Worst/Best product you personally purchased this year?

We have sort of touched on this in the taking stock thread, but I wanted to narrow and focus it to specific devices and/or tech.

For me it’s obvious and ironically one product embodies both which is the ROG Ally. (EDIT, I actually bought it for my son, but as a consequence got to spend a lot of time with it)

On the plus side it is generally well executed piece of hardware for what it is, including a very good display and a well executed implementation of putting an xbox style controller in to a handheld device.

And what is often overlooked due to some other questionable design decisions which is how remarkable the AMD Z1/Z1 extreme chipset powering it.

The incredible flexible TDP range IMHO is the best future for X86 against what looks to be a real threat this time from ARM, specifically the new Nuvia based Snapdragons.

That being said, the ALLY’s biggest flaw is that it tries to be too many things to too many people.

If they really wanted to go after portable gaming, they should have popped for a much bigger battery to give something more than 90 minutes of real world use.

And if they wanted to make an ultra portable yet flexible device they could have created a “gaming dock” that goes on the core unit incorporating the xbox controller and a bigger battery and correspondingly the USB/HDMI dock they do offer for desktop use.

And if they really wanted to lean in to the idea of an ultra portable but flexible computer, they could have/should have IMHO added pen support. Purely anecdotally so I don’t know how big the actual market is, but there seems to be a latent demand for a small Windows tablet.

Of course the caveat to that is MS would need to get serious again about the tablet UI experience. (Which might already be underway, albeit only on the WOA side, based on some OS builds we’ve heard about).

PS: The AMD Z1 chip is the fruition the design that I early on talked about, and got in trouble for, on the old boards.

So there’s mine…Anyone else?


My Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 is a keeper (which is a good thing, since I left my GB12 sit for so long it won’t boot anymore for some reason) — highly recommended for anyone who wants a large-screen device w/ stylus.

Regretting not getting the new Wacom One 13 Gen2 w/ Touch — it and a Raspberry Pi 5 will be my first purchases in the new year.


WORST - Raven Scanner Pro

But for year end developments this could have been a best purchase. It is a great desktop scanner, connects to my router by ethernet at my office, and is a very good (not quite Scansnap) quality scanner - BUT - the company is going out of business, and my own rookie error was buying a device that “had to have” a Raven account so it could give you the option to scan directly to their cloud storage service. That alone was not the problem, this “account” is the authentication point that lets you USE the scanner. They announced in September they were shutting down their cloud storage service (no big deal - I never used it), but then support and software download sites disappeared, and the desktop service will not work unless you are connected to their cloud authentication server, not even by direct USB connection. Worse still, now that I’m on a Mac, their Mac software is horrible (get vertical colored stripes on each page). Reddit rumor mill (which is following the state investigations of Raven) is convinced the authentication servers will go next, so basically I have a brick/door stop on my hands.

BEST - iPhone Pro 15 Max

It is bigger than I like, but otherwise it is a great phone and the 5x optical telephoto is amazing. Even the 2x quasi-ditigal zoom factor is great (pixel binning?), and the larger screen is better for old eyes. The USB-C is great, and LONG past due. Battery life is great; photos/videos are great, and just like all my previous iPhones it “just works.” Still, I wish it weren’t Max and I will definitely hate it when the 16 Pro gets the 5x telephoto.


You have all suffered through my travails with the MacBook Pro (vs Windows SP8), and here at year end I locked in on a used M1 Max 14 (because of the 2tb ssd, and to a lesser extent 32gb ram). Severe Overkill to say the least, but a very good price (compared to refurb M2 and new M3 versions) and has annual renewable AppleCare+ next March - a sweet deal overall. I’m getting fairly proficient with MacOS, and although I still yearn for an all in one device (which will never happen in the Apple ecosystem) I am getting more and more comfortable every day with @Desertlap 's “horses for courses” practicality.


my best one was wacom dtu1031, i bought it for ~15$ with pen and cable. I did not expected to be this cool. I can change how it works from “cintiq” to “intuos” mode with one click. Its really nice device to draw.


not really tablet related…but hands down the best piece of tech I bought all year…

The Litter Robot 4

After years of scooping…owning one is as transformative as they say.

