Gear of the Year 2013: The Pocket-lint team's favourite tech gadgets of the year
It's been a rollercoaster ride through the world of tech in 2013. The promise of wearable tech seems to have all but worn off - pun intended - and we're at the advent of Ultra HD 4K content and devices becoming mainstream. Or supposedly.
The chatter of 3D has died down to nothing more than a whisper, thankfully, while the next-gen gaming war has escalated to shouty argument levels of noise that have transcended into South Park and pretty much made the internet explode.
But regardless of all the trends, the anticipations, and the major launches, we here at Pocket-lint have seen a shedload of tech over the year. Tech we've lived with, tech we've used like it was our own and tech that, once it's wended its way back to where it came, we've come to miss. Often profoundly.
And so it's that when we've been thinking about those products that have made a genuine difference to our year. The ones that caught us by surprise, the ones that changed the way we did things, the ones many scoffed at but that we've found repeated uses for. It's not the more democratic selection process used to select the Pocket-lint Awards winners - this is the team's personal gear of the year.
Chris Hall, editor
Tech pick of 2013: Xbox One
"For me it's the Xbox One. Although a late arrival in the year, it's had a huge impact on my living room. It's the change of emphasis, its integration into entertainment in the broadest sense, which I've really enjoyed.
"The gaming is also great, of course, and Forza Motorsport 5 has already claimed huge chunks of my time, but it's the simplification over the Xbox 360 really speaks to me. Using voice control was not something I thought I'd be doing, but it's now a completely normal thing.
"I know there's more to come in 2014, but so far, I'm very happy with Microsoft's angle on the next-gen console."
FULL ARTICLE: Xbox One review
Stuart Miles, CEO and founder
Tech pick of 2013: Sonos PlayBar
"For me it has to be the Sonos PlayBar. Not only does it deliver great sound, but it's also allowed me to stream Spotify into my living room and ditch a clunky old amp, a big subwoofer and dozens of meters of speaker cables. Love it."
FULL ARTICLE: Sonos PlayBar review
Rik Henderson, senior editor of news & features
Tech pick of 2013: OMG Life Autographer
"Having ridden through the launches of the PS4 and Xbox One giggling with excitement like a school kid, it would be easy to choose either of those as the product that’s most enamoured me this year. But I can’t separate them at this stage so I won’t bother. Instead, the one product that I’ve been particularly impressed with - as it represents the opening gambit for a whole new category of devices - is the OMG Life Autographer.
"It's definitely not for everyone and was certainly overpriced when it first came out, but I was still extremely impressed with the picture-diary-creating camera. Some might even have scoffed at the time, suggesting that it would never be used beyond the original outing, but I’ve used one several times since and am still pleased with the results. Its best use this year was when I was shadowing Virgin Media’s official V Festival gig photographer. It took some great shots of me taking shots of a professional photographer taking shots. A bit like a Pink Floyd album cover. And worth it for that sentence alone."
FULL ARTICLE: Autographer review
Britta O'Boyle, UK contributing editor
Tech pick of 2013: Samsung Galaxy Gear
"It might be cheating slightly, but my choice is something I desperately want to buy but haven’t yet - the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The fact that it allows you to make and receive calls, take pics and turn notes into text is a bonus, without needing to take out the phone.
"The design might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it - especially the white and rose gold option, that's the only finish I'd want to buy - and when I get my Note 3 upgrade I'm going to jump in and buy one. A matching rose gold pair."
FULL ARTICLE: Galaxy Gear review
Luke Edwards, UK news editor
Tech pick of 2013: Nokia Lumia 1020
"The Nokia Lumia 1020's camera impressed me when I first tried it at the product's launch event. I wrote some flowery words about it being a game changer in the hope it would be and thought little more of it.
"Then I got to use it for a few weeks as a loan. I'd never used the camera on any phone as much before and nor have I since. Not only was it capable of producing high-quality shots, even at night, but its zoom ability also meant I could snap anything quickly and crop to the relevant detail after. The fact that Windows Phone OS has come on leaps and bounds helps too.
