Innovation of the Year: Raspberry Pi
The first hardware from the UK home computing industry to send shockwaves through the world since the ZX Spectrum, the Raspberry Pi is the little computer that can. Full of Heath Robinson charm, it looks like a fistful of electronics and a couple of output ports nailed to a credit card and is priced at 26 quid; just add control devices, a TV and power supply and you’re away. The Pi puts coding and device building within the reach of anyone; its impact could be nothing less than revolutionary.
Gaming Gadget of the Year: Sony PS Vita
Will we see its like again? As smartphones’ power grows exponentially, this and the Nintendo 3DS might be the last ever dedicated handheld consoles. If so, what a way to go out: everything learned to date about taking gaming on the road, distilled into one dreamy device. From the core controls to the motion sensors and rear touchpad, it plays like a dream, while the superb screen and almost PS3-matching innards mean it can handle anything devs can throw at it. Gaming perfection.
Retailer of the Year: Amazon
For the second year straight, Amazon takes gold in this category and, unless something catastrophic or miraculous happens, we can see it winning every year for the remainder of the Earth’s existence. As well as the latest cameras and contractfree smartphones, its stuffed with awesome virtual goods, with millions of MP3s, apps, cloud storage and, of course, ebooks via its also-Award-scooping Kindle. It’s really starting to feel like the only reason high-street shops still exist is so we can research purchases before actually buying the stuff on Amazon.
App of the Year: Zeebox
You like watching telly. You like reading up about what you’ve watched on telly. You like talking about telly. Now, you can do all three at once. Recognising that modern TV viewers are also hooked into social networks as they watch, the multiplatform Zeebox puts up contextual information about what you’re watching, lets you share your “You HAVE to see this” moments with friends and, soon, will let you buy the butler from Downton Abbey’s waistcoat. The future of TV is here.
Commuter Gadget of the Year: Amazon Kindle 4
Steve Jobs once said of the Kindle, “Nobody reads books anymore.” Ah well, nobody’s perfect. Amazon’s ebook shop/ reader is now omnipresent, and it evolved to a higher plane with its fourth iteration. More compact than ever, yet keeping its six-inch screen, it eschewed the slightly half-arsed touchscreen implementation of its more expensive sibling to act solely as a super-cheap, elegantly-tooled portal to the behemoth that is the Amazon Store.
Digital Media Service of the Year: Sky Go
Like a premium version of iPlayer – there can be little higher praise than that – this app lets Sky subbers (or one-offers) watch its channels on iOS, Android, Mac or PC anywhere there’s broadband or 3G. That includes the Movie and Sport channels plus the excellent Sky Atlantic and the arguably-not-so-excellent-but-who-arewe- to-judge Sky One. With an easy-to-use EPG and quality streaming, Sky Go has, in the year since its release, become an essential part of a lot of Sky lovers’ lives.
TV of the Year: Sony Bravia KDL-55HX853
Even as the nation’s showrooms fill up with handsome tellies, the HX853 stands out as especially dashing. Rakishly leaning on its flat stand, it serves up brilliantly vivid HD/3D pictures, while the X-Reality Pro processing engine also works miracles on material streamed wirelessly from the web. Speaking of which, Sony’s online arsenal is second to none, with its own Entertainment Network supplementing YouTube, iPlayer, Netflix et al. Bravo!
T3 Design Award: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
Form and function, style and substance, nice and that… Pick your cliché; they all apply here. The Transformer Prime is a proper smart-money tablet: one for those in the know. The essential, battery-boosting keyboard and slimline, spun-metal casing are extremely well thought through. The quadcore processor and 32GB of storage aren’t too shoddy, either. Excelling with business apps and bleeding-edge gaming alike, it’s a winner.
Phone of the Year: Samsung Galaxy S3
As we enter the post-phase of the iPhone’s smartphone market dominance, a new champion brand is emerging: Samsung’s Galaxy. While the S2 seriously challenged the iPhone on every front and bettered it on several, it was ultimately decidedly iPhone-esque. The S3, however, looks and feels like a new paradigm, sitting a massive, HD screen on a slimline form, with a quadcore processor and a tweaked Android OS that’s groaning with features. It’ll still feel cutting-edge in six months.
Digital Camera of the Year: Panasonic Lumix GX1
Panasonic invented the compact system cam and, with the GX1, it thrusts on towards perfecting it. For starters this CSC actually lives up to the first part of its name, being compact enough to smuggle into a jacket pocket. Making great pics idiot proof when you first move up from your smartphone cam and adding manual features for when you know what you’re doing, it’s a classic.
Gadget Personality of the Year: Rory Cellan-Jones
Few faces in this line of business are now more recognisable than the BBC’s technology correspondent. As gadgets continue to invade the mainstream, gobbling up more of our media space, he’s regularly first to bring the news to the masses, translating complex stories from the Breakfast couch. Also a vocal Twitter entity, Rory is arguably doing more for the popularisation of tech in the UK than any other journalist.
