The headline awards at the T3 Awards 2021 are the culmination of a year of innovation. They celebrate the best products, brands, companies and initiatives we’ve seen over the past 12 months and put the icing on top of the cake of a year that has seen some remarkable, unprecedented challenges overcome.
These winners have been chosen for different reasons, but one thing that unites them is that they have all made a huge difference to people’s lives and the world around us over the past year. They’ve sparked joy, improved how society works, got people through difficult times, and pushed the envelope in what is thought possible, pioneering innovation and change in the best possible ways.
Most crucially, though, they’ve made the world a better place, and for that they must be congratulated. Let’s jump into the big winners.
Gadget Of The Year: Sony PlayStation 5
Probably the most anticipated launch of the past year, and still (thanks to stock sniping, retailer issues and a worldwide semiconductor shortage) a highly anticipated console for the millions that haven’t yet been able to get their hands on one, the Sony PlayStation 5 is just incredible.
The PS5 didn’t win this award simply for its properly futuristic design language, or its brilliant upgraded controller. Nor is it here just for its games, a mixture of remastered classics, multi-platform favourites and (at least thus far) only a few high-end exclusives. And it’s not our Gadget of the Year only for its power, which drops true high-end gaming to a price point well below the second mortgage PC market, or its backwards compatibility, which effectively upgrades games from previous PlayStation generations to make them crisper and slicker.
It’s the impact of the PlayStation 5 elsewhere that gives it real Gadget of the Year credibility. It – and, to some extent, the marginally less popular Xbox Series X – has ushered in the acceleration of TV tech, pushing features like VRR, 120Hz refresh rates and automatic low latency to even the mid-range TV market. This isn’t just a console, it’s a benchmark, a statement, a kick in the pants to the entire industry. That’s exactly what next-generation hardware is supposed to be.
It’s also wonder-filled portal to another world of entertainment and escapism, and one that brings a smile to the face of gamers every time they use it. Simply put, the PS5 sparks joy and makes people’s lives better and for that reason as well as all those mentioned above, we’re very proud to announce that the Sony PlayStation 5 has won the T3 Awards 2021 hyper-prestigious Best Gadget Of The Year award.
The gadget of the year shortlist
Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2021)
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Bowers & Wilkins PI7
DJI Air 2S
Insta360 GO 2
OnePlus 9 Pro
Sony PlayStation 5
Brand Of The Year: Apple
2021 is already an extraordinary year for Apple. The move from Intel processors to Apple silicon has given the Mac range a new lease of life and a new playfulness too: the new coloured iMacs may be an homage to the candy-coloured iMacs of the late 1990s, but they’re a very modern proposition thanks to their superbly quick M1 processors and the Big Sur operating system. Even more devices are coming: improved iPads, more Macs and of course, the iPhone 13. But Apple’s legacy may not just be measured in terms of its devices, as wonderful as they are. It also uses its considerable power to promote and demonstrate diversity in tech and to advocate for user privacy.
The brand of the year shortlist
Disney (Highly commended)
Retailer Of The Year: Amazon
What other company has seen us through the past year-and-a-bit like Amazon has? Realistically, what other company possibly could? Amazon’s infrastructure is unparalleled, its already massive network ramping up significantly in the past 12 months. If you live close enough to a distribution centre there’s nothing quite like placing an order for just about anything at 10AM and having that product land on your doorstep at 6PM – and Amazon’s range of distribution options, from Amazon Hub points to its ubiquitous locker system, makes getting what you ordered an absolute cinch. Let’s not ignore Amazon’s own (excellent) product range, or the huge fringe benefits (including one of the best streaming services around) attached to Prime membership; everything’s coming up Amazon.
The retailer of the year shortlist
Tech Innovation Award: Samsung MICRO LED
MicroLED is the future of television, and Samsung is leading the way in making that future happen. Its panels use thousands of tiny LEDs to deliver per-pixel illumination for exceptional image quality, contrast and responsiveness, and unlike OLED it doesn’t suffer from screen burn or the ageing that reduces OLED’s colour fidelity over the life of a display. According to Samsung, its microLED displays will run for over 100,000 hours with no significant loss of performance. It isn’t exactly affordable right now – Samsung’s first consumer MicroLED TV is a 110-inch, 4K display that will set you back around £114,000 – but MicroLEDs will get smaller and more affordable fast, just as LED TVs and OLED TVs did before them.
The tech innovation shortlist
AirPop Active+ Smart Facemask
Apple M1 chip
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 barbell
DJI FPV drone
Insta360 GO 2
Sony PlayStation 5
Samsung MICRO LED
Best Gadget Under $100 / £100: Fitbit Ace 3
Since we gave Fitbit Ace 3 trackers to our kids, we’ve barely seen them: dinners are rushed so they can run around the garden to get more steps, our mornings are quieter as they try to increase their sleep score and our smartphone app shows ever-increasing amounts of activity. Fitbit’s kids’ fitness tracker is perfectly pitched for its target audience: it looks good, it’s comfortable to wear, it lasts for a week between charges and it has lots of fun watch faces. The app track steps, sleep and activity without encouraging calorie counting, and it’s easy to set and track activity goals. We’ve also found that the strap doesn’t irritate sensitive skin like some kids’ watch straps do. It’s the best smartwatch for kids and the winner of T3’s Best Gadget Under $100 / £100 award.
The best gadget under $100 / £100 shortlist
Amazon Echo 4th gen
Fitbit Ace 3
Huawei Band 4
JBL Tune 660NC
Razer Blackshark V2
Ring Video Doorbell (2nd gen)
Roku Express 4K
QP6650/30 NEW Philips OneBlade Pro Face + Body
Sustainability Award: IKEA
Many large companies have pledged to become climate neutral in the coming decade, but IKEA goes further: it has vowed to be not just climate neutral but climate positive by 2030, leaving the planet in better shape than it found it. To do that it’s working on multiple fronts ranging from the introduction of meat-free, plant-based alternatives such as HUVUDROLL meatballs in its restaurants; making spare parts easier to obtain to prolong the life of furniture; introducing buy-back schemes; and investing heavily in environmental initiatives and sustainable forestry. IKEA now operates what it calls “circular design”, with consideration of every stage of over 9,500 products from the materials they’re made of to how they will be recycled.
The sustainability award shortlist
Fjällräven Samlaren collection
Gillette for ditching plastic packaging
GoPro (reusable/plastic free packaging)
Tado Smart Radiator Thermostat V3+
Vango Earth Collection