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In Pictures: The top tech products of 2013 (so far)

The year's far from over, yet it's already seen some great new technology.

  • The best so far... The year's far from over, yet it's already seen some great new technology. New CPUs from Intel have inspired PCs that aren't just the same old box. Google debuted a new tablet, a new laptop, and a surprisingly simple streaming device. Google's Motorola division even unveiled a new Moto X phone last week, but it faces tough competition from the innovative designs we've already seen. Before autumn's product flood, let’s enjoy some of the best of 2013 so far. First up: A very new product from Google that’s small but mighty.

  • Google Chromecast Google clearly believes that if at first you don't succeed (Google TV, the Nexus Q), you should try, try again. Behold the Chromecast. It's cheap, small (the size of a thumb drive), and it plugs straight into an HDMI port. It's also one of the best ways to get web content on your HDTV. Connect it to your Wi-Fi network, and control it with your favorite computer, smartphone, or tablet to play online movies, music, photos, and other Internet content. Your friends can join in the fun, too, by "casting" their favorite YouTube videos to the big screen.

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 The Galaxy S4 isn't a radical departure from its predecessors—but damn, it sure is an impressive beast. This phone is bursting at the seams with so many fun features and goodies that even seasoned Android veterans will be amazed. Don't bother playing high-definition content on the small screens most other smartphones are saddled with—the S4's 5-inch 1080p display is the best way to watch anything. Put an S4 in your pocket and get ready for a great smartphone experience.

  • Intel's fourth-generation Core processors (Haswell) Intel's fourth-generation Core family, formerly code-named Haswell, is the best collection of x86 processors ever. The low-power mobile versions of this CPU are particularly impressive, delivering benchmark-busting performance while stretching battery life to new lengths. The desktop versions are no slouches, either.

  • Razer Blade If you need serious gaming on the go, look no further than the Razer Blade. Thinner than a MacBook Air, but packed with powerful components—including a Haswell-class CPU, discrete graphics, and a speedy solid-state drive—this gaming notebook gets the job done, without straining your back when you tote it to a LAN party.

  • Google Nexus 7 (second generation) If you think the tablet market consists of Apple's iPad family and a bunch of undistinguished also-rans, you owe it to yourself to check out the second-generation Nexus 7. Google knocked this iteration out of the park. Combine a spectacular 7-inch screen, decent specs, and a low price, and you get a tablet that meets nearly every need.

  • HP OfficeJet Pro 276dw Small-office denizens who think a laser printer is the only way to go haven’t seen the HP OfficeJet Pro 276dw color inkjet multifunction printer in action. It might seem expensive at $400, but this inkjet MFP is surprisingly fast, delivers great output quality, and uses astonishingly inexpensive ink cartridges. Color lasers in this price range are slower, deliver mediocre color, and depend on toner that's far more expensive. Do yourself and your budget a favor. Check out this inkjet before you go laser.

  • Google Chromebook Pixel Yes, it’s expensive. No, it’s not for everyone. Google’s Chromebook Pixel is a marquee product for Chrome fans—and for anyone else who lives on the Web. For those users, the Chromebook Pixel offers a premium experience: a real keyboard, lots of storage, and a dazzling, Retina-class touchscreen display. The Pixel is also gorgeous. Its burnished-metal chassis stands out in a sea of silver or black laptop lookalikes. Even scoffing PC and Mac users can't deny that it’s a mighty fine piece of hardware.

  • HTC One TechHive's Armando Rodriguez describes the HTC One as "a paragon of industrial design." Indeed, this smartphone is a beauty. The large, high-resolution display is a feast for the eyes, serving up 1080p resolution with 468 pixels per inch. The HTC One comes with one of the best low-light cameras on the market, among other high-end features. This smartphone has something for everyone.

  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch Lenovo’s ThinkPad Carbon X1 Touch is no uninspired corporate laptop. Judicious use of carbon-fiber material renders this 14-inch Ultrabook extremely thin and light: It measures just 0.74 inch thick and weighs 3.4 pounds. Lenovo has yet to move up to Intel’s fourth-generation Core processors, but you can get this laptop with Intel’s Core i5-3427U or with the more powerful Core i7-3667U, up to 8GB of DDR/1333 memory, and your choice of a 128GB SSD or a 256GB SSD.

  • Dell XPS 18 You needn't feel torn between a desk-bound all-in-one PC and a mobile tablet. Dell's XPS 18 delivers the best of both worlds. This machine has an 18-inch touchscreen display and runs a full version of Windows 8. You can work with it parked in its desktop cradle, or you can detach it and use it as an oversize tablet. In our tests, its battery lasted for more than 4 hours.

  • Wi-Fi Alliance 802.11ac certification program The Wi-Fi Alliance took its time, but the trade group’s decision to launch an interoperability certification program for IEEE draft 802.11ac gear is a welcome development. Unless you’re an absolute paranoid, there’s no reason to wait any longer for the glacially slow IEEE standards body to finalize the 802.11ac standard before you upgrade your router. The networking products on the market today are fabulous for streaming data and media around your home.

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