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Top Tech Gear Of 2009

We take a look back at the year's best smartphones, netbooks, desktops, laptops, and mobile device accessories.

Eric Zeman

December 21, 2009

6 Min Read

The HTC Hero one-ups Apple's iPhone 3GS by incorporating Adobe Flash.

As we close the books on 2009, InformationWeek takes a look back at the best technology that debuted over the last twelve months. Despite the economic recession, hardware makers carried on. The number of new products launched is year is simply uncountable.

Even so, we know you're counting on us to help you sort of the good from the bad. This extensive list -- with links and photos -- takes you through 8 categories that span the technological gamut. From smartphones, to netbooks, to desktop replacements and mobile device accessoressories -- we've covered it all. So sit back, kick your feet up and take a look at the best gear of the year.

1. Smartphones
Smartphones have evolved faster than anyone could have imagined the last six or seven years, but the last twelve months has seen a substantial leap forward.

The handsets featured here run iPhone OS, BlackBerry OS, Android, Windows Mobile and webOS. With new platforms and new players vying for corporate and consumer dollars, competition is at an all-time high. That's why these ten devices are all good at what they do.

The Samsung Go N310 is a tiny titan with a 6-cell 8850 mAh high-capacity battery.

2. Netbooks

The year 2009 will probably go down in history as the year of the netbook. Early in the calendar year, the recession weighed heavy on the world economy. With budgets constrained, professionals and consumers alike turned to netbooks -- a cheaper alternative to full-sized laptops. Netbook sales have remained a bright spot even as the economy started showing signs of recovery.

These devices are portable, feature solid battery life, and focus on Web-based activities and computing. If you're looking for Internet access on-the-go and "small" and "cheap" rank high on your list of "must-haves," these netbooks could be just your ticket.

With an 18.4" display, the Toshiba Qosmio X505 was built for work and play.

The HP TouchSmart 600-1055 boasts a 23-inch multi-touch screen.

3. Desktop Replacement Laptops

While a lot of noise is being made about netbooks, sometimes a 17- or 18-inch screen is necessary to get the day's work -- or gaming -- done. That's why this collection of machines features huge screens, amazing graphics capabilities, and full-sized everything. Sure, they may weigh enough to sink an aircraft carrier, but they're probably not leaving the office or dorm room. What they lack in mobility, they make up for in machismo.

4. Desktops

Believe it or not, not all workers are mobile. In fact, the majority of office workers chained to a cubicle have a huge hulking mass sitting under their desks, crunching out all the zeros and ones they need processed day in and day out.

For the desk-bound power worker, there remains a fantastic selection of devices from which to choose. Nowadays, huge screens are standard, and some even bring touch features to the table -- er, desktop.

The Toshiba Satellite L450 boasts Windows 7, an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, and a 15.6" HD display.

5. Standard Laptops

Those fortunate enough to step outside the cubicle walls now and then have many mobile options. The laptops below are the daily commuters of the mobile computing community. They get the job done every day, whether it's on the road, in the office, or at home. Screen sizes range from 13 to 16 inches, and cover all the basic specs in good order.

These rigs straddle the personal and professional domains, and will serve either (or both) types of users well. They aren't the lightest laptops out there, but they are much more portable that the 17- and 18-inch media monsters.

Weighing it at under 3 lbs., the MSI X340-021US packs a 13" display, Intel Core 2 Solo Processor, and 802.11b/g/n wireless LAN with Bluetooth.

6. Thin-and-Light Laptops

Some people are on the road so much, they have packing for business trips down to a science. Not only do they bring the bare minimum, they take care to ensure that what they do pack has the smallest footprint possible. Enter the thin-and-light laptop.

This often offer full computing power, good battery life, and won't weigh end users down. Many of these devices weight less than five pounds (many less than four), have waistlines measuring less than an inch, and of course, the good looks and high price tags to come along for the ride.

Motorola's Pure H15 Bluetooth headset uses two microphones to reduce background noise.

7. Bluetooth Headsets

One of the most essential tools in a mobile worker's arsenal is the Bluetooth headset or accessory. This collection includes headsets, speakerphones, and car kits. If you need to be conversing while on the go, these will help you get the job done. Most have decent battery life, reasonable price points and perform when business is on the line.

Novatel MiFi from Sprint/Verizon lets up to five laptops connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

8. Mobile Accessories

It's not always enough to have the right computer, smartphone, and headset while on the road. Some of the items in this list are indispensable to the road warrior. GPS? Check. Secure data storage? Check. Battery packs? Check. Wireless internet access devices? Check. This collection of accessories can really come in handy when an your IT department isn't in the neighborhood.

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About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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