The best hardware and software products of the year

InfoWorld's 2010 Technology of the Year Awards recognize the top solutions for business and IT professionals

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In fact, that may be Chrome's greatest value: By challenging the status quo, Google has forced other browser vendors to redouble their efforts to improve their own products. Even Microsoft has promised to address JavaScript performance in IE9.

But it better not stop there, because as much progress as Chrome made in 2009, 2010 could be the year it really takes off. Google unveiled Mac and Linux betas and support for extensions this month, and before long we'll see the first devices running Chrome OS. At this rate, in 12 months' time we could be back to wondering whether there's really much need for yet another Web browser -- besides Chrome, that is.

-- Neil McAllister

Telligent Enterprise 2.0
Bring up the topic of social media in a business meeting, and the discussion will likely center around Twitter, Yammer, or Facebook. That's because employees are using these services, like it or not. As alternatives, we looked at hosted and on-premise solutions that give IT and communications staff the necessary security and governance control that public services lack -- plus community-building capabilities.

Although our test scores showed Telligent and Socialtext in a tie, we feel of the two, Telligent is a slightly better choice. The reason: Telligent best melds collaboration features, such as Twitter-like activity streams, with community sites (which can be internal or external).

Moreover, Telligent has better capabilities to integrate with Microsoft's SharePoint and enterprise search applications. And since our review, Telligent has released its social analytics tools, which we found to be the best among the products we tested for discovering what your employees and customers are thinking.

Still, 2010 is likely to bring major changes in this space. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, with many built-in social features, including communities, could potentially send a lot of vendors scrambling. Those that continue to add value, while tightly integrating with SharePoint, stand the best chance of success. In addition to Telligent, watch for NewsGator Social Sites for SharePoint 2010.

-- Mike Heck

LifeSize Express 220
Pressure to cut travel expenses, yet improve collaboration among remote workers, would seem like a perfect opportunity for telepresense vendors. While the six-figure, fully outfitted video meeting rooms from Cisco and HP still draw the interest of large enterprises, the economy is driving midrange and mainstream systems.

In the latter category, our review of tabletop systems from Polycom and LifeSize found that they were closely matched, with Polycom's QDX 6000 better in low-bandwidth situations, while the LifeSize Express 200 produced better high-definition video. Since our testing, LifeSize was acquired by Logitech and introduced the improved Express 220 model, giving LifeSize the edge in this category. Ideal for small groups, Express 220 maintains the earlier model's 1080p-resolution (30 frames a second) video capability; alternately, you can now configure the systems for two simultaneous 720p (60 frames per second) video streams: one for sharing crisp video of people and the other to transmit clear screens from a PC presentation or other video source.

But the clincher is that LifeSize Express now accommodates one 720p video stream even at the lowest possible bandwidth (768Kbps). Express 220 also adds connections for two HD monitors, plus HDMI and USB inputs. The new model still forgoes the analog video inputs available on the Polycom. But we don't feel that's a handicap because most current video sources and cameras are digital.

For an all-in-one system, we see the Cisco Telepresence 500 playing a role, especially in enterprises with Cisco managed networks and larger Cisco telepresence rooms. But these far more expensive systems, we feel, are going to have a tough time against the midrange LifeSize configurations.

-- Mike Heck

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