Editor’s Pick of 2012: The best games, apps and accessories of the year

One of the great parts of my job is that I often get to play with some of the best gear on the market. Whether it’s an addictive game, an awe-inspiring productivity app or sometimes: a case. Over the past 12 months I’ve had the pleasure of using some fantastic software and accessories. Some from previously unheard of companies like Arctic which took me by surprise, or others more well-known brands like ZAGG and Otterbox. Without further ado, here are my highlights from the past year.

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Game of the Year: Sky Gamblers – Air Supremacy

I’ve never been keen on flight simulators. I’m more of a racing car gamer, but Air Supremacy just blew me away. First off, its graphics are stunning and game play is second to none. It’s one of the few games that feels like it belongs on the iPad and nothing else. In fact, I’ve tried – and hated – the Mac Version. It was designed to be controlled by an accelerometer. It’s got tons of gameplay options, and an enthralling set of missions. What’s not to love? Easily my top game this year. iTunes Download Link.

Honorable mentions:

There were some games released this year that tickled my gaming bug almost as much as Sky Gamblers, so it would be wrong not to mention them. Angry Birds Star Wars, The Drop Out HD, Letterpress, Draw Something and Stan Lee’s Verticus are all deserving of praise for one reason or another. Whether it’s getting the perfect balance between fun and annoyingly challenging like The Drop Out, multiplayer interaction like Draw Something or just combining two levels of awesome with Angry Birds Star Wars. Fantastic work from all the developers involved.

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App of the Year: Fantastical

The Calendar app on smartphones has been virtually unchanged for years. In fact, it’s the one area where you find the least imagination and thought put in. The guys at Flexibits think differently, and I’m very thankful. Its user interface and natural language are world-beating and make adding entries as simple as typing (or speaking): “I’m meeting Jony at Infinite Loop 1 tomorrow at 1pm”. iTunes Download Link.

Honorable Mentions:

Up until typing this particular section of the article, I was caught in between Gmail 2.0 and the eventual winner. The new version of Google’s email client is stunning, and has replaced Sparrow as my default email program. That said, Sparrow itself deserves praise, as do apps like Google Maps, Facebook 5.0 and Clear.

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iPhone 5 case of the Year: Tech21 Impact Mesh

I had high hopes for Tech 21′s Impactology lineup, and I was not let down. The Impact Band was a fantastic bumper replacement with a removable back plate. But it was the Impact Mesh that impressed me most. The material infused in to the case – known as D30 – hardens upon impact. In essence: the harder you hit it, the better it protects your iPhone. What most pleased me was that although this case was undoubtedly very shock absorbent, it was thin and very comfortably in hand, and looked fantastic. Product Link.

Honorable mentions:

Where to start? I’ve had my hands on so many cases of varying styles and degrees of protection. I loved ColcaSac’s Zagora for iPhone 5, the Otterbox Reflex Series, and the ZAGGSkins are all worthy of a special mention.

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iPhone 4/4S case of the Year: Incipio OffGRID Pro

We all know that when it comes to battery packs, there’s one name that springs to mind over any other: Mophie. But considering the price, great design of the case and flexibility of having a removable battery, the OffGRID Pro ticked every box and was the one case I had on my iPhone 4S more than any other. Although it adds obvious bulk to your phone, its gently rounded back and soft-touch finish made it a pleasure to hold. The best part was the spare battery and cradle. You could have one battery in the case charging your iPhone while the empty battery is charging, ensuring that you never need to plug your iPhone in to the mains at all. Just swap out the battery in your case and keep going. Product Link.

Honorable mentions:

Cygnett released a ton of great cases, like the Icon range and the WorkMate. I also loved DomeSkin’s 3D skin, SENA’s Hampton Pouch and – of course – the KickStarter launched Cellhelmet.

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iPad mini case of the Year: Otterbox Defender Series

The Defender series is where the Otterbox brand makes its name, and the iPad mini version showed why. Yes, it’s a bit bulky, but it’s so well designed and protective, it’s actually very comfortable to hold. Not only that, but the front shield that would normally be disposable has been given real purpose thanks to the addition of a flip-up stand offering great viewing and typing angles. Brilliant. Product Link.

Honorable mentions:

The iPad mini hasn’t been out long and there aren’t millions of iPad mini cases out just yet, but I’m currently clothing my tiny tablet in Uniq’s Coloeurs case, which is very stylish, slim and covers all the right bits.

