HTC's recent troubles have been well documented of late and there was talk of the HTC One being the Taiwanese firm's last chance to stay in the race which it at one point was comfortably leading. The HTC Desire set the template for the premium Android phone, but Samsung has since come along with its Galaxy S range and swallowed up a massive sector of the market, while HTC has struggled amid some misguided products and the departure of key staff members. Thankfully, the One was a massive success - one of the firm's best-selling phones, in fact - and many regard it as 2013's best mobile, full stop.
Samsung clambered to the top of the Android pile with the launch of the defining Galaxy S back in 2010, and has managed to repel its rivals with increasing confidence since then. The Galaxy S5 is the latest member of the family, and seeks to build on the success of previous models without scaring away the legions of fans that Samsung has amassed of late. In that regard, it's a triumph - certainly more of an evolution than a revolution - although if you're expecting any amazing innovations or life-changing features, you're going to come away distinctly disappointed. Samsung knows that it has found a winning formula in the Galaxy S range, and clearly doesn't want to tinker with it too much lest the commercial magic should somehow be lost in the process.
Hayao Miyazaki sure has a lot to answer for. One of the leading lights of Japanese animation for the past six decades, Miyazaki's body of work has entertained and influenced countless millions - Steven Spielberg and John Lasseter are both vocal fans - and the many unique worlds he has created have spawned countless tributes and imitations. 1986's Laputa: Castle in the Sky is one of the most significant Miyazaki productions, building on the theme of gigantic aerial battleships that he would tentatively explore in the 1970s anime series Future Boy Conan.
Most Sundays on Eurogamer, we dig an interesting article out of our extensive archive that we think you might enjoy reading again or may have missed at the time. In Reality Crumbles, written in April 2012 well before the emergence of either Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus, Damien McFerran looked back at the seemingly failed phenomenon of virtual reality. Little did we know how strongly it would come roaring back.
Despite the lukewarm commercial and critical response to Android micro-consoles such as the Ouya and GameStick, activity in this nascent sector of the market continues unabated. Huawei has recently announced its Tron system for the Far Eastern market, while leaked benchmark results suggest that Asus is readying a Tegra 4-based system called the Gamebox. Perhaps most exciting of all is Amazon's proposed gaming system, which has developer Double Helix - fresh off the back of retro reboots Killer Instinct and Strider - creating software for it.
The relentless march of time may bring with it incredible advances in gaming technology, but there's a cost too: with each passing year, the number of working vintage consoles slowly but surely diminishes. Some fail simply due to age, others due to the fact that they've been serving their owners dutifully for much longer than was ever anticipated when they were first manufactured. While it's true that "they don't make them like they used to" (you're unlikely to see many launch Xbox 360 consoles match the Atari 2600 by lasting three decades and still functioning), there's a definite lifespan to these classic systems, and indeed all consumer tech. Sooner or later, they're likely to stop working.
Waxing lyrical about the dramatic transition from cartridges to CDs might seem somewhat twee in this era of seamless digital downloads and cavernous terabyte hard drives, but back in the early 90s the entire industry - and those who followed its progress dutifully - was caught up in the excitement and anticipation of the glorious, data-rich future that those shiny plastic discs promised.
Apple doesn't do budget. That was the phrase uttered by many when rumours of a low-cost iPhone began to circulate a few months back; blurry images of a device with plastic casing drifted leaked online, prompting many to speculate that the Cupertino company was finally going to give Android a run for its money in the lower-priced end of the consumer spectrum. Alas, when the announcement finally came, such hopes were dashed. The iPhone 5C is indeed an iPhone in cheaper skin, but its price - around £100 less than the flagship 5S - could only be considered budget if you're accustomed to shopping in Harrods and drive a Ferrari.
After almost four years at the top, some would argue that change was long overdue. Since the original iPad launched and single-handedly kickstarted the tablet revolution in 2010, the device has grown in technological stature but remained fairly constant as far as physical form is concerned. The fifth generation model - blessed with the "Air" suffix - marks something of a departure from what has gone before, looking more akin to its smaller sibling, the iPad mini. This is the lightest large-screen tablet device on the market right now, and you'd be surprised at how much of a difference that makes during regular usage.
When Google and LG joined forces to create last year's Nexus 4, it marked a significant shift in the Android market. Google's previous attempts at creating a "first-party" handset had been critically well-received, but the commercial reaction was relatively lukewarm when compared to Samsung and HTC's offerings. However, by selling the Nexus 4 on the cheap - a tactic which worked equally well with the Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet - Google was able to carve out a significant portion of the Android handset market.
