Sit down for a moment and think about the best gadgetry of 2008.
Not just the best-selling kit, but those products that raised the technology bar and said to their rivals (somewhat smugly): "go on then, jump over that!"
There's been a lot of great technology this year, but we think that the biggest impact has been caused by this little lot.
Any we've missed out? Add your suggestions in the comments.
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Many have tried to imitate the Apple iPhone – the Samsung Omnia, Pixon and Tocco, the LG Viewty and Renoir, the Blackberry Storm and the Sony Xperia X1. Others, like the Chinese Meizu M8, have simply tried to rip it off. Ignoring the iPhone's crude 2MP camera, Apple's elegant touchscreen handset still remains the smartest mobile phone around. 2008 saw Apple bring its iPod-phone bang up to date with 3G connectivity and GPS. It also opened the iTunes App Store for business, transforming the iPhone into a handheld games machine and, ultimately, a versatile mobile computer. Is there anything it can't do? Yes, cut-and-paste (god dammit!)
2. T-Mobile G1
Imagine if the Apple iPhone didn't exist... We'd be raving (much more so) about the potential of the HTC-built T-Mobile G1. True, its Android operating system might be a little rough around the edges. The G1 has been plagued with usability problems, hardware crashes and patchy application support. These teething troubles aside, the G1 is a milestone in mobile phone development. As the value of smartphones shifts from hardware to software, the flexibility and the open source nature of the Android OS should work to its advantage.
3. Intel Core i7
As Nvidia's David Luebke has suggested, computers aren't just getting faster these days. With the move to multi-core they're getting "wider". The new Core i7 processors we reviewed this year are based on Intel's 45nm Nehalem microarchitecture. These quad-core chips not only feature a new integrated memory controller, but they resurrect Intel's HyperThreading technology. Consequently, each of the four cores can process two threads simultaneously, giving you the equivalent of eight logical processors. And this is just an entry-level Nehalem product. Expect Intel to scale the Core i7 line to incorporate eight and 16 processors in the future.
4. Sony XEL-1
Would you buy an 11-inch TV for £1,300? The Sony XEL-1 is guaranteed to separate the geeks from the early adopters. As the world's first commercially-available OLED television, it's certainly got pulling power. The XEL-1 is ultra-thin (the screen is barely 3mm thick) and beautifully designed (note the chrome). And in technical terms, the OLED display smugly waves a (cough) 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio in the faces of LCD and plasma. One day, all TVs will be made this way. Until then, your £1,300 would be better spent on a nice 46-inch Samsung LE46A786.
5. Windows 7
In 2008 we got our first glimpse of Windows Vista 2 – Windows 7. Microsoft-watchers suggest that a late-2009 release could be on the cards, which means that the bullet headed Steve Ballmer will use CES to trumpet Windows 7's good points – backwards compatibility, improved boot performance, multi-touch and DirectX 11. It's worrying times for Microsoft. Apple and Linux have chipped away at the dominance of the Windows platform and rumours of a 'Google OS' refuse to shut up and die. Microsoft needs a big win in 2009. Windows 7 raises their game, but is it an all new Windows or a Vista Service Pack in disguise?
6. Google Chrome
Since its launch in September, Google's Chrome web browser is still a little rough around the edges. It doesn't handle RSS very well and there are only a few third-party add-ons or plugins. But compared to IE7 and Firefox, Google Chrome is fast, simple, effortlessly usable and very forgiving. Google's minimalist design ethic means that there's no cluttered menu strip, while a multi-purpose 'Omnibar' is used for Google searches and typing in web URLs. We've been using it for almost four months now and it hasn't crashed once. Another step towards a Google OS? Could be...