Celebrating the very best in tech
This year marks the 9th edition of the annual HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards, the tech industry’s premier event where we recognize the best brands, products, and services.
A total of 29 Editor’s Choice and 43 Readers’ Choice awards were presented this year, in categories ranging from computers and consumer electronics to digital entertainment, communications, and services. Also presented are 4 Innovation awards (part of the Editor’s Choice categories) to recognize innovative products and cutting-edge technologies that have emerged during the eligibility period.
- For the Editor’s Choice awards, a total of 120 products introduced between January and December 2017 were shortlisted. After many months of evaluation by the HWM and HardwareZone.com editorial team, winners were chosen based on the performance, value, and quality of experience they brought to their users.
- In addition, voting for the 43 Readers’ Choice categories was opened to all readers of HWM, HardwareZone.com, and GameAxis.com. With a total of 240 brand nominations, it remains one of the most comprehensive brand recognition surveys in the industry.
This is also the third year the Tech Awards have included video gaming merit categories, presented in collaboration with GameAxis.com. In the Readers’ Choice, we’ve the Best Gaming Console Brand, Best Gaming Publisher, and Best VR Gaming Gear Brand awards; and in the Editor’s Choice, we’ve the Best Game Console and Game of the Year awards.
Without further ado, in this first of three comprehensive articles, let us first take a look at the detailed results of our Readers’ Choice polls.
Readers’ Choice Awards - Computing (Part 1)
Best CPU Brand - Intel
Last year, we heralded the arrival of Intel’s 7th-gen Core “Kaby Lake” chips. Many desktop and laptop PCs today are using these processors, but if you were the type that would settle for nothing but the best, know that OEMs have already started to incorporate chipzilla’s 8th-gen “Coffee Lake” CPUs in their latest systems. The 14nm++ Coffee Lake processors for desktop PCs in particular now come with more cores than before, with even the Core i3 SKU sporting four physical cores. While it’s mainly fire and ice between Intel’s Coffee Lake and AMD’s Ryzen, there’s still some love between both companies, as evidenced by the new Intel Core CPU with discrete AMD Radeon graphics. All said, Intel’s dominance in this Readers’ Choice category continues this year with 87% of the votes.
Best Graphics Processor Brand - NVIDIA
Say GPU, and NVIDIA is the probably the first name that comes to your mind. And while it may seem like ages, the GeForce 10 series only arrived in mid 2016, and since then, we’ve no less than 10 cards, from the entry-level GT 1030 to the midrange GTX 1050/1050Ti and GTX 1060 to the high-end GTX 1070/1070 Ti and GTX 1080/1080 Ti. And of course, who can forget the crazy-powerful (and expensive) Titan X and Xp. Not one to rest on its laurels, NVIDIA has already planned for life beyond the current Pascal microarchitecture. Yes, we’re referring to Volta, the sole reason the Titan V is now the most powerful consumer graphics card money can buy today.
Best Graphics Cards Brand - ASUS
With 46% of the votes, this is the ninth straight year ASUS has walked home with our Readers’ Choice award for Best Graphics Card Brand. (In fact, no one else has won this category since Tech Awards returned in 2010.) We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again: we think ASUS’ popularity boils down to its ability to churn out a wide range of graphics cards for both NVIDIA and AMD fans. And mind you, these aren't just duplicates of reference graphics cards, but cards with exclusive ASUS technologies such as DIGI+ VRM, Super Alloy Power, DirectCU cooling tech for better overclocking, Aura Sync RGB LED synchronization - just to name a few. For discerning gamers, ASUS also has a highly regarded ROG line, which is known for its supreme performance and reliability.
Best Motherboard Brand - ASUS
What most of our readers like about ASUS’ graphics cards (variety, performance, reliability, ASUS’ exclusive technologies) also apply to the company’s motherboards. Whatever form factor (ATX, extended ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX) and whatever socket or chipset (AMD AM4, TR4, Intel LGA1151, AMD X399, Intel X299, Z370, B250, etc.) - ASUS has them all. And like its graphics cards, ASUS’ motherboards are further segmented into different categories, such as the Prime, ROG, and TUF series, to target different audience. In short, regardless of your needs, there’s bound to be one ASUS motherboard out there for you.
