10 gadgets to look forward to in 2012

10 gadgets to look forward to in 2012
The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the first Nvidia Tegra 3 tablet

So, that was 2011. Well, OK, it's not over yet, and many people will no doubt be hoping for one of this year's best gadgets for Christmas, but for big, game-changing releases, we've already moved on to looking at 2012 now.

In some ways, we're reminded of the excitement during the build up to the 2012 gadget season, but everything's bigger and flashier. Where once we were waiting on the influx of dual-core tablets, now we're looking at a quad-core revolution on the horizon. We were looking forward to Android 3.0 and Google's Chrome OS, but now we're clamouring for Android 4.0 and Windows 8.

Gaming also looks set to have a bumper year, with new consoles and technologies coming, and this is all before we get the usual raft of awesome announcements at CES 2012 in January.

Here's our pick of the 10 we're most excited about so far.

1. Amazon Kindle Fire

Kindle fire

You might wonder what this is doing at the top of our list when it's quite clearly already out - heck, we've even already got an Amazon Kindle Fire review on TechRadar. But it's only out in the USA so far, so for the UK and the rest of the world, it remains a gadget for 2012.

So what's got us so excited about the Kindle Fire? Our review called it "a brilliant media consumption device that doesn't break the bank", making it "perhaps the best gadget bargain of this era".

We'll be interested to see what video streaming options and other content it launches with outside of the US, and it'll be fascinating to see if it spurs tablet adoption with its relatively tiny price.

2. Wii U

Wii u

There's no doubt the Wii sparked a motion-control revolution when it launched, with all three major consoles now sporting some sort of wavy-arm option. However, despite phenomenal sales for much of its life, it isn't still banging out the hit games in the way the Xbox and PS3 are.

Enter the Wii U, then. The Wii's successor looks set to be a powerful HD console, offering 1080p output and 3D support, with yet another interesting new controller. The Wii U comes with a kind of small tablet - a controller with all the usual buttons, but a touchscreen in the middle as well. The touchscreen can be used to control games, or you can actually play the game on that screen, leaving your TV free for Masterchef.

Nintendo-quality games, awesome HD graphics, support from lots of third-party games developers, and a handy way to play in any room in your house? Count us in.

3. Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Transformer prime

This is where tablets really start to grow up when it comes to horsepower. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the first Nvidia Tegra 3 tablet, which means quad-core processing and amazing graphics performance for a portable device. Somehow, it's also unbelievably thin and light, and comes in a bundle with keyboard dock for typing on the go.

Our Eee Pad Transformer Prime review found that it had good battery life, a great screen and amazing performance, especially for games. It's probably going to be just the first step in what's to come for Tegra 3 tablets in 2012, but it'll be a hell of a way to start the year when it's released in January.

4. Windows 8 tablets

Windows 8 tablet

There are still a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to Windows 8 tablets, but the information is starting to come out, and there's no doubt Microsoft is prepared to make a real go of this tablet malarkey.

Windows 8 will use a Metro interface that's much like Windows Phone 7 for when it's used on touch devices, with separate Metro apps. It will support ARM processors, such as Tegra 3, as well, which means manufacturers have options for the hardware they include.

Whether the addition of a new touch interface on top of the traditional Windows look will entice developers and customers is hard to say, but it seems to have the manufacturers on board, and we'll be able to see more when the public beta arrives early next year. If Microsoft pulls it off, it may suddenly become a big mobile player again.

5. Apple's 2012 tablet

We could fill this article with what Apple's supposedly got in the works for next year, but since they're all officially fictional until the moment Tim Cook walks on stage and reveals them to the world, let's not get too wrapped up in them. Rumours of an iPad 3 with a Retina display are stronger than ever, and it's fair to say that we'd be drooling all over a tablet with a screen as highly detailed as the iPhone 4S's.

iPhone 5 rumours persist too, though at this point we suspect it'll be called something else, since it won't be the fifth iPhone. A thinner design with a larger, possibly edge-to-edge, screen is supposedly the order of the day, which will be unusual, but we'd love to see if Apple can pull it off.

Apple itv

And then there's the Apple TV. No, not the Apple TV you can buy now, the new Apple iTV television set that's supposed to be in the works. Of course, it's hard to say how good an Apple TV would be from a visual point of view, but we like the sound of a TV with AirPlay and iCloud built in, with Siri functionality as a remote control option.

Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.