When you sit there with a glass of mulled wine this Christmas, think about what a great technology year 2008 has been.
We've had some hot gadgets, smarter phones, flatter TVs and faster (and thinner) computers.
But consider the technological advances that have underpinned your favourite products.
We've had Intel's Atom processor powering a new generation of netbooks.We've seen a new breed of solid state drives teaming up to push the old hard disk towards extinction.
And where would we be without the following...
1. Open source software
2008 has done wonders for the image of open source software. In fact, you could argue that Linux had a breakthrough year. Although we're now on Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex), version 8.04 (Hardy Heron) has done much to spit-and-polish Linux for a mainstream audience. Netbooks like the Asus Eee have the option of the Xandros distro, while the Acer Aspire One runs Linpus Linux Lite. Open source software has also made great strides into the mobile arena with Android, while Nokia bought out the Symbian OS this year and promptly announced it would make it free to developers. Nice.
2. LED backlighting
While OLED technology got a significant boost from the Sony XEL-1 TV this year, let's not overlook the contribution of LED backlighting. It's hardly the most glamorous of technologies – a name like 'diamond backlighting' or 'ultra backlighting' would have given it more pizazz. But anyone who's seen a MacBook Air will attest to the clarity and brightness of an backlit-LED display. Similarly, Philips, Samsung and Sharp have been rolling out LED backlighting inside their newest HDTVs – the Philips 42PFL9803 , Samsung LE46A956 and Sharp LC-52XS1E to name three. If large-sized OLED panels finally become affordable in 2009, expect LED technology to get cheaper.
3. Cloud computing
Who needs Windows 7? The Internet is fast becoming an OS in its own right. Hoping to rival Google's AppEngine and other Cloud computing initiatives, Microsoft unveiled its 'Windows Azure' platform this year. Web users can already use the word processor, spreadsheet and PowerPoint viewer in Google Docs on any Internet-connected device. Microsoft's Cloud-OS is a Windows-based environment that's capable of running applications like Word and Excel online. Azure fans the flames of this hot tech trend. Competition here will ultimately lead to better services and slicker software in 2009.
4. GPGPU – "Supercomputing on the desktop"
The concept of General-Purpose computation on GPUs (GPGPU) recasts GPUs as computing co-processors. By offloading data-intensive tasks from the CPU to other processor cores (like those in a graphics card), developers can gain improved application performance through parallelism. In November 2008, Nvidia unveiled its Tesla Personal Super Computer. This combines a traditional quad-core workstation CPU with three or four Tesla C1060 processors. Each C1060 is effectively a GeForce GTX 280 GPU with 4GB of GDDR3 memory and no video-out. As a result, Nvidia's top-of-the range, four-GPU S1070 system packs up to 4.14 Teraflops of processing power in each rack. Welcome to supercomputing on the desktop.
5. The large Hadron Collider
The debut of the Large Hadron Collider was on a par with the Millennium bug. Overrated and wildly over-reported. Rumours swirled that the world's largest particle accelerator could destroy the Earth. A lawsuit was even filed by doom-mongers in the US, which warned that "atoms colliding together at nearly light speed will cause an irreversible implosion, forming a miniature version of a giant black hole". On the 19th September, scientists successfully fired a stream of protons around the LHC's 17-mile circumference. The same scientists then broke it in December. The first bout of real atom-smashing is now planned for July 2009.
6. Mobile App stores
One of 2008's biggest success stories has been the iTunes App Store. Launched alongside the iPhone 3G (and version 2.0 of the iPhone/iPod touch firmware), the App Store has transformed the way that people add new software to a mobile phone. It has also caused an explosion of games, utilities and productivity apps to appear, ranging from professionally-coded (and premium-priced) software to free hobbyist projects. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the 'Android Market', Palm's 'Software Store' and RIM's forthcoming Blackberry equivalent speak volumes.
7. A cool electric car
Take a look at the electric cars available in the UK today and most of them look like a four-door saloon that's been driven into a wall. Fast. But besting the stubby G-Wiz, the Gem e2 and the NICE MyCar was the Tesla Roadster. Not only is it gorgeous to look at, This two-seater sports car shows that it's perfectly possible to make an electric vehicle that doesn't handle like a milk float. The 2008 models are already sold out and there's a waiting list for a cat in 2009.
8. Internet video
While the BBC's iPlayer was originally launched in December 2007, this year has belonged to Internet video. Where would we be without an almost effortless ability to watch Strictly Come Dancing on our laptops and mobile phones? Internet video and catch-up TV services are quickly making TV schedules redundant, enabling us to watch what we want, when we want (and often where we want). In the UK alone, telly-watchers can call upon the iPlayer, ITV Player, Sky Player and 4OD. Movies can be rented over Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, while BT Vision provides pioneering pay-as-you-go IPTV. And now iPlayer downloads also work on Mac and Linux too thanks to Adobe AIR.
9. Firmware upgrades
It's no surprise that the best technology is often the most flexible. Consider the iPhone, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Each one of these devices is 'firmware upgradeable', enabling their manufacturers to reinvent or upgrade the software at will. In 2008, Apple's version 2.x iPhone/iPod touch firmware has added the App Store, Enterprise support, Google Street View and various application enhancements. The Xbox 360 has recently been revamped with the New Xbox Experience (NXE), while PlayStation updates have added DivX and VC-1 playback and Blu-ray Profile 2.0 support.
10. Petaflop power
According to the list of the World's Top 500 Supercomputers, the IBM 'Roadrunner' is currently the world's fastest computer. The Roadrunner is a combination of Opteron and 3.2GHz PowerXCell 8i processors, a more powerful version of the PlayStation 3's Cell chip. This $133 million dollar machine broke the petaflop barrier in June 2008, capable of processing in excess of 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second.
Now read The hottest PC technology for 2009
Sign up for the free weekly TechRadar newsletter
Get tech news delivered straight to your inbox. Register for the free TechRadar newsletter and stay on top of the week's biggest stories and product releases. Sign up at http://www.techradar.com/register