This year has seen a lot of new technology hit the shop shelves, from a whole tide of 7-inch tablets to the Windows 8 operating system and a new breed of touchscreen laptops. But what caught our tech team’s eye over the last 12 months?
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
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.
YouView finally lands and impresses, mostly
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.
Touch keyboard on the Microsoft Surface RT
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.
Samsung Galaxy S3, a top smartphone without the extortionate price
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.
Google Music – Jack Turner
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
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.