Luke Larsen. Paste Magazine
5 Top Gadgets 2013
1. Oculus Rift
Virtual reality is the flying car of our generation. We’ve been promised it for decades through literature, film, and even technology—but until now, it’s just never come to fruition. Enough is enough, though, because the Oculus Rift is what anyone who’s ever wanted a Holodeck of their own has been waiting for. Created for public consumption by a previously unknown hardware startup and funded by Kickstarter, the virtual reality experience delivered by the Oculus’ head-mounted display is at a mind-boggling, other-universe level of immersion. We’ve seen the future—and gaming will never be the same.
There has been a lot of negative, slanted talk toward Kickstarter lately. Hop on just about any message board or comments section and hear all about startup companies lack of serious investment and accountability to consumers. That’s why the Pebble smartwatch is such a victory for not only indie hardware developers, but also for the entire crowd-sourcing investment model. Pebble is the highest-funded Kickstarter project ever and it’s hands-on unveiling at CES did not disappoint. The slick E-ink display and Bluetooth-powered apps that interface with your iOS or Android smartphone make the Pebble smartwatch the next big thing in wearable devices. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised to consumer electronic giants try to catch up with a line of smartwatches next year at CES.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad Helix
Finally, a Windows 8 transforming tablet/laptop hybrid that gets it right. This is a serious ultrabook with a Core i7 processor and up to a 256GB SSD that just happens to work eloquently as a detachable tablet as well. As the followup to last year’s ThinkPad Yoga model, the Helix finally delivers on Windows 8’s promise as a “no-compromise” computer. The 11” 1080p display is no slacker and neither is the 256GBSSD—but the real magic is how the Helix transforms from powerhouse ultrabook to portable tablet. If the Helix doesn’t push Microsoft to step up their design game on the Surface, we don’t know what will.
4. Project Shield
Gaming was a surprisingly big theme this year at CES and no more shocking an announcement was there than NVIDIA’s Project Shield. Powered by their new Tegra 4 mobile processing chip, Project Shield is a peculiar, though exciting portable gaming device—especially coming from NVIDIA. It’s essentially an Xbox controller with a clamshell 5” 720p screen attached to it. The device runs stock Android Jelly Bean, but the most exciting thing about it is the ability to stream games from your computer over WiFi. In other words, if having access to Steam on a portable device sounds good to you, keep an eye out for Project Shield.
5. Samsung’s 4K “Easel” TV
When Samsung talked about revealing a TV with an “unprecedented shape” and “timeless design”, a TV hung on an easel isn’t exactly what we had in mind. Even still, the design of this 85” 4K TV is truly awe-inspiring. We can’t imagine putting this thing in our living rooms, but the “floating” design and incredible pixel density is a breathe of fresh air in the tired world of generic TV design.
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