100 Best Gadgets Ever: The Mobile Age

Apple iPod (2001)

Apple iPod

Apple has a reputation for making existing technology work where others have failed. Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, but the iPod made it massive. That didn’t happen immediately, though: it was Mac-only to begin with and used Firewire rather than USB. However, the click wheel is a design landmark and the signature white headphones, while hardly the best in the world, became iconic. The iPhone effectively killed it in its ‘Classic’ form, with more touchscreen tech giving birth to the iPod Touch. Eventually the iPod was so successful it had all but eradicated the competition, despite a U2 special edition. And that’s the sign of something truly unbeatable.

Sky+ (2001)


Remember adverts? They were the annoying things between TV programmes that we had to watch before Sky+ came along and allowed us to fast-forward through them. The original had just 40GB storage but these days there’s up to 2TB on offer, plus mobile apps for remote recording and built-in Wi-Fi. Series Link, one of its original features, is now standard in all PVRs.

Blackberry 5820 (2002)

Blackberry 5820

With the state BlackBerry’s in now it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when full QWERTY workhorses such as the 5820 often had to be surgically removed from the hands of helpless email addicts. A few devotees remain, but with all smartphones now offering instant email access and better on-screen keyboards the BlackBerry has become almost as antiquated as the Filofax or Rolodex. 

Pentax Optio S (2003)

Pentax Optio S

In the early noughties, the world was teetering upon a precipice. The heights were built upon the glory days of film photography and a billion disposable cameras, while below was a new digital landscape of pixel-papping snappers. A hero emerged, its visage hewn from aluminium, and persuaded us to jump into its world of convenience and a decent digital image quality. And we’ve never looked back.

Facebook (2004)


Fundamentally changing the way we remember birthdays and discover our old classmates are not-so-closet racists, Facebook has done more for social interaction than the invention of the ‘Blah Blah Blah I Can’t Hear You’ earmuffs. If it were a country it would now be the second-largest in the world by population, while its purchase of Oculus Rift means our online friendships could soon become even more virtual.

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