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Ten Gadgets That Defined the Decade 313

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-lists-begin dept.
Corpuscavernosa writes "As 2009 winds down and we try to come up with new and clever ways of referring to the early years of this century, there's really only one thing left to do: declare our ten favorite gadgets of the aughts and show them off in chronological order. It's arguable that if this wasn't the decade of gadgets, it was certainly a decade shaped by gadgets — one which saw the birth of a new kind of connectedness. In just ten years time, gadgets have touched almost every aspect of our daily lives, and personal technology has come into its own in a way never before seen. It's a decade that's been marked the ubiquity of the internet, the downfall of the desktop, and the series finale of Friends, but we've boiled it down to the ten devices we've loved the most and worked the hardest over the past ten years. We even had some of our friends in the tech community chime in with their picks on what they thought was the gadget or tech of the decade."
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Ten Gadgets That Defined the Decade

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  • XP and OS X? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:27AM (#30603096)
    Are Windows XP and OS X really "gadgets" though? When I think of gadgets I think of physical things, usually. Maybe I'm just out of touch with the times.
    • A non-physical gadget is a widget. So XP and OSX are widgets. Wait, I'm confused.
    • Re:XP and OS X? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:15AM (#30603298)

      Uh.... scuse me, but how or what did XP define? Maybe someone could shed some light on how XP represents such a leap ahead that it warrants being called a "decade defining tool"? Basically it's Win2k with more color.

      • Re:XP and OS X? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:49AM (#30603446)

        It defined the end of the Win 9x line. For the first time most people's PCs became relatively stable. For those of us that were Linux or Unix users, it wasn't a big deal, but for the average user it was very significant. Windows XP, unlike the 9x line or Vista, focused more on being a stable operating system than being an application. After the optical mouse and the old 1980s Olympics game, it might be the best product Microsoft ever released. And for Microsoft, it was probably their hardest business decision: build an operating system that people won't feel they need to upgrade from or lose angry customers to Linux and Unix derived lines (like Mac OS X).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by _Sprocket_ (42527)

          It defined the end of the Win 9x line. For the first time most people's PCs became relatively stable. For those of us that were Linux or Unix users, it wasn't a big deal, but for the average user it was very significant. Windows XP, unlike the 9x line or Vista, focused more on being a stable operating system than being an application. After the optical mouse and the old 1980s Olympics game, it might be the best product Microsoft ever released. And for Microsoft, it was probably their hardest business decision: build an operating system that people won't feel they need to upgrade from or lose angry customers to Linux and Unix derived lines (like Mac OS X).

          Win2k never happened.

        • Re:XP and OS X? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:07AM (#30603528)

          Sorry, but the product that married the stability of the NT line with the flexibility and compatibility of the 9x line was Win2k. If any product deserves the "decade defining" title, it's Win2k. But not XP.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Sorry, but the product that married the stability of the NT line with the flexibility and compatibility of the 9x line was Win2k. If any product deserves the "decade defining" title, it's Win2k. But not XP.

            The Win 9x line wasn't dead when Windows 2000 was released. Windows Me was released later. Additionally, Windows 2000 wasn't a consumer operating system. It was sold to businesses and power users. There was no home edition. Finally, I would say Windows NT 4.0 met the same requirements that you claim Windows 2000 met. With this in mind, both Windows 2k and Windows XP are only updated versions of Windows NT 4.0. The only significant difference is that Windows XP was sold to consumers with the home edition, wh

            • Re:XP and OS X? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @05:17AM (#30603968)

              No. Sorry, but no.

              NT4 sorely lacked two core features that pretty much shot it for the consumer market. Namely, DirectX support past version 3.0 (IIRC) and USB support. Not to mention the fairly poor support for "legacy" products, i.e. products that didn't really care too much for MS programming standards, which basically meant that NT4 was entirely unsuitable as a game platform, which was (and still is) a core application for home PCs.

              Win2k offered all of that (nearly every game that ran on a Win9x machine ran on 2k) and thus was the first true blend between the NT and the 9x line.

              What I have to give you is that there was no "home" edition of 2k, which suckered far too many into using ME. This again, though, I blame on the way 2k and ME were perceived, especially by the relevant media who pictured 2k as the "office" system and ME as the "consumer" product.

            • I dual booted Windows 95 (then 98SE) and NT4. With Win2K, I no longer needed 9x for anything - all of the games that didn't run with NT4 worked fine with 2K. Previously, the NT line lacked two features of the 9x line. One was PnP support, so installing and configuring devices was not particularly fun. The other was a full DirectX implementation (for NT4 it was often a release or two behind 9x and didn't have 3D acceleration support - my VooDoo2 provided 3D acceleration with OpenGL but not Direct3D in NT

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by drinkypoo (153816)

                Fail, fail: First of all, plug and play is a standard feature of PCI, and NT4 couldn't support PCI to the extent that it does without it. Second of all, there is a secret but easy way to enable ISA PnP in NT4 [fredhanson.com].

