It was the year phones got bigger and their screens sharper. When tablets got smaller and sharper too, when television sets got blacker and sharper (though not both at the same time). The year 2013 may go down as the sharpest year ever in consumer electronics, the year the pixel all but vanished from sight. It's a theme you'll see in all but one of our picks for the best gadgets of 2013.Best tablet: Apple iPad mini with Retina display
There's no doubt the world is heading towards the seven to eight-inch screen size on tablets. They're big enough to be useful and yet small enough not to be annoying. Though Google has done an incredible job with its Nexus 7, and though Dell's Venue 8 Pro Windows tablet is very good and incredibly versatile, the closest thing to the perfect small tablet is Apple's iPad mini with Retina display. The only thing wrong with the original iPad mini was that its screen wasn't sharp enough. The Retina display fixed that.Best pricey phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 3
You practically couldn't buy a bad phone in 2013. Pretty well every phone maker, from HTC to Sony to LG to Nokia, came out with something terrific. The only thing phone makers could come up with to really differentiate themselves was to make screens bigger, and the only company that really nailed the big phone was Samsung. Its Galaxy Note 3 is big, undoubtedly too big for a lot of people, but it's so useful and such a delight to use, you learn to live with the size. It's a trick every other phone maker will have to learn next year.Best cheap phone: Nokia Lumia 520
This was a bad year for Nokia, one that ended with its phone business being sold off to Microsoft. But it was also a year when Nokia proved that Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 software is the perfect match for low-cost phones. Even with the slower processors, lower-resolution screens and smaller batteries in cheap phones, Windows Phone 8 is still a delight to use. It still doesn't have all the apps you can find on Apple or Android phones, but has most of the important ones and, at the $150 you pay for a Lumia 520, a Windows phone is hard to beat. For not much more, get a Lumia 620, which is even better.
Best camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1/Sony Alpha 7 – Too close to call
You could buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 or a Sony Alpha 7, and you wouldn't be disappointed with either. Both are superbly built. Both can take beautiful photos. The Olympus has a better range of native lenses and accessories, a more compact size and weatherproofing. The Sony has market-changing technology – it's a fairly compact, full-frame camera at a (sort-of) affordable price – and while it's only got a limited number of its own lenses right now, it can easily be adapted to use your existing Canon, Nikon or Leica lenses, just to name a few.Best TV: Sony X90 4K
If we had a "best category", TVs would win it this year. LG's and Samsung's curved OLED TVs blew our minds at the start of the year, and then Sony's 4K?TV, the X90, came along and blew away whatever brain matter remained. It's a tough call, choosing between the TVs based on OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology and 4K (about 4000 pixels as a ultra-high-definition standard) that came out in 2013, but we're going with Sony's 4K X90 for a reason: a few years from now, well within the lifespan of any TV purchased this year, you'll be able to buy affordable, jaw-droppingly good TVs that are both OLED and 4K at the same time. When that comes, which 2013 TV technology will feel the least limiting? We think it will be 4K.