TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011

Conferred upon the best performing products of the year.

 
TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011

We review a host of products each year, and while most of them fail to impress, a few stand out from the rest. Our Best Of Tech Awards are given to outstanding gadgets we've reviewed or encountered during 2011.
 

Mobile Phones

The year 2011 has been interesting for the smartphone world, as most of the major companies released their flagship offerings. Although the market was dominated by iOS and Android devices, Windows Phone also emerged as a competitive platform. Many manufacturers tried to win users with powerful hardware. The necessity of dual-core CPUs for a mobile remains a subject of a debate. However, our nominations list is crowded with them.

The Nominees Are...

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011


Samsung Galaxy S II
This beast comes with a great 4.3" screen and still manages to be incredibly thin. Thanks to its dual-core CPU, the phone records 1080p clips and plays most video formats. Its performance is blazing fast, and is perfect for gaming freaks. Moreover, the device will only get better with the upcoming ICS update.

HTC Sensation
This phone is HTC's answer to Samsung's flagship. The Sensation humbles the GALAXY S II's TouchWiz UI, thanks to its beautiful customisation. The device is also capable of 1080p video recording and has great sound quality. All in all, it achieves a good balance between build quality and performance.

Nokia Lumia 800
If you're bored of the current crop of smartphones, here's something refreshing. Nokia's latest flagship has an excellent minimalistic design achieved with precise CNC milling. The elegant WP Mango UI also complements the device's looks. Its Facebook integration is unmatched, and Nokia Drive makes it stand out in the navigation department. Additionally, it has the best display I've seen on a mobile phone.

Apple iPhone 4S
Apple's latest is always a world apart from the rest, and this time it's actually on par with its Android counterparts. The dual-core CPU provides a fluid UI and excellent gaming performance. The phone also shines in the camera department, while the display is spectacular. Additionally, its impressive battery life gives you one more reason not to buy Androids.

And The Winner Is...

Samsung Galaxy S II!

This phone beats the competition when it comes down to the features and length of the specs sheet. An all-round performer, it has an impressive display, thin body, Full HD video recording capability, and of course, app support from the ever-growing Android Market. Furthermore, in terms of raw power, it can give a complex even to many Intel Atom based netbooks. What more could you ask for from a smartphone!
 

Tablets

Although tablets can't get all your work done, many consumers are actually choosing them over laptops. One thing is for sure — they're great for showing off, and that's what seems to matters for most these days. Thanks to booming sales, tabs from various companies have started pouring in. However, very few managed to impress us.

The Nominees Are...
 

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011


Apple iPad 2
Speaking of tablets, the iPad is the first name that comes to everyone's mind. Thanks to the simplicity of iOS, it has to be the most user-friendly tablet in the market. On the hardware front, it shines with its dual-core A5 chip, capable of 1080p video playback and running the latest games.

Lenovo IdeaPad K1
Lenovo has done a great job with the Android Honeycomb customisation. This is one of the few tablets sporting a fluid UI. The K1's performance is good, and it doesn't disappoint on the design front. The tablet has great build quality, a dual-core CPU, excellent screen, and a good battery life.

Acer ICONIA A500
The A500 offers most of the things you desire in a tablet. This Honeycomb-based device handles multitasking with ease, plays 720p video, and also has a decent sound quality. Additionally, an HDMI port and USB OTG further sweeten the deal.

And The Winner Is...

Apple iPad 2!

Although the K1 and ICONIA 500 put up a decent fight, Honeycomb simply hasn't matured enough to take on iOS. The K1 has a fluid UI, but it's still no match for the iPad 2's buttery smooth interface. What's more, on the apps front, Apple's repository simply destroys the Android's offerings.
 

Digital Cameras

Cameras continued to become smaller in size, with densely-packed features. High optical zoom was featured even in mid-range devices, while the megapixels kept rising steadily.

The Nominees Are...

