Presenting the Digit Zero1 Awards 2019 winners

Presenting the Digit Zero1 Awards 2019 winners

Team Digit | 16 Dec 2019
HIGHLIGHTS

The Digit Zero1 Awards look at the products that offer the best performance.

Here are all the categories which we tested for to find devices with the best performance.

Digit’s Zero1 Awards, nearly two decades old now, are given out to the best performing products of the year to remind you of what you should consider buying – if you’re the type that has to have the absolute best products, price no bar. It’s also our way of rewarding brands for putting in tonnes of research and development, and coming up with the best performing product. Sometimes this could be a product that’s been in the market for most of the year, and sometimes it could be a product that’s launched as late as November! 

All of the products listed here are put through the wringer that is our comprehensive test process. Each and every category we cover has a rigorous test process that’s followed for each product, and then a winner is calculated. It’s almost the same test process as all the other reviews we do, except that it has no scores being awarded for features, or price. This is unique, and nowhere else will you get a rundown of the best performing products of the year, because most others “review” products instead of testing them. This isn’t about the opinion of reviewers, this is about pure performance. So, for example, when you ask the question, “What’s the best performing gaming laptop in India?”, you need to check out our Zero1 Award winner because that’s the only place you will get this answer.

Best performing premium flagship smartphone

The biggest trend in the world of smartphones in 2019 is incorporating bigger sensors with a higher megapixel count. While many of the mid-range and high-end smartphones adopted the trend, the premium flagship devices continued to retain their 12-megapixel sensors, having perfected them over so many years. We also saw improvements in display technologies, with HDR becoming far more common, and even improvements in battery tech. It has been an exciting year testing and retesting phones as manufacturers continued to push out updates that continued to make their phones better. At the end of it all, however, there can only be one winner. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing premium Android smartphone

This year a lot transpired in the Android smartphone space. New brands emerged, and some well-established brands transformed. The consumer had a lot more choices in this space as a result. This year, we also saw gaming phones become more common, high refresh rate displays being available in non-gaming phones and the adoption of high-speed UFS 3.0 storage. We also saw the amount of RAM in a phone go all the way up to 12GB. Charging speeds have jumped up as well, as have battery capacities. Given how much has transpired in just this year, we’ve had to step up our testing game. With that in mind, here are our best Android phones for this year. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here

Best performing high-end smartphone

Moving up the price ladder, the performance of smartphones becomes considerably better. This year was the best year to invest in a high-end smartphone, as most of them were powered by the flagship Snapdragon 855 processor. OEMs ensured you don’t have to look at the premium segment at all if you craved flagship performance. The high-end segment also saw the entry of popular budget brands such as Xiaomi and Realme try out their hand in manufacturing high-end devices. As a result, OnePlus, our winner from last year had a lot of competition to contend with. While we enjoyed evaluating this segment, it certainly wasn’t easy.  Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here

Best performing mid-range smartphone

The mid-range segment this year stretches to phones priced under Rs 20,000. It was an action-packed year for these smartphones. We clearly like our phones powerful but affordable, and that’s where the mid-range phones shine. This is a segment that offers the most bang for your buck. This was also the toughest segment to evaluate since all our contenders were breathing down each other’s necks with just a point or two difference between them. 2019 also saw a lot of premium features trickle down to the midrange phones making these devices alluring! Out of the nominees we tested, these stood out. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing budget smartphone

Budget phones, even a year ago, would have you deciding on a better compromise. A big-battery phone would lack a good camera. A good design meant performance would be lacking. The budget phones of 2019 are no longer one-trick ponies though. All-rounders would be the best way to describe them, with a few caveats, of course. While expecting flagship-grade performance is still a little too much, smartphones under Rs 10,000 managed to be reliable daily drivers. We saw the introduction of mid-range 6-series processors, 48MP cameras, and large batteries, all of which have been standard offerings in the mid-range segment. So, we were quite impressed with the budget phones of 2019. In our process to test these phones, the focus was primarily on the CPU and GPU performance, battery life and the camera performance, since these are primarily the criteria people use to decide on a budget phone. Let’s see which budget smartphone grabbed the victory. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here

