Innovation of the Year 2010: and the nominees are...

Once in a blue moon, a new product comes along that changes the face of technology as we know it. This category isn't about stats and specs, it's about genuinely game-changing innovations that have made us take a step back in shock/admiration/child-like wonder.

With the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2010 just days away, we take a look at the five products fighting for the chance to be Innovation of the Year 2010. Which will get your vote?


Sony Alpha A33 digital camera

Type
Digital camera

Price
From £429

Released
September 2010

PL review score
8/10





There has been plenty of innovation in the camera sector in recent years, with new categories popping up with increasing frequency. The latest new category was kicked off by Sony's potential DSLR-killer - the Alpha A33. Dubbed an SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera, this digital snapper has been modelled much like a DSLR, but with one major difference - the usual mirror has been made translucent. Although there's no optical viewfinder, this system enables super-fast shooting at a fraction of the price of most DSLRs.

We were blown away by the overall image quality and the stunningly good HD video capture, with the ability for fast and continuous autofocus while recording. Although this technology is still relatively new, it's definitely one to look out for. But has it got the goods to take the Innovation of the Year 2010 crown?

 

Microsoft Kinect

Type
Motion-controlled gaming device

Price
£129

Released
November 2010

PL review score
9/10





When Microsoft's new motion-controlled gaming technology was first announced well over a year ago, it was still going by the name of Project Natal. It was unclear at first whether this was going to be truly innovative or just another gimmick. Here at Pocket-lint, we weren't entirely convinced either - until we managed to test it out for ourselves. We thought it was brilliant, although we did find that you only really get the full benefit if your lounge is big enough to jump around in.

While there are already several motion-based gaming systems around (step forward the Nintendo Wii and Sony's PlayStation Move), this is the first one that offers gaming without buttons, making you the controller. It's still early days for the Kinect, but it certainly shows a very exciting glimpse of what the future could bring.

 

Sky 3D

Type
3D TV service

Price
Varies

Released
October 2010

PL review score
First Look review





If you haven't heard about the 3D TV onslaught this year, then you must have been living on the moon. Not only have we seen the debut of the very first 3D-capable televisions, but we've also seen Blu-ray going three-dimensional, along with the introduction of 3D TV broadcasts. Sky has been at the forefront of 3D movement, launching its dedicated channel in October.

Although the amount of 3D programmes available is still relatively small, Sky has already begun to film various sports, entertainment and nature programmes in the new format and will also be showing 3D films. This is still very much an early adopter technology at present, but it's likely to gather pace as the amount of content increases, just like HD did. One thing's for certain, it's certainly one of the biggest innovations we've seen in 2010, but has it done enough to scoop the award?

 

Apple iPad

Type
Tablet

Price
From £429

Released
April 2010

PL review score
8/10





Probably one of the most talked about innovations of 2010 is the tablet. Over the year we've seen a slew of products including the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Toshiba's Folio 100, but it was Apple's iPad that really got the ball rolling back in April. On its release, the iPad firmly divided opinion between Apple fanboys that saw it as the "Best Thing Ever", and those that really couldn't see the point of it. It may have taken a little while to catch on, but as more people have tried it out, the word of its awesomeness has spread.

The cool design, slick touch screen operation and the ability to surf the web on a decent-sized screen without having to boot up a laptop is what sold the iPad for us. As well as being one of the original tablets to hit the market, the iPad also manages to remain one of the most popular, making it a strong contender for our Innovation of the Year award. Just a shame about the Flash.

 

Microsoft Windows Phone 7

Type
Mobile phone OS

Price
Varies

Released
October 2010

PL review score
8/10





Microsoft gradually fell from grace in the mobile market when the manufacturer failed to develop and evolve as others did. But that's all ancient history now. In October, Microsoft reasserted its place as one of the big boys when it confidently strutted into the battle of the smartphone operating systems to pick up the gauntlet laid down by the likes of Apple and its iOS and Google's Android. The new Microsoft Windows Phone 7 OS may have an annoyingly clunky name, but it impressed us with its overall slickness and a few flashes of inspiration.

As well as the obvious benefits of features such as Xbox Live and Zune music player, we loved the usability of the WP7, while the unfettered access to Office documents is also something of a boon. It's certainly given the dominant OSes such as Android a thing or two to think about, and shows the kind of technical innovation that we're looking for in this category.

Which of these five do you think is the best? Have your say in the comments box below.