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It’s been a pretty good year for gadgets. While the most popular gadget may have been the fidget spinner, there have been a number of devices released in 2017 that will make a lasting impact for years to come. From the Nintendo Switch, which turned out to be a major hit for the Japanese gaming company, to new smart home devices from companies like Nest and Arlo, to changes in policy around smart luggage that threaten industry leaders in the space, 2017 has been nothing if not exciting for gadget enthusiasts.
The biggest gadget win of the year is undoubtedly the Nintendo Switch. The portable gaming console landed in March and immediately made its mark as the best portable console in years. There have been very few gadgets that have launched with the impame of the year.
Outside of game play, Amazon released a huge hardware update for its Echo line this year, unveiling a smart speaker option for literally every part of your home. There’s the Echo Show for your kitchen, the Echo Spot for your bedroom, and Echo Look for your closet, and an Echo Plus that can operate as your smart home hub. It also updated the original Echo, giving it a smaller design with a fabric covering and improved speakers.
The new Echoes aren’t groundbreaking, but they don’t have to be, yet. Amazon is continuously iterating on its industry-leading smart speaker platform, and it’ll have to keep that up thanks to competition from the Google Home and Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker.
While Nintendo and Amazon set the benchmarks this year, there were a bunch of smaller wins that made their imprint on 2017. In home security, Nest released its Cam IQ Outdoor camera which can use facial recognition to identify people on your property, as well as a full-fledged security system for your home. Netgear released the second generation of its Arlo Pro camera, the best wireless smart home camera option on the market. Amazon finally made a waterproof Kindle, 10 years after releasing the original ebook reader. Sonos released a speaker with Amazon’s Alexa built-in, while Google released its own high-end speaker to compete against it. And DJI released a tiny drone for $500 that anyone can fly.
2017 could and should largely be considered a success in the gadget world, but as always there were a number of failures in the calendar year, including the massive implosion of Juicero. The company that raised nearly $100 million from venture capitalists to make a juicer was exposed after a Bloomberg report showed that the bags of fruits and vegetables it sold could just be squeezed by hand, rendering the $700 juicer obsolete. Then the CEO spewed things like, “The value of Juicero is more than a glass of cold-pressed juice,” the company cut prices on its machines, offered customers a refund, and then ultimately shut down five months later. It was a lesson to Silicon Valley (one they probably ignored but still) — just because it’s “smart” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.