Feature Articles

Top 100 Products of 2008

Top 100 Products of 2008

Nos 1 - 10

The Year in Review

In the grand scheme of things, the many developments in the tech industry for 2008 will probably fade from our memories in a couple of years. Many of the products and technologies that we have seen are not exactly groundbreaking; they are evolutionary. Those that are truly groundbreaking could be such a dark horse on its debut that we'll only realize it a decade from now. Hence, we see more of the same products (or their sequels) dominating the sales charts and news headlines: more Apple iPhones, more Nintendo Wii, more Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Yet 2008 did see some major developments that could make it to the history books. For once, Sony finally saw one of its formats win the war. After a lengthy struggle, Blu-ray became the official format for HD content after Toshiba-led HD DVD conceded defeat. There's still a lot of uncertainty about the viability of the medium however, with the Internet posing a stiff challenge, especially with online stores like Apple's iTunes Store.

Intel continues to steamroll the competition with moves towards 32nm chip production while launching its next generation architecture that prepares it for a future with even more processing cores and memory bandwidth. Rival AMD did manage to stage a revival for its GPU business with the impressive Radeon HD 4000 series while spinning off its foundry business bought it some time to continue its business restructuring. The recent ratification of the OpenCL standard is another interesting and perhaps significant milestone in shifting our computing models to a data-parallel version.

The touch interface trend that we mentioned last year rode another huge wave of popularity in 2008, with more handheld devices designed with this interface in mind coming to market. With Windows 7 and its multi-touch support expected to launch next year, this is one trend that will go mainstream very soon, if it's not already.

Another sight to behold was the opening of the floodgates in the netbook market, with practically every vendor trying to duplicate the success of the ASUS Eee PC. Similarly powered by Intel's Atom, these inexpensive, portable devices hit the right chords with consumers and in our opinion, is a pretty big message to manufacturers that in this age of prevalent, free Internet connectivity, staying connected for cheap (and long) is more desired than raw performance.

Then of course, there are the technologies that have promised much but have not delivered yet. WiMAX for instance has been in the headlines for quite a while but there has been little real progress on the implementation despite Intel's efforts. We could say the same for Sony's PlayStation 3, the slow burner of a console that still remains third in the console stakes despite its 'technological' edge, which goes to show that tech adoption is not solely about superior technology.

Best of 2008 Awards

So what are the tech gadgets and products that have struck our fancy this year? From consumer electronics to PC components, the top 100 products that we have short listed here cover the entire gamut of technology. These are products that truly deserve a mention for being outstanding and influential in their respective categories, many of which the editorial team have methodologically tested and reviewed through the year. In no particular order of merit, our top picks of the best 100 products of the year are as follows:-

The ASUS Rampage II Extreme is the ultimate overclocker's board. ASUS has added even more extreme features for this edition, based on Intel's latest X58 chipset for the Core i7. With the overclocking numbers to back its features, this board will be a top choice when attempting overclocking world records.

RIM has a gem of a device with its latest BlackBerry Bold. Its successfully popular QWERTY keyboard is now joined by an aesthetic design befitting the sleek and smart business executive. And bonuses on the Bold includes Wi-Fi, HSDPA and of course, its primary BlackBerry Enterprise Server. We call this device with its faux leather casing - the head turner.

Whoever said size matters obviously have not heard of Bose, and more specifically its new Computer Music Monitors. Despite its small size, it will easily put larger speakers to shame thanks to opposing passive radiators that cancel each other's mechanical vibrations.

With YouTube leading the way for user created videos, the device that taps into this trend is the Flip Mino portable camcorder. Simple and user friendly, the Flip Mino is the hip device to own for those who have always wanted to quickly get into the recording and not about the settings.

The HTC Touch Pro is another rare find. Though seemingly thicker and chunky, it does come with a strong performance suite that includes a Qualcomm 528MHz processor and 288MB and 512MB ROM. But what makes it stunningly good, is the slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard that made us type non-stop on this member of the HTC Touch family.

The GeForce 9600 GSO SKU was written off by graphics card enthusiasts even before it was released. Thankfully, XFX has taken their magic and breathed new life into it, giving us the GeForce 9600 GSO XXX Edition. Overclocked to levels bordering on pure insanity, this card has the power to take down its more illustrious GeForce 9600 GT cousins.

AMD's fortunes needed a boost and the 'Shanghai' Opteron is a timely introduction. With a shrink to the 45nm process that enabled higher clocks on the CPU, coupled with internal architectural enhancements that improved power efficiency and performance, this new chip is a ready upgrade for existing AMD Opteron users and should keep the company competitive till Intel starts churning out server grade Core i7 processors.

Though late to the scene, what makes the Motorola ZN5's 5-megapixel camera impressive was the collaboration with Kodak. Amongst most other 5-megapixel cameras within the year, we have to say the ZN5 took the top spot in the year 2008 until the coming of the 8-megapixel devices.

Enermax's Revolution 85+ PSU is one of the best when it comes to high power efficiency while maintaining stable voltages and low, cool temperatures. With outstanding build quality and some new technologies, this is the PSU to get for the year if price is not an issue.

  Unveiled during CommunicAsia 2008, the Samsung Omnia had many similarities to a certain device from a company with a fruit as its logo. But this Windows Mobile device was quite a hit, mainly for its 3.2-inch screen size and its DivX capabilities. And did we mention 16GB of internal storage for you to store your music and videos?