DL AWARDS 2014

Recognising the best products

Win $40,000 worth of prizes when you vote for the best in the tech world at the Digital Life Awards

How time flies. It seemed like it was yesterday when we launched the inaugural Digital Life Awards to recognise and celebrate the best tech products of the year.

That was two years ago.

Awards season is coming up again and this time, we have expanded the number of sub-categories further, from 24 to 30.

LTE phones were still nascent then. Today, they have become the norm. This is why we are replacing this sub-category with the new Best Phablet.

A year ago, the Samsung Note 2 was the only notable phablet in the market. Its success has not gone unnoticed, especially as it swept Editor's Choice awards in the smartphone category - Best Overall Smartphone, Best LTE Smartphone and Best Android Smartphone.

This year, every major phone brand has a smartphone with a giant screen, which is why we have created a sub-category for phones which, size-wise, fit somewhere in between a smartphone and a tablet.

The rise of full-frame mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony 7 and the 7R, has blurred the traditional distinction between DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

As a result, we had to tweak our camera category again. Now, we just term them "interchangeable lens cameras", and divide them into three sub-categories based on sensor size - an indicator of the price of the camera and the quality of photos it can shoot.

So, do not be surprised to find the Fujifilm X-E2 and the Samsung NX300 going head to head against regular DSLR cameras such as the Canon EOS 700D and the Nikon D7100 in the mid-level APS-C category.

The coming of age of the Swiss army knife of gadgets - the smartphone - in the phototaking space threatens to make mainstream compact cameras obsolete, which explains why we are deleting this sub-category altogether.

When Windows 8 was launched in October 2012, there were only a handful of hybrid machines which functioned both as a tablet and as a laptop. This year, we decided to split them into two categories.

Devices in which the tablet can be separated from the keyboard, such as the Surface Pro, now fall under the new Windows Tablet sub-category, while others which remain stuck together, such as the Acer Aspire R7 and the Dell XPS 11, stay in the Hybrid laptop classification.

The only challenge we had was with the Asus Transformer Book Trio, an innovative product which functions as a Windows laptop when it is docked and an Android tablet when apart from its keyboard dock.

Unlike other keyboard docks which are mainly "dumb" docks, this keyboard houses an Intel Haswell processor and, when connected to a monitor, functions as a desktop as well. After much deliberation, we felt it was more of a Windows PC than an Android tablet.

We are proud to also announce a brand new category in the DL Best Made-In-Singapore Games where 10 of the best home-grown games have been shortlisted for this award.

The last two years have seen a significant growth in the number of game developers here and some of their products have made an impact on the world gaming scene.

We are grateful for the Media Development Authority's support for this new category and will continue to do all we can to give these products the attention they deserve.

Initially, we wanted two sub-categories for mobile games and PC/console titles. But we have decided to name the top 10 and announce the first, second and third-placed winners. There will also be a Hall Of Fame award for this category, details of which will come later.

Once again, there will be two types of awards - Editor's Choice, which will be decided by the DL team, and the Readers' Choice awards, which you, the reader, will make the call. For this, we have garnered prize sponsorship worth $40,000, including the top prize of a Samsung 65" F9000 Series UHD TV with a Samsung HW-F750 2.1-channel sound bar - worth $10,298.

So cast your votes now at www.straitstimes.com/2014DigitalLifeAwards and may good fortune smile on you for the year ahead. Full details of all winners will be published in the Feb 12 issue of DL.

Happy New Year.

ginlee@sph.com.sg

List of nominees

All stories by Oo Gin Lee, Sherwin Loh, Trevor Tan and Vincent Chang