Top 10 Best Tech from 2013
I know that there are a lot of articles out there and I wanted to capture what I felt the top 10 tech items for 2013 were. In no particular order…
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Ridicule gargantuan tablets all you want. The Galaxy Note 3 may sport a gigantic 5.7-inch screen, but all that screen real estate is awesomely useful, the smartphone offers great battery life, and the included S-Pen stylus is incredibly useful if you like taking longhand notes.
A 2.3GHz processor and 3GB of RAM help power this massive device, and what you end up with is a smartphone that practically eliminates the need for a 7-inch tablet.
Massive smartphones aren’t going away—and the more we use them, the more we like them. And the Note 3 is pretty much the best “tablet phone” around.
NEC MultiSync EA294WMi
Not only is this monster display 29 inches wide (with a native resolution of 2560 by 1080 pixels), but the IPS panel can pivot into portrait mode to give you a skyscraper-tall view. It’s just the ticket for editing vertically oriented photographs and viewing websites and very long documents.
The MultiSync delivers outstanding picture quality, and it’s outfitted with nearly every input you can think of (including Mobile High-Definition Link, for connecting an Android device to the monitor’s HDMI port).
Acer Aspire V7
Despite measuring just 0.83 inch thick, it tips the scales at 4.7 pounds and looks downright corpulent compared to Sony’s heroin-chic VAIO Pro 13. But Acer’s machine packs a faster processor, a larger display, more memory and storage, and a discrete graphics processor at a street price that’s several hundred dollars lower than Sony’s.
No one would describe the Aspire V7 as the ultimate Ultrabook, but it fits Intel’s definition and is a great value.
Intel NUC Kit
Shipped in kit form—bring your own memory, storage, Wi-Fi adapter, and operating system—this diminutive and super-quiet computer would make a fantastic home-theater PC, but you could also bolt it to the back of a monitor and create your own all-in-one.
The model D54250WYK we reviewed is equipped with a dual-core Core i5 processor, strong integrated graphics, gigabit ethernet, and both mini HDMI and DisplayPort video connections.
Candy Crush Saga
We don’t typically play games that look like they were designed for five-year-olds. Nor do we support the unchecked consumption of sugary sweets. Nor do we appreciate constant harassment from Facebook friends begging for extra lives.
But if you can put aside the game’s treacly aesthetic and hectoring social media component, you’ll find true puzzle-game addiction—in the best possible way. Candy Crush Saga has become a cultural phenomenon—and with just a tad bit of embarrassment, we’ll confess we’re hooked.
We love the phone’s satiny aluminum unibody (it’s as handsome as it is sturdy). And the pronounced, front-facing speaker grilles telegraph the volume and clarity of the phone’s Beats audio system. A bright LED on the top grille even lets you know when you have notifications waiting.
Add in a great camera for low-light situations and a breathtaking, 1920 by 1080, 4.7-inch screen, and the One is still a contender some eight months after it was released.
This game has it all: a richly imaginative plot, exquisite graphics, nearly flawless gameplay mechanics, and a fabulous soundtrack. And unlike some other ambitiously designed games, this one won’t bring your average PC to its knees. It will take full advantage of any state-of-the-art gaming rig; but dial down the resolution just a wee bit, and you’ll get a great experience even with integrated graphics.
The concept is simple: First, plug the Chromecast dongle into a free HDMI port on your TV, and power it up with USB. Next, fire up a video streaming service from your phone, tablet, or PC. It could be Netflix, YouTube, or Google’s Play Movies & TV.
Boom! You’re streaming—or rather “casting”—that video to the big screen.
It’s a simple, elegant, $35 solution to the often vexing problem of getting modern cloud content onto aging TVs that lack smart features. Chromecast for the (very inexpensive) win.
Microsoft Xbox One
Microsoft and Sony both launched major new game consoles this year, but Microsoft’s Xbox One makes our list because it’s a complete home-entertainment system that caters as much to our love for TV and movies as it does to gaming.
The launch titles—including Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, and Dead Rising 3—make excellent use of the platform. The hardware itself integrates easily into the rest of the gear in our home-entertainment system, and we can control everything with voice commands.
The new console needs some minor tune-ups—the hand-gesture navigation is particularly annoying—but Microsoft nailed the hardware. The Xbox One will only get better over time.
If you can put aside its disappointing app store inventory and confusing Live Tile interface, Windows 8 has always been a solid operating system—precisely because its desktop features improve on Windows 7.
You get an improved file system, speedy performance, and elegant cloud integration. And now, with Windows 8.1, Microsoft offers traditional PC users even more, including a boot-to-desktop option and various features that make the schism between “old” and “new” Windows less pronounced.
Microsoft still has a long way to go in perfecting its new Windows vision, but Windows 8.1 is definitely a product of the year—on notoriety if not on merit.