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.
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.