SmartHouse Best Of The Best Awards 2017: Day One
Vendor Of The Year: Fetch TV
If there is one market that is brutally competitive today, it’s the content provisioning market where the likes of Foxtel, Stan and Netflix are battling it out for supremacy.One company that stands out in this brutal battle is Fetch TV.
Not only do they have an interface for managing content and applications that is among the best in the world, they also have a superior platform in their Mini and Mighty boxes.As a company, Fetch TV has achieved significant growth this year, because management is focused on delivering technology and content that is seriously good and offers an exceptional experience for consumers.A big advantage is that all their software design and coding is done in Australia with no third party dependencies. This gives them both flexibility and control, along with a speed to market that Foxtel and Telstra can only dream about.
This approach has led to the development of a platform and user interface that is rich in features and extremely easy to use whether you are accessing content via their boxes or using the Fetch TV smartphone or tablet app.
If you are sitting in a restaurant or bar you can use the Fetch TV app to record whatever programs you want, and if you’re heading off on an overseas trip you can download movies and shows to your device to watch on the plane.Not only does Fetch TV deserve our Vendor of the Year Award, I suspect that they are set to become a major player as their partners (Optus, iiNet and Vocus) do battle with the Telstra/Foxtel alliance for both NBN market share and entertainment dollars and eyeballs.
Product Of The Year: Lenovo Yoga Book
The Lenovo Yoga Book is one of those products that when you first open it there is a lot of mystic and expectation.A notebook that runs both Android and Windows (separate units of course). A screen you can write on with a pen. A Halo Keyboard, a touch-sensitive surface with haptic feedback that can be used for drawing on as well as typing.
What really got me was when I put a writing pad over the keyboard and what I wrote through 60 pages of paper appeared on the screen. Ultra-thin (and ultra-light), this 10.1 inch magnesium-alumin¬ium alloy device is seriously out there when it comes to innovation. The screen is super bright and the battery outperforms both my iPad and Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet by a long way.
Recently I got 15 hours out of the device on a flight to New York. The Yoga Book’s black slate lights up with a Qwerty keyboard, allowing you to type away as normal. Deactivate it, and the black slate becomes a Wacom-like surface, which you can write or draw on with an included stylus.This is one seriously must have product.
Best Smartphone: LG V20
The LG V20 is a smartphone that initially slipped under our radar. It was not till I took the V20 on the road that I really get a deep understanding of the capability of this device. It’s wafer thin, yet packs a battery that delivers exceptional life even when accessing web sites and video clips all day long. It’s also fast and has a display screen that delivers crystal sharp images right to the edge of the device. In fact, this device is so good that it makes the Apple iPhone 7 look like yesterday’s technology.
The software is beautifully laid out and accessing contacts and making calls is extremely easy because of the layout and the way that information is delivered to the screen.This device has not been seen as a mainstream smartphone, for the simple reason that some carriers did not range it when it was first launched. This was a fatal mistake because this device is better than any other smartphone out there.
Best Combination Smartphone: Moto Z
The Motorola Moto Z is the world’s thinnest smartphone, and it’s also the best modular smartphone on sale today.What Motorola, who are owned by PC design powerhouse Lenovo, have been able to do is out-spec any other smartphone out there while delivering add-on modular accessories such as a Hasselblad camera, JBL speaker or extended battery that seamlessly fit onto the back of the Moto Z.
In designing this concept Motorola didn’t dial back the performance just to set a new thinness record. In fact it’s no less powerful than any of its flagship competition.There’s a quad-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with integrated Adreno 530 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a generous 64GB of storage. MicroSD cards of up to 2TB are supported.Get this device in your hands along with the Hasselblad camera, JBL speaker and camera mods and you will not want to put this kit down.
Best Powerbank: Cygnett ChargeUp Digital
2017 was a whopper year for the powerbank category. Manufacturers have struggled to keep up with the needs of consumers when it comes to battery life – and Cygnett have stepped in to bridge the gap.What’s more, the ChargeUp Digital touts a slim, streamlined lithium polymer build that affords the range an edge in both form and function.
