It’s already the 2nd week of 2010, but I hope it’s not yet too late to do a quick recap of 2009. The year that has passed has been a great one for cars, gadgets and photography. It was an easy task for me to create a list of the top ten geek stuff that (in my opinion) made the most impact for last year. Without delay, here’s my top 10 of Oh-Nine (in reverse order):
10. Suzuki Celerio and Hyundai i10 1.2 (tie)
Around late 2008, I was in the market for a daily driver so I test drove the Hyundai i10 1.1 automatic. I found it anemic, and opted for the CRDi Getz instead. Soon after I discovered that the Indian market had an i10 with a more potent and adequate 1.2-liter Kappa engine, and in early 2009 that version found its way to our shores. The i10 screams “practicality” combining an auto tranny, superb fuel economy, traffic-friendly size and improved Hyundai quality all rolled into a value for money package. Had I waited, I might’ve gotten the Kappa engined i10 instead of the Diesel Getz.
The Celerio on the other hand wins quite simply because of good looks and Japanese reliability in a compact, affordable package. If I were to get a cheap-o daily driver, it would be a coin toss between this and the Hyundai i10 1.2.
Wondering why there’s no mention of the new Honda City? Well, it’s a great car per se, but would you want to drive something that has a multitude of duplicates when you’re on the road? No thank you.
9. Nokia E72
I have been and still am a happy user of the E61i. I find it to be such a convenient, easy to use business phone that I couldn’t find any reason to upgrade, even if mine is now pretty banged up. Then the E72 came along. Aside from a slight turn off due to a smaller screen and a more crowded keypad (compared to the E61i), the E72 may just be the upgrade that I’ve been looking for. Now I am actually half-wishing for my phone to die, so that I can finally upgrade. And what of the Blackberries? Image wise, I think it’s meant for top management executives (I’m not), else it’s pretentious. The iPhone? Puh-leeze. I want a business phone, not a reason to be cute. Save it for Lady Gaga.
8. Hyundai Tucson
The latest iteration simply looks badass inside and out and, compared to the previous model, is revolutionary as opposed to being merely evolutionary. I wouldn’t mind being caught dead in it. It’s the first Hyundai one can really be proud of, even beside a Honda CR-V at the stoplight. It could’ve held a higher spot in my top 10 list, but its price tag and the lack of a diesel version pulled it down to #8. For gas powered compact SUVs it’s Tucson over CR-V, Forester 2.5 over Tucson. A CRDi Tucson is a bigger winner, even over the Forester whose long back order queue is turning off customers. Rumor is the CRDi Tucson will be out in 2010. Hold on to your downpayment moolah.
7. Sony PS3 Slim
The Playstation 3 is old news, but the slim version gave the gaming console a second life even if it was nowhere near dying! A smaller footprint and rock bottom pricing is the winning combination. Plus, PS3 games are getting better than ever, squeezing every last drop of performance out of the console. Now is the best time to get a PS3.
6. The Macbook Pro 13″
In the year 2 B.I. (Before Intel), Mac fanatics were loving their small yet powerful 12-inch Powerbook G4s. They shed a tear when it was phased out without a replacement. The Air soon came out, but it was plagued with issues, compromises and a hefty price. It obviously did not fill the void. Then, in 2009, the uber-powerful yet portable and realistically priced Macbook Pro 13″ was launched and the Apple community rejoiced. The 13″ version is now the best seller among current model Mac laptops. Need I say more?
5. Samsung LED TVs
LED television technology created all the buzz last year and made Abenson stores busier than ever. These Korean monitors will make you want to put your LCD TV into a crash diet. A LED TV is slimmer yet without compromises. In fact, they deliver same if not better performance than LCD or Plasma monitors. I’m not much of a video buff so I honestly can’t see much difference between LCD, LED and Plasma. LED TVs are also greener and consumes less energy. Prices for LEDs are discouraging, but they’re on their way down. Sexier and better performing, isn’t that what we all want?
4. Canon EOS 7D
This camera was the photography world’s next best blessing in ’09. The best blessing is listed further down below, but don’t scroll down yet! The 7D is Canon’s highest performing APS-C offering ever and is unbeatable at its price range. Sorry Nikon fanboys (and girls), but even the D300S is no match to the 7D. Nikon can go home and try again this year. Yes, I’m a Canon fanboy and I’m biased, so don’t take my word for it. Instead, just check out the raves online! Quoting dpreview.com: “the EOS 7D significantly outperforms it [D300S] when JPEG images are compared side-by-side. The D300S is capturing less detail and not doing as good a job of displaying what it has captured.”
