Best tech of 2012… according to Which? staff

by , News 26/12/2012
2012

It’s been an interesting year for tech, we’ve seen new hardware, software and services from lots of big names and there’s been plenty to talk about.

But, forgetting all the lab tests and scientific testing we do, what were the products that the Which? tech team loved the most?

iPad mini makes a big splash for a small tablet

iPad Mini

Jessica Moreton, resident tablet and ebook reader expert says:

Apple’s response to the very popular Google Nexus 7 was a resounding success. The dinky 7.9-inch iPad is my favourite tablet of the year. It’s half the weight of its big brother and easy to hold in one hand. It fits comfortably into my bag – making it super portable.

Despite the fact the screen is not as impressive as the full ten inch version – the Mini is much more practical and suitable for me as a regular commuter. It is for this reason I consider it the most exciting product in the tablet arena, followed closely by the Nexus 7, which is also a fab little tablet.

If you want to see how the tablets compared in our tests, try Which? for £1 today and read our tablet reviews.

YouView finally lands and impresses, mostly

YouView

Dave Holes, our PVR and Blu-ray player (anything that plugs into a TV, really) man, says:

The most interesting products I’ve seen this year are the YouView boxes from Humax, TalkTalk and the Freesat equivalent – Humax Freetime. They’re not perfect and we’ve criticised them for various things, but in terms of doing something different and bringing a new angle to this product area they are definitely the most interesting.

Find out exactly how the Humax box did in our tests by trying Which? for £1 and reading our full YouView review.

Touch keyboard on the Microsoft Surface RT

Microsoft-Surface-keyboard

Rich Parris, deputy editor of Which? Computing, has a special place in his heart for the keyboard covers of the Microsoft Surface RT:

My favourite product of the year wasn’t the Microsoft Surface tablet by any means, but rather the Touch Keyboard cover you could buy to go with it. It’s not perfect by a long stretch – the trackpad isn’t the most responsive, and no matter what the adverts would have you believe, I’ve tried and I can tell you there’s no way you can connect it to the tablet that quickly and easily, let alone in time to music.

However, it is, unquestionably, a great idea, and one I would have figured for the supposedly hip design gurus at Apple to have hit upon long before the starched-collared types at Microsoft. Like the tablet it’s attached to, the Touch Keyboard cover has its flaws, but it’s a clever, fun design that ought to be imitated and bettered in 2013.

Try Which? for £1 and find out what we thought of the tablet in our Microsoft Surface RT review.

Samsung Galaxy S3, a top smartphone without the extortionate price

Samsung-Galaxy-S3

Jon Barrow, a man who surrounds himself with smartphones for fun, chose the the iPhone’s greatest foe:

The iPhone 5 might have grabbed all the headlines, but it’s incredibly expensive. Samsung’s flagship, on the other hand, goes toe to toe but you can pick it up free on a contract for £10 a month less than an iPhone 5. That’s why it’s my favourite phone this year.

If you want to find out exactly how the S3 did in out tests try Which? for £1 and read our Samsung Galaxy S3 review.

Google Music – Jack Turner

Google-Music

Not just an expert on DAB radios, but on all things music, Jack Turner give us his highlight of the year:

My favourite product of the year has to be Google Music. It might not look like much on the surface, but the ability to upload and listen to my music collection from anywhere with a internet connection is a great boon. Of course, there are other services out there doing the same thing, but Google’s generous free 20,000 song upload capacity makes it a winner for me.

We’ve compared the major music services to see how they stack up. Read our post on Google Music vs iTunes vs Amazon Cloudplayer vs Spotify for more.

Windows 8 – it’s not perfect, but its a start – Tim Gee

Windows-8

This one might be a bit of a controversial choice, but I’m a fan of Windows 8, if for no other reason than it’s just… prettier. When it comes to design, PC software has been lagging behind in the usability and good looks departments for a while and I’m delighted Microsoft has decided to take what it has learnt in Windows Phone 7 (which by the way is much better looking than either iOS or Android) and put it in the computer. It’s a great move forward and once the software makers catch-up, it’s going to be a vast improvement on old PCs.