In terms of tech…my Job has more or less supplied me with alot of my tech needs by various means…but in terms of personal purchases

Worst - Z Fold 5

Now I do love this phone, and coming from a Duo 2, having a front screen is a 100 times better, but I bought this phone primarily for the tablet/s-pen experience thinking it would be a perfect little drawing device, and its been anything but. The crease in the Hinge make drawing on it a nightmare, since any line work gets ruined by the crease. If you draw fast enough, it can sometimes bypass the crease, but when you draw slow its almost unavoidable. And you can’t use other nibs/pens, only the specific Zfold 5 pen which has this soft foam like tip that I hate drawing on. Also since dual apps aren’t as intuitive on the Zfold 5 as it is on the Duo2, I’ve readjusted to mostly using one app on my phone at a time. If I could redo The purchase I may have gone with the Galaxy S23 Ultra or something.

Best - NUC Serpents Canyon

As much as I was sad to hear Intel would be ending their NUC line, I was glad to see such quick and significant sales on the current products. Picked up the small console sized NUC with the Core i7-1260p and ARC A770M for a steal. Threw in a 2TB and 64GB of Ram, and it runs phenomenal for my usage

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Best product: Valve Steam Deck OLED

Sometimes, it is not reinventing the wheel but taking a simple product and rounding off the rough edges of its minor flaws to achieve greatness. The Steam OLED’s magic is raising greatness from an already very good product, replacing its Achille’s heel, a substandard muted sub-sRGB 60 Hz HD LCD display with a beautiful rich and deep 100% DCI-P3 90Hz HD OLED panel, as well as applying a die shrink to its already super-efficient custom SoC and increasing battery size from 40 WHr to 50 WHr to increase battery life by 50%. The results are astounding to the eye and in runtime longevity.

Thanks to these optimizations, the 2.25 to 2.5 hours battery life is now the bare minimum with the Steam Deck OLED, which is up from the 1.5 to 1.75 hours battery life floor of the old Steam Deck LCD, and that is if you game at high settings at 800p. Getting even longer is quite doable with many games now having either community and official Steam Deck optimized settings right out of the gate.

Here’s an example of just how dang good the Steam Deck OLED’s battery life is now. Users can now emulate Switch games sometimes longer than the Switch itself with the Steam Deck OLED which is a testament to how a properly developed handheld SoC can be so efficient. I am playing through The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and I routinely get about 3-4 hours battery life. It can emulate (that’s like running double the laps of your competitors to qualify for the same tournament), emulate, mind you, a current generation handheld, the Nintendo Switch, with roughly equivalent battery life.

From the get-go, Valve made the right moves with the Steam Deck by targeting an HD resolution (1280x800) rather than the overly ambitious full HD resolution of the ROG Ally (1920x1080). Let’s face it, gaming performance is going to be a moving target with each new generation of GPU and games try squeezing more shaders and vertices into a scene, making 720p-800p the sweet spot for a mobile SoC. So by keeping resolution in check, Valve avoided making the modern equivalent of a Sega Game Gear that was notorious for sucking power.

Even Apple’s partners see as much, often targeting a 720p resolution with AAA titles. By comparison, Resident Evil Village on iPhone 15 Pro Max drains at a rate of 10% per 15 minutes, or roughly 2 hours at 1560x720 and 30 fps at the visual equivalent of low settings on PC to boot. Just look how smeared the details are on the iPhone. Exhibits A and B below. As it was, with older Steam Deck LCD at highest settings got 60 fps and 2.5 hours battery life, and the new Steam Deck OLED gets 50% longer battery life, so do the math here (roughly 3.5-4 hours) and you can see how amazing a true and proper handheld SoC from AMD can be–when done right, that is.

Worst product: ASUS ROG Ally

That incidentally brings me to the ROG Ally and the Ryzen Z1 family SoC heart of that device that is a mixed bag. @desertlap, I was also underwhelmed by Ryzen Z1 series and while ASUS did no favors with their rough start from the whole micro SD card reader fiasco, AMD is ultimately the one to blame here. They did the community dirty with that one since the Ryzen Z1 family is no handheld SoC and it shows.

I could complain all day long how ASUS was found by the community to use an improper soldering process with the ROG Ally’s micro SD card controller and how they never came out and came clean about that, blaming heat for what was improper soldering in the factory lifting the controller module off of the PCB. Photographic evidence by myself and others in the ROG Ally Discord server corroborated that the soldering process had been silently rectified in the August manufactured units.

However, the real reason that ROG Ally for me was weak was because it failed to include the necessary power optimizations that AMD and ASUS promised in the Ryzen Z1 family. Instead, from what many people including myself found, the Ryzen Z1 series performed like lower binned Ryzen 7000 processors because, in truth, they were just that: factory rejects of a laptop SoC shoved into a handheld. Z1 Series are Ryzen 7000 rejects with (1) the AI fused off and (2) worse voltage-to-performance than the Ryzen 7000 series.

