2021 is going to be a historic year in some ways, as the world embarks on the largest vaccination drive of all time. It’s impossible to say how well that process will go and how many of us will be inoculated by the end of this year, but given the sheer size of the objective, right now it looks like we’ll be spending 2021 largely indoors as we did for most of 2020. And that in turn means even greater dependence on the gadgets that sustain us, entertain us, and at times, isolate us. The staff at Gadgets 360 is hoping to pick up new gadgets in 2021 that would help their lives in and out of work. That includes better laptops, faster graphics cards, office chairs, and home workstations — or gaming consoles, cordless vacuums, and guitar equipment. A lot of us the picks are from the Apple ecosystem, and no, this piece was not sponsored by Apple we promise. What gadgets do you have on your new year’s wishlist? Tell us in the comments section.
Abhinav Lal: nothing
After the year that’s been, I’m keeping a hold on my wishes for 2021. I got things I hadn’t initially planned or wished for in 2020, and maybe next year, I’ll derive every ounce of value I can from those purchases. While I could name past wishlist gadgets that I haven’t yet managed to invest in — like a VR headset — I don’t plan to spend on anything that’s not vital in 2021.
Aditya Shenoy: MacBook Air M1
I have been using the MacBook Air since 2017 and it has made my life a lot easier. I get a lot of work done on it and the battery life too was impressive. But now its slowing showing its age and I might be in the market soon for a new laptop. I’m used to macOS now, so the upgrade has to be a MacBook. The recently launched M1 MacBook Air looks like the perfect upgrade for me. It is a lot more powerful than my machine and offers improved battery life as well. I find the current price to be slightly on the higher side, so I might just wait for some good offers on ecommerce sites before taking the plunge.
Read: MacBook Air M1 review
Buy: MacBook Air
Akhil Arora: PlayStation 5 Digital Edition
Last year, I said that I would happily pick up the Xbox Series X if Microsoft launched Forza Horizon 5 as a next-gen exclusive. Well, that didn’t happen, Microsoft hasn’t even announced Forza Horizon 5. In such a scenario, I was (more than) happy to pick up the PlayStation 5 too, not just as a safer bet but to replace the older PlayStation 4 Slim. (Context: I have an Xbox One X, so that should last me a bit longer.) But that didn’t happen either, as the PS5 hasn’t launched in India yet.
My third (and the sanest option) was to save the money for an upcoming holiday. And I did. I’d bought tickets in the Euro 2020 lottery too, but then stupid COVID-19 happened. And those plans evaporated overnight. I ended up using the money to upgrade my home theatre system, which has boosted my movie-watching experience — and laid the groundwork for making the most of next-gen consoles. Now all I need is the PlayStation 5 to actually launch here.
Ali Pardiwala: iPhone 12 mini
I’ve spent a good part of the last decade building up an ecosystem of Apple products, helped along by my access to review units and my office-issued MacBook Air. However, the one Apple product range I’ve consciously kept away from is the iPhone, choosing instead to stick to the familiarity and more open nature of Android. It seems 2021 may finally change that; I’d like to get myself an iPhone 12 mini in the coming year.
A number of factors contribute to my decision to finally take the plunge, including having all the right gadgets to go with the iPhone such as the AirPods Pro, MacBook Air, iPad mini (2019), and HomePod mini. Another major consideration is the size of iPhone 12 mini itself; a lot of people suggest that it might be TOO small, but I don’t think I’d have a problem with that at all.
As I get older, I even see the iPhone’s simplicity as a major draw to the ecosystem. Although I’d likely also be on Android using a second connection, I think 2021 will finally be the year when I cross over to the iPhone life, and the 12 mini seems like the right way to get started.
Read: iPhone 12 mini review
Buy: iPhone 12 mini
Aman Rashid: iPhone 13 Pro Max
After the introduction of the iPhone 12 Pro this year, I was positive that I am sitting this one out. I currently use the iPhone 11 Pro and so, why would I have much of the same phone? This brings me to the tech purchase I am aiming for in 2021, the iPhone 13 Pro Max or whatsoever Apple decides to call its biggest and baddest.