                NT4 is a gigantic piece of shit, and so is DirectX; Direct3D is an abortion which would never have happened if those assholes at 3DFX had gone with MiniGL from the get-go instead of going the egotistical route, and allowing their collective hubris to cause them to create a wholly new 3D API, something

      • Re:XP and OS X? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pegdhcp (1158827) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @05:41AM (#30604020)
        XP is the first product of MS that has computer professionals revolted when its End of Life announced, you know instead of usual celebrations...
        • The same happened with 2K, but a lot fewer people were using 2K and by the time it was EOL'd upgrading to XP didn't seem so bad. If the choice had been between 2K and Vista, I expect you would have seen he same kind of revolt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Well, they don’t need to be physical. But they are definitely toys.

      XP for the drooling Playmobil playing retard.
      OSX for the gay hipster designer. ;)

  • The iPod? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:33AM (#30603124)

    No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

  • 360? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:33AM (#30603130)
    Really, the 360 as the video game console of the decade? The PS2 really changed things more than the 360 for the simple reason of the DVD player. Before the PS2 most people didn't have a DVD player, why switch? The VHS format was still going strong and while it was clear that DVD was the way of the future, most players were simply too expensive. Then the PS2 came along and changed that. Similarly, the PS2s library is -still being added to- giving it a pretty long shelf life. Of all the current-gen consoles the Wii defined and changed the decade the most, and one could argue that the PS3 changed more than the 360 did.

    Engadget's justification is rather lame

    but Microsoft's audacious approach to charging people to play online with Xbox Live Gold actually ended up as the console's greatest strength, and a key to its staying power

    Charging people wasn't its strength. Its strength was it was the one online service that didn't totally suck. Lets see, Nintendo's online service lets you play with friends if you send them a random string of letters and numbers as a "friend code", won't let you type messages on most games, oh and the one game that would have had online as a killer feature, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the online mode is so messed up because it compensates for lag on one player's end by making the entire match laggy for everyone. Yeah Nintendo sure raised the bar high. PSN is good, but has too many flawed features. For example, PlayStation Home. The idea is good, take human avatars to a new level, the implementation is flawed. It is nothing but ads.

    Engadget also manages to glance over the RRoD issue that plagued early Xbox owners.

    I mean, is Microsoft buying Engadget off? The 360 as the console of the decade? Hardly. The 360 as the console of this generation? Possibly. But not the console of the decade, not by a long shot.

    • Re:360? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:47AM (#30603196)

      It doesn't even come close for this generation- its far behind the Wii in sales and in originality. Although I agree for the decade it has to be the PS2, due to its dominance last gen. Obviously written by someone with an MS hard on.

      • Re:360? (Score:5, Funny)

        by TheLink (130905) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:14AM (#30603288) Journal
        The Red Ring of Death may still be remembered well into the next decade.

        IMO that's about the most memorable and defining thing about the xbox 360 ;).

        FWIW, "exploding" batteries from various gadgets were rather more common in this decade than previous decades.
      • Re:360? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Osty (16825) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:39AM (#30603414)

        It doesn't even come close for this generation- its far behind the Wii in sales and in originality. Although I agree for the decade it has to be the PS2, due to its dominance last gen. Obviously written by someone with an MS hard on.

        It really depends on how you measure it. By sales, the PS2 is definitely the winner, with the Wii a close second. In terms of innovation, though, the 360 had quite a bit more "firsts" than either of those.

        • Achievements and gamerscore. Whether you like it or not, people love this. It's completely e-peen bragging rights, but players gobble it right up. So much so that others have started doing the same thing -- PS3's Trophy system, WoW's achievements, Steam achievements, etc.
        • Downloadable games. XBLA has definitely been a killer app for the 360 since day 1. People joked that they were buying a $400 console to play a $5 game (Geometry Wars 2), but they still bought it. Sony and Nintendo were late to this, and initially focused only on back-catalog games (Wii's Virtual Console, PSN's PS1 games) while Microsoft came out of the gate from the very start with original new games. All three have dipped into the retro well to a certain extent, but Microsoft has done that far less than others. (I'm not mentioning Games on Demand since Sony actually did that one first -- full retail games available for digital purchase.)
        • Donwloadable content, demos, etc. A bit of an addendum to the last point, but the 360 was the first time you could download demos of games online rather than having to buy a DVD of demos. That single-handedly put several magazines completely out of business, since a lot of game rags relied on demo discs for subscriptions.
        • XNA and community/indie games. The Xbox 360 is the first console that you can legitimately (without hacking) develop homebrew games for without having to buy development hardware (like the Net Yaroze during the PS1 timeframe). Yeah, the PS3 had Linux (the Slim got rid of Linux support), but without access to the GPU there's not a whole lot you can do with it.
        • The 360 was the first console to add significant features completely via software. Video streaming (originally the Xbox could only stream Windows Media files), XNA indie games, installable games (optionally installable, unlike many PS3 games with forced installs), Facebook and Twitter, etc. There's surely more to come in the next few years, with Natal on the hardware side.
        • Streaming video and "owning the living room". Sony took the first step by making the PS2 a DVD player, but the 360 took it much, much further. The 360 is the best (only?) Media Center Extender on the market. It can stream most formats natively (and pretty much any format with a transcoding av server). It was the first console to have Netflix streaming (and still the only one to have a native interface -- the PS3 streaming disc is simply BD-Live trickery, and the native installed app is still a while away). The new Zune video store seems to defy reality with 1080p instant-on streaming that actually works.