Really, Z1 Series is a way for AMD to maximize yields by offloading substandard Ryzen 7000 dies into handhelds. That is why even the Steam Deck’s custom processor is more efficient than the Z1 family: there is simply nothing custom or handheld oriented about it other than them being factory seconds. On the other hand, the custom SoC in the Steam Deck was truly custom and not some rejecto-mundo to please investors to increase silicon yields by harvesting and rebadging substandard chips destined for the scrap heap. The Steam Deck’s original 7nm Aerith and its 6nm successor Sephiroth are true fully custom silicon, purpose built from the ground up for handheld operation, and it shows. The Ally’s Z1 series is just a bad retrofitted laptop SoC, making the Ally handheld like any gaming laptop, a wall-hugging appliance, with a design exterior that lies about its true intents, and it stinks.


Gotta disagree with you on the AMD Z1/Extreme chipset. It’s far from a “binned” anything.

The problem(s) are with the implementation of it so far in shipping systems and AMDs abysmal support and evangelizing of it (something you and I have discussed at length on the old board and historically the source of my biggest objections to AMD) and Windows significant lack of optimizations (which is also the biggest source of failure for the ALLY generally as well)

Succinctly put, the Z1 is by far the most scalable and flexible x86 chip extant and with an optimized OS and firmware support load out is a great performing chip.

As I’ve mentioned before my division of our company is focused on ruggedized custom built devices, primarily for data collection and real time analysis.

For example we make Geothermal analysis devices used in the energy sector as well as a device for real time capture and analysis of wind shear data for various aeronautic companies, and the Z1 has been the best chip yet for those deployments allowing low power, long life collection along with on demand, compute intensive analysis albeit with a highly customized firmware and Linux OS build to go with it.

So stepping back to the ALLY itself, it’s the tech embodiment of the “a horse designed by committee is a camel” or the more modern meme of “The Homer”.
The Homer | Simpsons Wiki | Fandom

Contrast that with the Steam Deck which especially with the 2nd version with OLED whichis a textbook example of a well engineered, purpose focused and driven, device.

But that focus is also why it’s running with a custom SOC and Linux whereas Asus tried (and failed IMHO) to make a true Windows handheld.

And the poor decisions abound on it, including a 1080p 120hz display which looks pretty at the Windows desktop but is of dubious value (and kills the battery) when a 720p 60hz might have been a better choice.

And those poor choices continue with the WIFI chipset which is nearly class leading performance wise, but is also very inefficient from a power standpoint. There are definitely much more power efficient WIFI chipsets out there.

As to the Ally killing SD cards, agreed it’s a real thing, but it most certainly is not a deliberate decision on ASUS part, but highly likely a combination of a lapse in QA combined with a pressure to get the Ally to market. Asus absolutely knew that both the OLED deck and Legion were on the way and for that matter, the Legion is looking to have it’s own sets of issues BTW.

And as to Windows, MS seems to have knifed AMD, perhaps unintentionally, but the new scheduler which is now significantly optimized for Core I 11th gen forward, appears in out testing seems to have taken step backward with more recent Ryzens and especially with the Z1

So TLDR Ally in totality a failure? Yes, but the Z1, far from it, though AMD shares significant blame for the poor showing of it so far by their lack of developer support and evangelization.

Lastly, FWIW a possible similar scenario is the some of the source of my skepticism on the Nuvia chips as well as the Windows world seems perpetually focused only on the lowest common denominator, something that Apple for the most part avoids because they make the whole widget, though even they got caught a bit with the seeming inconsistent performance of the M3 pros and max which are looking to be down to poor optimization because of the new number of processor and graphics cores. Specifically the 9 core M3 pros for instance.


Say - what’s with those weird core counts and ram configurations - I thought everything had to be 8, 16, 32, 64, 128…

I am not sure what you are driving at here. All silicon chips are binned, even ones with wide tolerances and even analog-based ICs, so that’s a patently false statement industry wide even. As for the Ryzen Z1 family, there have been significant testing performed across the voltage and wattage range on various samples and units. And unfortunately, they are generally not as good volt for volt or watt for watt with the equivalent 7000 series models from which they are derived. ThePhawx who is widely considered the industry expert on handhelds has tested these chips thoroughly forwards and backwards. Case in point:

