Each year, tons of products are touted and tested by experts in every category — but not all of them have maximum impact. Here are just a few of the products that held our collective attention in 2012 and helped make life a little bit easier. Some are affordably priced and even the more expensive of the bunch (except the iPad mini) have been spotted on sale or with incentives throughout the year.
Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara, $10: A product designed to capture, lengthen and thicken those teeny bottom lashes.
Cuisinart CPT – 420 Toaster, $80: Stainless-steel with a motorized lift, LCD panel, enhanced bagel toasting and three year limited warranty. Enough said.
Instagram, free: Love it or hate it — and many people are hating it right now — this free app is credited with driving interest in phone photography by making it easy to apply creative touches and post them to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
iPad mini, $329 : The highly anticipated small tablet proved itself worth the wait even though it comes at a price.
iPhone 5, $200: Considered the best iPhone yet and one of the best smartphones of the year, this gadget has features such as an improved camera and a larger screen.
Kindle Fire HD, $199: With this new affordable product, Amazon improved the user experience for tablets while offering a broad range of content.
Nest Learning Thermostat, $249: This programmable thermostat reduces your home energy bill by adjusting temperatures to your needs. Sensors help it figure out if you’re home and adjust settings accordingly. You can also make adjustments remotely from a tablet.
Pinterest, free: The place to do your online collecting took off in 2012 with people “Pinning” anything and everything interesting they found on the Web.
Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations, $250: Are granite countertops out of your price range? This DIY kit gives you the look for a lot less and it only takes a weekend of work.
Samsung Galaxy S III, $200: The best-selling Android phone has a speedy processor, an eye-catching display, and loads of attractive features.
Tide Pods Laundry Detergent, $12 for 40 Pods: Despite safety concerns with regard to young children, these pods dominate the single-dose detergent market and are the only ones that cleaned well enough to make Consumer Reports recommended list.
Yonanas, $50 : This product was launched in 2011 but earned acclaim in 2012. The device turns frozen fruit into creamy soft-serve treats without added ingredients. It was loved by both kids and adults in Good Housekeeping tests.
What are your favorite products of 2012? Leave a comment!
– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog