The greatest gadget of 2013

2013-12-27 00:00

GADGETS. What are they good for? Absolutely everything. This year has been an exceptional one for gadget lovers, with new tablets, phones, computers and games flowing from the digital tap with reckless abandon. But only one gadget can be the best of the year. The task was difficult, but we’ve picked the four best gadgets of 2013 to compete for gadget of the year. The contenders, are below.

• iPad Air

Apple’s had a good year. Scratch that, Apple had a great year. With the 2013 Retina Display MacPro, iPhone 5s and iPad Air, Apple fans had little to complain about. And it is the iPad Air that gets shortlisted for our gadget of 2013, because Apple took the tablet and without us realising, has reinvented and refreshed the tablet market. With a 9,7-inch″ display and a weight of 496 grams (Wi-Fi only model, the LTE model is 478 grams), the iPad Air looks and feels as premium as a tablet can. It’s incredible to hold, as responsive as ever and beautiful to look at. It’s also priced the same as the current iPad 3, making it an easy replacement for those who could afford previous iPads.

Everything about the iPad Air is just better. Apple’s tagline is “thinner, lighter, faster” and yeah, iPad Air is all those adjectives and more. Let’s sum it up though: the iPad Air is stronger, perhaps the most competent and mature product Apple has delivered yet. It has the body of the iPad Mini, with the power of a 64-bit A7 CPU. The quiet revolution known as the iPad Air needs to be held to be appreciated. The stereo sound, combined with a luxurious body and Retina Display delivers a tablet far beyond the aesthetic appeal of any device. This is Apple’s best work and most excitingly, the next iPad Air should be the thinnest tablet of them all.

• Oculus Rift

Virtual reality — it’s a load of rubbish isn’t it? Who wants to flap their arms around like an epileptic seagull while their eyes are assaulted with (really, truly awful) 3D vision? We do, especially if we’re using the Oculus Rift, possibly the most important gaming peripheral ever made since the mouse.

Oculus Rift will work on console, PC and mobile. Matter of fact, it’s looking like it will work with any device, as long as software drivers are written for it. It’s also loaded with nifty technologies: motion tracking, a 3D accelerometer, gyroscope and 3D magnetometer. All of this equals to a VR helmet that moves and shifts perspective without the jarring, jerking movements of virtual reality headsets from the nineties.

Accurate, fluid, responsive, buttery, whatever you want to call it, Oculus Rift delivers. Even while the full 1 080 p version of the Oculus Rift is a few months off, the level of immersion that the unit can currently deliver is still exceptional.

• PS4

Why the Sony PlayStation 4 and not Microsoft’s Xbox One? Simple: Sony never flip-flopped like Microsoft did, never initially forced us into weird sharing situations and didn’t stab interdependent game developers in the back. Sony said “nope” to all of this and instead, delivered a console worthy of the PS moniker.

There’s much to love about the PS4. Automatic game updates are now downloaded in the background, games can be played as they’re downloaded, the Dual­Shock 4 almost tops the Xbox One’s controller, games can be quickly live-streamed via Twitch, the interface is fluid and it’s possible to remote play with a connected PS Vita. All of this means nothing without great games and the PS4 is absolutely heaving with quality titles now and in the future.

The PS4 is U.S.$100 (about R1 000) cheaper than the Xbox One, with an excellent controller, strong line-up of first-party titles and an eye on the future. This is the console you want, and a fitting start to another decade of PlayStation.

• LG G2

This was a touch choice for us. While the iPhone 5s may be incredible, it isn’t our mobile gadget of the year. The LG G2 simply rocks. It’s the slightly upgraded version of the Nexus 5, Google’s first KitKat smartphone with loads to enjoy.

Let’s start with the 5,2-inch″display. LG has created the best-looking screen yet, with 424 pixels squeezed into every inch, HD video has never seemed better, or more wondrous. Or how about that blazing-fast 2,26 Ghz quad-core CPU paired with 2GB RAM that screams speed with every flick, swipe and pinch? Even the shape is exceptional, and is akin to a warm slab of non-melting dark chocolate.

It’s Android 4,3 (and soon to be 4,4) in the best form yet. Everything just flies on the G2. Games load in seconds, video never lags and thanks to the large screen-size, it’s even a pleasure to use the G2 to write lengthy e-mails on. But the G2 is no one-trick pony, it does what no other phone has been daring enough to do: it moves all physical keys to the back of the phone. Yes. The volume up/down and power button are directly under the 13MP camera.

• Gearburn’s gadget of the year — the iPad Air

Yes, Apple wins. The iPad Air is more than a gadget, it’s a lifestyle tablet that truly is at home in any environment. Apple has gone out of its way to ensure that the iPad Air is its greatest achievement yet. In terms of price, performance and what this tablet can do, it’s hard to imagine any other device on this list winning the prize. If the iPad Air doesn’t excite you, it’s because you haven’t had any hands-on time with it yet.— Memeburn.

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