25 Best Gadgets of 2012

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Tags:  Best Of 2012   Gadgets   Gear   Tech  

best gadgets of 2012

With 2012 winding down, I thought it would be fun to do a list of the best gadgets released in the past year. However, when I started doing my research I made an interesting discovery: this wasn’t just a good year for gadgets. It was an awesome year for gadgets. We saw major phone and tablet redesigns, new products that will significantly enhance your home theater experience, some new gaming systems, cameras that could revolutionize the way we make images, and of course a number of gadgets that just make every day life a lot cooler.

So yeah, it was an amazing year for gadgets. In fact, narrowing the list down to just 25 proved to be quite difficult. Nevertheless, here it is. Take a look, and as always let us know what you think.

25. Griffin Twenty

25 griffin twenty - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $99.99

This one will appeal to a limited audience—specifically, people who use Apple’s wireless networking device, the Airport Express—but if that’s you, this is a must have. What does it do? Well, basically it serves as a sleek, simple, stereo tuner that’s synched up with your iTunes library. You just plug your traditional unpowered speakers into it, attach your Airport Express, and presto: you can listen to music from any of your devices (computer, iPhone, iPod) from wherever it is in your house. (It’s cooler than it sounds. Check out Griffin’s video on their website.)



24. PowerSkin SpareOne

24 powerskin spareone cell phone - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $50

The PowerSkin SpareOne is as low-tech as a cell phone can get: no screen, plain landline-looking buttons, no texting, and no data. So why is it on our list of the best gadgets of 2012? Because it’s designed for emergency purposes: it runs on a single AA battery and requires no SIM card to dial 911, which is just cool. And given that the Mayans predicted the world would end some time this month, I thought this would be perfect to add to your emergency preparedness kit. Yeah, you’ve got an iPhone, but you’re going to need that to play Angry Birds while your Xbox is offline.


23. Nike Fuel Band

23 nike fuel band - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $149.95

This little baby measures all of your daily movement (walking, running, doing the laundry, engaging in romantic activities, etc.) and send the info to your iPhone via bluetooth where NikeFuel tabulates the calories burned and keeps track of your fitness. Also, it tells you the time.

Jawbone makes a very similar product (called Up) that doesn’t have the cool software interface and doesn’t tell you the time, but does track your sleeping patterns as well as your movement. So you might consider that, too. (It retails for $130.)


22. Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD

22 motorola droid razr maxx hd - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: as low $150 with contract, $650 without

This phone isn’t as sexy as the iPhone or the Galaxy S3—probably because it’s camera is subpar, which I hear is important to the kids these days—but it has a fantastic display, sleek design, excellent performance, and, most importantly, CRAZY battery life. According to CNet, it’s battery life is 58% longer than the S3, for example.

This is the only smart phone on the market with high end performance and good battery life. If you don’t care about taking pictures with your phone, you should get this.



21. Dish Network Hopper

21 dish-hopper-joey - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: free for new Dish Network customers, probably about $200 for existing ones

Dish Network basically set the standard for DVRs this year with their new Hopper system. You get three tuners connected to a massive 2TB hard drive that can store 2,000 hours of programming. In addition, it’s got a slick, fast interface (a big problem with most DVR systems offered by most providers) and it automatically records everything on the “major networks” in primetime.

Now, if only it would automatically record the networks with shows people actually watch these days, like HBO, FX, and AMC. But oh well, nothing’s perfect.


20. Sharp Freestyle Aquos

20 sharp freestyle aquos tv - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: rumored to be about $1,200

Sharps new line of Aquos TVs is pretty awesome. They’re ultra thin and light and, therefore, portable. Ranging from 20″ to 60″, they all have WiFi and are capable of streaming HD content, so you can pick it up and move it anywhere in your house. The 20″ version even has a handle and a built in rechargeable battery.

Yep, a wireless HD TV. Sounds good to me. It’s not available in North America yet, but hopefully it will be soon.


19. Nintento Wii U

19 nintento wii u - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $300-$550

Ninento’s new gaming system is once again pushing the boundaries of what home systems can be. The original Wii added motion control; this one adds a controller that doubles as a portable gaming device. It also is the first Nintendo system with HD gaming. Apparently Nintendo still has some fine-tuning to do with this concept, but I wouldn’t bet against them changing the industry again.


18. Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook

18 samsung ultrabook - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $1,399

If you’re not a fan of Apple and thus aren’t interested in their MacBook Air, then maybe the super-thin Samsung Ultrabook running the surprisingly amazing Windows 8 is for you. It’s only 15 mm thick, but packs a lot of processing punch.



17. Nokia Lumia 920

17 nokia lumia 920 (windows 8) - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $99 with contract, $450 without

Both Microsoft and Nokia have seen their share of the mobile market shrink in recent years, so recently the two got together and tried to get back into the game as a team. The result? By all accounts this is a home run. Windows Phone 8 is fantastic, and the phone itself, while a bit bulky, is first rate.



16. V-Moda VAMP

16 v-moda vamp - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $650

If you’re one of those audiophiles who insists that digital music is inferior to vinyl, then you’ll need the V-Moda VAMP. It attaches to your iPhone and converts your digital tunes to analogue, thus adding more richness and texture to the sound. Or something like that. It’s still not as good as vinyl, but you can’t exactly carry a turntable with you on the subway, can you?