After a series of unfortunate delays, PlayJam's GameStick is now a physical reality. Funded via Kickstarter earlier this year, where it raised $550,000 over its initial $100,000 goal, this Android-based micro-console is cut from the same cloth as the similarly crowdfunded Ouya; it seeks to marry the world of low-cost smartphone gaming with physical controls and a big-screen experience, all tied together with a bespoke user interface and application store.
Apple's phones may have stuck with a maximum screen size of four inches but in the world of Android anything goes, as the unveiling of the absurdly proportioned HTC One Max - which comes with a gargantuan 5.9-inch display - proves beyond all doubt. However, not everyone wants to own such a monstrous mobile and manufacturers are thankfully producing pint-sized versions of their leading handsets in an attempt to cater for this sector of the market.
It's an indication of just how much the handheld gaming arena has changed in the past few years that Nintendo's shock announcement of the 2DS was greeted with such mirth and derision by the general public; once upon a time, the allure of new hardware from the Kyoto veteran would have been utterly irresistible to anyone who had experienced the joys of playing Tetris or Pokémon on their monochrome Game Boy, but these days Nintendo's dominance of the market it once ruled with an iron fist is under fire from all sides. The 3DS has more than proven its worth with some superb titles in 2013, but in terms of pure sales figures it's not the successor to the DS (still the world's best-selling handheld) the company would have wanted. Many gamers are ditching dedicated portable consoles in favour of convergent devices like smartphones and tablets, and the revenue generated by the likes of the App Store and Google Play market now eclipses sales of handheld software.
The rise of smartphones and tablets has subtly altered the definition of portable interactive entertainment. Once the sole preserve of console makers such as Nintendo, Sega, Atari, NEC and SNK, control of the "mobile gaming" market is slowly but surely being usurped by the likes of Google and Apple.
The Wikipad's route to market has been convoluted and somewhat troubled. Originally pitched as an 8-inch tablet with glasses-free 3D capability and detachable gaming controls, it slowly morphed into the pared back product we have today. The 3D is gone and the display is now 7-inches from corner to corner, but the intention remains the same: the Wikipad is aimed at gamers who want the best of both the tablet and portable gaming worlds.
Although Google has surpassed Apple's lead in the smartphone arena, it often finds itself lagging behind its Cupertino-based rival in other sectors. Google was almost laughably late to the tablet party, seemingly content to indulge in flaccid projects such as Motorola's expensive and underwhelming Xoom slate than to actively chase the lead established by the almost iconic iPad. However, 2012 marked the year when Google finally did what it should have done eons ago - it saw the launch of the Nexus 7, a collaboration between the search giant and Taiwanese manufacturer Asus. By offering cutting-edge technology at a price which undercut practically every tablet maker on the market, Google was able to claw back valuable market share.
Choice is a powerful thing. It's what differentiates video games from other mediums of entertainment. Outside of watching alternative endings on DVD, the outcome of a movie cannot be influenced by the viewer; likewise, a great album's track listing can be randomised, but the songs remain the same. In games, the player is able to directly impact the world with their own actions. This liberating and intoxicating sense of involvement was also central to the appeal of Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy line of interactive gamebooks, first established in 1982 - ironically, a time when the video game industry appeared to be tiptoeing dangerously close to oblivion.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has shifted an impressive 20 million units since its launch earlier this year, confirming Samsung's position as the king of the smartphone arena - in pure sales terms, at least. The Korean firm is now hard at work buttressing that position by expanding the Galaxy S4 line with additional phones catering to a wider audience. We've already seen the hybrid that is the Galaxy S4 Zoom - a marriage of mobile and camera which is more successful than you might expect - and the Galaxy S4 Mini offers an entry point for those on more modest budgets.
In the decade or so since camera phones first appeared, manufacturers have tried all manner of tricks to convince us that they constitute a genuine replacement for our dedicated point-and-shoot hardware. From the first sub-VGA offerings to the more recent megapixel behemoths touted by the likes of Sony and Nokia, we've seen convergence in action - but the results haven't always been encouraging.
The Nexus 7 was a breakthrough product for Google. For too long Android tablets had struggled to make an impression in a market dominated by Apple's iPad, and it was Asus that stepped up to the plate and gave Google the ideal hardware platform with which to shift the balance of power. However, the Nexus 7 is now a year old and there's a fair chance that owners will be on the lookout for potential upgrades. The Asus FonePad - with its similar dimensions, low price point and familiar manufacturer - could certainly be considered one such option, but there are some pretty significant caveats present here - as well as a few major enhancements, too.
