Gear of the year: TechRadar's top tech from 2012

best in class
Every Best in Class product from 2012

I've been the reviews editor on TechRadar for a few years now but I don't think I can remember a year quite as exciting as 2012. I think it's been one of the greatest years in consumer tech we've ever seen. It may even be the greatest.

That might sound like hyperbole but think about it for a second there, internet, and you'll see that it's true - for the consumer tech enthusiast, 2012 has been a solid stream of uninterrupted success.

The smartphone market is more exciting and innovative today than it has ever been in its history. There are excellent products at all price ranges instead of just right at the very top. We've got Ultra HD, Smart and 3D TVs breaking through televisual barriers we didn't even know existed a few years ago.

Ultrabooks and Macbooks are pushing mobile computing into a new age of super-slim and super-awesome.

We've finally got access to decent Android tablets for well under £200/$200. Cameras are now internet connected and run Android apps for quick-sharing of your snaps. Windows 8 is ushering in a new age of touchscreen computers of all shapes and sizes.

And while many of the biggest tech companies on the planet are struggling financially, as far as the products go we're in the richest age of technological life-enhancement since 1950s America.

So to celebrate that, here's a list of all the best gear we've tested this year. All best in class products in all our major channels - ladies and gents, we give you: the class of 2012.

Samsung Galaxy S3 review

Samsung Galaxy S3

best in class

Best in class: Smartphone
Released: July 2012

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is the best smartphone on the planet. There are those that will take issue with that statement and point feverishly at an iPhone 5 or hoist an HTC One X up the flagpole of futility, but the S3 has topped our list of best phones for a while now and it's going to take something very special to topple it. It's got every kind of feature we could ask for and more, and raises the bar in terms of what consumers should be expecting from battery life, processor speed and media management. It's simply the best.

Read: Samsung Galaxy S3 review

orange san diego

Orange San Diego

best in class

Best in class: Budget phone
Released: June 2012

The Orange San Diego has got Intel inside. Dong! Dong ding dong ding! It's not the biggest, fastest or cheapest phone out there, but it is a well-featured performer at an excellent price point. Intel is a name you're going to see more and more in the world of mobile, with 2013 and 2014 very important years on its roadmap. But despite this being the first Intel phone to go on sale in Europe, it's still excellent. So if you're looking at the more pricey Nokia Lumia 800, Sony Xperia P or even HTC One S then it is worth checking out the San Diego and possibly sparing yourself some cash.

Read: Orange San Diego review

ipad mini

Apple iPad mini

best in class

Best in class: Tablet
Released: November 2012

You didn't see this one coming, did you? OK, if you've read Gareth's iPad mini review you probably did see it coming. And if you're half asleep and not with us: we've named an iPad as the best tablet, but it's not the iPad 4, it's the smaller, less powerful, non-Retina iPad mini. Yeah. Wahh? Well it's because we reckon the iPad mini really does add an extra dimension to the iOS world and the slim size and lightness are much bigger benefits than many would give them credit for. It offers better value for money, sits more pleasantly in the hand and can handle all the tasks you want many times better than you'd expect. It's a more versatile product and offers a better compromise between performance, price and portability than any iPad to date.

James Rivington

James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR's parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.