The Tech I’m Giving Thanks for in 2013

eHow Tech Blog

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Good health (knock on wood), good friends, a happy family, and, far more important than any of those things, cool tech.

Well, okay, I’m not that shallow, but I definitely feel thankful for some of the products and services that debuted in 2013. They’ve made me more productive and more secure. They’ve kept me entertained at home and on the road. They’ve even saved me money. If that’s not cause to give thanks, I don’t know what is.

In no particular order, then, here’s the tech I’d officially like to thank this year:

1. The Republic Wireless Moto X

Talk about a game-changer. The Moto X is this year’s smartphone darling (sorry, iPhone 5s), combining sweet features with a near-perfect design. The only rub: another two-year contract with a major carrier charging steep monthly rates.

But, wait! Like a shiny beacon of affordable hope (or maybe an affordable beacon of shiny hope), Republic Wireless now offers the Moto X without a contract. Even better, service plans start at a mere $5 per month, with the unlimited-bells-and-whistles plan costing just $40. In your faces, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon!

Republic manages this awesome feat thanks to a clever leveraging of Wi-Fi networks for most calls, text messages, and data transactions. Only when you’re out and about does it tap Sprint’s 4G LTE network (which, admittedly, has its shortcomings in the coverage department).

Now that there’s a state-of-the-art smartphone available for cheap (the Moto X is yours–literally–for $299) and amazingly affordable no-contract plans, phone service as we know is about to change. You can bet I’m thankful for that.

2. Dashlane

I’m a bit late to the password-management party. Oh, I’ve used a password manager for years, one that could sync between my PC and my smartphone, but it offered no integration with my Web browser. And that, friends, is the key to awesomeness.

Dashlane is a robust, easy-to-use, cross-platform tool that not only organizes your passwords, but also rates them, improves them, and automatically inserts them into the various sites you use. And, of course, it can generate ultra-strong passwords for you on the fly.

The basic version is free, but I actually ponied up $20 for an annual subscription so I could enjoy syncing between my PCs and mobile devices. And make no mistake: I rarely pay for anything. Dashlane is that good.

3. Asus Transformer Book TF100TA

It’s difficult for me to praise any Windows-oriented product, in part because of my recent Windows 8.1 calamity, but the Asus Transformer Book TF100TA offers so much bang for the buck, I can’t help but like it.

For $399 (less if you shop around — I’ve seen it as low as $299), you get a 10.1-inch laptop/tablet hybrid. The system runs Windows 8.1, not Windows RT (which is what you’d expect at this price point), meaning you get complete compatibility with all your existing software.

But the system’s touchscreen can detach from its included keyboard (are you listening, Microsoft?) to become a full-featured tablet. Other perks include 64GB of storage, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013, and 11-hour battery life. Like I said: a lot of bang for the buck.

4. The Keyprop

Sometimes the simplest inventions are the best. I first wrote about the Keyprop in Three Cool Ways to Geek Out Your Keychain, and the little gizmo remains one of my favorite products of 2013.

Put simply, the Keyprop is a smartphone stand that rides shotgun on your keychain. When you want to prop up your phone for reading, watching movies, flipping through Web pages, or whatever, just take out your keys and plug the Keyprop into the headphone jack. Presto: instant stand. It’s ingenious, and available now in your choice of colors for $12.95.

Okay, that’s my list. Now let’s hear yours: What tech are you most thankful for this year?

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