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Friday, January 21, 2022

From MacBook Pro’s notch to Steam Deck, the most surprising gadgets and features of 2021

Here is a list of gadgets and features that we never saw coming in 2021.

Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi |
Updated: December 31, 2021 9:18:52 am
Apple MacBook Pro 2021, Metroid dread switch, Sony Xperia Pro-1, PS5, steam deck, best of 2021These are a few examples of the gadgets that exceeded expectations and pleasantly surprised us in 2021.

Tech is generally fun, though it’s becoming harder for companies to surprise their customers especially when a flurry of leaks covers all aspects of a new product before launch. However, there are always a few surprises in store when there is very little information about the product available ahead of launch. This year too we saw a handful of products and features that were a total surprise. Here are the biggest tech surprises in 2021.

The MacBook Pro notch

The arrival of the new MacBook Pro was always on cards but little was known about the notched display. It was hard to ignore, and everybody had a viewpoint to share. Some opinions were too strong, reminding us of the time when Apple first introduced the notch on the iPhone X in 2017. Hatred aside, the notch is a brilliant idea. Apple intelligently avoided big bezels and extended the display upwards, this creates a space to accommodate a 1080p webcam and a True Tone sensor. Second, this thing barely makes any difference to the way you consume content on the XDR display. In fact, you are getting more viewable space than before.

The Xperia Pro-1 is a high-end smartphone for camera enthusiasts. (Image credit: Sony)

Sony Xperia Pro-1

The Xperia Pro-1 was a total surprise, a phone that blends Sony’s Alpha mirrorless tech with its high-end Xperia smartphones. Sony has had a rough time in the smartphone market, so seeing the Xperia Pro-1 was a real treat for fans. The Pro-1 feels different from other camera-centric smartphones and a lot has to do with the large 1-inch camera sensor coupled with built-in video and photo apps. With the Xperia Pro-1, Sony has taken a different path and its prowess in the imaging space does give leverage to the Japanese giant. But at $1800 the Xperia Pro-1 is squarely aimed at the professional market and content creators, a sign that Sony isn’t any more interested in competing with the likes of Apple and Samsung in the mainstream smartphone market.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021, Metroid dread switch, Sony Xperia Pro-1, PS5, steam deck, best of 2021 The Steam Deck, a handheld gaming console, will be made available in February 2022. (Image credit: Valve)

Steam Deck

Although Steam Deck will officially hit retail shelves in early next year, its launch was nothing less than a surprise. The so-called “Nintendo Switch” of PC gaming, Valve’s Switch Deck is possibly the finest portable gaming device for playing AAA games. What makes Steam Deck so appealing in the first place is that you can run any Steam game in your library on the $400 device that can be used in handheld mode and docked mode. It does not seem to be a half-baked product and has a big screen in the middle, tactile buttons, analog sticks, and other buttons at the sides. If the Switch exemplifies Nintendo’s walled-garden approach, the Steam Deck kind of breaks it. Though both devices are fundamentally different in their approach, except both being gaming machines.

Metroid Dread is one of the most hyped games of 2021. (Image credit: Nintendo)

Metroid Dread

Metroid Dread was the biggest surprise of the year, perhaps the finest game Nintendo has to offer. Nintendo dropped the announcement at E3 2021, and the tech world was surprised by the news with the game launching on the Switch just before the holidays. The first 2D Metroid game in 19 years, Metroid Dread has many unique gameplay elements the series is known for while adding completely new mechanics. With strong art design, visuals and great audio design, the story of Samus Aran continues. No wonder Metroid Dread is TIME Magazine’s game of the year.

The faceplates work on both the regular PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition. (Image credit: Sony)

Sony making official PS5 covers

Sony does not want third-party vendors to sell custom faceplates for its PlayStation 5, so it is making its own. To be available from January 2022 in five colour options (only red and black options will launch at first, Sony says these faceplates for the PlayStation 5 are “easy to use” and simply clicks into place where the previous white ones once were. The price is $55 apiece. The announcement came after Sony got into a legal battle with a custom case seller Dbrand for selling the PS5’s faceplates. A patent filed by Sony for swappable PS5 plates was leaked on the Internet, hinting that the company may soon launch the PS5 faceplate replacement covers.

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