Best PC Memory Brand - Kingston
After a surprising defeat to Corsair last year, Kingston is once again our readers’ favorite PC memory maker, with 38% of the votes this year. In addition to continuing to make RAM modules that cater to both entry and high-end PC builders, one particular achievement from Kingston last year was its Server Premier series of DDR4 2,666MT/s registered DIMMs for data center use.
Readers’ Choice Awards - Computing (Part 2)
Best SSD Brand - Samsung
With 39% of the votes, this is the fourth straight year Samsung has strolled home with our Readers’ Choice award for Best SSD Brand. For those unaware, Samsung’s consumers SSDs can be broadly divided into two categories: Pro and Evo. The Pro drives are for power-hungry enthusiasts, while the Evo drives are generally for mainstream users seeking something faster than your traditional mechanical HDDs. But there’s also different series within the Pro and Evo categories. Case in point: the flagship 960 NVME M.2 SSD has both Pro and Evo versions, with the former offering up to 2TB capacity and higher sequential read and write speeds. And a rung down we’ve the recently announced 860 Pro and 860 Evo SSDs, which are available in 2.5-inch SATA III, M.2 SATA, and mSATA form factors.
Best External Storage Brand - WD
When it comes to HDDs, there are no bigger brands than Seagate and Western Digital. In recent years, they’ve grown even bigger, with Seagate acquiring Samsung’s HDD business in 2011, and Western Digital acquiring Hitachi Global Storage Technologies in 2012. Garnering 28% of the votes, WD is once again the winner of this Best External Storage Brand category, with Seagate a very close second with 27%. Some highlights: just last year, WD updated its My Book Duo RAID-optimized desktop storage system to include USB Type-C support as well as a new 20TB option. For users who want to create their personal cloud, WD’s My Cloud Home and Home Duo drives are updated recently, too. Last but not least, if you need a speedy portable drive, check out the WD My Passport SDD.
Best Removable Flash Storage Brand - SanDisk
With 55% of the votes, SanDisk is once again the winner of our Best Removable Flash Storage Brand award. While SanDisk is now owned by Western Digital, the company is still selling many products under the SanDisk brand. Which makes tremendous sense, since SanDisk has built a reputation of making high-quality flash memory products, including memory cards and readers, USB flash drives, and SSDs. Some of the more interesting products launched by the company recently include the iXpand Base, which is a device for saving photos and videos while the iPhone is charging; and this 400GB Ultra microSDXC UHS-I card.
Best NAS Brand - D-Link
Long-time readers will know that our NAS (network-attached storage) category has always been hotly contested, and this edition is no different with no less than 12 brands in the mix. With 20% of the votes, D-Link is the winner this year, with Seagate a very close second at 19%. Together with Synology, these three brands already make up for more than half of the votes cast. As a primer, D-Link’s home network storage devices fall under the ShareCenter line, with models such as the 4-bay DNS–340L and 2-bay DNS–327L. It also has network video recorders, which are standalone storage devices that can record videos from multiple network cameras sans a PC. For SMEs and larger enterprises, D-Link makes a range of iSCSi SAN (storage area network) solutions.
Readers’ Choice Awards - Computing (Part 3)
Best Inkjet Printer Brand - Canon
With a commanding 41% of the votes, Canon is once again our readers’ favorite inkjet printer brand. Late last year, the maker of EOS cameras updated its Pixma photo and office printer lineup with several new models, such as the Pixma TR8570, TS5170, TS8170, and TS9170. Updated designs and a new photo blue ink (for the TS9170 and TS8170) aside, Canon has introduced a new Message in Print app that lets users embed animations or links to web videos in any photo. And just a few weeks back, the company updated its Pixma G ink tank printer series with the G4010, G3010, and G2010, with each of these 4-color printers capable of delivering up to 6,000 B&W pages and 7,000 color document pages with a single set of inks.
