Top 3 tech purchases of 2013

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.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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.

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