The Coolest Tools of 2012

With the last column of the year, instead of doing some additional reviews I wanted to present a list of my favorite devices/gadgets that I tried during the year. If you still haven't completed your holiday shopping yet, there's still some time left to try and grab one of these.

With the last column of the year, instead of doing some additional reviews I wanted to present a list of my favorite devices/gadgets that I tried during the year. If you still haven't completed your holiday shopping yet, there's still some time left to try and grab one of these:

Amazon Kindle Fire HD ($199): For the longest time I've been clearly in the Apple iPad camp -- many other tablets came and went, but the iPad always held strong in my heart (and the hearts of my kids). But the Kindle Fire HD was able to squeeze some additional space in there, and it also changed my opinion on e-readers (I now enjoy reading books with a smaller, 7-inch tablet rather than a larger, 10-inch version). The UI of the Kindle Fire HD, which focuses on a user's content rather than apps, makes it easier to quickly access that content than the app-based iPad.

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Brinno TLC200 time-lapse camera ($200): If you have a great idea for a time-lapse or stop-motion video, you really need to pick up this camera, which quickly and easily lets you record video at set time intervals (a frame every second or three, or maybe a minute or longer) to create a time-lapse video. You can then quickly import the file into other videos or upload to YouTube on your own. An optional stop-motion shutter lets you create videos like Lego animation or claymation-type videos, if you have the time and patience.

Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone ($200): I still own an Apple iPhone 4, but the performance, design and style of the Galaxy S III is seriously tempting me to switch to Android for my next smartphone. My wife now owns an S III and I haven't heard her say a single bad thing about it, unlike several other smartphones and cellphones that came before.

Verizon Jetpack ($50, with two-year agreement and online discounts): Getting reliable and fast Internet speeds while traveling is still a pain in the you-know-what. Unless you have one of these units, which can quickly access Verizon's 4G LTE wireless network, providing for excellent download AND upload speeds (for content creators, upload speeds are much more important than content consumers). The easy-to-use nature of the device makes it a must-own for mobile workers.

PowerCup 200 Watt Inverter ($35): I'm still in love with this device, which keeps my iPhone powered up and connected while I'm driving to and from work. Shaped like a cup of coffee, this gadget sits in your car's cup holder and lets you power up a USB-enabled device (if you have the cable) and also can power other devices (like your computer) via a regular power outlet. As long as you don't mind giving up a cup holder space, this gadget is a must-own for any long commuters or people who work out of their cars.

With the Consumer Electronics Show starting in a few short weeks, we're already focused on what the Coolest Tools of 2013 will be. Have a great holiday season everyone, and hopefully the world won't end on Dec. 21 because of those crazy Mayans!

Shaw can be reached at kshaw@nww.com. Follow him on Twitter: @shawkeith.

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