Top Stories of 2017 - Gear & Tech

The devices that made our lives easier in 2017
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As with previous years, design, convenience and functionality were the guiding principles that drove innovation in 2017. Apple, Google and Samsung kept pace in the mobile computing wars, while portable sneakers became smarter and ever more helpful. Nintendo came back in a big way with the Switch, and the Xbox got a whole lot faster. Check out our top 12 stories in technology for 2017 below.

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1. iPhone X

Whether you like it or hate, you'll have to get used to it, as the iPhone X is clearly the future. And judging by its design, the future is bezel-free with a beautiful picture. It's also a significant a leap from past iPhone models: gone is the home button, which means you'll have to get used to new gestures, as well as the face scanner to unlock your device. It's faster and has a better camera, and it's the best iPhone that money can now buy, if you've can spare the $999.

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2. Nintendo Switch

The Switch proved that you can never write off Nintendo. A sort of hybrid console that can be played at home or on the go, the Switch has proven massively popular among hardcore gamers and novices alike, so much that retailers in the U.S. have struggled to meet demand throughout the year. For many, the biggest draw is the detachable controllers, not to mention The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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3. Samsung Galaxy Note8

A lot was riding on the Samsung Galaxy Note8, as its predecessor had the unfortunate tendency to catch on fire. Upon its release this past fall, the device received positive reviews, with the vivid 6.3-inch OLED display and dual-lens camera receiving especially high marks. As long as the Note 8 continues to not spontaneously combust, it will earn its early reputation as the best big-screen Android smartphone on the market today.

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4. Sonos One

There's not much variance between the Sonos One and the Sonos Play:1, a popular wireless speaker with multiroom capabilities. What is different is the Sonos 1 has Alexa voice control, borrowed from the Amazon Echo speaker. Next year, a free software update brings Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2. 

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5. Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

As its name suggests, the Pixel 2 is the second-gen iteration of Google's flagship phone. (The Pixel 2 XL, meanwhile, is its larger contemporary.) Even as the camera gets high marks, the display is another matter, which suffers from darkness and distorted coloring on both. Google Assistant -- and the Shazam-like Google Lens -- are just some of the convenient features that make up for that glaring deficiency. 

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6. Xbox One X

What makes Microsoft’s new Xbox One X console unique is that it doesn't come with exclusive new games. Instead, its increased processing power and 4K resolution means that the hundreds of titles in the Xbox catalog will play faster and with higher fidelity. Xbox One accessories will also work, and the arrival of the Kodi media player makes the new console even more versatile. 

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7. B&O Play Beolit 17 Portable Speaker

The Beolit 17, B&O Play's portable lunchbox speaker, packs plenty of sound considering its compact size, and audiophiles are saying it's worth the $500 price. There's 240 watts of peak power and up to 24 hours of playback, as well as the latest Bluetooth 4.2 standard for device pairing. A USB-C port also allows for faster charging.

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8. Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and larger S8+ both wowed observers at a special unveiling event this past spring. Both devices featured an impressive new AI assistant, but it was the near bezel-less Super AMOLED displays, wrapping around the curved front, that really had people talking. Under the hood: Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 835 chipsets, along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Additional selling points took the form of headphone jacks -- still there -- and 12-megapixel, dualpixel rear cameras on both devices. 

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9. Apple Watch Series 3

The biggest improvement contained in the new Apple Watch Series 3 has to be cellular connectivity, meaning wearers can place calls, exchange texts and stream music without the need of a nearby iPhone. As a standalone device, however, the device has received mixed reviews, but its improved performance and battery life, as well as watchOS 4, makes this latest Apple watch one of the best traditional wearables on the market today.

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10. Master & Dynamic MA770 Wireless Speaker

If you're partial to expertly designed headphones that combine metal accents with warm leather, then you're probably familiar with Master & Dynamic. The company has applied its unique design work to its new audio accessories as well, including the MA770 Wireless Speaker, made with an "acoustically superior" concrete composite. Through the removable grille, you can see dual 4" woven Kevlar long throw woofers and a 1.5" titanium tweeter, delivering rich, room-filling sound.

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11. Nokia 3310

Relaunched this past May by a Finnish company called HMD Global, the Nokia 3310 appealed to users' sense of nostalgia. A new version is on the way, however, with 4G connectivity, along with a new OS that can run basic Android apps.

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12. Microsoft Surface Laptop

Proving that Microsoft hasn't abandoned the clamshell laptop, the company released the Surface Laptop earlier this year. Featuring a slim, modern design and a choice of four tone-on-tone colors, the Surface is lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Pro and packs decent specs: an Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage in the starting build. Better yet is the generous 13.5-inch display and 14.5 hours of battery life. Butthe most striking feature of the laptop has to be the Alcantara material that covers the interior of the surface, providing softness that your wrists will appreciate.