        Of course there have been failures. RROD issues, backing HD-DVD rather than Blu-Ray, continuing to use the DVD9 format for games rather than HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, lack of HDMI on early console hardware, the hard drive as an optional component, no built-in wifi, etc. But to say that there's no innovation, or that they haven't moved the industry forward by huge strides, is just completely wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Engadget is rather lame

      Fixed that for ya.

      Seriously though, very little good ever comes out of engadget, their technical writing is an embarassment, making slashdot summaries look like fucking shakespeare. Not to mention they probably have one of the heaviest websites that I know of, how many megabytes am I supposed to download just to read some shitty article? It's basically all that is wrong with slashdot, distilled, then magnified.

      • At least Engadget does two things right. They keep their stories on one page and don't have a "wait 30 seconds to enter our site" like some tech sites out there.
        • I'd rather wait 30 seconds to read something worth reading than waste 3 minutes on a page and later find out it wasn't worth that time.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Simple solution: avoid Engadget to begin with. You'll never have to waste 3 minutes (at Engadget) again!

    • Re:360? (Score:5, Funny)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:08AM (#30603256) Homepage Journal

      But not the console of the decade, not by a long shot.

      There's still 23 hours left for the PS3 to outsell it! Go, fanboys, go!

    • Re:360? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dangitman (862676) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:32AM (#30603390)

      Really, the 360 as the video game console of the decade? The PS2 really changed things more than the 360 for the simple reason of the DVD player.

      For that matter, the first Xbox was a lot more influential than the 360, because it was new competition for Sony. The 360 was just an incremental update.

    • Re:360? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Comatose51 (687974) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:40AM (#30603418) Homepage
      Have you read the part about Windows XP being so great right off bat that people aren't switching to Windows 7? They seem to have forgotten about the fiasco before SP2 for Windows XP and how Firefox got its start around that time because IE was such an easy target and pop-up friendly. I really think Microsoft is a big client of theirs.
    • Is a property to carry ads. Most people either don't understand this fact or want to ignore it. It's part of a portfolio owned by a major online advertiser like a lot of similar sites. It's branded advertising.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hey Slashdot, when we get stories like this, just list out the gadgets from the article in the story summary that you submit to slashdot.

    No one reads the article half the time. And usually, (not the case here) the story is split up among 3 or so pages, with the last page just a page of ads or links to other stories.

    So, slashdot, what do you say? :D

  • GPS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:37AM (#30603158) Journal

    In the last 10 years, portable GPS navigation has become ubiquitous in cars.
    They're so cheap nowadays that I got one as a gift.
    I'm sure there's one that could be pointed to as the breakout device.
    /I still have in the car paper maps for ~5 States

    • Well, at about the same time both Garmin and TomTom started making easy to use GPS systems for use in cars, so I'd imagine it would be harder than you would think. I sure don't remember any single model that everyone started to have.
    • by khasim (1285)

      And it will find the nearest Starbucks for me and tell me if they're open.

      Yeah! Why isn't GPS on that list?

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Which came first: The GPS enabled cell phone or the standalone GPS Nav unit?

        GPS is in cellphones because the standalone market turned the chip into a
        commodity item and showed that there was a very strong demand for portable nav.
        The cellphone manufacturers also got a push from the post-9/11 E-911 mandate.
        (It was cheaper for them to include GPS in every phone than to update their infrastructure)

    • Maybe because neither Apple nor MS made one yet?

      Let's be honest here, take a good look at the list and ask yourself why it's so Apple and MS centric? I can see iPhone and iPod, but the G4? XP? 360? Decade defining? C'mon...

  • ...Until this portable media player reached the 4G iPod (20 and 40 GB hard disk model) and the iPod mini (4 GB hard disk model) in 2004. These were the first iPods with the modern Click Wheel interface only and full USB 2.0 interface support.

    Interestingly, it's been said the best-sounding of the iPods are the 2G iPods nano and 5G/5.5G iPods with the Wolfson DAC chip. Mind you, the current "6.5G" iPod classic (120GB/160 GB), 4G/5G iPod nano and the 2G/3G iPod touch overcame some of the early issues with the

    • "Click wheel Only" (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149)

      These were the first iPods with the modern Click Wheel interface only and full USB 2.0 interface support.

      What does that mean? I had the very first iPod. All it had was a click wheel. In fact it was better than a few later generations, since the wheel actually turned and thus gave more feedback.

      As for "full USB 2.0 interface", well that was nice for Windows users but a step back from the Firewire400 the original sported. It allowed the original iPod to load songs just as fast as any later USB 2.0 model,

  • The list (Score:5, Informative)

    by xaosflux (917784) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:44AM (#30603180) Homepage

    Canon Digital ELPH (2000)
    Apple PowerBook G4 (Titanium) (2001)
    Microsoft Windows XP (2001) / Apple Mac OS X (2000)
    Apple iPod (2001)
    TiVo Series2 (2002)
    Motorola RAZR V3 (2003)
    PalmOne Treo 600 / 650 (2003 / 2004)
    Microsoft Xbox 360 (2005)
    Apple iPhone (2007)
    ASUS Eee PC 900 (2008)

    • by sznupi (719324)

      So, there are three phones there and Nokia 1100 is not among them?! You know, the most popular...no, not only phone. The most popular single type of consumer electronic device in the history of mankind.

