Thursday, December 29, 2005

Switched On: The Switchies

Ross Rubin at NPD Group posts his final "Switched On" column for 2005 at Engadget by awarding "the year’s most innovative hardware products" with Switchies. Here are his mobile-related winners for the year:

The “Taking the Urgency out of Convergence” Award goes to Sony for the PlayStation Portable. In terms of pure processing prowess, the PSP represented the most impressive balance of portability, style, and functionality seen this year. However, Sony’s positioning of the PSP as a portable convergence device has come in three not-so-easy pieces. A large Memory Stick Duo card is a separate purchase as is Sony’s nicely executed but late to arrive media management software.

The “Beatles for Beetles” Award goes to PodGear for the PocketParty Shuffle. Lots of docks are available for most flavors of iPod, but few capture the essence of their intended music player better than the minimalist PocketParty Shuffle. Consisting of little more than a pair of tiny speakers, battery compartment and a jack to connect to the iPod Shuffle’s audio out jack, the bug-sized boombox lets you air your tunes practically anywhere.

The “Betamax Booyah” Award goes to Hasbro for the VuGo. Its low video resolution will keep it far from the short list of any adult portable media player purchase decision, but the VuGo extends Hasbro’s lead in the “kideo” wars by offering an inexpensive flash player that can directly record analog audio and video sources. Forward-looking Hasbro deserves kudos for not only providing an alternative to video clips it sells online, but to the DVDesque Personal Video Discs that include episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, The Fairly Oddparents, and other video crack for kids.