October 27, 2009, 2:33 PM — PC World looked at many outstanding hardware, software, sites, and services this year, evaluating each one on its design, functionality, performance, and impact. Here is the cream of the crop, the 100 best of 2009. (Note that we chose not to rate products specifically on their price or value, focusing instead on their overall quality.)
Please let us know if you agree or disagree with our choices or have an unmentioned favorite by commenting at the bottom of this story or on the PC World Facebook Fans page (love to have you join us there).
1. The App Store (iPhone apps, prices vary) What can you say about a store--any store--that moves 2 billion products in just 16 months? We stand in awe of Apple's trailblazing App Store, which this year put the word app on the map, as customers flocked to download iPhone applications by the shopping basketful.
The iPhone is far from the first smartphone that could run third-party software. But one reason for the success of iPhone apps is that there's a store for them. By creating one easy-to-use marketplace for 85,000 free or (in most cases) inexpensive programs, Apple sparked unprecedented interest in phone software from both iPhone owners and developers.
It may seem as though an inordinately large proportion of the items available for downloading are dedicated to creating fart noises, but if you cut through the cheesy games and novelties, you'll find thousands of innovative, thoughtfully designed apps that can make your iPhone do things no smartphone has done before.
2. Google Voice (telephony service, free) Google Voice gives you a single number for all of your phones to use, e-mails you transcripts of your voicemail messages, and sports a host of sophisticated calling features. Set up conference calls for free, record calls, even switch phones in the middle of a call. And it's all free. Ma Bell, eat your heart out.
3. Intel X25-M Solid State Drive 160GB (internal storage device, $500) A new manufacturing process and a significantly lower price combine with great performance in this top-notch SSD. This model's speedy test results put it at the top of our chart; its price and performance make it a compelling flash upgrade for notebook or desktop users.