In 2016 PCs got faster, laptops turned into tablets, and phones started exploding (well, those belonging to one particular South Korean company). Adam Banks, head of our Reviews team, picks his products of the year
Palicomp AMD Avenger
We’ve tested some great PCs priced around £500 this year, mostly based on Intel’s i3 processor or squeezing an
i5 into the price by compromising elsewhere. Palicomp used AMD’s Athlon X4 880K processor instead, overclocking it and adding both an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 graphics card (for an extra £40 in the current version of the system) and an SSD to eke out every last bit of speed.
Asus ZenBook UX305CA (pictured)
It’s not an all-singing replacement for your desktop PC, but this metal-cased laptop, powered by Intel’s M3 processor, showed it is possible to get an ultra-thin, ultra-modern machine with a super- sharp display for around £600.
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ASUS Transformer Book Flip TP200SA
This year we tested lots of laptops that, by folding or separating into two, turn into tablets. But the Book Flip was the only one that combined good performance with a decent price. It has a nine-hour battery life, built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and very smooth touchpad.
BEST SMARTPHONE iOS
Apart from removing the headphone jack to universal annoyance, the iPhone 7 added little to last year’s 6s unless you shelled out even more money for the larger Plus model and its clever dual camera. So our Apple pick is the SE, basically an improved iPhone 5s for less money. We’d like to see more manufacturers using older tech to make cheaper devices.
BEST SMARTPHONE ANDROID
Motorola Moto G4
When it wasn’t dealing with explosions, Samsung released some great phones this year. But its S7 and S7 Edge are far too expensive for most people. In contrast, Motorola’s Moto G4 broke new ground: a budget smartphone with all the essential features of a top-end one, including reasonably smooth performance, a great screen and a decent camera.
iPad Pro 9.7in
It’s been a quiet year for tablets. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 models continue to rival Apple’s iPads, but neither company updated its range. Huawei’s MediaPad M3 8.0 looked good, but offered much worse performance than the iPad Mini 4 for not much less money. So our tablet of the year has to be Apple’s iPad Pro 9.7in, with the best screen we’ve ever seen on a mobile device.