Tech has dominated 2013. No, really.
We've spent more on tablets, smartphones and games than ever before, the legal battles and product releases of Apple and Samsung have migrated from the dark corners of geek dens to become mainstream news, and the console war has been ridiculously profitable for all involved.
It's been hard to keep track of the many shiny angular boxes to have slunk onto shelves this year. We've tired our best to have a look at all of them; to jab them with our fingers and stick them in our ears. If you need some new tech in your life, you'd do well to consider any of the following - the best gadgets of 2013.
Good: Incredible design
Bad: A bit pricey
Price: From £859 (£979 with touchscreen)
It’s thin enough to shave with, finished in carbon and wields a stunning 13-inch touchscreen. We might have licked Sony’s VAIO Pro 13 in a fit of passion.
The Pro 13 weighs a worrying “Did I put it in my bag or leave it at home?” 1.15kg – lighter than the amount of cash you have to hand over (from £859) to buy one. The touchscreen throws out rich colours and deep blacks in full HD, and the additional touch element is no cheap gimmick: Sony’s machine uses the touchy-feely features of Windows 8 perfectly.
Good: Super fast, gorgeous screen
Bad: Camera isn't all that
Price: Dependant on contract
This is a pocket-dweller of epic proportions. Take its brain: a 1.7Ghz quad-core processor purrs away inside a hand-hugging case of curved metal and glass. The results are blistering, the One gobbling up routine tasks like browsing emails or loading picture-heavy websites with ease.
From watching HD films to editing your own videos, the outlandish power of the One belittles most chores that strain other devices, and you'll struggle to find a better screen on a smartphone.
Apple iPad Air
Good: Still manages to make all other tablets look dated
Bad: Pricey if you want more storage
Price: From £399 for 16gb
Lighter, Better, Faster, Thinner – the mantra for Apple’s new iPad Air resonates like the misheard lyrics of a Daft Punk song. It has the latest A7 processor (recently seen appearing in the iPhone 5) and MIMO – a technology that allows for multiple Wi-Fi antennas, dramatically increasing your download speeds.
In-ear: B&O BeoPlay H3
The H3s dispatched the majority of music genres we threw at them with consummate ease: vocals were deliciously crisp, sitting sat at the front of tracks rather than getting lost between mid- and high-end sounds. Chaotic electro, classical concerts, podcasts – everything sounded gorgeously sharp and detailed from minimum to ear-splitting maximum volumes.
On-ear: Sennheiser Momentum
“SENSATIONAL STYLE” decrees the Momentum’s packaging. We’ll see about that, we think, sliding a pull string carry bag out of a strikingly elegant zip case. All those fluffy marketing words are such a waste of everyone’s... oh wait, no, they’re gorgeous.
Unlike other style-heavy DJ endorsed earpieces, the Momentum back up the good looks with wonderfully balanced sound: the bass and sub-bass notes bounce along wonderfully, without squashing the vocal or mid-range tones, while the top-end is crisp and clear. These aren’t neutral studio headphones, but gorgeous on-the-go sound cannons.
Over-ear: Bowers & Wilkins P7
The P7s are unlike anything we’ve ever tested before: these aren’t headphones, but headspeakers, generating improbably tight sounds. Every aspect of their tone is close to perfect, coping admirably with bass-heavy electro or gentle acoustic affairs. It’s the sort of sound quality that makes you notice new subtleties in your favourite songs. The build quality is exception as well: the thick, sumptuous leather headband is good enough to snuggle up to, while the vast over-ear pads mould comfortably to the shape of your head.
Best portable speaker
Bad: Lacks bass
Roughly the size of a tennis ball tube and weighing a solid 538g, the UE Boom is a portable speaker that connects with your smartphone via Bluetooth or its own app (limited to iOS and Android for the time being). The 360-sound design also performs admirably: place the UE Boom in the middle of a room and it delivers a consistent sound to all quarters.
Good: A must for dedicated mobile gamers
Bad: Buttons are a bit clunky
Android’s assault on your thumbs continues apace with the Moga Pro smartphone gaming controller. Its app syncs the device to any Android game, and means you can finally get past Zone 3 of Sonic.