      Though perhaps writers have really taken into heart the distinction between tools (1100 isn't much more than that) and gadgets...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b1t r0t (216468)

      Thanks for posting the list. Unfortunately it only made me want to read the article to see what the hell they were thinking.

      First of all, I think they were wrong by narrowing down things to specific models. That led to three of the spots being taken up by cell phones. This should have been a list of what types of gadgets defined the decade. After reading all the posts here, and thinking a bit about it, here's what I've come up with:

      Digital Cameras - No more having to get your film developed, though this

  • The Titanium powerbook was pretty cool, but looks absolutely dated now, like the tail finned cadillacs. I still believe the razr was a very good design. The only issue was that if one used the flip to answer option, the early models did not allow a caller ID. The hinge, though, was very sturdy and I was not able to break it over years of use. Not so for the often plastic sliding mechanisms on the modern slide phones. The draw back was that we still had to enter phones numbers by hand, little synch with
    • The only issue was that if one used the flip to answer option, the early models did not allow a caller ID.

      That was not the only issue. Not by a long shot.

      I had the RAZR for a few years, near the end of its lifespan in the market (I replaced it with the original iPhone). In my time with the RAZR the only credit I would give it is that it survived be thrown across the room in sheer frustration three times. Sturdy, yes. But here's the things I hated:

      1) Keypad. Almost unreadable and the slant of the keys

  • Gadgets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbuhler (887833) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:52AM (#30603212) Homepage

    Sometime in the mid-90s the guy I was training and I were having a discussion about the future of technology while we were driving down the road in rural south Texas. I had a bag phone and an IBM Model 70 portable (lugable). He had a Zarus. We both carried pagers. A big part of the conversation was about how someday, we wouldn't need to carry all that crap just to do our job. We both knew that someday all of this stuff would be a single device. Just not a clue what that device would be or how it could work.

    Today, about 15 years later, we still work together. I carry a Palm Treo and he has a iPhone. Different job, but mostly do the same thing, just not consultants anymore. I don't think either one of us could do our job without these gadgets. The ability
      to ssh into our systems is key to our jobs, and it doesn't really matter what device we use anymore. The gadgets are getting to be more than just a convenience for both of us. They almost define our function in the job. Even if we're out of the office, we still take care of issues, now, not when we get back.

    The gadgets have raised expectations for a lot of positions. If I still worked like I did back in the 90s, people would be waiting either until I got there, or got where I could hit a phone line and modem. Now, with the internet (ultimate gadget) and a smart phone, I can fix most problems at 70mph running down the road (as a passenger, of course, not going to break any laws, ha). And that's become almost an expectation.

    So, yes I kind of see this as the decade of the gadget, but the gadgets mostly control us.

    God help us all.

    • Re:Gadgets (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:16AM (#30603302)
      The big thing about being an admin now, is that time is critical. One security exploit left unpatched for just an hour on a server facing the internet could be compromised. If something as small as a fileserver goes offline for an hour that could mean one hour that a lot of people, not just one or two, can't do their job. Back in the '90s, if the computer was down most people would just shrug and work on the things that didn't require the computer. Today there is very little that doesn't require a computer in an office setting. Entire meetings can be done over video conferencing, bills can be paid online, even trivial errands people might be sent on can be done over the internet. Most offices, schools, hospitals and even homes simply can't function without the internet today. Every bit of down time is now mission critical.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @12:52AM (#30603218)

    If you said the 80's I'd say Rubik's Cube, Simon, and other toys. If you mean useful tools and not just novelties, the 80's is when the PC became more than just a hobbyist device. You had early brick cell phones but they truly came into their own in the 90's. Likewise, laptops went from being novelties to useful and only became more awesome in the 00's.

    I think setting a round number to meet is kind of dumb. What if there weren't ten notable devices?

    I think that the ipod and iphone are probably the most significant devices but not just for what they are but for what they presage. Ipod's music on the go is nice but Apple breaking into the music industry and becoming a major distributor has a far greater impact on the landscape. Iphone put a crack in the usual walled garden arrangement of US carriers and is showing competitors how to do things. Handheld computers have been around for ages but the ipod/phone is bringing us to the point at which there's enough market saturation to change the way we do things.

    When I was a kid, only us geeks had computers. You went to school and you looked for other freaks and outcasts. That's where you were likely to find other computer people. And we used computers for the usual geeky stuff, socializing over BBS, playing games, and being geeks. With the arrival of the internet, non-geek households started getting computers. And the early social scene really sucked in the rest of the youth audience. By the time I was in college, everyone had their own computers. And the more ways there were to socialize on them, the more popular they got. Yeah, in the past you had phreakers who were into phones for the tech of it and you had teenage girls who spent just as much time on the phone but only for gossiping with friends. Still, the phone had an impact on society, the way people live.

    I bring up the social sites because the phones are providing as much functionality on them as a standard computer. And all of this is having an impact. A lot of people in my age range are going without cable tv, they can download whatever they want to watch. They are dropping landlines since the cell does everything they need. Traditional media channels are going to get boned. And all of this will have a cultural impact.