Best performing Premium Smartphone Camera

2019 has been a progressive year for smartphone cameras as they further bridge the gap between them and DSLRs. Smartphone cameras, this year, truly brought a lot of innovation to the market. From new large-format sensors with 48 or even 64-megapixel resolution to pixel binning techniques, and on the lens side, we saw bigger apertures make their way to telephoto lenses. Hardware sure has seen a notable improvement this year, but so has software aided by AI and ML techniques. After testing every smartphone’s camera thoroughly, here are the results for this year’s Zero1 awards. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing High-End Smartphone camera

As one moves up the price ladder, expectations rise, and most people buy a high-end smartphone believing it will be able to take photos as good as the premium flagships. While there’s still a long way to go, 2019 saw the high-end phones bridge the gap further with the help of multi-camera setups and high-end sensors, similar to what the mid-rangers did this year. The presence of a better ISP resulted not only in better photos in the day, but also sharp and detailed shots at night. Almost all high-end cameras now come with dedicated night mode as well. We also saw features like video bokeh, super slo-mo, and high-resolution RAW output. Yet, the high-end smartphones have a long way to go in reproducing the right colours, with adequate sharpness across the frame. Focusing was still an issue, although less so than the budget and mid-rangers. There have been no dearth of options this year in this segment and most of these high-end smartphones did offer a full suite of options to help you take that tricky shot. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here

Best performing Mid-Range Smartphone Camera

Most of the major smartphone camera innovation happened in the midrange segment this year. We’re talking about things like camera sensors half an inch in size, inside a smartphone costing under Rs 15,000. An array of choices in lenses including high-res, macro, ultrawide, and even action cameras were made available. However, we solely evaluate the camera performance for our Zero1 awards. No other parameters, such as the MP count or a pop-up selfie are taken into consideration. Therefore, you will not see our Zero1 award being given to a smartphone with a 64MP camera over a smartphone sporting well-tuned 48MP camera. Having said that, most of the mid-rangers we got throughout the year fared considerably well in our comprehensive testing processes. If you are willing to spend around 20k on a smartphone this year with a competent camera, you’re spoilt for choice. Let’s look at the mid-range smartphones in the that have the best performing cameras. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here

Best performing Budget Smartphone Camera

As recently as a year ago, all you could expect from budget smartphones was the bare minimum. This year however Xiaomi, Realme, Samsung, Motorola, and Vivo ensured that those who don’t have deep pockets won’t miss out on the latest in smartphone innovations. A good camera has always been something reserved for the premium products, and while the gap is still there, it’s closing in fast. Auto-focus, sharpness and a few other things still need to be ironed out, but 2019 saw the introduction of 48MP camera phones not just in the high-end segment, but also under Rs 10,000, followed by the widespread adoption of the ultrawide camera. Some even offered a dedicated macro lens. We put a bunch of budget phones to the test to find the best budget smartphone camera for you. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing High-End Gaming Smartphone

Gaming, as a category, has been a constant in the PC space for quite sometime now. For phones, however, it’s a new feature fueled primarily by the rise in mobile gaming, especially in countries like India where games like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty: Mobile are keeping users engaged for long periods of time. Every phone can technically run games, considering Android doesn’t impose strict system requirements. But just like how the best gaming performance is delivered by high-end gaming PCs and laptops, mobile phones too perform better if the hardware is tuned specifically for gaming. Most flagship phones can handle Android games with ease, but this new breed of gaming phones set themselves apart not just by looking different but also offering extra features and top-notch hardware. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing Mainstream Laptop

We’ve always maintained that the mainstream laptop category is an extremely important one, even if the current trend amongst PC manufacturers is to create more and more thin and light models. A typical mainstream laptop in the Indian market doesn’t focus on small dimensions or low weight in particular, so there’s enough space inside it to accommodate a performance-grade CPU and a discrete graphics card. Many models today come with hybrid storage, which means Windows boots from a small but speedy solid-state drive while files and some applications are accessed from a traditional hard drive. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing Convertible Laptop

