Gear of the year: TechRadar's top tech from 2013

Rather like its plasma TVs – far and away the finest TVs currently being manufactured – Panasonic's DMP-BDT230 delivers on quality, no question, but what it's surrounded with in terms of user interface design and smart TV apps means that it may be passed over in favour of ultimately less capable decks. That would be a shame since the DMP-BDT230 is a remarkably capable Blu-ray player, and great value, too.
Panasonic DMP-BDT230 review


B&W P7

best in class

Best in class: Headphones
Released: October 2013

The B&W P7 headphones aren't for everyone. Some might find them uncomfortable, some might find that the lack of audio isolation spoils things. But for sound quality alone, these headphones are superb and that's why they're in this list.

If we were to judge them on audio quality alone – sitting here, listening to the warm, layered, nuanced balm of Lambchop washing over us; pausing every now and then as a line, a chord, an arpeggio we've hitherto missed suddenly strikes us – then they'd undoubtedly score a perfect five stars.

Regardless, the ultimate test of any product is whether you'd be happy to receive it as a gift or whether it would sit unloved in a drawer or be surreptitiously returned to the shop, and if someone gave us a set of B&W P7s, we'd give them a big kiss. B&W P7 review

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Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus

best in class

Best in class: Ultrabook
Released: September 2013

The best Ultrabook of the year is the Samsung Atic Book 9 Plus. It offers a great package for those looking for a laptop that can be both a workhorse and an exemplary home entertainment machine. It's powerful, the battery life is stunning - all-day capable, even - and it has an incredible screen.

The only fly-in-the-ointment here is whether you buy the cheaper Macbook Air, which is similarly specced, or the Sony Vaio Pro 13, which is almost identical on paper, but about £200 cheaper. You can even get the Core i7 version of the Sony for just £100 extra.

Neither of these options have the amazing detail of the Ativ's screen, but we're not convinced it's a necessity, especially at this screen size. And we're not sure a business user would mind either, unless they were looking to maximise their screen real estate. Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus review

hp touchsmart 15

HP Envy TouchSmart 15

best in class

Best in class: Mainstream laptop
Released: September 2013

Recently, the Envy line has been a bit hit and miss, but the Envy TouchSmart 15-j004ea is definitely a hit with us and it has become an office favourite at TechRadar Towers.

It packs strong performance and great features at a price that's pretty reasonable: a 1080p screen, decent graphics card and latest-gen quad-core CPU are a great combination for under a grand. There are some slightly better value machines for power (Lenovo's IdeaPad Z500 Touch, for example), but you won't find quite this balance of specs for any less.

It's not perfect, of course – anything that impresses on price is probably going to have a downside - but it's a great choice for those who want a Full HD screen and the power to back it up without breaking the bank.
HP Envy TouchSmart 15 review

macbook pro 15

MacBook Pro 15

best in class

Best in class: High-end laptop
Released: December 2013

No surprises as to which product gets our best high-end laptop award. The main improvement offered by the October refresh of the 15-inch MacBook Pro is the switch to Haswell processors, which boost battery life by using less energy than the last generation of Core-i chips. They have better graphics too, with an integrated Intel Iris Pro chipset in both models. The cheaper version reviewed here doesn't have a discrete GPU.

While a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina screen is still a substantial investment, for professional users, graphic designers and video editors, it's an excellent solution for computing on the move. Battery life is even better than before, lasting an astonishingly long time on a single charge, and it's one of the most portable 15-inch notebooks around. We wish it were cheaper, but even at its current prices, you're certainly getting a lot of notebook for your money. Apple MacBook Pro 15 review

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.