Technology is playing a constantly-growing role in our lives. We can adjust our house’s temperature from miles away. We can charge our electronics with the aid of the sun. Rooms can even sense when people are absent, and dim the lights accordingly. What comes next? Possibly state-of-the-art playrooms that project a virtual veldt complete with parent-eating lions. No need to worry about that just yet, though. In fact, you should relax and enjoy the savings and convenience that modern household tech can offer you.
Here are the 10 best home gadgets for 2013.
MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer – 3D printers generate perfect replicas of objects. Sounds like something out of science fiction, but it’s completely real—and the technology is coming home at a rapid pace. The MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer can “print” copies of objects utilizing a sturdy bioplastic.
Voltaic Solar Charger Kits – Voltaic’s solar charging kits are available as portable adapters, panels, and even as backpacks. Each one utilizes the sun to charge up a multitude of electronic devices.
Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch – Remember The Clapper, the device that turned lights on and off with audio cues? This works in much the same way, sans clap. Maestro’s Occupancy Sensing Switch uses sensors to turn on and dim the lights according to whether or not people are in the room.
Fujitsu Lifebook 2013 – All-in-one devices are convenient, but the Lifebook 2013 goes above and beyond the call of duty. It’s a laptop, a camera, a phone, and a tablet. All of its parts buddy-up together for easy travel and storage.
Raspberry Pi – Computers are vital components of our lives, and the Raspberry Pi ensures that everyone gets access to one regardless of income level. This simple credit card-sized board plugs into a TV and a keyboard and is capable of performing many of the same tasks as a full-sized PC.
Google Glasses / Project Glass – Project Glass admittedly looks silly on the face of a human being, but these glasses allow you to surf the Internet hands-free via voice commands.
Basis Band – The Basis Band is a must-have for fitness enthusiasts, or anyone who just wants to know their fitness problem areas. The band reads heart rate, blood flow, heat dissipation and sleep cycles, and then pushes you go beyond your previous limits.
iPhone 5S – We’re almost certain to see the iPhone 5S before 2013 is done. Summer or Fall are popular estimates, and rumored features include improved durability and wireless charging.
Lockitron – Lockitron should see release in 2013 thanks to a successful Kickstarter. This handy device lets you lock and secure your home from anywhere with a simple application. No more driving backwards back up your street to ensure that you locked the door before you left the house.
SmartThings – SmartThings lets you monitor, secure, and control your house through your smartphone. You can also keep tabs on the comings and goings of your family. The device’s first pre-orders will ship in Spring 2013, so if you haven’t pre-ordered, do so.
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Are you looking to upgrade your tablet over the coming year? Or maybe 2013 will be the year that marks the purchase of your first tablet. Either way, the bustling tablet market has you covered: There are more models to select from than ever before, and they’re all available in a multitude of colors, sizes, and price brackets. And between iOS, Windows, and Android, you even have your choice of operating systems.
Stumped on what you ought to buy? Here are the top ten tablets for 2013.
iPad (Fourth Generation) – The iPad is still the go-to brand for tablet computers. The highly popular device is now into its fourth iteration and boasts powerful hardware, a familiar interface, and tons of game and app support courtesy of the App Store.
iPad Mini – Apple’s trimmed-down answer to the 7” tablet craze is approximately as powerful as the iPad 2, and for the most part it supports the same apps and games as its larger cousins.
Nexus 7 – Looking for an Android-based tablet that’s affordable and versatile? This little fellow from Google and Asus might be your answer. It’s perfect for reading eBooks and watching television programs, and it’ll only set you back $299 USD.
Microsoft Surface – This laptop/tablet hybrid is the perfect buy for anyone who wants the portability of a tablet, but the accuracy of a keyboard. Its detachable keyboard doubles as a protective cover, and there are two versions to choose from: A model that comes with Windows RT, and a model that includes Windows 8 Pro.
Motorola Droid Xyboard / Xoom 2 – The Xyboard is smaller, sleeker, and faster than its predecessor, Xoom. The “media edition” of the tablet can stream content from your PC, and the whole package has been made water-resistant. Perfect for bad weather, though we don’t recommend taking it for a dunk in the pool.
Sony Xperia Tablet S – The Xperia Tablet S is the successor to the Sony Tablet S. It has a thinner, lighter design than its ancestor, and an improved camera. It’s even equipped with an infrared blaster, which lets you use the device as a universal remote.
Asus eee Pad Transformer Prime – Arguably the coolest-named tablet in the world, the Asus eee Transformer Prime actually does transform from a tablet to a more complete laptop. All you need to do is pick up the Prime’s optional docking keyboard for a little QWERTY power.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 – Samsung’s popular tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Delicious, but what does it mean for you? It means tons of processing power that blasts through work during the day, and deliver gentle stories at night. Between books, pictures, movies, and video, the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a perfect family media hub.
Kindle Fire HD – The Kindle Fire HD is the color-screen follow-up to Amazon’s enormously popular Kindle line of book readers. It runs on a modified version of Ice Cream Sandwich, and is capable of playing video, movies, and games. Needless to say, you can also read ebooks off it. All yours for a still-affordable $199 USD.
Blackberry Playbook – The Blackberry Playbook may not have set the world on fire upon its initial release, but price cuts have made it more attractive. You can use the Playbook to make and record videos, play games, and much more. Interestingly, the Playbook is pre-loaded with an app that grants access to over 1,500 films from the National Film Board of Canada, which makes the device worth the price of admission for nostalgic Canadians.
It’s safe to say 2012 has been a fruitful year for technology, and it’s not likely that things will slow down through 2013. In fact, 2013 looks to be intense, tech-wise: The industry will likely continue to shift and change, hardware manufacturers will engage in price wars, the competition between tablets will be ferocious, video games will become more portable, and the world will be more connected than ever.
Here are five likely technology trends for 2013.
Video game consoles continue to struggle – There’s still a place for dedicated video game consoles, but they’re going to continue to struggle against the competition thanks to the rising popularity of tablet games. Nintendo’s Wii U took a step in the right direction with its semi-portable tablet controller that lets the player experience games without having to hog the TV, but what do Sony and Microsoft have in store?
Tablets fight for dominance – Tablet computers are gradually replacing PCs and laptops, and computer manufacturers have certainly noticed. 2013 will usher in affordable new models designed to take on the iPad—and each other.
Games continue to move to portable platforms – On the topic of tablets, video games will continue to shift from home consoles to tablets, phones, and dedicated handheld systems. A strengthening game library and increased cross-compatibility with the PlayStation 3 should give the PlayStation Vita a boost, and the Nintendo 3DS will continue to do well with the help of Nintendo’s franchises.
Price wars – What happens when hardware manufacturers are desperate to get your attention in a market that’s humming with activity? Sales. Lots of them. Keep your eyes open for slashed prices on smartphones, tablets, and games—particularly downloadable games on the App Store, Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and Nintendo’s networks.
More free Wi-Fi access at retail – Need to get out of the house, but not quite ready to detach yourself from the content feeding tube? No problem. More and more retail spaces, particularly restaurants and cafes, should have you covered with free Wi-Fi access. McDonalds and Starbucks already want you to hang out and surf over a latte—or a hamburger.
For more 2013 business trends, take a look at Gartner Inc’s 2013 trends.