    I can shop on my phone. I can download podcasts, videocasts, tv shows, music, books, audiobooks, access the net, and this is only the beginning. I think we're seeing the beginning of the destruction of mainstream media. Yeah, many have made that call before but I see it happening. Change comes with the youth and ends when the old generation dies off. AM radio is on its last legs. I don't know anyone who listens to FM radio anymore, not anyone under 50. MTV continues to be a joke and sets no trends anymore. Authors are cutting deals directly with Amazon to publish on Kindle. Podcasts and videocasts are gaining wider audiences and network/cable television continues to flounder with their broken advertising model. The shows may have a huge audience but the Neilsen ratings cannot account for it. This is why Family Guy got cancelled only to shock Fox by being a top-selling DVD of all time. They had no idea the kind of reach that show had and brought it back.

    Everything I'm mentioning above I think is setting the stage for uncontrolled culture. It took big bucks to fund mass media back in the day. Now any yabob on Twitter can reach an audience in seconds that would make William Randolph Hearst get wood. And the cost? Nothing! They say never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel. How much worse does it get when the electrons are free?

    Now it's possible that the audience won't fracture that much. Give kids free reign in a supermarket to eat anything they want and you know they're heading to the candy section regardless of how well the veggie section is stocked. Give the masses unfettered access to all media and they might end up gravitating back to the old celebrities or create new celebrities who will take the place of the old. It might still be possible to shape and mold public opinion as easily as before. But I have a gut feeling things could turn out differently in the 21st century. If the 20th century was defined by mass media, the 21st could be defined by what comes next.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dangitman (862676)

      I think we're seeing the beginning of the destruction of mainstream media... AM radio is on its last legs. I don't know anyone who listens to FM radio anymore... Podcasts and videocasts are gaining wider audiences and network/cable television continues to flounder with their broken advertising model.

      I doubt it. What's happening is that podcasts and internet media are becoming "the mainstream media" - we only need to see what has happened to slashdot over the years to see how easy it is for the alternative to be subsumed into the mainstream.

      It will all come full-circle, and FM radio may become the bastion of non-mainstream media with community stations and the like, while podcasts and online streaming come to epitomize corporate big media.

      This is why Family Guy got cancelled only to shock Fox by being a top-selling DVD of all time. They had no idea the kind of reach that show had and brought it back.

      Yeah, there's some decidedly non-mainstream media right there...

  • TiBook (Score:4, Informative)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:00AM (#30603228) Homepage

    Engadget mentions that the TiBooks solidified the presence of the widescreen display in notebook computers.

    This isn't particularly accurate or true, as the TiBook's screen was only slightly wider (1.5:1) than the standard 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio that has been ubiquitous on NTSC TVs and computer monitors for decades. These laptops appeared fairly square and unremarkable.

    For whatever reason, the 15" aluminum PowerBook appeared a bit wider, particularly in the final generation of the model, although the aspect ratio evidently stayed the same. The 17" version always had a wide screen (1.6:1), although all of these fell short of the cinematic 16:9 (1.77:1) ratio also used in 1080p displays.

    The 12" PowerBooks always had a 4:3 display, and were IMO some of the most impressive laptops Apple's ever produced, as they were the first laptops to successfully cram a full-featured machine into a tiny chassis without any major compromises. I might be biased, of course, as I'm typing this comment from one such machine -- even for an Apple product, the 12" Powerbooks retain a cult-like following.

    If you wanted to ascribe any one model for being a forebearer to widescreen laptops, you'd have to go with the 17" Aluminum powerbook, the MacBook, or any of the PC industry's less-successful early experiments in this field.

    • Its Engadget though, they probably think that Apple invented the smartphone, multitouch, the trackpad and any other useful inventions.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:00AM (#30603232)
    The one killer "gadget" of this decade is price. Everything is cheap. Back in 1999, even a cheap desktop would have cost you a lot of money. Today, you can buy a new desktop with HDMI out for $200. You can buy a cheap laptop for $300, or less if you catch a good sale. An iPod touch that would have cost you over $1,000 back in 1999, now is a typical Christmas gift. HDTVs are now cheaper than their standard def tube equivalents were. Storage is now dirt cheap, back in 1999 1 TB of HD space would have cost a lot of money, yet now many desktops ship with that much. RAM is cheap with a gig of RAM costing no more than $15. Software is even cheaper, back in 1999, your choices were either to buy (or pirate, but again, it being 1999 it was a lot harder to pirate it than it is now) Windows, or get an expensive Mac. Today, you can have Linux which is actually easy to use and detects most hardware quickly and easily. Torrent sites are also a killer "gadget", the ability for decentralized downloads have made things much easier to download than back on shady Usenet groups. Openness has also shown to be a quickly rising killer "gadget" with an explosion in open or simi-open phones such as Android, WebOS and even Symbian is opening up.

    I think the 2000s will be remembered for cheap (in both meanings of the word) tech.
    • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:52AM (#30603458)

      Cheap is not new. Cheap already was part of the whole economy deal when Japan started cranking out cheap knockoffs of quality products in the 50s and 60s (yes, before they took over the electronics edge they essentially copied everything and flooded the market with cheap, in both meanings, copies).

