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The big surprise of 2013 was that Apple didn’t wow us with any revolutionary hardware. Instead, the year was marked by valiant efforts from smaller companies like Pebble and Leap Motion, comebacks by old stalwarts like BlackBerry and Motorola, and capped by the launch of next-gen consoles. And perhaps most surprisingly, the best gadget of the year was the cheapest: Google’s incredible little Chromecast.

For a list of the best new hardware products of 2013, we tried as much as possible to focus on “new”. The gadgets had to do something others didn’t do, or offer it at a ridiculously low price. Here are the shiny hunks of metal that made us drool in the last year.

January

Pebble ($299.99)

While rumours swirled about a smartwatch from Apple and another from Samsung, it was a little Kickstarter-funded project that started the craze. Pebble is an e-ink smartwatch that pairs with your Android or iOS smartphone to give you an additional interface without having to take your phone out of the pocket. It’s dustproof and waterproof, and is the kind of gimmick that lets you show off your geek cred to the world. Read our Pebble review Pebble Smartwatch Review & Giveaway Pebble Smartwatch Review & Giveaway Smartwatches are the new hottest trend in today's tech world, and the Pebble e-ink watch helped start the fire. The most successful Kickstarter project to date, the Pebble raised over $10 million during its 1-month... Read More for more details.

February

Google Glass ($1500)

The year gone by could very well be marked as the year that Google stepped up the game in hardware. And it all started with its most revolutionary product, Google Glass, made available to developers in February. It’s a pair of glasses that acts as a head-mounted display to show you maps, notifications from your phone, capture videos and much more. It has privacy issues, it has style issues — everything that shakes up a market.

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March

BlackBerry Z10 ($276.50)

What was BlackBerry’s answer to the Android, iOS and Windows Phone assault? We finally got to see it with the BlackBerry Z10, a full-touch smartphone from a company that was most famous for its QWERTY keyboards. If you ignore the app market, the BB10 OS can go toe-to-toe with the other three. It has its quirks, but it has some great features too, especially gesture-based multitasking and a unified notifications hub. But the moment you include app availability, it pales in comparison. This just could have been BlackBerry’s last hurrah.

Oculus Rift ($300)

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset, funded entirely through a Kickstarter campaign, that puts you in an immersive virtual world. Along with 3D visuals that adjust to your eyes, it features one standout technology: head tracking. The scene being broadcast is a full 360-degree world, so when you move your head to the right, the screen shows you what would be on your right. It’s pretty awesome, as James notes in his Oculus Rift review Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway The Oculus Rift has finally arrived, and is making heads turn (literally) all over the gaming community. No longer are we confined to to peering through a flat window into the gaming worlds we love... Read More . Currently, you can play some hot games like Team Fortress 2 or enjoy roller-coaster rides in your living room. It’s only a developer’s unit right now and a commercial one for retail should be out soon.

April

Kobo Aura HD ($212)

The first real competitor to Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, the Kobo Aura HD got the specs game right. It’s is a large e-ink reader with a built-in light, and even better resolution and DPI than the Paperwhite for a sharper reading experience. Plus, apart from 4 gigabytes of internal memory, it gives you a microSD slot to expand the memory as much as you want. In her review Kobo Aura HD eReader Review and Giveaway Kobo Aura HD eReader Review and Giveaway Despite Amazon's dominance of the eReader market, some competitors manage to keep their heads above water, and one of these strugglers is Kobo. With an impressive line of five different eReaders, its own bookstore, and... Read More , Yaara thinks it’s a solid e-reader alternative for those who don’t want Amazon’s ecosystem.

May

Fitbit Flex ($99.95)

Fitness and health are being “gamified” with smart devices that track your activity and egg you on to do better. The Fitbit Flex is a waterproof silicone rubber wristband, adjustable to any size. No physical buttons, you tap it to activate it and get notifications with the five LEDs on it. Pair it up with the Fitbit app on your iOS or Android and you’ll know your activity reports in real time. Fitness freaks will love this, and you can find out more in our Fitbit Flex review Fitbit Flex vs. Jawbone UP: A Comparative Review Fitbit Flex vs. Jawbone UP: A Comparative Review In today's world, nothing escapes the fact that we are moving in a direction where quantifying and recording stuff obsessively is sort of the norm. We use Foursquare to check into places, we annoyingly take... Read More .

June

OUYA ($99.99)

In a year that saw next-generation consoles, there was one other that stole the limelight for the first half. OUYA is another Kickstarter-backed project and the first Android-based gaming console to hit the market, for a low price of $100. The first-gen product, like many other first-gen products, shows potential but probably isn’t worth your money, given the bad controller and the low-quality games. But it’s a very capable console by itself, and you get a great media player. Plus, in a move away from traditional gaming, it lets users try any game before they buy it. As our review OUYA Review And Giveaway OUYA Review And Giveaway When the OUYA was first announced and funded on Kickstarter, the Internet was positively buzzing over the possibilities for this tiny Android-based console. Kickstarter backers began receiving their consoles months ago, and early reports were... Read More notes, OUYA lays the platform for a new generation of Android gaming that could change the video game market as we know it.