Best Laser/LED Printer Brand - Canon
With 26% of the votes, Canon has edged out last year’s winner Fuji Xerox to win this year’s Best Laser/LED Printer Brand award. Canon’s laser printer team certainly had a busy 2017, introducing models such as the Imageclass LBP312x mono laser printer, the MF631Cn, MF633Cdw, MF635Cx, and MF735Cx color laser multi-function printers, as well as the LBP611Cn, LBP613Cdw, and LBP654Cx color laser single-function printers targeted at SOHOs, SMEs, and workgroups within large enterprises.
Best Wireless Networking Brand - ASUS
With 33% of the votes, this is the fifth straight year ASUS has won our Best Wireless Networking Brand award. Like its motherboards and graphics cards, ASUS offers a lot of wireless routers: AC5300 (even one under the ROG brand), AC3200, AC3100, AC2400, AC1900 routers - you name it. ASUS has gotten into the mesh networking game too, with the introduction of the AC2200 tri-band Lyra in 2017, and more systems are expected this year. But you don’t really need the Lyra to enjoy the benefits of a mesh network; ASUS has earlier this year announced a new firmware that enables users to use their existing ASUS routers to create a mesh Wi-Fi network. In second place is Linksys, maker of the Velop mesh Wi-Fi system and the new WRT32X wireless gaming router that has a built-in Killer Prioritization Engine.
Best IP Camera Brand - D-Link
With 23% of the votes, D-Link is now a two-time winner of our Best IP Camera Brand award. At the moment, D-Link’s best home IP camera remains the 2016 DCS-2630L, a wireless-AC-capable camera that offers a full HD image with a 180-degree field of view. But since 2017, Apple users invested in HomeKit have another option in the form of the Omna 180 Cam HD. For users who don’t need FHD quality, D-Link has plenty of HD cameras, including the DCS-960L, DCS-8100LH, and the tiny DCS-8000LH. Coming up strong in second place is Samsung with 18% of the votes.
Best PC Components Retailer (Singapore) - Fuwell
Sim Lim Square has always been the go-to place for DIY enthusiasts building their own systems, as this is the mall that gathers numerous PC components retailers under the same roof. For the ninth consecutive year, our readers have voted Fuwell their favorite local PC components retailer. The margin between second and fourth placings aren't that wide though: Best Bargain garnered 12%, and Bizgram, Cybermind, and PC Themes each received 11% of the votes.
Readers’ Choice Awards - Gaming
Best Gaming Monitor Brand - ASUS
With 23% of the votes, ASUS is our readers’ favorite gaming monitor brand. Of the several monitors launched by ASUS in 2017, the ones that caught our eye include the ROG Swift PG258Q, a 24.5-inch, G-Sync-capable monitor that also touts a 240Hz refresh rate; and the ZenScreen MB16AC, a 15.6-inch portable monitor that uses USB-C. We also like the ROG Swift PG27VQ, which at long last is selling in Singapore this February. Sporting a 27-inch curved panel with a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel resolution, this G-Sync-capable gaming monitor also boasts a 165Hz refresh rate, a 1ms response time, and ASUS’ Aura Sync RGB illumination for more bling. Very close behind in second place is Dell (22%), which last year introduced the world’s first 32-inch 8K monitor. The Alienware 25, a 24.5-inch 1080p monitor with G-Sync and 240Hz refresh rate support, was also launched in 2017.
