A friend recently stumped us with this question: What was the best stuff you reviewed last year? We didnâ€™t have a simple answer, as each editor has a different gadget lineup and workflow. After a minute or so, we thought that the bet way to answer this was to list the gadgets, accessories, and apps on which we were willing to spend our own money. So, here are the gadgets and apps that we felt were worth our hard-earned money, and which we think will be worth yours, too.
Samsung Galaxy Note II I’m a die-hard Apple fanboy, but man, the Galaxy Note 2 is just so impressive in so many ways. From its gorgeous 5.5 inch screen and it’s uber-long battery life, the Galaxy Note 2 really towers above it’s competition. I would even go as far as to say that the Note II is leagues better than my current phone, which is an iPhone 5.
Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive Who would have thought that a simple gadget like a USB drive would make us all go bonkers? But the Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 did just that! The combination of reasonable pricing and the speedy performance of the USB 3.0 standard had all of us editors scrambling to buy one. Do yourself a favor, dump your old USB flash drive and get this one!
Braven Wireless Speakers With the advancement made in Bluetooth technology combined with the numerous tricks sound engineers can do in regards to improving audio quality, 2012 proved to be quite a year for Wireless Bluetooth Speakers. While there were numerous brands available, Braven blew us away with their line of high quality wireless speakers. If you haven’t gotten yourself a Christmas gift, you should get yourself one of these.
Jaybird BlueBuds X Bluetooth Headphones A couple of weeks into owning these babies and I’m still amazed at the incredible battery life and the full, musical sound. I really can’t believe these are cordless – they don’t sound like it.
Google Nexus 7 Tablet I was in the US during the iPad Mini launch and had the chance to play around with it in the Apple store. It’s a great device. But I went home with a Nexus 7 instead.
UnoTelly Region Unblocker I use “real” TV for sports and news, and for everything else I get my shows online, just like most of you out there. But thanks to UnoTelly, I no longer need to rely on torrents – I can stream straight off Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. And it works great.
ASUS Zenbook UX32VD Ultrabook Okay, so it’s damn pricey. But this creme-de-la-creme ultrabook model from ASUS really knocks it out of the park when it comes to obeying the Intel playbook for ultrabooks while exuding a stylish, upscale look that is so hard to come by for Windows laptops.
Samsung Series 5 AMD “ultraslim” For lack of a better term for it, sure let’s call it the “ultraslim.” It isn’t a legitimate Ultrabook (because it has an AMD processor!), and it certainly doesn’t have the few added advantages that the real Series 5 Ultrabook offers, but if you just want the slinkiness of an Ultrabook but are on a budget, then the AMD-driven Series 5 delivers practicality and style at a sub-thirty thousand peso price point. In fact, it uses the exact same casing as the legit ultrabook. Sure I prefer the Intel version for its longer battery life and possibly snappier response. But again, if you’re all about the price, then this one delivers.
Crumpler Mild Enthusiast DSLR bag/belt bag/messenger bag How can something that can swallow so much be so deceptively small? The Mild Enthusiast can gobble up your DSLR and extra lens and change, or a whole bunch of devices… even an iPad can be squeezed in here, believe it or not. Camera bag, belt bag, messenger bag, sling bag. All in one.
Crumpler Dry Red No. 9 Travel Bag Another Crumpler makes my list, mainly because it really stands out for when you travel. Check-in sized but with lots to hold, and with a style that’s stunning and built for keeps.
Google Now Siri? That’s so last year. With Google Now, Google has managed to put together a surprisingly useful tool for Android devices (Jelly Bean and up) that can go so far as astound you with what it can do for you. More than just a voice activated companion, Google Now evolves into a true personal digital assistant, reminding you of meetings, packages en route, airline reservations, traffic conditions… it’s almost creepy.
Magnum Ice Cream Bars For stirring up the lethargic local fun-sized ice cream market and proving that yes, there is a price point that’s acceptable that’s above a Cornetto but below a Haagen-Dazs. The new definition of treat for the call center crowd.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 I never thought the day would come when I’d become a fan of a Samsung ‘droid, but it happened. And it’s all thanks to the mighty Note 2. It’s what every Android should strive to be, and if there’s one device I’m confident enough to recommend to anyone without hesitation and knowing they too won’t be disappointed, it’s got to be the Note 2. My only gripe with this one is it’s too damn expensive, but it’s well worth it, and give it a few more months, I’m sure it’ll drop down to a price point that’ll make it wellÂ withinÂ the reach of most Pinoy Android enthusiasts.
Coloud ‘The Pop’ As with the Note 2, I thought I’d never like in-ear headphones, even more so find one that retails for less than Php1K but performs as if it were a Php3K pair of headphones. And to top it off, this one also works as a hands-free headset for your phone. What more can you ask for?
Snapseed Since debuting on Android, Snapseed has become my go-to photo editing app on the Note 2. It covers most, if not all, of the bases when it comes to tweaking photos, and provides a very intuitive UI perfect for touchscreen devices. And best of all, it’s free!
iPad mini Itâ€™s smaller, thinner, lighter, cheaper than full-size iPads, and yet it has the same battery life. True, it doesnâ€™t have a Retina display, but Iâ€™d take portability â€” and more frequent use â€” over aesthetically-superior font rendering any day. And just to be clear, the non-Retina display is not bad at all.
If youâ€™re looking at buying your first tablet, look at this first. And you can check prices and availability in this post.
Moshi Rewind This neat little charger with dual USB ports and a built-in cord organizer goes with me everywhere I go. I can charge both the iPad mini and the iPhone 4S at the same time, or share the extra USB port with friends whose gadgets are also running out of juice.
Fantastical for iPhone The iPhoneâ€™s stock Calendar app has always been a pain to use. Adding an appointment requires tapping separate fields to enter the appointment name, location, date, start time, end time, and calendar. Fantastical lets you type in a phrase like â€śDinner with TN Editors at Racks tomorrow at 8-10â€ť and it will automatically set up the appointment with all the proper fields filled out. Apple should buy the company that makes Fantastical and replace the stock calendar app with this.
There you have it, the stuff that we liked enough that we actually went out and bought them for ourselves. What about you? What was your best buying decision in the year that just ended?
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