2012 was a great year for gadgets. While it’s easy to focus on big-name product launches like the Galaxy S III or iPad Mini, there were a bunch of other innovative products that came out this year.
We put together the best, most innovative gadgets that launched in 2012.
The Lytro is a tiny 'light field' camera that comes in two different sizes, 8GB and 16GB.
The Lytro's lens takes advantage of an 8x optical zoom and a special Light field engine and sensor, which lets in 11 million light rays in a single shot.
The Lytro is so cool because it can refocus images after they are taken, it's great in low light, and you can basically create what the company calls 'living pictures'.
Price: Starts at $399
Pebble took the tech world by storm and raised $10 million dollars this year.
The Pebble is a watch that syncs with your smartphone via Bluetooth. You can see who's calling, check messages, control your music, track your exercise routine, and so much more.
Users can even create their own alerts and notifications via the if this then that web service.
Price: pre-orders start at $150
The Go Pro HD Hero 3 is the perfect camera to always have with you if you're the outdoorsy type. It's extremely compact, weighs 2 pounds, features 11 megapixels, and is waterproof up to 197 feet.
It's ridiculously easy to mount the Go Pro HD to helmets and other gear so it's great for extreme sports.
The Go Pro HD Hero 3 builds on the older version by adding built-in Wi-Fi, better low-light photo capture, and clearer HD video at 1080p.
2012 saw 3D printing creep into the mainstream.
Makerbot is pretty good at making 3D printers. The Replicator 2 is the company's fourth-generation machine.
Besides being packed with the latest features, the Replicator 2 is one of the more affordable 3D printers. It's only a matter of time until 3D printers become mainstream.
The Beolit 12 is a premium AirPlay wireless speaker. It lets you stream music over the air from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod, and if you don't have any of those devices you can still connect any other MP3 player.
The thing that's so great about the Beolit 12 is the amazing sound quality. It has deep rich bass with clear treble and a great mid-range that makes it sound like you're listening to live music.
Did we mention it's portable? The Beolit comes with a rechargeable battery so you can take it anywhere.
The 3M Streaming Projector By Roku is a wireless miniature device that can project Roku's streaming service anywhere. That means you can access Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and other popular services on the go.
The picture is crisp, and offers a resolution of 800x480. Even more impressive, the device is almost small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
The battery lasts about 2.5 hours, which is plenty of time for a movie on the go. But you can also plug it in and use it continuously.
Nintendo was the only big console maker to come out with a new system this year. And while the Wii U hasn't had breakthrough sales like the original Wii, it is still a game changer.
The console 's unique tablet-like controller will surely spur imitators and hopefully give us a new way to interact with all video games.
The Wii U is also the first Nintendo console to support high-def visuals with 2GB of RAM and onboard storage. Best of all, the Wii U is backward compatible with games made for the original Wii.
Price: Starts at $299.99
Nest's learning thermostat slimmed down and got smarter in 2012. Besides syncing with your smartphone, version 2.0 learned more languages.
We really like the programmable features like early-on where you can get the temperature where you want it at a particular time. There's also a vacation mode when you're away for an extended period of time.
Amazon's Kindle Touch was already an amazing device, but the online giant revamped the e-reader this year by adding the one thing it was missing. You now have an adjustable backlight for reading in the dark.
Simple put, the Kindle Paperwhite is simply the best e-reader around.
Price: starts at $119
The Lenovo Yoga is one of the first Windows 8 devices we've used an actually liked. The Yoga is slim, built with high quality materials, can convert from a tablet to a laptop, and runs fast and smooth.
Lenovo is the first Windows 8 maker that got it right.
Price: Starts at $999.99
The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is the best new laptop of the year. It's light, thin, and packs a powerful punch. Plus you get an incredible high-resolution display.
We prefer the larger version to the smaller 13-inch version because of the quad-core processor and separate graphics card.
The Retina MacBook Pro is truly the best professional grade laptop available right now.
Price: Starts at $2,199
Despite the iPad mini's arrival, Google's Nexus 7 is still an excellent tablet. The Nexus 7 was Google's first tablet in the Nexus line. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, the Nexus 7 is the best tiny tablet you can buy.
Price: Starts at $199
The iPad Mini received a lot less hype than other Apple products that came out this year. Many people didn't know what to expect from Apple, so there were many questions that were unanswered about the device.
But after Apple announced the Mini's existence in late October, everyone fell in love. In fact, Apple bloggers are calling the Mini 'the real iPad.'
The miniature size made the tablet much portable, and the fact that all of the regular iPad apps ran on the smaller device made people love it even more.
Price: Starts at $329
The Galaxy Note II remixed the enormous phablet (phone + tablet) and brought with it a bunch of new features. Users got to take advantage of Google's latest operating system called Android Jellybean, a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 5.5-inch super high quality screen.
We loved HTC's new Droid DNA. The 5-inch screen felt perfect, not too big like the Galaxy Note's screen and not too small like the iPhone 5's.
The specs were great too: a quad-core processor, plenty of RAM, and lightning fast LTE. Plus it's the first mobile device that can display true 1080p HD video.
If you want a Windows 8 Phone, then this is the only one you should consider. HTC's 8x is thin and light, much lighter than Nokia's flagship Windows Phone the Lumia 920.
The 8x packs in wireless charging, beats audio, and a really nice screen.
Before the Galaxy Note II, there was the Galaxy S III, which was Samsung's flagship phone of the year.
At last count, Samsung sold 30 million of the Galaxy S IIIs since its launch in May.
The Galaxy S III was the first phone that actually challenged the iPhone this year and did an excellent job. The 4.8-inch display on the phone looks gorgeous, yet the phone is small and thin enough to fit in your pocket.
Price: starts at 199.99
Google's Nexus 4 is another one of our favourite new phones that launched this year. While the device didn't have super fast LTE, it did bring the newest version of Android called Jelly Bean and features a really cool panoramic camera mode that lets you take full 360-degree photos.
What we really liked about the Nexus 4 was Google's decision to sell the phone unlocked for a very affordable price.
Apple's iPhone 5 didn't debut until September, but it quickly became the hottest smartphone on the planet
Apple subtlety redesigned the iPhone 4S and made the iPhone 5 taller and thinner.
Despite a huge Apple Maps debacle, easily scratched cases, and other hiccups, the iPhone 5 sold 5 million units in the first three days of release. Even today, the phone is so popular that it's tough to find one in stores.
Price: Starts at $199
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