With the rising popularity of tablets and the increasing versatility of smartphones, you might wonder if there’s still any room for the desktop PC. Absolutely. Desktop computers are bulky compared to sleek tablets and laptops, but they’re still the powerhouses of the computing world—and many of them are surprisingly affordable. PCs are still the best option for parents that want to exercise full control over their younger kids’ computing habits, and most game enthusiasts swear by their desktop rigs.
Simply put, a day may come when the desktop PC is irrelevant, but that day is still a long way off. And if you’re looking to buy, there’s no shortage of great options. Here are 2013’s top 5 PCs.
Dell Inspiron 660’s – These lightweight and affordable computers are packed with features, but start at a sensible $349.99 USD (monitor not included). Each model is equipped with Windows 8 and has more than enough power to run games and social networks. Perfect for families.
Apple iMac 27 Inch – The all-in-one iMac is as sleek and professional as ever. The 27-inch model, released late 2012, is remarkably thin. It also features more processing muscle and storage than previous iterations.
Acer Predator G3 – It sounds intimidating, but this sleek black computer from Acer is perfect for a household. It comes installed with a wireless adapter, and it boasts plenty of RAM for getting tasks done. It has a DVD player rather than a Blu-ray player, but given the falling costs of Blu-ray players, remedying that shouldn’t be a problem.
Cyberpower Black Pearl – If you’re big into heavy-duty PC gaming, you need all the power you can get—but if money’s a problem, you may have to compromise a little. The CyberPower Black Pearl isn’t a top-of-the-line gaming PC, but it packs an impressive processing punch for the asking price.
MicroExpress MicroFLEX 37B – The MicroFLEX 37B is another affordable desktop PC that’s engineered for hardcore gaming. Its liquid cooling system and hot-swap drive bay keeps things cool while its innards heat up, keeping you in the game.
A smarter way to play: Video games industry analysis, reviews & insight.
It’s never too early to peer ahead and get revved up over what the games industry has planned for us in the coming year. However, 2013 stands to be an odd time: While Nintendo’s Wii U will surely begin to hit its stride, we still have no idea what Microsoft and Sony have planned for their next-generation systems. And what about the robust tablet and smartphone market? How will cheap, downloadable games affect sales of triple-A retail fare?
The coming year looks a little uncertain, but there are still tons of games to get excited about. Here are ten of the hottest new games for 2013.
BioShock Infinite (Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) – This spring, first-person shooter fans will have the opportunity to dive back into the top-notch storytelling that defines the BioShock games. BioShock Infinite plays much like its predecessors, but the game doesn’t take place in the undersea city of Rapture. Instead, players explore a floating city called Columbia.
Rayman Legends (Wii U) – Set to hit the Wii U in February, Rayman Legends is a magnificently-animated platforming game with a great sense of humor. Up to four people can play the game at once, and one additional player can assist the others via the Wii U game pad.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PlayStation 3) – If you’re a fan of RPGs and you own a PlayStation 3, you won’t want to miss Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch this winter. This whimsical game is a co-production between the talented developers at Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, the animators behind Hayao Miyazaki’s epic anime works.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita) – Sly the raccoon is back this February in another adventure game full of sneaking, hiding, and thieving. You’ll also be able to utilize new powers and accessories.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (Windows, OSX) –StarCraft is synonymous with real-time strategy games, so anticipation for the March release of StarCraft II is practically boiling over. Players can expect at least 20 new missions, as well as a storyline that continues the struggle against the malicious Zerg.
God of War: Ascension (PlayStation 3) – God of War can always be counted on for solid third-person action, and God of War: Ascension, coming in March, appears to have more hacking, slashing, thumping, and maiming than ever before. Expect tons of new weapons, minigames, and puzzles. Also, expect Kratos to be in a bad mood.
Fire Emblem: Awakening (Nintendo 3DS) – Fans of turn-based strategy games will be happy to know that Nintendo’s celebrated Fire Emblem series is making its return in February. The game boasts new options like team-up attacks, and will introduce downloadable content over time.
Last of Us (PlayStation 3) – Fans of post-apocalyptic scenarios should instantly fall in love with Last of Us when it hits shelves in May. This third-person survival adventure game narrates the struggles of two people as they try and stay alive in a world populated by disease-infected humans and wary survivors.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (Nintendo 3DS) – Maaario! Luigi makes a return to ghost busting this spring with a follow-up to the GameCube’s cult hit. This time, there’s more than one haunted mansion to stumble through, and every single one is stuffed to the brim with ghosts, monsters, and spooks. Good thing Luigi has his vacuum cleaner.
Crysis 3 (Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation) – Crytek’s next entry in this famous first-person shooter series takes place in an alternate New York City that’s been choked by trees, vines, and foliage. The main character, Prophet, needs to untangle the complicated reasons behind the transformation.
With 2012 over and 2013 now dawning, we can say this much: The year provided us with some excellent toys and video games. The growing video game market produced some real winners, especially for folks looking for family-friendly titles, and the hottest toys are encouraging kids to build, dream, and fiddle with smaller versions of the electronics that are quickly becoming an inseparable part of their daily lives.
Need a refresher of what’s worth checking out? Here are ten of 2012’s best toys and video games – the good news being that many more (i.e. the LeapsterGS, Imaginext’s line of playsets, a variety of MegaBloks kits, etc.) are available in droves.
Wii U – Nintendo’s latest contribution to the video game console race is tons of fun for game players of all ages and skill levels. The system is considerably more powerful than its predecessor, the Wii, but its most notable feature is its tablet-style controller that lets you enjoy games while the family TV is wrapped up for other purposes.
Skylanders Giants (Nintendo 3DS, Wii, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) – When you can’t choose between toys or video games, grab a compromise. Skylanders: Giants is an adventure game that’s packed with plastic figurines. Said figurines come to life when they’re scanned into the game via an included “portal” accessory.
Rayman Jungle Run (iPhone, iPad) – Rayman Jungle Run is a well-build and easy-to-play endless running game for iOS. At 99 cents, it’s also very affordable!
Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2 (Nintendo DS) – These direct follow-ups to Pokemon Black/White for the Nintendo DS bring offer tons more content for Pokemon enthusiasts, including more Pokemon than ever to catch, and hours and hours of exploration and content.
Minecraft (PC) – This independent world-building game is a colossal hit, and for good reason. Players literally carve out their own world from a huge canvas, and several pioneers can play in the sandbox at once via the game’s multiplayer options.
Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twister – RC vehicles are a lot of fun, at least until the vehicle goes offroad and slows to a crawl. The Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twister is meant to take on all surfaces, including road, grass, dirt, and snow.
Tabeo – Toys R Us’s exclusive 7-inch tablet is engineered specifically for kids. With the help of a Wi-Fi connection, youngsters can play fun and educational games, and there’s even an HDMI output allows the tablet’s content to be broadcast on bigger screens.
SuperStructs – This series of pegs and round blocks lets kids snap together all kinds of fun creations. There are different model kits to choose from, but each one is extremely versatile and encourages kids to add their own flourish.
Lego – Legos remain an extremely popular gift choice, and for good reason. Building block towers never gets old no matter what age you are, and playsets like the DC Universe help keep things fresh.
Glow Crazy Doodle Dome – The Glow Crazy Doodle Dome gives kids their own hideout, which they can subsequently make their own by doodling on the walls with a lightwand (included). It’s fun, it’s affordable, and best of all, it’s mess-free.