Last Year's Innovations: The Keepers and the Flops
Sometimes the public embraces a product breakthrough like a long-lost friend. Other times, being innovative just isn't enough. (Remember the Apple Newton?) Maybe the company just can't find the right way to sell its idea. Or perhaps the public simply isn't ready for a new technology. With that in mind, we look back at the winners and losers among our Innovation Award picks from last year.
Intel Core 2 Duo:Intel's Core 2 Duo line of CPUs pumped up processing while reducing power consumption--no mean feat. The company's launch in late 2007 of its 45-nanometer Penryn chips (see our first desktop review, "Desktops: Penryn PC Takes Power Prize") looks likely to extend its current lead over key rival AMD.
Nintendo Wii: The wee, $250 Wii broke new ground with its innovative motion-sensing controller. Since then, the appeal of this still-hard-to-find console to casual gamers has helped it outsell the more powerful PlayStation 3.
Parallels Desktop for Mac:Apple's dual-boot software, Boot Camp, is now in Leopard--great. But who wants to reboot every time they need to switch operating systems? Parallels Version 3 ($80) adds Windows gaming prowess.
Sony PlayStation 3: The long-delayed introduction of the PlayStation 3 landed it in the eighth spot in our "Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006," and the console might be the poster child for engineering overkill: Even though the original 60GB model cost $599, analysts speculated that Sony was still losing $200 on each living-room "supercomputer." The new $399 entry-level PS3 model should make the console more popular with buyers, at least.
Sony Reader: Last year, we were wowed by this svelte e-book reader's electronic-paper display, which delivers long battery life and exhibits no flicker. The company later improved the screen with its $300 PRS-505, but the Reader has failed to become an "iPod for books."