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The 100 best products of 2012

PCWorld staff | Nov. 28, 2012
Around this time each year, the editors at PCWorld and TechHive gather to recognize the best new tech products—the hardware, software, gadgets, and devices that had the biggest impact on the world. The process starts out casually enough, because editors get to name their favorites from their respective beats, and everything is included in the first pass.

41. AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition (GPU)

AMD made a few tweaks to the reference design it originally released in December 2011. This single-GPU card now overpowers Nvidias GeForce GTX 680 in most of our benchmarks. Its still too big and consumes too much juice, but well accept the trade-off.

42. Adobe Lightroom 4.5 (photo-editing software)

Few developers add new features to a top-shelf product and then slice the products price tag in half, but thats what Adobe did with Lightroom. Notable new tools include photo categorization by geolocation, the ability to output photos using self-publishing books, and easier-to-use filters. Lightroom 4.5 is no small upgrade.

43. Asus RT-N66U (wireless router)

Hey, we get it. Not everyone is ready to embrace a draft networking standard. If you need a new router, but want to stick with the tried-and-true 802.11n, theres no better model than the dual-band Asus RT-N66U. When it comes to performance and features, nothing else comes close.

44. Velodyne vPulse (earbuds) 

Loudspeaker aficionados will be familiar with Velodynes high-end subwoofersspeakers designed solely to reproduce very low frequencies. So it should come as no surprise that the vPulse delivers plenty of low-end oomph. But these buds are more than bass monstersthey deliver a detailed midrange performance and crisp highs, too.

45. Vizio CA27-A1 (all-in-one PC)

Vizio entered the desktop PC market with this stylish all-in-one that delivered a Worldbench 7 score of 122 (that is, 22 percent faster than our baseline system), thanks to a Core i5 CPU, a discrete Nvidia GPU, and a 32GB SSD cache. Extras include a multitouchpad instead of a mouse.

46. Apple iPod touch (5th generation) 

No other digital media player has managed to knock the iPod off its perch. Now, it's more than a media player: Its also a very good digital camera, camcorder, handheld gaming device, and, when connected to a Wi-Fi network, a personal digital assistant (Siri).

47. Astro A50 Wireless Headset (gaming headset)

This is the best wireless gaming headset weve heard this year, thanks to impeccable design and Astros decision to use KleerNet wireless technology. The A50 works with both PCs and gaming consoles, it sounds great, and its comfortable enough to wear during marathon entertainment sessions.

48. Apple iPad Mini (tablet) 

While it lacks a Retina display, Apple's smallish tablet is a joy to use, delivering a higher resolution than the first two generations of iPads. It would rank much higher on our list if its price were closer to that of the Nexus 7.

49. Google Hangouts (video-chat service)

Yes, this free video-chat service debuted in late last year, but it really took off in 2012. It supports up to 10 callers equipped with browsers, webcams, and Google+ accounts. Its a fun way to connect with friends, and its a fabulous workplace collaboration tool. Participants can share a screen and view joint presentations.

 

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