Here are Micro Center’s highest rated products for 2012 in leading technology categories. Ratings are based on reviews from CNET, Consumer Reports, NotebookReview.com, PC Magazine and PC World.
1. Top Desktop Computer – Dell XPS 8500 i7
Dell’s top-of-the-line consumer desktop, the $799.99 Dell XPS 8500 i7 (SKU 960904) offers outstanding multimedia performance and handles demanding video games with ease. With a large, fast 1TB Seagate 7,200 rpm hard drive, 1 GB of video memory from AMD’s speedy Radeon HD 7870 graphics card, 8 GB of memory, and Intel’s “Ivy Bridge” quad-core 3.4GHz Core i7-3770 processor, the XPS 8500 sped through PC Magazine’s benchmarks and offers performance that’s competitive with significantly more expensive overclocked gaming systems.
2. Top Laptop – Samsung NP700G7C-S02US
With its sleek, light weight brushed aluminum chassis, the 17” Samsung NP700G7C-S02US is just over an inch thick. Thanks to the Intel Core i7-3615QM Processor and 16 GB DDR3-1600 SDRAM, memory intensive tasks such as video rendering and image processing are no problem. Performance is excellent, battery life is long at up to 10 hours, and it’s light for its size. With 2 GB of video memory and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M graphics, large 1.5 TB hard drives, and JVC audio, the Samsung NP700G7C-S02US is good for playing demanding video games. Battery-life observed by Consumer Reports was outstanding at over 11 hours.
3. Top Tablet – Apple iPad (4th Gen) with Retina Display 16GB
The newest version of the iPad, the Apple iPad (4th Generation) 16GB ($459.99 at Micro Center) has a very-high 2048 x 1536 resolution Retina display screen , resulting in excellent video performance and very accurate colors. There’s a dual-core Apple A6X processor with quad-core graphics, and aversion with fast 4G access from AT&T is available for an additional $140. Battery-life observed by Consumer Reports was excellent at around 11 hours.
4. Top Computer Monitor – Lenovo LT2452p ThinkVision 24″ Widescreen LED Backlit LCD Monitor
The $424.99 Lenovo LT2452p ThinkVision 24″ Widescreen LED Backlit LCD Monitor (SKU 158857) offers exceptional on screen performance, with In-plane Switching (IPS) for wide viewing angles. The 24 inch widescreen has lift, tilt, swivel, and pivot capacity, allowing for high viewing comfort. The LT2452p also offers high energy savings with green certifications. Additionally, the four USB ports allow users to connect portable devices directly to the screen, adding expansion options to your PC.
5. Top Printer – Canon PIXMA Pro-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Printer
The $499.99 Canon PIXMA Pro-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Printer (SKU 051076) uses a reconfigured ChromaLife 100+ ink set, which incorporates a reformulated magenta that Canon says delivers better reds for improved black and shadow reproduction. The printer has gotten a speed boost and drivers ship with a new Pro mode designed to deliver more accurate automated color matching. The Pro-100 also adds Wi-Fi/AirPrint and Ethernet connectivity and a new plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop to help with page layout.
6. Top Security Software – ESET Smart Security 5.0
$79.99 ESET Smart Security 5.0 3-user (SKU 826115)
First developed by Peter Paško and Miroslav Trnka at the University of Bratislava in 1987, ESET offers the unique advantage of requiring significantly less memory than other anti-virus products. In testing ESET for 2012, Consumer Reports noted that it’s very fast at virus scans, is easy to use, is very efficient in its use of computer memory, and very good at protecting against online exploits. ESET has superior firewall performance, is good at detecting malware, and has clear warnings with easily followed recovery instructions.
7. Top HDTV – Samsung 60″ Class LED 8000 Smart TV
Top-rated among 60” HDTVs by Consumer Reports, the Samsung 60″ Class LED 8000 Smart TV exhibited outstanding overall picture quality, characterized by exceedingly deep black levels, accurate colors, superb video processing, and very good active 3D performance. It’s also one of only a handful of TVs with very good sound. It has superb off-angle and uniformity characteristics. Its massive feature set includes built-in Wi-Fi, a touch-pad remote, IR blaster, two pairs of 3D glasses, motion and voice command, and what CNET praises as the industry’s most capable Smart TV platform.
The Samsung Smart TV includes a full Web browser, an apps market, access to online content including streaming movies and TV shows from Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Vudu.
With savings of $950 from the original price, the $1,699.99 Samsung 60″ Class LED 8000 Smart TV Refurbished (SKU 068809) model at Micro Center is a particularly good value.
8. Top Smart Phone – Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD
With its extraordinary battery life, the $249.99 Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD (Micro Center Columbus OH Store Only) will give nearly 9.5 hours of battery life – over an hour longer than the 2nd ranked Samsung Galaxy II. The Droid Razr Maxx HD uses the Android 4.1 operating system and has the full suite of Amazon apps (Kindle, Amazon MP3, ID, Audible, and Zippos). Build quality is impressive and the Droid Razr Maxx HD offers many high-definition, high-speed attractions.
With an 8 megapixel camera and LED flash. Users will find it’s a decent if not spectacular performer when capturing images and video. Pictures tend to be very saturated and detail is above average, however, performance with the flash is somewhat disappointing, as it is with most smartphones.
9. Top Digital Camera – Canon Eos 60D
The $999.99 Canon Eos 60D 18 Megapixel Digital SLR Camera 18-135IS Kit (SKU 988220) is Consumer Report’s highest rated digital SLR model. Consumer Reports praises it for offering “the best combination of superb photos and fast response. It’s one of just a few advanced cameras that has excellent image quality for low-light and flash photos. It includes a swiveling LCD that allows users to capture hard-to-reach shots.” CNET praises the Eos 60D for offering the best video results of any digital SLR model.
10. Top Digital Camcorder – Sony HDR-XR260V 160GB Hard Drive HD Camcorder
The $599.99 Sony HDR-XR260V 160GB Hard Drive HD Camcorder (SKU 312934) offers best-in-class picture quality, low-light videos, best-designed autofocus, display quality, and best performance as a still camera. Audio quality, the image stabilizer, and versatility are all very good.
If you’re into 3D, the 2012 version of Sony’s 3D camcorder should be especially appealing. It’s much smaller and less dorky-looking than the 2011 model , with a shorter focal length that should provide a little more shooting flexibility.
Features include 1920 x 1080p Full HD recording, 8.9MP stills, 160GB HDD (up to 63 hours HD recording), Optical Steady Shot image stabilization, 55x extended zoom, Exmore R CMOS sensor, and 3.0″ touch screen. Sony is the leading camcorder brand and offers the largest selection of high-definition models.
Which tech products from 2012 are your personal favorites?