Mighty Gadget Annual Awards 2023

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Yesterday, I published the Mighty Gadget Best of 2023 Awards, but the article was getting a bit lengthy, so I have broken it down into two parts.

If you didn’t read that article, this post is dedicated to the best products I have personally used and reviewed this year rather than the best of the list for all products launched in the consumer technology market.

Best Smart Lighting

Philips Hue Surimu Rectangle Panel

Philips Hue Surimu Rectangle Panel Review green light
Not the most flattering photo as we are decorating our hallway.

I love Philips Hue, and I am heavily invested in their ecosystem, so I am likely a bit biased. The Philips Hue Surimu was a stand-out product for me because even though it is very expensive (about £250), I actually think it is good value for money. The alternative to a panel light like this is GU10 spotlights with the Philips Hue White & Colour Ambiance GU10 bulbs having a lumen output of 350lm and costing around £33 each when bought as a 3-pack. The Philips Hue Surimu has more than ten times the lumen output at 4150 lumens, making it comparatively cheap. It also reduces the issues with the limit of 50 lights and accessories on the Hue bridge.

Honourable Mention

Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1

The most affordable way to make GU10 bulbs smart is to use a smart light switch, and the Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 is probably one of the best options on the market. It is available as a no-neutral switch or with-neutral. The neutral wire provides more reliable functionality and improved features with energy monitoring.  Of course, the downside to this is that there is no dimming of the lights and obviously no way to change the light colour.

Best Wi-Fi router / Mesh System

Google Nest WiFi Pro

Google Nest WiFi Pro Review by Mighty Gadget

Even though I write about a lot of networking products, and I reviewed 16 routers and mesh systems in 2022, I haven’t reviewed many this year at all.

I think the issue is that brands are starting to prepare all the WiFi 7 mesh systems and routers, but they are taking a while to hit the UK.

The Google Nest WiFi Pro ends up being the de facto winner due to a lack of much better options. I think it is a good router, but how good it is depending on your requirements and the price at the time.

As far as a WiFi 6E router goes, it is a bit low spec, being a tri-band mesh system, which means you share a backhaul band to the satellite nodes, which halves the performance. There is a limit to gigabit, so even though WiFi 6E can go above gigabit, this router can’t.

There is limited control over the router, but people wanting a simple plug-and-play system will like it. One big selling point is that it supports Matter and is a Thread border router, making it a useful router for anyone wanting to invest in smart home devices.

At the time of writing this post, it was just £310 for a three-pack, reduced from £380. The Amazon Eero Pro 6E is the obvious alternative; it features a Zigbee smart home hub and also works as a Thread border router, plus it has 2.5GbE. It doesn’t support Matter but should be upgraded at some point. However, at the time of writing, this was £440, with the lowest price being £385, so I think the Google Nest WiFi Pro ends up being an excellent affordable WiFi 6E router.

Honourable Mention

Nighthawk M6 Pro

Nighthawk M6 Pro being used with ethernet offloading

This year, I have reviewed the Nighthawk M6 Pro 5G hotspot and the Zyxel Nebula FWA510 5G, so I didn’t think a separate 5G router/hotspot post was warranted.

The FWA510 is excellent but maybe a little expensive for consumers, as you can pick up the older NR5101 cheaply on eBay.

The Nighthawk M6 Pro is painfully expensive, but I love it and have used it a lot this year. The main reason why I love it is due to its versatility. When at home, I use it with my EnGenius ESG510 dual-wan gateway, and it provides a failover if my Virgin Media connection goes down.

I have used it extensively for the 5G hotspot functionality when I travel in the UK.

Then, when I was on holiday, I used both the WiFi and Ethernet offloading functionality. When I was in LA with MediaTek, the hotel WiFi was capped out at around 45Mbps. By plugging it into the hotel’s Ethernet, I was able to achieve 730Mbps and bypass the need to log in to WiFI. It also meant I connected to an SSID that all my devices have saved.

Due to the price, it is not something I’d recommend to everyone, but it is excellent for anyone who travels and works a lot.

Best Access Point

EnGenius Fit6 4×4 EWS377-FIT Access Point

EnGenius Fit Review 2

Similar to the above, I haven’t reviewed many access points this year. But networking is one of the big topics I cover, so I felt I needed to highlight some of the excellent business-related networking products I have reviewed this year.

I chose the EnGenius Fit6 4×4 EWS377-FIT because I like what EnGenius is doing with the new range of EnGenius FIT products. The EWS377-FIT retails for around $220, whereas the EnGenius Cloud ECW230, which is almost the same hardware, is $499. You then have the option to manage it via the local web interface, the free-of-charge EnGenius FitXpress cloud management system, or the FitController100, which is basically a locally hosted version of EnGenius Cloud minus a few features.

