The 100 Best Products of 2007

The 100 Best Products of 2007

Innovative Web applications, powerful processors, spectacular HDTVs, and creative game consoles–we asked you for your favorites and added lots of our own for our annual roundup of the best hardware, software, and services. Then we looked at each product, rating and debating its design, impact, performance, and value to create our ranking of the best tech products available, from 1 to 100.

Of course, no matter when we plan our best-products story, a few hot contenders–we’re looking at you, iPhone–will end up just around the corner. So this year we took time out to run down our five most anticipated products, as well as several hot and not-so-hot technologies. Read on for all that plus slide shows, video, and more.

More on the Best Products of 2007

The Number 1 Product of the Year

1. Google Apps Premier Edition
(Web applications; $50 per user per year) Google is much more than just a search engine, and with its invaluable Google Apps suite, the company is well on its way to challenging Microsoft for productivity-suite supremacy. Google’s Docs & Spreadsheets (soon to be joined by a PowerPoint-esque presentation application) already makes for an interesting alternative to Microsoft Office. Combine it with Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Calendar, and suddenly nearly all of your basic productivity programs and data can be available online.

For small businesses that need more than the free versions offer, Google Apps Premier Edition adds capacity, support services, and tools for integrating existing infrastructure so that all your employees can use Google’s powerful Web apps–no matter where they are. Printouts may never die, but if Google has its way, the office-less office may become a reality long before the paperless one does. Review | Vendor Site

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 2 to 10

2. Intel Core 2 Duo
(desktop CPU; $150 and up) It’s superfast, it’s not too expensive, and it uses less energy than its predecessor does. But could Core 2 Duo be too good? Unless AMD can respond to its startling success, the absence of competition could drive up desktop PC prices. That’s how terrific this CPU is. Review | Check Prices

3. Nintendo Wii
(game console; $250) Readers went gaga for the first game console to get nongamers hooked on gaming, nominating it more than any other product. With motion-sensitive controls and a slate of fun games for all ages, Nintendo really has something with the Wii. Now if only we could find one for sale… Review | Check Prices

4. Verizon FiOS
(Internet service; $40 per month and up) Supplying enough bandwidth to offer IPTV plus Internet access at up to 30 megabits per second, fiber is the way of the future. As of this writing, FiOS users on gave the service an 84 percent satisfaction rating. Vendor Site

5. RIM Blackberry 8800
(smart phone; $350 with two-year contract) Take one sweet smart phone, and add GPS. With no camera but some serious e-mail mojo, the 8800 is all business. Review | Check Prices

6. Parallels Desktop
(virtualization software; $80) A Mac OS application in PC World‘s Top 10? You bet. With a simple interface and improving 3D acceleration, Parallels offers the slickest way to run Windows (or any other OS) on Apple’s beautifully designed Intel-based hardware. Review | Check Prices

7. Pioneer Elite 1080p PRO-FHD1
(plasma HDTV; $8000) In a crowded field of nice-looking HDTVs, Pioneer’s high-res Elite series plasma stands alone as the display that everyone wants. If you have the means, we highly recommend it. Check Prices

8. Infrant Technologies ReadyNAS NV
(network-attached storage device; $900) Great for backups or shared storage, Infrant’s 1TB ReadyNAS performs well and includes helpful features such as uPNP support and a built-in print server. Check Prices

9. Apple Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger"
(operating system; $129) Quick: Name a good Vista feature that goes beyond what’s in Tiger. Yeah, we can’t either. Review | Check Prices

10. Adobe Premiere Elements 3
(video-editing software; $99) Like the rest of Adobe’s Elements products, Premiere gives you just the video editing features you need at a reasonable price. Review | Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 11 to 20

11. Apple TV
(media-streaming device; $299) Apple’s media streamer focuses on doing a beautiful job at a few key tasks. Now that it’s out in the wild, hackers can focus on making it do a bunch more cool things. Review | Check Prices

