Our tips for the companies set to make waves in the new year, from a disruptive banking startup to the budget smartphone taking on Samsung and Apple
This year was a mixed bag for startups. Powa Technologies, an e-commerce company that was one of Britain’s so-called unicorns (a startup valued at over $1bn), crashed hard, declaring bankruptcy early in 2016. US wearables company Pebble sold to Fitbit for less than a 10th of its peak valuation. But on the plus side, Europe minted – foaled? – 10 new unicorns, and Finnish gaming company Supercell became the continent’s first “decacorn” (a startup valued at over $10bn).
But for some startups, the year ahead is nothing but hopeful. Here are some of the companies that look set to have a 2017 they will remember for some time.
Banking startup Monzo launched in 2015, but 2017 is set to be a turning point for the fintech darling. For the first 18 months of its public operation, Monzo has been limited in what it can offer customers by British banking regulations, forcing it to operate as little more than a pre-paid debit card with a (very slick) app.
In conjunction with the CES conference in Las Vegas this week, Dell today is officially introducing a new 2-in-1 version of its highly regarded XPS 13 laptop. This follows a leak of the device yesterday on Dell’s own website. Now that a convertible XPS model is coming out, the XPS line may more directly compete with HP’s Spectre x360 and Lenovo’s ThinkPad Yoga.
The machine features a 7th generation Kaby Lake Intel Core i chip (i5 and i7 options are available), Intel HD Graphics 615 integrated graphics processing unit (GPU), 4-16GB LPDDR3 RAM, a 128GB-1TB solid-state drive (SSD), a 720p webcam on the bottom of the display with support for Windows Hello, a fingerprint scanner, a 46 watt-hour battery, and a 13.3-inch touchscreen, available in QHD+ or FHD configurations.
The bezel is very narrow, in keeping with the XPS style. The fanless PC offers an SD card slot and two USB-C ports, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter comes in the box.
The laptop is 0.32-0.54 inch thick, which is thinner than Dell’s 2016 XPS. But the keyboard hasn’t been squished down — the keys have 1.3mm travel, which is just a tad bit (0.1mm) more than what you get on the XPS laptop — which is impressive. It weighs 2.7 pounds.
Probably the most significant components on this PC, though, are the hinges, which bring it more in line with Dell’s Inspiron series. They felt robust enough in the few minutes I had to try them recently during a press briefing in San Francisco.
The question is whether people will want the convertible option when the laptop is fine as is. The convertible XPS 13 starts at $1000, which is $200 more than the XPS 13 laptop. It’s available starting on January 5.