After a decade of ever-more-mobile devices, 2010 has seen several advances we've been hoping for. Some companies have countered the problem of disposable gadgets, designing higher-quality products that are so fast and functional (like our Gear of the Year winner, right) that you'll have no reason to trade them in for a long time. Others have helped slow landfill growth and CO2 output by building devices out of recycled materials and powering them with solar panels. And all across the industry, companies are recognizing that the elements are a high-tech toy's number-one enemy, as witnessed by the profusion of not just waterproof but shock-, dust-, and even vibration-proof cameras, phones, and computers, the best of which made the cut here. It would all seem to herald a decade in which mobile devices are much more adventure-readyand more sustainable for the planet and your wallet. That's some good news. Now what do we have to do to get a flying car already?
This year's winner may look like an iPhone clone, but the beautful Google Nexus One (made by HTC) represents the best of smartphone technology. With more irresistible features than you could ever use, the Android operating system also works at lightning speed (thanks to a 1GHz processor), so your capacity for wasting time is curtailed. The 3.7-inch touchscreenslightly bigger than the iPhone's and identical to the Motorola Droid'sseems just right and is a marvel of color and clarity. Touch controls are fast and responsive, and voice commands actually work: You can dictate text messages and Google searches, a boon to road safety once we mastered the technique. It's got the full suite of Google programs, including the addicting Google Maps with GPS and driving directions, as well as the new Goggles, which takes a picture of something then goes looking on the Web for information about it. It's also a media master: The 5MP camera shoots above-average photos and has an LED flash and 720 video. It can access 30,000 Android apps. Basically, it's the perfect toy: One tester's 80-year-old mother borrowed it and wouldn't give it back until the next day. $179 with two-year T-Mobile contract; $529 unlocked (for AT&T or T-Mobile)
Functions: 4.9 (out of 5)