The Best of 2010

Time sure flies when you're having fun, and 2010 has been another great year in the mobile tech world. I've been fortunate to cover a decent amount of hardware this year, including some very impressive notebook accessories. Indeed, advancements and products for 2010 set the stage for even better gear coming in 2011.

CES 2011 is in fact just two weeks away (more on that later!), but to tide you over until then, I'm happy to put together my best-of list for this year. Read on to see my top picks for 2010.

Best Notebook for 2010

Clevo became infamous for being first ODM to market with a quad-core notebook all the way back in May of 2007. The obscure Taiwanese company again stole the show in 2010 with the world's first SLI hexa-core notebook. Available from a variety of online boutique builders including AVA Direct, Sager and Eurocom, the X7200 (going by the name given by AVA Direct) sports a top-of-the-line desktop i7-980X CPU mated with two NVIDIA GTX480M graphics cards in SLI inside a gargantuan 17.3" chassis. With 1.5TB of pure SSD speed and 12GB of RAM, this fire-breathing behemoth delivers performance never-before found in a notebook. Mind you, at over $8300 as configured, I would expect nothing less than maximum unadulterated performance.

Another fine notebook to grace enthusiasts in 2010 was the HP Envy 17. Based on last year's extremely successful and very popular Envy 15 and 13 models, the Envy 17 ups the ante with a full-size backlit chicklet keyboard, mobile core i7 quad-core, dual hard drives (SSD/HDD), and a 3D 1080p display complete with 3D glasses. Add Beats Audio for a multimedia experience unlike any other notebook currently available.

Best Netbook for 2010

Without any doubt whatsoever, this category is pwn3d by the HP Pavilion dm1z. Sporting the AMD "Premium Vision" Nile platform, the 11.6" dm1z is the 2010 performance and productivity king among netbooks. Indeed, the K625/4225 CPU/GPU package provides multimedia and gaming capabilities unheard of in the netbook segment, seriously spanking Intel's N550 Atom. I had reason aplenty to bestow upon this impressive gem the lgpOnTheMove Best Netbook Award alongside my coveted Editor's Choice Award. My review of the dm1z has in fact become the most popular article on lgpOnTheMove to date.

Best Notebook Accessory for 2010

I had the chance to take a look at a lot more notebook accessories this year than ever before thanks to my Accessory Corner articles introduced back in April. Of the many items I looked at, two standout products are worth mentioning, the first being the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball. This modern successor to the Logitech Trackman Wheel brings trackballs into the new decade like never before, with wireless freedom notebook users crave, alongside customizable buttons and the kind of precision trackball fans will die for. Logitech have created a product so unique yet useful, in ergonomics AND function, that it simply has no competition, earning with it the lgpOnTheMove Best Accessory Award.

My other highly-prized accessory this year came to be the purchase of the Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200. This mobile 3G hotspot screams internet 24/7 to all of my devices thanks to the unlimited data plan, bypassing the pesky 5GB caps that have choked mobile broadband users previously. The $40 prepaid pricing makes it easy on the wallet, and it has turned my smartphone with prepaid voice into a no-compromise mobile communications tool. The hotspot device has been so popular with customers that it has frequently sold out online, and seen markups of over 30% in many walk-in stores - says a lot about the demand for unlimited 3G!

Best Notebook Innovation for 2010

As I wrote in my Hot Gear for 2010 piece very early this year, Arrandale has become the Intel standard in notebook processors replacing the mobile C2D line. Incorporating integrated graphics onto the processor package/die has helped notebook performance jump forward while putting the brakes on thermals and power consumption. Unfortunately, it's also meant learning the difference in performance between a Core i3, i5 and i7.

While not exactly an innovation applicable to notebooks, the advent of 4G broadband in more cities across the US during 2010 (mine included) has opened up wireless internet like never before. The growth of LTE/WiMax infrastructure, paired with carriers turning towards an uncapped 4G pricing model, has allowed notebook and netbook users access to the type of wireless broadband typical of wifi hotspots, yet without the location constraints. With some carriers already offering unlimited 4G at $45/month, it begs the question will home users switch, relegating for the first time services such as home DSL into an antique technology.

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