The year is quickly drawing to a close (seriously, it feels like Thanksgiving was just yesterday), and new product releases are finally starting to slow down after three months of pure marketing and device launch chaos. And as per usual, several outlets are composing the typical lists of the top gadgets of the year.
I've been contemplating a list like this myself, and chances are I will compose one of my own. But I decided early last week that I was going to hold off any talk of "best device of the year" until closer to the end of the month.
However, as our network site Today's iPhone pointed out, TIME has composed a list of the top 10 gadgets of 2012.
With devices like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, Raspberry Pi Model B, Lytro, 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display and Nest on the list, it's hard to argue that the list is anything short of a great collection of 2012's best. The Samsung Galaxy Note II, of course, made the list, but only managed to land eighth. But the real kicker is the top gadget of 2012. TIME has rated the Apple iPhone 5 as the #1 gadget of 2012.
I had to do a double-take when I first saw the list. What? The iPhone 5? Best gadget of 2012? TIME explains:
"Apple may be responsible for more than its share of the tech industry’s great leaps forward, but it’s at least as good at fussing over the tiny little details other companies ignore. The iPhone 5, which starts at $199 with a two-year contract, is one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone’s ever built, with a taller screen than previous iPhones built into a thinner, lighter case. The camera, with a particularly well-done panorama mode, is another highlight. There are lots of nifty smartphones out there, including the iPhone’s impressive archrival, Samsung’s Galaxy S III. But when it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer."
Sure, it's a pretty device. It's a fair and valid statement to which I have no qualms. But solid, beautiful hardware hardly makes up for software that has remained virtually the same since 2007. If the iPhone 5 had been released in 2011, it could have definitely been the best gadget of the year. But now it's like buying a shiny new sports car with a 1980's sports car interior.
It's been said countless times: there is nothing particularly remarkable about the iPhone 5. Even though it was built from the ground up, it's still just an iPhone. Its design is largely reminiscent of the iPhone 4 and 4S, and the software has hardly changed in five years. Aaron, numerous colleagues and I have all said the iPhone is aging poorly – the software needs a serious refresh.
While the Apple iPhone 5 has done particularly well in the Mobile Tech Expert's Chart in our Official Smartphone Rankings™, it has inched its way downward in the People's Choice Chart. It now sits in sixth in the People's Choice Chart and second in the Mobile Tech Expert's Chart.
The only other two mobile devices to make TIME's list were the Microsoft Surface tablet and Samsung Galaxy Note II in seventh and eighth, respectively.
The great thing about these lists, though, is that they're subjective. As always, opinions differ. My list, TIME's list and your list may look completely different, especially when you consider there are likely hundreds of gadgets that were introduced in 2012.
My question to you is what would you rank as the best gadget of 2012?
That's a loaded question, I know. I've been contemplating this very thing since November and I can't settle on a single device. But I have narrowed my list down quite a bit. The toss-up for first is between three Android devices: Samsung Galaxy Note II, Google Nexus 7 by ASUS or the Google Nexus 10 by Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is also a toss-up with the Sony NEX-5N for my favorite gadget in my current arsenal. At 5.5-inches, it's the perfect size for throwing in my pocket without sacrificing too much display space. Between the size, battery life, the S Pen and horde of multitasking features, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is a serious competitor.
The Nexus 7 is remarkable for two main reasons: it's one of the best tablets currently on the market and either $199 for 16GB or $249 for 32GB, it's extremely affordable. Comparable tablets sell for upwards of $400. And simply put, the Nexus 10 is a monster. At $399 to $499, it's not quite as affordable. But with the dual-core Exynos 5, 10-inch display at 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution (300ppi) and 9,000mAh battery, it's hard to argue against such a tablet.
As if the picture above didn't give it away, I would probably choose the Samsung Galaxy Note II if push came to shove, mainly because I have carried it in my pocket for the better part of two months and it's my go-to device for quite literally everything. The battery life is nearly unmatched (save for the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX and DROID RAZR MAXX HD) and the size is perfect … for me.
Speaking in terms of mobile devices, rest assured, the iPhone 5 would make my top 10 gadgets of 2012, but just barely. In no way would I consider it the top gadget of 2012.
What would your list look like, ladies and gents? What would you pick as your number one device in 2012? Apple iPhone 5? Galaxy Note II? Or something totally different? Sound off below!