A Tech Treat to End 2020 on a High Note

The past year hasn’t been great for obvious reasons, but cool technology always seems to help put a smile on people’s faces. So whether you are still looking for gifts for your loved ones or are reading this after the holiday shopping season has passed by and just feel like treating yourself, it’s worth taking a look at these devices that may spark a little joy as we wave goodbye to 2020 and hope for a better year ahead.

Smart Glasses: No Display, Just Sound

Even as Google Glass has so far failed to catch on with mainstream audiences, companies are still exploring the realm of smart glasses. Amazon’s Echo Frames ($249.99) offer a slightly different take as there is no smart display. Instead the frames have open-ear audio that directs sound to your ear and a microphone so you can have hands-free access to Alexa. You can set reminders, listen to music or podcasts, ask questions, or control your smart home. The frames also support Siri and Google Home and are compatible with most prescription lenses.

Fitness: Feel Like You are on the Water

Peloton and similar fitness devices offering live and on-demand classes have become popular during the pandemic. Hydrow ($2,495) is no exception as a rower that offers Live Outdoor Reality with classes from world-class athletes that are streaming live on the water in cities such as Miami, London, and San Francisco. Packages start at $56 a month and also include on-demand options. The rower itself also contributes to the life-like experience with an electromagnetic, computer-controlled drag system that creates the feel of being on the water.

Computer: One Chip to Rule Them All

Apple’s new line of computers, including the MacBook Air ($999 and up), features the first chip designed specifically for the Mac. The new M1 combines the processor, I/O, security, and memory into a single system on a chip (SoC)—and delivers some incredible results. The latest iteration of the MacBook Air offers CPU speeds up to 3.5x faster, GPU speeds up to 5x faster, machine learning capabilities up to 9x faster, and up to 18 hours of battery life. The new macOS Big Sur is also designed to take full advantage of the M1 offering powerful updates for many of your favorite apps.

Speakers: Live Performances in Your Home

Photo by Daniel Dorsa/courtesy Oda

The Oda System ($299) isn’t your typical speaker system, it’s designed to sound best while playing live performances commissioned by Oda. For a $79 membership fee that is charged per season (spring, summer, winter, and fall) you get access to exclusive live performances occurring every weekend and many weekday nights. The lineup of resident performers changes every season, plus you can also expect guest artists every now and then. Of course, you can also play your own music over Bluetooth or a line-in connection.

Monitor: The Do-It-All Screen

As many continue to work from home, Samsung would like to present you with a monitor that it claims is the “world’s first do-it-all screen.” The Samsung Smart Monitor is available in two models, the M5 Full-HD in 27- and 32-inches ($229 to $279), and the M7 Ultra HD at 32-inches ($399). The monitor has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay2, and Samsung’s Wireless DeX so it can wirelessly connect to most computers or mobile devices on the same network. It also has Samsung’s Smart TV platform built-in so you can also enjoy your favorite entertainment.

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