The Bigmouth tech awards 2006

Some magazines have done it already and others are waiting for their versions to come back from the printers: yep, it’s the inevitable “best of” stuff that fills pages at this time every year. I thought I’d do my own version, largely ’cause I’m bored. Heh.

Game of the year – Gears of War

It’s taken a year, but next-gen gaming is finally here. It’s impossible to describe how drop-dead gorgeous GoW is or how impressive the on-screen action is; you have to play it to see how good this game is. The single player campaign is pretty short, but if you’re into online multiplayer then it’ll tempt you away from Halo 2.

Console of the year – Nintendo Wii

I love my Xbox 360, but judging by the (many) first-hand accounts I’ve read of using the Wii, Nintendo’s console delivers something much more important than pretty pictures: joy. When reading a review of a console makes you grin, you know Nintendo’s come up with something special.

Turkey of the year – Microsoft Zune

I was tempted to nominate the PS3, but despite its silly price it’s selling anyway – so it’s hardly a turkey. However, I’m pretty sure the Zune is going to bomb, at least in its current incarnation. There’s lots to like, but not enough to make me want one. The absence of any plans to launch it in the UK doesn’t help.

It’s particularly disappointing when Microsoft has been so smart in other areas, such as Xbox – its US download service looks great and is sensibly priced, the 360 plays nice with Media Center, and so on.

Computer of the year – 20″ iMac

It’s big, it’s fast, it’s relatively cheap, it runs OS X and – via boot camp or Parallels Desktop – it runs Windows too.

Laptop of the year – MacBook (white)

A thing of beauty, with more than enough horsepower to get stuff done. Buy a white one with a bigger hard disk instead of the black one, though.

Pain in the arse of the year (gadget) – iPod video

iPod + iTunes? Brilliant. iPod + iTunes Music Store? Brilliant, if you don’t mind DRM. iPod + video? A major, major pain in the arse. Instead of “it just works”, it’s a case of “it might work” – your original video needs converted to make it iPod-friendly, and in my experience that means the end results either don’t work, lose their audio, stutter alarmingly or refuse to sync. Rubbish.

Cable of the year – in-car iPodding

Irrespective of the particular connector, cable or manufacturer, being able to hook your iPod to your car stereo is one of the greatest things in the world, ever. Especially if you can control the iPod from your stereo and hide it away. Mind you, Alpine came perilously close to getting the “pain in the arse” award for its superbly annoying iPod user interface.

MP3 player of the year – iPod Nano 4GB

By all means get a fully-fledged iPod for the car or to hook up to your stereo, but for everyday use the Nano’s got it all: capacity, battery life and a low price.

The “Gary got it wrong again” award – Windows Vista

My first impressions of Vista were “XP in new trousers”. But after spending a lot of time with later builds I’m liking it a lot, especially the improvements to searching and browsing. The beefed-up security helps, too, and if you’ve got kids the parental controls are excellent. I’ve been back on XP for a bit to do software reviews, and I wasn’t happy.

The “dump it now” award – Microsoft Points

Right, so if I buy this song it’s going to be X pence, but I need to pay with Microsoft points, and it’s… oh sod it, I’m off to bittorrent. Just sell pre-pay cards with sterling amounts, like Apple does.

The “didn’t happen, but should have” award – DRM interoperability

Another year passes and there’s still no way to put Microsoft music on an iPod or iTunes music on a PlaysForSure player. Great for firms trying to lock us into their particular platform, but crap for consumers.

The “can’t bring myself to give a shit” award – HDTV and next-gen DVD

1080p, you say? Blu-ray versus HD-DVD? Nope, sorry, still don’t care.

Browser of the year – Firefox 2

IE7 – quite good. Firefox 2 – better. Particularly when you stuff it with extensions. I like the look of Flock, too, but the various builds I’ve tried haven’t been solid enough for everyday use.

The “software you’ll have to pry from my cold dead hands” award – NetNewsWire 3 (beta)

The best newsreader I’ve ever used (and believe me, I’ve used a lot). I’d be utterly lost without it – it’s Mac only, though, so if you’re a Windows feed demon then check out, er, FeedDemon at

Site of the year: Flickr

I love Flickr, whether it’s browsing friends’ photos, using it to backup my iPhoto albums or getting depressed when I see how talented so many Flickr users are. comes a close second, because I still think it’s one of the funniest sites on the Net.

Dodgy downloader of the year: Bittorrent

Yes, it’s illegal, but if you download albums pre-release from Bittorrent and then buy the CD when it comes out – or use torrents because it’s quicker than getting the CDs out of the loft – then who exactly are you hurting?

Acronym of the year: TL;DR

The perfect response to pretty much any lengthy blog post (yes, like this one) or carefully constructed argument, TL;DR stands for “too long; didn’t read”.

And that’s it… any categories I’ve missed or things I’ve cruelly shunned?