Best Gadgets of 2011 - Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops, TVs, Portable Media Players and Mobile Gaming Devices : The Ultimate List!

TP Founder Notes # 5 - The Best of the Best

2011 had been a big year for smartphones and tablets with a few outstanding devices in other categories.

I've taken the liberty of creating my list of the best gadgets of 2011 - covering smartphones, laptops, tablets, TVs, and PMPs. Note that all devices mentioned in this post have been featured and/or reviewed by TechPinas.

But before that: TP Friends, thank you so much for supporting me and TP for whole of 2011. We've already been through a lot together. And I appreciate it. God bless us more this coming year! I'm really looking forward to a bigger and better 2012 with all of you! More TPGBs! More tech stories, news and reviews that make our lives better! Lots of pleasant surprises coming up! Happy New Year, TP Friends!

Smartphones

1. Samsung Galaxy Note - In my opinion, this is the best smartphone Samsung has released thus far. With a massive HD SuperAMOLED capacitive touchscreen display measuring 5.3 inches across and coming with an S-Pen stylus, SGNote is often described as a true smartphone-tablet hybrid. And Note's unique and landmark form factor is perfectly complemented by its powerhouse innards. In fact, AnTuTu Benchmarks Test results show that SGNote is currently the best smartphone when it comes to CPU, Memory and 3D Graphics performance. This beast-of-a-handset runs the latest version of Android Gingerbread OS with its dual-core 1.4GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP GPU, Exynos chipset and 1GB of RAM and sports an 8 MegaPixel autofocus camera with LED flash and a Full HD 1080p video recorder. Truly ahead of its time, Note - I believe - gives us a glimpse into the standard look smartphones will don 2-3 years from now.

2. Apple iPhone 4S - Although flaunting a design identical to that of its predecessor from a year back, Apple iPhone 4S nonetheless comes with enhancements a lot of Apple fans will surely crave for. The phone sports an improved camera made by Sony that performs extremely well even in not-so-well-lit settings. Likewise, it comes with a Full HD 1080p video recorder, which is an improvement from the 720p videocam of iPhone4. Thanks to its powerful dual core Apple A5 processor, Apple iPhone 4S is able to support and run new applications and softwares by the Cupertino-company, which include the buzz-worthy Siri. Siri is a voice-powered virtual assistant helping 4S users accomplish tasks ranging from making calls to looking for nearby restaurants.

3. Nokia N9 - Putting Nokia Lumia 800 in a separate category, Nokia N9 - I would have to say - is the best smartphone Nokia has ever made. Crafted from a polycarbonate uniblock, MeeGo-powered Nokia N9 features a unique curved scratch-resistant screen that makes the display look as if its lifted or floating. Serious about social networking, Nokia made Facebook and Twitter applications specifically for Nokia N9. I reviewed this smartphone on TP last November and I remember being thoroughly impressed with how easy it is to navigate MeeGo Harmattan's user interface.

4. Samsung Galaxy S2 - This handset is practically the smaller, full-fledged smartphone version of Samsung Galaxy Note. While it does not flaunt a screen as big as that of a tablet-smartphone hybrid, SGS2 nonetheless comes with almost identical internal specifications, including a dual core processor with slightly lower clockspeed, and top-notch multi-media features like its 8 MegaPixel camera and FullHD video recorder. For those who are concerned about handset design, SGS2 remains to be one of the slimmest smartphones you can get in the market these days.

5. LG Optimus 2X - Being the 'Guinness Book of World Records Certified' First Dual Core Smartphone on the planet, LG Optimus 2X is truly a landmark gadget. But I think what's really cool about this phone is that of the three dual core Android smartphones released earlier this year (Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation being the other two), it's the most affordable.

6. BlackBerry Bold 9900 - I remember reviewing this phone on ABS-CBN News Channel's Mornings@ANC a few months back and having nothing but good words about it. Featuring top-notch innards wrapped in a gorgeous glass and brushed stainless steel enclosure, BlackBerry Bold 9900 isn't just the most powerful handset Research in Motion has released yet, it's also - in my humble opinion - the most handsome.

