Man, we have to tell you: 2010 was a whopper of a year for Engadget, and for the gadget world at large. A space that was once reserved for only the hardiest tech nerds has been increasingly overrun with everyday neighbors, cousins, and parents, as product categories -- the smartphone, e-readers, and tablets -- became more ubiquitous than ever. Here at Engadget, for us, this meant more eyes than ever reading our stories, more tips flying in our direction, and working harder and faster than ever to bring our readers the best and most up-to-the-minute news.

What follows are the biggest, best stories that we here at Engadget broke this year as exclusives. Some of them are parts of the biggest gadget stories this year, and all of them are stories we busted our butts to bring to you, dear readers. Join us after the break for a thorough retrospective of the year 2010 in Engadget exclusives, our biggest year ever.

Cellphones



PlayStation Phone - Also known as the Zeus Z1, this story broke in several pieces starting back in August, followed up with photos and details which increasingly spoke to the fact that the PlayStation Phone was incredibly, insanely, real.

Sony Ericsson to introduce Android 3.0 gaming platform and PSP Go-like smartphone
The PlayStation Phone
The PlayStation Phone is still real
The PlayStation Phone: new photos, more details!
PlayStation Phone 'Zeus Z1' prototype benchmarked on video

iPhone 4 - It turns out that not only did we nab the first clear photos of this phone (above, posted just a couple of days before Gizmodo's full bore exploration of the handset), we had less clear images of the phone months earlier. In our unending determination to break the news of the iPad's existence -- which we did, as you can see later in this post -- we completely failed to notice that the device sitting atop the iPad and next to it was none other than the iPhone 4. Call it an easter egg scoop, if you will.

iPhone 4G: is this it?
iPhone 4G: proof

Google Nexus S - This one was pretty easy to spot in spy shots because of that telltale curved display -- and the fact that Google employees can't help but overshare on Picasa. Can't blame 'em, we've been there before.

Is this the Nexus S?
This is the Nexus S
The Nexus S: a closer look
Rumors: Samsung Nexus S using fancy curved display Sprint had to pass on, HTC EVO Shift 4G is the Knight?
Was the Nexus S nearly the Nexus Two?

The Dell leaks - Dell gets its own category this year, and should probably win an award for the most leaky company of 2010. The flood of exclusives below are some of our favorites.

Dell Mini 5: we have it (update: new pics and video!)
Dell Mini 5 / Streak prototype impressions
Leaked Dell Streak flyer shows multitude of color options, confirmed specifications
Dell Aero hands-on and UI walkthrough (video)
Dell Flash to offer Android Froyo in a 'dramatic' package
Dell Smoke slaps Android in the wild form factor you secretly wanted
Dell Streak to bump up to Android 2.1 in September, hopefully shipping sometime before that
Dell Aero details confirmed with new leak: 624MHz processor, handwriting support, DRM
Dell Thunder explodes Android with 4.1-inch OLED screen, promises Hulu app
Dell Lightning: the ultimate Windows Phone 7 device leaks out
Dell Thunder prototype rumbles into the wild (video)
Dell Thunder prototype preview (video)

Google Nexus One - The Nexus One was a watershed device for Google, the company's first attempt to take the bull by the horns and make an Android device exactly how it wanted it to be, freeing it from the shackles of a carrier lock. We had the very first review of it.

First Google Phone / Nexus One photos, Android 2.1 on-board
Google Nexus One hands-on, video, and first impressions
Nexus One review

...All the rest

Android

T-Mobile G2 in the wild!
T-Mobile G2 again, this time with less Mr. Blurrycam
Motorola Droid X preview
Samsung Captivate for AT&T preview

The Kin

Leak: Microsoft Pink phones coming to Verizon, on shelves April 20th?
Life and death of Microsoft Kin: the inside story
What killed the Kin?

Windows Phone 7

First Windows Phone 7 Series partner device unveiled (with video!)
LG C900 for AT&T has Windows Phone 7, shows off a little carrier branding
Samsung Cetus i917 bows for AT&T, shows off its Windows Phone 7 ways
HTC's Windows Phone 7-equipped T8788 breaks cover for AT&T

Other

BlackBerry 9800 for AT&T fully exposed!
LG GW990 hands-on video


Tablets


iPad - A mere 13 hours before Apple launched its long predicted (as in 10 years long) tablet, Engadget received images of what certainly appeared to be an Apple product, despite the fact that the photos were blurry and the device was bolted to a table. This has to be one of our favorite leaks of the year, since, unbeknownst to us at the time, one of the photos also contained a blurry shot of the iPhone 4 -- a mere three months before it was announced. The iPad also has the distinction of being the first of a serious flood of tablets this year, some of which Engadget spent some exclusive time with.

Is this the Apple tablet?


...All the rest

Motorola


Motorola's 10-inch Honeycomb tablet meets Mr. Blurrycam, shows off Verizon logo

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook first hands-on! (video)

Galaxy Tab

Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 tablet sports WiFi and 3G data, about as thick as an iPhone?
Verizon to announce Samsung Galaxy Tab on Thursday?

HP / Palm

HP's Zeen C510 Android tablet in the wild
Palm's tablet is codenamed 'Topaz,' keyboard accessory leaks out

Microsoft

Microsoft Windows Embedded Compact 7 tablet prototype preview
Microsoft's Courier 'digital journal': exclusive pictures and details

MeeGo

MeeGo Moorestown-powered tablet preview

Dell

Dell Looking Glass tablet leaks: Tegra 2 coming your way in November
Dell's 7-inch and 10-inch Streak tablets leaked!

Others

LG UX10 tablet preview at Computex
MSI to reintroduce WindPad tablets at CES, claims Oak Trail improves performance and battery life
Lenovo LePad and U1 Hybrid early hands-on
ExoPC Slate review

Laptops


There weren't a ton of surprises in laptops this year that broke as exclusives, but there were a few nuggets we really enjoyed, such as the unearthing of Google's Chrome OS netbook, and those rather unsurprising photos of the new MacBook Air.

Google's Cr-48

This is the Google Chrome OS netbook keyboard
Sources: Google-branded Chrome OS netbook to launch on December 7th

MacBook Air

Is this the new MacBook Air?
11.6-inch MacBook Air detailed

Jolicloud

Jolicloud prepping a netbook of its own


Other exclusives


Apple's Magic Trackpad revealed?
Android Froyo to take a serious shot at stemming platform fragmentation
i3D's glasses-free prototype screen aims to take on all of 3D's problem areas
HDI headquarters walkthrough: details galore on the new face of in-home 3D
Next Android version will be called Froyo, says Erick Tseng
RED Scarlet and Bomb EVF surprise hands-on!

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Engadget's biggest exclusives of 2010