Best Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Brand - Razer
Despite featuring over 16 brands, Razer still managed to comfortably win this Best Gaming Keyboard and Mouse Brand award with a large 43% chunk of the votes. Looking back, Razer did come out with several interesting gaming input devices last year, such as the BlackWidow Chroma V2, which has Razer’s new Yellow switches and a magnetic wrist rest. For mice, we’ve the new Lancehead wireless mouse, and the Atheris, which Razer claims to be the ultimate wireless notebook mouse with gaming-grade performance. And for something more recent, the Basilisk is an FPS mouse with a customizable thumb clutch, and the Naga Trinity and Tartarus V2 is a modular mouse and keypad combo targeted at MOBA and MMO gamers.
Best Gaming Desktop PC Brand - Aftershock
With 29% of the votes, local outfit Aftershock PC is once again our readers’ favorite gaming desktop PC brand. To recap, in 2017, we've the tiny but powerful Impulse gaming PC (which Aftershock quickly followed up with V2 just three months later), as well as the Next AIO Gaming PC with a 32-inch display and up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics. And just this January, Aftershock launched the Aeon 34, a 34-inch AIO with a curved, ultra-wide display and Intel’s 8th-gen Core processors.
Best Gaming Notebook Brand - Dell/Alienware
With 25% of the votes, Dell/Alienware is the winner of this category once again. In broad strokes, for high-performance gaming, Dell’s Alienware line is the one you should look at. It consists of the Alienware 13, Alienware 15, and Alienware 17, featuring technologies such as dynamic overclocking, built-in carbon fiber, and even an optional Graphics Amplifier. There are also gaming notebooks under the Dell branding. For example, there’s the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, which is a 15-inch, full HD notebook with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics and Max-Q optimizations. Aftershock, which brought us the 15.6-inch Prime-15 notebook, the P-13 Helix ultrabook (which works with an external GPU dock, too!), and the W-15 Lite fitted with a six-core Intel i7 CPU, is trailing not far behind.
Best Gaming Console Brand - Sony
Once again, our readers have chosen Sony as their favorite gaming console maker. To recap, there are two PlayStation 4 consoles you can get at the moment: the regular PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro. The former is simply a slimmer and more energy-efficient update of the conventional PS4, and is now HDR-capable. On the other hand, the PlayStation 4 Pro has a higher-clocked processor, a beefier GPU, and supports 4K gaming, HDR, and smoother frame rates. Nintendo, maker of the popular Switch hybrid console, remains in second place with 33%. Microsoft, which Xbox One X just went on sale in November, is third.
Best Gaming Publisher - Activision Blizzard
With 22% of the votes, Activision Blizzard managed to defeat over 20 other publishers to snag this Readers’ Choice award for Best Gaming Publisher. Certainly, a lot of good things happened to the American company in 2017, including Overwatch becoming its eighth billion-dollar franchise, Blizzard setting a 42 million active monthly users record (thanks to Overwatch and Hearthstone), and the success of the online-only, multi-player FPS game Destiny 2. Electronic Arts (18%) and Nintendo (14%) occupy the second and third spot respectively.
Best VR Gaming Gear Brand - Sony
VR gaming is still in its early stages, but our readers already have their favorite. With 33% of the votes, Sony, maker of the PlayStation VR headset, is now a two-time winner of our Best VR Gaming Gear Brand award. Interestingly, in second place is Samsung, which makes the (comparatively more affordable) Gear VR for its Galaxy phones. Oculus VR, which makes the Oculus Rift, is third with 22%. Recently at CES, the Facebook-owned company announced that it’s working with China’s Xiaomi to make VR headsets powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor.
Readers' Choice Awards - Consumer Electronics (Part 1)
Best Business Notebook Brand - Lenovo
With 24% of the votes, the Best Business Notebook Brand award is once again won by Lenovo, which shipped 54.8 million PCs in 2017 according to IDC. Last year, Lenovo introduced a trove of notebooks, from new Legion gaming notebooks to new Yoga convertibles to new Miix hybrids with Intel’s latest 8th-gen Core CPUs. This year’s ThinkPad X, T, and L series notebooks are also getting the 8th-gen Intel Core CPUs, slimmer designs, and USB chargers, with the flagship Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga additionally gaining support for Dolby Vision HDR. (Fans should also check out this ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25.) Apple, which MacBook lineup got a Kaby Lake refresh last June, remains in second place.