For a while in the recent past, it appeared as if no other manufacturer had taken the convertible laptop category more seriously than Lenovo. Eager to merge the traditional laptop with the modern tablet, the popular Chinese electronics company gave birth to the Yoga brand in late 2012. The name went on to represent Lenovo’s convertible laptop range for about seven strong years before Lenovo decided earlier this year, ‘Hmm, our customers aren’t confused enough with these brand names. So let's shuffle ‘em!’ And so, Lenovo’s newest Yoga, the Yoga S940, cannot in fact do yoga. In other words, it’s not a convertible laptop. Lenovo’s convertible offering for this year then is the IdeaPad C340, which also happens to be our winner. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing Thin and Light laptop

The year 2019 has been a very exciting year for the thin and light laptop category. We’ve seen every major manufacturer not only release more options for consumers in this segment, but also, launch products at varying price points. Then there is the new Intel 10th generation Ice Lake processors built on the 10nm node and packing AI chops. Needless to say, the second half of 2019 has been very exciting and moving forward, things are only going to get better with Project Athena-based devices making their way into the market as well. However, for now, we are dealing purely with thin and light laptops, which we define as machines that have a thickness of fewer than 16 millimeters and weighing less than 1.5 kilograms. We tested our contenders across numerous performance metrics, with a special focus on battery life. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing Creator’s Laptop

This year, laptop manufacturers have finally embraced a long-ignored community: creators. For the longest time, creators had to either resort to using MacBooks, or if they wanted a Windows-based machine, a gaming laptop. This year, both the OEMs and Nvidia have come together to launch a slew of machines into the market, targeted specifically towards content creators. For a laptop to be considered a “creator” laptop, it must meet certain criteria. These include a dedicated GPU, an NVMe drive, a powerful CPU and most importantly, a colour accurate display that has been calibrated at the factory. There’s very little that’s different between a gaming laptop and a creator-centric laptop, but the major differentiator is the display. We evaluated a number of laptops in our labs that would be ideally suited for creators, to find out which one out there was the best. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing OLED 4K HDR TV

2019 is the year where TVs saw a decent leap in technology, albeit under the hood more than panel technology. HDMI 2.1 has made its way to flagship TVs giving users access to features like variable refresh rate, eARC and 4K at 120fps and 8K at 60fps. Not all TVs have implemented all HDMI 2.1 features, so take note of the features available before making a purchase. OLED TVs still helm the flagship market in India with companies like Sony and LG showcasing their 2019 OLED offerings. TVs have also gotten smarter with Google Assistant and Alexa support, along with AI integration. In terms of sound, we have seen some TV manufacturers like OnePlus build a soundbar into the TV but apart from that, audio in TVs hasn’t changed much. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here. 

Best performing Air Purifier

Compared to other established segments like smartphones or laptops, air purifier is a category that is steadily gaining more recognition in India. Many new air purifiers were announced this year in the country and we tested a whole bunch of them to find out which device actually holds up in extremely degraded air quality levels. This year, we’ve tested devices by many different manufacturers and as always, the basic idea behind an air purifier remains the same. Pairing a good grade air filter with a powerful enough fan that is tuned to deliver good clean air output is the simplest recipe for an efficient air purifier. However, tuning the device as a whole to ensure it performs at its best is a whole different ball game. As always, our Zero1 award will be awarded to the best performing air purifier that launched this year. Since the category itself demands stringent testing, and devices with top-notch performance, the winner in this category will indeed be one of the best air purifiers that launched this year.  Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Desktop Processor 

The battle rages on in the desktop processor segment. Intel and AMD have been dishing out SKU after SKU with the hope of retaining and expanding their market shares. However, AMD seems to be having a better year since Intel hasn’t been able to switch up to the 10nm process node whereas AMD has moved on to 7nm and is slowing gaining in the clock speed race as well. Intel has also been facing supply issues which are supposedly going to be resolved this coming year. Intel has, however, released a new HEDT processor which is a polished version of what they’d released last year and the year before that. Instead of costing nearly $2000, they’ve cut down the price to half. 

