Smartphones were a big hit this year and for me the stand out product was definitely the iPhone 3G. Once Apple offered up the iPhone with the addition of 3G capability the smartphone took off like a rocket and went on to dominate the U.S. sales charts and grab a large percentage of the smartphone market worldwide. The iPhone 3g was the standout smartphone this year, but there were other devices worth mentioning. The T-Mobile G1 gets a nod for being the first smartphone running Google's open source Android OS.
I have said it before, 2008 was the year of the netbook. The low-cost little machines have helped keep the computer market afloat during the tough economy worldwide. I have looked at a few netbooks over 2008 and my favorite product has been the MSI Wind. The Wind is notable for its bright 10-inch screen and its fantastic keyboard. I also found the Asus Eee 1002HA very appealing, but the Wind has a better keyboard. MSI is releasing an updated Wind at CES in a few weeks so my favorite netbook of 2008 looks to be getting even better.
Best Digital Picture Frame
I am a big fan of digital picture frames and have several of them around my home and office. The entire digital picture frame category often gets a bad rap based on the poor performance of some of the products in the category. One digital frame that people will be very pleased with is the Impact7 from eStarling. The frame offers up integrated Wi-Fi that allows images to be synced from social networks (though it lacks MySpace capability). The image quality is very good and the frame offers all of this up at a great price.
There are tons of video game accessories that hit the market this year. My favorite was the Starpex Guitar Controller for the PS3. The controller offers up a wooden body and neck with the weight and size of a real guitar. The fret buttons are excellent and the overall build quality is top notch. The controller even works with Rock band, Rock Band 2, and Guitar Hero. This was the best video game accessory of 2008.
Best iPod Accessory
One of the coolest iPod accessories that I found this year was the SoundCast OutCast wireless speaker system. The system docks with an iPod and sends the tunes wirelessly to an outdoor speaker system. The large speaker system includes a 100W amp, 8-inch woofer, and 3-inch drivers. The system sounds good and is a great way to get tunes outside for activities like cookouts and pool parties.
The best robot gadget/toy of 2008 is the WowWee Rovio. The robot looks like something that would be sent to explore Mars and features a 640 x 480 pixel camera to shoot video as it moves around your home or office. The device also features a two-way mic so you can talk to the people or pets you find. Rovio features NorthStar smart navigation and positioning which is sort of like a micro-GPS system that allows the bot to navigate on its own.
The best music player of 2008 is definitely the iPod Touch 2G. This device is so much more than a simple music player with the gyroscope from the iPhone along with a touchscreen it is one of the most potent mobile gaming platforms around. The device also works very well for playing music. The Touch 2G is an easy pick for top music player of 2008.
Intel's new Core i7 CPU offers more performance, better power consumption and more improvements when compared to anything from AMD or the older Intel core 2 Duo CPUs. Core i7 parts are certainly not cheap with the high-end extreme edition selling for well over $1000. The new CPU requires a new socket mainboard and offers up performance that is well over that of most other processors on the market.
The best TV of 2008 is the Mitsubishi LaserVue set. LaserVue offers more color reproduction than other HDTVs on the market, improved depth of field, clarity and significantly reduced power needs. Mitsubishi says that the set consumes about half of the power needed by a similarly sized plasma TV. A nice feature for future-proofing is that Mitsubishi LaserVue sets are 3D viewing ready.
Best Home Theater Device
The best home theater device of 2008 is the Roku Netflix Player. The little player was the first device to stream movie rentals directly from Netflix to our TVs. Roku offers the device at a price most can afford at $99 and recently upgraded the device for free to handle HD streams from Netflix. With a MSRP much less than the similar Apple TV device, the Roku Netflix Player is one of the best gadgets to launch this year.