Best Convertible Notebook Brand - ASUS
The winner of our very first Best Convertible Notebook Brand award goes to ASUS. Early last year, we saw the ZenBook Flip S, a mere 10.9mm thick convertible notebook with a 13.3-inch screen. ASUS has since updated this world’s thinnest convertible notebook to use Intel’s latest 8th-gen Core i7 CPU. ASUS’ other convertibles can be found under the company’s VivoBook Flip series. Microsoft, which recently announced that it's bringing the Surface Laptop, Surface Book 2, and Surface Studio AIO to Singapore, is a very close second with 23% of the votes.
Best Premium Compact Camera Brand - Canon
The digital still camera market continues to face an uphill task competing with smartphones which are increasingly getting more powerful and better optics. While DSC sales in 2017 generally fared better than 2016 over the first nine months according to CIPA, they started dipping again in the last quarter. For this Readers’ Choice category, our winner is once again Canon, which garnered 34% of the votes. Last year, the EOS DSLR maker released the PowerShot SX730 HS, a 20.3-megapixel compact camera with a 40x optical zoom lens; as well as the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, a small-ish compact camera with an 24.2MP APS-C camera and a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system. Of course, Canon has also been aggressively pushing its EOS M series of compact system cameras, such as the EOS M5, M6, and M100.
Best Interchangeable Lens Camera Brand - Canon
With 35% of the votes, Canon continues to be our readers’ favorite interchangeable lens camera brand. In 2017, the company started off with the EOS 77D, which touts an AF speed of just 0.03 seconds. It then followed that up with the EOS 800D for entry-level enthusiasts; the EOS 200D for beginners; and the EOS 6D Mark II, a 26.2-megpixel, full-frame DSLR with a 45-point all cross-type AF system. Nikon, which launched its highly anticipated D850 last year, is second with 23%. Sony, maker of the A7R III and A9 mirrorless cameras, is third with 12%.
Best Action Camera Brand - GoPro
With a commanding 56% of the votes, GoPro is now a two-time winner of our Best Action Camera Brand award. The company’s current flagship Hero action camera is the Hero 6 Black, which sports an all-new GP1 chip for double the performance of the older Hero 5. It can also record 4K at 60fps or 1080p at 240fps for stunning slo-mo videos. Also new is the Fusion, a 360-degree camera capable of delivering 5.2K footage at 30fps. Interestingly, Nikon, which makes the KeyMission series of action cameras, is in (a distant) second place.
Readers' Choice Awards - Consumer Electronics (Part 2)
Best Smartwatch Brand - Apple
There should be no doubt by now that the Apple Watch is a success, both in terms of sales and mind share. With half of the votes going its way, Apple is once gain our readers’ top smartwatch maker. Last year, Apple brought the latest Apple Watch Series 3 to Singapore, but only for the GPS version. Which is a bummer since LTE support is the biggest addition to the latest gen Watch. That said, the latest update is that the LTE Apple Watch is finally going on sale in Singapore from February 9. To be clear though, Apple isn’t the only nor the first to have an LTE-capable smartwatch. Samsung’s Gear S3 Frontier has been widely available here since January 2017. For those who prefer smartwatches that look less like a wrist computer, well, here’s our hybrid smartwatch shootout.
Best Activity Tracker Brand - Fitbit
With 50% of the votes, this is the third straight year Fitbit has snagged our Readers’ Choice award for Best Activity Tracker Brand. Early last year, we welcomed the Alta HR, a slim tracker that can do heart rate and sleep tracking. Later in the year, Fitbit did get real serious with the smartwatch game with the introduction of the Ionic, which offers GPS, heart rate tracking, on-device guided workouts, and automatic sleep tracking with Sleep Stages. And unlike most smartwatches (or, more like most fitness trackers), the Ionic boasts up to five days of battery life. In second place with 15% is Garmin, which launched the Vivosmart 3 and Vivosport trackers in 2017.
