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Sunday, 12 December 2010

iPad top "gadget" of 2010

Apple's iPad edged out the Android-running Samsung Galaxy S to take Time Magazine's "Top Gadget" prize of 2010, a poll that finds the two companies dominating the mobile and technological hardware arena and leaving others in the dust. Of the top 10 devices, either Apple or Google occupied the top seven places, with Apple taking a plurality of four spots to Google's three.

The iPad, Time's Doug Aamoth wrote, "finally managed to make tablet computing cool" by reinventing the tablet concept and creating new markets, like one for interactive magazines and newspapers. When it came to smartphones, however, "2010 was the year of the Android," Time declared, naming the Galaxy S as the best of the multiple models that run Google's mobile OS, which was installed on more than nine million devices by the end of the third quarter.

The 11" MacBook Air won third place, followed by Google TV (via Logitech Revue), the Nexus One smartphone and the iPhone 4. While the iPhone 4 did not do as well as many might have expected, Time heaped praise on the phone's screen quality and Facetime innovation (both the front-facing camera and the software) saying it "finally made mobile video chatting popular with regular people." Though outranked by the Galaxy S and Nexus One, it is interesting to note that Time's editors also compiled a "Top 10 iPhone apps" list, a distinction not given to other mobile operating systems.

The reborn Apple TV took seventh place, considerably behind Google TV, but Time noted that it had to the potential to "totally upend how people consume movies, television shows and other digital content." The description of the device, perhaps constrained by the short word count, appears to suggest that only rented material could be viewed on it, which would be inaccurate (but correctly said that no content can be permanently stored on the actual device).

Eighth position was the first occupied by a non-Apple, non-Google device -- Toshiba's dual-screen, keyboard-less, $1,100 Libretto W100 laptop. Comparable to two Galaxy Tab tablets melded together, Toshiba "did the smart thing" by marketing it as a limited-edition "concept" PC, the magazine said.

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 was completely shut out of the list in something of a surprise snub, but grabbed ninth place with its Kinect add-on to the XBox, one-upping Nintendo's original concept of wireless game control with a clever device that quickly found an audience, particularly with "casual" gamers.

Rounding out the list was Barnes & Noble's Color Nook e-reader, simultaneously illustrating the emergence of e-readers as a market segment and acknowledging that multi-function devices like the iPad have proven more popular. The magazine praised the Nook's decision to use the same quality of color screen as the iPad, saying the decision to bring full color to an e-reader "could pay off" in terms of helping it steal mindshare from Amazon's Kindle v3.

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