With barely a few hours left before New Year’s Eve, time is running out for me to come up with the obligatory top gadget of the year post. It is one of those things one has to do because for some inexplicable reason, readers expect us to tell us which were the top gadgets of the year. What these lists do is beyond me, but our marketing team tells me listicles is something that grabs a lot of eyeballs. Industry veteran Prasanto K Roy came up with this fine list of top five gadgets of the year and I cannot but agree with his choice. I’ve been on panels for technology shows on television where we debated between gadgets like the Google Glass to the iPad Air to smartwatches and even the Oculus Rift. But there was something amiss.
In my books, the gadget of the year has to be the one device that either redefined a product category or became a universal trend so popular that it changed user behavior. Unfortunately, in the gadget space in 2013, we haven’t really had a single device that was not mere evolutionary. Many might suggest Google Glass, but at the moment it is a niche product that could have the potential to be the gadget of the year in 2014 or even 2015.
With no single device making the cut, we have to look at device categories. Going into 2013, everyone believed it would be the year of smartwatches. Everyone had high hopes, especially with rumors of Apple entering the segment. However, that was not to be and I’m yet to come across a smartwatch that I’d either like to pay for or slap it around my wrist.
But there is one low-key device category that has become such an integral part of our digital lifestyles that airlines have come up with guidelines for carrying it on flights. These are portable battery chargers or power banks. Almost everyone who uses a smartphone has one or has used one.
Many might say that these have been around for a while but it was really in 2013 that power banks have become mainstream enough. They are no longer a piece of additional accessory that only nerds have in their bags. With no sign of battery tech improving and with our increased dependence on smartphones and tablets with bigger, higher resolution displays and multi-core processors, power banks are here to stay.