The Verge Awards: The Best of CES 2013

We came, we saw, we got lost in a virtual world. And now we’re back. The show that was supposed to be the last of the biggest — the end of the best — actually turned out a little differently than the critics predicted. A show that could have limped instead leapt in places. A show that could have declined seemed to rise instead. But it rose in all kinds of interesting directions. Towards hardware startups funded by the crowd, towards connected devices that actually seem to make sense, to televisions that offered a logical next step instead of a gimmick. This year’s show offered a glimpse of what may not just be the New Thing at this CES, but the heart of CES for years to come — the indie hardware maker, a new kind of force in the industry that is quickly changing our perceptions of what can be done and how it has to be done. It's exciting on many levels.

So there was good stuff. No, great stuff. And we think that stuff deserves to be rewarded (or at least called out) for being what it is: the best of the best. We present that list to you, unedited and uncut, for your reading pleasure, without interruption. Also, vote for the best thing you saw too!

Best TV: Samsung 4K “easel TV”
Samsung promised a TV with an “unprecedented shape” at CES 2013 — an exaggerated bit of hyperbole that stands in stark contrast to the beautiful minimalism of the new 4K TVs the company actually did announce. The floating easel design with integrated speakers is stunning in person — these are the first TVs to demand a room redesign since flat panels first arrived. Unfortunately Samsung says the TVs will start at “under $30,000” for the 85-inch and go up from there, but expect to see the company bring this new design language to more mainstream sets in the years to come — moving the speakers to the frame is the next step in producing an even thinner TV. – Nilay Patel

Best Phone: Sony Xperia Z
Apart from a few exceptional years, CES has never been a major show for mobile news, but of the few phones announced this year, the Sony Xperia Z was the standout. Featuring a sleek industrial design that harkens back to Sony’s heyday of consumer electronics, the Z joins the growing raft of phones with 5-inch, 1080p displays and quad-core processors. Sony has tried to differentiate the Z from the rest by making it water-resistant and offering some novel software features, but that may not be enough to let it rise above the tide of phones that are sure to be announced at next month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We still don’t have a price or firm release date for the Xperia Z, but Sony says that it should be hitting retailers by the end of this month. – Dan Seifert

Best Tablet: Vizio 10-inch Android tablet
There was a fierce debate amongst the Verge staff when it came to best tablet — we were evenly divided between Panasonic’s 20-inch 4K Windows slate and Vizio’s 10-inch Android tablet. In the end, though, the Vizio was the winner: it’s one of the first Tegra 4 devices in the world, it has an outstanding 300dpi display that matches the Nexus 10, and it’s running stock Android. Oh, and it’s tremendously lightweight — both David Pierce and I were shocked when we held it. Vizio still has to release pricing and availability details, but the company says we’ll find out more in the coming months. – Nilay Patel

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