2015 has been a year filled with awesome things from top to bottom. I spent plenty of time playing with phones, wearables, and VR, along with more time than I'm willing to admit binge watching Netflix. In January I had no clue what this year had in store, and I've gotta say I was pleasantly surprised. We got tons of awesome new gadgets and toys.
I thought I had prepared for some of what this year threw at me. My geeky little heart soared though as month after month the year just got more awesome. I got to do some crazy stuff like watch political debates through Virtual Reality, and fell in love with a phone screen that won't break every time I trip over my own feet. Disney gave us more Star Wars merchandise than you can shake a stick at, and Netflix finally gave me a television show revolving around a female hero.
There were also the moments I never saw coming. I definitely didn't think that I'd ever be wearing a wristwatch on a regular basis, but as smartwatches have gotten cooler — and smaller I've gotten hooked. I even found a pair of bluetooth headphones that stay where they're put, even when I'm running for my life with Zombies, Run! 2015 has been full of surprises, and more awesome than I could possibly shake a stick at. So I've put together this handy list of all my favorite things to come out of this year.
1. VR Technology
2015 has been an absolutely amazing year for VR, whether that means Google Cardboard, news about the HTC Vive, or Samsung's Gear VR headset. VR has come into our living rooms and brought us amazing content from around the world in a dozen different ways. Everything from games, to watching Netflix, checking out political debates, and even adult content. VR seems to have been everywhere this year, and it's way more exciting than it sounds.
If you're excited at all about VR, this has really been the year for it. It kicked off back in Febuary with the release of Cardboard, and it hasn't stopped yet. Between the Google Play Store for cardboard units, and the Oculus store for Gear VR owners, there are dozens of apps and experiences that allow you to experience things from a world away. VR is expanding our horizons and it's the next step for tech in many ways. Mattel even released an updated View Master that uses smartphone based VR. Between the experiences like watching the debates, or seeing a piece of the world I've never had the opportunity to visit, I've had an absolute blast with VR. The potential for this technology to change the way we view and interact with the world is fantastic and nearly unlimited. 2015 brought VR to our living rooms — or anywhere else you happen to be, and I can't wait to see where it goes in 2016.
2. Samsung Gear S2
When it comes to wearable technology, I'm a fan. I thought that Glass was amazingly cool, and I enjoy the fact that Android Wear has brought wearing a wristwatch back into style — at least in a manner of speaking anyway. My favorite wearable device from the last year has definitely been the Samsung Gear S2. A smaller Android Smartwatch than most of the other offerings, it's a beautifully designed device.
I spend a good deal of time playing with wearable technology, and Smartwatches are a huge part of that. However, most smartwatches don't love me the way I love them, because they don't fit my tiny little waif wrists. The Moto 360 looks like a behemoth, and the Sony Smartwatch 3 is better but only by a few degrees. Which is where the Gear S2 comes in. This gorgeous little smartwatch actually looks decent on me, and fits — mostly. The rotating bezel gives it some design flair, and Samsung did a great job with it overall. There are a few issues I've had with it, namely the lack of options for apps through the Samsung store since it isn't an Android Wear device, and its lack of compatability with many phones. I just keep coming back to it though, because it's the only smartwatch that fits me and works well.
3. Jessica Jones
Netflix Originals have been knocking it out of the park for a while now, with hits like Orange is the New Black, and Beasts of No Nation. Last year they introduced their Daredevil series, and this year amongst many other Originals, we got Jessica Jones. This series is sharp, dark, funny, and provacative, giving us a different spin on the superhero narrative that we've been eating up for years now.
