Best Gear Surprises of 2012

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Best Gear Surprises of 2012 Listen to this article

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As 2012 comes to an end I thought I might take a quick look at a couple of specific gadgets that surprised and delighted me over the past year. So here a quick list of my personal “Best Gear Surprises of 2012”.

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MacBook Pro with Retina Display

The biggest change in my gear this past year came in the form of the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I loved using and carrying my MacBook Air but the pull of a retina display-equipped laptop was too much. I bit. So did Judie. In fact, there was a bit of back and forth between us with regard to deciding which model to order. Ultimately Judie’s “advice” led me to getting a higher-end model than I initial planned. My impatience convinced Judie to go for the model with 512GB since the one with a larger drive would have resulted in a bit of a shipping delay.

The laptops came in at more than 3K each. It is the most expensive computer I have ever purchased. It is also the best. And while I miss the portability of the MacBook Air I cannot say enough about how fast, how powerful and how generally awesome the MBPr is. I surprised myself in that, after the MBPr came, I sold off my other computers. They just couldn’t compare. The 15″ MBPr is now my only computer and I could not be happier. You can read Judie’s and my post on it here.

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Libratone ZIPP Airplay Wireless Speaker

A day after beginning my review of the Sonos PLAY:5 a few years ago I ordered my own system. I love it. I love the sound, the convenience and the true multi-room experience. And while I have continued to review numerous other speaker systems none made me question my commitment to the Sonos approach in the slightest. That was until I got a Libratone ZIPP Wireless Airplay speaker to review.

Right out of the gate the Zipp blew me away with its sound. It is a single cylinder but it pumps out some pretty amazing sound, especially for its size. Then there is the AirPlay functionality. I reviewed a few AirPlay speakers when the system was first introduced but none really wowed me. All seemed to have moments of drop off that ruined the experience. Not so the Zipp which seemed to hold on to the signal far better.

And there’s more. You see, the Zipp can create its own ad hoc AirPlay connection for AirPlay on the go. Combine that with the Zipp’s battery and you can take the Zipp with you to the park, in your RV or wherever you want great quality music. I’m genuinely surprised by just how much I love the Zipp. Read the full review here.

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Pivothead Durango Video Recording Eyewear

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

I love Dick Tracy-like stuff. I’m sure that comes as no surprise. As a result I love gear and gadgets that look like one thing but do much more. Seriously, who wouldn’t want Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone??? When I saw the Pivothead Video Recording Eyewear I thought they looked rather neat. And while I expected the video they shoot would be mediocre at best I really wanted to try a pair. The company was kind enough to send some along for review and… I was surprised. I was surprised how comfortable they were. I was surprised that they actually looked pretty good. (Elana commented that they don’t look dissimilar to the pair of sunglasses I usually wear.) And I was totally surprised by the quality of the video they shoot.

Seriously, these video sunglasses shoot amazing Point Of View video. AND they do it surreptitiously. I used them when I visited Cuba in the fall. I used them again in Aruba. And I’ll be bringing them along with me to CES. These things are awesome and continually surprise me. (Read the full review.)

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The iPad mini

The fourth and final gear surprise is probably the biggest of them all. I am completely and totally surprised by how much I love my iPad mini. Now, I’m not nearly as surprised by this as Mike is.

After all, HE went on record that he wasn’t going to buy one.

I called that nonsense.

So while Mike is clearly more surprised than me by how much he likes the iPad mini (he actually sold off all his other small tablets) I’m still surprised by the device. I truly expected that I would like it for reviews and such but never imagined I would see it all but completely replace my 9.7″ iPad. It did. In fact, since the iPad mini arrived the larger iPad hasn’t left the house. I still love the large Retina display for reading magazines and watching video but for most purposes the iPad mini is now my tablet of choice. That does surprise me.

Was there gear that surprised and delighted you in 2012? Let us know in the comments below. We’ll pick one comment and that person will win a case for their device of choice. The winner will be announced in the next newsletter.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.