7. Samsung Galaxy Y - Combined advertising campaigns from Samsung and Smart, helped propel both the regular and Netphone version of SGY to best-selling status in the Philippines. According to some concerned Samsung fans, demand for the phone is so high this Yuletide that there are some stores in malls taking advantage of the situation by selling the phone for up to Php 1,500 more expensive than the regular SRP.

8. HTC Sensation XE - The extreme version of the already powerful HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation XE is the product of the Taiwanese company's recent major investment into Beats by Dr. Dre. On top of delivering screaming Android performance, HTC Sensation XE also gives users an incredible audio experience that only Beats software and earphones can deliver.

9. Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc - For me, SE Xperia Arc - with its ultra-thin curved frame - is easily the best designed smartphone of 2011. This handset can sit beside iPhone 4S and BB Bold 9900 - two of the most handsome phones out there - and not feel a bit shy. But Arc is totally not all looks no substance, aside from sporting one of the best cameras on smartphone today, the phone now runs the latest version of Android Gingerbread operating system - thanks to the recent software upgrade released by SE.

Tablets

1. Apple iPad 2 - Just like in the smartphone and ultra-light notebook category, this year, Apple also led in the tablet department. During the launch of iPad2, Steve Jobs was quoted saying, "While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we're launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again." In many ways, that's exactly what happened. Apple iPad 2 went on to become the best-selling tablet of 2011 and practically became a new template for other companies in creating their own slates. http://www.techpinas.com/2011/12/best-gadgets-of-2011-smartphones.html

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 - Despite or perhaps largely because of its recent legal battles with Apple over patents, Samsung has managed to come up with pretty strong contenders in this category. I've played with Samsung Galaxy Tab in various sizes and I think the 8.9-inch model is the best of them all as it provides the perfect balance of display size and portability.

3. BlackBerry PlayBook - Although not quite as terrifying as the iPad or the Galaxy Tab in terms of sales, the BlackBerry PlayBook has its own charms. RIM's tablet runs the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS with its dual core processor, supports true multi-tasking and comes replete with a high-resolution 7-inch screen, front and back Full HD 1080p video cameras, 5 MegaPixel camera and a variety of connectivity options. BB users can pair Blackberry smartphone with their BlackBerry PlayBook using BlackBerry Bridge.

TVs

1. LG LW5700 Cinema 3DTV - I got the chance to experience and review LG's High-end Cinema 3DTV alongside its 2 main rivals from other companies via GMA News TV's Pop Talk a few months back. And I still remember being totally amazed with the cinematic 3D experience that this TV gave me, Issa and Coco; I tell you, LG's 3DTV technology almost a full generation ahead of the others. No flickering 3D glasses needed, LW5700 gives you that no-fuss no-eye-stress 3D movie experience you get in cinemas.

2. Samsung D8000 3D LED TV - In my D8000 review last month, I wrote that "[D8000's] high-gloss metal frame and stand perfectly compliment the ultra-clear and vibrant display. Likewise, these accents make the TV go well with any modern interior design and decor. [...] Samsung LED TV D8000 is a trophy TV; Yeah, that's what it is. It's for people who want to exude that aura of always wanting nothing but the best that money can buy and that they can actually afford to get such things... just like that." To this day, I stand by those words.

PMPs and Mobile Gaming Devices

1. iPod Touch 2011 - "iPod Touch is an iPhone without the phone," said Steve Jobs during the formal announcement of the 4th Generation iPod Touch. And that's exactly what it is. It's for users who already have a smartphone and just want to experience iOS and all of the supported applications without having to break the bank for another expensive phone. Although the iPod Touch released this year looks exactly like that from 2010 and even comes with exactly the same specifications, I still think that it's an amazing device and quite likely the most sulit Apple product you can get these days.