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V
Sony has tried to stuff just about everything into the considerably compact frame of the DSC-HX9V. With an amazingly powerful 16x optical zoom, far off subjects no longer remain out of reach. Thanks to the image stabilisation, this 14 mp camera allows blur-free photography even without a tripod. It even supports 1080p video capture at 30 fps. Travellers can take advantage of the in-built GPS for geotagging in photos and videos.

Canon PowerShot A1200
The A1200 is a slim and compact point-and-shoot that can be easily carried in your pocket. Its still image quality is good, and it is also capable of recording 720p. In addition to the LCD, it also sports an optical viewfinder, which is something you rarely get in its price range.

Canon IXUS 310 HS
The IXUS 310 HS is a splendid amalgamation of style, performance, and quality. Capable of 1080p movie capture, this compact camera manages to keep the noise levels low even at high ISO values. The 3.2" touchscreen interface is easy to view and facilitates better controls.

And The Winner Is...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V!

In addition to being a good travel-zoom camera in a compact body, this Cyber-shot has optical image stabilisation, 16x optical zoom, GPS, and 3D functionality. The excellent image quality in both still pictures as well as Full HD video makes this a winner.
 

Laptops

The rise of gorilla arm computing this year made show-offs scoff at notebooks. However, a tablet isn't feasible when you want to get real work done. 2011 saw a decline in notebook sales, but that didn't stop the usual suspects from flooding the markets with a healthy supply of new models. On the bright side, this only seems to have made them cheaper.

The Nominees Are...

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011

Acer Aspire AS5755G
The 5755G's graphics card delivers superb gaming performance. Acer has made the right decision by opting for an i5 over an i7. This move has enabled it to pack in a great graphics card, while keeping the cost reasonable. The battery life is good considering the notebook's impressive specs. Finally, at a street price of Rs 45,000, this laptop is ideal for folks looking for a mid-range multimedia monster.

Alienware m17x
This is as extreme and pointless as it gets. The m17x is the last word when it comes to graphics-crunching power. This puppy will run the latest games with aplomb, and look cool while it's at it.

Dell Vostro 3750 (Core i7-2360QM)
The 3750 is a splendid desktop replacement, and there's almost nothing to not like about it. The 17.3" anti-glare display is easy on the eyes, while the full-sized ergonomic keyboard is a joy to use. The performance is top-notch as expected, thanks to the powerful components and technologies that went into building this laptop.

And The Winner Is...

Acer Aspire AS5755G!

The 5755G strikes a perfect balance between performance and value. The NVIDIA GT540M GPU is as good as it gets at this price point. This laptop does it all — from acting as a competent desktop replacement to playing current games at respectable framerates.
 

Netbooks

The introduction of the AMD Brazos platform brought much needed vigour in the netbook realm. AMD's Zacate is a viable alternative to NVIDIA's Atom-based ION platform, thanks to the 6-series AMD GPUs. This year saw a healthy diversity in performance, with prices starting from as low as Rs 12,000 for the Atom laptops, to over Rs 20,000 for the Zacate-based ones.

The Nominees Are...

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011

HP Pavilion dm1z
AMD's Fusion has lived up to the hype with the dm1z. HP has succeeded in providing a nice design and sturdy build quality. The HD video playback is flawless, and the netbook is good to go when it comes to gaming. Moreover, it handles multitasking with ease, without taking a toll on the battery performance. If you've had enough of tablets and are looking for a supercharged netbook for work and some fun, the dm1z provides great value for money.

Acer Aspire One Happy 2
This is one stylish device that's easy on the eyes. Its performance is quite good, and the product is not expensive either. At a price tag of Rs 16,000, this well-built laptop is a good companion for college-goers, and won't look odd in offices either. Thanks to these cute devices, girls who buy devices on looks alone will no longer have to opt for expensive laptops made by Sony. However, guys need not shy away from the blueberry-coloured variant.

ASUS Eee PC 1011PX
This is a dirt-cheap netbook outfitted with all that you need in a download rig as well as for office productivity. It's good enough for PC audiophiles, as long as you don't expect to run Full HD (1080p) content. The 1011PX ships with 1 GB of RAM, which isn't ideal for Windows 7. However, that is moot because the netbook comes pre-installed with FreeDOS. This leaves you free to install your favourite Linux distro, which is in fact the most elegant solution available for productivity apps, multimedia, and internet.

