Top 3 tech purchases of 2013

Top 3 tech purchases of 2013

Summary: The end of the year is fast approaching and it's fitting to look back at the tech purchases made in 2013, and giving a nod to the best of them.

Which gadget
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Given what I do for a living I make a lot of tech purchases. The fact I am an acknowledged tech addict plays a small, OK a large, role in the far too many gadget purchases I make. This year was no exception as many devices arrived at the manor. After careful deliberation here are my top three tech purchases of 2013, in no particular order.

Top tech purchases of 2013

iPad Air (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

iPad Air. This is the most recent purchase given the late appearance but it's already made my top three list. The iPad Air is the best tablet ever made in my opinion, and it's a fantastic achievement by Apple. It meets all of my leisure, i.e. content consumption needs, and can also step in for work duty when pressed. It's expensive compared to competing tablets, but is worth it to me.

See related: iPad Air: Best tablet ever made | ZAGGkeys Folio: Perfect keyboard companion for the iPad Air (hands on) | Lure of the iPad Air | iPad Air: Color me surprised | iPad Air: No Apple keyboard needed

ThinkPad Tablet 2. This tablet by Lenovo captured my attention when I was evaluating it for ZDNet coverage, and I purchased by own early this year. I found it to be a solid Windows 8 tablet, but it really came into its own when Windows 8.1 was released. I proclaimed this the best Windows tablet I have tried once I upgraded it to Windows 8.1, and that designation still stands. It is a superb tablet that is also a PC with the keyboard accessory. It works so well it opened my eyes to the level of achievement Microsoft has reached with Windows 8.1.

ThinkPad Tablet 2 Windows 8.1
ThinkPad Tablet 2 (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

See related: ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tablet10 reasons the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a top Windows tabletThinkPad Tablet 2 and accessories photo gallery | 10 advantages Windows 8 has over the iPad and Android | ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tablet | Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2: First impressions (review)

MacBook Air. Earlier this year I purchased a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display, and it is a fine laptop. Despite making that purchase, when Apple introduced the MacBook Air with Haswell technology a few months later I jumped on it to see how well Intel's newest processor tech would fare.

MacBook Air (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The 11-inch MacBook Air I bought is the best laptop I've ever owned. The Haswell technology has the Air outperforming the Pro (without Haswell) in every way. It provides this fast performance in the lightest, smallest package available. I would not change anything about the MacBook Air, even adding a Retina Display, as it does everything I need today while getting great battery life.

See related: New MacBook Air: Haswell ups the game (review)MacBook Air revisited: 12 weeks inMacBook Air and Pro: No touch screen required (unlike Windows 8)It's high time for a MacBook Air with LTE

Honorable mention

Windows 8.1. It wouldn't be fair if I failed to mention another piece of mobile tech in this article. It's not exactly a purchase as it was dished out by Microsoft without cost, but it's an important advance. As I recently proclaimed, the Windows 8.1 update is the most significant mobile tech to appear in 2013, and I stand by that statement.

See related: Most significant mobile tech of 2013: Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 is so good, it alone put the ThinkPad Tablet 2 on this short list. It turned that good tablet into a superb one, with faster performance, and a better tablet user experience. Microsoft should be proud of this update, and especially how fast it was able to bring it to market.


This short list of mobile gadgets contains three fantastic bits of kit. Each of them is a device that serves me well for both work and play, and I switch among them regularly. I don't regret making these purchases, even though it was quite expensive when tallied up.

I don't have a favorite among these three, but in anticipation of the inevitable question, if I had to go with only one of the three it would be the MacBook Air. As stated, I believe this to be the finest laptop available, and since I put work above all other activities the MacBook Air would be my choice. Thankfully, having to choose just one gadget is not something I have to do.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPad, Laptops, Lenovo, Tablets, The Year's Best Tech for Work and Play

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  • What is the best mobile device? Why?

    Personally, the iPad does it for me. It gives me the feel of a desktop but the mobility of phone. I like what Steve Jobs and his team did by creating one type-much like Henry Ford did with the Model T. There is brilliance in simplicity. Google has it, has it, Zdnet has it by keeping the blogs what they are suppose to be- about tech!
  • No Samsung Galaxy S4?