"It was painful to return. I miss it and want it back."
PRICE: £580 (SIM free)
FULL ARTICLE: Nokia Lumia 1020 review
Jake Smith, US news editor
Tech pick of 2013: Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (2013)
"I had been a fan of the MacBook Air for some time, but once Apple skipped out a Retina display for the ultra-thin laptop, I knew the MacBook Pro was the only route to go for me.
"So I bought the heftier MacBook Pro over the summer, and once I experienced that Retina display it was hard to look at my HP desktop monitors in the same way. Apple has struck a chord with the MacBook Pro, combing sleekness and power for the ultimate portable machine.
"What’s an iPad, again?"
PRICE: from £1,099
FULL ARTICLE: MacBook Pro Retina 13-inch (2013) review
Mike Lowe, reviews editor
Tech pick of 2013: PlayStation 4
"Typically I'm known as 'the camera guy' so for me to not pick a lens-based snapper as my choice pick of the year - the Fujifilm X20 was the likely choice for me - might raise a few eyebrows.
"But no, my I can't help but go with the PlayStation 4. And I can hear some of you laughing now that I'm choosing such a woefully underprepared next-gen machine. And, no, it's not just to stick one to Chris's Xbox One choice - because I want both consoles myself.
"Throughout 2013 I've played more games than 2012 dealt me and I've had a stack of fun with the PlayStation 3, so my anticipation for what the PS4 will deliver is huge. I'm confident it will keep giving as the years roll on by and I get older. I'm not a typical avid gamer, but there's just something about the PS4 - and the PS4 vs Xbox One battle that set the internet on fire - that really spoke to me; it was like reliving a childhood era.
"It's also quieter than my existing Blu-ray player was, which is a bonus, and when Watch Dogs comes out next year I might need to take a short holiday to embark on some school kid levels of gaming geek-out. Awesomeness awaits and I'm glad to be on board - especially with the promise of ongoing improvements."
FULL ARTICLE: PS4 review
Ian Morris, head of video
Tech pick of 2013: Nexus 7 (2013)
"I always fall in love with technology, and each year there's a load of new stuff to adore. Right now, I'm typing this on a Corsair K70 keyboard that somehow manages to excite me unreasonably, and there's an even better one coming next year.
"But despite my love of this keyboard, the thing I really think has won me over this year is the Nexus range from Google. That sounds like a cop out, but at the moment I have both the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 7 and I have to say, I think this is how everyone should live.
"Two devices made by two different companies - housed under the Google flag - that both seem to fit my life like a glove. The phone feels the right size for a phone, and the tablet is the perfect scale for a tablet, plus both deliver the most recent version of Android.
"Getting me to surrender either one would be tough, but if I had to pick one - which, indeed, I do - then it's the Nexus 7 that wins. It's just tablet computing done right. It's the right price, the right size and has the right attitude."
FULL ARTICLE: Nexus 7 review
Elyse Betters, US contributing editor
Tech pick of 2013: Google Chromecast
"Chromecast is hands-down my gadget of the year. And it only costs $35. Beyond being able to cast content from supported apps to an HDTV - ie, beam Miley Cyrus’s latest twerking fit from the YouTube iOS app to my television - the Chromecast is a pretty impressive internet media extender overall.
"I use Chromecast to watch any Chrome browser-based web content on my television. Install the Chromecast extension, then hit the cast button, and that's it - whatever is in my browser instantly appears on the big screen in my living room. Magic.
"There are also all sorts of hacks and workarounds that I love to experiment with, including casting my computer’s local media, watching friends' shared videos via services like Plex, accessing restricted internet video - such as a UK-based series like Downton Abbey - via web proxies like Media Hint, and the list goes on.
"Google’s dongle has only been around for five months, but it’s already replaced Apple TV and Roku as my go-to streaming media device. It’s affordable, it’s easy to use, and it just works. Plain and simple. Exactly the way I think gadgets - or technology, rather - should be."
PRICE: $35 (£22)
FULL ARTICLE: Chromecast review