I am someone who appreciates little details more than the general things that you get in every phone. And I might sound stupid when I say this, but the only reason I did not purchase the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the 60Hz screen. I know, it otherwise has great cameras, great features, great battery life etc.; basically, it ticks all the right boxes, but genuinely speaking, the only reason I will buy the next generation iPhone Pro Max is simply because I am waiting for Apple to put that 120Hz “Pro Motion” high-refresh rate screen on their upcoming iPhone Pros.
Don’t get me wrong, but these days, almost every other flagship out there is damn good, and if you put in your hard-earned cash, you’ll most likely be satisfied. It’s just that, for me, the little details matter a lot. So, iPhone 13 Pro Max with a 120Hz display, see you soon!
Gopal Sathe: gaming desktop
I’ve managed to go without owning a desktop for many years now, but the endless work from home has made me realise that this wasn’t the best move for my back and my eyes. A 13-inch laptop is great when you have to keep traveling for work, but if you’re stuck at home, it makes sense to have an actual computer you can sit down in front of. Plus, it’ll let me dip my toes back into Steam.
I was planning to assemble a PC, but an article about Custom PC builders has given me a handy shortcut. I’m not looking at a high-end rig, but something mid-level that can double up for both work and some fun would be great to have again.
Buy: Desktop Gaming PC
Jagmeet Singh: A high-tech workstation setup
The trend of working from home that emerged quite widely due to the coronavirus outbreak is likely to remain in place for some time. Thus, instead of looking for a new phone or tablet, I have a few thoughts of upgrading my existing home office in 2021. I initially decided to get a new work desk and chair for my room, but those aren’t likely to help me sit comfortably throughout my work time. Some research reports also point out “sitting disease” due to poor sedentary lifestyle. I’m, therefore, thinking of going for an advanced workstation setup that includes a height adjustable desk.
E-commerce sites including Amazon and Flipkart show some of the existing electric workstation desks that can be my choice today. However, their prices are too high to buy at this moment. The swift growth of working from home is likely to bring some affordability to that part, though. I’m optimistic that at least in 2021, I will get something that I could call a high-tech home workstation setup.
Jamshed Avari: A good office chair (suggestions welcome)
Even after the post-traumatic stress of 2020 wears off, I don’t think I’ll be spending huge amounts of money on any upgrades unless something I’m currently using breaks down. I might prolong the lives of my primary phone and laptop by having their batteries swapped out, but let’s be honest – it doesn’t look like any of us will be spending that much time outdoors and untethered anyway.
While we can’t tell when or to what degree the world will get back to normal, one thing I know is that I need to set up a better workstation at home, and the primary need is a good office chair. I won’t be going super-high-end with a Herman Miller model or super flashy with a gaming chair, but I think I should spend a reasonable amount of money on something I’m going to be using for a large portion of every day. Ikea and Featherlite seem to have some suitable options.
Buy: Ikea Langfjaell, or something readers suggest
Jasmin Jose: iPhone 13
I have been waiting for the launch for iPhone 13 for a really long time (read years). The reason particularly has got nothing to do with tech. It’s just that 13 is my favourite number and I always knew I’d lay my hands on the iPhone 13 when it released.
The rumoured ultra-wide camera lens for iPhone 13 has only increased my anticipation for the new model’s launch. The last iPhone I owned was an iPhone 7 Plus and I’m currently running on Android, so the new iPhone will be a welcome change.
If all goes well and I do get hold of an iPhone 13, you’ll see me listing it in my favourite tech purchases by the end of 2021. Until then, fingers crossed!
Pranay Parab: MacBook Air
I’ve read the Gadgets 360 reviews of the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and the Mac mini (M1, 2020) and now I am convinced that these machines are worth the hype. I need a laptop upgrade in 2021, and I am eyeing the MacBook Air M1. It offers excellent performance for the price, along with great battery life.
