29 Exceptional Products for Tech Lovers

From laptops to printers, to GPS devices and cell phones, we honor just a few of the products that broke performance, design and price barriers in 2007.

Picture Perfect Plasma: Panasonic TH-42PZ700U

The TH-42PZ700U isn't cheap, and you don't get a lot of neat extra features for your money, but it does have an excellent picture. During November testing PC World's jury rated its picture higher than that of any other TV, with high marks for overall picture quality in high-definition broadcasts and in disc-based content (Blu-ray, HD-DVD, and plain old DVD). We were particularly impressed by the superb detail, especially in people's skin and hair. Full Review | Latest Prices

Quality That's a True Bargain: Vizio VP42 Plasma

Who knew that you could get an image this good for a mere grand? Even though the Vizio VP42 costs less than any other television in our recent HDTV roundup of 40 and 42-inch sets, it managed to come in second in our image-quality tests to Panasonic's TH-42PZ700U. If all you care about is the best picture for the best price, this is the flat-panel set to buy. Full Review | Vendor Pricing

Blazing Speed: Apple MacBook Pro

The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year is a Mac. Try that again: The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year--or for that matter, ever--is a Mac. Not a Dell, not a Toshiba, not even an Alienware. The $2419 (plus the price of a copy of Windows Vista, of course) MacBook Pro's PC WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 88 beats Gateway's E-265M by a single point, but the MacBook's score is far more impressive simply because Apple couldn't care less whether you run Windows. Full Review | Latest Prices

The Rock: HP DV6500t

Talk about an amazing run. Since we first reviewed it in May, this wonderfully designed laptop has refused to fall off our top ten chart for all-purpose notebooks. It is without doubt one of the most succesful notebooks of 2007 and continues to be. And why not: it is priced affordably (around $700), performs well, is beautifully designed and relatively lightweight. You loved this notebook too as it was one of the most viewed products here...and continues to be.With products like this, it's no surprise that HP has rebounded strongly this year. Full Review | Vendor Pricing

Lightweight Laptop Winner: Fujitsu LifeBook P1610

Eight Fujitsu LifeBook P1610 ultraportable laptops barely outweigh one Aspire 9810-6829. The 2.2-pound, $2419 (when we last saw it) P1610 comes without a built-in optical drive and doesn't have much oomph, but it also doesn't put a dent in your trapezius--and it has a touch screen and an 80GB hard drive. Peyton Manning could probably throw one 60 yards downfield in a tight spiral. Full Review | Latest Prices

Best Laptop Battery Life: Sony VGN-TXN15P / B

It may be slow compared to many laptops, but you'll have plenty of time to wait with this $2300, broadband-ready VAIO ultraportable: It turned in the best battery-life performance we've seen, lasting just over 6.5 hours. With a spare battery--only $300 from could fly cross-country and back and never have to rejuice. Full Review | Latest Prices

Smallest & Greenest PC: Enano EX7200

Measuring 9 by 7 by 1.5 inches, the Enano EX7200 contains mostly laptop components but performs better than many desktops do. It's a green PC too, with an Energy Star 4.0 rating and EPEAT certification. You may be able to rack-mount several inside a War Machines M1 Elite, though we haven't tried that yet. Full Review | Latest Prices

Best Technical Design, PC Division: HP Blackbird 002 Lci

Starting at $2500 and boasting distinct design features inside and out, the Blackbird 002 is a creation of boutique gaming PC maker VoodooPC, which HP acquired last year ( see our video . Though designed with gamers in mind, its exceptional build quality (from the wedge-shaped, aluminum chassis to a well-crafted and uncluttered interior with excellent thermal-management) makes it an excellent choice for other power users seeking a well-engineered system that remains cool and quiet while handling demanding tasks. Full Review | Vendor Pricing

Rocket Fast PC: Xi MTower IGE-Stacker

That's "Stacker," not "Slacker." This system smoked our benchmark, and all the other systems we've reviewed. Its WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 139 was 10 points better than the mark of the second-place system, a CyberPower Gamer Infinity Ultimate. Even the first Penryn-based PC we tested, the CyberPower Power Infinity Pro, trailed, with a score of 120. The IGE Stacker we tested cost only $3299, too--a pretty good price for the performance. Full Review | Vendor Pricing

Best Compact Performer: Fujifilm FinePix F50fd

The Fujifilm FinePix F50fd has very high resolution, offers tons of features, and performed quite well in our tests. It may look dull, but the looks are only shell-deep. This camera earned the highest mark in its class in our tests for the least distortion and received very high marks for sharpness of its photos.Full Review | Latest Prices