July

>Leap Motion ($95.99)

Goodbye point-and-click, hello gestures — or at least that’s the future that Leap Motion believes in. The first system to give any computer the ability to recognise gestures. It’s a tiny little device that costs just $80, and a lot of is it just gimmicky at the moment, but there is some fantastic functionality potential, as James discovered with the BetterTouchTool in his Leap Motion review Leap Motion Review and Giveaway Leap Motion Review and Giveaway The future is gesture controls, they would have us believe. You should all be touching your computer screens, waving your arms around in front of your Xbox, and waggling your way to virtual sports victory.... Read More . While the hardware is great, hopefully the software gets better with time to make the Leap Motion a killer device.

Google Chromecast ($35)

In my opinion, this is the ‘gadget of 2013’. The Google Chromecast has it all: a revolutionary idea, flawless execution, ease of use and a super low price point to make it accessible to anyone. It turns any TV into a smart TV for the low price of $30, hooking up with your smartphone to beam images off it. And Google is slowly expanding the apps supported on the device to make it even more useful. Check out our full Chromecast review Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway We're giving away a Google Chromecast, so read through our review, then join the competition to win! Read More for more deets.

NVIDIA Shield ($249.99)

NVIDIA, a company renowned for its graphics processors, stepped into the hardware game this year with the launch of NVIDIA Shield, an Android-based handheld gaming console that takes on the PSP and Nintendo DS families. It has a few problems, as Dave found in his review NVIDIA Shield Review And Giveaway NVIDIA Shield Review And Giveaway Recently, we reviewed the Wikipad, which managed to make its way to market before NVIDIA's highly anticipated Shield. Ever since NVIDIA showcased the Shield at CES, I've found myself more and more fascinated by it. After... Read More , but the combination of a good controller, that gorgeous HD screen and a wide variety of Android games makes this a fantastic device right now, and even better when you consider its potential as more developers jump on board.

August

Nokia Lumia 1020 ($640)

Last year, Nokia wowed everyone with the Symbian-based PureView 808 and its fantastic camera. This year, it upped the game with the first PureView Windows Phone. The Lumia 1020 has a 41-megapixel camera with a 1/1.5-inch sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash and optical image stabilization. And it’s no slouch in video recording either. This is, without a doubt, the best camera on a mobile phone anywhere at the moment.

Motorola Moto X ($425)

After being acquired by Google, the world was waiting to see what Motorola would come up with and it didn’t disappoint with the Moto X, its flagship handset. It may not have the best hardware you can think of, but the Moto X is a seamless blend of hardware and software, with smart technologies like Motorola Assist, which tracks your location or habits to trigger notifications and tasks, like detecting when you are driving and automatically reading out text messages.

September

Samsung Galaxy Gear ($299)

Along with the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung released its first smartwatch in September. The Galaxy Gear is meant as a companion gadget that currently works only with select Samsung smartphones but it’s almost a functional phone by itself. The Android-based smartwatch has a 1.6-inch AMOLED touchscreen, and is dustproof and waterproof. It even carries a camera on the wrist strap to let you snap photos and shoot videos efficiently. Super cool!

October

Sony a7 ($1520)

The Sony a7 and a7R are the world’s smallest full-frame mirrorless cameras with an interchangeable lens, packing a 24 megapixel and 36 megapixel EXMOR HD CMOS sensor respectively. The a7 even comes with an optical low-pass filter. The a7R, on the other hand, boasts a magnesium alloy body. Both cameras come with a wide range of lenses and are aimed at the professional photographer who wants better portability.

Sony DSC-QX100 ($470)

October belonged to Sony’s camera department. Apart from the a7 and a7R, the team released the new QX100 smartphone lens to go with the Xperia Z1, although it works with any Android smartphone. Latch it onto your smartphone and you get a fantastic lens to give you photos that your camera would never have gotten. And yes, it works even without a smartphone! Check out our full review Sony DSC-QX100 Smartphone Attachable Lens Review and Giveaway Sony DSC-QX100 Smartphone Attachable Lens Review and Giveaway This is $498 camera... without a viewfinder or a screen. And we're giving it away! Read More for more on this must-have gadget.