I am aware of the risks of buying a first-generation product, but as with the HomePod and the AirPods, it appears that Apple has found a winning strategy with the M1 SoC for the new Macs. Having said that, I’m still not sure if I can save enough to buy the MacBook Air at MRP, so I’ll first be looking at good deals on older models or even pre-owned MacBooks. If I can’t find those, I’ll be looking at Diwali deals on M1 devices with great interest.
Read: MacBook Air M1 review
Buy: MacBook Air
Pankaj Rawat: iMac
I want to buy a new iMac so that Adobe Premiere Pro software can run properly. That’s all.
Robin John: Nvidia graphics card
Ever since I built my own rig, my eyes were set on upgrading the GPU as well as my storage options. This year, I’ll be focusing on getting my hands on an Nvidia GeForce 2000 series card for my rig. For context, I am currently using the Nvidia GeForce 1660 Super. Since gaming and editing are the basics for me as of now, I think the 2060 Super should suffice. Hopefully, this will help me lower export times and say hello to sweet, sweet ray-tracing. And yes, maybe, this time I’ll get more kills on Apex Legends (cries). I might as well upgrade my RAM to a 32GB kit. Let’s see, 2021, please be good to us.
Roydon Cerejo: Apple One
Last year, I planned on picking up a bunch of things for 2020. While I definitely bought more PS4 games, I didn’t end up buying any new TWS earphones or more wireless chargers. The reason being, I realised I simply didn’t need them especially since most of us have been working from home for the better part of 2020.
For 2021, I don’t have any extravagant purchases in mind but I am strongly considering getting an Apple One subscription. Besides Apple Music, I’ve found myself playing a lot of games from Apple Arcade ever since I tested the iPhone 12 Pro and instead of paying a separate subscription for it, Apple One’s Rs. 195 a month base plan seems more value for money. Along with Apple Music and Apple Arcade, you also get access to Apple TV+ and 50GB of cloud storage. While I don’t desperately need these latter two services, it doesn’t hurt to have them.
Buy: Apple One
Shayak Majumder: PlayStation 5
I’ve waited with bated breath long enough. If things went smoothly, I probably could’ve been writing this as a proud owner of the next-gen PlayStation by now. But alas, Sony hasn’t yet announced when the PS5 will be launching in India. Rumour mills suggest that the shiny new consoles may come in stock in January, but there’s no confirmation anywhere yet.
Sure, the PS5 may not have droolworthy exclusives at launch, but we’re talking about an entire new generation, people. The PS4 was launched back in 2013 and since then, it saw a couple iterations and several critically-acclaimed exclusive titles that makes Sony’s PlayStation the sensible platform to be on. And given the early reviews going gaga about the new DualSense controller’s haptics and adaptive triggers, the new PS5 is definitely making me weak in the knees.
So, here’s hoping for a fast availability in India and a great generation of gaming ahead.
Buy: PlayStation 5, whenever it turns up.
Shubham Raheja: Guitar interface and studio monitors
Weirdly, I’m in a spot where I’ve almost everything tech sorted out — smartphone, PC and even software. So, I have to think outside the box. This may be a bit low-tech, but I really want to buy a guitar interface so that I can connect my guitar to my laptop and have a high-quality output. I’ve got my eyes on the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, a USB Audio Interface which also comes with Pro Tools. A bit expensive, but that’s on the wish list at the moment. Ooh, and the JBL Professional NANO K5 studio monitors would be awesome too.
Srishti Manak: Apple Watch SE
I recently purchased an iPhone XR and I’m having a pretty good time with my new phone; which also means that buying a new phone won’t be on the cards in 2021. But if there’s one gadget I’d like to splash out on in this new year, it is going to be the Apple Watch SE. From its looks to its specs, there isn’t anything I don’t like about this new Apple watch. As we’ve mentioned in our review, the Apple Watch SE is an affordable Apple watch that has most of the software features that one would find on the new Apple Watch Series 6, giving me another reason to go for this one.
