Tablets, PCs, and E-Readers: Best of 2010
The Amazon Kindle 3 e-reader and other innovative hardware whipped up excitement in this category, but sexy gaming PCs such as the Maingear F131 and solid business laptops like the Lenovo ThinkPad W701ds also drew our attention.
Tablet; starts at $499 We're now in the midst of a technological revolution that's putting handheld slates at the forefront. The iPad deserves full credit as the device that launched it all. After years of false starts for tablets from various makers, Apple's 9.7-inch model bucked the trend with a svelte design, a robust yet simple touch interface, and a phenomenal array of apps. (#2 in the PCWorld 100)
In Video: Apple iPad Stress Tests
E-reader; $139 Amazon rewrote the rules for e-readers with its third-gen Kindle. The Wi-Fi-only version delivers convenient e-book shopping along with a stellar E-Ink Pearl screen and a streamlined, lightweight design. (#3)
Tablet; $600 from Verizon, pricing for other carriers to be determined This sleek little slate is by far the best Android tablet we've seen to date. It brings polished software and design finesse to a fun, multipurpose, and highly portable touchscreen device. The Galaxy Tab is the iPad for the rest of us. (#5)
Laptop; starts at $1149 The Envy 14 is one of the slickest all-purpose laptops of the year. The Beats Edition turns it up to 11 with a slick black finish, red backlighting, dark chrome accents, and an included pair of Beats headphones. (#7)
Desktop; $1699 HP's latest TouchSmart all-in-one PC packs a punch, offering great performance and a vibrant 23-inch multitouch display. It won't replace your TV, but its connectivity options make it just as useful when you hook it up to your cable box or your game console. (#12)
Laptop; starts at $949 Finally, an ultraportable notebook with enough power for real 3D gaming. This revision of the 11-inch Alienware M11x boasts a Core i5 or i7 CPU, plus nVidia's Optimus automatic graphics-switching technology. (#29)
E-reader; $180 With a 5-inch screen, this e-reader distinguishes itself with superlight weight. It rocks a sharp, high-contrast E-Ink Pearl screen, plus Sony's unique optical technology that turns the display into the touchscreen we've been craving. (#31)
Graphics board; $200 Seeking well-priced, high-caliber performance for work or play? nVidia may have been a little late to the DirectX 11 game, but the GTX 460 offers great graphics at a great price. (#32)
Desktop; $3600 This overclocked sensation may be pricey, but few can top its blistering performance. Liquid cooling helps protect the processor without using noisy fans, while the case allows plenty of room for future upgrades. (#33)
Processor; $280 It may not be the fastest six-core processor, but with a price tag that's $700 lower than the competition, AMD's CPU brings hexacore performance to the masses. (#39)
Desktop; $2000 This PC focuses on one thing: speed. Inside the roomy, laser-etched chassis are an overclocked processor and a pair of beefy nVidia graphics cards. The system delivered the best performance we've seen at its price point to date. (#57)
Graphics board; $400 AMD's 5870 offers some of the best performance you'll find in a single GPU, at a respectable price point. The competition may hit a little closer to the mark on graphics, but the 5870 is still the card to beat. (#58)
Laptop; starts at $449 This not-quite-a-netbook ultraportable may not have 8 hours of battery life, but its AMD Athlon and Turion processors make it a lot snappier than Atom-based netbooks. You also get Lenovo's legendary keyboard and touchpad quality. (#62)
PC case; $270 It's no surprise that several of our top performance desktops use this massive chassis. A great choice for PC builders, it has side walls that pop off at the push of a button, and hot-swappable bays built onto its face. A side compartment for routing cables keeps the interior neat, which optimizes airflow and geek appeal. (#68)
Desktop; $560 Small, svelte, and packed to the gills with stellar components, this budget PC doesn't break any records, but it does deliver great performance and a capacious hard drive at an excellent price. (#73)
Update: 12/20/10--Gateway refreshed its PC line earlier this month. The new model is the SX2850-01, which is same price and comes with a slightly newer processor, but is essentially the same PC as the SX2840-01.
Laptop; starts at $3299 This enormous, heavy, dual-screen ThinkPad is outrageously fast. It also has a great screen, built-in display color calibration, an integrated Wacom drawing tablet, USB 3.0, and the kitchen sink. (#75)
Netbook; $450 This netbook offers a comparatively large 12-inch screen, nVidia's Ion graphics, Windows 7 Home Premium, and 2GB of RAM--all of which are a step above the norm in the netbook category. (#80)
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