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Best of CES 2011

From speedy slates and dual-core phones to wafer-thin notebooks, this year was all about mobility.

by LAPTOP Staff on January 7, 2011

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show will go down as the year that mobile took over. No one was talking about who had the biggest HDTV. It was all about tablets (and more tablets), as well as superphones so powerful that they can literally double as laptops. There was innovation on that front too, thanks to AMD and Intel's new platforms that combine the CPU and graphics on a single chip. Our 11 Best of CES Award Winners represent the most innovative products among dozens we saw at the show, from dual-core handsets and 3D camcorders to Android in your car.

Best Notebook: Alienware M17x

How do you improve upon one of the word's fastest notebooks? If you're Dell, you update your popular Alienware M17x gaming rig with the latest Sandy Bridge CPUs and Nvidia GTX 460 graphics and then you do something really radical: enable wireless streaming of games from the notebook to an HDTV--without any lag. With its built-in Wireless HD card option, the M17x is the first notebook that's able to stream the hottest titles from your lap to the big screen.

Read more about the Alienware M17x

Finalists: Toshiba Satellite E305, Sony VAIO F

Price: 0

Best Ultraportable: Samsung 9 Series

Svelte, sturdy, and ultra-bright, the Samsung 9 Series is an ultraportable laptop that you'll want to be seen carrying. Made of aircraft-grade Duralumin, this 2.9-pound notebook (starting at $1,599) raises the bar for beauty and performance. The 9 Series boasts a SuperBright Plus display that's 40 percent brighter than the competition, a second-generation Core i5 processor, and a 128GB SSD that boots Windows 7 in 20 seconds. Add in 6.5 hours of battery life and a backlit keyboard (a feature the 13-inch MacBook Air lacks) and you have one of the most exciting lightweight notebooks yet.

Read more about the Samsung 9 Series

Finalists: HP dm1, Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s

Price: 0

Best Smart Phone: Motorola Atrix 4G

Pushing the limits of what it means to be a smart phone, Motorola's Atrix 4G is two mobile devices in one. In its primary form the Atrix is a powerful Android superphone running Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 CPU. When enhanced productivity is required, the Atrix 4G can snap into a laptop dock, complete with a keyboard, a webtop app that runs full Firefox, and up to 8 hours of battery life. One of the first HSPA+ smart phones on AT&T's network is also one of the most versatile mobile devices ever.

Read more about the Motorola Atrix 4G 

Finalists: LG Optimus 2X, HTC ThunderBolt

Price: 0

Best Tablet: Motorola Xoom

Among a sea of me-too tablets at CES, Motorola's entry made everyone sit up and take notice. The Xoom is the first Android 3.0 slate, sporting software that was built from the ground up for larger displays. You can easily multitask, interact with more robust widgets, and surf the full web with support for both Flash and tabbed browsing. This dual-core tablet has plenty of oomph, too, whether you're enjoying 1080p video, playing intense games, or zooming around 3D buildings in Google Maps 5.0. Dual cameras, 4G connectivity (after launch), and a super-sharp display solidify the Xoom as a serious iPad challenger.

Read more about the Motorola Xoom

Finalists: ASUS Eee Slate EP121, Vizio Tablet, BlackBerry PlayBook

Price: 0

Best Storage: Seagate Tiniest GoFlex USB 3.0 Hard Drive

Seagate's 9mm thick USB 3.0 is the thinnest portable hard drive we've ever seen, but the Tiniest GoFlex is more than just a pretty face. Inside the chassis resides a speedy 7,200-rpm hard drive and outside, Seagate's GoFlex connector pops off, allowing you to switch from USB to FireWire or eSATA connections or to dock with one of the company's other accessories. The Tiniest GoFlex will be available in a few weeks in 320GB capacity, starting at $99.

Read More about the Seagate Tiniest GoFlex

Finalists: Verbatim USB 3.0 External SSD

Price: 0

Best App / Software: Splashtop Remote for Android

No more copying your favorite music and movies onto the SD card of your Android 2.2 device. With the Splashtop Remote app, users gain full access to their home-bound PCs. That means pictures, video, documents, games, and any other file or program on a main PC is up for grabs no matter where you are. Splashtop's remote connection is so strong, you'll feel like your treasured media files are right in front of you. And that's the point.

Read more about Splashtop Remore for Android

Finalists: Nuance FlexT9, Eye-Fi Direct Mode

Price: 0

Best Camera/Camcorder: Sony HDR-TD10

Two lenses and two sensors make the Sony HDR-TD10 the first 3D camera capable of double full HD video. Whether you're capturing footage in 3D or 2D, this shooter (available in April for $1,500) is the Swiss Army knife of video cams. You can watch what you've recorded in 3D on the glasses-free 3.5-inch LCD display. And when you're ready to watch your creation on the big screen, files created by the camcorder will play in 3D on your Playstation 3 or 3D-capable TV. If 3D video is truly the way of the future, this is the camcorder you'll want to have by your side.

Read more about the Sony HDR-TD10

Finalist: Olympus PEN E-PL2, Casio Tryx, Kodak Playful

Price: 0

Best Accessory: Plantronics Voyager Pro UC version 2

It's hard to imagine a Bluetooth headset that lets you use your hands even less, but the Plantronic Voyager Pro UC with intelligent sensor technology does just that. Built with capacitive sensors that can detect when the device is perched on your ear--and when it's not, the Voyager is smart enough to route calls either to itself or to send them to your smart phone. And thanks to included PC software that syncs with Microsoft Outlook, it can also speak the sender names and subject lines of incoming e-mails, and automatically change your status in Skype or other communications software if you're on a call.

Read More About the Plantronics Voyager UC version 2 

Finalists:Mindscape Karotz Robot, Andrea SuperBeam

Price: 0

Best Wireless Networking / Home Entertainment: Monsoon Vulkano Flow

Monsoon has a really promising home entertainment product in the Vulkano Flow. This set-top box device can place-shift your TV content, letting users program their DVRs to record shows while away from home with mobile devices. Using a downloaded app for iOS and Android ($9.99), TV junkies can also stream live or recorded video directly to their tablet or smart phone, all starting at a very competitive $99 price. In other words, look out Slingbox.

Read more about the Monsoon Vulkano Flow

Finalist: Real Networks Unifi

Price: 0

Best Car Tech: Parrot Asteroid Car Receiver

An in-car receiver in the true spirit of Android openness, the Parrot Asteroid has numerous USB ports on the back for connecting a GPS receiver, a broadband modem, or your entire music collection on an external hard drive. The company has leveraged Android's music and GPS management and paired it with a voice recognition system to create a media hub and info center that can search your entire collection of tunes with just your voice. Touchscreens are all the rage everywhere else, but Parrot wisely eschews touch controls for a jogwheel knob and a few large buttons for easy access to the stuff you want-- without requiring you to take your eyes off of the road.

Read more about the Parrot Asteroid

Finalist: Onstar Add On Rearview Mirror 

Price: 0

Best Enabling Technology: Nvidia Tegra 2

Nvidia first showcased its Tegra 2 system on a chip at last year's CES, but it wasn't until this year's show that everyone got a chance to see what the hardware could really do. We're talking about dual-core phones that can stream 1080p content to your big screen via HDMI, handle Flash sites and 3D games with ease, and make video chat buttery smooth. Everywhere we turned we saw manufacturers unveiling or announcing products with Tegra 2 at the core, including several tablets.

Read more about the Nvidia Tegra 2

Finalists: Toshiba's Glasses-Free 3D Laptop PrototypeAndroid 3.0, AMD Fusion APU 

Price: 0

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