Friday, December 19, 2008

The best and worst tech products of 2008

Lists like this are awfully subjective, but always fun to work on. As Christmas approaches, it's time to reminisce about the products that really floated my boat in 2008... and a few of the ones that made me run away screaming.

Without further ado, here are my -- completely personal -- picks for some of the best products to come from the world of technology from 2008.

The Best

Gateway MC7803u laptop - It has modest specs and average-to-good performance, but $1,000 (RM3462) flat gets you a gorgeous, 16-inch screen and a distinctive, classy chassis, complete with leather trim. It's altogether an excellent value and has all the features that virtually every user needs in a portable.

Rock Band 2 - Arguably the best game of the year -- I find it humbling that I listen to more music while playing Rock Band than I do on my iPod. The ongoing addition of new -- and good -- music to the game makes it an ongoing favorite at Null HQ.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 - If you must buy a netbook, try Lenovo's outstanding mini, which is exceptionally powerful for its feature set and size and priced to move.

Intel Core i7 CPU - This new CPU is the fastest and most capable microchip on the block, hands down, and it won't melt your computer along the way. Can't wait for the mobile version to arrive in 2009. Read my previous post about intel Core i7 here.

Hulu - This web TV service really came into its own in 2008 after a slow and rocky start. YouTube gets all the press (and about 100 times the traffic), but Hulu has the full-length, high-quality commercial shows and snippets that people actually want to watch. And the player is snappier in response than anything else on the market.

Fabrik [re]drive - Environmentalism in the tech world doesn't have to mean just a good take-back program. The [re]drive is made of bamboo and recyclable aluminum, making it not just more eco-conscious than any other hard drive on the market, but better looking too.

Sony Xperia X1 - If it weren't for the RM2900 price tag, you'd see X1 handsets in the hands of all the digerati instead of the iPhone. (Yeah, I like the iPhone 3G, too, but the atrocious battery life is cause enough to keep it off this year's "best" list.)

Herman-Miller Embody - Can a man fall in love with a chair? Yes, yes he can.

The Worst

Blu-ray - I'm happy to see that Blu-ray players have come down in price... but the media has not, and there's no way I'm paying $25 to watch Step Brothers. Plus the technology is still, bafflingly, dog-slow. - Lots of writers hail's finance tracking system as the best thing since Coca-Cola Classic, but after weeks with the service I've never gotten it to work right. It still can't grab all my account information from one of the biggest banks in the world... and every month I am (wrongly) chastised for spending over $5,000 on groceries, the category into which all my spending is invariably dumped.

DRM in All Its Forms - Why does DRM still exist? It's so aggravating and generates so many lawsuits that promising products like RealDVD get sued off the planet within days of launching. Three months after launch, RealDVD is still "temporarily" off the market as the company deals with a Hollywood lawsuit.

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