12. Samsung Syncmaster 244T
(wide-screen monitor; $700) The 24-inch wide-screen LCD has been this year’s hot display format, and Samsung’s model is one of the best, with outstanding image quality and lots of useful features. Review | Check Prices

13. BillP Studios WinPatrol
(system utility; free) When programs install themselves, WinPatrol watches your back, ensuring that tray icons, update checkers, and other random junk show up on your PC only if you allow them. Download

14. HP dv9000t
(power notebook; starts at $1099) This attractive 17-inch notebook is a terrific performer when properly equipped. An optional HD DVD drive lets you rock the HD movies on its WXGA+ screen. Review | Check Prices

15. McAfee SiteAdvisor
(security software; free) The free version of SiteAdvisor can warn you away from spyware, adware, or phishing sites before you visit them, giving you some peace of mind during your Web surfing. Download

16. Ubuntu 7.04
(operating system; free) Fast and friendly, Ubuntu has solidified itself as the one Linux distribution that Linux geeks love and newbies can comfortably use. Even Dell turned to the 7.04 version of Ubuntu when it announced its intention to preload some systems with Linux. Review

(digital music site; free) Sadly, the current scrap over Internet-radio royalty payments may turn this award into a eulogy for Pandora, a nifty Internet radio service that learns your preferences and plays songs you’ve never heard but will probably like. Review

18. Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite
(game console; $480) The high-end Xbox 360 now ships with 1080p support and a 120GB hard drive, but it’s the Xbox Live service, and the games and downloadable video on it, that make Microsoft’s console really shine. Review | Check Prices

(image editing software; free) This open-source photo editing application packs tons of muscle into a measly 1.3MB download that doesn’t cost a dime. Impressive. Download

20. Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000
(hard drive; $399) Sure, it’s pricey, but Hitachi’s 1TB monster isn’t just a big hard drive: It aced our performance tests. Review | Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 21 to 30

21. SightSpeed 6
(videoconferencing software; free) The best videoconferencing app we’ve tested improved further in version 6 with a tabbed interface for contacts. Even better: SightSpeed is still free. Download

22. Kayak
(travel site; free) This travel search engine consistently digs up the best deals on airfare, hotels, and rentals by searching though a vast range of sites and databases. Web Site

23. Nikon D40X
(digital SLR camera; $599) Nikon’s shockingly affordable entry-level digital SLR includes a capable help system so that SLR newbies can get the most out of the camera. Check Prices

24. Times Reader
(news viewer; $15 per month after free trial) More than just a nifty Vista demo, Times Reader is an entirely new way to consume news. Download it and treat yourself to New York Times stories in a format that’s as clickable as a Web page but as readable as print. Vendor Site

25. Samsung BlackJack
(smart phone; $150) This Windows Mobile-based smart phone for Cingular’s 3G HSDPA service beats the Motorola Q at its own game. It’s thin, light, multimedia-savvy, and of course a great device for e-mail and text messaging. Review | Check Prices

26. Apple iPod, 80GB
(MP3 player; $349) Apple may not want to proclaim it the true video iPod, but this 80GB model is more than capable of storing a complete MP3 collection along with a few movies and TV shows. Test Report | Check Prices

27. Yahoo Mail Beta
(Web-based e-mail; free) Its Ajax interface makes it the closest yet to Outlook in your browser–without the security holes. Vendor Site

28. TomTom One
(GPS navigation system; $499) With high-quality maps, clear driving directions, and a slim LCD screen, the TomTom One is the in-car GPS unit lots of people were waiting for. Review | Check Prices

29. Dell Ultrasharp 2407WFP
(wide-screen monitor; $669) Samsung’s wide-screen display may look a bit better, but Dell’s frequent discounts make this 24-inch monitor particularly affordable. Review | Check Prices

30. Zoho
(office suite; free) Integration gives Google’s online office suite the overall edge, but the polished interface of Zoho’s offering has its fans. Zoho Writer is particularly good. Review

