The 100 best products of the year

Each technology was rated on design, performance, and specifications

You know how many new-product pitches we get every year? Thousands, each declaring that the item is the best in its category. Though many of the companies making these claims are clearly delusional, some creations do stand as superbly designed top performers in their field--and you'll find all of them right here in our roster of the 100 best products of the year.

We rated each candidate on its design, performance, and specifications. We generally did not consider price in our evaluations; instead, we looked for products that represent the cream of the crop. But in compiling our list, some products were such great bargains that we couldn't ignore them. Of course, ranking laptops and Linux distributions in one place is tricky, but we used the same scoring system for each candidate and assessed them as consistently as we could. This year we have also assigned each candidate an "impact" score, to recognize significant products that changed the technology landscape. And last, we ranked every World Class award winner by its final score, creating our list of the year's top 100 products.

We've also identified a few of the year's most noteworthy companies, including our pick for the loser of the year. And we've named the 25 worst tech products of all time. For more information see our list of World Class products.

The Top 10

1. Intel Core Duo

Notebook/Desktop CPU ($450 and up) Intel's Core Duo provides multitasking power never before possible on a portable PC, and yet it supports astounding battery life for mobile devices. The Core Duo processor is so good that it's the CPU of choice not only for Windows laptops but also for Apple's Windows-capable laptop and for desktop Macs.

In today's mobile world, Core Duo gives Intel a leg up. AMD's Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core (#2) is astoundingly good, but AMD hasn't yet captured that power in a mobile version; and its notebook processors aren't nearly as potent or as battery-efficient as Intel's.

2. AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core

Desktop CPU ($300 and up) The most powerful desktop CPU ever made had a dual-core design first. If you need full power for increasingly demanding applications and you're tied to a desk, X2 is for you.

3. Craigslist.org

Web Classifieds (mostly free) Now established in over 200 cities around the globe, this community classified-ad service puts the hurt on newspapers' overpriced classifieds. Sell a used piano or find a soul mate--gratis.

4. Apple iPod Nano

Digital Audio Player ($149 to $249) You get up to 4GB of capacity in a tiny device that nevertheless has room for a crisp color display. It's scratch-prone, but it's still cool.

5. Seagate 160GB Portable Hard Drive

Portable Hard Drive ($380) This hard drive was one of the first to use perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology to pack more data into the same space. Another PMR-based Seagate hard drive, the Barracuda 7200.10, is the first desktop model to reach 750GB.

6. Google Earth

Satellite Imagery (free) News channels use Google Earth to zoom in on Iraq; you can use it to focus on neighboring houses, or to explore the rest of the world from your desktop.

7. Adobe Premiere Elements 2

Video Editor ($100) This strong, stable video editing application costs about one-eighth as much as Premiere Pro, Adobe's professional video editor. And it's so good you may not notice the difference.

8. Canon EOS 30D

Digital SLR Camera ($1499) An 8.2-megapixel shooter, the EOS 30D makes many of the pro-level features from Canon's EOS 5D available at a friendlier price. It also earned extremely high marks in our image-quality tests.

9. YouTube.com

Video-Sharing Site (free) Enjoy watching videos of every kind at this massive community of amateur videographers, and upload your own productions--at no cost.

10. Apple Boot Camp

Mac Dual-Booter (free) Astonishingly, Apple has finally given its blessing to running Windows on a Mac, with this utility. Next up: running the Mac OS on a Windows box--or pigs flying through the sky.

11. Adobe Photoshop Elements 4

Image Editor ($100) The latest version of Elements is the most elegant and powerful image-editing and -organizing application available for under $600 (the price of Adobe's pro-level Photoshop CS2).

12. Mozilla Firefox 1.5

Web Browser (free) The 2005 product of the year continues to improve, with a better set of features and stronger security than Microsoft's Internet Explorer offers. News Report

13. Engadget.com

Gadget Blog (free) Even if Engadget decided to devote itself to game shows and golf, we'd probably still read it, just because the blog's writing is so snarky and entertaining.

14. Toshiba HD-A1

HD DVD Player ($500) The first high-definition optical disc player on the market, the HD-A1 will probably be the least expensive one for some time, too. Say good-bye to your $40 DVD player and say hello to gorgeous high-definition movies on disc.

15. Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV600

Power Notebook Computer ($2548) The jazzy Qosmio notebook line got even better this year. In fact, the G35-AV600 is the best Media Center desktop replacement we've ever seen. Toshiba recently released a version that comes with an HD DVD-ROM drive.

16. nVidia GeForce 7600 GT

Graphics Card Chip Set ($200) Our list doesn't focus on outstanding values, but how could we overlook this powerful chip set? At $200, it's a steal.

17. Google

Search Engine (free) Google's clean, fast-loading interface helps it remain the most-used and best-loved search engine on the Internet. Have you googled anything today?

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