The 2009 Eddys
Selecting the year's best products is never easy. 2009 was no exception. We saw major upgrades to Apple's hardware lines and excellent new products from third-party vendors. But after weeks of debate, we winnowed our list down to the following 10—the winners of this year's Editors' Choice Awards for hardware. (Here are our software winners.) (Photography by Peter Belanger.)
2009 was the Year the Mini Came Back: After nearly two years of stagnation, Apple unveiled big Mac mini updates in early 2009 and again later in the year. The mini got faster CPUs, more RAM, larger hard drives, and even a server configuration, all for under $1,000. Turns out Apple cares about the mini after all.
At first, we rolled our eyes at the name. But once we’d used the iPhone 3GS, we had to agree that the ‘S’ stands for ‘speed.’ It is indeed significantly faster than the iPhone 3G. It also has a better camera, video recording, and good voice-command, with prices starting at $200. For the third year in a row, Apple again produced the best iPhone yet.
HP Photosmart Premium Web C309
Multifunction printers all do the same things: They print, scan, copy, and sometimes fax. HP’s $340 Photosmart Premium Web C309 does something new: It supports Print Apps. Those apps let you do things like print movie tickets before you leave the house. HP proves there still room for innovation in the printer market.
3G routers connect you to the Net from almost anywhere, then let you share that connection with others. The problem: Most of them are the same size as their desktop counterparts. The MiFi 2200 changes that: It’s a full-fledged 3G router, but it’s the size of an iPhone, making it the perfect accessory to toss in your laptop bag.
This year’s iPod touch isn’t remarkable for its improved speed or a slew of new features. Rather, the iPod touch earns an Eddy this year simply for being so right. The nano or shuffle might be better for the gym, and the classic holds more. But if you were lucky enough to own every iPod model on the market, we’d bet the touch is the one you’d use the most.
Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive
The Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive ($160 to $210) stores your music, videos, and photos in one place, where they’re accessible from any Mac or PC on the network. It has its own iTunes server, remote access capabilities, and support for Time Machine and BitTorrent. Yet it’s simple to set up and manage. It’s that last bit that earns it an Eddy.
Canon Powershot SD780 IS
The 12-megapixel, $250 Powershot SD780 IS is good at everything. It produces top-notch images and captures video at 720p HD resolution. At the same time, it’s admirably easy to use, with intuitive, easy-to-navigate menus, and nice 2.5-inch LCD. It was our favorite point-and-shoot of the year.
Panasonic Lumix GF1
Panasonic’s $900 Lumix GF1 offers an enticing compromise between the power and flexibility of an SLR and the portability of a point-and-shoot. It lets you use interchangeable lenses and includes an SLR-sized image sensor, yet it’s not much bigger than one of those compact cameras
HD pocket camcorders were everywhere in 2009. But Pure Digital really defined the category. Of all its models, our favorite was the $230 Flip MinoHD. It’s simple to operate, shoots well in low light, and gets colors and tone right in most shooting conditions. It may be a crowded field, but the Flip MinoHD clearly stands out.
Digital artists and regular users alike should check out Wacom’s Bamboo Fun tablet. It can serve as a giant touchpad for everyday input. And as a pen, it’s unbeatable for graphics work, with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. The $100 Bamboo Fun is one of the most innovative input devices we’ve seen in a while; it may be the nicest graphics tablet we’ve ever seen.