Best SLR Performance: Canon EOS Digital Rebel

With the new 8-megapixel Digital Rebel XT, Canon added necessary internal improvements to put the Rebel XT among the top consumer single lens reflex cameras. SLRs. Its fast action, compact size, and great imaging makes this camera one of top picks among inexpensive digital SLRs. Full Review | Latest Prices

Highest Rated Cellphone: BlackBerry 8300 Curve

Nope, it wasn't the iPhone, it's RIM's BlackBerry Curve 8300 (soon to be discontinued, but still available in retail stores) that drew an awesome "90" or Superior in the PC World's ratings. Its $200 price was only part of the reason (and it's available now for as low as $75). This petite and gently rounded smart phone (hence its name) is both stylish, useful and a joy to use. It also packs such multimedia features as a 2-megapixel camera with built-in flash and 3X digital zoom, and new desktop media management software developed in cooperation with Roxio. Full Review | Vendor Pricing

Best Babe/Dude Magnet: Apple iPhone

What can be said about this phone that hasn't already been said a zillion times? How about this: We have extremely reliable reports that flashing an iPhone in public, oh, say at a bar, was the perfect way to attract the ladies (or the guys) and start a conversation. Where was this thing when I was available? Full Review | Latest Prices

Highly Rated, Well-Priced GPS: Garmin Nuvi 360

Garmin's Nuvi 360 GPS device gives you timely, accurate directions. And while it looks small, it's big on features such as 3D maps, Bluetooth connectivity, pronunciation of street names, and travel information courtesy of Fodor's North America. It also comes with a photo viewer and an audio player for listening to MP3s or audio books. While its retail price is $589, we found it online for as little as $400--not a bad price considering everything it has, especially considering how its cousin, the slightly better rated cousin the Nuvi 680 costs $600 to $800 online. The Nuvi 360 won an 84 rating while the Nuvi 680 scored an 88 rating, both considered "very good" in our system.Latest Prices

Coolest Audio Player: iPod Touch

This beautifully designed media player is like a slim iPhone sans phone--but it's marred by some early hardware and software issues. Think of it as an iPhone without the phone, and you've got one of the coolest products of the year--with the minor exception of the TV commercials. It's got Wi-Fi, mobile Safari, the Multi-touch interface, and twice the iPhone's storage capacity at 16GB. Yes, the $399 16GB iPod Touch isn't perfect. There is a screen anomaly that makes dark movies scenes difficult to watch and a few software bugs that halt music playback when browsing pages in Safari. But it's still one of the real winners of the year. Full Review | Latest Prices

Wireless Syncing Audio Player: Zune 80GB Media Player

Though the old 30GB Zune was a bomb, the second-generation Zune 80GB Media Player is a capable alternative to an 80GB iPod Classic. But where the $250 really stands out is with its wireless syncing. Ever since Wi-Fi-equipped media players such as the Zune and the Sansa Connect came out, users have been clamoring for wireless syncing. Now it's finally here. When your Zune is within range, you enter 'settings, wireless' on the player and select 'sync now'. Your PC reports that it has found new hardware--a 'Zune Wireless'--and installs the proper driver. Then, if the Zune software isn't running already, it pops up and your sync begins. Cool.Full Review | Latest Prices

Most Innovative External Storage: Data Robotics Drobo

The slick design and easy setup of Drobo make this USB appliance a strong choice for expanding your system's storage. The company's innovative approach to data handling distinguishes Drobo from the sea of multidrive external enclosures currently available, and Drobo's ease of use and flexibility make it a great fit for environments that lack a dedicated IT person to decipher the complexities of typical RAID storage options. Drobo is a direct-attached USB 2.0 storage appliance for PC and Mac that sells for $499. The streamlined, attractive device is a bring-your-own-hard-drive affair: The price includes only the chassis, which has four empty Serial ATA drive bays that can handle drives with capacities of up to 1 terabyte each. This actually adds to Drobo's appeal, since its storage capacity can grow to suit your needs. (Full See the company's site for a look at how you can mix and match hard-drive capacities.) Full Review | Latest Prices

A Big Easy Portable Drive: Buffalo MiniStation

The Buffalo MiniStation TurboUSB Portable Hard Drive has a unique design. The detachable USB cable is designed to wrap around the drive's outer rim; the USB connector stays in place via a groove at the top. The lightweight drive has a shock-resistant design, according to Buffalo: Inside its plastic case, the drive floats in a way that absorbs shock and mitigates vibration. The drive includes Memeo's convenient real-time AutoBackup and Buffalo's SecureLockWare file- and drive-level AES 256-bit encryption software; both programs work only on Windows PCs. The drive comes in 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, and 250GB capacities (prices range from $100 to $180); a 300GB model has been announced, but is not yet shipping.Latest Prices

