We all know that a few devices, like the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, are bound to show up in 2016. But what else can tech-savvy consumers look forward to in the new year? As it turns out, there’s already an exciting array of new gadgets and tech products on the radar for the coming year. Here are the devices we’re looking forward to trying out in 2016.
1. Virtual reality headsets
Steps toward virtual reality and augmented reality devices have been making headlines for quite some time now. But as Rachel Metz reports for MIT’s Technology Review, it looks like 2016 will be the first year when consumers can get their hands on a number of different gadgets and games for virtual and augmented reality experiences. More than 40 exhibitors will show off their technology in a “Gaming and Virtual Reality Marketplace” at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a 77% increase over last year’s exhibitors, so you can expect a wide range of new gadgets to be announced and to hit the market.
Facebook-owned Oculus is expected to release the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift in the first quarter of 2016. The HTC Vive, created through a collaboration between HTC and Valve, will be available for purchase in April. Sony is expected to release the PlayStation VR in the first half of the year. New games and content are in the works for these devices and for existing devices like Samsung’s Gear VR, which uses a smartphone as its screen. And companies will release new professional-grade cameras to enable the creation of live-action content.
2. Hybrid tablet PCs
Devices released in 2015 have set up what promises to be an even bigger trend in 2015: the move toward the convergence of tablets and laptops. While they aren’t new, these two-in-one or so-called hybrid devices represent what Don Reisigner recently reported for Fortune is the “the only high point in an otherwise troubled tablet market.” While worldwide tablet shipments declined 8% year-over-year in 2015, things could have been worse for tablets if it weren’t for hybrids.
Windows 10, an operating system that runs on devices from smartphones to PCs, is expected to be a driving force behind the development of new hybrid gadgets. Microsoft announced the Windows 10-based Surface Book, which can function as either a tablet or a laptop, entering a market already carved out by devices like the Lenovo Yoga and the Asus Transformer. You can expect new and better versions of the technology in 2016. And if Google succeeds in fixing the mistakes it made with the last version of Android, we’re likely to see better tablets and hybrid tablets running Android, as well.
3. Modular devices
As The Cheat Sheet recently reported, there are plenty of reasons to start paying attention to modular devices. Not only do modular gadgets enable you to customize a device to best fit your needs and priorities, but modular technology also saves you money, enables you to reduce your impact on the environment, and enables you to upgrade individual components when necessary instead of shopping for a brand-new device when it’s really just one part that needs updating.
So what modular devices can you expect to see in 2016? The most well-known one so far is the Project Ara smartphone that Google has been working on. When Google launches Project Ara sometimes in 2016, you’ll be able to buy a basic phone and then upgrade components like the processor and camera. 2016 could also bring a new phone from Fairphone, a company that builds ethically-produced modular smartphones, as Fairphone finds ways to replace more of the conflict minerals that are currently used to produce most smartphones. 2016 is also likely to bring modular devices of other kinds, perhaps, for instance, PCs that take cues from Acer Revo Build, a modular Windows 10 PC that can be expanded and customized according to your needs.
4. New smartphones
While they might be the most predictable gadgets to make our list, the next smartphones from some of our favorite tech companies are still devices we’re excited to see in 2016. One of the highest-profile releases, and one that’s already the subject of a number of rumors, is the iPhone 7. We have as long a wish list as the next guy for Apple’s next iPhone, but at the top of that wish list is a more advanced camera — perhaps one with dual lenses or multiple sensors, more sophisticated lenses, or even standard optical image stabilization.
Other phones we can’t wait to get our hands on? How about the Samsung Galaxy S7, which is likely to add a pressure-sensitive display, a high-speed charging port, and perhaps even a retina scanner. We’re also looking forward to the LG G5, the successor to this year’s excellent LG G4, which is expected to feature what could be one of the first 4K smartphone screens. Sony’s new Xperia Z6 will likely bring an impressive camera, and HTC’s One M10 could offer some strong competition as it builds on 2015’s release.
5. Mobile projectors
A trend that’s begun to pick up steam in 2015 is the mobile or portable projector. It used to be that you needed a television, or at least a large-screened desktop computer, to swipe through photos or watch a movie on a larger screen. And having a projector that was small enough to fit into your pocket or even your weekender bag was nearly impossible. But in 2015, we started seeing lightweight projectors that could fit in your pocket, sit in your hand, or take up about the same amount of space as a book.
The move toward affordable and excellent mobile projectors is likely to continue in 2016. Expect to see more devices like the RIF6 Cube, a two-inch projector built specifically for your smartphone or tablet, enabling you to make the jump from watching a video or playing a game on one of those small screens to consuming content on a 120-inch display, all enabled by a device you can easily fit in your pocket. With projectors becoming more capable, more common, and less expensive, you may find yourself considering a projector for your entertainment needs at home and when you travel.
6. Personal cloud storage devices
In 2015, we got used to the idea of the personal cloud: cloud storage on a device that you own, perfect for people who don’t want to cede control of their files to a storage provider like Google or Dropbox. When you use a cloud storage service, not only do you worry about how many copies of your files are stored on servers throughout the world, and how well they’re really secured, but you probably also pay subscription fees that add up over time, particularly if you need a lot of storage.
The solution is a drive that you keep right in your home. You can store your files online, so that they’re accessible anywhere you go, but you won’t have to worry about the dubious security measures of a giant cloud service. Especially if you’re a photographer, a developer, or if you have any hobbies that result in large quantities of big files that need storing, you can look forward to more devices like Lima, a dongle that connects to any hard drive to create your own personal cloud.
7. Smarter personal assistants
The tech product we may be the most excited to see in 2016 isn’t a gadget at all. If you’re constantly frustrated by how difficult it is for Siri to understand you or how few questions Google Now can actually answer, you’re likely to appreciate the advances in voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence that the new year is expected to bring. Assistants from Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and even Amazon will all compete to do more, adding more integrations with new apps and outside services, and even smart home devices.