In 2013, consumers were introduced to several new gadgets that have attempted to change the world we live in. Whether by altering the way we interact with a computer, smartphone or how we watch our favorite content, 2013 provided several new gadgets that attempted to bridge the gap between our digital and everyday lives.
Here are the International Business TImes’ selections for the top 10 gadgets of 2013.
The YotaPhone was developed and brought to market by Russian engineers who ran the risk of being exceptionally gimmicky. In addition to a 720p LCD screen on its front, the YotaPhone features a power-friendly ePaper display — the first for a modern smartphone.
The YotaPhone could load useful things like a map or boarding pass onto the back that will remain in e-Ink even after the battery dies. The touchscreen capabilities of the rear could offer full control with obstruction-free viewing of the main LCD. Take your smartphone to the beach and worry less about viewing in direct sunlight or a dying battery.
While its not perfectly implemented — and at nearly 10mm, quite chunky — the YotaPhone is a clever innovation that offers a plethora of opportunities for smartphones.
9: Makerbot Replicator 2
While the Cube line of 3D printers can be had for less at a local Staples, the Makerbot Replicator 2 features a more fully-fledged consumer system. While it costs more than $2,000, the Replicator 2 features a vibrant user community that has proven itself capable of both major hardware and firmware improvements.
The advent of 3D printing could, and likely will, change the way consumers end up with products. While free two-day shipping for a pair of shoes is certainly not a terrible deal, it pales in comparison to a couple of hours via a Makerbot. While the technology is not quite up on a par with Nike, the implications for education and product development are huge.
8: Leap Motion
Leap Motion had the Internet buzzing with a video that showed people interacting with computers using simple hand and finger gestures. While it lacks the finesse seen on the silver screen in “Minority Report,” a surprisingly vibrant online marketplace offers unlimited innovation for the Kickstarter-backed Leap Motion.
7: Nest Protect
The Nest Protect is a smoke alarm for the iPhone generation, and while it costs a lot more than a standard model, it stands out among its peers. A series of microprocessors not only help sensors detect fire or carbon monoxide, they also notify owners via smartphone of a problem, whether it be smoke or a dying battery.
Created by two former iPhone designers, the Nest Protect is a wonderful example of how the “Internet of things” might actually be useful.
6: iPad mini with Retina display
The iPad mini 2 is one of the least expensive ways to get an Apple computer in your hands. Offering a full-fledged iOS 7 experience on a Retina display, this year’s iPad Mini is capable of just about any task, and coupled with a Bluetooth keyboard, it has become the laptop of choice for many IBTimes employees.
While many Apple products have been annual refreshes of existing products, one that offers gorgeous Retina display — and starting at under $300 — is a shrewd move by Cupertino.
5: Pebble SmartWatch
Beating the tech giants to the punch, the Pebble is a smart watch capable of connecting to most Android devices and iPhones. Capable of displaying text notifications, exercise data and, yes, the current time on a battery-friendly e-Paper display, the Pebble has already won over tens of thousands of Kickstarter backers last year prior to its launch.
Now powered by an app store open to “thousands” of developers, the Pebble SmartWatch has taken its next step towards offering a premium wearable experience. Here’s to 2014, when Google (Glass) and Samsung (Galaxy Gear) might finally start catching up.
4: Moto X
Google-owned Motorola did not pack the Moto X with the hottest silicon or the sharpest display. Instead, they gambled on American assembly and exclusive features — and it worked. It's still too early to say how much the intuitive features packed into the Moto X will equate to sales for Motorola, but the device is a major step forward for the Android ecosystem.
A simple wrist gesture opens the camera without the need for button-presses or screen-swipes. Coupled with an easy camera interface in which users can touch anywhere to snap a shot, the Moto X simplifies point-and-shoot for the everyman.
The voice control that Motorola calls Touchless Gestures allow Moto X owners to dismiss alarms, play music and check the weather without having to lift a finger, making good on the failed promise of Apple’s Siri.
And the customizability of the Moto X offers everyone from teen girls to middle-aged Mets fans a chance to stand out in a sea of slabs.
2/3: Tie - Microsoft Xbox One / Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4)
Sony introduced us to the world’s most powerful gaming console in 2013. While the PS4 appears so far to be a big hit with gamers, the Xbox One has struggled to win over its target audience, which Microsoft has failed to make clear. In its attempt to take over the living room with the Xbox One, the House That Gates Built may have alienated core gamers.
Microsoft claims that future updates will offer deeper integration with Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Could the Xbox One be the device to help regain consumer respect for Windows ecosystem?
We are not sure, but the inclusion of voice and hand gestures allowing users a new way to control the entertainment center. This new way of interacting with TV, coupled with Microsoft’s cloud capabilities, means that the Xbox One already has a lot going for it, as well as plenty of potential to evolve in 2014.
Google’s low-priced Chromecast is an easy way for consumers to watch web content on their TVs. Despite the existence of smart TVs and competitors, as well as a couple of failed ventures from Google itself, the Chromecast is a sure-fire winner.
The Chromecast’s smartphone integration means that users have a premium, touchscreen remote always at hand. Casting YouTube, Netflix and Pandora from just about any device to a TV is much easier with the Chromecast than just about anything on the market, and at $35, is a lot cheaper too.
What do you think was the best gadget of 2013, and why? Let us know in the comments below.
Thomas Halleck is a technology reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews, gadget news and more....