Its lower price makes it all the more appealing and since I’m going to be a first-time user, I believe the Apple Watch SE might just be the perfect gadget for me.
Read: Apple Watch SE review
Buy: Apple Watch SE
Tasneem Akolawala: Dyson V11 Absolute Pro
I’ve just shifted homes and this constant urge to keep things ultra clean (given the times we live in) is becoming an issue. I often find myself cleaning nooks and crannies after work, or get up really earlier just to get a head start. To help with this new obsession, I’d love to buy a Dyson vacuum for the house. The Dyson V11 Absolute Pro should help deep clean sofas and thick carpets, which are usually breeding grounds for dust and small particles.
Because of the price tag attached with it, I’ve not gone ahead and impulsively purchased it so far. I’m still marinating on the thought and really contemplating on whether I need it or not. While the practical side of my brain tells me to go for other affordable options out there, I’ve been longing to own a Dyson vacuum since a while now.
Veer Arjun Singh: nothing
The year 2020 has been expensive. Or at least it has been for me. It’s true that we have been moving about a lot less (saving on fuel), eating out a lot less (saving on exorbitant taxes), and wearing a lot less (pants at home? Nah). Even planning for a vacation has been like day dreaming. But I have been a victim of what you might call revenge shopping. I just call it shopping. (Virtual gold = check)
I upgraded to an iPhone 11 this year from an iPhone 8, but not without an Apple Watch SE and a pair of AirPods Pro. Music, they say, is a way of life. And we got a small Marshall Kilburn II at home to kill and burn this wretched time with aplomb. The old VU TV survives and so does the PlayStation 4 Slim. I have a subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, and SonyLIV (some family money was lost during Scam 1992), but also Audible and Kindle Unlimited.
What else could a person want? Sure, I had thought of somehow getting the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset (for cheap), but two shots of the vaccine with the best reviews and a trip to the rambunctious Oktoberfest sounds more like what I’d be spending on this year. My tech wish list? I’ll maybe buy another Philips Hue light for the living room. But dare I say, I feel like I have it all, for now.
Vineet Washington: New CPU, GPU, motherboard, PlayStation 5, and 4K TV
As is the case with technology, there is always an upgrade right around the corner. While I’ve been using my Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super since July last year, the 3000 series of GPUs are already here, with more suspected to come next year. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll upgrade my CPU to the Core i7-10700K and the motherboard (Z490) hopefully this year and wait for the Ti version of the GeForce RTX 3070 to come out early next year. While that may still be out of budget, it may bring down the cost for the GeForce RTX 3070.
A PS5 is also definitely on my list. Regardless of when it launches in India, I’ll try to get one through someone travelling from outside the country, where it’ll be cheaper. And also, a 4K TV!
Yousuf Jawed: iPhone 12 mini
In 2021 I am expecting myself to switch iPhone, iPhone 12 Mini is very tempting product. My selection of larger phone was not by choice but there were no smaller android phones were available. Now iOS has arrived and Apple A14 Bionic is very capable and ahead of Qualcomm counterpart. Camera wise I am very intrigued by Ultra-Wide-Angle Camera and its usage. The image processing and the camera capabilities of iPhones reached to sweet spot. Yes, the only problem will be battery life and typing comes top of my head. Well for battery life can’t do much and it will be good enough and typing problem will take some time to get used to that form factor.
Read: iPhone 12 mini review
Buy: iPhone 12 Mini
New sodium oxide paves way for advanced sodium-ion batteries
Skoltech researchers and their collaborators from France, the US, Switzerland, and Australia were able to create and describe a mixed Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2 oxide that holds promise as a cathode material for sodium-ion batteries, which can one day complement or even replace lithium-ion batteries. The paper was published in the journal Nature Materials.
