Gadgets

Gadgets Galore: An In-Depth Review of the Best Gadgets of 2012

With the year coming to an end, it’s time for everyone to make their best of 2012 lists. And, one of the interesting lists is the best gadgets of 2012. Time magazine recently unveiled their top list, which contains some interesting selections.

Let’s take a deeper look into Time’s top ten gadgets of 2012, and we’ll also throw in some other suggestions that Time neglected in their top ten.

1. iPhone 5

There’s denying that the iPhone 5 is the best iPhone to date. But, what makes it so great? Apple finally gave customers what they’ve wanted all along in the 4s. For starters, there’s the longer and larger screen. Plus it comes equipped with 4G LTE, a free turn-by-turn navigation, and a faster A6 processor. Finally, the iPhone 5 redesign makes it sharper, slimmer and lighter. One of the major downsides of the iPhone 5 is that Verizon and Sprint users can’t use voice and data simultaneously. But, the biggest complaint is that the smaller connector makes previous accessories unusable. Still, the iPhone 5 does deserve to be one of the best smartphones on the market.

Something other than the iPhone 5: Believe it or not, there’s other smartphones out there. And, even more shocking, not all of us want an iPhone. Besides the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is perhaps the best Android smartphone. There’s also the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC One Series. These are all incredible smartphones that can give the iPhone a run for it’s money, depending on what you want to use a smartphone for.

2. Nintendo Wii U

Honestly, we were kind of surprised to see the Nintendo Wii U land on the second spot of Time’s list. That’s not saying that it’s not a bad gadget, it has some flaws, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The biggest feature about the Nintendo Wii U is it’s innovative wireless GamePad. It’s kind of a hybrid between a tablet and traditional controller that features a 6.4-inch touch display that can get plugged into your TV. Oh yeah, it’s in HD as well. Plus, it’s reasonably priced, $300 for basic and $350 for the deluxe edition. However, there are some drawbacks. It has poor battery life, gimmicky third ports and only one active app, Netflix. Still, the potential is there to revolutionize the gaming industry.

Something other than the Nintendo Wii U: The PlayStation Vita. Sure, Sony may not have a potential game changer with the Vita, it does manage to keep gamers happy. It has great graphics, is easy to set-up and offers strong built-in apps and an exciting lineup of games.

3. Sony Cyber-shot RX100

Compact cameras have been struggling of late, since most of us prefer using our smartphones. However, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 actually makes taking pics from a camera an enjoyable experience. It’s compact body features a large 1-inch-type sensor, 20.2 megapixel, F1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens, 25-point autofocus system, 10 fps continuous shooting, 3-inch (7.5-cm) 1229k dot LCD, ISO 80-6400 (expandable to 25600) and full HD video recording. While it has some quirks, this is a camera worth having.

If you want something other than the Sony Cyber-shot RX100: Some have said that the Fujifilm X-Pro1 is the best camera ever produced for photographers. It takes amazing pictures, is light, quiet and has a Fujifilm-designed 16MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor.

4. Raspberry Pi Model B

The Raspberry Pi Model B will set you back $35. After all, it’s basically just a motherboard with a CPU soldered onto it. So, what’s the point of it? Really, it’s for educational purposes. This tiny 3.37 x 2.13 x 0.67 inch computer is intended for students, or hobbyists, to design and build their own system. The whole process can be confusing for people not familiar with programming, but the company offers an excellent help guide. Also, there are limitations with you can do with the Pi, but what else would you except for $35.

Something other than the Raspberry Pi Model B: The Stellaris LaunchPad is basically the same thing. However, it looks sharper and only costs $12.99.

5. Lytro

Lytro has innovated the light field camera. But, what exactly is a light field camera (LFC)? In short, a LFC just doesn’t capture ‘pictures’ like most cameras. It actually captures information about where the light is traveling. This information can then be turned into a picture or even a series of pictures with different focus points. Also, when taking pictures, you don’t have to worry about focusing your shot, since it can be refocused later. The key specifications include: 11 ‘Megaray’* sensor, 8x 43-340mm equivalent, constant F2 lens (limited to 43-150mm range in Everyday mode), 8GB or 16GB internal memory (depending on model), 1.46″ (33mm) 49,000 dot touch-screen and instant power-on, instant focus in Everyday mode. The Lytro may not be needed by everyone, but it’s still a fascinating camera.