      The 2000s will be remembered as the decade of "nothing but cheap", though. Because even the "quality", brand named, products are cheap. Dropped from the same sweatshop conveyer belts than the cheap generics. Back in the 60s, you had the choice, going for cheap and knowing it will break apart in a few months, or investing into something with quality. That option does not exist anymore. Everything is basically cheap crap. The price difference does not mean that the product itself is of higher quality. At best, it means that your hassle when trying to get it replaced when (not if) it breaks down is less.

      The 2000s will be remembered as the decade of throwaway electronics, with nothing of lasting value. And why not? By the time your cheap crap croaks the next gen version is here already anyway.

      • Sure, but you also have survivor bias for older products. I'm sure in 2040 we will say that X brand made great TVs/Computers/Games because we see some surviving. In reality though, the stuff from the 60s that have broken down has long been replaced or forgotten. Today though, even the failing of one little thing is blogged about and tweeted.
    • Should we send a thank you note to the cheap Chinese (and other) workers in those Gulag-like factories?

      P.S.: It’s so stupid. If the products were so expensive, that people there could live at a high standard, then they could buy so much stuff that by selling them that stuff, we could afford those expensive products anyway.
      There was an interesting study, that showed that an economy can be in two stable states. The high standard and the low standard (of living) one. And the important part was, that for

    • Cheap, fast, good. Pick any two.

      Also worthwhile is the drop in quality in consumer goods. Even back in 1999, it wasn't uncommon to send a hard drive in for repairs instead of just buying a new one. When labor is $75/hr and parts only come from the authorized ($$$) dealer, you just throw away anything that breaks, and a lot of stuff breaks.

    • by zlogic (892404)

      Actually, pirating Windows is much harder now. In 1999, you only needed to enter a serial number printed on the pirated CD's packaging, now you need to make sure the software doesn't find out it's pirated during updates.

  • by WarpedCore (1255156) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:12AM (#30603276)
    I think what bothered me with the 360 making the list versus the PS2 is the fact that Engadget editors measured the 360 based on Live, which is a service, NOT a gadget. Gmail was awesome, didn't make the list... neither did DropBox or a bunch of other ways to communicate data. The Dreamcast pioneered the whole console gaming internet thing a bit earlier in 1999 before the PS2 literally nailed the last piece in its coffin in 2001. Microsoft merely took the online idea and threw more money than Sega had to make it happen. Microsoft merely took Sega's evolutionary dead-end and sparked it back to life. PS2 should get honors for standardizing DVD playback, moving forward game based storage to DVDs, and generally offering a baseline standard for what "next-gen" should of been back in 2000. Wii... should get an honorable mention because Nintendo took a dated and... well not a hot selling platform (GameCube) and MacGuyver'd it into something that would sell and drive Nintendo back into a profitable home console platform. The DS came in the wake of the dying PDA craze in 2004 before multi-touch. The pen/stylus setup probably was a risky direction to take since... say the Sony Clie was pulled out during the same time. DS proved that touch-based inputs could work for a massive audience... sparked the direction the Wii took. Today, we have Microsoft and Sony trying to catch up with their motion based interaction setups. Apple and other handheld makers have introduced touch-capable devices on everything under the sun. DS was engineered by people that liked neat things and this happened to be a hit. I mean, TWO screened handhelds seemed a bit unrealistic too. The DS success made Sega's VMU and Nintendo's GBA-GC two screen system link ideas feel like they didn't go to waste. Supplemental screens work if they're designed in every system.
    • And also, Live sucks. The only reason why MS can get away with charging for it is because the competition, well, sucks even more. Between Nintendo's brain-dead approach to online gaming (no one wants to talk online right? and everyone can remember a "code" that is about as complex as an MD5 hash right?) and Sony's "lets have promising ideas and fill it only with ads!" approach. MS's is the only one that hasn't turned into a complete suckfest yet.
    • by dangitman (862676)

      I mean, TWO screened handhelds seemed a bit unrealistic too.

      Hmmmm... they didn't seem unrealistic when we played with them in the 1980s. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Osty (16825)

    Dammit, people. The decade runs through 2010. 2001-2010. Next year is the end of the decade. Not this year.

    • by Hungus (585181) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:30AM (#30603378) Journal

      2000 was so last millennium also, but welcome to post modernity where 10 "gadgets" include 12 things: 2 of them were not in this decade (OS X and Canon Digital ELPH) and 2 are not even gadgets (OS X and Win XP).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by originalTMAN (694813)
      You're a hardware engineer, aren't you. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by itsdapead (734413)

        You're a hardware engineer, aren't you. :)

        No - if he was he'd understand about appropriate precision and wouldn't be arguing about a +/-1 year error on a datum point only known to the nearest 30 years or so...

        Also, there may not have been a "0 AD" but, equally, there wasn't a 1AD, 2AD, etc. - at least not that people knew about at the time - since the numbering system wasn't devised until the sixth century.

        So while you've worked out that a Roman coin with the date "52 BC" is probably a fake, I'm afraid your special souveneir "review of the no

    • by thenextstevejobs (1586847) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:59AM (#30603490)
      So you consider 1990 to be part of the 'eighties'?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      you're being pedantic and not even correct. The reasons centuries and millennia are starting with the year xxx1, is that they are numbered ("the fourteenth century", "the third millennium"). Because they are numbered, they have to start on a year that actually existed, 1CE generally, or any multiple of 1000 /100 on top (+) of that.