Lithium-ion batteries are powering the modern world of consumer devices and driving a revolution in electric transportation. But since lithium is rather rare and challenging to extract from an environmental standpoint, researchers and engineers have been looking for more sustainable and cost-effective alternatives for quite some time now.
One option is sodium-ion technology, as sodium is much more abundant than lithium. Na-ion batteries, however, still struggle to provide high energy density and cycling stability. Thus, the search for an optimal design for Na-based cathodes is underway in laboratories across the world.
Skoltech Professor and Director of the Center for Energy Science and Technology Artem Abakumov and PhD student Anatolii Morozov were part of an international team that studied the compound Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2, patented by Renault. This compound showed promise as a cathode material with high energy density, no voltage fade over multiple charge cycles, and moisture stability.
“We have performed all the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies using the equipment at Advanced Imaging Core Facility of Skoltech. We investigated the crystal structure of Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2 by electron diffraction and directly visualized it with atomic resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques. Furthermore, we investigated this material at various states of charge by TEM, which allowed to trace the evolution of its crystal structure during the electrochemical cycling,” Morozov says.
Among other things, the team found that the new compound possesses a reversible specific discharge capacity of 190 mAh/g, which is relatively high values for sodium-ion battery cathode materials. According to Morozov, it also demonstrates a good capacity retention and moisture resistance, which is unusual for compounds of this kind. “Moreover, no significant voltage fade was observed during prolonged cycling of Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2; it’s a key drawback of similar Li-rich layered cathode materials,” the Skoltech PhD student says.
However, despite these promising properties, Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2 exhibits a large voltage hysteresis during charge and discharge, which leads to a decrease in the energy efficiency of the cathode material and can become an obstacle in commercial implementation. “We assume that the appearance of a large voltage hysteresis is associated with the migration of Mn within the structure. Thus, in the future it is necessary to develop a model for cation ordering and find a path to control it to overcome this issue,” Anatolii Morozov notes.
“The team used Titan Themis Z electron microscope at our Advanced Imaging Core Facility (AICF), which allows to visualize single atoms in the crystal lattice of a material and study its structure and how it relates to the properties of that material. But top-level equipment is necessary but not enough for impressive scientific results; we see the skills of our staff scientists and students as crucial and invest a lot in the development of those skills. With Prof. Abakumov being a Research Advisor of AICF, close scientific collaboration between our team and Skoltech scientists becomes possible. This gives Skoltech competitive advantage when it comes to the implementation of complex research projects or development of unique technologies.” notes Yaroslava Shakhova, Head of the Skoltech Advanced Imaging Core Facility.
Other organizations involved in this research include Chimie du Solide-Energie, Collège de France; Sorbonne Université; Renault Technocentre; Réseau sur le Stockage Electrochimique de l’Energie (RS2E); Université d’Orléans; Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Paul Scherrer Institute; The University of Sydney; Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Montpellier.
Vi Weekend Data Rollover Offer Extended Till April 17: All the Details
Vi (Vodafone Idea) has extended its weekend data rollover offer till April 17 from its previous end date of January 17. The company started the data rollover system back in October last year for its prepaid customers and it allows them to carry forward their daily unused data to the weekend. The updated time frame can be spotted in the terms and conditions section on the official Vi website. The weekend data rollover offer is still available with the same plans as before.
Vi website has been updated to show that this promotional offer is applicable from October 19 2020 to April 17 2021. This gives users another three months to enjoy the benefits of weekend data rollover as the offer was initially supposed to end on January 17. The minimum recharge value to avail this offer is Rs. 249 and is valid for unlimited packs with daily data. It is valid for Rs. 249, Rs. 299, Rs. 399, Rs. 449, Rs. 595, Rs. 599, Rs. 699, Rs. 795, and Rs. 2,595 plans. Currently, all these plans are listed on the website with weekend rollover along with an additional offer such as double data, 5GB extra data, or one year subscription to Zee5.