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 31 to 40

31. Gmail
(Web-based e-mail service; free) Whether in storage capacity, searchability, or raw speed, Google’s Gmail feels like e-mail without limits. Vendor Site

Photograph: Marc Simon

32. Sling Media Slingbox Pro
(media-streaming device; $249) Send live or recorded media to any Net-linked device with a browser. Check Prices

33. Red Octane Guitar Hero 2
(video game; $90) Shredding your way through an array of classic guitar rock anthems has never been so much fun. Video | Check Prices

34. YouTube
(video site; free) Is there a better way to waste time on the Web? If so, we haven’t found it. We’ll keep looking after we watch just one more video. Vendor Site

35. Mozilla Firefox 2
(Web browser; free) Sure, Microsoft eventually did some nice things with IE 7, but why even bother with that browser if you don’t have to? Firefox is secure, free, and always improving. Download

36. Google Picasa
(image editor; free) Google’s no-cost app makes organizing, renaming, and sharing photos as easy as…well, a Google search. Download

37. Nikon D80
(digital SLR camera; $1200) Ultrafast response time, beautiful photo quality, and convenient, useful features such as in-camera photo editing–what more could you want from a high-quality digital SLR model? Review | Check Prices

38. Skype 3
(VoIP software/service; unlimited calling, $68 per year) Though Skype may not replace a landline, the service makes VoIP calling easy–and cheap. Download

39. Aliph Jawbone
(headset; $120) Now that Aliph’s attractive noise-canceling headset has gone wireless, the Jawbone is indisputably the coolest way to look like you’re talking to yourself. Review | Check Prices

40. Shure E500PTH
(headphones; $499) The innovative push-to-hear module pipes in sounds from the outside at the flick of a switch. These audio-isolating headphones otherwise keep you immersed in a pristine sonic environment. Review | Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 41 to 50

Photograph: Marc Simon

41. CyberPower Gamer Infinity Ultimate
(power desktop; $4399 as last tested) Chock-full of high-end options, CyberPower’s Gamer Infinity Ultimate PCs have consistently placed near the top of our power-PC charts on the strength of their components and (relatively) reasonable prices. Review | Check Prices

42. Asus w5fe-2P025E
(ultraportable notebook; $2199) One of the first Windows Vista SideShow notebooks, Asus’s 12.1-inch w5fe packs enough power for an everyday machine. Review | Check Prices

43. AVS Forum
(Web forum; free) You’ll find the best info on all things home entertainment–from the latest HD sets and players to cable-quality myths–at this revered Web forum. Web Site

44. Flickr
(photo-sharing site; free) Yahoo’s photo-sharing site is fun and fast by itself–but all the little apps that are built around Flickr make it one of the best services available. Review

45. Apple iPod Nano
(MP3 player; $149 and up) Now with up to 8GB of capacity, Apple’s flash player can hold more than enough music for casual listeners in a package the size of a few business cards. Check Prices

46. Nikon Coolpix S50c
(point-and-shoot digital camera; $350) Built-in Wi-Fi, a 3-inch LCD, and direct uploads to Flickr (see #44) are the highlights of this thin little point-and-shoot. Check Prices

47. Dell Ultrasharp 2007WFP
(wide-screen monitor; $390) If you can’t afford to step up to a full 24-inch wide-screen LCD, 20-inchers like this Dell are your next best bet. Review | Check Prices

48. OCZ Trifecta Secure Digital Memory Card
(flash memory; $25 and up) This superfast microSD flash card from an enthusiast memory maker comes bundled with an SD Card adapter that’s equipped with a flip-down USB adapter. Check Prices

49. Archos 704 WiFi
(portable media player; $549) Is it a video player or a PDA? Archos’s 704-WiFi is a bit of both. Full 802.11g wireless access, a 7-inch touch screen, and a built-in Web browser make for a truly interesting combo device. Review | Check Prices

50. Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet
(ultraportable convertible notebook; $2500) Well-designed ultraportables such as the convertible X60 Tablet prove that the venerable ThinkPad line is still in good hands. Review | Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 51 to 60

51. Canon EOS 30D
(digital SLR camera; $1499) The successor to Canon’s popular 20D camera includes well-designed controls and a bump up in its LCD screen size to 2.5 inches. Review | Check Prices

(music-trading Web site; $1.79 per CD received) List your CD collection through LaLa’s efficient Ajax interface, and then trade discs you don’t want for ones you do. Review

53. Google Maps for Mobile
(mapping service; free) Need directions on the go? Try bringing the power of Google Maps to your mobile phone. Vendor Site

54. Canon Pixma iP4300
(inkjet printer; $90) Sometimes you simply need a solid printer, and Canon’s Pixma iP4300 is just that. Beneath its minimalist design lies a fast inkjet that delivers very good image quality. Review | Check Prices

55. Kaspersky Anti-Virus
(antivirus software; $50) PC security is as important as ever, and Kaspersky’s fast response to outbreaks makes this a first-rate tool for locking down your PC. Review | Check Prices

56. Microsoft Office 2007
(office suite; $100) Innovation in Microsoft Office? That has to drop the temperature in Hades a few degrees. This year Office got an entirely new interface, built around a toolbar-eliminating "ribbon" that exposes Office’s many options. Review | Check Prices

57. Asus Crosshair
(motherboard; $250) Packed with high-quality integrated sound and nearly every port you could ever want, this board for AMD CPUs is an overclocker’s delight. Test Report | Check Prices

(community-based news Web site; free) Whether it’s political debates, hot new software, or other sites such as ICanHasCheezburger, keeps you plugged in to whatever’s hot on the Web at the moment. Web Site

59. Dell XPS M1210
(ultraportable notebook; $1299 and up) Designing an ultraportable to be an entertainment machine is a tall order, but the XPS M1210 proves that Dell was equal to the task. Review | Check Prices

60. Creative Zen V Plus, 8GB
(MP3 player; $200) Apple’s iPod Nano may be more popular, but with FM radio, a built-in mic, and a pretty interface, the Zen V Plus is a better value. Review | Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 61 to 70

61. Apple iTunes
(digital music software; free) Even without the continually expanding iTunes store, Apple’s music-management application would be one of the best around. Download

62. Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6
(motherboard; $230) Our favorite Intel-based motherboard may be a bit expensive, but Gigabyte’s solid construction and reliability make this model a terrific starting point for assembling an Intel-based computer. Test Report | Check Prices

63. Iomega NAS 1TB
(network-attached storage device; $799) This Iomega NAS features decent performance, but the true highlight is its support for hot-swappable drives. Check Prices

64. Fujifilm FinePix F40fd
(point-and-shoot digital camera; $260) Built-in software detects people’s faces to help automatically focus the camera on the correct spot. Check Prices

65. Canon MP600
(inkjet multifunction printer; $180) Great paper handling and fast, high-quality prints make up for this multifunction printer’s lack of fax functionality. Review | Check Prices

66. 37signals Backpack
(project-management/organizer software; free trial, or $5 per month and up) 37signals deserves its rep for building great, tightly focused applications. Backpack helps you manage projects through a simple interface that permits you to grab data from lots of sources. Review

67. LG Electronics BH100
(high-def video player; $1200) Why take sides in a format war when LG’s player can handle both Blu-ray and HD DVD media? Review | Check Prices

(Web-based classified ads; free) From housing and jobs to personals and free stuff, you can find almost anything on Craigslist. Web Site

(consumer Web site; free) The venerable advocacy organization is still tirelessly looking out for Joe and Jane Consumer. Web Site

70. Fujitsu ScanSnap s500
(scanner; $495) Is the ScanSnap s500 the last scanner you’ll ever buy? In a world where documents are increasingly created digitally, it very well may be. Review | Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 71 to 80

