Every year, we're hit by yet another wave of new gadgets. Some of them are good, a lot of them are bad, but a very select few manage to be important. Here are the gadgets that had the biggest impact on the technological landscape in 2013.
The following are listed in no particular order, and you're encouraged to point out any we missed—or to yell about ones we shouldn't have included—in the discussion below.
There are plenty of great set-top boxes out there, but the none of scraped the bottom of the price-barrel like Google's Chromecast. As simple as it is dirt cheap, the Chromecast made streaming media to TV wildly more accessible than ever before, and even if the compatible apps are only trickling in, $35 man. That's practically nothing.
With a body carved out of a solid brick of aluminum, the HTC One was the first Android phone that was genuinely beautiful. And it's also a damn good phone. Sure the Sense UI isn't great, and the Moto X and Nexus 5 are out now with better (cleaner) software, but the HTC One still gets big ups for dragging Android to a new world of wonderful hardware.
OK so the iPhone 5C in and of itself is the boring iPhone, just an iPhone 5 in plastic clothing. But it represents a huge shift for Apple. There are two different new iPhones right now. Two! For the very first time it's possible to buy a new iPhone and pick the wrong one. So while the phone itself might not blow your mind, the road to a bevy of iPhone options has been paved in colorful polycarbonate.
Recently Google-owned Motorola hasn't made a Nexus phone (yet), but its Moto X is exciting and important in its own handful of ways. With more hardware customization options than any handset before it, Google Now voice integration that's still unmatched outside Motorola hardware, nearly stock Android, and a low on-contract price point, the Moto X is the first Android phone that's really for everybody. If the HTC One was Android's design response to the iPhone, the Moto X is the same for software and pure, blanket recommendability.
The best camera is the camera you have with you, and while just about every flagship phone nowadays packs a serviceable shooter, the Nokia 1020 was the first to basically be a camera with a phone attached instead of vice versa. With manual focus control and badass oversampling that offers digital zoom that blows other smartphones out of the water, the 1020 was a total beast from the get-go. And now with the Pureview update that lets it shoot in RAW, the Nokia 1020 is the best smartphone camera ever, by leaps and bounds.
The first iPad mini came out it sold pretty well, which was a damn shame considering it was overpriced and underspec'd compared to the competition. But now that the Mini has a retina display, it's finally a great product. It's an iterative update, but one that's big enough to finally bring Apple into the small tablet world in a way that's not a joke.
When you think full-frame camera, it's always meant a big, pricey DSLR. But with Sony's new mirrorless, full-frame 35mm A7, that's no longer the case. The end of the DSLR (outside its pro-user niche) is in view, and the Sony A7 is its harbinger.
a literal eternity seven years, we've got a new console generation, and the Xbox One packs in the pure future. While a number of its most forward-thinking features got smacked down before release, it's still the single most futuristic piece of living room technology out there—when it works. Between Kinect auto-login, voice controls that are a joy to use, and fantastic cable box integration, it's not only a game console, but a proto-Star Trek computer for your TV. And that's huge.