As we fade out of 2012 and step up into 2013, we get to look forward to everything the new year will bring us: Prosperity, new chances, and tons of cool gadgets. As tech evolves, we’re granted new ways to work, rest, play, and even exercise.
Here are 10 of the best new gadgets for 2013.
Neural Impulse Actuator – Video games are still attempting to move away from the controller, and one of the latest attempts is the Neural Impulse Actuator. This headband streams your body’s biosignals directly into any PC game, negating the need for a computer or a mouse. That’s right: It is now possible to kill dragons with your mind.
HD media router – If you live in a house that swears by tech, you’re going to need an HD media router sooner than later. It allows multiple people in a household to play games, make VOIP calls, watch streaming movies, and lots more without glitches or lags.
TSir wristband charger – If you’re on the go a lot and you start to feel a little nervous when your phone drops to 40% battery power with no outlet in sight, you’re definitely going to want to consider getting the TSir wristband charger. It powers up almost every portable device that utilizes a USB connection, making it ideal for long trips and extended waits in a queue.
USB hubs – These days, USB hubs are as important as electrical outlets. Guess what: That demand is only going to grow. If you haven’t done so already, use a USB hub to split up one USB connection into several and plug in as many accessories as you want.
Wearable Video Cameras – Remember when you used to have to lug around a heavy camera to capture family memories? Not anymore. Wearable cameras like the GoPro HD Hero clip onto your person and leave your hands free. Said cameras are a particularly good option for extreme sports fiends looking to capture footage of their adventures.
Xbox Next/720 – We don’t know what Microsoft aims to call its follow-up to the Xbox 360, but the “Xbox 720” or “Xbox Next” are popular guesses. The Xbox 360 is nearly seven years old, and we’ll almost certainly hear more about its successor in 2013—if we don’t get to buy it outright. We don’t know what it’ll be like, but given Microsoft’s success in the hardware market, it’s hard not to be excited.
PlayStation 4 – Likewise, we don’t know what Sony has in mind for the PlayStation 4, but we can lay down bets that we’ll hear and/or see something in 2013. What features will the PlayStation 4 have? What lessons did Sony take away from the PlayStation 3’s slow start?
Wii U – Unlike the “PlayStation 4” or the “Xbox 720,” the Wii U is a tangible thing that you can play with. With its unique tablet controller, creative MiiVerse community, and the strength of Nintendo’s franchises, it’s going to be fun to see the Wii U come into its own through 2013.
Wireless Activity Tracker – If getting into shape is in the cards for 2013, you might want to invest in a wireless activity tracker. These devices keep tabs on your exercise regime, including distance, pace, and calories burned. Some models also alert you when you’ve reached your daily goal.
Camelbak’s All-Clear Water Bottle – If you spend a lot of time outdoors, then you already know that public water fountains dish out some mysterious-tasting fare, and bottled water isn’t great for the environment. Consider Camelbak’s All-Clear Water Bottle, which makes tap water or natural water more potable within 60 seconds.
In the past, sharing your music with the household meant turning up the living room stereo to 11—a gesture the neighbors didn’t always appreciate. In recent years, wireless digital technology has made it possible to pipe your tunes to any room, at any volume (11 is still an option, provided you’re willing to risk the neighbors’ wrath).
Whether you’re engaged in work, chores, spring cleaning, or just want to feed some gentle music into a toddler’s bedroom as the day winds down, there are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive ways to stream music throughout your house. Here are five.
AppleTV – AppleTV is a handsome little box that lets you stream music (and other media, including video and pictures) from your iTunes account to household televisions. It’s easy to set up, it’s user-friendly, and you can rent or purchase digital movies when the mood strikes. AppleTV is compatible with Macs and PCs.
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 – Video game consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have become major media hubs across the past few years. You can use both to wirelessly access media in other rooms of your house, though doing so with the Xbox 360 requires a wireless adaptor, sold separately (the latest model of the Xbox 360 has built-in Wi-Fi).
Sonos Multi-Room System – Sonos’ Multi-Room System pretty much delivers what it promises. Sonos is easy to set up, and you can use it to stream one song through the house—or different songs to different rooms. Sonos’ music menus can even be controlled with your iPhone following the download of a free app.
Rocketfish Wireless Speakers – Rocketfish’s speakers are an easy, cost-effective way to place your household music where you crave it the most. The speakers operate via a wireless transmitter, and plays music from almost any MP3 player.
D-Link Media Lounge – The D-Link Media Lounge is a popular streaming option thanks to its affordability (you can typically find it for under $200 USD) and performance. The Media Lounge can stream music, video, and still pictures.
For more tips on how to stream music throughout your house, read:
How to Stream Audio and Digital in Your Home at DigitalTrends
Make Your House Rock from Any Room at PCWorld
How Can I Stream Music Around my House? at PopSci
So you were an early HDTV adopter back in 2006, and now you’re beginning to feel a little bit of—dare we say it—TV envy. With so many seemingly bigger and brighter high-definition televisions on the market, it’s hard not to picture the market’s best shedding its light in your living room. Step back and think sensibly, though: Is it a necessary purchase? When should you get a new HDTV?
Unsurprisingly, the decision comes down to your personal preferences and needs, though it helps to break down your reasoning before you take the plunge. Here are five things you should consider before you get a new HDTV:
Are you unhappy with your current picture quality? – Are you looking to replace your HDTV simply because it’s “old,” and you think whatever’s out there will provide you with better picture quality? CNet writer Geoffrey Morrison has a simple piece of advice for HDTV shoppers: “As a general rule, if you bought a decent TV in the last few years, the new models will only look a little better. More than five years, and it gets harder to say.”
Morrison goes on to state that measuring picture quality between HDTVs with numbers alone can be tricky, as manufacturers’ “contrast ratio” specs tend to be fabrications, and even measurements from one review site to another can vary. Make things easy on yourself: Go into an electronics store and take a look at what’s on display. Does the picture look sharper? Are you looking to update from 720p to 1080p? Then by all means, grab that new set.
Do you want 3D? – Many movie-goers will argue that 3D has worn out its welcome (again), but the “fad” doesn’t seem to want to go away. 3D movies and video games (which are primarily supported through the PlayStation 3 console) can actually be a lot of fun for kids, so it might not be a bad idea to update your family entertainment center.
Do you want built-in internet streaming? – Even if your HDTV is only a couple of years old, it might be lacking the technology necessary to stream movies and other content directly to your set. If you’re looking for a TV with built-in Internet technology and Wi-Fi support, you might consider upgrading—though it’s not very hard to set up media streaming via your computer and/or game consoles.
Do you just want a bigger TV? – All right, just go ahead and admit it. You want that new 80-inch screen hanging on your living room wall. Congratulations: Admission is the first step to solving a problem. Now complete your treatment with some retail therapy. In fact, you can move your smaller set to a bedroom, or bequeath it on a child deserving of a reward.
Wait for holidays/other major sales – HDTVs can be fun impulse buys (at least until the credit card bill comes in), but reining in your compulsion and sitting tight isn’t the worst idea. Major sales come and go, especially since HDTV technology is evolving briskly. Holding off for a mere month can net you hundreds of dollars in savings.
For more HDTV buying advice, visit:
When Should I Upgrade my HDTV? at CNET
You Bought a New HDTV—Now What? at About.com
Should You Buy a New HDTV Now, Or Wait? at Practical Home Theater Guide