TechRadar's best gear of 2011

TechRadar's best gear of 2011
The PowerShot S100 is a top all rounder

Every year, we review hundreds of bits of hardware here at TechRadar, and every year the standard gets better and better. The phones get more advanced, the PCs get faster and the TVs get a picture quality we never though possible.

Of course, it can be hard to follow all those reviews, especially when some products get so much hype, but turn out to be disappointing.

Well, we say the best kit always rises to the top, and the list below is definitely the cream of the crop. Our experts selected the products that stood out far above the rest, either because of having top features, excellent quality, a bargain price or all of the above, so you can be sure that this is the best kit of 2011.

Best LCD TV: Philips 46PFL9706H

Philips 46pfl9706h

This Philips set wins out for one very good reason: it produces quite possibly the best 2D pictures we've ever seen from an LCD TV. The Moth Eye filter and direct LED backlighting create an astonishingly good contrast ratio, and the Perfect Pixel HD processing engine helps to create truly beautiful images.

It's smart, too, with plenty of internet-connected features, and 3D support. We should stick in a special mention here for the Samsung UE60D8000, simply for its sheer wow factor. With an almost invisible bezel and impossibly slim form factor, it's as much a work of modern art as it is a television.

Read TechRadar's full Philips 46PFL9706H review

Best plasma TV: Panasonic TX-P55VT30B

Panasonic txp55vt30b

Proving that 2011 was a hell of a year for TVs, we not only had the best LCD picture quality ever, but now the best plasma TV ever. This TV sits at the top of Panasonic's range, and it really shows. Images are bright and full of colour, with 3D images a vast improvement over previous plasma models. There's almost no crosstalk (ghosting) at all, meaning you can enjoy visually rich films at their very best.

Read TechRadar's full Panasonic TX-P55VT30B review

Best Blu-ray player: Panasonic DMP-BDT310

Panasonic dmpbdt310

This top-of-the-range Panasonic Blu-ray player packs in an extraordinary feature list, including iPhone control, Skype functionality and 2D to 3D conversion, but also manages to produce excellent video performance with 2D or 3D content. And yet, somehow, it's also brilliantly easy to use. It's not cheap, but you get what you pay for and then some with this unit.

Read TechReadar's full Panasonic DMP-BDT310 review

Best compact system camera: Sony Alpha NEX-7

Sony alpa nex7

This camera might be pricey and oddly shaped, but its massive pixel count and the best EVF we've seen to date won us over. The tough, lightweight magnesium body helps too, and the manual controls and excellent video quality from the 24-megapixel sensor are ideal for professionals.

It's a close run thing with the Panasonic G3, though, which has an EVF and an articulated touchscreen to help capture images from all sorts of angles.

Read TechRadar's full Sony Alpha NEX-7 review

Best DSLR: Sony Alpha 77

Sony alpha 77

OK, we admit that, strictly speaking, this isn't an SLR, because it has a fixed translucent mirror rather than a standard moving mirror, but to the average user it's the same thing. Well, apart from the fact that it has a phenomenal 12fps maximum continuous shooting rate, full-time autofocus in live view and video mode and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) in place of an optical viewfinder.

The EVF is the same one as in the NEX-7, and it comes as close to an optical unit as we've got yet, but it also shows a range of useful data. The icing on the cake is the A77's 24.3-megapixel sensor, which captures heaps of detail.

Read TechRadar's Hands on: Sony Alpha 77 review

Best compact camera: Canon PowerShot S100

PowerShot s100

Canon's S95 was one of the most popular compact cameras around, but the company has managed to improve on it with this model, primarily by updating the sensor technology to improve low light performance. Slight modifications to the body also make the S100 much more comfortable to hold and use one-handed that its predecessor, while raw shooting and manual control make this a top all rounder in a small package.

Read TechRadar's full Canon PowerShot S100 review

Best phone: Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung galaxy s2

The Samsung Galaxy S2 is here for one simple reason: it absolutely blew away the competition when it was released. It proved that you could have slim good looks and dual-core speed with a big, beautiful screen in one package.

Everything about it works brilliantly, from the obvious, such as the slick interface on the Super AMOLED Plus screen, to the little things, like the speed of the GPS. Samsung raised the bar for mobile phones massively the day the Galaxy S2 came out.

Read TechRadar's full Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Best tablet: Apple iPad 2

iPad 2

The tablet market has grown hugely since the original iPad renewed the world's interest in larger touchscreens, but the iPad 2 was where it really started to grow up. The criticism that tablets were for consumption, rather than creation, were blown away by the combination of dual-core power and apps such as GarageBand, Codify and ArtRage.

The iPad 2 is slicker, thinner and lighter than before, with great apps for absolutely anyone, making it the best tablet out there.

Read TechRadar's full Apple iPad 2 review

Best gaming product: Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3ds

When the 3DS first arrived, we were massively impressed with the hardware. The analogue Circle Pad feels easy to control, the 3D effect is immediately impressive, and the augmented reality games that are built in really showed off what you could do with the hardware.

But it suffered from a lack of high-quality games for most of 2011, which held it back. Now we've got the likes of Super Mario Land 3D and Mario Kart 7, we're reminded what an engrossing gaming experience the 3DS offers.

Read TechRadar's full Nintendo 3DS review

Best audio product: Atomic Floyd SuperDarts

Atomic floyd superdarts

There are two things you need to know about the SuperDarts: they are really quite expensive; and they sound absolutely amazing. There's no question about it – these headphones are brilliant, and if you can afford them, you should get them. Every nuance and piece of detail in your music will be picked out, and you'll just want to listen to everything anew. Even the Kevlar cables are superb, ensuring that you're not struggling with knots when you want to be listening to your music.

Read TechRadar's full Atomic Floyd SuperDarts review

Best sat nav: TomTom Go Live 825

Go live 825

TomTom already made the best sat-nav devices around, and yet this is even easier to use and more powerful. It's slick and polished in the extreme, with features such as spoken road names and signposting at motorway junctions. There are options for traffic and safety camera updates as well, making this the best sat-nav choice on the market.

Read TechRadar's full TomTom Go Live 825 review

Best ebook reader: Amazon Kindle 4


The latest Amazon Kindle is smaller and lighter than before, but also significantly cheaper. It feels much more mature when it comes to software, and the screen is the best it's ever been. The Kindle Store is still the best place for picking up ebooks, though we will say it's a shame there's no 3G option. That doesn't detract from this being a bona fide bargain.

Read TechRadar's full Amazon Kindle 4 review

Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.