The Stuff Awards have always gravitated towards the end of the year, because why have them in the summer when nothing has been announced yet?
It’s this kind of joined-up thinking that gives us the authority to deliver the official word on the best gadgets of 2020... with a little help from you.
As we've mentioned above, we're splitting our annual gadget love-in into multiple parts this year, as there were just so many of the damn things to fit in. So be sure to read the second part of our awards, as well as the always much-anticipated readers' gadget of the year announcement.
But for now, sit back, grab a hot cup of something, and join us as we celebrate the best in 2020 tech.
TV of the year: SONY A8H OLED
Sony might use panels from its competitors but in the A8H, they have cemented the fact that it takes a lot more than that to make a truly great television. Even though it sits one down from the flagship, the A8H bowled us over with its cinematic rendition of streaming content. It’s masterstroke is the X1 Ultimate processor as the brains that perform acts like Object-based HDR remaster, Super Bit Mapping, X-Reality Pro, X-Motion Clarity and Pixel Contrast Booster.
Whether you’re the plug and play type or the one who doesn’t sleep until you get every line on Dame Judy Dench’s face sharp enough, the Sony impresses with its beautiful natural skin tones, three-dimensional depth and those famed OLED blacks. Undoubtedly the best TV of 2020, the Sony A8H delivers jaw-dropping picture quality that gives new meaning to realism and HDR.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: LG 75SM9400PTA
- Sony X75H
- VU Masterpiece
- OnePlus U
TV gadget of the year: SENNHEISER AMBEO
We’re not ones for pre-judging products, but we have to admit that we didn’t expect the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar to be nearly as good as it is. Surely it couldn’t be worth the high price and comparative hassle. But it really is. It’s expensive for a soundbar, rather huge and quite fussy with positioning, but these design decisions have been made in the name of superior sonics, and they seem to have paid off. By using bigger, higher-quality drivers the Ambeo Soundbar is able to produce audio with rare, natural tonality, cohesion and solidity, and the 3D audio processing is utterly convincing. This is the best soundbar we’ve tested, and the best way to get surround sound into your room without filling it with lots of individual speakers
- Mi Box 4
- Xiaomi Mi TV Stick
- Nokia Media Streamer
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
STREAMING SERVICE OF THE YEAR: DISNEY+ HOTSTAR
We could sit here and say Covid kept us indoors for most of 2020… and it’d be true, but streaming services were equally to blame for record levels of antisocial living. Big love goes to low-cost entry barrier for subscriptions; but with a vast supply of high-quality sports content plus a dizzyingly huge library of third-party series and movies, highlights included The Mandalorian and all of Disney's movies including Marvel's too, all served in many regional languages as well. While the nail-biting sports matches kept us sane during the endless weeks of lockdown. Especially India's test match triumph over Australia at the Gabba.
- Apple Music
- Amazon Prime Video
- Sony Liv
Headphones of the year: Sony WH-1000XM4
In truth, there wasn’t much we disliked about Sony’s WH-10000XM3s – but any minor quibbles were addressed by their 2020 successors, resulting in a near-flawless pair of noise-cancelling cans.
Sony kept the XM4s as great-sounding and comfortable as before, improved the already excellent ANC and added new features like automatic wear detection, the ability to connect to multiple Bluetooth devices at once and ‘Speak-to-Chat’, which pauses audio and allows ambient noise to pass through when it detects your voice.
Should you have this function enabled, it does mean an end to singing along to your music… but we dare say that your loss is everyone sitting in close proximity’s gain. No offence.
Jabra Elite 45h on-ear
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
IN-EARS OF THE YEAR: SENNHEISER MOMENTUM TRUE WIRELESS 2
They aren’t the cheapest option out there but if we had to buy a pair of TWS purely on the basis of sound quality, the Momentum TW2 would be our first choice. Sure, they miss a wireless charging case, they miss quick switching, they don’t offer a cool animation for pairing or battery life but start playing some tunes and you won’t mind any of those oversights. Sennheiser is clearly after the audiophile who’s always on the move, not the shopkeeper who’s minting gold during the lockdown. Our new favourite travel in-ears are going to be difficult to replace for a long time and will take something special.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds+
- OnePlus Buds Z
- Sennheiser CX 400 BT
- Sony WF-1000XM3 TWS ANC
SPEAKER OF THE YEAR: APPLE HOMEPOD
That Apple does things in its own sweet time is no new discovery. But even by its own standards, the company arrived late to the wireless speaker party. But being late is perfectly acceptable if you’re the life and soul when you arrive – and that’s pretty much the story with the HomePod. Despite some flaws and limitations, the HomePod is the best-sounding smart speaker available – and by quite a margin. The update to AirPlay 2 has also brought with it support for multiroom. This works exactly as expected – add each HomePod (or supported speakers from other brands such as Sonos, Naim and B&O) to a specific room and, via Siri commands, you can play the same music everywhere or different tracks in different rooms. All of this when combined with Siri’s reinvention as your personal DJ/musical guru, it makes for an endlessly entertaining all-in-one system. Assuming you’re already deep in the Apple ecosystem.
