November 27, 2012, 4:00 PM — Around this time each year, the editors at PCWorld and TechHive gather to recognize the best new tech productsthe 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.
But passions rise when the time comes to winnow what inevitably becomes a very long list to just 100 new products. Theres a fervent back and forth as each editor makes the case as to why their product should remain on the listand someone elses should be whacked. Staff alliances form and dissolve as editors strategize how theyll win the day for their picks.
A list with 100 computers, smartphones, printers, cloud services, and other great products inexorably emerges over the course of a few weeks. But thats only half the battle, because the editors must now decide the order of importance that each product holds. That came together surprisingly quickly this yearat least for the top 10 products. As for the other 90; well, lets just say the list was settled only after great deliberation.
And here, without further ado, are our picks for the 100 best products of 2012:
1. Windows 8 Professional (operating system)
With its biggest OS rollout since Windows 95, Microsoft seeks to embrace all things computing with a one-size-fits-all operating system. Love or hate the new Start screen and app storefront, look beyond those polarizing elements, and youll find substantial performance improvements, numerous updates to critical features, and a largely successful effort to retain compatibility with desktop applications while also fulfilling the needs of mobile apps. Windows 8 has already spawned new designs and all sorts of hardware experiments. This bold step forward wont appeal to old-schoolers, but its sleek, modern look just might win over a new generation of users that Microsoft must attract to remain relevant.
2. Apple iPad, 3rd Generation (tablet)
We've listed the third-gen iPad here because it had the biggest impact on the tablet marketit was the first to feature Apple's high-resolution Retina display. But if you want to buy a full-size iPad now, get the fourth-gen model: It has a faster processor, better Wi-Fi capabilities, and improved LTE circuitry.
3. Maingear Alpha All-in-One (desktop)
The Alpha may be a butt-ugly beast, but its massive chassis accommodates a GeForce GTX 680 video card, a Core i7-3770K CPU, and up to 32GB of memory. You can play today's triple-A game titles, and upgrade every major component to play tomorrow's attractions, too.
4. Vizio CT14-A2 (laptop)