Best in Tech Awards for 2010
Our Best in Tech Awards couldn’t come at a better time. Nothing can make or break a business trip like having the right high-tech gear with you, so it’s essential to make the right choices when you make purchases. Breakthrough technology always gets major media play but, in a year filled with upgrades and enhancements, surprisingly little has landed in recent months that’s truly groundbreaking.
That said, the refinements and improvements we’ve seen made lately to some of the market’s best products have rendered them even more impressive. We’ve fallen in love all over again with some of our favorite products now new, improved and often a lot cheaper. And we honor these products with our 2010 Best in Tech Awards.
Phones & Accessories
Apple iphone 3GS, 32GB
The iPhone still isn’t perfect (AT&T’s coverage remains a sore spot), but it’s inarguably the best smartphone on the market. The iPhone 3GS includes voice control and video recording, and its storage capacity has been upped to 32GB.
apple.com; $299 (with two year contract)
Best because: Does more than any other phone on the planet.
Runners-up: Palm Pre, T-Mobile myTouch 3G
Aliph Jawbone Prime
The Jawbone didn’t just get smaller—it got pretty, too. Now available in seven colors, this headset can be matched to your favorite outfit, or you can stick with basic black, coffee or platinum.
jawbone.com; $115 (estimated street price)
Best because: Great quality matched by upscale style.
Runners-up: Plantronics Voyager Pro, Jabra BT 2080
Casio Exilim EX-FS10
Casio’s EX-FS10 may look unassuming, but it packs an incredible, high-speed shooting mode, capable of snapping slow-motion video at up to 1,000 frames per second, into its tiny frame. Anti-shake and night-mode features round out a killer package.
Best because: Everything you need in a camera for any shooting situation.
Runners-up: Canon PowerShot A2100 IS, FujiFilm F70EXR
Tired of hunching over or holding your camcorder up to your face in order to capture shots? Samsung’s R10 is the first high-definition video camera to take ergonomics seriously, with an angled design that lets you see the LCD touchscreen while holding the camera comfortably.
Best because: Exceptionally portable yet still offers impressive quality.
Runners-up: Flip UltraHD, Canon Vixia HF200 or HV30
LED backlighting gives this LCD from LG Electronics unbelievable clarity and contrast. It also consumes as little as a quarter of the power of traditionally-lit flatscreens. Other features include four HDMI ports, 240Hz refresh and a 24p cinema mode.
lge.com; $1,900 (42-inch) or $3,200 (55-inch)
Best because: As future-proof as a television can get—with no feature left out.
Runners-up: Vizio VO420E, Panasonic Viera G10
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a state-of-the-art receiver that can power every high-def gadget in your house. Onkyo’s budget system can feed sound to up to nine speakers, features five HDMI inputs and goes for less than 400 bucks.
Best because: Absurdly inexpensive yet capable of handling the needs of even hard-core entertainment buffs.
Runners-up: Yamaha RX-V465, Denon AVR-2310CI
Apple iPod Classic 120GB
The Classic may seem quaint in a world ruled by iPhones, but it’s still the easiest way to carry extremely large music and movie collections with you wherever you go.
Best because: Storage aplenty, plus Apple’s legendary ease of use.
Runners-up: Sansa Fuze, Sony Walkman X-Series
Long the king of high-end earbuds, Shure at last delves into over-the-ear headphones, with resounding success. The SRH440 cans aren’t noise-canceling, but they don’t really need to be. These oversize, super-soft muffs are comfortable for long flights and muffle the outside world wonderfully.
Best because: The same quality and comfort of headphones that cost three times as much.
Runners-up: Etymotic ER-6i, Razer Moray
Lenovo Thinkpad USB Portable Secure HD
Here’s a portable hard drive with a uniquely secure spin: It has a numeric keypad built right into the shell. Punch in the wrong digits, and you’re locked out of the data on the drive. 160GB capacity.
Best because: Security shouldn’t be an afterthought for your essential files.
Runners-up: Samsung S1 Mini, Iomega eGo
Portable, reliable and effortlessly simple to use, Amazon’s second-generation Kindle is the e-reader to beat right now. We like it better than the jumbo-size Kindle DX, which has usability and durability concerns.
Best because: The gold standard of e-book readers, with a great selection of titles.
Runners-up: COOL-ER eReader, Sony Reader Digital Book
Garmin Nuvi 885T
Every GPS bell, whistle, triangle and glockenspiel can be found in this best-of-breed gadget. Bluetooth, voice recognition, FM transmitter? It’s got ’em. The 885T even tells you which lane to get in, so you don’t miss your turn.
Best because: Positively filled with features, ensuring you’ll never get lost.
Runners-up: TomTom GO 740 LIVE, Mio Moov S501
Optoma Pico PK101
The days of lugging a projector around in its own suitcase are over. Optoma’s Pico weighs just four ounces and can slip into your pocket, but it projects an image as large as 60 inches diagonally when connected to just about any mobile device.
Best because: Projects a quality image from a gadget the size of a cell phone.
Runners-up: NEC NP300, Dell 4310WX
CHRISTOPHER NULL is a technology writer who blogs for Yahoo! Tech.