The Year's Best
But 2010 has had more than its fair share of successes, too. With iOS and Android battling for supremacy (and Microsoft staking its claim with Windows Phone 7), the world of smartphones has never been more competitive.
Dozens of companies are vying to produce the world's best HDTV. And as laptops have become more ubiquitous and reliable are experimenting to find just the right combination of features, size and battery life.
To find out which products topped their fields this year, I talked to each of PCWorld's category experts to get their top picks.
Best TVs: Samsung C8000 series
If you're willing to pay for excellence (and pay you will), the Samsung C8000 series of LCD HDTVs is worth the price. The 65-inch model (there are also 55- and 46-inchers) will cost you more than $5000. But you'll get nearly flawless image quality, says our HDTV guru, Patrick Miller. Our judges used phrases like "great color," "beautiful detail," and "awesome" to describe video on this TV (we reviewed the 55-inch model). The C8000's 240HZ refresh rate meant very few motion problems and these TVs only sip power too.
If you subscribe to the philosophy that you can't be too thin or too rich, Patrick suggests checking out Samsung's C9000 series. We didn't test a TV in this series, but these flat screens are the thickness of a pencil, but with an even fatter price tag.
Best Camera: Sony Alpha NEX-5
The Alpha NEX-5 is Sony's first attempt at a compact interchangeable-lens camera, but it aced the field with excellent image and video quality, fun in-camera modes that make capturing panoramic and low-light images a breeze, and (with a firmware update) the ability to shoot 3D images.
Its high-performance features--including a 14.6-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a 25-point autofocus system, and a 7-frames-per-second burst mode--go beyond what you find in compact cameras. Yet the camera body itself is so compact that the barrel of one of its lens extends beyond the camera's chassis. And camera maven Tim Moynihan particularly likes the fact that you can angle the LCD viewfinder to make taking creative shots more convenient. | Video Review
Best Media Streamer: Roku XDS
If you weren't paying much attention, the only media streamer you may have heard about in 2010 was the latest version of Apple TV. But when our media master Yardena Arar finished her latest round of reviews, the streamer she went out and bought was the Roku XDS. "What keeps Roku at the top of the streamer heap … is its unparalleled and easy-to-access lineup of Internet media, both free and paid," Yardena writes. That's something many Roku models share, but the XDS adds 1080p support, a USB port for playing content on a connected flash or hard drive, dual-band Wi-Fi, and an improved remote.