Celebrating the year’s best products
All around, 2008 has been a very trying year. Each day seemed to bring a new round of bad news, whether it was the real estate bubble bursting, stock markets plummeting, or the “big three” automakers petitioning congress for a bailout similar to the one given to some of the nation’s largest banks. In the electronics industry, lackluster consumer confidence, fueled by the global economic crisis, has led to a slowdown of global semiconductor sales, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association’s annual forecast. Sales in the current quarter are forecast to decline by 5.9 percent from the previous quarter, while the association predicts a 5.6 percent decline in sales for the coming year.
Meanwhile, another grim indicator of the times came from the folks at Merriam-Webster. Their Word of the Year for 2008? Bailout. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, defines bailout as “a rescue from financial distress.” According to Merriam-Webster, the word received the highest intensity of lookups on its web site over the shortest period of time. Some of the other top words of 2008 include trepidation (number six), precipice (seven), and turmoil (ten).
However, another word rose to prominence in our collective psyche recently, and that’s change. The word was inescapable in these last few months, and with it came all that arguing and debating in conference rooms, cubicles, and water coolers everywhere. And now that the nominees have been considered and the voting complete, we are happy to present the winners of the 2008 Readers Choice Tech Awards.
This past November, visitors to www.ECNmag.com  voted for the best new products that appeared in ECN in the previous 12 months. Each product category that ECN covers was represented in the online poll, and the winning products for each category are presented here in this Awards Issue. (See the winners online at www.ECNmag.com/2008-Tech-Awards-Winners.aspx .) With all the bad news abound, the following pages celebrate some of the best new products that can help change the way designers meet their challenges. In addition, engineers continue to make efficiency and the environment more prominent considerations in their designs. So for the second year in a row, our Energy Efficiency category drew many interesting products. The winning products in all categories are those chosen by your peers, who are eager to see products that will change the face of their designs.
And be sure to look at this month’s Brainstorm, as ECN Technical Editor Jason Lomberg poses the question, “What technology will have the biggest impact in 2009?” His experts opined on some of the changes we’ll see in areas such as renewable technology, LEDs, variable frequency motors, and the government-mandated change to all-digital TV signals this February. This special issue illustrates — as 2008 turns to 2009 — how we will continue to bring you the latest technology changes plus the products yielded by those changes. At ECN, that philosophy simply won’t change.