The low down: Product of the Year 2009

The Vodafone Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2009 are finally upon us and this weekend is your last chance to vote for the very best in technology that we've seen over the year.

Today is our final look at the contenders for prizes and our final task is to name the elite, the creme de la creme, the piece de resistance, the very finest, very best we've seen. Ladies, gentlemen meet the contenders for Product of the Year 2009:

 

Canon PowerShot S90

Type
Compact Camera
Release date
19/08/09
Price
£320
PL review rating
9/10

There are compacts, there are compacts and then there's the Canon Powershot S90. The first of the three are point and press lifestyle devices that'll take a good picture. The second are over-specced little hotrods that cost more than a decent DSLR, but Canon hit it right on the money with the S90 giving enough control, power and class for the enthusiasts at a non-professional price.

Underneath its gorgeously simple and ever-so-slightly stylishly boxy modern looks lies a full on DIGIC 4 image processor, a first class 10-megapixel sensor and an F2.0 wide angle lens, as well as Canon’s optical Image Stabiliser (IS) technology. It gives the user effortless good exposure with an ISO of 12800 and plenty of burst power at 2.4 frames per second. Yes, the G11 is a better device but it's the sheer accessibility and value of the PowerShot S90 that earns it a place as a nominee of Product of the Year 2009.

 

Etymotic/ACS hf2 custom fit headphones

Type
In-ear headphones
Release date
29/4/09
Price
£190
PL review rating
9/10

Getting custom made moulds for your ears used to be the preserve of top end monitors in excess of £300-£500. The arrangement between headphones manufacturer Etymotics and custom mould specialist ACS has brought this luxury down to a reasonable price. The virtually air-tight seal between your ear drums and the outside world means a near perfect isolation of the music, while blocking out all ambient noise and without the addition of any noise cancelling technology.

It means people everywhere can now benefit from not overworking the amplifiers on their media players, and that means that the audio will no longer be distorted. Combine that with the blocking out of the external noise and you have the kind of listening experience that makes angels weep. Buying these is like listening to your music collection for the first time again.

 

HTC Hero

Type
Android smartphone
Release date
24/6/09
PL review rating
9/10

When the Palm Pre turned up at the beginning of the year, we all thought that was it, but when the real iPhone killer finally arrived it turned out to be a Hero from HTC. At last there is a choice for those who can't stomach Apple and its walled garden. HTC had been working with Android on two previous handsets but it was finally with the Hero that Google's OS finally came of age.

Growth of the platform is now at 25% month on month and with the user base flourishing, the apps are beginning to flow too. As well as delivering a top notch piece of kit, HTC has worked hard to come up with a custom UI to fill in the few gaps that Android had skipped. Sense is a wonderfully intuitive way to thread together all your communications and contacts and it brings a joy to the experience that Hero fans would swap for nothing. It's been a very good year for HTC and smartphone fans everywhere.

 

Apple MacBook Pro

Type
13-inch portable/multimedia
Release date
08/06/09
Price
£899/£1149
PL review rating
9/10

Like them or loathe them, you have to admit that Apple makes beautiful products. Yes, they cost considerably more than most other computers out there but you get what you pay for with Macs, even if the spec sheets might seems sedate compared to what you might find in PC builds.

This year the company's ethos of delivering hardware and software that is designed to work together in perfect union has helped deliver another fine class of Macintosh computers from the desktops to the notebooks. The best of these for 2009 has to be the MacBook Pro, particularly with the suffix title now bestowed on a nicely portable 13-inch machine.

The body is as beautiful as ever with a luxuriously spaced keyboard and brushed metal chassis, whilst the company's continued relationship with Nvidia continues to go from strength to strength with the addition of some excellent GPUs onboard. Combine that with a crystal clear LED screen and you've got an excellent machine on your hands at a really quite reasonable price for Cupertino standards.

 

Spotify

Type
Music streaming service
Price
Free
PL review rating
9/10

 

If you haven't heard of Spotify, you're probably dead. The Swedish music streaming service has utterly revolutionised the digital music model over the past year and it'll never be the same again. With instant access to millions upon millions of tracks on demand and absolutely free, the user has been empowered like never before.

The previous big players on the scene have been left scratching their heads at their tired set ups and wondering just how long their dated looking download services are going to last. If Spotify mobile really kicks off, one wonders if the public will ever need to bother storing music again. Why take up precious HDD space when you don't have to?

The big question niggling at the back of everyone's mind is, can this system really work in the long term? Right now, only Spotify and its execs might really know but, for now, we may as well, plug in and enjoy the ride.

Now that you've made your mind up for Product of the Year, head over to the voting page and our Pocket-lint Awards area for a look at all the other gongs up for grabs and the gadgets trying to grab them.



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