We don’t know if this pricing strategy will pay off but as it stands, they’ve found themselves in a rather unpopulated price segment for their 18-core Intel Core i9-10980XE. Once AMD’s Ryzen 9 3950X does make it to the market, we might see which SKU is preferred. On the absolute top-end, AMD sits perched without any competition in sight. Intel’s advantage lies in gaming and with AI-related workloads. However, this is an ever-narrowing performance advantage until Intel releases desktop processors on the 10nm node. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Graphics Card 

We didn’t see as much action in the desktop graphics segment this year. Radeon VII started off with a lot of hype but didn’t really match up to the high-end graphics cards from NVIDIA. We then saw the Radeon RX 5700 XT and 5700 GPUs which fortified themselves into the mid-range segment. NVIDIA was quick to respond with the Super lineup but the performance wasn’t enough to keep the 5700 series at bay. That didn’t stop NVIDIA from strengthening their hold on the entry-level segment as they expanded the Super lineup to include the 1650 Super and the 1660 Super with meagre improvements. 

NVIDIA has more SKUs in all segments which gives them the advantage as consumers have more NVIDIA GPUs to pick. AMD did announce the RX 5500 series but they ended up launching as OEM units with discrete cards slated to be launched later this year or early next year. Hardware Accelerated Ray Tracing is yet to properly catch on and more game engines have implemented DXR to get similar results. While the little skirmish between Team Green and Team Red goes on, Intel has been watching from the shadows. They unveiled the Ponte Vecchio exascale GPU and made it clear that a consumer-grade gaming graphics card isn’t on the horizon yet. Perhaps they’re being discrete, perhaps there never will be a GPU for gamers. For now, it’s just NVIDIA and AMD for us all. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing RAM

We didn’t see that much action in the memory segment this year. Usually, there’s a lot more action throughout the year as newer RAM modules with tighter timings are released every few weeks and a new world record is attained. This year, we barely saw more than a few records being bested throughout the year. Considering that AMD has also improved the memory control on their new Zen2 CPUs, one would assume that we’d see more records being broken, given that the playing field has expanded. What we did see were a vast number of new RAM modules with all sorts of RGB bling on them. We even saw gimmicky modules with isolated water tubes that were supposedly helping cool the modules without even being in contact with the heatsink via a thermal interface. As the NAND market cooled down and supply issues were sorted out, RAM prices came down and folks have also wisened up about quality. 

We’ve seen more demand for Samsung B-die based modules thanks to AMD platforms being more stable with B-die sticks. Capacity needs haven’t risen much, video games and applications that use memory have remained more or less as efficient as they were in 2018. We will see a slightly increased adoption of modules rated between 2933 MHz and 3200 MHz as AMD shipments grow and the price difference in this segment narrows down to the extent that opting for a lower clocked module makes little sense. Also, the RGB *sigh* lighting systems have gotten a little interesting. Corsair came out with more efficient LEDs which consume less power which means there’s more power for the DRAM modules. Then we saw infrared synchronisation coming in from Kingston. It’s ironic that manufacturers are now competing more with regards to RGB than with actual speeds. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing NAS Hard Drive 

Hard drives have always been treated as a commodity segment and rightly so. The scope of improvements has always been limited, owing to how rarely innovation happens in this segment. Talks of HAMR and MAMR have been going on for a few years now but we’re yet to see the drives get to the consumers. As far as we know, only select data centre clients of the hardware manufacturers have had a taste of the new drive technologies that are expected to be launched in 2020-2021. As of now, there are certain SKUs such as the Ultrastar enterprise lineup which leverages MAMR technology to scale data density and Seagate is reportedly coming out with their first consumer-grade HAMR drives in the later half of next year. It’s a no brainer that such high capacity drives are going to be released for enterprises. Consumer-grade high-density drives are still some time away.  Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing NVMe SSD 

AMD pushing PCIe 4.0 was met with much love and fanfare from the enthusiast community. For one, the underlying communication busses between the chiplets within the processor benefit greatly from this upgrade and on the other hand, we ended up with NVMe SSDs getting a shot in the arm as throughput speeds went up through the roof. We saw several demonstrations from motherboard vendors who’ve been clubbing multiple NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 to hit mind-boggling speeds of around 15,000 MB/s. This is officially niche territory where the benefits will only be reaped by a select few applications. Big data applications, we’re looking at you. 