The end result is a system that’s highly competitive with the incredibly popular Ubiquiti Unifi range of products. The EWS377-FIT may not be the best option for those wanting an affordable option, but they have the EWS276-FIT at $163.90 or the EWS356-FIT at $87.99. UK pricing is less attractive, but eBay has the EWS356-FIT listed for just £90, which slightly undercuts the superb Unifi U6 Lite.

Best Business Router

EnGenius ESG510 Security Gateway

EnGenius ESG510 Cloud SD WAN Gateway Review Product Shots multi gig ports

I am a big fan of the EnGenius ESG510, and I retired my ageing AVM Fritz!Box 7490 in favour of this. It is not cheap for home users, but I think it is good for a small business with an impressive hardware specification.

You have four Ethernet ports, with dual 2.5GbE WAN and dual 2.5GbE LAN for maximum performance. One of the WAN ports can be changed to LAN, and one of the LAN ports also supports  PoE+ to power up a Wi-Fi 6E AP.

This spec is important to me as my Virgin Media Gig1 connection typically goes over a gigabit speed, and I will likely upgrade to CityFibre 2.5Gbps FTTP once my contract is over. The dual-wan feature is something that has become increasingly important as I work from home, and any downtime causes a great deal of lost productivity. If it was an office environment, it could mean all the staff are sitting around doing nothing.

Then, in my scenario, my router, switches and access points are all managed under the EnGenius Cloud interface, which is much more convenient.

Honourable Mention

Zyxel SCR 50AXE Secure Cloud-managed Router

Before I switched to EnGenius Cloud products for most of my networking needs, I was committed to Zyxel Nebula for several years.

The Zyxel SCR 50AXE is a superb router that works as both a router/gateway, but it also has tri-band WiFi 6E, reducing the cost of investing in an access point.

It is then managed via the Nebula cloud management system, which is free to use depending on your requirements.

It is very affordable for what you get, priced as low as £150. Its low price is perhaps its weakness; you only get gigabit ports, and once you start enabling the security features, the throughput drops further. However, most people don’t need faster than gigabit Internet throughput, and this is, therefore, more than adequate.

Best Speaker / Soundbar

Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus

Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus Soundbar Review6

It was tough to decide what speaker I thought was best this year, as there were some excellent choices. I spend a lot of time watching movies and TV, so the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus ended up being a logical choice.

While I personally use an AV receiver with 7.1 speakers, you can’t deny the convenience of a soundbar. And, if you want to enjoy movies as much as possible, the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus is one of the best soundbars for this as it recreates a full 7.1.4 home cinema speaker system from a single unit.

In reality, it is not quite as good as a 7.1.4 home cinema speaker system, but it is still incredibly impressive.

Honourable Mention

Marshall Woburn III

Marshall Woburn III Speaker 7

The Marshall Woburn III is a superb large speaker. I haven’t placed it in the Bluetooth category as it needs to be plugged in and has RCA/Aux and HDMI connectivity.  When I used it, I preferred it to my Sonos Beam, which isn’t that much cheaper. It is much more powerful, and the overall sound quality is significantly better. Obviously, with Sonos, you have the whole multi-room streaming functionality.

Edifier MR4 Studio Monitor

Edifier Mr4 Review

The Edifier MR4 Studio Monitor definitely deserve a mention purely because they cost around £110 but sound awesome for the price. I ended up giving my pair to my brother, and he loves them. He is also much more of an audiophile/snob than I am.

Best Bluetooth Speaker

Anker Soundcore Boom Plus

Anker Soundcore Boom Plus Portable Bluetooth Speaker Review vs Tribit Stormbox Blast

It was a tough call between the Soundcore Boom Plus and the Tribit StormBox Blast for the best Bluetooth speaker. They both have a similar design, which is quite ugly but practical, and they are both great sounding and very loud speakers.

The Tribit StormBox Blast is a better speaker than the Soundcore Boom Plus, and if you look at the RRP I’d say the Tribit is worth the extra £30 over the Soundcore. It is worth taking into account that the StormBox Blast is significantly larger, weighs double, and I find it quite ugly, but it is still an amazing speaker.

The reason why I didn’t choose the StormBox Blast, is that the Soundcore Boom Plus consistently has deeper discounts. At the time of writing, the StormBox Blast was £160 while the Soundcore Boom Plus was £105, and I think the Soundcore Boom Plus is amazing value for money at that price.

Honourable Mention

Tribit StormBox Blast

The Tribit StormBox Blast does sound better than the Soundcore, and If you want something with a bit more power, then this is a fantastic option. With prices regularly dropping to £160, I think it is great value for money, its just the Soundcore is better value for money.

