Top 10 Tech Trends of 2013

The latest gadgets aren't just for early adopters. This year's exciting new products debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) - from supercharged glasses to nearly break-proof phones - promise to be more advanced, connected, and user-friendly than ever.

Nexia Home Automation1. Connected Home

Last year we saw the Jetsons' home come to life - fridges that stream Twitter updates, washers and dryers you can program from your phone, thermostats that learn your schedule, and more. This year the connected appliance category is only growing - with all the big manufacturers showcasing how you can integrate all your devices and streamline your routine using the cloud and your mobile phone. Our hope is you may soon be able to control everything from one app - and some outlets are trying to make this reality. For instance, Lowes' Iris home connectivity hub helps bring everything from your home security system and lighting to your appliances together into one easy-to-access place.

LG On Now2. Smarter TVs

Internet-connected TVs certainly aren't going away - but they are getting streamlined in 2013. Tremendous improvements have been made to the complicated interfaces and annoying navigation you'll find in current sets - though there is still a long ways to go for seamless use. This year's TV offerings are all about instant gratification: easier-to-understand home screens, built-in search, and recommendations based on your habits.

In other TV news, this year manufacturers are touting 4K TVs (ultra HD!), allowing for even higher resolution. Another trend getting a lot of hype again is OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes). First shown last year, these sets promise better contrast (think more vibrant blacks against brighter whites), faster response time (decreased motion blur for great-looking sports and action movies), and improved viewing angles. You can expect to start seeing units stateside in 2013 - but early models are likely to set buyers back upwards of $10,000!

Related: How to Find the Best Tech for Your Family

Liquipel3. Indestructible Phones

Live in fear of cracking your smartphone on the pavement? We spotted prototypes of flexible screens at CES this year! These bendable displays are less likely to break. New, next generation Gorilla Glass 3 also promises to be even more resilient against scratches. Even cooler? A company called Liquipel demonstrated nano-technology that coats phones to make them water resistant. And all new models may seen be able to benefit from 5G, which promises improved range, better battery performance, higher data capacity, and faster speeds.

Fitbit Aria4. Tech-Powered Health & Fitness

Fitness gadgets really picked up steam in 2012, but we expect this category to really flourish in 2013. Last year saw the likes of the Fitbit, Nike's Fuelband, Jawbone Up, and others. Come 2013, it won't just be for early adopters anymore. More than 200 companies are highlighting health and fitness-related products, and a recent CEA study shows that about 1/3 of US consumers, particularly women, are interested in buying new fitness tech this year. New, more accurate devices like the Fitbug Orb and user-friendly developments like Body Media's waterproof band make it easier than ever for you to take control of your fitness through in-depth data (like monitoring your sleep patterns, calculating calories burned based on steps taken, and integrating comprehensive food diaries).

Related: Favorite Apps of 2012

Haier Smart TVs5. Hi TV!

A few high-end HDTVs have rolled out with voice and even gesture-control in the past year, and now more manufacturers are integrating it into their new lines. Think Microsoft Kinect-like functionality, built right in to your set! Like most motion-based programs the systems can still be a bit finicky, but 2013's technology is leaps and bounds above what we saw last year. Other cool new developments: You can expect to see touchpads for easier scrolling and Siri-like voice commands in new sets soon too.

Dell XPS Convertible Intel Core6. Tablet Transformation

What's so great about tablets? Well, they're portable, lightweight, and adaptable, to name a few traits. But 2012's models still weren't quite as versatile as laptops, and definitely weren't ready to replace your trusty notebook altogether. This year's tablets are blurring the line with cases that double as keyboards, detachable screens that swivel, and just more flexibility in general. Another big plus for consumers this year: You're sure to see prices continue drop - while screen resolution and processing speeds just keep getting better.

Related: Smart Appliances For Your Home

Intel 2nd Screen Viewing7. Second Screens

While this technology isn't new, it's getting a lot of attention this year (and being called a million different names by different companies). The common denominator: You will be able to wirelessly send information between devices - like from a mobile device or laptop to a larger screen. So whether it's sending YouTube videos from your phone up on the big screen over Wi-Fi or watching movies from your iTunes account on your TV via AirPlay, devices will be integrated with your home entertainment setup more than ever in 2013.

Advance Collision Warning8. Cars Get Smarter

If you've bought a new car in the last few years, you're probably already taking advantage of the latest breed of connected car tech, whether it's built-in navigation, making phone calls via voice command, or playing music from your iPod through your car stereo. This year, manufacturers showed off new concepts and improvements: self-driving technologies, improvements to parking guidance and driver assistance, better home screens for infotainment systems, and more accurate voice controls. Expect to see some of these new developments soon at a dealership near you.

Related: This Year's Most Promising New Tech

Samsung UHD9. Focus on Design

Ground-breaking gadgets are not exactly always known for their design, but 2013's crop of new tech is trying to blend in with your décor, instead of being an eyesore. From HDTVs that look like sculptures to wireless blenders that keep your countertop clear, it looks like technology manufacturers are definitely keeping aesthetics in mind.

Vuzix Smart Glasses M10010. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been big in the gaming world for ages, but lots of cool new products are coming out this year to push it to new limits. But the reality getting even more hype this year is augmented. Instead of being completed immersed in a digital world as you are with virtual reality, augmented reality is more akin to a digital overlay in the real world. For instance, smart glasses let you interact with your smartphone off the screen, like viewing navigation apps as you walk around or integrating information that's relevant to your location. (This could be a great new tool for museum apps for example, so you can learn more about a painting as you look at it!)

Which new tech gadget are you most excited for this year? Let me know in the comments!

-by Rachel Rothman

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