The end of a year is a time for lists because, well, they're easy. Subjective. Basically, the stories have already been written, they just have to be reassembled in some kind of order.
I'm not saying that journalists are lazy, because honestly there's not that much to write about - governments are on holiday, companies don't introduce new products, market trading slows, courts take a break. If it wasn't for police scanners most holiday papers would be empty.
Plus, we all love lists so it's really a win-win scenario - who can resist a list of the "top 10" of this or "best" and "worst" of that?
Cnet.com, which is published by CBS these days, was one of the first websites to publish a list of the Best Video Games of 2009. Surprisingly, the top selling video game of all time, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't make the top five and there were a few surprises. Uncharted 2 finished in the number one spot, followed by Batman: Arkham Asylum, Borderlands, Ghostbusters, Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Dragon Age: Origins, THEN Modern Warfare 2, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Forza Motorsports 3, Infamous, NHL 10, New Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter IV and Punch-Out!! Shadow Complex was the top Xbox Live Arcade game, while Peggle was the top Playstation Network title. Also mentioned were Trials HD and Trine.
Next up is a list of the top HD televisions, which you would do well to heed heading out to your electronics stores on Boxing Day - there are so many subtle differences between televisions these days that it takes an expert to sort through all the features.
I should point out that a lot of the televisions getting top grades are plasma sets, which I would warn about purely from a cost-of-ownership perspective. Those things are power hogs and incremental increases in size can add up to exponential increases in power consumption. They do offer the best blacks and some of the most vibrant colours (in a dark room, and outside of OLED sets), but generally speaking I think I side with LCD televisions = (backlit by LEDs) for their low power consumption and durability.
You can watch the reviews yourself at Cnet, but it's interesting to point out that five of the top 10 HDTVs were Samsung. There are still only a handful of factories in the world manufacturing the screens themselves, including Samsung, so what really sets the different company's apart is the electronics they bundle with the screens that process the images and sound before the screens. A lot of new televisions, including Samsung, are also coming bundled with widgets that allow their owners to download internet widgets to check stock quotes or the weather, visit websites like YouTube, download movies or surf the web.
Also on Cnet was a list of the most popular laptops - not the best necessarily, but the most popular based on traffic to the Cnet website. In this list it's interesting to note that netbooks accounted for six of the top 10 searches. Acer, Dell, Apple and HP all make the list.
Lifehacker, which is probably my favourite website these days with everything from recipes to tech news to home reno advice, also released a Best Of 2009 list last week, with a bunch of sub-lists to choose from: Most Popular Linux Posts, Most Popular Free Mac Downloads, Most Popular Free Windows Downloads, Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2009, Most Popular Photography Hacks of 2009, Most Popular Do It Yourself Projects of 2009, Most Popular How-To Features of 2009 and, most fittingly, Most Popular Top 10s of 2009.
Gizmodo (www.gizmodo.com), locked in its never-ending battle for gadget supremacy with Engadget (www.engadget.com), was first to the polls this year with its list of The Best Gadgets. Subcategories are smart phones, computers, audio, video, cameras and "Random Stuff," which includes everything from GPS devices to office chairs to iPhone Apps.
There are also lists of shopping ideas for the geeks in your family, which are good things to have with you when you hit the stores on Boxing Day.
While Engadget is shy on best of lists, they also have a sizable gift guide to check out.
Tech Radar (www.techradar.com) has gone crazy with lists, with guides to the best Christmas gadgets, the best netbooks, the "10 best 42-inch HDTVs," "The hottest PC technology for 2010," "12 brilliant Christmas gadgets for PC users," and so on. Tech Radar is a U.K.-based site so not all of the products reviewed will make it to Canada, but it's also one of the most thoughtful and comprehensive technology sites out there.
Gamers, comic book geeks, smart phone snobs and media buffs will love the Best of 2009 lists at IGN.com, which is one of the dominant sites for those kinds of things. The best "Free To Play" section is particularly good if, like most of us, you're completely broke after Christmas.