Before I started at Stuff in June of this year, I spent a lot of my free time watching and reading product reviews of the latest tech products and gadgets. I still do that on the odd occasion but now that I get to use the products myself, I try to form my own opinions before comparing them to those of others. Here are a few of the products I enjoyed using in the second half of this year and one from the first, in no particular order.
MSI GE76 Raider
On my first day in the Stuff office, two things happened. We decided it would be better to go back to working from home for a bit and I received the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 laptop as my first product to review. I didn’t think laptops could get any more powerful than that. Well, turns out they can. The MSI GE76 Raider might not have two screens but the one it does have, supports UHD and it’s got the fastest CPU and GPU on the market.
I’ve always been a PC gamer so getting the chance to try out high-end machines has been a highlight for me this year. Even unoptimised games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Battlefield 2042 run okay and look great when you crank them up to ultra and enable ray tracing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without its downsides. It gets rather hot, the fans sound like a leaf blower and it doesn’t last long on battery. Not to mention the price. Starting at R80,000, not many people will get to try this out and I certainly won’t be picking myself up one. But man it’s hard not to be impressed.
Samsung Odyssey G70A
Another high-end product I got my hands on this year was Samsung’s revision of its Odyssey G7 gaming monitor. This might be one of the fanciest monitors I’ve used. The time I had this overlapped slightly with the MSI laptop above and using the two together was a dream. The previous version came with either a 27in or 32in VA panel with a QHD (2560×1440) resolution and 240Hz refresh rate. It also had a rather aggressive 1000R curve. VA panels are nice for watching movies and other content because the contrast ratio is so much better than TN or IPS but that’s about all it’s good for. Curved monitors are not for everyone. This one in particular.
It seems like Samsung heard those cries because the new model swaps out the 2K VA curved display for a 28in UHD (3840×2160) IPS panel but lowers the refresh rate to 144Hz. It keeps the variable refresh rate compatibility though which is a must-have feature on high-end displays. It would’ve been nice to see a bigger size though. 28in is a tad small for the amount of detail and sharpness 4K affords. You can expect a full review of this early next year
Xiaomi 11T Pro
Something that I had to learn quickly was the best way to swap between phones quickly, efficiently and without any downtime or data loss. Before starting with Stuff I, like most people, would get my new phone from the contract upgrade and that would be it for the next two years. I have had the chance to play around with more smartphones in the last six months than I did since I got my first phone when I was 13. Out of all the phones I used, I spent the most time with the Xiaomi 11T Pro. It was one of the few that I actually enjoyed switching to and would consider picking up for myself. I certainly recommended it to enough people.
On paper, the specs are pretty impressive. It’s running the previous-gen flagship Snapdragon 888 SoC. As someone who likes to have a lot of apps open at once and constantly switches between them, I haven’t found many devices that can keep up. This comes pretty close. It’s got a decent amount of RAM and the screen is pretty good. I don’t take many pictures but when I did, the camera performed well enough. The price is also very competitive so all of that would be enough to sell me on it but the 120W fast charging all but removes the worry of your battery dying on you. One morning I noticed it was a little low at around 50% so I put it on charge and went to put my shoes on and brush my teeth to leave for work. It was full when I unplugged.
Jabra Elite Active 75t
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve had a lot of firsts while at Stuff. Another one of those was using in-ear true wireless buds for the first time. My first pair was the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and I wasn’t that impressed. They sounded pretty good but almost everything else about them I didn’t like. Then I was handed the Jabra Elite Active 75t and they fixed all my gripes with the Galaxy Buds. So much so, I used them as my daily buds now.
The battery is great, I can get about four days of use, and the active noise cancellation is a must when you’re trying to get work done but everyone in the office wants to talk about what Elon tweeted last. I feel like a bit of a fraud using them though because they have ‘active’ in the name and the last time I went for a run was…
Xtrfy MZ1 Zai’s Rail
This is the only bit of tech on this list that I didn’t get through Stuff for work. I have this habit of not being able to buy a piece of tech if I haven’t done extensive research over many weeks to determine which is the best for me. So when I had to replace my mouse at the beginning of the year, I must have watched at least 100 hours of mouse reviews on YouTube. A lot of them were by a YouTuber called Rocket Jump Ninja. He has been reviewing mice for the past six years and has over 100 mice reviews on his channel. He designed this mouse with Xtrfy, the Swedish peripherals company.
Gaming mice these days are all pretty much the same when it comes to specs. They’re all using near-perfect sensors, all rated for 10 million+ clicks and most have good weight distribution. The biggest thing that sets them apart for the user is the shape. My hands are suited to a smaller size mouse and I use a claw/fingertip hybrid grip so this shape with the protruding back, aggressive slope and low front fit my hands well.