Every Wednesday Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, an
opinion column about consumer technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
2005 was The Year of the Switch, but certain companies distinguished themselves with outstanding products and intriguing strategies. To recognize their accomplishments, to honor their creators, and to pander shamelessly to any emerging cable network out there desperately searching for another awards show, Switched On is pleased to present the first Salute Wares Improving Technology’s Contribution to Humanity Awards, otherwise known as the Switchies. While none were perfect, they were all among the year’s most innovative hardware products. Here are this year’s awards and winners:
The “Do No TiVil” Award goes to Sling Media for the Slingbox. When creating its networked television accessory, temptation must have been high to adopt the subscription model with which TiVo continues to struggle and which couldn’t sustain its retail rival ReplayTV. The Slingbox is an affordable alternative to springing for another cable box and a perfect match for many DVRs. Unfortunately, though, unlike TiVo, the Slingbox can’t yet transfer recordings or record remotely on a PC’s hard drive, something that some humble digital media receivers can do.
The “In ‘Pod We Trust” Award goes to Sonos for the Sonos Digital Music System. Everyone talks about how the “iPod economy” has focused on things like FM transmitters, cases, and speaker docks, Sonos embraced the design philosophy of Apple’s portable player by focusing on music and simple connectivity with an aversion to embracing some popular standards. The result has been a product that executes well for a premium price.