Jon Lamont’s five favourite things of 2021

From weird laptops to fun games, there were a few things I really enjoyed in 2021

As the year winds down at MobileSyrup, we get the opportunity to reflect on some of our favourite things from the last 12 months. While we typically focus on tech, we’re not always locked to that. For my part, I also enjoy reflecting on the year, even beyond what I include in this article.

I’ll be honest, 2021 was a challenging year for me, but it was also a really good year.

Trying out the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold

Easily one of the highlights of my year was getting to take Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold for a test run. It’s definitely not a good PC, nor is it one I would recommend to most people. However, the X1 Fold was a very unique device and I’m glad I got to take it for a spin.

What makes the X1 Fold stand out is that it’s got a foldable screen. It’s like having a Windows tablet that you can fold in half. It also had a really neat wireless, magnetic keyboard accessory — you could use the keyboard and have the screen fully unfolded, or attach the keyboard to half the display and use the Fold like a mini clamshell laptop.

As neat as the X1 Fold was, it had a lot of flaws. I’m excited to see where foldable PCs like that go in the future, but for now, I don’t think they offer any significant benefits over a typical laptop.

The Pixel 6

Next up is my favourite smartphone of the year: the Pixel 6.

I am really digging Google’s new smartphone despite some of my gripes with it. The value is great, the camera is reliable and generally, I’ve had a blast using it. The phone feels more premium than past Pixels, but it also isn’t crazy overpriced or jammed with features I don’t need or want.

I still wish that Google had made the Pixel 6 smaller than it is — even after using it for several weeks and adapting to it, the phone feels massive. I also wish it had a textured back panel instead of the boring, slippery, glossy fingerprint magnet it does have. But with a nice case, it’s not too bad.

Android 12 and Windows 11

Although it may seem like cheating, I put these together since they kinda go hand in hand. As a long-time Android and Windows user, I greatly appreciated the major updates that rolled out to both platforms this year.

On the Android side, the Android 12 update brought some much-needed life to my phone. I absolutely love the new look, colours and more cohesive feel of Android. Android 12 isn’t perfect, but it’s one of my favourite OS updates to date.

Similarly, Windows 11 brought some nice polish to Microsoft’s desktop OS and, while it also has some problems — why can’t I move my taskbar, Satya? — I do generally like the improvements.

I’m very excited to see how Google and Microsoft continue to improve their respective operating systems next year.

I’m loving Game Pass

Microsoft’s PC Game Pass (formerly Xbox Game Pass for PC) subscription has been one of the purchases I’ve enjoyed most this year. It fits into the way I like to play games really well and enabled me to try more games I probably wouldn’t have played.

For those unfamiliar with Game Pass, it’s a subscription service that gives you access to a bunch of games, kind of like Netflix but if you had to download each movie before you watched it.

When it comes to buying games, I almost always wait for a deal and rarely buy a game at full price. There are a few upsides to this — it’s easier on my wallet, and it lets me skip the pre-release hype and avoid any games that have significant issues at launch. At the same time, that also means I miss out on games since I’m not always willing to spend the money to try them out and risk getting stuck with a game I don’t like or can’t play.

This is what makes Game Pass great for me — it’s an excellent way to take a chance on new games and try out those I normally wouldn’t for a relatively low upfront cost. If I like a game, I can always buy it to support the devs and make sure I don’t lose it if and when Microsoft cycles it off the platform. And if I don’t like a game, I’m only out the time it took to download.

All that said, if you want to give Game Pass a try, I totally recommend it. It’s not for everyone, and it has its issues, but for me, it works quite well. You can get it for PC, Xbox or both via the ‘Ultimate’ tier.

The Wheel of Time

Image credit: Amazon

Wrapping up my favourite things this year is The Wheel of Time. I’ve been slowly working my way through the series (I’m on the second last book now) but I also started watching Amazon Prime’s take on the series that came out this year. As with basically everything else on this list, I have some issues with the TV adaptation, but I’ve also quite enjoyed watching it (and so has my wife, even though she hasn’t read the books).

For those interested in the Wheel of Time but daunted by the considerably lengthy 14-book saga, checking out Amazon’s adaptation is a good way to check out the world and story without necessarily committing to a huge book. That said, you could also borrow the first book, The Eye of the World, from your local library and check out the series that way, too.