymer and its WarmSense Technology, simulating body temperature.

I’m sure we can all use some warmth in these cold nights.

Best Cleaning Device: Samsung JetBot 90 AI+

Keeping your place squeaky clean doesn’t get any smarter than this. The JetBot 90 AI+ is a vacuum cleaner that uses object recognition technology to identify and classify objects to decide the best cleaning path. LiDAR and 3D sensors allow JetBot 90 AI+ to avoid cables and small objects, while still cleaning hard-to-reach corners in your home.

Best Camera/Drone: Airpeak

Professional videographers who’s weapon of choice are Sony Alphas are probably dying to have their hands on Airpeak. It’s a drone that can be equipped with Sony’s professional grade, mirrorless cameras. This opens up new possibilities in terms of aerial footage.

Best Monitor: Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD

It appears we’re facing a future that’ll have us sitting in front of monitors for longer than we realize. That’s why having one that’s easy on the eyes could be extra beneficial. The ComfortView Plus on the Dell UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD monitor can help with that. Not to mention, it is color accurate and should aid you nicely in your work-from-home setup.

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Editors' Choice

Tech controversies of 2020

It’s been a long year for everyone

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Though everyone stayed at home this year, 2020 was still a highly controversial year. From the COVID-19 pandemic in March to the U.S. elections in November, a lot happened in 2020. However, if you’ve heard enough about the political or the healthcare scene this year, the technology industry was also popping.

As we do every year, let’s run through the best (or worst, depending on your outlook) tech controversies of 2020.

The shadiness of 5G

With everyone at home and on their Wi-Fi, you might not have noticed the advent of 5G technology. More and more smartphones are touting compatibility with 5G networks. Coinciding with the spread of 5G smartphones, 5G networks are also rising, albeit slowly.

However, despite the promises of superfast internet, 5G adoption is anything but smooth. For one, everyone is fighting over who should usher in the new era. Huawei, the de facto leader in building 5G infrastructure, is currently crumbling all over the world. Especially in the United States, countries don’t trust the Chinese company to protect everyone’s cybersecurity interests. In other countries, Nokia and Ericsson are rising with their own infrastructure, likewise banning Huawei from their soil.

If the political slant wasn’t enough, conspiracy theorists are also falsely claiming that the new technology is responsible for spreading the coronavirus. Though the false claims haven’t reached any significant traction, the conspiracy theories have dented the smooth transition from 4G to 5G.

Tick tock for TikTok

Speaking of Chinese geopolitical issues, ByteDance’s TikTok, another Chinese company, is currently under fire for the same reasons as Huawei. Earlier this year, the American government and security researchers accused the short-form video-sharing platform as a hive for Chinese malware and information spying. Making its case worse, U.S. TikTok users successfully trolled President Donald Trump in his reelection campaign, buying out seats in his rallies.

Soon after, the American government issued an ultimatum, supposedly ending in November, for the platform: get out of the country or find an American buyer. Throughout the latter half of the year, TikTok rushed to find a buyer, volleying between Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook. Ultimately, Oracle won out in a bid to acquire the company. Though the controversy is still technically on, the issue essentially sputtered out of the limelight. TikTok is still in the United States.

The end of big tech

Amid the ongoing crusade against Chinese companies and platforms, the American government is also placing its biggest tech companies under the microscope. During the pandemic, lawmakers grilled them, especially Facebook, over information security and anti-competition practices.

For sure, these companies have often found themselves involved in numerous hacks, leaks, and security problems in the past. However, this is one of the rare times that the government is actually doing something about it,

Besides cybersecurity, the government is also questioning the companies for stifling competitors or straight-up acquiring them. The strategy is supposedly aimed to prevent the smaller companies from posing a threat to the current tech oligopoly.

Oftentimes, the companies’ head honchos found themselves speechless under severe pressure from grilling lawmakers, such as the case with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Apple’s chargergate

Despite the excitement surrounding the release, the newly released iPhone 12 series was controversial at best. Besides the rumored delays, several rumors preceding the launch predicted the removal of the traditionally free charging adapters and wired earphones.

During the launch, Apple defended the decision as an ecofriendly drive towards carbon neutral status by 2030. However, the new package also has profound effects for the company’s logistics and profit structures. For example, the smaller package can fit in larger numbers for a single shipment of iPhones. Apple can ship more iPhones around the world.

Additionally, Apple can sell more charging adapters, especially to those who haven’t stockpiled old chargers before. Even then, the new iPhone 12 series is starting new charging standards including a faster wired charging solution and a new wireless standard.

Though the spotlight shone on Apple for most of the time, other rivals also popped up in the conversation. For example, Samsung, who mocked Apple for removing their free peripherals, is consistently piling up rumors and evidence that they are also removing their chargers. Xiaomi, for its part, has already confirmed its own charger-less smartphone box starting next year. If 2020 is Apple’s chargergate scandal, 2021 might well be everyone else copying Apple’s decision.

Cyberpunk’d

Cyberpunk 2077 was arguably the most anticipated game of 2020 (emphasis on arguably). But it was delayed. Twice. When it did launch, users of last generation consoles weren’t too thrilled with the Night City they ended up in — the graphics was just downright bad and the game was mostly buggy.

