Now that 2018 is drawing to a close, we can once again look back and commend some of the year’s best products.
Evaluating the 2018 crop of products, I think the residential electronics industry has quietly entered a period of creativity that matches the start of the new millennium.
Back then the market’s creativity was highlighted by the introduction of HD video technologies and flat-panel displays (including the now extinct plasma technologies) and what was then a surging DVD format.
Today we are seeing the maturation of 4K display technologies, which include the ability to more accurately deliver high dynamic range (HDR) and wide color gamuts (WCGs) such as the digital cinema initiative (DCI) format.
Laser-based projectors continue to gain momentum, offering lower maintenance options and the ability to support HDR and WCGs.
Another video technology that migrated from the commercial A/V market was microLED. MicroLED produces high levels of contrast, deep black levels, expanded color gamuts, and high levels of brightness to help reproduce HDR content.
Fiber cabling continues to be a growing trend, supporting the delivery of formats such as HDR, WCGs and 4K resolutions. Traditional copper cable manufacturers are turning to bandwidth-friendly fiber products, and fiber companies are developing a new era of installer friendly passive and active cabling solutions that support high data rates.
After ignoring the early warning signs that the audiophile hobby was shrinking in relevance, consumer audio companies have responded over the past few years by designing products that better complement today’s listening trends and younger users.
Meeting the needs of younger consumers, more products incorporate wireless Bluetooth capabilities, streaming media options, and industrial designs the better represent today’s lifestyles.
Calling out the best products of 2018 is just about impossible, but with that said, here are my dozen picks for this year's top products in the audio, video and networking categories from companies including Araknis, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Control4, Roku and Sony Professional: