Top 5 (mostly) Tech Toys of 2012

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When I started writing online back in 2001 I was the Gaming Editor for a website called TheOneRing.net. I would receive packages almost daily with products ranging from Decipher’s Trading Card Game to Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings minis.

So coming from that background of product reviews, previews and new relase coverage, it’s hard for me not to review products and talk about the important business equipment (read: toys) that made 2012 such a fun year to “geek out” in.

So with that in mind, I give you my Top 5 (mostly) Tech Toys of 2012!

Number Five – Apple’s 15″ Retina MacBook Pro

I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s portables and the MacBook Pro line in general has always had a lot of praise even from PC Magazine, who named the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro their Editor’s Choice. What I love most about the Retina MacBook Pro is how fast it is. I’m not a designer but I do all of our documents in InDesign and I have to edit images frequently for this blog and for client website’s, etc.

Retina MacBook Pro

So when I tell you that Adobe Photoshop and InDesign load in two or three seconds flat, it’s no wonder why the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro made this list. It’s a kid with ADHD’s dream to be able to quickly launch his programs, get his work done, and move on to the next distraction, and this laptop finally packed enough power to allow that. I was able to sell one to branding extraordinaire John Navarette by sending him a video of just how quickly everything launched. I can’t overstate this, this laptop is just that fast.

Number Four – DC Comics Deck Building Game

Ever play Magic Cards when you were a kid? I did too, and while this isn’t exactly as in-depth as a full TCG deck building games like the DC Deck Building Game are a fantastic way to spend 30-60 minutes playing a fun little card game. There’s only one box to buy, it runs about $40 (or $35.99 on Amazon) and unlike Magic this is all you’d need to buy.

DC Comics Deck Building Game

The game is fast and you pick it up quickly, my eight year old plays it with my wife and I, though I do have to whack him upside his head when he’s not paying attention. Each game you build a deck by “buying” cards from the main deck. You then use those cards you gained to buy more powerful cards and at the end of the game you tally up the victory points to see who won. My wife, who isn’t much of a comic book fan, has actually asked me to play it several times, so that should tell you something.

She said it feels more like a conversation than a competitive game because you’re both building your decks against the main deck, not necessarily against each other. I got to try it out originally at GenCon and it was a huge hit there, can’t recommend it enough.

Number Three – Bandai’s Real Grade (RG) Gundam Kits

I know this will come as a shock, but I’m a big nerd. I know, I’ll give you a minute to recover from that revelation. Going back to 2009 when I was first considering moving to Texas I’d been inspired by blogger Danny Choo and his Perfect Grade Strike Gundam kit, I had to have one of my own. So having completed our first big project, at the time we were called Egan Image, I put aside a little bit of the money to pick one of these bad boys up (and it still sits on my desk to this very day).

Real Grade (RG) Gundam Models

So when Bandai came out with the Real Grade kits, which are quite a bit smaller than the Perfect Grade models but still pack in a ton of detail, I was excited. Again, as a big kid with ADHD it’s easy for me to get distracted and there is something about building a model kit that I find very relaxing. In ADHD we talk about a mode called “Hyper Focus” where for that rare moment our brain is firing on one specific task, and for me, building a model is a great way to reach that hyper focus state.

I find that while building a model I also get ideas about SEO projects we’re working on, so perhaps item Number Three Point One is the super advanced “Pen and Paper” toy to add to this list. Can’t mess with the classics!

Number Two – Apple’s iPad Mini (Wifi)

Holy Apple Products Batman! I’m a fanboy, no secret there. My wife was gracious enough to get me an iPad Mini for Christmas and maybe it’s cheating to include it on this list so soon but it’s really changed how I browse the web and consume content. I’d owned an iPad 2 before it was confiscated when I got married and I enjoyed the device but I always felt it was too heavy to really be that replacement for a laptop or even a book. Maybe I just need to work on my man muscles? Whatever.

Star Trek's PADD

Enter the iPad Mini! Weighing only 0.68 pounds (308g) I barely notice I’m holding the thing. Add to that the comic libraries of DC Comics and Marvel Comics, I’ve found that the iPad Mini has re-invigorated my love of comics. When you add to that the Notification Center, something I have disabled on my iPhone, if an e-mail comes in I get a little preview of it at the top of the screen and can quickly tap out of my comic book to reply to a client from the comfort of a bubble bath. (Sorry for the visual)

Number One – Mophie’s Juice Pack Air

I’m on the phone a lot. If you own a business or if you’re a hardworking marketer, you likely are also on the phone a lot, or checking e-mail, or playing Angry Birds, whatever. The battery on my iPhone 4S (because I’m not replacing all my peripherals for Lightning adaptor, silly Apple) is great, but with heavy business use it just doesn’t cut it.

Thanks to Mophie’s Juice Pack Air I am able to go a full day without running out of battery and in that off chance that I forget to charge my phone at night I’m probably still in good hands as the Mophie Juice Pack Air literally doubles the lifespan of my iPhone 4S with a 1500 mAh battery pack, I can keep on working and the battery life of my overpriced toys never slow me down.

What about you?

What was your priceless artifact of 2012? Bonus points if it actually helped you kick extra ass in business. What could you not live without?