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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.
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.