2016 Russell's Favorite Tech

Everyone at Android Central spends just about every waking moment with mobile tech. Our goal is simple: use as much as we can, find out what works the best, and share with you the gear that rises above the rest. This has been a weird year for mobile tech, with no shortage of stand out gadgets for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you're looking to buy for someone else or just get the best of the best for yourself, these are my personal favorites of 2016. It starts with a phone and a tablet, but continues on to everything I connect to it throughout any given day. Read on and see what I've enjoyed in 2016.

Google Pixel XL

I fully expected this spot to be reserved for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, but when that became impossible I moved on to Google's Pixel XL. This is without a doubt the best Android phone you can buy today. The camera is exceptional, the battery life is great, and Google's incredibly smooth and lightning fast interface is wonderful. There's no trade-offs, no reasons to settle like we'd seen in the past with the less expensive Nexus phones, and as long as Google keeps improving on this experience it's difficult to imagine moving away from this phone anytime soon.

From $769 Buy Now

Lenovo Yoga Book

When I use an Android tablet, I'm usually either looking up recipes and watching Netflix in the kitchen, or I'm playing a game that is more comfortable on a larger screen. I've tried writing on so many Android tablets with attachable keyboards in the past, and for the most part there's been little reason to use anything but my laptop. Lenovo's Yoga Book is not only surprisingly comfortable to type on, it's also crazy light and ridiculously thin. I can take it anywhere, and most of the time that's exactly what I do. It may not be the best bang for your buck especially for those who would be more comfortable with a Chromebook, but access to all of my Android apps means I'm not reaching for my phone when I'm working and that's a big deal for me.

From $499 Buy Now

Sennheiser HD 598 Cs

Put a keyboard in front of me and headphones on my head and I'm likely to disappear for hours. Music focuses me, and good headphones make sure I'm not so easily distracted. I'm not usually super picky about headphones, but these Sennheisers let me hear parts of my favorite songs I genuinely had never heard before. The build quality is great, but just about as far from portable as you can get. These aren't cheap headphones, but they're going to be my recommendation to anyone that likes music in their ears while they work behind a desk.

From $119 Buy Now

Moto Surround Earbuds

When I'm mowing the lawn, out playing Pokémon Go with my family, or just in the kitchen and don't want everyone to hear the episode of Archer I'm watching, I reach for Moto Surround earbuds. The sounds is decent for Bluetooth, the battery is fantastic, and they're comfortable around my neck. These earbuds aren't particularly expensive, but my set is never far from me.

From $45 Buy Now

Ricoh Theta S

The camera on my Pixel XL is awesome, but I occasionally enjoy capturing more of the work around me. I'm also a big VR nerd, so 360-degree video is something fun to play with. If you're looking to give this kind of photography a shot, the Ricoh Theta S is the camera to buy. It's the most straightforward, the app isn't complicated, and there's a lot of flexibility when it comes to taking a photo remotely. Setting the Theta up somewhere and using the app to take a shot so you aren't in it is a lot of fun!

From $335 Buy Now

Anova Immersion Circulator

I'm a fan of playing around in the kitchen, and some of my favorite kinds of cooking usually involve low and slow techniques with fun flavors. I can't always bust out the smoker or toss things in the crock pot, so I figured I'd give sous vide cooking a shot. Anova makes a great starter kit that is easy to use, and offers an app full of recipes and guidelines for cooking. It also lets me control the temperature and timer remotely, so I can set something to cook for hours and be able to check in on it no matter what I am doing.

From $149 Buy Now

Philips Hue bulbs

Just about every light in my house is a Hue bulb now. It has taken me a while, but I wouldn't be happier with being able to control my lights from anywhere. It's fun to play with the colors when the family is watching a movie in the living room, convenient to say something and have my Echo kill the lights as I climb into bed, and the bulbs themselves just plain look nice. If you're considering smart lights, Hue is likely going to be my recommendation for a long time.

From $199 Buy Now

Amazon Echo Dot

Google is doing a lot of cool things with Home, but Amazon's Echo Dot is my favorite right now. They're cheap enough that I can justify having several throughout the house, and Alexa does more for me right now. Recipe steps are a voice command away, being able to connect a Dot to a more capable speaker to stream music is nice, and these little pucks disappear into the room you set them up in. It's a more convenient solution for me, and probably will be for the next year.

From $50 Buy Now

Neato Botvac Connected

Robot Vacuums aren't going to replace my full upright Dyson anytime soon, but having one means I need to do a full cleaning a little less frequently. Neato's BotVac Connected sputtering around the house every other day is great, and being able to connect my phone to the robot meant when family messaged me and said they'll be by in an hour I could remotely sent it off to make the house look a little more presentable.

From $499 Buy Now

HTC Vive

Yeah, we're going to talk about virtual reality for a minute. Of all the VR headsets I have used over the last year, which is to say basically all of them, HTC's Vive keeps calling me back. Being able to walk around in my office and have those steps count in VR is incredible, and there are so many apps and games available I'm unlikely to ever run out of things to do. Also, weirdly, Vive is the only VR platform that gives me notifications from my phone that I can actually do something with. Vive is the most feature complete VR system out there, and it's ridiculously fun to share with friends.

From $799 Buy Now