    I am shocked
    • No Note 3?

      obviously, James hasn't moved up to the Note 3 yet either
  • iPhones and iPads are leading

    Sure, android will sell more devices. Sold at $30 bucks or so, these guys are just used for phone calls. Just happens to have Android loaded. The haters love to give the 80% Marketshare. Sure enjoy saying it because it's not the entire picture. No wonder app developers prefer iOS since the products from Apple are actually used in full capacity. Android phones are just for phone calls, while the tablets are a either giveaways or just used for basic functions on what's already loaded on them. This year, tracking has been more accurate and already the data supports iOS domination in Sales, usage and value to consumers as well as app developers.
    • Oh sad

      You must be so lonely to be trolling that weak sauce. Don't worry, somebody will love you someday.
    • That's... not true, actually.

      A large number of iPhones sold aren't the "latest and greatest", but rather, older models like the 4 and the 4S.

      Additionally, not all iOS products are used in "full capacity" like you believe them to be.

      For one, Android, depending on the OEM, is innately more feature-rich, and more can be done out of the box without having to install an app

      Also, very few Android tablets are "giveaways", and as mentioned before, having features preloaded doesn't make it any worse.

      You are also contracting yourself.

      If Android has 80 percent of the market, how can iOS be dominating in sales and usage?

      In terms of value, both have high-end devices, but it is the mid-end that has the greatest usage.
    • Whatever makes you feel warm and fuzzy

      meanwhile I don't need to justify why Android is so much more versatile because you are simply too ignorant and biased to comprehend.
  • Wow, Apple products dominates the top 3 at 66%

    Like we did not see that coming.
    Rann Xeroxx
  • Apple all the way...

    I bought a Mac mini, iPhone 5S, and an iPad Air. Nice being on one cohesive platform. I love how everything syncs with iCloud and how all my devices wirelessly backup to to iCloud and Time Machine. The setup couldn't be more intuitive and easy to set up too. I don't think anyone does this better than Apple. You may pay a premium to go with Apple, but in my opinion, it's worth every penny. If time is money, I spend very little time having to troubleshoot and maintain my Apple ecosystem of devices.
    • Blissful Ignorance $$$

      yeh it's awesome until you want to copy a few gigabytes of files to or from (haha!) your idevice.
      Apple's ecosystem is like letting Hitler look after your bank account because you can't figure out how to handle money.
      I'm sorry but ignorance required is what Apple relies on.
  • Replace iPad air with mini retina...

    ...Then I'd say it's about right.
  • My Note 2

    Early in 2013, I bought an unlocked Note 2 for my international travel. I love this thing and found that I don't really use my Ipad 2 very much anymore. With Swiftkey, I can enter data far faster and the size makes it very convenient for me. I'm amazed that even reading Kindle is fine on this for the quick reading moments that I have. I'm still in need of a tablet from time to time, so I'm thinking of ditching my Ipad 2 for a Note 10.1 2014 (what a name???). I really like the stylus on my Note 2 and I understand the implementation is even better on the larger note.
  • Also Sony Vaio Pro

    I also bought the Sony Vaio Pro 13 this year. 4th Gen i7, 256 SSD and 8. I tried the Apple OS system for a year (Macbook Pro), but it just seemed silly for me to run a mac and then run software so I can run the Windows programs I need to run. It was ok, but everything took a little bit longer. The Vaio is an amazing machine. Great Keyboard, screen, and I haven't been able to drain the battery. I use it for hours throughout the day and as long as I charge it daily, I'm fine (no sheet battery).
  • ThinkPad Tablet 2 Win 8.1 an Excellent Choice

    James' choice of best Windows tablet is rock solid. After hating on one Clover Trail Windows 8 machine after another, I have to say the upgrading a TPT2 to Windows 8.1 gives you a 1.25#, 0.34" thin and light tablet with FULL WACOM digitizer support, 64GB eMMC, mSDXC (up to 64GB), full USB 2, 10.1" HD screen (yes children, everything looks great on 1366x768 IPS screen - retina is NOT always the answer for small screen real estate). Very smooth and capable of handling a large number of Office apps and IE tabs at the same time (unlike Win 8 on Clover Trail). No, it will not do real gaming; no it is not a Photoshop demon; AutoCAD is probably out of its range as well, but for typical tablet use, it is every bit as useful as its iPad and Android brethren, with all the extra bells and whistles. above al, if you are a note taker, NOTHING beats OneNote and Wacom - NOTHING!
    • Asus T100 > Thinkpad Tablet 2

      better in every way as well as a FAR superior keyboard dock.
      Best Atom based Windows tablet.
  • the Samsung Triple!

    Note 3
    Note 8
    Ativ 700 Pro
    I could probably do without the Note 8, but it's such a great tablet especially the Smart Remote feature when watching TV. I have to have a Note phone and an i5 laptop.