Top ten Digital Lifestyle products of 08

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6. BBC iPlayer

Hulu could certainly learn a thing or two from iPlayer, the BBC’s TV catch-up service (UK-only). After a controversial Windows launch in which the public broadcaster was accused of getting too close to Microsoft, iPlayer has added Mac and Linux streaming, a version for the iPhone/iPod touch, numerous other portable media players and the latest phones running Windows Mobile. There’s also an iPlayer application for select Nokia phones, and a browser-based version optimized for the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.

7. PlayStation 3

Sony’s PlayStation 3 wasn’t launched in 08 but it certainly came of age this year. The company has always pitched the PS3 as a device that goes far beyond gaming. Instead, like Microsoft’s XBox 360, it’s designed to be a trojan horse into the living room, delivering a range of non-gaming content and services through the television. On that front, Sony has made significant progress in 08 by winning the next-generation format war with Blu-ray, adding DVR functionality in the UK with PlayTV, launching a video download store in the U.S., adding support for DivX video, and finally rolling out its own virtual world called Home.

8. Songbird

After being in development for two years, the open-source desktop music player, Songbird, reached its 1.0 release this month. What sets Songbird apart from the likes of iTunes is the array of available plug-ins that extend the app’s functionality. For example mashTape, one of the six default add-ons, let’s you delve into artist info, discography, links, news, and scroll through flickr photos and YouTube videos. Others that ship with the player out of the box include Last.fm, Concerts, and SHOUTcast radio.  With these installed, you can sync your tracks to Last.fm’s online service, check out upcoming concerts in the area, and stream music over the Internet using the player. As of publication, there are over 70 plug-ins available for Songbird.

See also: ReadWriteWeb’s Songbird review.

9. Wii Fit

Nintendo has long contended that “everyone’s a gamer”, and now the console giant wants everyone to get fit. Announced last year but released in 08, Wii Fit aims at improving the health of family members through active play first seen in Wii Sports. The ‘game’ comes with a balance board that assists with aerobic, toning, and balancing activities. A neat feature is that household members can review each other’s progress on a new Wii channel.

10. Netbook

This isn’t an individual product but a whole new product category that has really taken off in 08. Initially targeted at the education market or those wanting a third machine, Netbooks are resonating with a much broader market — and not just because of their lower price point compared to more traditional and higher specced sub-notebooks. Despite years of industry propaganda, consumers are wising up to the fact that they don’t have to step on to the processor upgrade treadmill. Instead, in an age where more and more of our applications and data resides in the cloud (on remote servers, rather than stored locally), a machine with Internet connectivity and one that is powerful enough to run a modern web browser – that’s a Netbook by the way – is often all that we need.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

One Response to “Top ten Digital Lifestyle products of 08”

  1. Dave Zatz says:

    It was an interesting year in this space… lots of forward progress, but not too many major, explosive revolutionary products or themes. Not sure I’m onboard with the PS3, but maybe that’s because an ATSC PlayTV hasn’t landed in the US. I think Boxee’s one to watch going forward… they’ve got some great ideas and some smart people… if they add DVR capabilities, a Mac Mini could be the ultimate all-in-on television set-top box.

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