Every plan offered by Vi comes with some amount of data limit, that may not always be completely used. This results in some data being wasted as it resets the next day. With the weekend rollover system, Vi customers will be able to make use of whatever data is unused throughout the week, over the weekend.
Customers should note that unused data between Monday 0000 hours to Friday 2400 hours will be accumulated and made available between Saturday 0000 hours and Sunday 2400 hours. Post that, any and all unused data will be forfeited. The terms and conditions also state that Vi reserves the right to discontinue, modify, or withdraw the roll over or other product features subject to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulations.
What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
For preschoolers and soldiers: 4 new Acer Chromebooks meet military and toy safety standards
Two models have antimicrobial coating and a spill-resistant gutter system to keep up to 11 ounces of liquid away from internal components.
Even after several product announcements at CES 2021, Acer has more laptop news with five new products designed for the classroom. These laptops meet durability standards designed for military use as well as safety guidelines from toy manufacturers.
Several of the products feature zero-touch enrollment which means that IT departments can drop ship the laptops and automatically enroll the devices into a school’s system as soon as a student connects to the internet.
Here are the highlights of these new products.
SEE: Hardware inventory policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Travelmate Spin B3
This convertible laptop is built for the toughest environment with extra durability. It is certified to meet ASTM toy safety standards and military-grade durability standards. It has a keyboard with mechanically anchored keys and a moisture-resistant touchpad. The processor is an Intel Pentium Silver and the battery life is up to 12 hours. The laptop has an HD webcam and Wi-Fi 6. According to Acer, the laptop can withstand up to 132 pounds of downward force, for those times when technology is too hard to grasp.
The device has a drainage system that can redirect up to 11 ounces of liquid away from the internal components out of a drain in the bottom of the chassis. Also, the touch display is covered with a layer of antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass that can reduce the growth of odor and stain-causing microorganisms, according to the company. To boost the cleanliness factor even more, there is an optional BPR and EPA-compliant antimicrobial agent in the keyboard coating, touchpad, and palm-rest surface. A Wacom AES pen and a 5MP HDR front-facing camera are other optional features.
The Acer TravelMate Spin B3 (TMB311R-32) will be available in North America in April starting at $329.99; in EMEA in Q2 starting at €409; and in China in February, starting at ¥2,499.
Chromebook Spin 512 and 511
These two new convertible Chromebooks are also for the school environment with designs that meet military and toy durability standards and the specially designed gutter system to reduce damage from accidental spills.
The Spin 512 and Spin 511 come with an 8MP MIPI world-facing camera and an HDR webcam. Both have antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass display, ideal for education settings in which students share devices. Both devices have 360-degree hinges and N4500 and N5100 Intel processors. The new Acer Chromebooks will be available with up to 64GB eMMC storage and up to 8GB RAM.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 has a 3:2 aspect ratio HD+ IPS display. It also has an antimicrobial agent in the coating on the keyboard touchpad and palm area that is proven to show a consistently high microbial reduction rate against a broad range of bacteria. The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 will be available in North America in April starting at $429.99.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 511 is smaller with an 11.6-inch HD IPS display.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 512 (R853TA) will be available in North America in April starting at $429.99; and in EMEA in March 2021, starting at EUR 399. The Acer Chromebook Spin 511 will be available in North America in April starting at $399.99; and in EMEA in March 2021, starting at €369.
Chromebook 511 and Chromebook 311
These two new clamshell 11.6-inch laptops also feature compact designs and military durability. Both laptops meet leading toy safety standards. The 511 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Compute Platform and 4G LTE connectivity. Battery life is up to 20 hours, according to the company. It will be available in North America in April starting at $399.99.
The Chromebook 311 has a Mediatek MT8183 processor and was designed around industrial durability and toy safety standards for younger students. A touch screen is optional. It provides up to 20 hours of battery life. It will be available in North America in January starting at $299.99.
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