Welcome to CrunchGear’s Gala Best of 2008 Awards featuring the Best Gear, Gadgets, and Software of 2008. Best of all, we tallied your responses and collated them in the People’s Choice awards. Now that I’m wearing my tux, let’s get right to the awards.
While we agree that Firefox is probably the best browser out there, we’re talking about the best browser of 2008. Chrome is what a browser should be – speedy, elegant, and easy-to-use. Sadly, it’s not cross-platform so only those running XP or Vista and join in the fun. As web professionals, browsers are important and Chrome gets our vote this year.
Best Console Experience
New XBox Experience
New XBox Experience
Oh, man, awarding the Best Console Experience to the New Xbox Experience got a whole lot easier after we saw Sony roll out PlayStation Home, which, nearest we can tell, is a boredom simulator. The NXE didn’t change too radically what already made using the Xbox 360 so enjoyable; a spit shine, if you will. We think the avatars are 100 percent lame, but they don’t get in the way of Xbox Live or anything.
Best Game, Cross Platform
Left 4 Dead
Grand Theft Auto IV
Really, does Valve do anything wrong? You and three friends running for your lives against a horde of
debt collectors zombies while The Director toys with your pointless existence. Multi-player gaming at its best.
As for the People’s Choice, y’all sure do like beating up hookers and driving into helpless pedestrians, don’t you? We wouldn’t call the game perfect—really, no analog control of Niko? Mario had that in 1996!—but it’s certainly a fun, mindless romp, at least for a little while.
Best Game, Nintendo Wii
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
We award this to Brawl—an actual video game and not some weird Wii Taxes concept—in lieu of any truly big Wii game, like Twilight Princess or Metroid. It’s fun, sure, and now has Snake and Sonic, which is a plus. As a rule of thumb, though, you’re more likely to find us on XBL than playing Wii Fit, if you can even call that a game.
But, hey, Mario Kart is fun, too, especially now with that plastic wheel controller. Online multiplayer helps extend the sell by date.
Best Game, Xbox 360
<b>Gears of War 2
Gears of War 2
Some of us may hate the game for no specific reason—Nicholas, mostly—but it’s hard to find a better Xbox 360-exclsuive game than this. (It’s hard to find an Xbox 360-exclusive game, period, but that’s another story.) As sequels go, it paints by numbers with the best of ’em: running, gunning, ducking, etc. One thing: fix the bugs, Epic.
It seems you guys thought the same thing, too. If nothing else this helps show that, outside of Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo-funded endeavors, on their respective platforms, system exclusivity is dying.
Best Game, PS3
Metal Gear Solid IV
Make no mistake about it, this is the reason to own a PS3 right now (outside of its Blu-ray capabilities, should that matter to you). Go ahead, create your own level, or play your neighbor’s. Go ahead, imagine that you’re a sackboy activating levers and going in and out of three planes of existence. Go ahead, actually have fun while playing a game and not worrying about if you have enough ammo or if some 12-year-old kid instantly kills you.
As for MGS IV, we would have picked this, too, if it weren’t for the game’s insufferably long cut scenes and poetical waxing about The Meaning of War & Life. The best entry in the series? We’re prepared to argue that MGS1 was better, but it’s pretty damn close.
Best HDTV Line
HDTVs improve dramatically every year and this year’s batch certainly brings the goods. Our readers overwhelming picked the Sony XBR line and for good reason. They are solid HDTVs that are readily available for purchase. The latest ones feature industry leading 240Hz technology, too. XBRs are great sets; that is until you see in person the Mitsubishi LaserVue. This high-def set, powered by lasers, is astounding and pics cannot do it justice. You might not be able to hang it on the wall but it’s still thin at 10-inches at a 60-inch screen size. The Sony XBR is a great set and might be the best picture most will ever see, but the Mitsubishi LaserVue is our pick for the HDTV of the year.
Best Portable A/V Devices
iPod Touch 2G
iPod Touch 2G
Apple knows how to make a killer mobile platform and the latest incarnation of the iPod Touch proves it. This little touchscreen device pretty much ensures that owners will never be bored again. There are even reports that state the GPU performance is great than that of the iPhone. It plays music, games, and movies. What more can you want? Larger storage option? Yeah, besides that.
TiVo HD XL
TiVo HD XL
TiVo had a killer year and released the monstrous TiVo HD XL equipped with a 1TB hard drive. Sure, the UI is a little dated, but it’s still easily the most complete DVR solution outside of custom built media centers. The large hard drive is great, but the HD and HD XL can also stream high-def movies from Netflix, they allow full access to YouTube, and even play back almost every video file format available (including MKVs). TiVo was the de facto standard for years but feel off the map once cable providers started offering DVRs. The HD XL proves TiVo is in it for the long haul and has a robust platform that’s not afraid of change.
Canon Rebel XSi
While you, the readers, loved the Nikon D90 we editors chose the Rebel XSi simply because it’s the best entry level DSLR on the market. Why? Because it’s inexpensive, it’s compatible with a constellation of great lenses, and the automatic setting is as good as any of the manual settings for beginners. But the D90 is pretty damn nice as well.
As Nicholas said, the Zi6 is the video camera for the proletariat. It’s not as fully featured as the People’s Choice Canon hf100 but it gets the job done, it’s cheap, and it’s fun.
ASUS Eee PC 1000
After spending a good amount of time with both, we’re going to have to disagree here, lovely readers. While the EEE series is arguably the match that set the netbook world ablaze, the MSI Wind has swooped in and shown them how its done. You get just as much bang for your buck, plus a VGA webcam. As a little bonus, the Wind is the most hackintosh-friendly netbook around.
Go to any tradeshow or convention, and sneak into the press room. Look for your favorite gadget blogger. More often than not, they’ll be rocking a MacBook Pro. That says something – and no, I don’t mean that it proves we’re all tools.
Make jokes about the “Apple tax” all you want – for the durability, for the genius bar, and for the ability to boot into OS X or Windows without having to hack a thing, the MacBook Pro takes the title.
We get it, you love the iPhone. So do we. But in the grand scheme of things, the G1 is the start of something great.
Naysayers might scream, but Android (and competing, open source platforms) is the future of mobile. The G1 proved that Android works, and for that, it overcomes the iPhone and Apple’s walled garden. 2009 will be Android’s year, and the G1 paved the way.
Worst Device of 2008
We wanted it to be great. We were really excited. We love Blackberry. But we don’t love the Blackberry Storm. This device, designed by committee and released too soon, is the antithesis of the iPhone. The UI is wonky, the touch screen is horrible, and all of the features that make RIM products great are notably absent in this device. What could have been an iPhone killer will end up being a blight on RIM’s record for years to come.
Best Device of 2008
iPod Touch 2G
Yes, we know. Apple this and Apple that. But you guys chose the 3G and we chose the Touch 2G. Why? Because these two devices get things right. The UI is responsive, the feature set is nicely refined, and the App Store turns both devices into what we can only call Apple’s real netbook. Best of all, the game Fieldrunners exists on both platforms breathing life into the atrophied casual gaming world.