Best and Worst Gadgets of the Decade
6. The Hopper
> Year: 2012
> Company: Dish Network
The Hopper is a digital video recording (DVR) device that stores recordings and provides playback on any TV. It has a disk drive of 2 trillion bytes, or 2 terabytes, enough to save a season’s worth of a series and binge-watch later. An added bonus is that the device allows users to skip over advertisements, which prompted complaints from television networks. Dish caved on the ad issue but won other concessions such as the ability to stream content from the networks.
> Year: 2013
> Company: Google
When it first hit the market, the Chromecast retailed for $35. The device connects into a television’s HDMI port, then syncs up to Wi-Fi to stream — or cast — content from the internet. There is no remote control with the Chromecast. The gadget enables the user to back up audio or video from apps like Netflix and Pandora via computer or smartphone and then play the content on television.
> Year: 2013
> Company: Fitbit
The market for wearable technology shifted into a higher gear in 2013, when Fitbit’s Flex was introduced to consumers. The Fitbit Flex is an activity tracker that is worn on the wrist and is designed to encourage the wearer to live a more healthful lifestyle. It tracks the number of steps users take and calories burned. It became a popular Christmas gift in 2013. It was priced at $99 and, in 2015, Fitbit sold 20 million of them. The category has since become crowded with major companies such as Garmin and Apple developing competing products.
> Year: 2014
> Company: Amazon
Amazon’s Echo products have been key in mainstreaming artificial intelligence and AI assistants. People command the devices to play music, set alarms and reminders, make video calls, and even tell jokes. Amazon said in January that it had sold more than 100 million devices enabled with the Alexa voice. There are concerns that Amazon is using the devices to gather information about the users without their knowledge.
10. Oculus Rift
> Year: 2016
> Company: Oculus VR
The Oculus Rift headset set the stage for modern virtual reality technology. The headset, which owes it beginnings to Palmer Luckey, who created it in his parents’ garage in Long Beach, California, was the first product to fully demonstrate the potential possibilities of virtual reality. VR is a big part of the gaming sector and is used as a learning aid in medicine and engineering.