With SSDs climbing higher up the storage medium pyramid, it would be economical for data centres to invest in SSDs to store hot data rather than add copious amounts of memory. The two segments are still far apart in terms of throughput speed but this improvement still saves a lot of time in the context of the data centre. For consumers, we’re stuck with older controllers that are yet to make the most of the new PCIe 4.0 standard. Phison and Silicon motion have controllers for the consumer market and Samsung’s solutions are still limited to the data centres. Their PM1733 and PM1735 based SSDs can easily hit 8,000 MB/s with just one SSD. We can only imagine what a RAID array will be capable of. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Z390 Motherboard

Intel’s Z390 platform has been around for about one year and compared to AMD’s X570 platform, it’s a lot more stable and efficient. However, the lack of PCIe 4.0 is a little limiting for storage devices. Intel doesn’t use PCIe as the interconnect on their platform so switching to PCIe 4.0 wasn’t exactly warranted. Moreover, the X570 platform is a lot more recent and the PCIe 4.0 peripheral/add-on market barely has any accessories aside from the ones that the motherboard manufacturer provides. Perhaps by the time Intel releases their 10nm desktop mainstream processor lineup, we might see PCIe 4.0 being incorporated but if we are to believe the rumour mills, then the upcoming desktop launch will continue to use PCIe 3.0. Intel’s 14nm platform has matured over years to become very stable. Think of that statement as a backhanded compliment. It’s high time we see something other than Skylake cores in the market. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing X570 Motherboard zero1

AMD’s Zen2 launch had a lot to offer aside from the processors themselves. The new X570 platform was designed with PCIe 4.0 standard which made the PCH run a little hotter compared to the older X370 and X470 platforms. Moreover, the new processors were also drawing a lot of power from the board during peak loads and even more so when overclocked. As a result, the entire lineup of X570 boards draw a lot more power than similarly configured X470 boards. The PCH wasn’t the only culprit but a lot of the design decisions across the board contributed to this rise in power consumption. So if you were to plug in a flagship Ryzen processor, you had to have enough headroom in the VRM so that the processor boost could work as designed and if you ever wanted to overclock, then you’d be able to do the same as well. Throw in the ongoing debate around using doublers vs true phases, and you have quite a lot of action happening in the motherboard space. Here are the most impressive boards we’ve had the pleasure of testing this year. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Desktop 

Gaming desktops are a niche market even today. As most enthusiasts interested in a desktop PC would prefer to assemble everything by themselves rather than getting a pre-built PC, we still see slightly diminished sales for this particular segment. But that doesn’t stop brands from bringing the top-notch SKUs to the Indian market. The pre-built machines in small form factors aren’t exactly easy to upgrade. Most of them come with an easy access hatch so you can easily disassemble the machine and perform a little spring cleaning but when you want to upgrade to a better graphics card or add more storage, you will find yourself limited by the lack of interfaces, if not the lack of space. Which is why the pre-built gaming desktops have remained a niche that’s ideal for the person who wants to game without all the hassle of putting a PC together. For PC enthusiasts, the hassle is the fun part. Here is this year’s best gaming desktop. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Router

This year, we decided to mix things up a bit and focus on just the gaming aspect of routers. Over the last year, we’ve seen various brands launch devices with features that are specifically aimed at incorporating quality-of-life improvements for gamers. Things such as packet prioritisation, dedicated priority ports, integrated gaming VPNs, etc. are all geared towards ensuring that your online gaming experience is seamless and responsive. We’re going to be focusing on testing ping and packet drops before and after the dedicated services are switched on in a heavily congested network. The biggest difference is brought about by gaming VPN services which can potentially make your ping nightmares go away. VPNs such as WTFast and Mudfish actively seek out where the servers for popular online games are present and try to minimise the latency between the VPN’s service and the game server. This active effort is what makes these specialised VPNs worth paying for. However, not all games will see improved ping times on these services which is why we pinged multiple online game servers for this test. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Keyboard