      No one numbers decades. If we did, it would be OK to call this decade the 201st and make it start on Jan 1 2001. But in reality, we don't number them, so we can make them start an

    • A new decade ends and begins every second. We're celebrating this one because it's a double digit change on the odometer. What's your problem?
    • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @04:41AM (#30603894) Homepage

      Dammit, people. The decade runs through 2010. 2001-2010. Next year is the end of the decade. Not this year.

      2001-2010 is a decade. So is 2003-2013. Or 1998-2007. However, the decade generally means a set of years such that floor(year/10) is constant for all years in the set. Or, as the New Oxford American Dictionary says in one of its definitions, "a period of ten years beginning with a year ending in 0".

      Yes, I know, you are going to say something about there being no year 0. That has no relevance whatsoever to how we choose today to group our years into a disjoint set of decades.

      • The first decade (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @09:49AM (#30605132) Homepage

        I'm picturing your parent poster as some Roman nerd yelling at everybody that they shouldn't be celebrating the onset of Year 10 since Jesus Christ was born only nine years ago.

        And I'm picturing an older, wiser Roman tapping him on the shoulder and pointing out that:

        1) They're not using the birth of Jesus as the basis of their time system yet.

        2) When the A.D. system is implemented, it will be miscalculated and land the birth of Jesus in 4 A.D.

        3) Jesus wasn't born at midnight on January 1st. And the winter solstice isn't at that time either. So it's clear that the moment chosen to increment the year counter is arbitrary anyway.

        4) If we use your definition of "decade", then what are we going to call the decade that includes the year 1985 A.D.? "I Love The 80's Including 1990 But Not 1980"?

    • The decade that runs from Jan 1, 2000 through Dec 31 2009 is ending in less than a day.

      But I've already celebrated the end of the decade... the one that ran from Dec 31, 1999 through Dec 30 2009. It was one heck of a new-decade party last night, let me tell you!

  • Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:27AM (#30603358) Homepage

    From the article:

    If you had found me right after I'd installed OS X Public Beta for the first time in 2001 and told me how dramatically the OS would change over the next decade, I'm not sure I would have believed you. There was a gigantic difference in feel between installing Windows XP and OS X Public Beta -- with XP you got that fun sense of having a whole new computer, fast and ready to take on whatever you could throw at it, while with OS X you just sort of stared at the huge icons and wondered, "Now what?" It was clear Apple had a lot of work left to do -- although by 10.3 or so I'd deleted my Classic partition and wasn't looking back. But hold up: OS X 10.3 looks and feels dated by today's standards, while XP looks and feels like... XP. Where Apple did an fantastic job of relentlessly improving and iterating OS X over the past decade, Microsoft set the bar so high coming out of the gate that the biggest threat to Windows 7 is the installed base of XP users who are still happy with their machines. That's pretty amazing. - Nilay Patel

    This guy/gal needs to have their head examined. Even talking about the mere aesthetic nature of XP vs. OS X 10.3 (Panther), I can't see where he's coming from in the least:

    OS X 10.3 Panther [guidebookgallery.org] image vs. Windows XP [lions-wing.net]. I'm sorry, but I fail to see how XP looks anything but "dated", the hideous colors/theming aside. 10.3 looks, even now, clean and fresh compared to XP. (Technologically, XP is way behind 10.3 in many ways.)

    All I can read there is rabid fanboyism. Sorry, but "staying the same" for the better part of a decade, when you're the computer giant's flagship product, is not a benefit in any stretch of the imagination.

    As for their list... not sure why/how the Xbox made the list instead of the Wii. There's nothing special about the Xbox 360, whereas the Wii is a "game changer". Hell, and even Windows Mobile devices (which, aside from the slick Marketing functionality and App store, has been largely comparable for many, many years) should top the list over the Treo.

    • I'm sorry, but I fail to see how XP looks anything but "dated", the hideous colors/theming aside.

      My XP machines look even more dated because I have them set to the "classic" Win2000 style GUI. Those blue and silver themes literally gave me headaches, and my eyesight actually improved half a diopter after going back to the classic theme. Yah, probably a coincidence, but it makes a good story. :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by itsdapead (734413)

      This guy/gal needs to have their head examined

      As an enthusiastic OS X user, though, I'd conceed that the first few releases were not much use. However, that's mainly because of lack of native software support - it always looked a million dollars. Mind you, he does seem to have a revisionist history concerning the original reaction to XP...