Something other than the Lytro: There aren’t many other options, at least for this specific type of gadget. The German company Raytrix GmbH has it’s R5, which is more for scientific and industrial applications.

6. Apple 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Yeah. Apple has a lockdown on gadgets. And, there’s a reason why. This laptop is in a slimmer and sturdier aluminum chassis, and features a quad-core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. However, the real selling point is the Retina Display. It’s probably the most beautiful panel ever seen on a laptop and has a stunning resolution of 2880-by-1800. But, except to drop about $2200 or more on this beauty.

Something other than the MacBook Pro with Retina Display: There are other notebooks out there, if you’re not an Apple fan. The Vizio Ultrabooks are awesome. While the Lenovo Yoga is a revolutionary desktop operating system that blends a tablet and ultrabook.

7. Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

Almost everyone agrees that the design of the Microsoft Surface is innovative, solid, portable and simply elegant. It also has good battery life, decent storage options and an attractive app design. The kickstand and Touch Cover have also won people over. However, there are a lot of kinks. Trying to synch up with social networking sites, like Facebook, isn’t exactly smooth. Plus, there’s a limited app selection, poor screen resolution, and a camera that doesn’t exactly take good pictures.

Something other than the Microsoft Surface: We all have our tablet preferences. Apple fans have the iPad 2, which is probably the best tablet out there. Then there’s the Google Nexus 7 with it’s excellent performance and gaming experience. We’re also going to include Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite or Fire in the mix.

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

There’s a reason why Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 was included in Time’s list. The phone/tablet hybrid features the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, an enormous battery, expandable memory, amazing screen, is LTE capable and is extremely fast. Even at it’s size, 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm (5.9 x 3.2 x 0.4 inches), it despite feel cumbersome. Samsung also upgraded the S-pen, but it’s still a bit complicated. The major concerns are it’s price, the slow camera shutter and the size for some people.

Something other than the Samsung Galaxy Note 2: The original Galaxy Note is probably the only credible alternative. However, if you want more of smartphone then see above with the iPhone 5.

9. Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest looks like a hockey-puck with a screen inside. However, it’s a thermostat that calculates your heating and cooling averages over time so that you don’t need keep programming changes. With wi-fi networking and it’s apps, you can control the Nest from pretty much anywhere. It’s easy to set-up, it’s slim design is slick and, once installed, the Nest handles the temperature of your home by itself. If there’s anything wrong with the Nest it’s $250 price tag.

Something other than the Nest: You’re pretty much out of luck. There’s almost no other competition out there with this sort of technology.

10. Simple.TV

In a nutshell, Simple.TV is a networked TV tuner with optional storage for your mobile devices. This means you can access your tablet, smartphone, PC or TV all in one convenient place. With an annual subscription of about $59, Simple.TV allows you to watch whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as there is a internet connection. However, there are some limitations. The DVR lacks internal storage and requires an external USB drive to use the DVR capabilities. And, encrypted channels, like HBO or Showtime, can’t be streamed. Still, it’s an interesting device for cable cutters.

Something other than Simple.TV: TiVo Premiere has more channel options, but is much more costly. If you don’t want to be a cable cutter, there’s Dish Network’s Hooper, which allows you to store everything on the Hopper and access recordings through any terminal device

Our favorite gadget of 2012: The Makerbot Replicator 2

Four years ago, the Brooklyn based MakerBot Industries began producing 3D printers that were affordable enough for the general public. But, it’s their recent gadget that could change the world. The Replicator 2 is a simple desktop 3D printer. The sleek metal Replicator 2 allows you to easily turn CAD files into physical things by melting ultra-thin plastic layers into the one below to create said object. This upgraded model can print bigger objects faster and more precise than it’s predecessor. With more-intuitive software and no assembly required, the Replicator 2 is ready to transform your home into a factory. The entry-level Replicator 2 will set you back $2,199, while the higher-end Replicator 2X, costs $2,799. Still, this is an amazing game-changing gadget that looks better cool as well.

So, what’s your favorite gadget of 2012? Did we leave something out?

Images via Wikipedia Commons, except Simple.TV from Facebook

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