The Year That Was: 2013 in gadgets

26 Dec, 2013

Early this week, in a new segment called 'The Year That Was', we focused on the top controversies that plagued the Indian tech eco-system (read here for more). This time around, we are revisiting the top gadgets that were launched during the year. These devices made customers gush in delight and had companies singing a happy tune all the way to their banks.

For the sake of convenience, we have divided the gadgets into three sections that include 'Top smartphones', 'Top tablets' and 'Others'. In each section, we will feature the top 3 gadgets, followed by a few honourary mentions.

Top Smartphones of 2013


The rise of the underdog: HTC One (Rs 43,999)

In a world dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung, Taiwanese smartphone and tablets manufacturer HTC's flagship 'One' came as a surprise entry in the smartphone market. Launched earlier this year, the smartphone was a perfect mix of hardware and looks, so much so that the company followed it up with a complete series of One smartphones that included a mini (Rs 33,999), a dual-SIM (Rs 45,759) and a max version (Rs 53,490) of the smartphone.

Probably the best Android smartphone of the year, it gave customers hope that they could opt for something other than the iPhones and the Galaxies of the world.


It's what men & women want: iPhone 5s (Rs 51,999)

While Apple posted some impressive sales numbers with the new iPhone models (never a surprise), it's almost as if the company has entered into a habit of disappointing customers in the post-Jobs era. The company had disappointed with the iPhone 5, and then disappointed some more with the new iPhones. Although this is not because the smartphones were nothing to write home about (they are still one of the best ones out there), it's because we expect much more from Apple—and not some software bump here, some fingerprint sensor there, and a new paint job.


When Apple had launched the iPhone 4 back in 2010, the company came out with a slogan that read 'This changes everything. Again,' and the world (including us) had no choice but to agree. We feel that a slightly modified version of the same stands true for the new iPhones as well—'This changes nothing. Again.' But does it matter, as long as it's Apple? Only time will tell.

The camera genius: Lumia 1020 (Rs 46,999)


The next flagship Lumia device from Finnish handset giant Nokia came with a 'Nothing gets this close' tagline, hinting at the camera quality. The smartphone sported a mammoth 41 mega pixel rear camera, along with a number of photography apps like Nokia Pro Camera; Creative Studio; and Nokia Glam Me Lens, etc. In addition, since it was primarily a camera-focused smartphone, the company also provided a Nokia Camera Grip', which made it easier for users to click pictures or record videos, especially single-handed.

All in all a camera heavy device, Lumia 1020 made the hidden photographer in all of us jump up in joy. But the question remains, is it enough to make Android and iOS lovers switch to the not so popular Windows Phone platform? We are definitely tempted.


Honourary mentions: Google Moto X, LG Nexus 5, and Xperia Z1.

Top Tablets of 2013

Lighter than air: iPad Air (Rs 35,900)


The latest addition to the iPad family featured a 9.7 inch retina display and was powered by Apple's A7 processor. The device saw the addition of a 128GB model, and according to Apple, it was 20 per cent thinner and 28 per cent lighter than the fourth generation iPad. And with a 43 per cent narrower bezel, the borders of iPad Air are dramatically thinner.

Similar to the new iPhone models, this one was also not radically different from the earlier models of the iPad. However, it was a definite improvement in terms of the hardware and battery life, making it worth a buy for Apple fans.

The economical one: Google Nexus 7 (Rs 20,990)

The next generation Nexus 7 tablet from search giant Google came with the tagline 'made for what matters'. Developed by Google in partnership with ASUS (similar to the original Nexus 7), it was the first device to run on the Android 4.3 operating system. Featuring bumped up specifications like a high definition (HD) scratch-resistant screen, twice the RAM, and 4G LTE, among others, the device was a sensible mix of power and portability.

In addition, at a starting price of Rs 20,990, the device was also one of the most economical tablets out there.

Not afraid of a little dirt and rain: Xperia Tablet Z (Rs 44,790)

This time around, the company did not waste time on creating a jazzy-looking device (like the Tablets S and P) and instead made the tablet a compact, feature-packed device. The thinnest 10 inch-tablet in the world according to Sony (it's even thinner than the iPad Air), the tablet is also water-resistant and dust-proof, making it more durable than other tablets available in the market.

However, the company messed up its pricing in India—not the first time Sony has done it—that led customers to opt for cheaper alternatives from Samsung, LG and ASUS.

Honourary mentions: Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, and iPad mini with retina display.


Dawn of the smartwatch

It is basically a second screen for your Android smartphone that enhances the functionality of the existing smartphone and also serves as a multi-functional watch, notifier and phone remote control. The two prominent smartwatch launches in the country included Galaxy Gear—pegged as a smart companion to the Note 3, Galaxy Gear is a new concept device that notifies users and gives them quick previews of incoming texts, emails, etc. that are received on the Note 3; and Sony SmartWatch 2—enables users to handle their calls, receive notifications, control the music player, take a photo remotely from the watch, control presentations, read previously downloaded e-mail or use lifestyle apps to map and track their fitness activities, without taking the phone out of the pocket.

TV dongle for media streaming: Google Chromecast

Along with a new line of Nexus devices, the search giant also launched Chromecast, a device that enables you to stream media from a number of devices on to the largest screen—your TV. One can simply plug it in to the HDMI port of the TV, post which he/she can use the smartphone, tablet or laptop to 'cast' (basically send) online content on to the TV screen via Wi-Fi. As of now, the dongle works with services like Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music, although the company is planning to add more apps going forward.

Apart from browsing and viewing content on the TV screen, you can also use the smartphone/tablet/laptop as a remote for performing functions like play and pause, volume control and more.

Honourary mention: Google Glass

That's all for this feature, but stay tuned for our year-end analysis of all things e-commerce in 2013.