Highly commended: Apple HomePod Mini
- Google Nest Audio
- Amazon Echo 4th Gen
MUSIC GADGET OF THE YEAR: BOSS GT POCKET
On the one hand, the spring lockdown brought a dramatic surge in guitar sales. On the other, now that all the neighbours are working from home it’s no longer acceptable to blast out your Eddie Van Halen tributes through a 100W Marshall full stack from breakfast until teatime.
Put those two hands together, and what you’ll find nestling snugly between them is this, the ultimate tool for silent widdling. About the size of an extra-chunky smartphone, the Pocket GT is packed with the same digital effects and amp models you’ll find in Boss’s hugely popular multi-FX stompboxes.
Plug your axe in at one end, your headphones in at the other, pair your phone over Bluetooth and jam along with YouTube videos. It’s what Eddie would have wanted.
- Roli Lumi
- Audient Evo 4
- Teenage Engineering PO-133 Street Fighter
Geek Tech of the Year: Xgimi Mogo Pro
Billed as the world’s first portable projector that runs on Google’s Android TV platform, it does propel this category into the mainstream, instead of lounging on the fringes of indulgence. What’s most striking is its form factor that is reminiscent of a Sonos Play speaker. Perhaps the single feature that awards the MoGo Pro the courage to challenge traditional TVs is the 300 ANSI lumens of brightness via its LED lamp engine. The picture is sharp and the autofocus is quick to adjust to the location automatically, though there is a secret toggle at the bottom of the remote control that allows you to manually control the focus too. It also adjusts keystone automatically as well, cementing its target audience as someone who just wants a big picture with a plug-n-play device.
- Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
- Lego Mario Lego
- Super Mario NES
- Raspberry Pi 400
car OF THE YEAR: Kia Sonet
We are very aware of the club the Kia Sonet has stolen this crown from. But one look at the feature list and it can sway a potential luxury car buyer away and into its already packed showrooms. From the largest infotainment screen (10.25in) in the segment to the 7-speaker Bose audio and a world-first virus protection air purifier system, it’s list of timely and relevant features blend practicality and affordable indulgence like never before. Our favourite bit is the ventilated seat function for the front row occupants and while northern folks may not share our sentiment, wait till you see our crisp shirt backs in the summer! The Sonet also takes a page from its elder sibling, the Seltos and pulls out all stops in terms of powertrain options. There’s something for literally everyone, from a manual to a 7-speed DCT gearbox and a petrol and diesel engines to mate it with.
Highly commended: BMW 220d
- Mercedes-Benz EQC
- Audi RSQ8
- Land Rover Discovery Sport
Tablet of the year: Apple iPad Air (2020)
The latest iPad Air may be pricier than the version it’s replaced, but the pain in your wallet should be more than soothed once you haul the thing out of its box.
Not only has it been given a welcome exterior overhaul, getting the same elegant flat edges as the iPad Pro and a raft of new colour finishes, but it’s also startlingly muscular when it comes to raw power. Our benchmarks showed it outstripping even the latest 12.9in iPad Pro in single-core performance, and coming close in GPU performance. That’s seriously impressive for a non-Pro slate, and – along with other improvements over its predecessor, including a bigger screen – only strengthens our belief that the iPad Air is the tablet with the greatest mass appeal.
Nailing the sweet spot between affordability and performance, this beautifully refined 10.9in tab is comfortably the all-rounder of the year.
Highly commended: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+
- Apple iPad Pro
- Apple iPad
Camera of the year: Fujifilm X-T4
Fujifilm’s flagship is a bona fide all-rounder – the Ian Botham of mirrorless cameras, if you will (minus the questionable politics and addiction to blowing away grouse with a shotgun).
Its 15fps continuous stills shooting capabilities make it ideal for snapping subjects on the move, including grouse, and it’s no slouch when it comes to video either: it’ll capture pristine Ultra HD footage at a slick 60fps, or 1080p at up to 240fps for smooth slow-motion playback.
As with most Fujis, its colour science is a strong point, with the company’s famed film simulation modes giving you a range of filters for striking images straight out of the camera. Even with standard settings you can rely on the X-T4 to serve up sharp, natural-looking shots that need minimal tweaking later. Factor in the super-sturdy build, in-body stabilisation and long battery life, and this is a cam for all seasons.
Highly commended: Fujifilm X-S10
- Canon EOS R6
- Sony A7C
- Nikon D780
ACTION CAM OF THE YEAR: GOPRO HERO9 BLACK
The dinkiest camera to do 5K? Yup, the Hero9 Black is packing more resolution, more battery, more screen and... more price. It's an improvement from the previous GoPro action camera and this time GoPro has addressed the vlogger woes - a front-facing screen! Kick it, punch it, throw it in the depths of boiling hot daal chawal, ok maybe not the last bit but the GoPro camera can survive hell and back and if you've already booked the first ticket out of your apartment, the GoPro Hero9 Black has the smarts to record your outdoor indulgence with crystal clear image quality and famed stabilization. HyperSmooth is for the time when you have a little extra at the pub and can't keep the jiggles and giggles away. It's also got in-device horizon locking, meaning if you sway harder than a grass blade blowing in the wind, your pan shots will be perfectly anchored.
Highly commended: DJI MINI 2
- Insta360 One R
- DJI OM 4