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Gadgets of the Year: Serious Tech of the Year

Asus double-screens and Apple chipsets in MacBooks made waves in 2020, making the task easier for ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK and BRYAN TURNER as they select the best serious technology of the year.

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Security techRingVideo Doorbell 3 

Amazon’s Ring security tech is transforming how people can keep an eye on their homes from afar. The Video Doorbell 3 (R4,000) combines three important security aspects into one device: one can see who’s at the door before answering; it monitors movement via infrared night-vision camera; and the door can be answered from anywhere via a smart device with a data connection. These aspects upgrade the traditional doorbell’s functionality while still maintaining the general look-and-feel of a non-smart doorbell.

Vehicle techAudi Q7 Dual Screen  

Just when we thought one screen was enough, Audi’s new Q7 has refreshed its front panels with two screens in the front: one where the infotainment screen is typically placed, and another below it, where the climate/airflow control unit usually resides. This enables more info to be shown after climate control set up, expanding its feature set dramatically. It also has haptic feedback for those who like a button feel when adjusting controls. Best of all, it allows the lower screen to be used for writing in addresses, either via a virtual keyboard or with a finger or stylus (not included!). Farewell to messing with clumsy navigation input methods.

Productivity software: Zoho One 

There is a new office name in town: Zoho One, which costs less than Microsoft Office and offers far more than Google Workspace. It has an alternative to almost any widely used productivity software, with the names of each application speaking for itself: Show (for presentations), Sheet, Writer, Mail, Books (a full-function accounting package), Campaigns (think Mailchimp), Survey (leaves SurveyMonkey standing), Cliq (remember Slack?), Meeting (catching up to Zoom), WorkDrive, CRM, and Projects, among 40 applications. In combination, it is an astonishing package at its price: all of Zoho One comes in at R450 per user per month for a small business.

Productivity App: Otter.ai 

It is rare that one can claim an app changed your life, but Otter changed our working lives in 2020 as it became an indispensable virtual assistant. In the past, we preferred taking notes and avoided recording and transcribing interviews, as it was such a laborious process. In the process, many nuances were missed. Now every interview, virtual meeting and conference is recorded and transcribed, making for an invaluable, searchable archive. It isn’t 100% accurate, especially with South African accents, but correcting the 1-2% error rate is a small inconvenience compared to time saved and resource created. For $9.99, the Pro version allows up to 6000 minutes of recording a month, and unlimited storage.



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