Most Ginormous Hard Drive: Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000

The first hard drive to achieve a capacity of 1 terabyte is a welcome addition to the cluttered digital lifestyle. The Deskstar 7K1000 can hold 150 high-definition movies (encoded at 9 megabytes per second using MPEG-4) or more than 300,000 high-resolution photos (at 3MB a pop). But be prepared to pay a premium for this drive's high performance and high capacity. More good news: This drive also was a formidable performer, earning a top score of Superior on our tests.Full Review | Latest Prices

Highest Rated External Drive: Simple Tech Duo Pro Drive

This versatile hard drive comes in either 1- or 2-terabyte capacities and gives you a choice of RAID 0 for performance or RAID 1 for protection. Quick and easy to install, it is both PC and Mac compatible and gives you the choice of USB 2.0 or eSATA interface.Test Report | Latest Prices

Best All-Around Network Attached Storage: Netgear ReadyNAS NV+

Netgear's ReadyNAS NV+ may look like a retro toaster, but this sophisticated network attached storage device is fast and highly configurable. It comes with four hot-swappable drives that you can configure as RAID 0, 1, or 5. Or, you can choose Netgear's proprietary X-RAID option, which lets you add drives and rebuild them on the fly. At $1699 for 1.5TB of storage and $2499 for 3TB of storage, the ReadyNAS NV+ isn't cheap though. Test Report | Latest Prices

Best Multi-Duty High Def Machine: PlayStation 3

The entry-level PlayStation 3 now starts at $399, and though that's still a chunk of change, it's a great bargain for a game console equipped with a high-definition (Blu-ray) Disc player, and bundled with a a Blu-ray copy of Spiderman 3. The PS3's HDMI output can output to HDCP-compliant HDTVs at 1080p. Matched side-by-side with Samsung's first Blu-ray player, the BD-P1000 (using its original, factory-installed firmware from when it shipped last summer), the PS3 delivered noticeably sharper and crisper image quality, with more depth and more detail. Not bad for a "toy". Full Review | Latest Prices

Best Basic High-Def Player: Samsung BD-P1200

The slim BD-P1200 is the first Blu-ray Disc player to come with an ethernet port that you can use to update the player's firmware--a valuable feature. It's a solid follow-up to the company's first player, the BD-P1000, but with similar video quality and better audio quality in our tests.Full Review | Latest Prices

Best Design/Ease of Use Media Streamer: Apple TV

The diminutive 8-inch-square and 1-inch-high Apple TV works a like a charm and is a cinch to set up. If you can play a file in iTunes on your PC, you can play it through the Apple TV. The Apple TV uses iTunes to transfer selected video and music to its built-in hard drive (40GB on our $299 review unit, or 160GB on the $399 model). You can transfer photos by directing iTunes to a folder on your PC, or by using software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0. If iTunes and an iPod are the beginning and end of your PC-and-Internet media world, the Apple TV is a great choice. But if you dislike those limitations, keep looking.Full Review | Latest Prices

Media Streamer with the Best Features: Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000

Netgear's pricy Digital Entertainer is a feature-packed product, but it's setup isn't the easiest. However, the EVA8000 scans your PC or PCs and organizes your media, making a video or song that you seek easier to find, even if you don't use the supplied server software. And the device played almost every file we threw at it: DivX, Xvid, and .mp4 (MPEG-4 video with .aac audio, protected .wma files, and copy-protected iTunes Music Store files. Among other features: The Digital Entertainer supports the free Shoutcast Internet radio service, and stream videos directly from YouTube (your PC must be on, and Netgear's software must be installed).Full Review | Latest Prices

Well-Priced Multifunction Printer: Canon Pixma MP470

This decently designed MFP gives you full photo capabilities, a 1.8-inch LCD, and good scanning, copying, and printing features--all for about $100.Full Review | Latest Prices

Best Snapshot Printer: Epson PictureMate Dash

Epson's PictureMate Dash may look like a glorified lunch box, but it delivers where it counts. It's fast and very easy to use; it prints good-looking photos; and best of all, its consumables are well priced. This printer offers a lot for the money: high speed, good print quality, and an intuitive interface.Full Review | Latest Prices

Best Monitor--Design and Features: The Widescreen HP w2207

Though pricier than most of its rivals, this 22-inch LCD display offers an attractive design with easily adjustable double-hinged base and for its strikingly good looks. And if you personalize your technology, HP separately sells various accessories that you can attach to it: A Webcam, a clip to hold photos, and a bud vase to add whimsy to a frequently ignored peripheral.Full Review | Latest Prices