2. Nintendo 3DS - 3DS lets gamers enjoy real 3D graphics without the need for those clunky 3D glasses. What's cool is that the device became available in the Philippines during the latter part of the year with a surprisingly low price tag.

3. Sony PlayStation Vita - I feel kinda iffy including PSVita in this list since it's the only device in this line-up I haven't seen in the flesh - yet. Nonetheless, based on what I've seen in videos, I get this feeling that Vita could end up being one of the best mobile gaming devices ever made and I know that I'll be doing everyone a big disservice if I won't mention it here especially since Sony actually announced the device in 2011.

Laptops

1. MacBook Air 2011 - Apple continues to reign supreme in the thin and light notebook category, setting the standard for how such devices should be done. Running on the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual core CPUs, both 11-inch and 13-inch models of 2011 MacBook Air is up to twice as fast as the previous generation and has all the power you need for editing photos and videos among other slightly specs-intensive computing tasks. The 11-inch Macbook Air weighs 2.38 pounds and delivers up to 5 hours of uptime, while the 13-inch model weighs 2.96 pounds and has around 7 hours of battery life.

2. ThinkPad X220 - Corporate and Business users who are looking for a sturdy and powerful thin and light notebook will surely find ThinkPad X220 an ideal device. Sporting the legendary ThinkPad keyboard, Trackpoint and ThinkVantage security features, X220 smoothly runs Windows 7 with the latest generation Intel Sandy Bridge CPU, making you more productive when working with it.

3. Asus Eee PC X101 - With price tag of more or less Php 10,000, Asus Eee PC X101 is perfect for students and entry-level users who are in the market for an affordable netbook that can help them browse the web and work on documents without any hassles. As thin and light as a regular textbook, X101 easily slips into a purse or bag, allowing you to carry it around the campus the whole day without hurting your shoulders.

4. Asus Zenbook - A classic example of an UltraBook, Asus Zenbook - which comes in 2 models, UX21 and UX31 - is both slim and full-powered. Quoting Asus, "The Zenbook is a unique combination of artistic craftsmanship and advanced technology." In many ways, however, I think Zenbook looks like Apple's Macbook Air -- only it runs Windows, which means it supports more softwares and has an interface that's more familiar to a lot of people.

5. Sony Vaio F - One look at Sony Vaio F and you will get the impression that it's made for serious computing. This 16.4-inch tank - flaunting a serious black plastic enclosure - comes replete with the latest Core i7 processor, NVIDIA graphics, and a full HD 1080p display, making it one of the laptops to beat in terms of specifications. Quoting Sony, "VAIO F Series delivers a Full HD 3D experience in a notebook PC. Enjoy 3D Blu-ray Discs and 3D photos or convert any HD video from 2D to 3D. The 240 fps high frame rate LCD puts a bright and crisp image on its 16-inch screen." If you're willing to spend Php 150,000 on a notebook with the best specs out there, Sony Vaio F is the right one for you.

6. Sony Vaio Y - Over the years, Vaio has developed the reputation for being expensive, sometimes even 'overly expensive'. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. But if anything, Sony Vaio Y appears to break this mold. Priced at only around Php 25,000, the two models under this line will finally let everyone - even entry-level consumers - experience VAIO.

7. Acer Aspire S3 - One of my tech predictions for 2012 is that it's going to be the year of Ultrabooks. But you don't have to wait until next year to get yourself a thin and light powerhouse notebook. Acer Aspire S3, which sells for Php 45,000 to Php 60,000 depending on specs, is perhaps the most affordable Ultrabook currently. The price is not particularly cheap, but if you're keen on being one of the first to own an Ultrabook, then why not get one?

8. Samsung Series 9 - For me, Samsung Series 9 is the most gorgeous notebook the Korean company has released so far. Wrapped in Duralumin, a metal used in creating aircraft shells, the ultra-sleek Samsung Series 9 is for users who are willing to pay a premium for a notebook that look like it's made for a supermodel yet has specifications that will make the borderline-powerhouse user smile.

There you go, TP Friends! Here's to even more amazing gadgets in 2012!

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