If you’re ready to upgrade and want a new computer, read our round-up of the best Windows 8 laptops.

More on this…

4 comments

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John Luke

My new Lenovo 410K i7 desk top computer was ordered from John Lewis with Windows 7. Apparently they sold out and when mine arrived a week later it had Windows 8 instead. Frankly, it seems unsuited to a desk top computer and must I think be designed for lap tops and iPads only. Using a mouse on what is intended for touch screen operation is quite irritating, and many of the apps are clumsy and slow as a result. The “charms” often disappear before any selection has been made with the mouse, and the only reliable way to locate them is via the key board. Printer and other controls are also quicker via the key board, so I feel the system has become more antiquated. My email too has been a problem owing to Microsoft’s insistance on a password. If you make a small mistake with that, the account is locked until you have jumped through all sorts of security hoops. I have been all through that process with them and been assured everything is just fine, but I still have to send/receive email on my old computer! I would respectfully warn other desk top computer users to try out Win 8 for themselves before committing to buying it. In fairness, I should admit that I have never used Windows 7. Maybe it’s too much of a leap from good old Vista?

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Trilly

A month in from good Vista to, well its a Windows Touchscreen All in PC with a free upgrade to Windows 8. The touchscreen is a basic 23 inch and does not support the multiple points of contact the later models and the bezel prevents the furthermost touches of the screen to easily get to the charms / gestures that make Windows 8 really work. Like John find the Windows 8 screen more suited to tablet than desktop and find the annoying habit of applications reverting to a Windows 7 backdrop makes me wonder why bother. Have tried Win 8 with latest Windows 2013 which I am impressed with, Office 2013 has a full screen mode for touch screens that makes a difference to remove some of the clutter and increase spacing between buttons. I was an am impressed with Office 2013 with Skydrive and I wasn’t expecting to. Windows 8 less so but recognise it is an important step for Microsoft its not quite ready for me yet. That said Windows 7 I have found an improvement over Vista, more so than I thought I would. I like some of the features of Windows 8 but for the moment spending time on my Microsoft Home Server which the operating system decided to give up so recovering the data (not lost) and rebuilding system taking longer than it should Windows 8 for another day.

Re comment on Windows phones being better than IOS / Android I do think they are underrated. My last Windows phone was a 6.1 up to a year ago and went to the latest Android, just the basic way the phone worked I miss, and sometimes just the phone working, and maybe tempted back to a Windows phone.

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jonathan

what do you think about Blackberry 9320 Or Iphone 5 which one

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Frank

I’m very sorry to say this but I think that “Which” has seriously lost its way. Placing the Ipad Mini as top of tech in 2012 just plain stinks. Its not got the best screen, processor power or operating system yet still cost a lot more to buy than at least two other tablets which blow it out of the water in terms of specification and performance.

When reviewing TECHNOLOGY it is TECHNOLOGY that you are supposed to review. Not its access to apps or its style or its makers name! Its the quality of its CPU, its GPU, its SCREEN RESOLUTION and its VALUE FOR MONEY!!

Have your Tech’ reviewers got shares in APPLE or cant they spell ANDROID, NEXUS, SAMSUNG, ASUS etc. These are, in my opinion, the names we should be watching in 2013. These are the Companies and brands whose equipment we should be buying as they are innovative, durable and economical. Android now powers 75% of smart phones and will soon power more tablets than Apple. So why don’t your reviews reflect the current trends in new technology rather that continually worshipping at the alter of a long dead god?

Like its ancester in Isaac Newtons back garden, Its time this APPLE fell to the floor and let the grass grow over it OR rediscover its spirit of adventure and stand up and fight for its right to be a TECH’ GIANT. Be an Inovator not a follower as it used to be under Steve Jobs.

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