The best gadgets of 2012

Dan Martin
Former editor
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In the lead up to Christmas, our sister community ran its annual search for the best gadgets of the year. Here are the products that came up trumps. 

The annual countdown is led by tech-head and "executive peripherals" expert Nigel Harris who over 12 days listed his favourite gadgets. Following contributions from AccountingWEB members and editors, the list cultimated in an overall winner.

This year, the winner was the iPhone 4s.

While the iPhone 5 may be the latest model from the technology giant, the older 4s with iOS6 got the strongest response from AccountingWEB members and staffers alike. A previous winner in its 3GS incarnation of our Christmas Countdown in 2009, the iPhone 4S model scored well again this year on ease of use, longevity (product lifecycle, not battery life), and as a platform for a huge variety of apps, both useful and stupid.

There are plenty of close contenders, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, but Harris lauded the iPhone 4s as the "ultimate Swiss army knife of gadgets". 

"My iPhone even doubles as a spirit level and tape measure when doing DIY," he quipped, adding that many found it was in great need of a longer battery life.

Included in this year's countdown are other notable gadget categories and products that should appeal to electronics fans:  

Both the iPad and iPad mini got mentions here, along with newer tablets such as the Google Nexus 7, which could very well be the next "big thing". The Kindle Fire HD for book, multimedia and app lovers put up a good fight, along with other tablet offerings such as the Microsoft Surface. The market for alternatives to Apple tablets is expanding, with popularity for the increasingly ubiquitous and seemingly insatiable Californian company waning, if members' comments are anything to go by.

Smartphones and tablets have revolutionised the way we take pictures. However, there's still a good mixed bag of both video cameras and photography  gear out in the market, if this post is anything to go by. For those who love "old school" digital cameras,  Fujifilm Finepix X10 bagged Nigel's approval, while the very pricy Canon Legria got his vote for HD camcorders.

Very, very old school is also making a comeback it seems, with people's new-found love of filters thanks to apps such as Instagram. Lomography cameras such as these ones are featuring on Christmas lists for camera-lovers everywhere this year, making it one of the rather surprising and unusual culprits in this years' countdown.

2012's main contenders in this category seemed to be the iPhone 5, released quite recently. Apple cognoscenti seem to be resisting its lure, but non-Apple adherents have an increasingly varied choice, raning from the iPhone's closest rival, the Samsung Galaxy S3 to the Nokia Lumia 920, which runs on Windows 8 Mobile. 

As Nigel noted, it looks as though BlackBerry fans can keep their cash in their wallets, as their latest offering won't arrive until next year.

There's only really one console gamers are talking about this Christmas. For those who have already tried out all there is to try, the Wii U offers something different this year, Nigel noted. Nintendo fans can enjoy further cash-splashing on the 3DS XL, while those into a bit more "hardcore" gaming can grab one of this year's latest and greatest games (Halo 4, Black Ops 2, Fifa 13) for their existing console. 

"To maintain the pretence that the annual countdown does really have a business angle, I thought we should slip this category in," Nigel said. 

Windows 8 is hogging the headlines, but it's hardly a stocking filler, he wrote. Smartphone apps, which were a previous gadget countdown winner, featured strongly again this year, with mentions for Twitter, Dropbox and Skype, as well as Companies House, Vouchercloud and BBC iPlayer. 

The brand new ultra-thin Samsung and Acer Google Chromebooks are ones to watch, again providing stiff competition for Apple's MacBook. In the Microsoft camp, Nigel wrote, the Asus VivoBook S200E and Dell XPS 12 are two latest offerings from their respective suppliers. 

Free from the ties of the "serious" gadgets, Nigel pondered where to start with the gadget-lovers favourite category. Mark Lee's recommendation was a pair of touchscreen gloves, for those who really can't put their phone down even in sub zero temperatures, while Anne Fairpo, "another outdoor type", favoured a Garmin Edge 800 bike GPS. 

However, Nigel's piece de resistance was a BioLite camp stove - a must for outdoors types. (Do gadget fans spend any time outdoors - Ed?)

Christmas is synonymous with music and everyone's bound to know a music-lover like Philip Fisher who can't get enough of their gadgets. Our cultured blogger put in a nomination for Arcam rCube speakers as "the sound of Heaven" - or Bose Companion 20s for those on a more modest budget.

But Apple is hard to ignore in many of these gadget categories and came out to play again with the ever-popular iPod topping Nigel's list, with mentions for 'proper' hi-fi equipment including the Sonos multi-room digital system, which can wirelessly pipe music to any room in your house. An alternative, if you have £18,000 spare, is to splash out on B&W 800 Diamond speakers.

"Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without television," wrote Nigel, as he rounded-up the latest word in gadgetry for your living room. Nigel has made many recommendations, but as the Queen is set to grace our screens in 3D during this years' speech, why not grab a Sony KDL 3D tv, with backlighting and speakers for the mere sum of £1,500?

Cloud, cloud, cloud... it's definitely the future, but what are the options for leisure-cloud apps and software? You need look no further than Nigel's day 10 post. Cloud-based webware includes Netflix, LoveFilm, the much-mentioned Dropbox and Spotify, among many others.

For those who have a pure love of gadgets and spend way too much time hanging around Hawkin's Bazaar, you'll find much in this thread to occupy you. Why not check out the self-stirring mug, iPhone controlled helicopter or Pickmaster Plectrum Punch? If not for you, there's a bet they'd make great Christmas presents for the tech-heads in your life. 

In a new-unanimous verdict, the AccountingWEB team picked the iPhone 4s as the ultimate winner. Are we merely Apple fanatics or merely people who haven't tried many other options? We'll never know, but there's one thing for certain: the iPhone tops the bill, with Apple taking the lead for not the first year running. 

What have been your favourite gadgets of 2012? Let us know by commenting below.


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