Soundcore Motion X600 (or maybe the X500)

Soundcore Motion X500 Review vs X600 face on 1

If you want a speaker that’s a bit more attractive, then the Soundcore Motion X600 is well worth considering. There is also the smaller Soundcore X500, which I found had superior bass, but I didn’t choose that as there is only £10 price difference, and I think you get better value for money with the X600.

I think you should be able to tweak the X600 to sound a bit more bassy like the X500 if you customise the EQ to be more like the X500.

Best Earphones

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Review comparison to Liberty 4 2 1

I chose the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC because these are the earbuds I have used the most this year, and with prices as low as £56, I think they are outstanding value for money.

They are warmer and less sharp than the technically superior Soundcore Liberty 4, and I doubt there are many earbuds at this price point that can achieve the same noise cancelling as the Liberty 4 NC.

Honourable Mention

Sony LinkBuds S

The Sony LinkBuds S were a pleasant surprise. With a price of around £125, I was expecting them to be relatively poor compared to the likes of Soundcore, but I thought they sounded amazing and were incredibly comfortable to wear with a secure fit, making them ideal for fitness.  

Best Headphones

Edifier WH950NB ANC Headphones

Edifier WH950NB ANC Headphones Review1 scaled

The Edifier WH950NB are an excellent pair of ANC headphones that look great and can compete with some of the best ANC headphones on the market.

I swapped between these and the Bose 700 Headphones (£350 RRP) with my partner on a flight, and I was more than happy with the performance in comparison.

I’d say the Anker Space Q45/Life Q35 are perhaps better value for money, but I reviewed those in 2022/2021.

Honourable Mention

Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI Headphones

Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI Headphones Review

I recently reviewed the Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI Headphones, and they are an excellent pair of versatile headphones that can be bundled with a Creative BT-L4 transmitter with Super X-Fi UltraDSP chip and SXFI BATTLE Mode for gaming. You get a detachable boom mic, so you can use them for gaming or detach it and use them as normal Bluetooth headphones.

Best Vacuum Cleaner

Hoover HF9 Anti-Twist Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Hoover HF9 Anti Twist Cordless Vacuum Cleaner Review vs Proscenic P12 vs Tineco

I’d normally pick a robot vacuum as I love them, but I haven’t reviewed any good models with Lidar/VSLAM mapping this year.

I have, therefore, gone for a less smart but excellent cordless stick vacuum. I found that the Hoover HF9 had superb cleaning performance that outclassed some of the more expensive cordless stick vacuums I have, and you can get it with a spare battery, giving you double the cleaning time.  

Honourable Mention

Hoover HL4 Upright Pet Vacuum Cleaner

I think I use the Hoover HL4 more than the HF9, but I didn’t want to give it the winning award because corded vacuums feel a bit dated.

However, they have superior suction and, therefore, cleaning performance. Plus, you obviously never run out of battery. The HL4 replaced my Vorwerk Kobold VK200 whenever I want to clean my carpets thoroughly, as it has the suction power to clean things properly, but it is much lighter and easier to use.

Best Creative Product (photography/lighting/drawing)

Zhiyun Molus X100

Zhiyun Molus G60 COB LED Video Light Review vs X100 1
Zhiyun Molus X100 vs X60

I don’t cover enough products to separate creative devices into their own categories. So, I have lumped them all under a general creative (except for 3D printers).

I am not a photography geek or very creative at all, but photography is a necessity for my job. The Zhiyun Molus X100 is a small but powerful 100W COB light with an attachable battery and is compatible with a variety of accessories using the ZY Mount (which has a Bowens mount adapter).

I find it a superb light for photography due to its brightness, size and flexibility of the battery. I have reviewed things like the Pixel K80 RGB LED panel lights before, and they are excellent, I just find them too big and inconvenient to use all the time, which is why I love the Molus X100.

Honourable Mention

Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle

The Xencelabs Pen Tablet is well worth an honourable mention as it is one of the best graphics tablets on the market with specifications and performance similar to the Wacom Intuos Pro but at a lower price point and with better-included accessories.

Best 3D Printer

AnkerMake M5 Review

M5 CoverPhoto

Technically, I don’t review 3D Printers; my brother handles those. The AnkerMake M5 is also the only 3D printer he has reviewed this year, so this is the only choice. However, I felt the need to give it an award as it is the best 3D printer he has reviewed. It is not as cheap as options from Creality or Anycubic, but at the time of writing, it was discounted to £500, and it is well worth the extra £150 or so over the Creality Ender-5 S1.

You can read part one of the Mighty Gadget Best of 2023 Awards here.

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