Best Consumer Electronics Chain Store (Singapore) - Challenger
With 42% of the votes, IT and CE chain store Challenger has now won our Best CE Chain Store award for six consecutive years. And that’s despite the closure of Funan, the mall in which Challenger was an anchor tenant. (For those unaware, Challenger's current flagship store is at Bugis Junction.) Harvey Norman (16%), which opened a giant flagship outlet at Millenia Walk in late 2015 and followed that up with the Games Hub in 2016, and Courts (10%) complete the top three.
Best Electronics Shopping Portal (Singapore) - Lazada
With 30% of the votes, Lazada has dislodged last year’s winner Qoo10 to be our readers’ favorite local online electronics shopping portal. For what it’s worth, the Alibaba Group-owned company also owns Redmart, and has this LiveUp membership program that offer benefits such as exclusive promotions, free delivery, rebates, etc. from Lazada, Redmart, Netflix, Uber, UberEats, and Taobao Collection. Amazon, which launched its Prime Now same-day delivery service in July last year and Prime membership in December, only came in fourth with 9%, behind Qoo10 (24%) and Hachi.tech (14%).
Readers' Choice Awards - Consumer Electronics (Part 3)
Best TV Brand - Samsung
Samsung, the market leader in terms of TV shipments, remains our readers’ favorite TV maker. In 2017, the Korean company introduced new quantum dot-enhanced QLED TVs that tout several significant improvements over their predecessors, including 100% color volume, up to 2,000 nits brightness, and an “Invisible Connection” design to solve long-time cable clutter problems faced by many people. This year, we can expect more QLED models from Samsung, with new features such as Bixby and SmartThings integrations, as well as this new 85-inch Q9S model, which sports 8K resolution and an AI that can convert any 1080p or 4K content into 8K quality. Samsung also offered a glimpse of its next generation of TV at CES with the unveiling of the 146-inch “The Wall”, the world’s first consumer modular microLED TV. In second place with 25% is LG, purveyor of some very fine OLED TVs in 2017. In 2018, LG is still banking heavily on OLED, and has introduced no less than eight models across four series at CES. AI, Google Assistant integration, faster processors, and strong HDR format support are some of the common features you can expect in LG’s OLED and Super UHD LCD TVs this year.
Best Pay TV Service (Singapore) - StarHub TV
With 56% of the votes, StarHub TV is the runaway winner of our Best Pay TV Service award. Mostly known for its cable TV services, StarHub is now focusing more on its Fiber TV service, which as the name implies, is a TV service that rides on the fiber broadband network and requires a StarHub Fiber Broadband subscription. In short, almost all channels (over 200) that are available on StarHub Cable TV service are now also available on this Fiber TV service. (See full list of StarHub TV channels here.) The fiber TV set-top box also offers more functionalities than its cable TV counterpart. Additionally, StarHub offers something called StarHub Go, a series of subscription packages that let you stream shows, movies, live sports, and more on your mobile devices. Better yet, StarHub Mobile customers get to enjoy data-free StarHub Go streaming.
Best Video Streaming Service Provider (Singapore) - Netflix
With a staggering 64% of the votes, Netflix is once again our readers’ favorite video streaming service. This is also Netflix’s second straight win since we created this award last year. Nowadays, Netflix is all about original content, and let’s just say in 2017 we’ve spent countless hours bingeing on shows such as The Crown, Ozark, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and Star Trek Discovery (just to name a few). While the Singapore catalog is still comparatively smaller than the U.S., Netflix has promised to work hard to close the gap. HDR is another area of focus for Netflix recently, and even mobile phones like the LG G6 and V30, Razer Phone, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, and Sony Xperia XZ Premium and XZ1 can now stream Netflix in either Dolby Vision or HDR10 format. For serious A/V folks, Dolby Atmos is now supported on several Netflix shows, starting with Okja mid last year.
