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Best Gadgets of 2012

We gadget lovers can be a fickle bunch, as we drum our fingers for yearly updates of our favourite toys. Toys that we demand have incremental improvements and clearer displays. Above all else, they had better look good and smell new.

But then again, we also love fresh ideas and bargain buys. The list below features the best tech toys of 2012, some are outlandish, some are budget-friendly, but all are deserving members of this list.

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Dell XPS 12

Do you want a laptop? Or do you plumb for a tablet? With the XPS 12, you get both. With a strikingly clear display and a sturdy “shell”, it transitions easily between its two “forms”. It might be the brain-child of marketing types who prefer gimmickry over functionality, but the XPS 12 nonetheless oozes class. It’s the first serious amalgamation of laptop and tablet, and despite the hefty price tag of US$1 200, it deservedly earns a place on this list.

Asus Zenbook

Slim, sleek and stylish, the Zenbook is the Windows alternative to the Macbook Air. No, it’s not the first “ultrabook” in existence, nor will it be the last, but its slick exterior and 1920×1080 resolution display, certainly make it worthy of parading to friends. Granted, at R14 000 (about US$1 400) it’s an expensive toy to show off to loved ones, but the plentiful processing power means the laptop maintains a fast operating speed. And best of all, it’s just so damn beautiful.

Monster Gratitude Headphones

Monster (not the energy drink that sends you into cocaine-like stupor) is a company specialising in headphones. But not ordinary headphones. Oh no, headphones steeped in pomp and ceremony. Its latest offering, “Gratitude”, is endorsed by seminal musical act Earth, Wind and Fire, and each ear-piece is encased in faux-gold.

With the 70s rockers stamped across the box, the celebrity backing incurs the inevitable celebrity cost: each pair is priced at $200. But then again, they arrive in a brown pouch with the sort of embellishments to make a grown man blush.

If headphones are an important extension of your image then pay Amazon a visit, drop the cash and revel in the knowledge you’re the coolest geek in town.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon has long championed the notion of “service”, not commerce. CEO and founder Jeff Bezos spearheads a business model that generates its greatest revenue from the company’s products being used, rather than being bought. If that sounds strange, picture the Amazon Kindle Fire HD: a 8.9-inch tablet with 1GB RAM, a crisp 1920×1200 display and ten hours of battery life — all for only US$299.

Indeed, the Kindle Fire HD is better value for money than the iPad Mini. So where does Amazon make the bulk of its cash from? The answer is its online store: a vast emporium of 22-million movies, apps and books to download. It’s a business model that has led Amazon to the forefront of the tablet market, with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD one of its finest offerings for 2012.

iPhone 5

No tech list is complete without the iPhone 5, arguably 2012’s most eagerly anticipated gadget. As a successor to the iPhone 4S, the 5 refines and hones the ergonomic design of the 4S by retaining its smooth curves, but lengthening the display by 0.37-inches, resulting in a picture that is best described as “oblong”.

It also happens to be thinner and lighter which makes it feel unobtrusive in the good old back pocket. With a new dual-core A6 processor and double the RAM of the iPhone 4 series, this is a powerful and dizzyingly fast phone.


The HTC One X might just be the fastest smartphone money can buy. It boasts a quad-core processor and a mighty display. Whether you choose to indulge in a spot of casual gaming (which renders portable gaming machines all but obsolete), make use of its 8MP camera or shoot videos in high-definition, the One X has it all. It’s the definitive example of a smartphone that transcends the medium itself, providing its users with a plethora of diversions. Phones were once about making calls. But not anymore.

Macbook Pro with Retina Display

It was Gearburn Editor Steven Norris who described the Macbook Pro (with Retina Display) best, “There is no equal”. It’s a phrase that encapsulates his review of the machine: a laptop of the mightiest, beefiest, eye-watering proportions with the clearest, sharpest picture money can buy. It’s a laptop engineered without compromise. It’s, in some sense, the Zenith. We should congratulate Apple for letting us even sample this machine, let alone owning it. It’s a shining example of why we love technology, and fully deserving of any number one spot.

If a beautiful display is all you look for in a notebook, the Retina Display is your only option. Of course, you might have to sell your house and relocate to a trailer park to afford it.

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