It’s been a banner year for stuff. I admit, I like playing with stuff and testing, tweaking, fiddling, and generally exploring new devices and gadgets. Unfortunately, I don’t get free stuff to test out — when I “adopt” I am all in. Thank goodness I’m a Silver rewards member at Best Buy — I get the 45-day return option. For the most part, I end up stacking a lot of unused gadgets in the corner of my home office, however, there are a few things that bubble up and become indispensable. So as we close out 2012, I thought I’d itemize some of the stuff I got this year. Each one of these items, except one, landed a secure, comfy spot in my precious man-bag. Can you guess which item got tossed out?

iPhone 5

In September of this year, Apple released iPhone 5 — a complete overhaul of its flagship smartphone.

Pros: iPhone 5 was a big release (literally) — sporting a longer, larger screen and a new, zippy A6 processor. Add to that a top-to-bottom redesign resulting in the slimmest, lightest iPhone yet.

Cons: The new Lightning connector caused a kerfuffle with all the 32-pin accessories and cables I already had. And I won’t mention Maps…, yeah, no need to mention that.

 

iPad mini

The first new “product” released under Tim Cook without the approval of Steve Jobs, iPad mini is a lighter, smaller cousin to iPad.

Pros: Just the right size: fits comfortably in the palm, and can still maneuver the keyboard. Much better with the “lean-back” experience while reading, surfing and watching videos. All the almost 300,000 iPad apps work on mini.

Cons: No retina. Big mistake, Apple. Pricey. There are several tablet options with sharper screens at lower prices.

 

Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft started out 2012 with a bang, moving aggressively into hardware. Their first flagship release is a complete overhaul of “the tablet experience” combining the best of a laptop with the best of a tablet in one form factor. If you are into productivity with a tablet, go Surface.

Pros: The new Metro interface is leaps ahead of anything Apple or Samsung have come up with. An easy-to-use UI that screams to be touched. The Surface I got was zippy, responsive, and easy to navigate. I used it to present at conferences, create and edit Office docs and watch Hulu and Netflix movies.

Cons: Not enough apps. The Windows Store is like a Soviet Grocery store. There are two keyboard options: dumb and dumber. And you need a keyboard and a flat surface (literally). Not a real “lean-back” consume content type of tablet.

 

Leica X2 Digital Camera

Leica moved aggressively into the prosumer digital market with the release of the X2 digital camera.

Pros: With a 16 megapixel resolution and a Zeiss lens, this camera takes digital to the next level. Although it comes with a fixed 24mm lens, the shots are spectacular (and no need to worry about zooming). A stunning, 2.7-inch LCD display helps you to capture just the right composition for your shots.

Cons: Pricey at ~$2000.00. However, if you’re considering this camera, you probably already have gotten over sticker shock. The fixed lens means you’re kinda “stuck” if you find yourself needing a closeup or wide angle shot.

 

HTC Windows Phone 8X

HTC has historically been an Android specific phone maker. With the 8X, HTC has landed with a big statement to the Lumia: I’m gonna be lighter, thinner, and more powerful than you! This phone is the rockingest smartphone release of 2012.

Pros: Fast processor, great LTE speeds, hardly any bloatware and a nice comfy grip make this phone (available in several colors) a very close competitor to iPhone. I loved how the HTC would read me my texts while in my car. Say goodbye to Siri!

Cons: The power button at the top is too flush, making it a bit hard to turn off/on quickly. Call quality is not as great as iPhone.

 

Take a guess at which one got tossed out in the comments below. As for 2013: I look forward to acquiring a lot more stuff, but in my opinion 2012 was a banner year for us gadget freaks! Happy New Year!

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Brandon Carson

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