Best Business Projector Brand - Epson
With 23% of the votes, this is the fifth year in a row Epson has won our Readers’ Choice award for Best Business Projector Brand. As we mentioned last year, Epson’s focus these days are more in the high-value, and high-brightness segment, which led the company to launch models such as the 25,000-lumen EB-L25000U in late 2016. Epson’s EB-1700 series of 3LCD projectors was also updated in 2017 with appealing models such as the EB-1781W, a 3,200-lumen, wireless ultra-portable WXGA projector weighing under 2kg. The high-end EB-1400 series of ultra-short-throw projectors was also updated last year. And just this past December, we saw the EB-1470Ui, which is the world’s first 3LCD laser ultra-short throw projector. Moving up to second place this year is Canon, with 17% of the votes.
Best Home Theater Projector Brand - Sony
With 30% of the votes, Sony is once again our readers’ favorite home theater projector maker. Early last year, the company introduced the VPL-VZ1000ES, which is an ultra-short-throw 4K HDR home theater projector. And during IFA in August, we saw new 4K projectors, including the SXRD-based VPL-VW760ES and VPL-VW360ES. Epson (20%) and Panasonic (14%) complete the top three for this category.
Readers' Choice Awards - Consumer Electronics (Part 4)
Best Headphones Brand - Bose
With over 30 brands participating in this category, the margins at the top are super-tight this year. After careful tabulation, Bose (13%) just edged out Klipsch (12%) and B&O (11%) to take home the trophy. Last September, Bose updated its iconic QC35 wireless headphones to include support for Google Assistant. With the QC35 II, you can now tell Assistant to play a playlist or a favorite song by a favorite artist, and even add appointments to your Google calendar. It can also notify you about incoming messages, events, and reminders, and read them back to you. Around the same time last year, Klipsch also launched its Heritage HP-3, which is the company’s flagship semi-open headphones that uses free-edge 52mm biodynamic drivers.
Best In-Ear Earphones Brand - Klipsch
Featuring over 30 brands, the in-ear earphones category is also a hotly contested category. With 16% of the votes, Klipsch managed to retain the award it won last year, edging out other industry heavyweights such as Bose (9%), B&O (8%), Apple (7%), and Sennheiser (7%). Early last year, Klipsch unveiled its first Bluetooth neckband headphones in the form of the X12, and followed that up later in the year with the R5. Along the way, Klipsch also released a limited edition R6i to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary. And finally towards the end of the year, it updated the well-regarded R6 and R6i with the R6 (II) and R6i (II), the newer duo now sporting a fresher look and classic round cables for better handling.
Best Wireless Speakers Brand - Sonos
With 16% of the votes, the winner of our Best Wireless Speakers Brand award is Sonos, which is known for its speakers such as the Play:1, Play:5, and Playbase. The company’s Sonos One smart speaker, which the company says is gaining support for Google Assistant and AirPlay 2 sometime in the near future, also arrived in Singapore late last year. Bose, which won this category two years ago, remains very close behind with 15% of the votes. Just this past December, the company introduced the SoundLink Micro Bluetooth, which is the company’s smallest portable speaker to date. In third place is Creative with 11% of the votes. At CES this year, the Singapore-based speaker maker showcased its new Nova, Muvo Genie, and Halo Genie Alexa-enabled speakers.
Best Home Theater System Brand - Bose
With 21% of the votes, this is the eighth year in a row that Bose has won our Readers’ Choice award for Best Home Theater System Brand. For surround sound systems, Bose most significant products recently are still the 5-speaker Lifestyle 650 and 600, and the SoundTouch 300 we first reported in end 2016. To recap, the Lifestyle 650 and 600 support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless music streaming, 4K video compatibility, and have six HDMI inputs. The Lifestyle 650’s OmniJewel satellite speakers are made from a single piece of extruded aluminum and offer 360-degree output; while the Lifestyle 600’s Jewel Cube speakers feature direct/reflecting technology, with precisely angled transducers inside each of them. On the other hand, the SoundTouch 300 is a soundbar system that also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity; and if you want more bass or more pronounced surround sound effects, you can add an additional bass module or a couple of rear surround speakers.
