Golden Shirt Awards: Best unbreakable gadgets

With consumers focused so keenly on budgets, the hardware marketed by tech companies is often made ‘down’ to a budget rather than ‘up’ to a performance level. Nowhere is this more apparent than in build quality, with the knock-on effect for the buyer being reduced product longevity. Thank goodness some companies still know how to make devices that are rough-and-tumble proof.

Apple, Olympus and HTC are three such nameplates, with the following three products earning a GadgetGuy Golden Shirt award for being able to survive the rigours of everyday use, and resist the crashes and bumps of unusual carelessness and accident.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 Retina

With a metal body, fast insides, and a physical robustness that makes it feel like one of the best built computers in the world, Apple’s MacBook Pro with Retina screen excellent in so many ways.

We liked it a lot, and if gadgeteer staffers had infinite supplies of money, you can bet we’d be using these lovely lappies.

Check out our review…

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Built like a classic camera, the OM-D E-M1 takes the insides of a modern day mirror-less and places them inside the body of a camera design from yesteryear.

Just like many classic cameras from the ’50s and ’60s, the E-M1 is one solid piece of kit, but with more than a nod to today’s tech essentials. It offers wireless control from a tablet or phone, a flip-out LCD and lots of controls for modern snappers.

Check out our review…


One of the only smartphones this year to be encased in a metal body, the HTC One is an aluminium Android phone that wowed the socks off us, thanks to its impressive build quality, speedy processor and fantastic feature set.

A tremendously awesomesauce phone at launch in April, it doesn’t compare that strongly (feature-wise) to the smartphones of late 2013,  but full points to HTC for recognising how much better it is to hold a hefty metal handset than the el-cheapo plastic bodies most other marques are offering.

Check out our review…

Tech 21 cases for smartphones

Even if your phone is made of metal, there’s a high chance it will meet an untimely death if it accidentally collides with the ground.

One of the more intriguing technologies we saw this year was the Tech 21 goo known as “D3O”. We tested this impact resistant goo by wrapping it around our fingers and hitting them with a hammer. We barely felt the impact, so imagine what it does when it’s protecting a phone.

In fact, why imagine when you can see a short video (below) where we test Tech 21’s cases by dropping an S4 several times.

Check out our hands-on…

Apple iPhone 5S

Apple didn’t change much when it updated the iPhone this year, and in at least one respect this was a good thing. The new 5S retains the very excellent machined aluminium body of its predecessor, and while there are a lot of people wishing for a bigger screen and more wireless technologies, the feel and design of this new handset is just as great as on the iPhone 5.

Check out our review…