Dean’s favourite things of 2017

HTC U 11

I’m sure about one thing regarding 2017: I’m thankful it’s over.

I think when it comes to smartphones, 2018 is set to be a much bigger year than 2017 was. Meanwhile, in terms of gaming, I, unfortunately, didn’t purchase a Switch until this week. While there were many great games released this year, I felt like I missed out on some of the games I really wanted to spend all night playing, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, for example. Now that I own a Switch, I plan to change that.

When it comes to television shows, I felt like I watched a lot of TV in 2017, but at the same time, I’d still rather pick up older shows that I have already seen a million of times. Finally, while this was a great year for movies, I feel like 2018 is poised to be a lot better with movies like Black Panther, Infinity War, New Mutants and Deadpool 2 on the horizon — though I really liked Spider-Man: Homecoming.

With all that said, I’ve picked out a few things I genuinely liked this year.

18:9 aspect ratio

With the release of the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8, came a new and interesting shape for smartphone displays — the 18:9 aspect ratio.

The ratio, which might seem odd at first glance to some, allows for more screen real estate. It gives smartphones an overall sleeker and taller appearance, making larger phones easier to hold in one hand. The shift also made devices that didn’t adopt the 18:9 aspect ratio look decidedly old fashioned. Even Apple’s recently released iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus look like last generation smartphones due to their 16:9 aspect ratio.

We’ve begun to reach a plateau in the smartphone industry where it’s evident manufactures only aim to improve new versions of their devices by small increments. Many flagship smartphones — and even some mid-range devices — already feel very quick, feature buttery smooth transitions and displays that look pristine.

With the introduction of the 18:9 aspect ratio though, flagship smartphones felt fresher this year. Another benefit of the 18:9 aspect ratio is that it offers a more immersive viewing experience for when watching video content on platforms like Netflix and YouTube.

Over the course of 2017, in terms of devices that featured an 18:9 aspect ratio, I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the LG V30, the LG Q6 and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Senua's Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is fun and immersive Playstation 4 and PC video game.

In Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, players become Senua, a woman who suffers from depression and schizophrenia. Throughout the dark, lonely title, Senua is attempting to save Dillion, the man she loves, from the Norse underworld. She struggles throughout the game as she fights several Norse Gods and her own inner demons.

Throughout her adventure, Senua hears voices, that, while sometimes helpful, aim to tear her down whenever they get a chance. The voices constantly speak negatively about her, saying things such as, “she’s lost,” “she doesn’t know where she’s going,” and “she’s going the wrong way.” Senua also hears a voice that she recognizes from her past. This haunting voice will periodically scare, yell and remind Senua of her past failures to keep her from accomplishing her goal.

While Senua’s Sacrifice isn’t a combat heavy game, it still offers an amazing gameplay experience. Senua and the world around her are detailed and every emotion is conveyed perfectly on Senua’s face, especially during cutscenes.

I also bonded with this game as I currently live with someone who suffers from schizophrenia. Ninja Theory, the game’s developer, worked with patients and psychiatrists to accurately depict how it could feel to play as a character suffering from the mental illness.

Funnel neck sweaters

This might sound odd in a tech blog, but I’ve always loved style. Although I’m not very stylish myself, whenever I see a friend ‘slaying it,’ it’s extremely difficult for me to not exclaim “Yaas!”

With that in mind, I’ve recently become aware of funnel neck sweaters. Though I believe I’m pretty late on the uptake with this trend, as this was more of a fall fashion trend (I think, anyway), I’m still loving it. Having bought my first funnel neck sweater this Christmas season, I’ve grown a new appreciation for one of my friends who constantly wears them.

The neckline isn’t as tight as the average turtleneck sweater and it doesn’t look as corny either. The sweaters come in all sorts of varieties, but always look fabulous, While they aren’t necessarily used for warmth, the sweaters allow you to pretend you’re a turtle and hide your face from the elements.

Funnel neck sweaters are definitely fashionable, fun and genuinely aesthetically pleasing.

HTC U11

The HTC U11 is my favourite phone of the year, and while it lacks the beautiful 18:9 aspect ratio I rave about above, I still think it’s a worthy comeback from my favourite smartphone manufacturer.

After failed smartphones such as the HTC One A9 and the HTC U Ultra — released earlier this year — it started to look like HTC fans had no hope left.

But in May of 2017, the company unveiled the HTC U11. Not only did the device feature high-end specs, but it also included new, unique functionality. Being able to squeeze the phone was such an interesting in put mechanism information that it definitely caught me by surprise. The feature, called Edge Sense, allowed users to squeeze the device to launch any app on their phone, squeeze to launch Google Assistant and even squeeze to perform in-app actions such as switching the device’s from rear-facing camera to its front shooter.

Due to Edge Sense, it’s 5.5-inch display, it’s rear that changes colours and it’s HTC user experience, I had no choice but to love the U11 — though I’m almost 100 percent sure I’d like the HTC U11 Plus a lot more due to its slim 18:9 aspect ratio.

Attack on Titan season 2

attack on titan

Attack on Titan is hands down one of my favourite anime shows.

I understand that Attack on Titan moves at a snails pace, but overall it’s still exhilarating. From the very first season, I was in awe of the show’s rampant gore and intense plot line — and season two is so much better.

Watchers of season two, got the opportunity to learn more about how titans are created, find out who exactly the Colossal and Armored titans are, and get an unexpected visitor from a Beast Titan.

While season two offers all of these new elements, it still features the Titan versus Titan combat and the Titan versus Soldier battles that involve using 3D maneuver gear, that fans of the series love.

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