The year of 2007 has seen a focus shift in many areas of technology, bringing about a host of innovation and changing the way we view devices. No longer dull and boring, or confined to the realm of 'techies', styling and personalization have boomed in a big way across every product conceivable, from notebooks to tiny flash memory cards. Take a look at the ASUS Eee PC. Its specifications are modest at best and it runs on Linux, but its wide acceptance and hype is nothing short of phenomenal. Companies like HP and Dell have also taken personalization to heart, redesigning many of their product lines to target and focus various lifestyles and trends. While features and performance still play its role, personalization has become the vertical to bridge the gap between high technology and consumer lifestyle, developing a sense of ownership and individualization. In this way, more and more products are making their way into the everyday life of the common consumer, following in the footsteps of mobile phones and DAPs, which have already become ubiquitous and indispensable lifestyle gadgets.
This is also the year of touch technology, an interesting mode shift in User Interface (UI) design that has seen device interaction move from traditional fixed input (buttons and keys) to the free form touch screen. Formerly a domain of corporate monitors, business PDAs and generally more expensive and serious equipment, hugely popular lifestyle devices such as the Nintendo DS can be credited for the acceptance and adoption of touch input in general consumer equipment such as MP3 players. This year, The development of consumer touch screen technology hit a high note with highlights that included the Apple iPhone with its multi-touch and CoverFlow interface, and HTC's TouchFLO technology found on their Touch series of phones. The development of Nokia's upcoming Touch UI upgrade to its S60 platform is also well underway and highly anticipated for Symbian OS devices.
Of course, not everything made the cut. Some of the bigger hyped products and technologies this year only managed to make a ripple instead of a wave. Consumers hoping to see widespread next generation DirectX 10 gaming to take off have been disappointed with only a trickle of games, and even then, some with too high a hardware cost to be accessible. AMD's much anticipated Phenom processor have also been hit with delays, missing the party boat again this year.
To identify and merit the hardware products and technologies that have made the most impact in their respective categories of this year and set the baseline expectations for the following year, the editors and writers at Hardware Zone have compiled a list of the top hundred products that we believe have made the grade. In no particular order of merit, we present you the products that took top honors in Hardware Zone's Best of 2007 awards:-
|The I ntel Pentium Dual-Core E2160 is the Celeron 300A of today. A decent performer on its own, this entry-level budget processor has the inherent capability to rival the Core 2 Duo series of processors when placed in the right hands. Incredibly overclockable and extremely affordable, the Pentium Dual-Core was a shoo-in for Top 100 of 2007.|
|Intel's Penryn launch in October may have been an expected incremental upgrade to last year's hugely successful Core 2, but it encompasses innovations introduced throughout 2007. Once again, Intel led the market with a successful transition to 45nm, increasing cores, increasing cache, increasing FSB, increasing transistors, increasing performance and still manage to pull a hat trick by reducing power consumption.|
|The Intel Xeon 5400 series (formerly codenamed Harpertown) is the quad-core server version of the 45nm Penryn core, sporting a spiffy 12MB L2 cache and a whole new high performance platform designed for it called the Stoakley that supports an FSB of 1.6GHz per processor along with a much larger 24MB Snoop Filter cache. With these 45nm upgrades this year, Intel has little competition in the server market, not only in terms of performance, but availability and support as well.|
|DeviceVM changed the game in 2007 with Splashtop, an amazing desktop environment based on a secure, ultra-lightweight Linux variant that will have your PC up in a few seconds flat with full access to the Internet and web-based applications such as e-mail, VoIP and even word processing. Why nobody has ever thought of this idea before is a mystery, but we're glad someone did. Hands down, one of the most innovative software features of the year. Splashtop debuted as an embedded application in the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe motherboard.|
|Most digital pens are a pain to use because of many different restrictions, but the EPOS Digital Pen & USB Flash Drive is a truly portable and practical solution. The USB Flash Drive acts as the scanner, capturing your text in real time and stored in the drive itself to be uploaded at your leisure. What's more, the USB flash drive is a real flash drive, and can be used for generic data storage. Definitely one of the best little gadgets in 2007, even if it has the most boring name.|
|During its CES 2007 unveiling, the LG BH100 drew a lot of hype for its support of both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats in 1080p. Although the player had its share of teething problems, the BH100 was the pioneer that paved the way for more hybrid Blue-ray/HD DVD devices in the pipeline. The format war has gone on long enough and we just want to enjoy our movies, whatever they might be in.|
|Toshiba brought sexy back, and in a big way. The Portege R500 is the world's slimmest, and lightest full fledged ultraportable notebook. If you thought the ASUS Eee PC is light at 0.92kg, the R500's starting weight is 1.08kg with a normal HDD and a mere 0.72kg with a 64GB SSD. Not only that, it features a 12.1-inch widescreen LED backlit display and get this, an internal optical drive as well. How thin is the R500? 0.77-inches.|
|MSI solved the most common complaint about motherboard onboard audio quality by bundling a PCI Express Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio sound card with the P35 Diamond, making it the only motherboard to come with full EAX compatibility. The P35 Diamond also features one of the best chipset cooler designs we've seen this year. The Circu-Pipe does a marvelous job without taking up much space.|
|The year 2007 has been very exciting for the PC as motherboard leader ASUS introduced some of the most innovative products for the year. The ASUS P5K3 Premium Black Pearl Edition was an experiment in integration that delivered excellent performance and platform overclocking synergy with built-in 2GB high-speed DDR3 memory. Combined with a 10-layer PCB and superb cooling, the P5K3 Premium Black Pearl Edition will be remembered as the board that took on the DDR3 revolution head on.|
|The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 made our list last year for being the best mainstream overclocking motherboard, an underdog that really showed us that you don't need an expensive enthusiast board to be king of the clocks. This year, Gigabyte returns with the GA-P35C-DS3R, which not only retains its title, but adds a whole lot of enhancements such as AHCI/RAID support and hybrid DDR2/DDR3 memory.|