3. Opening of Mini Cooper and Lexus dealerships
The Philippine streets is best described as having communist like uniformity. The cars driving around it can be quickly enumerated in a short list: It is virtually an ocean of Vios and Cities, Altises and Civics, Fortuners and Montero Sports, Crosswinds and Innovas, Starexes and more Starexes, and…that’s about it. It’s like a boring nightmare. (Is there such a thing?) And so with a deep sigh I thank the good Lord for new dealerships opening here, specifically Mini Cooper and Lexus in 2009. I’m not a Lexus fan. I’m just happy they’re here to give people a bit more choices. You think Pinoys can’t afford such cars? Think again. I encounter at least one Lexus car each and every time I hit the road! Pinoys are probably as tired as I am of seeing and buying the same old-same old that they lined up for the Lexus dealership as soon as it opened. Never mind the bleeding bank accounts, closed time deposits and BPI Auto Loan agents made happy. The Mini dealership opened very late in oh-nine, so no sales records to speak of yet. But I predict dozens will hit the streets within a few months, each one with a different color combination, eventually colorizing our drab, monotonous highways. Why not? Minis start at “only” Php1.7M for the base model.
I’d like to see more dealerships opening this year. Damn, Metro Manila roads badly need variety. Infiniti, are you reading this? Why don’t you come over? I’m oh so stoked over the Infiniti G37 Coupe. (I definitely can’t afford one but I wanna see a lot of ’em cruising our streets)
2. Subaru Legacy and Hyundai Genesis Coupe (tie)
These are simply the two best new cars launched in the country last year. The Legacy is a 265hp turbocharged, all wheel drive beast wrapped in luxury that will eat Camrys and Accords (even their V6 versions) for breakfast. This is specially true in wet and pothole-ridden tarmac, which basically describes the entire country’s road conditions. The Legacy’s looks will also embarrass Honda and Toyota equivalents. Exclusivity is Subaru’s icing on the cake. There’s a gazillion Accords and Camrys on the streets, it’s like a plague! Get a Legacy, that is if you can. Word is the wait list is a true test of EQ.
It’s Hyundai again(!!!) sharing the limelight at #2 with its 306hp, track tested Genesis Coupe. The Coupe is Hyundai’s second statement piece following the Genesis sedan. Aside from the sex-on-wheels looks, performance specs abound: 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, 6-speed tranny, sport-tuned suspension, limited slip differentials, etc, etc. All this for “just” Php1.75M! What’s more, performance parts manufacturers seem to have embraced the Coupe platform and are already creating mods products for it. The coupe is definitely a serious street fighter that Honda boy racers should respect and stay clear of. Haters question the lack of racing heritage, but hey, you just have to trust Hyundai R&D. I want mine in yellow with an HKS exhaust.
1. Interchangeable Lens Compact Cameras
2009 saw the birth of a new breed of cameras and dpreview.com has courageously dubbed them as Interchangeable Lens Compacts or ILCs. I’m not sure if that name and acronym will catch on, but what I can say is that this new ILC category is the photography world and geek world’s best blessing for 2009. It is definitely a tech milestone, combining DSLR-like image quality and flexibility into a much more compact package. Sigma with its DP-1 and DP-2 models practically failed in their attempt at creating a “compact-pro” category. This time, Olympus (Pen E-P1) and Panasonic (GF-1) are trailblazing the new ILC category with the Micro Four Thirds format as their common denominator. Other manufacturers would eventually have no choice but to follow. Samsung and Ricoh are also making attempts with their own proprietary formats. Why is this happening? The market is probably dictating the trend. Will ILC eventually kill the DSLR? Probably not, but ILC is a potent enough formula to eat into the DLSR pie. It could also significantly grow the camera industry at the same time. This is because ILCs pose a strong proposition as a spare camera to DSLR users. Personally, the ILC, specifically the PEN E-P1 got me seriously thinking of giving up my DSLR for it or getting it as a second camera. Another fearless forecast: ILCs are going to be BIG within the next couple of years. Getting a DSLR for the first time? Consider this.
WHEW! This is the longest blog I’ve ever written. But I had so much fun writing it. I hope you had fun reading it too. That’s it for 2009’s best. Very much arguable, of course. Feel like disagreeing or strongly agreeing? I’d appreciate hearing from you. Type away at the comment box below. In the meantime, it is going to be an exciting wait for what’s in store for us in 2010!