By Claudine Beaumont, Technology Editor of the UK’s Telegraph on-line:
10. Slingbox (2005)
The Slingbox is a TV streaming device which allows you to shift (or “sling”) television shows from your TV or personal video recorder to a computer anywhere in the world. It means you can watch the latest episode of Coronation Street from a hotel room in Dubai, or catch up with The Wire in Madrid. You can even “sling” shows to your mobile phone, to watch on the move.
9. iPhone (2007)
Apple’s iPhone redefined the mobile phone experience – its elegant touch-screen, superlative ease of use and handy features (including a built-in iPod and navigation software) set the new standard for phone design. And it is responsible for our insatiable appetite for apps – since the App Store launched in 2008, we’ve downloaded more than a billion restaurant finders, games and guide books on to our iPhones.
8. Asus Eee PC (2007)
The Asus Eee PC seemed too good to be true – an ultralight, ultraportable laptop that cost less than £200. The Eee PC kick-started the “netbook” trend – the emergence of a new category of inexpensive, low-spec computers designed for sending emails, accessing the internet, and carrying out simple word-processing tasks on the go. Dozens of other manufacturers have since jumped on the netbook bandwagon, but we’ll always fondly remember the Asus Eee PC for getting the ball rolling.
7. Flip (2007)
The Flip was the first pocket-sized camcorder to punch above its weight. Incredibly easy to operate, the Flip could capture around an hour of surprisingly good-quality footage for such a small device. But its best feature was the built-in USB stick that flipped out from the side of the camcorder, enabling users to instantly edit video and upload it to the web. It became the tool of choice for the YouTube generation.
6. TomTom Go (2004)
Once upon a time, if you wanted to get from A to B, you had to use a map. This meant knowing lots of things about cryptic Ordnance Survey symbols, and being able to find a way around traffic jams at a moment’s notice. But the sat nav changed all that; the TomTom Go was arguably the first truly mass-market sat nav device that appealed to people of all technical abilities. Farewell folding maps; hello advanced lane guidance, automatic congestion detection and re-routing, and speed camera alerts.
5. BlackBerry (2002)
We didn’t know it at the time, but the arrival of the BlackBerry meant life would never be the same again. With its ability to pick up emails on the go, the BlackBerry was the tool of choice for high-flying businessmen who needed to be in touch with the office at all times. But its always-on connectivity also meant the working day was never really done, with people expecting you to answer emails in the evenings, on weekends, and even on the family holiday – no wonder it’s been nicknamed the CrackBerry for its addictive qualities.
4. Nintendo Wii (2006)
Nintendo’s inexpensive, family-focused games console is credited with bringing a new generation of players to video games. It uses an innovative motion-sensing controller system, where players wave their Wiimote controls to mimick hitting a ball or cracking a whip. More than 56 million Wiis have been sold worldwide, and players can use it to experience everything from snowboarding to armed combat to balancing exercises.
3. USB stick (2000)
The arrival of the USB stick condemned the floppy disk to the dustbin of history. In 2000, IBM launched DiskOnKey with a then-huge 8MB of storage, around five times that offered by a floppy disk. It soon became the quickest and easiest way of transferring files between computers, and carrying backups of important documents. Modern USB sticks can hold gigabytes of data, and the future of the USB stick looks assured for some time to come.
2. Sky+ (2001)
Before Sky+ came along, taping your favourite television show meant navigating the complicated recording menus on your VCR, and then scrolling endlessly through VHS tapes to find the show you wanted to watch. Sky+ was a breath of fresh air – it was an easy-to-use personal video recorder with a capacious hard drive, allowing viewers to record hundreds of hours of programmes at the touch of a button. You could even pause and rewind live television, or record every episode in a series using the “series link” function.
1. Apple iPod (2001)
The undisputed gadget of the decade is Apple’s iPod music player. When it went on sale in October 2001, few could have predicted that this device – which could store up to 1,000 songs on its tiny hard drive – would revolutionise both the way we consume music, and the music industry itself. The iconic white earphones of the iPod soon became ubiquitous on Tubes and trains, while the launch of the iTunes music store, which allowed users to digitally download songs on to their iPod, has been blamed for the death of the album. The iPod made it possible to carry your entire music collection with you, and laid the foundations for the current generation of music players and mobile phones.