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iPad case of the Year: Incipio Flagship Folio ($69)

I’ve reviewed a lot of iPad cases, but the one that really stands out is another of Incipio’s creations. The Flagship Folio is the only Folio case I’ve used and actually loved. It has a great brushed aluminum hinge which doubles as the support for your iPad in stand mode. Not only that, but, it has a wide range of angles available thanks to having multiple ridges on the inside of the cover. To top it all off, it’s build like a brick outhouse. A truly stunning case. Product Link.

Honorable mentions:

I have to admit, not choosing the BookBook Vol II for iPad by Twelve South was a hard thing for me to do. As a leather case, it’s brilliant. But, as a stand? Not as strong as the Incipio. But still a special case nonetheless. I also love the simple elegance of the SENA Ultraslim and protection offered by the Incipio NGP.

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Best charging accessory of the Year: MyCharge Peak 6000 ($99)

I personally didn’t get my hands on this one, but, it really is stunning. It’s essentially the swiss-army knife of the portable chargers world, packing enough power to recharge an entire fleet’s portable devices ranging from iPhones to iPads, and – dare I say it – Android phones. Product Link.

Honorable Mention: Innergie’s PocketCell is very unique, in that it comes with 3-in-1 charging cable to attach to Micro and Mini USB as well as the old-style 30-pin connector for older iDevices. For me, it was a close call between this and the eventual winner.

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Home Audio product of the Year: Edifier Spinnaker ($349)

It’s hard to put in to words exactly how overcome I was by Edifier’s Spinnaker speakers. Not only do they look fierce, they sound it too. The balance of sound was incredible. Everything from vocals, backing guitars, subtle taps of a hi-hat cymbal through to driven bass notes came through perfectly without any frequency overpowering the other. I don’t know how they made something look and sound so awesome, but I’m delighted they did. Product Link.

Honorable Mentions:

Sonoro’s Cubodock it’s stunningly simple and sounds fantastic, Edifier’s Esiena was impressive two. But neither touched the awesomeness that was the Spinnaker.

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Personal Audio product of the Year: RHA SA950i ($59/£49)

If someone put the on-ear SA950i’s over my head and asked my how much they were worth while playing a range of different genres of music, I’d have easily guessed at over $100. Easily. But the fact is, they cost only $60, and the sound quality is out of this world for that kind of money. I’m deadly serious when I say this: I would not spend any more money on Beats, Bose, Sure or any other brand of headset when I know I can settle for something this good, for a lot less cash. Product Link.

Honorable Mentions:

Griffins Crayola series is a really cool idea, and one which protects kids’ ears from being killed by loud noises. RHA’s in-ear MA450i was almost as impressive as the on-ear set, and Mobiband’s Bluetooth headset sustained a wireless connection constantly without intermittent stammering. That headset deserves a mention for being very portable too.

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iPhonegraphy gear of the year: Olloclip 3-in-1 photo lens ($69)

If you love taking great photos with your iPhone, but are constantly frustrated with the lack of variety in shots, you could do much worse than cough up $100 for olloclip’s 3-in-one clip on photo lens kit. It’s a tiny package that simply slides over your camera lens offering macro, fish-eye and wide angle lenses. The macro in particular impressed. Product Link.

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Stylus of the Year: Arctic Architect

I tried quite a few styluses this year, but apart from the Arctic Architect, none of them did the one thing you’d expect from a stylus. The Architect is the only stylus I’ve used that feels just as natural and comfortable as using a pen to scribble notes, or sketch some silly drawings. Not only that, but the minimalist aluminum design is stunning. Easily the best stylus on the market.

Honorable Mentions: 

I really liked Lunatik’s 2-in-1 stylus, as well as the Ostylus dot. Both fantastic designs, but they didn’t quite match the Arctic stylus for comfortable use.

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Manufacturer of the Year: Otterbox

In my head, this award was heading in to ZAGG’s hands up until the iPad mini keyboards came out. Everything I’d tried from ZAGG whether it be skins or keyboard cases was stunning, but ultimately the sub-standard MiniKeys let them down, whereas Otterbox has consistently released good quality products. The fact that I couldn’t give any of its cases any less than a TiP Rating of less than 7 out of 10 speaks volumes.

Honorable mentions:

I’ve already mentioned ZAGG. But there are – in truth – a whole host of manufacturers that have impressed my this year. Cygnett, Incipio, Acase, SENA and DomeSkin are all brands that deserve special praise for the quality of their accessories and should be considered seriously by anyone looking for any iDevice cases or equipment.

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  • http://www.drteitelbaum.com/ Dannette Brittain1

    Some from previously unheard of companies like Arctic which took me by surprise, or others more well-known brands like ZAGG and Otterbox. Without further ado, here are my highlights from the past year.

  • http://www.governorswalkresidence.com/ Narcisa Ives

    Without further ado, here are my highlights from the past year.

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