Welcome to our annual roundup of what happened in 2011. What we can say is that we have never seen so many twists and turns and from the looks of it, 2012 might even best it.
Our list of the best and brightest stars of the IT industry goes from actual products to events, and we did not forget the fails that have happened over the course of the year. We start our list with the very basic component, the central microprocessor:Best Microprocessor: Qualcomm Snapdragon
When it comes to microprocessors, 2011 was marked by the mighty roar of the Snapdragon. Qualcomm's SoC package was used in a dominating number of mobile phones, powering the vast majority of Google Android and all Windows Phone 7 phones. The same chip was also used for development of Windows 8 on ARM (WoA), which should to play a major role in 2012.Runner up: Intel Sandy Bridge
Performance-wise, this is the best semiconductor industry can offer. However, Intel tends to forget that it needs a stable platform in order for processor to work the best and this is where the company failed big time: from the chipset recall and a billion dollar write-off to recently discovered instabilities over the latest sexa-core Core i7-3000 series and the way it draws power. Still it's the best performing microchip of the bunch. Until you need graphics horsepower.Runner up: AMD Fusion "Llano"
Llano is the very first APU that combines a decently priced product with high-performance graphics. AMD paired four K10.5 processor cores with 400 Radeon GPU cores (Evergreen, DX11) and came out with a great price. No doubt about it, the best all-around product on the market.Graphics Processor: Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX
Regardless of liking it or not, Imagination Technologies shipped more graphics chips than AMD or NVIDIA. PowerVR SGX500 Series can be found from Intel microprocessors, Sony mobile consoles to Apple's A5: netbook, notebook, gaming console, tablet or a smartphone - PowerVR SGX53x and SGX54x will do the job. If you wonder what kind of graphics PowerVR can deliver on a tablet or a phone, watch this video from Epic Games
.Runner up: AMD Fusion E-Series
AMD Brazos platform, i.e. processors based on codenames Desna, Ontario and Zacate launched in January and quickly changed the perception of light notebooks as "graphically castrated ones". To pack 80 DirectX 11 cores and monthly updated, full driver stack is something that we haven't seen in netbooks and light notebooks. For people entering the world of computing, the performance bar for raised by a mile.Runner up: NVIDIA GF114 (GeForce GTX 560)
We end the year with a record percentage of BSN* readers using Full HD resolution displays (38%), and over the past couple of years, playing games in 1080p resolution always required high end hardware - not anymore. GeForce GTX 560 and 560 Ti offer excellent performance for the price point. Best Mobile Device: Samsung Galaxy S II i9100
In the country with iPhones popping up everywhere, Amazon's best selling smartphone is Galaxy S II coming in several different names to satisfy American carriers. In the rest of the world, the Galaxy series is a shining series of phones which serve as a cornerstone to leapfrog both Nokia and Apple in a single year. We haven't seen that kind of an upset in the history of the mobile industry and Samsung's decision to use Super AMOLED screens paid off big time, as consumers want the phone "with that brilliant looking display".Runner up: Apple iPad 2
Apple iPhone may get the limelight, but the biggest money earner turned out to be the reinvention of "tablet PC" concept from early 2000s. iPad 2 dominates the competition with seamless graphics performance and smooth UI. The smart cover for the iPad 2 alone achieved higher revenue than majority of competing Android tablets, and that is something the world took notice.Runner up: HTC Rezound
The world's first smartphone with HD Ready resolution and LTE support rose up through the sales charts in supported countries (this is not a GSM phone) in the U.S. Rezound is a follow-up to Sensation and Amaze 4G, with a changed radio and the 342ppi display (higher than iPhone's Retina Display). To boot, the acquisition of Beats Audio means this phone comes with the best headphones (among phones) as well.Best Video Camera: RED Epic
Even though it sold in very limited quantities, the fact that James Cameron and Peter Jackson alone ordered over 100 cameras speaks of a growing shift in the movie industry. Stuck in 24 frames per second (24p) since its very beginnings, RED's philosophy of moving to 48p and natively supporting recording in 60 and even 100 frames per second in insane 4K and 5K resolutions will change the way we look at movies forever. It took us a more than century, but 2011 laid groundwork for a thorough shift in the way how the film industry creates digital content. Expect these framerates to come to a regular digital camera within a year or two.Runner up: Mobile Phone
This spot is not given to a particular device, but rather to a concept of using a mobile phone as a still and video camera that captured key moments without using dedicated equipment. Thanks to mobile phones, everyone can turn into a video star, if even for a moment. Wherever we like it or not, the world also saw things official video cameras would never record, such as drastic executions of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.
Runner up: Nikon D5100
The world of digital single-lens-reflective (DSLR) cameras is continuously evolving and from a humble beginning in 2003 to a Full HD Camera which is now being used to shoot not just still images, but music videos, TV commercials and even movies. Nikon D5100 boasts compatibility with a wide range of lenses, including those which are older as majority of readers of BSN (35-49y is our biggest demographic, followed by 18-34 and 50+), but at a price point we haven't seen before. If you want a professional grade camera for consumer price, look no further.
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