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The best and worst gadgets of 2013

Last updated on: December 31, 2013 21:12 IST

The best and worst gadgets of 2013

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Abhik Sen

This year had a lot happening in the personal technology space. By December, one had lost count of the number of smartphones (which got bigger and better) that were launched this year.

It was also a big year for gamers, with many blockbuster titles being launched and, more significantly, successors to two new gaming consoles being introduced.

Of course, the biggest question on everyone's minds, after the Edward Snowden affair, was whether governments were snooping on them. But one can't live without email, can we?

This was also the year the iPad got the "Air" treatment and a host of tablets running on Android were launched as well. And there were games galore to take advantage of the bigger screen. Here's a few hits and misses of 2013.

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Image: A new Apple iPhone 5S is on display at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah.
Photographs: George Frey/Reuters

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FIRST THE HITS

Bigger and better

It won't be wrong to say mobile phones are an extension of our selves. The year saw innumerable launches including flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, the LG G2, the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the iPhone 5S. Phone manufacturers vied with one another to bring out phones with bigger screens.

While quad core processors were par for the course , manufacturers tried to add an unique feature the new  and unique feature, be it waterproofing the phone, providing sensors for detecting eyes and gestures or updates at the blink of an eye.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Sony

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For Apple's iPhone 5S, the biometric finger scanner found a lot of takers (and will probably find many clones next year).

Indian manufacturers, too, weren't sitting idle. They fought tooth and nail for market share with the biggies, churning out phones with nearly the same flagship features, albeit at a lower price.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Apple

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Camera crazy

The battle of the megapixels had started earlier, but this year it intensified. And it wasn't just about megapixels - various technologies, filters, effects were thrown around as well.

This was the year an eight-megapixel camera pretty much became the norm for smartphones.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: 1

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Cloud

With such great cameras on phones, one couldn't blame users for getting shutter-happy.

But high resolution images eat up space - and a sexy uni-body design leaves no space for memory expansion.

Cloud services came to the rescue with most manufacturers bundling some form of cloud storage with their smartphones.

Not to be outdone, web biggies upped the ante, with Yahoo's online photo album service, Flickr, providing up to one terabyte of storage. Google integrated its cloud storage service, Drive, with its email.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Flickr , Yahoo

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Gaming on the go

It would have been a shame if all the computing power on smartphones was wasted on just calls and messaging, not to mention the big screens on offer.

The year, practically every blockbuster game also offered a phone/tablet equivalent.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Stream my videos

If one goes by the number of video streaming services in India, Indians are lapping up their dose of television on their smartphones/tablets. So much so, that DTH service providers have also come up with streaming apps.

One doesn't need to watch pirated movies streamed by dubious providers as services such as BIGFlix, Box TV and Spuul, among others, have made blockbusters available at low prices.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: DTH , Spuul , India

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Blockbusters ahoy!

This was the year the gaming industry created history. A game for adults released for just two consoles - Xbox 360 and PS3 - clocked sales of $1 billion within three days of its release on September 17.

Grand Theft Auto V (aka GTA V), loved (by gamers) and hated in equal measure, after setting this benchmark is believed to have notched up worldwide sales of nearly 27 million units till the second week of December 13.

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Photographs: Reuters
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This was the trend for the year - games such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, The Last of Us, Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite, among others, notched up worldwide sales of more than a million units.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Activision Publishing

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PS4 and Xbox One

Gamers couldn't have asked for more as both the PS4 and Xbox One were unveiled this year. Gamers in India will have to wait till 2014 to get their hands on these consoles.

PS4 sales start on January 6 (at Rs 39,990), but Microsoft is yet to come out with the date of launch.

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Photographs: Reuters

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NOW, FOR THE MISSES

Smart watches

All of us have grown up dreaming of making phone calls on our watches. Finally, it is available in its rudimentary form. But the trouble is these initial smart watches are nothing but appendages of a smartphone - one can't use them independently.

But the technology is evolving and if these watches can go solo, there's no stopping them becoming the next big thing and Apple's iWatch is also around the corner.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung
Tags: NOW

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BlackBerry Z10

As a long-time user of this iconic brand, I was very sad to see the Z10, the first BlackBerry device running on BlackBerry 10 (BB10), fail.

But truth be told. Despite the Z10 being a fabulous device, it probably came too late for BlackBerry, especially when customers were possibly looking for an iPhone killer.

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Photographs: Courtesy, BlackBerry

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Hybrid camera/phones

It's great to have a phone which takes fabulous snaps. But a camera that makes calls, makes the user look silly. Some manufacturers have tried this concept.

4K televisions

We've raved about their clarity and details on the screen when they're displayed at various shows.

After spending a bomb on such TVs, there's still not much content of note that can take advantage of the technology of your uber-cool TV.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Samsung
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NOW , THE FUTURE

Handheld gaming

It's not just Sony or Nintendo any more. With the NVIDIA Shield (and a new device Samsung has just unveiled), handheld console-like gaming will be the next big thing, provided we have competitive prices.

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Photographs: Courtesy, NVIDIA

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Virtual currencies

All crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, are virtual currencies. But there's more to virtual currencies than Bitcoin, on which the Reserve Bank of India has brought out guidelines.

We may be using virtual currencies without knowing it - such as in games. No game seems devoid of such currencies these days, along with in-app purchases (where one can use real money to buy such currencies).

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Photographs: Reuters

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Purists among gamers have criticised such transactions, because this leads to enhancing one's skills, not by gameplay, but by the size of one's wallet. But considering its wide usage, this phenomenon is here to stay.

Machine-to-machine communications

We already have proximity sensors in car keys, which automatically unlock the doors once we're near the car.

How about the same sensor setting the temperature, turning on the cabin light and resuming playing the track from the point you exited the car?

Such technology exists and if the costs come down, may become as regular feature in mid-size cars as well.


Photographs: Reuters
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