Why the retina iPad mini is my favourite gadget of 2013

With its retina-quality screen and the most powerful chip, this was the tablet Nick Hide was waiting for. He explains why it's his product of the year.

There's always tonnes of gadgets kicking around the office, on loan from manufacturers and phone networks, but the new iPad mini was the one tech product I actually went out and spent my own money on this year.

I've never owned an iPad, and I was waiting for this one -- a small, retina-quality screen and the latest, most powerful chip. The screen didn't disappoint. It's the best I've seen at this size, although the new Nexus 7 runs it close. Browsing is great, but video looks incredible.

The processor is kind of a big deal too. Not for what it can do now, although I've had virtually no crashes running some strenuous games on it, but for its future-proofing. Being 64-bit today means it should be able to run the latest apps for years to come.

I went for the mini because it's the perfect size for the bed and the bus. My mum has a full-size iPad, which is great for her as a replacement for her horrible old Dell laptop, but I have a decent Windows machine for proper computing. The mini fits in a big coat pocket and means I don't have to carry a bag to work most days.

There's tonnes of free stuff with it this year too -- all the iWork stuff I'll never use (it's in a folder with Newsstand and Apple's duff Maps) and Garage Band and iMovie, if I ever decide to do something creative.

That's unlikely, frankly, because there's so much fun to be had in the App Store. This thing plays my favourite strategy game, XCOM, better than my Xbox 360. It's stunning. And there's tonnes more too -- Space Hulk just came out, Shadowrun Returns is cued up, and Hearthstone is coming next year.

Some of those might come to Android (Shadowrun already is), but the iOS App Store is unbeatable for the kind of £10-ish console-quality games I love. I don't know how long that market will last -- free to play seems unstoppable -- but for the next few years I'm in heaven.

For £400 (I got the 32GB model) I could have had a PlayStation 4, but the iPad mini is every inch the next-gen games machine for me, because it actually has games I want to play right now.

Your mileage may vary, and we'll hear from the rest of the CNET UK team over the next few days about their favourite products of the year. Let me know yours down in the comments, or over on our cutting-edge Facebook page.

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