2009 has been something of a glass ceiling for gamers. Yes, the software has continued to come and in more inventive ways than ever, but it's been pretty much the same kinds of consoles available on the shelves. At the same time, at E3 this summer, we saw some of the most ground-breaking and exciting projects for years with motion sensitivity and augmented reality the stars of the show.
Unfortunately, there are no prizes in the Vodafone Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2009 Best Gaming Hardware category for anything still caught up in the ether. The fact is what we need is feedback from people and that's exactly what we hope you give us in the comments below. Which do you think are the worthy winners?
With the major boxes and handhelds still in their place, 2009 was very much a year of upgrades. The bloated PS3 went slim, the Nintendo DS got itself an "i" and the PSP, controversially, ditched its UMD slot favouring digital downloads with the PSP Go. With rumours already of a PSP-4000, you wonder whether that's a move that Sony regrets. Even the new gaming conundrum that is the iPod touch/iPhone only got a minor perk in power and performance with the new iPhone 3.0 software, and 3rd generation and 3GS releases. But, with apps getting all the more sophisticated, it's no longer a platform we can ignore.
Perhaps more interesting on the hardware side was the advance in PC gaming that's once again on the rise owing to a clutch of hugely popular and painfully addictive titles. Asus came out with two turbocharged super-PCs with the W90 and G60 - both featuring over 1GB of memory on the graphics units alone as well as all the usual trimmings. 2009 was also the year that Dell decided to hand Alienware the complete set of keys to its gaming line and brought out both 17 and 15-inch laptops in the familiar sci-fi-look colour schemes, complete with Alien language and more chip ports than you could shake a stick at. Even budget specialist Medion took the time to get involved with the launch of the Erazer. Naturally, it's a lot cheaper than the others, despite impressive specs, but the catch is that she ain't much of a looker.
With the machine manufacturers taking a breather - relatively speaking - it's given the peripheral gang an excellent chance to both catch up and really push themselves to get inventive. Naturally, those unleashing the limitless potential of the Wii have been having a lot of fun. To add to the already brimming closet of unused plastic you can now bag yourself a Wii Bowling Ball, a slightly disturbing baby doll controller for Baby and Me, a series of machine guns - as well as one that transforms into a sawn-off - and some dumbells. Mercifully, there have been some serious technological developments with the Wii Motion Plus improvement to the original WiiMote, as well as the addition of the Jog for Wii controller for fitness fans everywhere.
Probably the most interesting developments in the field have been in the controllers for the software explosion that is still the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games. You no longer have to put up with having Fisher Price-looking toys in your arms when striking out on a solo. Logitech brought out some enviable wireless instruments plus, of course, Harmonix splashed out on making guitars and even a drum kit that ape those of the Fab Four for the release of The Beatles Rock Band. Just a shame we're still waiting on the availability of the Krator Orpheous WG-07. Beyond that, Activision broke the mould with an entirely new device for DJ Hero, however there are very few opinions on just how well that's worked out as yet.
Of course, for Logitech, there's nothing peripheral about peripherals and it wasn't just music games where the company spent some money. Naturally, there's a load of mice and keyboards with their logo stamped on, but the Logitech G27 Racing Wheel and pedals complete with VR3 racer was quite clearly a drool-fest for petrol-head gamers and the G940 Flight Simulator was equally well-received by the specialists.
Last of all was the highly entertaining Novint Falcon gun controller for the PC, riding on the back of the success of games like Left 4 Dead. Anything with a realistic sense of recoil is always guaranteed to get a smile out of gamers.
Keyboards and Mice
Of course, if it's all about PC gaming for you, then there's no more important tools than your keyboard and mouse and, as ever, 2009 has seen advances here too. Whether or not, they help you get more kills is another thing altogether but at least it might make it a little easier to keep up with the pack. Logtiech has been as busy as ever with the highly inventive G19 keypad as well as the full G110 board and the G500 mouse and headset too. Razor has honed in with the RazorNaga MMO mouse with more buttons and shortcuts than ever right where you need them - all very well if you can remember what they're for - and Sidewinder has stuck with wireless and produced the X8 mouse which the company considers to be the fastest in the world.
Audio is rarely top of most people's lists for gaming, but add the right piece of kit and it can add a profound finish to your experience. If you need to do things on the quiet Verbatim, Sennheiser and Creative have each come up with excellent value solutions at a respective price increase. Whether you're after a heavy sub, some in-ear isolation or on-ear noise cancelling, they represent something for everyone.
Of course, if you're happy to blast the premises, Creative and Logitech have sculpted and tuned several high quality and good looking options for serious desktop power and Altec Lansing have gone and invented something highly unique for the home in the shape of a stage-monitor type speaker for guitar console games. You can even put your foot on it like you're really there having underwear thrown at you. Hello Cleveland!
Last of all come the screens on which you get to enjoy your interactive entertainment, and 3D has been the new projector in 2009. Yes, the likes of Epson, Optoma and LG are still supplying some wonderful hardware to make your Street Fights 60 inches tall, but ViewSonic, Nvidia and Vuzix are working on the idea of your avatars actually leaping out and punching you in the face. Admittedly, this works with varying degrees of success, depending upon whether you're going for a goggles or traditional monitor solution but it's certainly a serious edge that can add to the fun.
What do you think?
But these are just some of the fantastic choices our readers have had in 2009. What would you like to see held aloft as the winner of Pocket-lint Best Gaming Hardware 2009? What have we missed out? Which are your unsung heroes and of those we've already mentioned, which would get your vote? Let us know in the comments below and you can help our panel decide which make the shortlist of nominees to be announced here on Pocket-lint on 16 November. We'll have all out coverage of the Vodafone Pocket-lint awards 2009 right here. Don't miss a minute of it.