The year 2020 has been a rough one for so many reasons. Pandemics, economic disasters, political division, and natural disasters have made it one of the darkest years in memory. If there is a silver lining, for me it was all the great technology that made its way to market this year. Before we discuss graphics cards, headsets, and laptops we should all recognize that the best technology of 2020 is without a doubt the Covid-19 vaccines that are beginning to be distributed. A big round of applause for the companies, scientists, doctors, technicians, nurses, and support personnel that have made them a reality. What a relief to society they will be.
Excluding protection against one of the deadliest pandemics of the last century, there was some great gear and software released this year. Microsoft and Sony let their next-gen consoles out of the gate and man can those ponies run. If you were lucky enough to get your hands on one, you can revel in the knowledge that you’re using one of the most powerful personal computing devices ever created.
In June of 2006 the ASCI Red supercomputer was disassembled. ASCI Red was the first system to breach the teraflop speed barrier. Before ASCI Red was built, it was widely believed that a trillion calculations per second was an unreachable goal. It was ultimately achieved by linking thousands of processer and memory assemblies called compute nodes into a volleyball court sized system. That $500.00 wonder-box sitting under your TV can process your game at more than twelve teraflops.
The next-gen consoles get their supercomputer power from the advanced graphics processing units (GPUs) that use the same technique, thousands of cores linked together. Instead of a room, the cores of a GPU fit in one piece of silicone. Both AMD and Nvidia have released their most powerful GPU’s ever. Changes to the architecture of both manufactures allow for 8K graphics, ray tracing, extreme frame rates, and both will push the envelope of what is possible in the near future. Unfortunately, supply is not keeping up with demand at the moment and the cards are very difficult to get your hands on.
Samsung and Apple gave us the most powerful smartphones created to date. With twelve gigabytes of RAM, an eight core CPU, and at least one-hundred and twenty-eight gigabytes of storage the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is more powerful than many of today’s laptops. Likewise, Apple’s iPhone 12 is the ultimate in mobile technology. Both devices sport an array of sensors and cameras that would make Spock jealous. They’re truly marvels of the modern world.
Microsoft created my favorite 2-N-1 system of all time. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a miniaturized edition of the wildly popular Surface Pro. With a 10.5 inch display, pen support, and that fantastic kickstand, the Go is made for couch time. I’m writing this article on one now. Fast, light, and running Windows 10 they’re an almost perfect machine for IT workers, college students, and anyone else that needs a computer that is roughly the same size as an iPad.
My absolute favorite piece of gear from 2020 is the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. It is simply amazing, powerful, easy to use, world altering, technology for less than $500.00. VR is so much more than games. It is the ability to visit new places and have new experiences that aren’t easily attenable or even possible in the real world. Having a Quest 2 has made this quarantine infinitely more tolerable for me. Like some of the other items on this list the Quest 2 is difficult to find, but keep trying it is worth the trouble.
These lists are always subjective. If you look back through all of the technology from this year there is an astounding amount. Sony released a great OLED TV, Tesla gave us the Model Y, and Apple produced the M1 all of which will have an impact on our way of life. I get the impression that technology manufactures intended for 2020 to be a pinnacle year. Their plans were overshadowed in the end. Tell us what your favorite 2020 tech was in the comments.