And The Winner Is...

HP Pavilion dm1z!

The dm1z has enough grunt to handle games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with aplomb. The power-efficient dual-core AMD E350 Zacate processor extends battery life without compromising on Full HD multimedia playback and internet browsing. It ships with 2 GB of RAM, which should prove plenty for Windows 7. What's more, you get a sublime 11.6" screen (1366x768) and HDMI output to boot. This laptop is highly recommended for those who seek portability and battery endurance without compromising on performance and features.
 

Televisions

LED-backlit LCD TVs made it big this year with an unprecedented rate of adoption, thanks to the falling prices and a general trend towards greener devices. Also, every manufacturer has tried to push its 3D televisions, though with little success. 32" is considered as a base size by many consumers now, and it is likely that 42" or 46" will gain more acceptability next year.

The Nominees Are...

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011


Panasonic VIERA TH-P65VT30D
With an overwhelming 65" panel, this TV is capable of displaying 1080p content with the excellent colour reproduction for which plasma panels are known. Its display supports 120 Hz and is therefore compatible with almost every 3D source. The picture quality and 3D performance is second to none in our experience. Probably the only woe is that it is too expensive, but for those who can afford it, it's well worth the investment from a future point of view.

Sony BRAVIA KLV-32EX310
The KLV-32EX310 is a 32" HD Ready(720p)  TV with an IPS panel. It produces natural colour images with a good contrast, and the panel allows for excellent viewing angles. This TV pleasantly surprised us with its superb performance and low power consumption. It provides good value for money for its size, taking the performance into account.

And The Winner Is...

Panasonic VIERA TH-P65VT30D!

The TH-P65VT30D is by far the best TV money can buy, as far as the performance is concerned. Its Neo Plasma panel is not only a splendid looker, but also displays natural colour images in Full HD finery, complete with the famed blacks of a plasma TV. The 3D performance is also superior to any of the TVs we have tested, thus winning the crown in this category.
 

Games

2011 was filled with a very large number of big-budget AAA game releases and hackers waking up to the untapped potential of cash-rich, yet ill-secured online video game services. Although we saw a large number of hotly-anticipated sequels, this year hosted a few compelling new titles as well.

The Nominees Are...
 

TechTree Blog: Best Of Tech Awards 2011


Dead Space 2
This game is a refined experience, distilled to perfection after analysing all that was lacking in the original. It plays better, looks sharper, and features an even more engaging storyline, with amped-up boss battles. Visceral has managed to create a new benchmark in the survival-horror genre.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
There are few genres that give as much bang for your buck than open-world RPGs. Even by these standards, Skyrim incorporates a staggering amount of content that will last completionists for well over a hundred hours of solid gameplay. Bethesda has managed to perfect The Elder Scrolls experience and distill the RPG elements with a level of polish and complexity that's rarely seen in games of such scale.

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception
UNCHARTED 3 is a truly well-rounded game, featuring a breathtaking single-player campaign bolstered by a fun multiplayer component. Naughty Dog has taken what it had achieved with UNCHARTED 2 to a whole new level of polish and flamboyance, creating one of the most stellar single-player experiences you can have on any platform. It's one of the few platform-exclusive games that justifies purchasing a console for.

And the winner is...

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim!

The scope and complexity of this epic RPG makes the competition look like DLCs in comparison. Games are generally approached as pastimes, but those of Skyrim's calibre threaten to invade and consume our real life. This game is that engrossing and addictive.


Tags : TechTree Blog, Mobile Phones, Tablets, Cameras, Displays, Gaming, Laptops, PC Games, Xbox, PlayStation, Acer, Apple, ASUS, Canon, Dell, HP, HTC, Lenovo, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Aspire, BRAVIA, Cyber-shot, Eee, ICONIA, IdeaPad, iPhone, iPad, IXUS, GALAXY, Lumia, Jayesh