We gadget lovers are visual people by nature, and our attraction to technology is very much by design. These 10 gadgets represent the most visually appealing and functionally valuable items of 2011. From the Nest Smart Thermostat to the wild Orime Mouse, its hard not to want this kind of technology in your life…
Sony HMZ T1 Head Mounted Display
Personal virtual reality– this is the kind of technology of the future we were promised decades ago. While the new Sony HMZ T1 Head Mounted Display isn’t a virtual environment per se, it brings a new level of immersion into movies and video games that has yet to become available. The HMZ T1’s include a pair of 3D-capable HD OLED displays and a set of virtual-surround earphones that create the media environment of the future. And aesthetically, they look like an accessory right out of the Tron Legacy reboot. Is there a better way to tune out those annoying in-laws and look great doing it?
Sony HMZ T1 Head Mounted Display Gallery
Nest Energy Efficient Thermostat
As the iPod transformed the way we listen to music, the Nest Energy Efficient Thermostat stands to change the way we control our home’s climate. Tony Fadell, the creater of the iPod for Apple, has joined a new team that has invented this energy-saving, intelligent thermostat that saves money while keeping you and your family comfortable. Nest collects information about your family’s activity cycles and heats or cools your home accordingly. If your family is gone during the day at work and/or school, Nest will shut down your heating/cooling until a short time before you typically return for the night. When you sleep, Nest can cut back on the climate control to save even more of your heating and cooling costs. Within two years, an average home owner should see roughly $500 in utility savings from using Nest. The unit itself will sell for $250 and will be available in early 2012.
Nest Energy Efficient Thermostat Gallery
Aesir Copenhagen Luxury Phone by Yves Behar
2011 saw more new Android phones than we could possibly count– and an unfortunate lack of an iPhone 5 release. The most beautiful phone we saw in 2011 didn’t come from a large scale manufacturer, but the Aesir Copenhagen Luxury Phone by Yves Behar. This black ceramic and 18k gold luxury phone won’t give you Fruit Ninja or Face Time, it focuses on what a mobile phone is supposed to do– send and receive phone calls and text messages. A phone this beautiful is a bit pricey though, so don’t plan on picking one up unless you have around $59,000 to spend on this item alone.
Aesir Copenhagen Luxury Phone by Yves Behar Gallery
Wacom Inkling Digital Stylus Pen
The people who championed the computer tablet input have launched a new revolution with the Wacom Inkling Digital Stylus Pen. This pen input ditches the tablet for a paper surface, following your pen stroke and acting like a traditional Wacom stylus would. This is a phenomenal tool for illustrators and those who are most comfortable with pencil or pen, giving them a new kind of interface with their computers. When this was revealed in 2011, you could almost hear the sound of countless graphic designers and illustrators gasping all at once.
Wacom Inkling Digital Stylus Pen Gallery
Nikon D5100 Digital SLR
Has there ever been a better time to invest in a first-timer DSLR? In 2011, Nikon rolled out their latest still/video hybrid camera, the Nikon D5100 Digital SLR. The D5100 is a well-rounded, feature-rich camera that is an ideal first upgrade from point-and-shoot compacts. It records 1080p HD video with continuous autofocus and onboard effects processing. It captures stills on a 16.2MP sensor that can produce high quality images in low light scenarios. It is amongst the first Nikon DSLRs to feature a swivel-style LCD display, giving a wider range of perspectives to the photographer. Like other DSLRs, it will grow with your hobby– keep the D5100 body while you add new lenses, flashes and other gear to your collection. The price? As low as $749.99 for a body-only unit or $799 with an 18-55mm lens kit.
Nikon D5100 Digital SLR Gallery
Amazon Kindle Fire
When Jeff Bezos of Amazon revealed the Amazon Kindle Fire, the tablet computer playing field was completely leveled. While the Kindle Fire is not a feature-for-feature competitor to the Apple iPad, it is a strong device that offers plenty of power in a super slim price tag. For $199, people who were waiting to get themselves a tablet PC could now do so thanks to Amazon. Ultimately, the cost and feature set of the Kindle Fire makes for one heck of a sweet offering, one that dominated tablet news in 2011.
Amazon Kindle Fire Gallery
2011 Macbook Pro
It’s always easy to pencil in Apple’s name for the most beautiful laptop of any given year, and 2011 was no exception. The new 2011 Macbook Pro provides only a slight upgrade over previous models, but when the machine isn’t broke, why try to fix it? The new Macbook Pro now runs Intel Core i7 chips for increased processing power, it features the Thunderbolt hardware interface, HD video conferencing and a new focus on gaming. The latter has been largely an afterthought on Apple computers in the past, but this could be a big step toward cross-platform gaming in the near future.
2011 Macbook Pro Gallery
The NoteSlate eSketcher is not a tablet. It doesn’t run a fancy OS, it doesn’t have a digital camera or two, it doesn’t run games and it won’t handle video conferencing. The NoteSlate eSketcher is a good old fashioned notepad on steroids. The eSketcher uses a stylus input to record your hand-written notes and doodles with an e-ink style display. Your notes can then be sent to a computer or other storage device or held on the eSketcher’s internal memory. You can use it repeatedly without much toll on the battery, as the eSketcher will last for nearly 180 hours per charge. For students, illustrators, list-writers and more, the eSketcher is a phenomenal little concept.
NoteSlate eSketcher Gallery
Orime Mouse by Elecom x Nendo
In the world of computing, the mouse is still a very young technology. For as long as we’ve known the mouse, we’ve never seen one as cool as the Orime Mouse by Elecom x Nendo. This faceted design mouse ditches the curves for sharp points and triangles galore, but maintains the comforts our hands are used to. It sports four buttons and wireless connectivity thanks to a short butt USB connection. But its not the utility that makes this mouse special, it’s the angular design that sets it apart, making it what might be the coolest looking mouse we’ve ever seen.
Orime Mouse by Elecom x Nendo Gallery
Apple iPad 2
Apple iPad 2 Gallery
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It doesn’t get much prettier than this, ladies and gentlemen. It’s one thing to make a gadget that helps us live our lives in a greater level of fulfillment, but its yet another thing to make it a beautiful piece of machinery. Our aim here is to celebrate some of the most ground-breaking and visually stunning pieces of technology released in this past year. These ten gadgets are our favorites, and if you have one that we missed, please do tell us about it in the comments below or by tweeting us @thecoolist!