Top gadget reviews of 2010


24 Dec 2010

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We take a look back at all the gadget movers and shakers that Siliconrepublic got to rate throughout the year.

The Apple iPad

Apple’s most notable release of the year had to be the iPad. The slim tablet computer gave the technology industry a new way to look at mobile computing. In our review, we were very impressed with the device, which we saw as revolutionising consumer technology:

“The iPad is not restricted to the busy tech enthusiast, the web-hungry teen or young adult, or the Apple fanboys and fangirls. Now that the netbook market is well and truly developed, we can see the appetite for lightweight web-friendly devices and you can’t get more aesthetically pleasing or easy to use than Apple’s creation. If the popularity curve of the iPod and iPhone are anything to go by, the iPad represents a new branch in the evolution of personal computing.”

The Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle aimed to bring the timeless, traditional book to the future without losing what makes reading such a rewarding past time. We were initially sceptical of the concept of the e-book reader, but thanks to the Kindle’s e-ink technology, we were pleasantly surprised.

“All in all, I put my original prejudices against electronic book readers aside and can honestly say that the Amazon Kindle has changed my perception. It’s a sturdy little device with enough power to keep my love of reading alive and enriched … indefinitely.”

Samsung Wave

If there’s one thing that 2010 was known for, it was for the explosion of the smartphone. Samsung brought out the Wave, the first of their phones running on their Bada OS. While we felt that it may not be a huge challenger to the iPhone or high-end Android smartphones, we were still very happy with the device.

“… You could do a hell of a lot worse than getting a Samsung Wave. As I said, I’m not normally this nice to something and with good cause. If you assume everything will ultimately disappoint then when it eventually happens you have the smug satisfaction of being right. The Wave, however, proved me wrong.”

HTC Desire

Along with the smartphone’s boom came the rising popularity of Android devices to challenge the iPhone’s throne.We thought that the HTC Desire is a handset up to the job, with its HTC Sense overlay and open source sensibilities.

"Wonderful looking, fun to customise, and with everything you need to be a mobile 21st-century guy or gal, the Desire is most definitely desirous.”

Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung weren’t going to be left out of the Android parade and launched its heavyweight Galaxy S, with top media capabilities. We were thoroughly impressed with the device, praising the level of innovation the phone contained.

“A powerful multimedia phone in its own right, the Galaxy S also uses the Android operating system to full effect. If you haven’t upgraded your phone in a while you’ll be most impressed with how big and high definition the screen is.”

iPhone 4

However, in spite of all the talk of iPhone contenders, Apple was sure to remind people why they were still the ones to watch. The iPhone 4, while bringing antenna-based controversy, boasted a new Retina display and Facetime video calls. We thought the iPhone 4 was a fantastic device, but not enough to convert Apple cynics.

“Will it encourage a non-iPhone user to rush out and buy one? Not any more than the previous models would. Should you upgrade from the iPhone 3GS/3G? Bear in mind that swapping over your old SIM is not an option as the iPhone 4 takes those tiny new micro-SIMs. However, be warned: if you get a chance to play with someone else’s iPhone 4 you may not be able to resist.”

Sony PlayStation Move

Mobile technology wasn’t the only area that was notable this year. Both Sony and Microsoft decided to get a slice of the motion-controller pie with new peripherals. First up was Sony with the PlayStation Move, a system which combined a motion controller with the Eyetoy camera for the PlayStation 3. We loved the technology, but thought that the launch games left much to be desired.

“While the hardware works really well, a lot of these launch titles don’t do it justice. Most of the games don’t push the medium far enough to differentiate itself from the Wii. It certainly is the most precise motion controller around, but it will take a while for games to come out to truly test its merit.”

Windows Phone 7 on the HTC HD7

Keen to throw itself back into the smartphone arena, Microsoft released its new mobile OS, Windows Phone 7. With its streamlined design and hub-based system, it was certainly a step up from what had gone before. We took a look at it on the HTC HD7, and while we felt it needed work, we saw its potential.

“The Windows Phone 7 platform may still need a bit of work, but once that work is done, it will be quite a contender in the market.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Tech companies were not keen to let Apple have a monopoly on the tablet computing market. The Samsung Galaxy Tab brought an Android competitor, with a 7-inch display and a front and back-facing camera. We weren’t convinced it could dethrone the iPad but it was worthy of standing up against it.

“I’m not sure if you could call the Samsung Galaxy Tab a full-blown iPad beater, though it’s certainly a strong competitor, if not an equal. While the Android market still needs a bit of work on tablet app offerings, the Galaxy Tab does have a lot of pluses on the iPad, such as the smaller size and video calling, and it’s a fantastic Android-based alternative to Apple’s current tablet offering.”

Microsoft Kinect

Following the Move came the Kinect, the motion sensor that demanded gamers throw away their controllers and use their bodies to play. While, like with the Move, we felt that the game it came with wasn’t enough to keep us satisfied,we still thought that the technology itself was incredibly innovative.

“All in all, the Kinect is a masterpiece of technology and the lack of a controller in your hand is actually quite liberating. The other fantastic thing about the Kinect that people need to realise is if you’re an Xbox LIVE user, the Kinect doubles as a way to control your music and movies. I tried this out and was able to pass a movie with the swipe of my hand and flick through various scenes as if I was Tom Cruise in Minority Report. Other things to bear in mind is additional content through services like Last.fm, where with a wave of their hand or a voice command, users can play, skip, ban and love tracks.”