It’ll charge your phone or other device faster than a standard wall or computer charging port and the versatile aesthetic ensures it’ll compliment your phone nicely.Available in both 10,000mAh or 6,000mAh variants, Cygnett have incorporated a smart digital display that will allow you to keep track of precisely how much charge is left in the powerbank. If you’re looking for a dedicated powerbank, this is one to go with.
Best Value Phone: Alcatel Idol 4S
A sleek and steel-lined bundle of glass and aluminium, it bears more than a passing resemblance to more-expensive flagship devices it’s competing with. It’s surprisingly thin with 5.5-inch AMOLED display ensuring it’s nice to look at and nicer still to use. From there, the inclusion of virtual reality can’t help but sweeten the deal.
Alcatel’s new Idol 4S doesn’t just play to the manufacturer’s strengths but goes above and beyond them. It’s an impressive package and the closest they’ve ever gotten to delivering a ‘flagship at half the price’
Best 360-Degree Camera: 360Fly
With such a large range of different 360-degree cameras on the market, it can sometimes take a new player to shake things up with unique products and strong features. That’s exactly what 360fly have done with their 4K camera.The 360fly 4K camera packs in a 16-megapixel image sensor that can capture 2880×2880 resolution photos and videos without annoying seams and stitching that affect other 360-degree cameras. The 4K camera is water resistant, dustproof and shockproof, making it ideal to take on adventures.
An accompanying app makes it easy to edit and share video right from your phone. The 360fly 4K also features an Autopilot Action Tracker, self-editing to reduce long videos down to highlight reels, and it can even act a second camera with the 16:9 POV mode. 360fly combines the best features of 360-degree and 4K action cameras in one great package.
Best Mirrorless Camera: Panasonic Lumix G85
There are plenty of competitors in the mirrorless camera space, all vying for customers that want a great camera without having to carry around a bulky camera body and big lenses. But Panasonic is the one brand that has consistently offered some of the best mirrorless cameras around without compromising picture quality, and the Lumix G85 is no different.It can shoot 16.1-megapixel photos and 4K video, and features an upgraded OLED electronic viewfinder along with a 3-inch articulating touchscreen. Plus 5-axis dual image stabilisation and an electro-magnetically driven shutter work together to deliver great picture quality.
Panasonic have added weather resistance to the Lumix G85, making it ideal for use while travelling or on the go. In your hand, the magnesium alloy camera body feels tough but is still comfortable to hold. Available by itself or bundled with a lens like the 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6, the Panasonic Lumix G85 is an all-round great camera that packs plenty of features in a compact body
Best Smartwatch: Samsung Gear S3
While they may look like typical watches from a distance, Samsung’s Gear S3 smartwatches are anything but typical. An always on display feature, which can also be found on Samsung’s flagship smartphones, works perfectly on the Super AMOLED screen to display a wide range of available watch faces. Controlling the Gear S3 is made simple using the bezel, crown and touchscreen for functions like answering calls, reading messages and using apps.
You’ll want to take the Gear S3 everywhere thanks to the built-in GPS tracker, advanced fitness tracking and IP68 water resistance.Two variations of the Gear S3 are available: the Classic with a traditional design and the Frontier with a more rugged design. Both can be easily customised using standard 22mm watch bands.With a slew of smart features packed into traditional designs, the Gear S3 will make you want to ditch your old watch and never look back
Best In-Ear Headphones: Jabra Elite Sport
Jabra is a premium brand who, when it comes to miniaturisation and performance, can call upon their heritage in designing hearing aids and call centre headphones. Packed into an extremely neat charging case, these sound buds consist of two modules that stick in your ears without any wires connecting them. Also built in is a heart rate monitor to track both cardio and strength workouts, making them possible replacements for that fitness tracker on your wrist.
More so than most of the fitness buds we’ve previously tested, Jabra’s Elite Sport Wireless earbuds have the potential to be an all-in-one solution: they let you listen to music, answer phone calls, and track exercises.
You can read the rest of our Best of Best awards in the latest issue of SmartHouse magazine.