The 100 best products of 2012

The top tech products of 2012, in categories ranging from PCs to productivity software.

Playing World of Warcraft with an ordinary mouse after playing with the Razer Naga will feel like bringing a banana to a knife fight. The 17 programmable buttons under one hand leaves the other hand free to concentrate on using your QWERTY keyboard's WASD keys to move within the game world.

80. Hero Academy (videogame) 

Robot Entertainment's turn-based, board-like game of swords and magic requires at least two players; but if you tire of waiting for your opponent(s) to move, you can start independent games with other partners and play them all simultaneously. Outwit your opponents through brute force or calculated strikes.

81. Sony Handycam HDR-PJ760V (camcorder)

Falling squarely between the consumer and prosumer worlds, this camcorder performs like a champ. It boasts extraordinary ability to produce crisp videos in challenging shooting situations, and the optical image stabilization works phenomenally well. Auto-focus struggles occasionally, but color accuracy stays spot-on.

82. Damn Small Linux (operating system) 

We saw a flurry of new Linux distros in 2012, but DSL is particularly notable because of its size. This operating system will run on older computers that would collapse under the weight of Windows or any other mainstream OS. As such, it can breathe new life into old hardware.

83. Axis P1344 (IP video camera)

Small-business owners looking for professional-quality video surveillance will appreciate the features Axis delivers with its model P1344 IP camera: This model delivers precision optics, true HDTV resolution, and h.264 video encoding. And with power-over-ethernet support, youll need just one low-voltage cable to set it up.

84. Stardock Multiplicity 2.0 (multisystem-control software) 

Software doing the work of hardware almost never satisfies, but here's an exception: The free version of Multiplicity 2.0 lets you control two computers using a single mouse and keyboard every bit as effectively as an expensive USB keyboard/mouse switch. Spring for the paid version ($40), and you can control up to nine computers.

85. Apple TV (network media streamer)

This third-gen Apple TV sports a new processor capable of playing video at 1080p, but the real star of the show is the new software update that will run on the older 720p Apple TV, too. If you like AirPlay and the iTunes store, this is the video streamer to buy.

86. Dishonored (videogame) 

An epic departure from the typical computer game, Dishonored is set in a steampunk universe where technology and supernatural powers coexist. You play the part of a bodyguard-turned-assassin who must overcome being framed for the murder of the empress you were guarding.

87. Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x CompactFlash (memory card)

Its not every year that you get both a noteworthy bump in performance and a doubling of maximum capacity. Lexars Professional 1000x line pulled it off. The cardwhich is also available in 16-, 32-, and 64GB capacitieswrites at 150 MBps.

88. Sanebox (email filtering service) 

Most programs don't prioritize email; it just shows up, with equal weight given to emergencies and uninteresting retail pitches. Sanebox shows only your most important email, shunting lower-priority missives to folders such as "SaneArchive" and "SaneLater." This cloud-based service works with any IMAP email, and it's surprisingly good at guessing what you want to see.

89. Rikomagic MK802 (micro PC)

It costs three times as much as the Raspberry Pi, but the MK802 is more of a complete PC (including an enclosure), in contrast with the Raspberry Pis bare circuit board. While it carries Android branding, its capable of running any Linux distro, and it can output 1080p video via HDMI.

90. Telenav Scout (navigation app) 

Anyone in the market for a better alternative to the navigation software that came with their phoneand we know who you areshould give this app a try. It provides excellent turn-by-turn navigation that takes real-time traffic conditions into account. Scout runs on Android, as well as iOS.

91. Apple Earpods (earbuds)

Products bearing the Apple logo typically bear a hefty price premium, so were delighted that these high-quality earbuds cost just $29. They deliver very good acoustic performance for the money, theyre very comfortable to wear, and they have an inline mic and remote control compatible with Apples hardware.

92. Cinemagram (app) 

A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it. This free app is such a forceat least when it comes to digital photos. Select any area of a still image and the Cinemagram app will animate it with always interesting, sometimes mind-boggling, and occasionally creepy results.

93. Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid (750GB internal hard drive)

By marrying an 8GB SSD with a midsize hard drive, the Momentus XT delivers some of the speed of an SSD with the superior capacity of a mechanical drive. This is a highly recommended laptop upgrade; for desktops, we recommend using a discrete SSD with a second mechanical drive.

94. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 (digital camera)

With a sensor nearly three times larger than most of its competition, a lens with a maximum aperture of F1.8, and manual controls for both stills and 1080p/60fps video, the RX100 is the king of the compact-camera crop (unless you count Sonys full-frame-sensor RX1, priced at a wallet-busting $2800).

95. Brother MFC-J4510DW (printer)

This printers innovative design finally gives Brother a reason to say follow me, instead of me, too. A wider print head prints more of the page at one time, accelerating performance, while a wider paper path allows paper sizes up to 11 by 17 inches. Best of all, this printer uses low-price inks.

96. rtpMIDI (music software)

Yes, this choice is a little esoteric, as it's designed for musicians. If you fall into that category, this software is worthy of your attention. Updated in September, rtpMIDI lets you control MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) devices (including other computers running MIDI software) with a networked PC or even an iPad.

97. Ceton InfiniTV 4 USB (TV tuner/adapter)

Anything a DVR can do, a PC can do better. If youre a cable subscriber, connect this box to your service and to your PC and you can program it to record up to four TV programs simultaneously, including premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.

98. V-moda Crossfade M-80 (r2) (headphones)

Few headphones can match the Crossfade M-80 for its deft combination of great sound quality, rock-solid construction, extended-listening comfort, and stunning looksespecially the White Pearl version. It even offers surprisingly good noise isolation for an on-ear headphone, and the interchangeable cables keep the in-line microphone near your mouth, with the in-line remote lower for easy access.

99. Sony PS3 Pulse Wireless Headset (gaming headset)

Not prepared to drop $300 for the Astro A50? Check out this alternative. Compatible with both the PC and Sonys PS3 game console, the Pulse sounds terrific and remains comfortable during long gaming sessions. When used with the PS3, BassImpact technology vibrates the headset to provide tactile feedback.

100. Pinball Arcade (video game) 

  Whether youre a pinball wizard or youve never heard of these classic amusements, you owe it to yourself to check out these faithful reproductions on your smartphone or, better yet, your tablet. The physics alone are absolutely mind-blowing. The ad-supported games are free; most ad-free versions can be purchased for just $3.

This story, "The 100 best products of 2012" was originally published by PCWorld.

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