OK, 2012 wasn't the greatest year for tech, but it wasn't a total bust either. Wade through the glut of comically oversized phones, tiny tablets and fruit company refreshes, and you're bound to come across a few shiny needles in that crummy haystack. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 most important gadgets of the year.
It only took four years, but Android has finally managed to become usable for everyone and anyone. And Samsung's Galaxy S III was the runaway Android hit of the year—the platform's first legitimate "It" Phone. [More]
Rather than chasing megapixels, Lytro *ahem* focused (sorry) on a relatively unknown technology with the potential to change everything: light-field technology. With a Lytro, you'll never have to worry about focusing, because everything is in focus. It's far from perfect and "more novel than practical," but it's one of the most exciting things we've seen in a long time. [More]
It turns out that 3D wasn't the next big thing in TV. Praise [insert deity]! So what's next? Ultra HD—aka 4K. And the TV of the future is already here; it can be yours for the low, low price of £18,000. Yes, that is a lot of money, but Sony's offering really is top shelf. Fortunately, there are already some folks making cheaper versions. [More]
High price and all, Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina lived up to the hype and destroyed the competition. Encased in an ultra-thin package with an all-flash architecture and a ridiculously high-res screen, this MBP redefined what a desktop replacement laptop should be. [More]
We still don't know what goes into calculating or accumulating Fuel points but never before has a glorified pedometer gotten so many members of the mainstream to embrace The Future. (And there's never been a better way to publicly shame yourself than posting your scores to Facebook.) Think of the blinking rainbow LEDs as your nagging significant other reminding you to get up off your ass and hit your goal for the day. [More]
Remember Sony? Sometimes we forget about them, too—but not this year. The RX100 supplanted Canon's reign as supreme ruler of the point & shoots with a pocketable camera that rivals some DSLRs. [More]
Priced at £159, the Nexus 7 did what all other 7-inch tablets before it couldn't do: It didn't skimp on specs or feel like a £159 tablet. Whether or not you like Android is simply a personal preference, but this set a new precedent for technological value. [More]
The D800 showed us what was possible with a full-frame sensor. It set new benchmarks for image sensors—even surpassing medium format cameras—taking image quality and detail beyond what we've seen before. The addition of HD video recording didn't hurt either. [More]
The Wii U is the first new console in six years, and its console-in-a-box, touch-screen controller will be a powerful weapon in the next-gen console wars. The original Wii made motion control gaming a legit thing, and sold like nuts. We can't even begin to guess where Nintendo's sixth console will go, but at least now you don't have to pause whatever you're playing if you need a potty break — just take the controller with you and keep on keepin' on. [More]
Tired of the mediocre hardware running its software, Microsoft made its own damn tablet, showing the other PC makers what it expected from the new breed of Windows machine. The built-in kick-stand and touch-enabled keyboard covers made it the biggest surprise of the year, but questionable pricing have mired its launch. There's also the question of whether people want to use a tablet to make spreadsheets. If nothing else, it's a blueprint for the future of computing, and that's a big deal. [More]
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