There has been an upheaval in the peripheral market over these two years. Mechanical switches have become increasingly affordable and more brands have started offering keyboards with varying switch types, caps, form factors, and more. In fact, the enthusiasts have wisened up and have begun exploring custom keyboards wherein they have absolute control over every little aspect of the keyboard, right down to the type of lubricant used on the stems of the switches! Meanwhile, manufacturers have started exploring new avenues to innovate in the segment. We’ve all heard about Wooting and their analog keys but this year, we saw Steelseries come out with switches based on Hall sensors so that you can now vary the actuation point of the keys and that too, you can do so on the fly. Anyway, let’s get to the winner of this year’s Zero1 Award for best gaming keyboard. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Mice

The era of ultralight gaming mice is upon us in 2019. While RGB is still a stupid trend that we’d like to be rid of, this new trend of reducing bulk by making absolutely skeletal mice with paracord is working out to be a much better one. What started with the likes of FinalMouse and Glorious has now been adopted and, we’d say, made significantly better with mainstream brands jumping into the mix. The only problem with this is that skeletal mice are open to the elements in our surroundings and the protective coating that these mice come with might not necessarily help when there are liquid spills. All we’re saying is that in gaming mice, the sensor along with a stable firmware should always be top priority when you’re considering investing in a gaming mouse. Now, let’s get to our pick of the best gaming mouse for the Zero1 award this year. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Monitor 

After the 240 Hz madness that we witnessed in 2017 was done we haven’t seen that many monitors entering the market with such high refresh rates. Since these high-end units were quite expensive, we instead saw most manufacturers focus on mid-tier panels with 165 Hz and slowly that segment has come down and settled on 144 Hz. As of now, the 144 Hz segment is where you get a high enough refresh rate to ensure fluid gameplay while not being as expensive as yesteryears’ 240 Hz panels. We’ve found that for a single display setup, the curvature doesn’t add much to the level of immersion. However, for a double or triple display setup, it can mean a world of a difference. Another key outcome of increased competition has been the value addition that brands are providing. Some give you just the 144 Hz panel for cheap with no frills, while others such as Zowie focus on features relevant to competitive gamers. Lastly, you have the folks that go all out and throw in everything. Various OSD profiles? Check. UI scaling? Check. Fixed crosshair? Check. Audio pass-through with noise cancellation? Check! With too many features, there’s the ugliness of compromises. Thankfully, you have us to help you out.  Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Laptop 

With the end of SLI in gaming laptops, the whole segment had become a little sombre last year. Practically everyone had the same configuration and no one was willing to innovate or put out any outrageous or gimmicky devices. We aren’t saying that has changed a lot but we saw the noteworthy trend of slipping in desktop components into notebook chassis in 2019. It started off with the Alienware Area-51m but soon spread to other brands as well. While this isn’t exactly a new trend, it’s refreshing to see mainstream gaming laptops pick it up now as well. With the adoption of this trend, the advantage that smaller custom notebook manufacturers have is slowly waning away. It’s unlikely we’ll be seeing desktop-grade GPUs in SLI anytime soon owing to the massive power draw that these things have but one can certainly hope. Laptops have gone from being thick to getting slim and now thick is back in fashion. All the top-performing gaming laptops we’ve seen this year were absolute beefcakes but that’s the price you pay for performance. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Gaming Headset

Inadequate audio performance can be a huge thorn in your side when it comes to gaming, even if you have a top-notch gaming PC. Also, having a capable microphone is often the difference between getting flipped off by your teammates or commandeering their respect. Just like other gaming peripherals, gaming headsets are a dime a dozen these days. Scouring out the gems can be a tedious ordeal. Through our rigorous tests, we have combed through the gaming headsets we received for our awards and bring you the very best ones. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Smart Speaker 