The Sony Xperia Z is without a doubt the best phone to come out of the company's R&D labs in years, boasting powerful tech, an eye-catching screen and a svelte and surprisingly resilient chassis. The Japanese electronics giant clearly knows this, as it has used the Xperia Z as the blueprint for its next stab at cracking the tricky - yet profitable - tablet market. The result is a device which is attractive to behold, packs plenty of horsepower and feels like a genuine challenger to the incumbent Apple iPad.
Kickstarted to the tune of $8.5 million, the Ouya console is one of crowdfunding's high-profile success stories. Depending on who you listen to, it's also the system to pull the rug from beneath Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo and forever shake up the video game industry as we know it. It liberates players, empowers developers and creates a brave new world for interactive entertainment - or so we're told, at least. The hyperbole that has been written about Ouya would make the most seasoned spin doctor blush, but before you allow yourself to become too swept up in the hype, it's worth remembering that when all is said and done, Ouya is just Android in a set-top box - and we've already spoken about how potentially disappointing that particular reality could be.
Sometimes you discover excellence in totally unexpected places. When my dad purchased a shiny new Japanese Mega Drive in 1990, I was immediately overawed by the likes of Golden Axe, Super Monaco GP and Thunder Force 2, but it would be an obtuse and almost unfathomable action strategy hybrid with a crazy German moniker which would consume the vast majority of my time over that particular Christmas break.
When Sony Ericsson became plain old Sony in 2011, the Japanese company made it clear that it was deadly serious about becoming a key player in the Android arena. As with all transitional periods, it's taken a while for the company to totally shake off the dust from the old days. The Xperia Z is the first handset that is 100 per cent Sony; compared to its predecessor the Xperia T, this latest effort certainly feels like it has been crafted with a different design philosophy in mind - gentle plastic curves and rounded edges have been disregarded in favour of tempered glass and stern, straight edges.
It says a lot about how far Samsung has come when the launch of its latest flagship smartphone attracts the same feverish levels of interest from tech-heads as the release of the next iPhone. The Korean manufacturer has taken Google's often-unfashionable Android operating system and given it the world-leading device it so badly needed to assert its dominance over iOS; tellingly, many consumers now get more excited about the next 'Galaxy' rather than the next 'Android'.
There once was a time when if you wanted to sample the most exciting and thrilling games, you had to leave the comfort of your sofa and venture to the nearest smoky amusement arcade, where you would rub shoulders with other like-minded players and watch slack-jawed as the local Street Fighter 2 expert took on all challengers, or gasp in amazement at the lush 3D visuals showcased by Virtua Racing, Daytona USA and Ridge Racer. These days, the closest most people get to a traditional arcade gaming experience is the battered Sega Rally and Time Crisis cabinets which sit awkwardly in the local bowling alley - their 3D prowess now looking considerably muted compared to the latest iOS titles you can carry around in your trouser pocket.
Like a punch-drunk boxer struggling to get back on his feet, HTC's fortunes have been pretty dire since Samsung launched the Galaxy S2. HTC had previously been the poster child of the Android scene, working with Google to produce such defining handsets as the Dream and Nexus One, but it had nothing in its arsenal capable of challenging Samsung's world-beating device. Since then, the company's fall from grace has been difficult to watch, with 2011's ill-fated acquisition of Beats Audio and the failure of the HTC Flyer tablet causing its position in the market to tumble. Last year's well-designed but commercially lacking HTC One X couldn't stem the tide either, and the Taiwanese firm has recently announced that its 2012 Q4 profits are down 91 per cent year-on-year.
2013 is an incredibly important year for the company formerly known as RIM. The newly-christened BlackBerry is fighting for its life, having seen its previously impressive market share eaten away by Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Its latest handset is one of its most revolutionary: not only ditches the keyboard interface which has made the brand so famous over the years and but also fully embraces the world of touchscreens after briefly flirting with the concept on the BlackBerry Storm. The Z10 also showcases BlackBerry 10, a complete revision of the company's previous operating system which is based around touch and gesture commands.
Released at a time when gaming was dominated by consoles like the 8-bit NES and 16-bit Mega Drive, SNK's Neo Geo system was both powerful - and expensive. Launched in two flavours - MVS for arcade, AES for the home - the system offered coin-op quality visuals at a time when domestic gamers made do with pared-down arcade ports. The catch was the price - the console itself was a significant investment, while the games retailed for anything between £150-£200 a piece.
If you're growing weary with iOS and can't abide Android's fragmented nature, alternatives are thin on the ground. The BlackBerry standard offers a viable choice for business-focused use, but even that is slowly morphing into something more akin to a traditional smartphone, with the recently-launched BlackBerry Z10 ditching the keys and doing its best impression of Apple's iPhone.