The iPhone 5 is exactingly, thoughtfully designed from the inside out, and Apple's attention to detail shows. It's by a wide margin the best iPhone ever built, and, with a gdgt Score of 96, is one of the best smartphones ever made.
The latest iPad is our top-scored gadget of 2012
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Nest does even more than turn on your AC: by learning your habits and your home's unique thermal profile, it can automatically save you energy in ways a standard programmable thermostat can't, and provides you an energy usage history to boot.
With its latest update, Apple beefed up everything about our favorite laptop -- except its price. Adding faster processors, USB 3.0 ports, and higher-capacity storage options, Apple maintained the 13-inch Air's unique balance of performance, price, size, battery life, and build quality that continue to make it our hands-down top pick in laptops.
Apple's latest iMac is amazingly thin, yet is more powerful than last year's model. It's the best choice for anyone who wants the ease and simplicity of an all-in-one computer, without sacrificing the ability to add upgrades over time.
The Droid DNA sets a new standard for smartphone displays, with its 5-inch full HD (1080p) screen. The DNA also offers excellent performance, a good camera, and a sleek, Lamborghini-inspired design.
The HTC One X+ adds a faster processor, more storage, and updated versions of Android and HTC's Sense UI to one of our favorite smartphones, the One X -- and it's available for as little as $169 with a two-year AT&T contract.
You could say the iPad mini is just a smaller iPad. You could also say it's the distillation of everything that makes the iPad the top-selling -- and best -- tablet available today. However you regard the iPad mini, it is one of those rare products greater than the sum of its parts.
With the Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon has come closer than ever to delivering an e-book reader without compromises. It retains the long battery life of earlier e-ink Kindles, and adds a sharper, higher-contrast display, a more responsive touchscreen, and faster, more fluid page-turns. And with the addition of its new frontlight, it's not just possible to use the Kindle in the dark; it's actually enjoyable.
The year's lowest-scoring gadgets
With its dual-screen display, the Sony Tablet P stands out from the crowd of look-alike Android tablets. But most apps don't take advantage of both displays, with some squeezed onto just one screen, while others are spread across the two with the bezels and hinge forming an awkward barrier in the middle. The tablet also suffers from poor battery life, a limited amount of storage space, and an awkward shape.
Google's Nexus Q may be the most striking streaming media player ever designed, but it's not the most useful. The now-discontinued orb streamed media from Google's own services, including Google Play TV & Movies, YouTube, and Google Music, and requires you to provide your own Android phone or tablet to use as a remote.
The Brydge keyboard is an expensive iPad dock that attempts to provide a more laptop-like experience than standard keyboard docks. Although some reviewers have found it to work well, the manufacturer has apparently suffered from inconsistent quality control, and some units shipped to early customers had significant defects.
Hidden Radio may be one of the best-looking portable Bluetooth speakers around, and its twist-open design is certainly striking. But the speaker's sound quality doesn't live up to its $150 price.
The Toshiba Excite 10 LE is an incredibly thin and light 10-inch tablet. It also has some useful features, including USB and HDMI jacks. But its display doesn't match those on many recent tablets, and it sells for more than the latest iPad — not to mention competing Android tablets.
The Prism is a basic smartphone that's just a little too basic. In today's ultra-competitive market, you can do much better. And don't even get us started on its camera.
The LG Intuition's 5-inch display is one of the largest available on a smartphone. However, its 4:3 aspect ratio means it's wider than most others, making it difficult to hold. Its note-taking software is far more limited than that included with the Galaxy Note, and there's no slot to store the included stylus.
The LG Optimus L7 is a sleek phone with basic, low-end functionality, including a slow processor, a 5-megapixel camera, and poor voice quality. While it does boast an updated version of Android, that only exacerbates its problems, as its processor clearly has trouble keeping up with the OS's demands.
With its stylus and Evernote integration, Sony's PRS-T2 may beat other e-book readers when it comes to note-taking. It also excels at accessing books and documents in non-proprietary formats. But it's still a step behind other current alternatives, including backlit models from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Sony's SmartWatch — essentially a Bluetooth remote for your smartphone — shows the potential value of an always-connected device you can wear on your wrist. Unfortunately, at this point, potential is about all there is to the SmartWatch.