Samson Galaxy, Google Nexus and Windows 8 among the best of last year.
By Aastha Bhatt
SAN FRANCISCO: There were quite a few high tech products (a few of them over-hyped) that made it to the headlines even before the release last year. Some of these devices ended up becoming mainstream tech products largely because of their compelling features, slick and attractive design and overall user experience. And some others continued their run (read iPhone 5) primarily because of strong fan following and passionate support among users. Here are the top tech products that became an essential part of consumers’ life in no time in 2012.
Samsung Galaxy S3
The leader/king of the Android phones. GS3 has given a first serious and difficult competition to iPhone’s market dominance. Today, it is available (we mean it — available — not to be shipped three weeks later) with most of the service providers everywhere. Its large screen HD display represents a growing class of phones with broader form factors, and its delicate balance of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, a sharp 8-megapixel camera, 4G LTE or HSPA+ support, and an accessible price make the Galaxy S3 a worldwide hero.
Google Nexus tablet
Google Nexus 7 inch tablet came to the market at a time when there were wider choices already available in this segment. This tablet’s native, streamlined Android 4.2 OS — flexible and open but friendly — paired with a vivid 1,280×800-pixel-resolution screen and $199 price makes it the best small tablet amongst all available choices. To the extent that it mandated release of an iPad mini.
A game changer. Windows 8 — the new operating system and its multiple iterations forced hardware manufacturers down the road to a completely different UI built around the startlingly different-looking interface. Aimed at a touch-based experience, the new OS pleased some and launched an army of interesting new, convertible Windows laptops such as the popular Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13. But the OS also made many a user question the fate of the traditional Windows machine. Whatever way the market treats this new integration of user experience platforms across PC, laptops, notepad, tablets etc., the fact that it is a solid innovation coming out of Microsoft labs after a long time makes it remarkable.
iPad mini has the perfect size. But the price?! Apple’s 7.9-inch tablet launch time was a little delayed because at the time of its launch there were too many in the same segment ready to rock and roll -Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, and Nook HD proved difficult for the mini, especially with a lower-resolution screen and significantly higher price than the rest. In spite of those limitations, Apple’s little one managed to earn the runners-up trophy, thanks to its slightly-wider-than-average screen, fantastically light weight design and impeccable fit and finish. Not to say an “Apple” stamp helped, too.
Feels like the end of the road for the mobile revolution started by Steve Jobs. Gossip mills were running overtime before the 5th installment of iPhone. This was the most anticipated product of the year. It has everything that earlier versions had; the user always wanted a lighter and longer iPhone, including turn by turn navigation and a faster A6 processor, addressing all major previous shortcomings. It’s absolutely the best iPhone to date, and it easily secures its place in the top tier of the smartphone world. The only shortcoming was that it didn’t offer anything new. The question now is what next?
This is the only Microsoft Windows RT hardware to launch with the new operating system. It has thoughtful design, sensible implementation of its keyboard accessory, the gesture-driven menu system, powerful search tool, and incredibly cool and versatile split-screen feature. But all these come with the whopping price tag of $499-$599. And if you are looking for tons of applications, this is not your tablet. However, it takes a legitimate swing at replacing your computer and comes closer to hitting the mark than any tablet before it as your computer tablet.
The MakerBot Replicator provides the most powerful consumer 3D printing experience available. With the price tag of $1,999 and the cost of materials, you can print pretty much anything you can design, from toys to jewelry. Inventors use these printers for prototyping, and crafters use them for embellishment. Certainly, this printer will improve in future generations, but the promise and accessibility of this inspiring device should spawn a generation of home-based engineers.