The other tell all is the battery life playing video. The ROG Ally is using a mere 7” screen and Ryzen 7 7840 laptops with significantly larger 13” and larger displays demonstrate far better efficiency. Why? The 0.2% lows especially from the last slide are the tell-all. Idle and lowest clock range power-to-performance is clearly lower than comparable Ryzen 7 7840U products. So in video playback, for instance, when the CPU cores go mostly idle and fixed function is doing the heavy lifting, the idle and lower clock power draw is higher on these Z1 series processors because, again, lower binned rejecto mundo as I poignantly called them. AMD has a vested interest to not undercut and insult their laptop partners by rebadging Ryzen 7 7840Us on the cheap to lower end handhelds that would outshine premium ultrabooks. And that is why they are redirecting these lowest quality 7840U chips to Z1 Extreme: to keep premium devices with silicon premium and budget devices with budget silicon. There is no free lunch here.

Yeah this the kind of conspiracy type stuff that I just don’t buy in to, for variety of reasons including practical impact. Plus I was talking about the Z1 in the context of use in a much smaller device and very un laptop device like the Ally and contrasting it to the Steam deck and Legion (which I haven’t formally tested) and finally relaying experience with the Z1 in a couple of our custom devices.

But this has gone way in to the weeds of arcania so I’m out and will move back to the main topic.

I read that the Asus Ally battery can last 3 hours in silent mode. Not sure what amount of peformance loss that means but probably not that much(?). Should also prevent or reduce the microsd issues right? Anyway 3 hours seems okay to me, though I would prefer a low reso low hz screen like the Steam Deck offers for better battery life (and probably energy efficient wifi chip like DesertLap mentions). Still they both have their advantages (Ally is more compact, Deck has touchpad etc.).

I have not bought much tech this is year but best tech I probably bought this year is a Noka 42 5g for a family member. I got a good deal on it and the phone is a great if you like a ‘no-nonsense’ phone and just want great battery life, solid screen, solid performance, passable camera and update support. The phone also looks quite premium even if it is plastic.
Looking forward to tech releases in 2024 though, maybe there will a nice Windows tablet release or new 2 in 1 laptop.

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No, it’s not. Let’s not be insulting. I read some rather conspiracy theory and farcical posting above such as insinuating chips aren’t binned at all. Let’s be better, the both of us. Now that’s that, back on topic.

The new Steam Deck OLED gets about 2.5 hours worst case scenario with many games now in the 4-8 hour range, up from about 1.5 hours worst case with a typical range of 3-6 hours on the older LCD model. The Ally’s silent mode also performs far worse than the Steam Deck and does not race to idle anywhere as low or as quick as the Steam Deck or Steam Deck does (meaning higher power draw even in low intensity tasks). The Steam Deck power matches to the target display frame rate, what is referred to auto TDP in most circles, and the Ally lacks this. Even with third party tools like Handheld Companion, the Ally’s auto TDP pales in comparison to the Steam Deck’s OS, firmware, and silcon level power management.

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I did not buy any tech this year. I came close to buying a new phone, but prices never came down on the S23U or Fold5 enough to tempt me. Still on that fence. The Go “upgrade” was a disgrace. And the Boox is primarily a reader.

Maybe next year.


Don’t forget your Samsung S24U next week…


Was the Pro X not this year? Have you already been on that more than a year? I love that you can be so active in this crazy place without really changing your own set up at all.

I bought a bunch of stuff, but it’s all equally good and bad. Everything has pros and cons and everything has proven a good fit for its purposes for me.

So I’ll go a bit outside the box with my favorite purchase this year - an amazon alphabet soup brand retro typewriter keyboard. It’s got a tray to hold up a tablet it the back, a return lever that changes the backlight, big wheels on each side (volume and backlight brightness) cheap wood-grain wrap, retro keycaps, and hot swapable switches. It’s barely balanced enough to hold up a big tablet, but it holds my phone nicely. It’s such a fun aesthetic while being a fraction of the price of the qwerkywriter, and the hot swappable switches means we can take advantage of all the various switches my husband has aquired lately if I want a different feel or quieter typing. It came with Blues, which are really loud and clacky.


Pictures please! Oh wait - found it on Amazon - how cool


Best: GPD Win Max 2 (2023)
Worst: GPD Win Max 2 (2023)

I don’t want to go into it.

The Rokid Max have been a bit of a disappointment, but do do what they were claimed to, just about.

I should have listened to advice here. I won’t be buying from Chinese OEMs with no local support anymore, even if they are the only ones providing what I’m after.


That look just speaks to me. Retro cool in the best way!