Things were looking up at first with reports coming in that CD Projekt Red had raked in profits just on pre-orders alone. However, the barely working versions on the PS4 and Xbox One prompted the team to issue refunds where they can. It’s gotten so bad that some executives are in hot water over the botched launch.

Regardless, PC players with higher-end rigs are still able to enjoy the game, and the next gen console versions are also coming soon.

COVID-19 dominates 2020

As expected, COVID-19 takes the cake for 2020. Most of the events (or lack thereof) this year stems from the worst pandemic in contemporary history. Since January, long-standing events, including CES, MWC, IFA, and numerous Comic Cons, either postponed, reduced attendance, or outright canceled their dates this year.

Though it doesn’t seem like it at face value, the coronavirus has drastically affected the tech industry. Outside of events, differing priorities has shifted logistics away from device production and distribution. Some devices in the past, and still today, have been rumored to suffer delays. At the moment, the most prominent COVID-19-borne delays are during the ongoing PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S crisis.

As vaccines are finally rolling out the countries all over the world, the logistics world will still go through a lot of problems going into and throughout 2021, especially with specific requirements for specific vaccines.

Further, even with vaccinations, no one knows how events will go next year. For sure, mask-wearing and social distancing won’t go away any time soon. As 2020 finally ends, 2021 will start with a glimmer of hope. But make no mistake: the lessons of 2020 can (and should) still inform the events of 2021.

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Accessories

Best of 2020: Our favorite iPhone cases

Stylish, protective, and functional!

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As always, iPhones are the easiest to dress up with stylish cases. They’re clean, simple, and doesn’t come with loud, gradient designs that make it hard for you to cover them up.

There are a lot of gorgeous cases to choose from, and here are our favorite iPhone cases in 2020.

Apple’s Silicone Case with MagSafe

Image/APPLE

Apple’s Silicone Case with MagSafe is a delightful way to protect your iPhone. Its silky, soft-touch finish feels great, and it has built-in magnets for quick attachment and faster wireless charging. Shop here.

Mujjo’s Full Leather Wallet Case

Image/MUJJO

Mujjo’s Full Leather Wallet Case speaks convenience and efficiency, without forsaking style. Its cardholder can carry up to three cards, and the case comes in a durable yet gorgeous leather design producing a beautiful patina over time. Shop here.

LifeProof WĀKE

Image/LIFEPROOF

LifeProof’s WĀKE is crafted from salvaged fishing gear, made up of over 85 percent ocean-based recycled plastic. In a sea of sustainable phone cases, this one stands atop the ocean. It has a DropProof rating up to six feet and works with Apple’s MagSafe charger and other Qi wireless charging. More importantly, you get to donate a dollar to a water-conscious nonprofit partner when you purchase their case. Shop here.

OtterBox Otter + Pop Symmetry Clear

Image/OTTERBOX

Keeping it clear and functional, but with a little bit of pizazz with its Stardust design — that’s OtterBox’s theme for this year with its Otter + Pop Symmetry clear case. Shop here.

Pela Eco-Friendly iPhone Case

Image/PELA

Pela’s Eco-friendly iPhone cases are soft, flexible, smooth, and made of environment-friendly material, making these cases 100 percent compostable. They also donate a percentage of their sales to Ocean Cleanup and Preservation Initiatives to help lessen plastic pollution. Shop here.

Spigen MagArmor

Image/SPIGEN

For those who like it protected, Spigen’s MagArmor might be the one to suit up your iPhone. It looks sleek with its slim, grip-friendly design and slick matte finish, and it has a built-in magnetic ring for MagSafe. It covers all your protective needs without looking bland. Shop here.

Native Union Clic Canvas

Image/NATIVE UNION

Instead of going after a plain case to cover up your plain iPhone, add some character with Native Union’s Clic Canvas. Its cases are slim, durable, and has a unique tactile finish using a woven fabric. Shop here.

Nomad Rugged Folio

Image/NOMAD

The best case, for those who want to be taken seriously, would be Nomad’s Rugged Folio case. It’s built with a high-grade polycarbonate body with an internal shock absorption bumper and offers ample storage — three card slots and one cash slot — for your essentials. Its supple Horween leather develops a patina with time and will look gorgeous as it grows old with you. Shop here.

Chanel case with Chain

Image/CHANEL

If you’re feeling fancy and have a lot of spare cash to splurge on a designer phone case, then look no further. Chanel came up with a smartphone case with chains for added protection — without forsaking style. The case uses a black grained lambskin together with gold-tone metal. Shop here.

Awsaccy Emily in Paris Phone Case

Image/AWSACCY

Ever wished you can roam and shine like Emily Cooper? Make sure you sport Awsaccy’s Emily in Paris phone case, Emily’s vintage camera-like phone case in the Netflix’s Emily in Paris. Shop here.

Uniq Transforma

Image/UNIQ

For those looking after functionality and versatility, Singaporean brand Uniq offers an ultimate hands-free experience with its Transforma series. It has an integrated foldable stand — perfect for when you’re texting, having a video call, or watching movies. It’s also drop certified up to six feet. Shop here.

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