The 11 Greatest Gadgets Of 2016

These are the Best of What's New

Moto Z

Moto Z: Swappable Phone Features

If you've ever wished your phone had more memory, a massive zoom lens, beefier battery life, or improved speakers, the Moto Z makes it possible—all without having to buy a new phone. Any of five accessories, called MotoMods, magnetically attach to the back of the Android handset. The phone's 0.2-inch-thick design manages to keep heft down—even when it has a Pico projector modded to its back. $624 (mods from $60)Courtesy Motorola
Acer Switch Alpha 12

Acer Switch Alpha 12: Liquid-Cooled Laptop

Many ultrathin laptops pack a punch but have no room for fans, leading to overheating. So Acer turned to liquid cooling in the Switch Alpha 12, a laptop-tablet hybrid with Intel's latest processors. As the system heats, so does coolant moving through a circular pipe; as the liquid condenses, the CPU cools down. In tests, the underside of the computer remained a comfortable 85 degrees after 30 minutes of video playback. $600Courtesy Acer
jibo

Jibo: An A.I. Bot for the Countertop

Query-answering virtual assistants are nothing new. (Right, Siri and Alexa?) But an A.I. that can recognize who's talking, swivel in response, and emote with humanlike features is rare. Add on top of this the ability to take messages, video chat, shoot family photos, and serve up calendar reminders, and you have Jibo. A developers' kit allows third parties to create skills for the foot-tall device. Welcome to the era of the social robot. $749Courtesy Jibo
Pebble Core

Pebble Core: Apps On Your Keychain

When dashing out the door for a quick run or to grab some eggs, the Pebble Core, announced in May and launching in January, lets you leave your phone behind. Equipped with cellular, GPS, 4 gigs of storage, and the ability to play Spotify songs stored on the device, the 1.5-inch dongle keeps the essentials in tow. Fire up Amazon's Alexa voice assistant to hear the weather, get a news briefing, or to summon an Uber or Lyft to whisk you away. $99Courtesy Pebble
Gear Icon X

Samsung Gear Icon X: In-Ear MP3 Player

Samsung's wireless, heart-monitoring fitness earbuds are a completely self-contained music system. Four gigabytes of onboard storage hold your workout playlist—go for a run without your smartphone. $200Courtesy Samsung
Eora 3D

Eora 3D : Portable 3D Scanning

DIYers looking to copy parts have had a tough choice: Buy an expensive industrial scanner or settle for a low-res scan of stitched-together photos. The Eora 3D is a quality, compact scanner that connects a phone via Bluetooth. The soda-can-size device uses a laser to capture 8 million depth readings, while the phone's camera takes over 1,000 images. Eora 3D's app merges both into formats compatible with CAD software and 3D printers. $319Sam Kaplan
Securifi Almond 3

Securifi Almond 3: Wi-Fi For Huge Houses

Most wireless routers struggle to deliver consistent, fast Wi-Fi to every corner of our McMansions. The Almond 3 can blanket an entire 5,000-foot house with powerful Wi-Fi. With one unit set up as a base and establishing the network, two additional Almonds act as Wi-Fi extenders. The router also doubles as a ­smart-home hub, communicating with connected devices like lights and thermostats. $399 (set of three)Courtesy Almond
Here One

Doppler Labs: Here One

The world is a noisy place. And traffic, jackhammers, planes, and trains aren't only annoyances, they can also do real harm to your eardrums. The Here One earbuds let listeners tune out the noise. Paired with a smartphone app, the 'buds allow users to raise or lower specific sounds from the environment around them and better hear exactly what they want. Turn down the roar of the subway and crank the Kanye to 11. $299Courtesy Doppler Labs
Phab 2 Pro

Lenovo Phab 2 Pro: A World-Altering Phone

Augmented-reality apps have had a breakout year, but as satisfying as it is catching Pikachu, experiences can fall flat. The Phab 2 Pro phone uses new software from Google, called Tango, to give AR extra depth. Three imagers (a 16-megapixel sensor, infrared sensor, and fisheye lens) let your phone create a 3D map of the world—for apps that produce engineering schematics or superimpose video-game worlds onto the actual one. $500Lenovo
Canon 1DX Mark II

Canon 1DX Mark II: Fast-Snapping 4K

Recording 4K video means filming at frame rates that outpace most memory cards. The 1DX Mark II is Canon's first consumer camera that keeps up. Support for the new CFast 2.0 card means capturing video at a blazing 350MB per second. $5,999Sam Kaplan
project fi

Project Fi: The United Nations of Mobile Networks

Inconsistent service is the great Achilles' heel of our ultra-connected lives. In urban canyons, signals can be fickle; abroad, staying online can be fruitless and costly. Google's Project Fi, an experimental cellular network that rolled out this past spring, fills in those connectivity gaps. Instead of relying on one carrier's towers, Project Fi ­connects to the strongest signal from among T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and a number of international partners. When the connection from one of Google's 1 million trusted Wi-Fi hotspots is stronger, the call—or webpage or video stream—will go from cellular to Wi-Fi completely uninterrupted. Google hopes other carriers will one day adopt similar service-jumping schemes, but for the time being, data-hungry consumers can try it out on one of the company's flagship Nexus phones. From $20 Per MonthSam Kaplan

Read about the other Best of What's New winners from the November/December 2016 issue of Popular Science.