71. NEC MultiSync 90GX2
(19-inch LCD monitor; $300) As workhorse monitors go, NEC’s glossy-screen MultiSync 90GX2 is quite the thoroughbred. Hey, we can’t all have gigantic wide-screen LCDs gracing our desks. Review | Check Prices

72. Adobe CS3
(graphics software suite; $450 and up) You’ll pay an arm and a leg for Adobe’s latest Creative Suite, but for creative pros its improved multithreading support and updates to all of Adobe’s critical apps are worth it. Review | Check Prices

73. Dell XPS 410
(power desktop; $2033) Dell’s XPS 410 isn’t the most powerful high-end desktop you can find, but its easy setup, minimal bundle of preinstalled trial applications, and clean design all make it a great value. Review | Check Prices

74. Meebo
(instant messaging; free) If you’ve ever traveled without a notebook, you’ll appreciate Meebo. Log in, and you have access to all your IM contacts in a neat little Web-based app–no installation required. Review

75. Process Explorer
(system utility; free) Like Task Manager on steroids, Process Explorer shows you exactly what’s running on your system in minute detail. Download

76. Wacom Graphire Bluetooth 6×8 Pen Tablet
(input device; $249) Whether you’re an artist or you simply prefer pen-based interaction with your desktop, Wacom’s Graphire tablets are accurate and affordable. Check Prices

77. VMWare Player
(virtualization software; free) Before you install another application you just aren’t sure about, download the free VMWare Player. Then try that app out in a virtual machine where it can’t mess up your PC. Check Prices

78. Emusic
(digital music; starts at $10 per month for 30 downloads) The service still sticks to high-profile independent music, but Emusic sold DRM-free tunes long before EMI got on board. Web Site

79. TiVo Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder
(DVR; $800) With the Series3, TiVo fanatics can now record up to 32 hours of HD or 300 hours of standard-def programming, even from two channels at once–that is, if they can get their cable provider to give them a CableCard. Review | Check Prices

80. Netvibes
(customizable home page; free) Construct your very own home page with as much or as little of the Net as you like. You can even add e-mail and calendar modules. Web Site

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 81 to 90

81. TripAdvisor
(travel community site; free) The granddaddy of travel community sites, TripAdvisor is unequaled in the breadth and depth of its hotel reviews and in its forums, where you invariably find users who can answer the most specific destination questions. Web Site

82. Apple MacBook Pro
(power notebook; $1999 and up) The latest iteration of Apple’s beautiful MacBook design has fast Core 2 Duo CPUs and ATI Radeon graphics chips–great for OS X or Boot Camp-ing into Windows for a little gaming. Review | Check Prices

83. Avira AntiVir Personal Edition Classic
(antivirus software; free) One of the few good, free antivirus applications left, Avira’s AntiVir is perfect for troubleshooting a dodgy system. Review | Check Prices

(community Web site; free) Marc Andreesen’s latest venture lets you quickly build MySpace-like community sites focused around whatever interests you have. Review

85. Check Point Software ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite
(security software; $50) This utility bundles a Kaspersky antivirus engine with the inimitable ZoneAlarm firewall. Review | Download Store

86. SanDisk Sansa Connect
(MP3 player; $250) Far better than Microsoft’s Zune, the Sansa Connect lets you listen to Internet radio or download songs over any open Wi-Fi connection. Review | Check Prices

(security Web site; free) This site is a great resource if you suspect your antivirus software has fallen short. Upload a file, and VirusTotal runs it through 32 antivirus engines. Review

88. Flurry
(mobile e-mail; free) Even people who don’t own a PDA phone sometimes need a quick e-mail fix. Flurry provides it, via an easy-to-set-up Java app that runs on most recent phones and works like a charm. Review