November

Sony PlayStation 4 ($399)

No doubt about it, the month of November was all about the new video game consoles. Sony kicked things off with the PlayStation 4, its latest video game console, and it’s a gamer’s delight. The PlayStation Camera gets a little more focus and the new DualShock 4 controller has a touchpad, but really, the PS4 is all about playing your games the best possible way. It’s the most powerful gaming machine around and you won’t be disappointed. For more, read our PlayStation 4 review Sony PlayStation 4 Review And Giveaway Sony PlayStation 4 Review And Giveaway Ladies and gentlemen, the next generation of video game consoles is here, with the Sony PlayStation 4! Read More .

Microsoft XBox One ($499)

While Sony concentrated on the gamers, Microsoft concentrated on the living room with the launch of the XBox One. The Kinect 2 plays a huge part in this, as does the console’s ability to recognize voice commands. The end result is that this is a balance between a media player and a video game console, straddling the fence between the two and decluttering your entertainment unit to a single box. Yummy!

December

LG G Flex ($690)

December is always the quiet month for gadget launches, but LG managed to sneak one in before the holidays. The LG G Flex is the first curved smartphone out there, sporting a 6-inch P-OLED curved touchscreen. It’s also got an innovative “self-healing” back–scratches and nicks disappear over time with its technology. It seems more like a gimmick than anything else, but hey, you’re bound to turn heads when your phone isn’t a flat slab.

Which product did you love most in 2013?

  1. Tom Weatherly
    December 29, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Nexus 5

  2. Andrea F
    December 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    The LG phone sounds awesome (yes, the gimmickry got me)! I think it was Google Glass that generated the greatest long-lasting buzz in my circles. Curious to try it out!

  3. NullOp
    December 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    12 months and 1 product interests me, Fitbit Flex. The rest, with the possible exception of the cameras, simply encourage a sedentary life style. Stop wasting time with games/phones and get outside!

  4. Michael Hardt
    December 18, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Pebble Watch was the most useless product I have ever bought. DOA. Worse, there is no useful tech support. After submitting a request for support, I received only e-mails directing me to read the User Guide and watch videos--which I watched before contacting tech support. Advice: Never buy any product for which the manufacture does not provide a telephone number for tech support. A totally worthless product without any live help.

  5. Tim B
    December 18, 2013 at 6:04 am

    What happened to the iPhone 5S and iPad Air? Particularly the latter, which is arguably the best tablet on the market.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 18, 2013 at 6:49 am

      The focus was on on either doing something new or doing something for an astonishingly low price. Apple's products this year are small upgrades/iterations of the previous models, so it didn't exactly fit into what we're looking at here. I realise this will be a matter of contention (esp since it's Apple), but that's just the call we took :)

  6. Godel
    December 18, 2013 at 4:45 am

    I'll place another vote for the Nexus 7 due to its remarkable value for money aspect. Pity about Google's stupid aversion to microSD card slots though. @Izaerian: if you think of the iPhones's fingerprint scanner as the replacement for a four digit unlock code, which many people are too lazy to implement and use anyway, then the scanner is a big improvement. Just making it easier to unlock/lock your phone will make more people willing to do so.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 18, 2013 at 6:50 am

      I love the N7 too, but it's just an iteration of a previous model. I was looking for gadgets which were doing something different / doing something new / doing something for cheaper / offering an alternative. The N7 doesn't fit into it exactly :)

  7. Kiatambari
    December 18, 2013 at 12:37 am

    How could you forget GOOGLE NEXUS 7? Please make adequate research before making a list of this nature.

  8. James B
    December 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Not sure where you got that price from, but the Oculus dev kit is $300 - and they've just caught up on shipping so you can finally buy one. Also, there's a ton of supported games and even third party drivers now, so you can play things like Skyrim, albeit with a few mods to adjust the interface.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 18, 2013 at 6:52 am

      Ah, I think the Amazon thing is from a reseller who has marked it up. I'll fix it, thanks!

  9. John Perez
    December 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    My iPhone 5c and ipad air are most significant development and products of the year.

  10. Luís P
    December 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    No love for the Moto G?

  11. Davin
    December 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Great List. But you forgot the 2nd Generation Google Nexus 7 Tablet that came out in July 2013. It is rated the best 7" tablet. Consumer Reports Magazine gives it a CR Best Buy.

  12. Victor O
    December 17, 2013 at 5:50 am

    The NVIDIA SHEILD also has the capability for game streaming, another quite significant feature.

    • Matt S
      December 17, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Yep, it's a shame that it doesn't work with more titles.

  13. Manuth C
    December 17, 2013 at 5:00 am

    The Lumia 1020 isn't the first PureView Windows Phone (it's actually the 920)

  14. Todd
    December 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    You've obviously never used the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s. It definitely ranks with the most significant hardware of the year.

    • Izaerian
      December 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      No offense but you might want to look into all the issues that scanner has. It is purely gimmick at this point, it's excessively easy to bypass/hack. People have unlocked phones using other parts of the anatomy which is sad. The idea behind it is awesome, and will eventually be a great addition, but as of now, like I said, gimmick.

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