Welcome to the first instalment of our new monthly awards programme. As the largest consumer tech site in the UK, we review hundreds of products every year. Some are average, some are plain awful and some are frankly amazing. But, until now, it's been hard for us to point out the products that are the best of the best. We've run annual awards for the past couple of years, but many of you have been in touch to say that just isn't frequent enough.
So we've decided to give away Editors' Choice awards, on a monthly basis, to the greatest products we've reviewed from the past 30-odd days. To win an award, the product not only has to be the standard by which all other similar products will be judged, it has to have an effect on the market as a whole.
As it's our first time, we didn't want to restrict our search to simply the best kit we've reviewed in October, as that would mean loads of fantastic products from this year missing out on an award. So for one time only, we've cast our net back over the past 12 months and picked out the products that we think deserve an Editors' Choice award. We'll see you at the same time next month, when we'll be selecting the best stuff we've reviewed in November.
Now on to our choices. Take a look at the winners and let us know what you think of our decisions in the comments below. First up are the best TVs of the year.
This TV was chosen because, frankly, it's the best we've ever seen. Stunning black levels and truly jaw-dropping detail make this the champion of all flat-panel televisions. What's more, even Freeview looks amazing on this TV, which means, no matter what your taste, your eyes will love you if you buy a Kuro. Sure, it's not the cheapest television on the market, but if you're after quality, this is the TV you should buy.
Not only is the picture quality on the Samsung PS50A756 superb, this TV has a host of extra treats that make it even more worthy of your hard-earned money. WiseLink Pro allows you to view video, photos and listen to music and the InfoLive system pulls news and stock market information from the Internet. It all comes together to make a high-performance and well-specified TV.
freesat isn't without its problems, but if you live in an area with no Freeview, you're going to love this TV when analogue gets switched off. Not only has Panasonic made a brilliant plasma TV, but its integrated Freeview and freesat tuners mean no more ugly boxes making your lounge look like a branch of Comet. The best bit, though, is that Panasonic has also managed to create a TV capable of producing amazing-quality pictures from both standard- and high-definition sources.
This £200 box-of-tricks won our heart as soon as we took it out of its wrapper and plugged it in for the first time. It might not be the most attractive machine in the world, but it does more than any other streamer we've seen. If you want to watch MKV, XviD or DivX files on your TV at up to 1080p, then this is going to be the machine for you. Music support needs work, but this is mainly aimed at the video market – and we LOVE it.
We believe the Eee PC S101 is the currently the best netbook on the planet. It's super-light, super-thin and its glossy brown lid looks almost edible. It's a very good performer, too. Its keyboard is fantastic, the internal components are powerful enough to cope with most tasks, and it has a long enough battery life to let you enjoy a couple of feature-length movies and browse the Internet for a while afterwards. It's a little more expensive than some of its rivals, but in our estimation, it's worth every penny.
The latest MacBook reinforces Apple's reputation for creating hugely stylish products. This iteration is the first to use a single 'unibody' chassis, crafted from a solid piece of aluminium. It's lighter and feels more sturdy than its predecessor, but is also quicker. By using the latest Intel CPUs and a new Nvidia graphics chipset, the MacBook is able to cope with just about anything asked of it -- be it video editing, gaming or simply surfing the Internet.
Sony's NWZ-A828 is, in our opinion, one of the best Walkmans ever made, and one of the best MP3 players on the market. Most important to us in an MP3 player is sound quality, and not only does the A828 create some of the best-sounding music in a portable device, Sony didn't ruin this as most companies do -- including Apple -- by bundling terrible earphones in the box. Combine this with a great design, interface and features, and you've got a player worthy of our Editors' Choice award.
Apple iPod touch
Apple's original iPod touch was a ground-breaking MP3 and video player, but the second generation adds so much more. With video rentals from the iTunes Store, thousands of useful third-party applications and games from the likes of Electronic Arts, full support for Google Mail and Microsoft Exchange email, an integrated music store and the best mobile Web browsing experience on the planet, the second-generation iPod touch broke all the ground the first model left unbroken.
Logitech Squeezebox Duet
Not only is it incredibly easy to use, it's one of the most capable, most advanced home music streamers in the world. So many consumer streaming systems support only the basic music formats, with barebones features and lacklustre software. The Duet impressed us with its ludicrous support for audio formats, its superb sound quality, integration with Web music such as podcasting, RSS, Last.fm and the Internet Archive's live music repository, and its platform-agnostic desktop software. It's the best single-room music streamer of the year so far.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500
We kick off the camera category with the snapper we recommend to friends, colleagues and passers-by when they clutch us by the lapels and scream in our faces, "Which compact camera should I buy?!" The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 is a 10-megapixel snapper that may not look much from the front, but flip it over and you get an eyeful of an enormous 76mm (3-inch) touchscreen. With a great lens and loads of features, it's no wonder we gave it the vertiginously high score of 8.7.
Next to the podium to receive its award is the Casio Exilim EX-F1. It's heavy and expensive, but forget such trivialities: the F1 makes the most of digital power with its gobsmacking speed. Capable of firing a jaw-dropping 60 full-resolution photos in a single second, this speed demon scored 8.0 because of its performance as a camera, and wins an Editors' Choice for its sheer innovation in pushing the digital format to its extreme.
Another camera breaking new ground in the digital world is the Nikon D90, the first dSLR to shoot video. That particular ability may have garnered plenty of headlines, but it takes more than that to win an excellent 8.0 rating here at CNET UK. It's a robust camera that delivers great results time after time, and gets the nod for an Editors' Choice Award based on its integration of a boundary-pushing new feature into an exceptionally high-performing product.
The Nokia E71 combines a beautiful design with an easy-to-use interface. A sleek, metallic casing exudes finesse unmatched by many a competitor. The E71's Qwerty keypad is one of the best keypads we've used and makes typing out emails really easy, and a host of features such as GPS and HSDPA means you're never out of touch. It finds a balance between work and play that keeps it useful in a variety of situations.
Apple iPhone 3G
Offering all the interface sweetness from the original iPhone with a 3G twist, it would be unreasonable not to give this phone the respect it deserves. Marrying a highly responsive screen with the bandwidth to make the mobile Web usable, the iPhone 3G has changed the market forever. The ability to download programs, games and widgets through the app store, in particular, is a testament to Apple's foresight and understanding of consumer needs and desires.
Combining Samsung's expertise in industrial design with a plethora of features, the Samsung i8510 is a superb phone. An 8-megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm headphone jack are only a few of the features it offers. It delivers the sort of experience you'd expect from a high-end smart phone without over-complicating the user interface. This is how smart phones should be built.