Readers' Choice Awards - Communications
Best Smartphone Brand - Apple
With a majority 44% of the votes, Apple remains our readers’ favorite smartphone maker. Unlike 10 years ago, Apple today sells no less than five iPhone series, including the 4-inch iPhone SE, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6S and 5.5-inch 6S Plus, the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and 5.5-inch 7 Plus, the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 and 5.5-inch 8 Plus, and of course, the home-button-less iPhone X. Its closest rival remains Samsung, with 28% of the votes. The disaster that was the 2016 Galaxy Note 7 is now truly behind the company, thanks to the successful launch and the largely positive reception of the 2017 Galaxy S8/S8+ and Note 8. And yes, the Galaxy S9 is coming soon.
Best Phablet Brand - Samsung
When it comes to phablets (i.e., big phones that can double as a tablet), our readers prefer Samsung, as evidenced by the 52% share of the votes it has amassed. The flagship Note 8 aside, Samsung also launched a midrange Galaxy A7 series last year, which is now superseded by the new Galaxy A8. With up to a 6-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display (that’s on the Galaxy A8+), the Galaxy A8 phones also boast dual front cameras (16MP f/1.9 + 8MP f/1.9) capable of delivering bokeh effects via a Live Focus feature. For those that just want a tablet, Samsung sells a Galaxy Tab S3 that sports a 9.7-inch 2,048 x 1,536-pixel Super AMOLED display, and which comes in both Wi-Fi only and LTE variants.
Best Mobile Service Provider (Singapore) - Singtel
With nearly half of the votes, Singtel is our readers’ favorite local mobile service provider. Circles.Life, which entered the market in 2016, has more votes this year than last year (13% vs. 9%), but still trails M1 (21%) and StarHub (18%). Staying with Singtel, the telco started 2017 by upgrading its 4G network speed to 450Mbps. And in July, it brought near-gigabit mobile data speeds on its LTE-Advanced network to several locations across Singapore. Then in September, it announced Data X Infinity, an add-on for Singtel Combo 3, 6, and 12 subscribers to get unlimited local mobile data. (Note: Singtel’s Data X 3 and Data X 2 add-ons for Combo 2 and above plans are still available.) In the same month, the telco rolled out its IoT network; and its Singtel Cast OTT video service gained HOOQ’s catalog, bringing more content choices to its subscribers.
Best Fiber Broadband Service Provider (Singapore) - Singtel
Compared to fixed line and mobile telephone services, the fiber broadband market in Singapore is a lot more competitive due to the presence of more players. (E.g., WhizComms entered the market in late 2016.) Despite that, Singtel remains our readers favorite local fiber broadband service provider, with 40% of the votes this year. In fact, Singtel has yet to relinquish its trophy since we started this category six years ago. Mesh networking is also the rage these days, and we see fiber broadband service providers partnering with networking brands to offer customized solutions. For example, Singtel’s 2Gbps and 10Gbps fiber home bundles come with AirTies WiFi Mesh to help extend your Wi-Fi coverage and eliminate dead zones. Alternatively, Singtel fiber broadband customers can top up for a pair of the Samsung Connect Home hub, which is both a mesh router and smart home hub that works with a variety of SmartThings-compatible sensors. StarHub is partnering with Google for the Google Wifi; while M1 is offering Linksys' Velop and ASUS' Lyra in its fiber broadband bundles.
For a full list of content related to the HWM and HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2018 event, you can refer to the following links:
- Tech Awards 2018: Readers' Choice Results (this article)
- Tech Awards 2018: Editor's Choice Results - Part 1
- Tech Awards 2018: Editor's Choice Results - Part 2
- Full list of winners: HWM+HardwareZone Tech Awards 2018 microsite