We thought the smart speaker market in India had seen a massive growth spurt in 2018, but the spurt hasn’t stopped even at the end of 2019. 96 per cent of Indian consumers expect their home electronic devices to support virtual assistant integration. The number of devices launched has increased significantly since last year as well. The one big change we’ve seen in the past year is that many smart speakers are no longer just speakers. They’re in fact smart displays, meaning they do (and show) more things, like video-call, work in standby as a digital photo frame, etc. So, let’s find out the crowned winner in the smart speaker category! Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Bluetooth Speaker

Bluetooth speakers have traversed a long way from their initially stunted form factors and overly tinny sound profiles. Today, with improved Bluetooth technology, these powerhouses are capable of replacing desktop speakers with the ability to connect two for stereo sound. While some are capable of encapsulating an entire room with music, some can even be sound systems for backyard parties! Companies attempted to continue beefing up the ruggedness of wireless speakers in 2019 with features such as drop resistance and waterproof/water resistance, and are breaking pre-established barriers when it comes to battery life as well. Chain connection is also becoming a customary addition. Curious to know who’s been crowned as the Bluetooth speaker of the year at Digit? Read on. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Wired Headphone 

For unparalleled soundstage, comfort over extended listening sessions, reliable audio signal and the absolute finest sound quality, no other form factor can really subvert wired headphones. These no-nonsense headphones offer what matters in spades – sound quality – while usually avoiding extraneous features. The tech has seen some tweaks to the point where you don’t necessarily need an external DAC or amp to enjoy the music. We’re not saying they don’t enhance the experience, they do. However, they’re no longer an indispensable necessity. With that said, let’s disclose our winner in the wireless headphone category. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Wireless Headphone 

The knee-jerk reaction to relegating wired headphones as the audiophile-grade device in comparison to wireless ones has diminished in 2019. Enhanced connectivity, better battery life and advanced codecs support have been major driving forces for this. The segment also saw high-end brands releasing or perfecting their ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) technology this year. Outright immersion is the name of the game when it comes to wireless headphones and ANC greatly aids this. We had plenty of great contenders this year, which is why you will see two runner-ups. Let’s reveal who triumphed. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Wired IEM (In-Ear Monitors)

Cutting the cord has never been more fashionable in the audio industry as it was in the past year. However, the allure of wired connectivity, especially amongst audiophiles, is palpable despite advanced Bluetooth technology closing the gap considerably. Wired IEMs or in-ears from various established brands are packing in absurd amounts of technology within these minuscule enclosed spaces, whether it is additional drivers, PES technology, planar magnets and more. Since the proliferation of wireless headphones and earphones, their wired counterparts have focused on refining the tuning and technology to add more value to the purchase. Let’s see who dominates this progressively niche area in the audio industry this year. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing Wireless IEM 

Nesting comfortably between wired and true wireless in-ears are the wireless IEMs that offer up wireless connectivity but still preserve the cord that tethers the two earbuds. They’re essentially a bridge between the two aforementioned categories, and ironically also lie squarely in the middle in terms of innovation this year. Advancing technologies such as aptX and escalating battery life have made the push for wireless IEMs even stronger, and they’ve quickly become the preferred option for purchasers when it comes to audio on-the-go. We tested a horde of wireless IEMs that released in 2019, and we’ve nailed down the winner. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

Best performing True Wireless IEM

True Wireless IEMs, just a couple of years ago, plagued consumers with an array of uncertainties. Will I easily lose them? Will they sound as good? What about battery life? Fast forward to 2019 and true wireless earbuds have exploded and are increasingly prevalent in a consumer’s pocket. While they are still easy to lose, the other concerns seem to have dissipated over the years since the tech inside has been greatly enhanced with boosted sound quality, wireless connectivity and a cornucopia of features. The gap between wired and wireless is closing rapidly and we couldn’t be happier. Especially, since 3.5mm jacks will have almost entirely vanished on smartphones by 2020 and going wireless is the new norm. Let’s see who wins in this category which is brimming with contenders. Check out the winner, the runner up and the best buy in this category here.

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