      The big achievement of OS X, however, was that in the space of a few years, Apple moved their entire user base over to a completely new, non-binary compatible, UNIX-based system. XP was always hamstrung by legacy iss

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @01:38AM (#30603404) Homepage
    To claim that Windows XP coming out of the gate set the bar so high that people won't upgrade to Windows 7 is such BS and complete sucking-up to Microsoft. Until SP2 came out, Windows XP was a nest of security problems that made using it nearly impossible. Wasn't that also the time when Firefox got started because IE was so horribly insecure and pop-up infested? It had so many services turned on by default. Anyone here remember the "net send" pop-ups? That was possible with the default install of Windows XP prior to SP2, IIRC. One thing XP established is the habit of waiting for at least SP1 to come out before switching. Even after SP2, I still switch the theme back to Windows 2000 Classic. I don't know where they got the idea of XP being such a spectacular winner out of the gate. Windows 2000 was revolutionary in the Windows world in terms of stability and user friendliness. Windows XP, until SP2, felt like a step back. For a long time, I avoided the "consumer" line of Windows (ME, XP, and Vista) and prefer to use their "server/enterprise/workstation" line (2k, 2k3) because of the lack of bloat and higher level of security.
  • I would have thought that one of the Android phones released in 2009 would beat out the Eeeeeeeeeee PC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slyn (1111419)

      The Eee PC showed that there was a market for small, cheap computers (netbooks). I would be hesitant to say Asus invented the netbook with the Eee PC (mostly because of the XO children's laptop), but I don't think it would be totally wrong to say so either. They sold beyond anyones wildest expectations then, and continue to do so today, likely singlehandedly making the difference between unrecoverable losses and bare minimum survival revenue for some computer manufacturers in the current world economy. It b

  • I am shocked and amazed...to find TFA doesn't span 10 separate pages. Thanks, Engadget.
  • Simple Simon games (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:10AM (#30603540) Homepage

    I remember visiting Japan for the first time in 1999. Of course I wandered in to a video game arcade to check out the scene. I laughed at the poor Japanese and their imitative video games - look, that guy is just touching the controls in the exact way that the machine tells him to! What a retarded game! It's no game at all, he's just mindlessly copying what the machine tells him to do in exact sequence...no more "fun" than working on an assembly line. A children's game, really...we had the same thing called Simple Simon [bigredtoybox.com] when I was a kid...these Japanese video games even have the same four colors. I mean, there could at least be a dozen colors or something, make it difficult. And the controller shaped like a guitar? Oh man, how pathetic: if you're going to be cool and play the guitar, be cool and learn the goddamn instrument, it ain't that hard. Only Japanese people, with their tolerance of tedium and their relentless drive to copy, could possibly "enjoy" such a "game".

    This Christmas, I'm passed out from wine, and when I vaguely become aware, I hear these overplayed classic rock tunes accompanied by clicking. I go out, and sure enough, three family members are staring at the TV, imitating the colors on the screen, each lost in his own world with no communication. Just this eerie clicking, accompanied by this sound that I identified from when I was in marching band and the drummers had practice pads. There is no talking, no rocking out, no jumping around the room flailing at an ax like Eddie Van Halen on coke. Their faces are stone masks of concentration. The song finishes, and my family grins at each other, "Wow, we sure had a fun time interacting. What a great game that brings us together!"

    Shows you how much I know. I also thought "Magic: the Gathering" was a stupid game because it was so wildly unbalanced. Who would want to play that, a game where you can win not by superior skill or even dumb luck, but simply by spending more money than your opponent?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      but simply by spending more money than your opponent?

      It's worked out well for the NY Yankees, and they seem pretty popular. ;)

  • Box Cutter? (Score:3, Funny)

    by cpuffer_hammer (31542) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:19AM (#30603568) Homepage

    It would be more interesting looking at influence instead of favourite. I am not normally a look backwards type person, but almost everything that we think of as key to this decade is influenced by this simple tool (or in this case do to intent weapon).

  • Only one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:23AM (#30603578)

    The LCD display.

    The only thing that's really changed is that we have finally gotten rid of CRTs.

    Everything else is just a bigger or smaller version of stuff we already had.

    Most of our new toys are finally possible due to cheap and tiny displays.

  • I do believe that the writers at engadget have shown gross negligence for overlooking the significance of this decade's most important gadget: The Fleshlight.
  • No more best/worst of the decade stuff! No more, I tell you!

    And you people pissing about the decade really ending next year- you people are worse! Look up the "astronomical calendar" already! French astronomers fixed the issue back in the 1700s by defining a year zero.

    Argh! Hiss! Spit!

    OK, better now. :)

  • Nokia N900 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by faragon (789704) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @04:08AM (#30603824) Homepage
    The Nokia N900 [nokia.com] is the first { Linux + X11 + phone } that works nicely (OpenMoko was a poor attempt), and it's Debian based! (Maemo).
  • Let's just take a look at the items which definitely don't belong on the list. At the top of the "who are you kidding" list is probably the Powerbook G4. A look at the sales numbers alone would be sufficient to disqualify it. Apple didn't gain any notable market share until they went intel. Giving XP and OSX the same spot is hilarious, but I guess it makes some sense; this is the decade that the mass market operating systems gained some real functionality. The Treo is a fail, though, on the same basis as th

    • This compilation is really short-sighted, though they seem to have gotten a few things right.

      • Windows XP and Mac OS X are software, not gadgets. They were very influential in changing the landscape of daily computing, but I don't think either of them belong on this list.
      • The netbook hasn't been in the market long enough to really make an impact, but I think it's contributions were more negative than positive. The sub-notebooks that preceded them, such as the Fujitsu LifeBook, Toshiba Libretto, Sony VAIO, and
  • IED (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:06AM (#30604412) Homepage
    More soberly, I would say the IED is the gadget that most "defined the decade" as Engadget's headline touts.

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