The changes for Apple's flagship 4.7" and 5.5" smartphones are mostly inside this year. On the outside we have new antenna lines, a solid state home button and two new colors: black and jet black. Inside there's the class-leading Apple A10 Fusion quad core CPU, more storage, improved front and rear cameras, IP67 water resistance. The iPhone 7 Plus gets two 12MP rear cameras, one with standard wide view and one telephoto. Both run iOS 10.
The Apple Watch Series 2 is the higher end series in Apple's 2016 smartwatch lineup. It's available in sport aluminum, stainless steel and ceramic. Pricing starts at $369, and there's a Series 1 for $269. The Watch runs WatchOS 3.0 with Siri, Apple Pay, phone call capabilities and native apps available for download. Series 1 and 2 have a new, faster dual core CPU, but only Series 2 has a GPS and 50 meters water resistance.
This is the year to get a new gaming laptop since NVIDIA's new Pascal generation graphics cards are 40% or more faster than the old-- even for laptops where they come within 10% of their desktop counterparts for graphics performance. Hence our review of the 15.6" MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro, a 15.6" thin and light gaming laptop with a quad core CPU, 1080p or 4K IPS display and NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics. The GS63VR is the successor to the wildly portable and powerful MSI Ghost Pro. It has a brushed aluminum casing, RGB SteelSeries backlit keyboard, Thunderbolt 3, and it weighs just 4 pounds.
The Asus ROG Strix GL502 15" thin and light gaming laptop with the new NVIDIA Pascal generation GeForce GTX 1070 8GB DDR5 dedicated graphics. This is one of the most powerful 15.6" laptops on the market, which is particularly impressive since it weighs 4.93 lbs. and is 1.2" thick. The notebook has the Intel Skylake 6th gen Core i7-6700HQ quad core CPU, 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM (32 gigs max) and a 256 gig PCIe NVMe SSD + 1 TB HDD. It has a bright 1920 x 1080 matte IPS display with G-Sync.
2016 continues as the year of the affordable but really good Android phone, particularly unlocked models that are sold direct and via retailers rather than carriers. There's the OnePlus 3, Alcatel Idol 4S, ZTE Axon 7, the Moto G4/G4 Plus and now the Huawei Honor 8. The Honor sub-brand is Huawei's affordable line that targets Millennials, though I don't see why a 13 year old or 70 year old wouldn't also like the phone. It's a stunning looking phone clad in 2D glass and metal, and it's very pocketable at 5.2". The Android 6.0 Marshmallow smartphone flirts with high end design and features at a relatively modest $399 price tag for the 32 gig model. There's good CPU performance, a really lovely full HD display and solid cameras too.
This is the latest refresh of the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Windows covertible laptop, released in the summer of 2016. The 7000 series is the top of the Inspiron line, but the price for a well-equipped machine is relatively reasonable at $749. The laptop is available with Intel Skylake 6th generation Core i5-6200U and Core i7-6500U dual core, 15 watt CPUs with Intel HD 520 graphics. It has two DDR4 RAM slots and starts with 8 gigs of RAM. An M.2 256 gig SSD is standard and you can order it with a 512 gig SSD. It has a backlit keyboard and an infrared camera that works with Windows Hello facial recognition for login.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P40, a rare 2-in-1 convertible 14" mobile workstation. The ThinkPad P40 is largely a rebadged ThinkPad Yoga 460 (or ThinkPad Yoga 14, as it's still called in Best Buy stores). It adds NVIDIA Quadro M500M 2GB DDR5 dedicated graphics, a very good WQHD 2560 x 1440 IPS display option and a fingerprint reader to the consumer oriented Yoga 460 formula. The P40 supports both touch and pen, and Lenovo's small pen is included in the built-in silo. This convertible laptop ships with Intel Skylake 6th gen Core i7 dual core 15 watt CPU and 8 or 16 gigs of DDR3 RAM and an SSD.
Finally, modular phones done right, at least if you're hankering to slap on nifty accessories. The Moto Z and Z Force aren't the kind of modular that requires you to assemble core parts from building blocks, rather they work with magnetic Moto Mods like the JBL stereo speaker back, a projector and extended batteries. They're the first phones to break from Moto's attractive, but well-worn look and feel. Gone are the complexly curved sides, thick middle body and unibody construction. Instead we have a modern and somewhat angular design that's actually very slim, unlike the old Moto design that got chubby toward the middle. Inside it's all flagship power with the 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820, 4 gigs of RAM, a fingerprint scanner, NFC and your choice of a good 13MP camera on the Moto Z and an excellent 21MP camera on the Moto Z Force. We look at the Droid Edition of these phones, which means they're on Verizon Wireless.
HP radically refreshed their halo HP Omen gaming laptop for 2016, and it's turned into two budget gamer models in 15 and 17 inch sizes. The plastic chassis and faux carbon fiber might not be all that, but the internals are good and some are similar to the outgoing Omen 15 model. You get quad core Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics and 8 to 16 gigs of RAM. It starts out with a 1 TB HDD, but you can get it with that HDD plus a 128 gig SSD. There are full HD and 4K IPS display options-- matte, non-touch only. The price starts around $1,000 for a model with GTX 960M graphics.
The Moto Z Play is available as the Droid edition on Verizon Wireless in the US and as a GSM unlocked phone direct from Motorola's website. This is the most affordable Moto Z model at $408, but its looks, materials and full compatibility with Moto Mods make it feel like a higher end Android smartphone. The Moto Z Play runs Android 6 Marshmallow on the 2 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 CPU with Adreno 506 graphics. It has a 5.5" 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED display and expandable storage. The 16MP rear camera is no slouch with 4K video recording and fast focusing. It has long battery life and a high capacity 3,500 mAh battery that supports fast charging.
Lenovo's new business-oriented Chromebook, the ThinkPad 13 Chromebook, shares much of the same hardware with its Windows 10 sibling, the ThinkPad 13. The ThinkPad 13 Chromebook has a 13.3" non-touch matte display, in your choice of 720p or 1080p resolution. It's available with unusually powerful CPUs for a Chromebook, with the higher end models having Intel Core i3-6100U and Core i5-6300U dual core processors. The base model ships with the more typical 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron 3855U.
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