(It also doubles as one of the world’s most expensive iPhone cases.)



15. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13

15 lenovo yoga - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $1,099

This is a super-think “ultrabook” laptop that also flips around and contorts (hence the name “Yoga”) into a tablet, all while running the slick new Window 8. It’s pretty pricey, but might be worth it if you just can’t decide between a new tablet and a new laptop.


14. Sony Network Media Player

14 sony network media player - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $200

The Sony Network Media Player basically converts your old HD TV that you spent $800 on three years ago into a smart TV, allowing you to stream online content and browse the web with a native-seeming interface. As such, it really doesn’t do anything a smart blu-ray player, PS3, or laptop couldn’t do. However, this has one very cool selling point: a cutting edge remote with touchpad, motion sensor, and qwerty keyboard. That right there is almost worth $200.


13. Fujifilm X-Pro 1

13 fujifilm x-pro 1 - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $1,249.99

It’s huge 16.3 MP sensor and interchangeable lenses offer pro-quality images, but the lack of a lens reflex system means it’s more compact. Could this type of camera come to replace the far-bulkier DSLR?


12. Google Nexus 7

12 google nexus 7 - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $199

Look, iOS is great, but so is Android. And this 7″ tablet with sharp screen and great battery life is the best value on the market today.



11. Jawbone Big Jambox

11 jawbone big jambox - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $299

For that price, you could get a portable iPod speaker with better sound. (Pretty much anything by Bose will do.) However, it wouldn’t look this cool and, more importantly, it wouldn’t be completely wireless.

That’s right, this follow up to the tiny original Jambox connect via bluetooth and has a rechargeable battery.


10. Pebble E-Ink Watch

10 pebble e-ink watch - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $115

You can’t just go out and buy one of these just yet. The Pebble E-Ink Watch was a Kickstarter project this year and so they’re still working on getting the watches to the market. However, you can order one and just be patient until it arrives.

So what does it do besides look awesome? Well, the face is (obviously) made of E-Ink, which means when it’s not telling you the time it’s synching with your iOS or Android phone and delivering texts, e-mails, and alerts.


9. Roku Streaming Stick

9 roku streaming stick - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $100

For a couple years, Roku has been combining everything you could possibly want to stream on your TV—Netflix, YouTube, shows from network websites—into one convenient package. Now they’ve shrunk that package into one little WiFi-enabled stick that plugs into the HDMI port of your (newer) HD TV. That’s streaming made easy.


8. LG 55-Inch OLED 3D TV

8 LG 55-inch oled tv - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: TBD (but it’ll be a lot)

The actual release of this baby has been delayed until next year, but it was announced in 2012 so it still counts. OLED technology basically makes it possible to have extremely thin, light, and vibrant televisions, and now LG is finally maximizing this technology. It’s just millimetres thin and is light as a feather, but it’s 55 inches and 3D.

We don’t know how much it will set you back, but rest-assured it will be a lot.



7. iPad 3 with Retina Display

7 iPad 3 retina display - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $500

The iPad was already the best tablet on the market. Then Apple came out with a new one early this year featuring their hi-res “Retina Display,” making the best even better. (It might be higher up on the list of there were any other substantial upgrades beyond the display.)



6. Microsoft Surface

6 microsoft surface rt - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $519

Well, it took them long enough to get in on the tablet game, but Microsoft finally did it. And unlike the Zune, the Surface doesn’t suck.

How about that cover/keyboard? You know Apple wishes they’d thought of that.


5. Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display

5 apple macbook pro retina display - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: starting at $1,199

Apple’s premium laptops are still very expensive, but the MacBook Pro update for 2012 has the retina display, which makes it the best laptop display on the planet. That kind of upgrade makes this a top gadget.



4. iPhone 5

4 iPhone 5 - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: from $199 with contract

The iPhone 5 looks great and has an extra, what, half inch? That’s nice. But it’s not quite the revolution that Apple claimed it was. So, sorry, but it gets the No. 4 spot behind it’s main competitor…


3. Samsung Galaxy S3

3 samsung galaxy s3 - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: from $149

Yes, I put the GS3 ahead of the iPhone 5. Why? Because although it is not quite as good as the iPhone (I still prefer the iOS interface), it is a fantastic device that seems to have taken a bigger leap forward from its predecessor than the Apple device. The screen is ginormous and gorgeous, it’s fast, it has removable memory and a removable battery. The only downside is the battery life.


2. iPad Mini

2 ipad mini - best gadgets of 2012

Price Tag: $350

Now here is Apple’s biggest and most interesting product of the year. Their entry into the smaller tablet market is a real winner and, despite the much higher price, will almost certainly gobble up a portion of the Android/e-reader market.



1. Lytro Light Field Camera

1 lytro light field camera

Price Tag: $399

What the heck is this, you ask? Only the future of photography. The Lytro has a special kind of sensor that, in a nutshell, captures a 3D image. What this means is that you don’t have to focus while taking a picture. You can focus (and refocus and refocus) afterward. It’s amazing.