89. Oki Printing Solutions C3400n
(color laser printer; $400) Oki’s compact, entry-level color laser is a great fit for a small office, with high-quality text output and fast color prints. Review | Check Prices

90. nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX
(graphics chip set; $550 and up) This offering is still the fastest in DirectX 10 graphics, apart from nVidia’s crazy $1000 GeForce 8800 Ultra. Check Prices

The Top 100 Products, Numbers 91 to 100

91. Microsoft Windows Media Player 11
(digital music software; free) Microsoft added album-art matching, tossed in improved searching capabilities, and introduced a completely redesigned interface to this version of Media Player. The result: a media manager you’ll actually want to use. Download

92. Netflix Watch Now
(movie rental service; $5 per month and up) Netflix has long been a popular favorite, and the addition of streaming online movies to the mix only makes the service better. Vendor Site

93. Audacity
(audio editing; free) Another free-software triumph, Audacity is where it’s at for quick-and-dirty manipulation of audio files. Download

94. Congoo
(Web news/information service; free) On this specialized news site, you can search and read content that’s normally locked away behind a paid-subscription wall. Review

95. Adblock Plus
(browser plug-in; free) Tired of slow page loads and flashing Web ads? AdBlock Plus (for Mozilla-based browsers such as Firefox) can speed up and clean up your surfing. Download

96. Buffalo Nfiniti Dual Band Gigabit Router & Access Point
(wireless router; $130) This is the first draft-802.11n router to also support 802.11b/g/a Wi-Fi gear and gigabit ethernet. Check Prices

97. Panasonic HDC-SD1
(HD camcorder; $1500) This exceptionally light camcorder records HD video to a 4GB SD Card, with impressive quality. Review | Check Prices

98. Logitech Harmony 880 Advanced Universal Remote
(universal remote control; $249) Logitech’s Harmony remotes bring something new to your home-theater setup: sanity. The 880’s color screen makes setting up and controlling a variety of devices easy. Review | Check Prices

99. Sling Media SlingPlayer Mobile
(mobile video player; $30) Just when you thought Slingbox couldn’t make video more portable, this app brings your media to compatible Windows Smartphone or Pocket PC devices. Vendor Site

100. Shure SE210
(headphones; $150) These entry-level Shure in-ear headphones pump out impressive sound via a single-driver design. Review | Check Prices

Technology Barometer

Solid-state storage: Dell, Fujitsu, and Sony (among others) already offer notebook models carrying Solid State Disks based entirely on flash. Models providing 32GB of storage have reached a semiaffordable $450 premium over 60GB hard drives on ultraportable machines, while 64GB notebook-size drives are also available. Even 128GB models have been announced, and some might even be affordable for the military and governments of most industrialized nations.

LED backlights: Compared with standard CCFL backlights, LEDs improve color reproduction while lowering power consumption. Formerly seen only in super-high-end monitors and HDTVs, LED backlights are poised to go mainstream over the next couple of years. Sony uses them on its VAIO SZ laptop line, and Samsung plans to introduce an entire LCD monitor line with LED backlights this year.

Ajax/Web 2.0: On the one hand, Ajax and Web 2.0 have clearly revitalized the Web. On the other, Web 2.0 security concerns are just beginning to rear their ugly heads. At the same time, many rich Web applications like Zimbra have begun to add offline capability.

DRM: EMI hopped off the bandwagon this April, announcing that it would offer DRM-free music through iTunes and other music stores. Plus, hackers are already all over the AACS system that protects Blu-ray and HD-DVD movies. Hollywood and the RIAA won’t give in anytime soon, but the writing is on the wall.

Powerline networking: As many people seeking to stream media through the home have already realized, 802.11b, -g, and -n wireless networks just don’t cut it, especially in a crowded urban environment. Powerline networking in general, and the HomePlug AV standard in particular, is poised to profit from the inevitable consumer discontent–especially as electronics vendors begin to incorporate powerline adapters into products such as set-top boxes.


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