Home Gadget of the Year: Nest Thermostat
It sounds like a tech joke. Q. What would an Apple thermostat be like? A. If you got too cold it’d tell you off for not wearing enough clothes!!! Thanks, we’re here all week. Well, this is a thermostat designed by one of the creators of the iPod. It’s web-connected for remote control, intelligent enough to track your ’stat usage and work out when you need the heating on. It’s also so simple to set up, a ten-year-old could do it. Somebody fetch us a ten-year old!!! Thanks, you’ve been great.
Outstanding Contribution to Technology Award: Lord Sugar
He’s now best known as the nation’s favourite curmudgeon, but Alan, Sir Alan, Lord Sugar has made a huge contribution to the UK tech market. As well as being part of the home computer boom of the 80s via the Amstrad CPC 464, he’s also in his time put out PCs, stereos, telephones that can send emails and a games console, as well as being a key driver for Sky’s much-loved set-top boxes. Today, he’s changing the TV landscape with the YouView wired PVR, and ensuring there’s always a tech-based challenge in The Apprentice, so he has the chance to demonstrate his intimate market knowledge via the mediums of sarcasm and exasperation.
Music Gadget of the Year: Bowers & Wilkins P3
The P5, the last set of headphones from this British audio giant, sounded great but were a bit Clarkson in appearance. The P3 corrects that with a more contemporary look, but keeps the epically vivid, natural soundstage. There’s just enough bass, the mids are properly punchy and then the silken caress of pure treble. Mm-mmm. In fact the sound is, if anything, preferable to the P5, and the price £80 lower. Now that’s our idea of austerity…
Tech Brand of the Year: Asus
Despite having a name that nobody knows how to pronounce – it’s “a-zooce” – this Taiwanese setup has crept its way to the top of the tech tree by releasing a stream of well-designed, cannily priced, increasingly sexy products. It’s scooped T3 Awards for the Transformer Prime, Zenbook and, of course, the Nexus 7 this year, and has managed to avoid any of the negative headlines that have dogged more hyped-up tech big-dogs. A straightforward and well-deserved choice for Brand of the Year, in short.
Work Gadget of the Year: Apple iPhone 4S
Call it bad timing in terms of product releases – this came out way back in October last year – call it backlash, call it wanting to give some other guys a chance, but this is Apple’s sole gong in 2012. Long seen as more of a leisure phone, Apple’s glass-clad device has taken advantage of BlackBerry’s fall from grace to become the de facto choice for many companies. With Microsoft Exchange support and apps for dealing with everything from expenses to presentations it’s not hard to see its appeal to businesses of all kinds, quite apart from its handsome, powerful, premium-feeling charms.
Tablet of the Year: Google Nexus 7 by Asus
So this is how you take on Apple in the tablet arena. Simply serve up a device with a quadcore processor and state-of-the-art operating system (Android Jelly Bean), and then get it in shops for under £200. The Nexus 7 is a stunning slate, and though it can’t outsell the iPad, it has proved both that seven-inch rivals are viable and that cheap tablets can also feel truly premium.
Gadget Accessory of the Year: Nike FuelBand
While the very similar Fitbit is widely seen as a girl thing, Nike’s FuelBand is more of a blokey kind of wearable personal assistant. Could that be because regular users notoriously cheat with vigorous, late-night “wrist exercises” in order to push their daily Fuel point totals up to the desired levels? Whatever, that kind of dedication is testament to the brilliance of FuelBand, which tracks your activity, and lets you compare it with your mates’, leading to a generation of ultra-competitive fitness addicts.
Computer of the Year: Asus UX31 Zenbook
Ultrabooks have been a big story this year, even though sales have been poor. That’s due in part to the excess of laptops bearing the tag, many of them less than “ultra”. Not so the UX31, which is like a more powerful, 13-inch MacBook Air that happens to run Windows. Super-slim yet robust, great-looking and specced to the nines, it’s yet another class product from Taiwanese Awards-hog Asus.
Gadget of the Year: Google Nexus 7 by Asus
Amazon could have been in this slot. Its Kindle range pioneered the idea of selling great hardware cheap to snare users who then snap up “software” in the form of books. It then extended this canny wheeze to tablets, where it can flog books, music, movies and apps. But the Kindle Fire only arrives this winter, while Google’s Nexus 7 by Asus is now firmly established as the UK’s best not-an-iPad. Beautifully made, high specced, a fondle-able seven-inches across and ready to be filled with delights from Google’s Play store, the Nexus is your sub-£200 pocket pal who’s fun to be with, and our deserved Gadget of the Year 2012.