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Much Better: Revolutionary Tech

The nature of technology is to constantly improve and make previous gadget models seem inferior, if not obsolete. Yet the year-to-year advancements in some products are often so incremental, the change is hard to see—or justify spending more money on. Not so with the following six innovative and revolutionary gizmos.

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Apple iPhone 5s (Apple.com)

You could be forgiven for looking at the latest iPhone and shrugging—visually, it doesn’t differ wildly from its predecessor. Internally, however, the iconic smartphone has received a serious makeover—the A7 processor is ridiculously fast, the speediest in a phone to date (and faster than plenty of tablets, too). The camera is easily one of the best you’ll find on any phone, and the 5s ($199 and up) comes preloaded with now-free, vastly improved iWork apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote, oh my.

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Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Smart WiFi Router (R7000) (BestBuy.com)

Typically, routers are ugly workhorses you try to hide from view. But the new $199.99 Nighthawk has more power and wireless reach—like, all-the-way-into-the-backyard reach—and better aesthetics than many of its predecessors. There’s no need to shove this sexy beast behind your computer or television.

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Dell Inspiron 23 All-in-One Touch Screen Desktop (Dell.com)

Internally, the Inspiron 23 ($999.99 and up) is your standard-issue PC, but the all-in-one computer’s real claim to innovation is its hinged display. Switch the angle of the screen to be comfortably at eye level when sitting or standing, or flip it back so it’s completely horizontal. Two users can operate its touch screen while facing each other, creating a world of possibilities for the office, and evoking the inevitable question: Why didn’t anyone think of this before?

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Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner ($149.99 at flip-pal.com)

The only mobile scanner with a flip-top loading tray instead of a slot to feed paper through, the Flip-Pal eliminates the possibility of a paper jam—which is one of the worst kinds of jam, by the way, ranking far behind strawberry jam and Pearl Jam. Its scanning area is only 4 by 6 inches, but it can photograph larger images and then stitch them together digitally, and it saves everything directly to an SD card, simplifying the transfer of images onto a computer or mobile device.

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GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition (GoPro.com)

Not so quietly, GoPro has revolutionized the HD camcorder world. Other camcorders can deliver comparable HD video quality, and the $399.99 Black Edition’s 12 megapixel still images are hardly unprecedented. Neither is the built-in Wi-Fi that allows it to be controlled remotely with an app. What’s different is that all these things are built into a camera so small and lightweight that it can be taken almost anywhere. With an extensive array of included mounts and cases, this camcorder can go where no camcorder has gone before—underwater on a cage-free shark dive, maybe, or strapped to your body while you snowboard.

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Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Amazon.com)

No other e-reader matches the e-Book ecosystem Amazon has built, and none comes close to this $119 Kindle Paperwhite. It features a more even and brighter view that basically eliminates eyestrain. It’s ultralight, has a long battery life—lasting weeks on a single charge—and the speed of the operating system and the screen’s touch sensitivity are both improved. A product hasn’t single-handedly owned its category like this since the heyday of the iPod.

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