When it comes to superheroes, we're used to a narrative that revolves around their super human abilities. One of the best parts of Jessica Jones — and there is so much awesome with this show, is the fact that her powers are secondary to the story being told. We get a fantastic cast that plays out wonderfully, wickedly three dimensional characters. With David Tennant as the psychotically derranged villain Kilgrave, and Krysten Ritter as the tormented protagonist Jessica, you end up binge watching this show before you even know it. It tackles some heavy issues like abuse, and how people deal with it, while taking viewers on an amazing ride. We aren't handed cookie cutter characters, and for once there are plenty of female characters kicking ass without needing rescued by a muscle clad man. Considering we still haven't seen a female led superhero movie in theaters, Jessica Jones goes above and beyond to fulfillinfg the hopes of female comic book fans everywhere. Out of the many television series that have hit the internet, or cable respectively, Jessica Jones stands out brilliantly.
4. Star Wars
If you've been living under a rock, you might not have known that Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters yesterday. Thousands, if not millions of people have been eagerly awaiting the next installment and this year has been inundated with all things Star Wars. Whether you've been looking for toys, accessories, digital content, or video games, Disney has you covered.
Star Wars has been everywhere in 2015, and for those of us who grew up with this franchise, it couldn't be more exciting. Things really ramped up this autumn. There was Google giving away Star Wars themed cardboard units resembling BB-8, R2-D2, Kylo Ren and a Storm Trooper. Battlefront 3 finally released on the Playstation 4 and XboxOne, and the Star Wars merchandise has been everywhere. Google even went a step further, by opting into the light side, or the dark side of the force, you can get access to a different experience through many Google apps. In Chrome you'll get a still from the new movie, or a Tie Fighter to indicate where you are when using Google Maps. It's never bee a better time to geek over Star Wars than it is right now, and it's only going to get better. This is just the first of 3 new Star Wars movies, so we can definitely expect more awesomeness to follow.
5. Droid Turbo 2's unbreakable screen
When it comes to breaking phone screens, I'm a serious pro. 2015 had me kill three different phones in the course of three months — I really wish I was kidding here. So when I got a look at the Turbo 2 from Motorola, I may have fallen in love with the screen alone. The phone itself is solid, but for the clumsy folks out there like me, not having to replace your phone every time it slips out of hand is a huge deal.
Things that would usually bother me about a phone — namely it's size and whether or not I can comfortably use it single handed, matter a whole lot less when I'm not constantly worried whether me losing balance will mean a trip to the mall for a replacement. The Turbo 2 has a great display, and serious battery power to keep you going. The decent specs certainly make it easier to love the Turbo 2, but the fact that the screen was made to take the kind of damage that I accidentally cause on a regular basis is a far bigger draw. Sadly I'm not using the awesome Turbo 2 as my regular phone right now, because the camera on my Nexus 5X is just too awesome to pass up. Really though, what I want to see are more phones who take advantage of screens that don't shatter when they unexpectedly meet pavement.
6. Samsung Gear Circle Headset
When it comes to headphones, I've rarely found a pair that I actually enjoy. Earbuds have been known to give me ear infections, and full blown headphones always seemed too bulky or uncomfortable for prolonged use. Enter the Samsung Gear Circle headset. This bluetooth headset has become part of my daily routine. It's sturdy, comfortable, and best of all I can go running without worrying about the earbuds popping out and falling to the ground.
The Samsung Gear Circle is a fantastically built bluetooth headset. It's small, comfortable, an unobtrusive, making it easier for you to use it without having to think about it. Magnets in the earbuds make sure that when you aren't listening to music, your headphones are out of the way, and not getting horrifically tangled. In fact since it's a bluetooth headset there are no wires heading to your phone, computer or tablet. While it was a little strange getting used to no wires, it's probably my favorite part about this headset. The plastic guard that it sits inside is made to hug the back of your neck, which means that I can go for a run without worrying about losing my headset in the process. The only issue I actually have with the Samsung Gear Circle is that the volume doesn't like to go as loud as I prefer when listing to Led Zeppelin, or Metallica. In the choice between dealing with wires, or blaringly loud music, I'll take the lack of wires happily.
2015 was an awesome year, but I'm sure I missed out on some gems. If you think you know something I should check out — or something to look forward to in 2016, shout out in the comments below.