2016 has been a strange year, with unprecedented success for outsiders in the polls. In the world of technology things have been better than could be expected. Where it would be reasonable to expect mature markets to have lost their ability to surprise, we found that even the big guys could still produce the odd curveball.
Best Overall / Best Desktop: Microsoft Surface Studio
The most exciting and innovative device of 2016 was easily the Microsoft Surface Studio. Here was a desktop with a whole new focus. The Surface Studio, together with the Surface Dial, introduced a whole new way of being creative and first indications are that al of the promise of the launch has been delivered in production devices. Unsurprisingly this is my best desktop PC of 2016 as well.
Best Laptop: HP Spectre x360
HP has been undergoing something of a recovery since its separation from HPE. Its Spectre x360 convertible laptop has been a universal favourite winning many awards in its first two iterations. The latest iteration takes the winning formula and tweaks it with late-2016 processor and design enhancements to keep it on top of the pack.
Best Smartphone: iPhone SE / 7 / 7+
This has always been a tough question to answer because smartphones are such personal devices and no two users have the same needs. Nevertheless this year one company pulled ahead of the pack, thanks as much to stumbles from the competition as its own prowess. If you are in the market for a smartphone today then the iPhone SE (if you're after a small device) or an appropriately sized iPhone 7 are the best you can buy. If you can't stomach an iPhone, or Apple, then the Samsung Galaxy S7, in flat or curved Edge form, are your best choice.
Best Smartwatch: Nope
Just don't do it.
Biggest Disappointment: MacBook Pro
Oh Apple, you give with one hand and take away with the other. I could live with the USB-C ports, I could live with the Touch Bar, but the battery life, heat issues and ridiculous pricing leave me cold. Where my 11" MBA to die on me tomorrow I would replace it with a 13" MBA without a second's hesitation. I'd be sad about missing out on the MBP's fantastic screen, but I'd learn to live with it.
Most Promising New Technology: Microsoft HoloLens
Yes it has been around for a little while now, but 2016 was the year that real people (really well-off people, anyway) started to get their hands on the AR headset. I just can't see any way in which AR can lose out to VR in the long-term and right now Microsoft's solution is world-class. Everything about the HoloLens is about its future capabilities but for me that's what makes it so exciting.
Lame Duck: Samsung Galaxy Note 7
So many to choose from here. The Galaxy Note 7, which took 'this message will self destruct in ten seconds' parody to a whole new level, Yahoo, a company attempting to self destruct at every turn, HTC, which all but abandoned its first party manufacturer status to grab a business-saving deal to build the Google Pixel, and Windows 10 Mobile, which followed its best ever year with its worst. In the end the Note 7 had to take the award on the basis that Samsung screwed up in every single step of the product's short lifecycle. Design, testing, launch, recall, relaunch and termination. It couldn't have done a worse job if it was trying to.
The company has all sorts of challenges to overcome, but in pushing so many boundaries at once Elon Musk's baby has become the new innovator. Looking at Tesla's future vision it is just possible to see a better world for our children and their children, irrespective of the current political doom and gloom