A bevy of new products from major manufacturers doesn't necessarily make it a year to remember in the world of consumer electronics. •In 2013, Apple released not one but two smartphones, and the most memorable feature on either is a fingerprint scanner that doesn't always work. •Microsoft and Sony refreshed their popular gaming consoles, though the new versions included only incremental upgrades despite several years between releases.•Samsung thought slightly out of the box with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch but was roundly criticized for bringing to market a gadget most consumers wouldn't touch at the $300 price tag. Rather than list my top gadgets of 2013, I asked five Colorado technology executives and entrepreneurs for their thoughts, from personal experience, on the year's best products. They selected one gadget that stood out from the rest.
Ryan Estes, founder of Denver-based Talklaunch, a social media agency
Gadget: The Roost, a portable laptop stand that positions the laptop's screen at an ideal eye level, allowing users to sit in an ergonomically correct posture while using the computer.
Why: "We're spending longer hours with our gadgets and without consideration," Estes said. "It will destroy our bodies."
For full disclosure, Estes handles social media for the Denver-based startup that created the Roost. But Estes isn't alone in his excitement for the product. The Roost raised nearly $190,000 this year on Kickstarter from 2,448 backers, blasting through its initial goal of $9,300.
Pete Hudson, CEO of Denver-based iTriage, maker of a health-care smartphone app
Gadget: AliveCor iPhone case, which essentially turns the phone into a mobile heart monitor that can check a person's heart rate and other measurements.
Why: "I've had three people collapse in front of me at different events or in airports," Hudson said. "Each time they collapse, one of the things you need to figure out is: Do they have a normal pulse? Is their heart beating? Is it a normal rhythm? So I got this new case so that I could use it on the next person that collapses in front of me."
Hudson has used it on a few people who had mentioned that they felt like their heart was skipping.
"It's more for doctors, I think, but it's pretty cool and works pretty well," he said. "It's a small case. It doesn't add that much space to it."
Kyle Kirkpatrick, founder of Loveland-based Decibullz Custom Earphones
Gadget: Motorola Moto X smartphone
Price: Starts at $100 with two-year service contract
Why: "The completely hands-free and always-on-and-listening voice-command feature on (this phone) is game-changing," Kirkpatrick said. "I love having the ability to simply say, 'OK, Google' and make the magical device do my bidding. This is extremely useful for calendar appointments, notes and messaging. It's a taste of the future we have been waiting for."
I reviewed the Moto X in September and was also impressed with the device's voice-recognition capability.
Bart Lorang, CEO of Denver-based FullContact, creator of contact-management software
Gadget: FitBit Force, a high-tech wristband that tracks steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled and other fitness-related data. The stats automatically sync to a smartphone app.
Why: "I love the FitBit Force," Lorang said. "It has a built-in display and acts like a watch." So-called wearable technology is hot, especially products that target the active lifestyle. FitBit is backed by Boulder-based Foundry Group.Read more: Top gadgets of 2013 according to Colorado tech execs and entrepreneurs - The Denver Post