The Technology Excellence Awards 2018: The top brands and best products of the year

The Technology Excellence Awards 2018: The top brands and best products of the year

Products of the Year 2018

With the help of nominations from readers, our editorial team picks out their favourite products of the year across 12 different categories. In association with PC Pro, Expert Reviews and IT Pro

Desktop PC of the Year: Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula


“Palicomp went for it on the specs with the i7 Nebula,” said Stuart Andrews. “It combined a Core i7-8700K with a GTX 1080 GPU, 16GB of DDR-3200 RAM and not one, but two Samsung M.2 SSDs. And just when you thought that might be going over the top, it overclocked the CPU and GPU to eke out a little extra welly. This was a system that sneered at high-performance tasks and could run games at 4K resolutions without any compromise – an incredibly powerful machine.”

Tablet of the Year: Apple iPad (2018)


We’ve seen some fine Android tablets this year, including the Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro and – to an extent – the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (see p52), but Apple kept its edge thanks to this 2018 refresh to the iPad. “It comes down to the price,” said Jonathan Bray, reviews editor of Expert Reviews. “£320 for a 9.7in tablet is great in itself, but then consider its support for Apple Pencil. Factor in all the great tablet apps that come in the App Store and this is still the obvious mainstream tablet choice.”

Phone of the Year: OnePlus 6


“The OnePlus 6 embarrasses the competition from big-name rivals,” boldly stated Nathan Spendelow, senior staff writer on Expert Reviews. “It represents everything that’s great about OnePlus devices – fast performance, superb design and a cracking camera. The OnePlus 6 is a perfect, shining example that you don’t need to spend over £500 for a flagship handset. I highly doubt anything will usurp the Shenzhen firm’s crowning glory anytime soon.”

Software of the Year: Affinity Designer for iPad


“You only need to read my review of Affinity Designer for iPad this month to see why it stands out from the crowd,” said Jonathan Bray. “It’s not just that Serif has redesigned this from the ground up to work with an iPad, it’s that it’s done so for a phenomenal price and kept compatibility with Affinity Designer on other platforms. If I was Adobe, I’d be scared: Serif has shown the value of ripping up your code and starting again, and could well end up eating Adobe’s lunch.”

Laptop of the Year: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 (2018)


“Up until I saw the XPS 15 2-in-1, I was cynical about large-screened convertibles,” said Nathan Spendelow. “But this 2018 update changed my mind. Its Infinity Edge screen means it works well as a tablet – albeit sat on a desk, not in one hand – and looks sleek thanks to a design that slims down to 16mm at the front. It’s expensive, but you’re buying a top-quality laptop with a brilliant keyboard and bags of speed. Especially if you upgrade to the Core i7 version.”

Business Laptop of the Year: HP EliteBook 840 G5


“There are plenty of slim and stylish business laptops, but the EliteBook 840 G5 stands out for three reasons,” said PC Pro editor Tim Danton. “First is the privacy filter: you can slash the viewing angles at the press of a button, so no one can snoop on your screen. The second are the sheer number of security enhancements that HP provides, including its protected BIOS. And the final one is that HP has thought about the need for easy video and web conferencing, with a third microphone that can help pick out and block ambient noise.”

Workstation of the Year: Scan 3XS WI6000 Viz


For the second year running, Scan wins our Workstation of the Year award – but that shouldn’t be a shock. “Scan has proven to be one of the UK’s best companies at grabbing the latest workstation technology and wrapping it up in a brilliant system,” said Tim Danton. “It’s not just that Scan can deliver a stable and speedy pro-level system, it’s that it does so for a competitive price – and allows businesses to customise it to their needs.”

Security Product of the Year: JASK

Both Davey Winder and Steve Cassidy fought for JASK to be made Security Product of the Year. Here’s Davey to explain why: “JASK puts machine learning to work in order to make incident reports a real security asset rather than a liability. By accurately determining which incidents are most likely to be a real security issue, rather than a false alarm, it frees up the highly skilled analysts in the security operations centre (SOC) to deal with alerts that need analysing as soon as possible. Without this kind of solution, the SOC risks being flooded with false flags; a security risk in itself!”

Tower Server of the Year: HPE ProLiant ML350 Gen10


Dave Mitchell tests all the latest tower servers in his role as contributing editor of PC Pro, so what made the tenth-generation HPE ProLiant ML350 stand out? “This is an expandable tower server that’s perfectly priced for businesses of all sizes,” he said, pointing out that the system he reviewed cost a very reasonable £1,799 exc VAT. “Support for dual Xeon Scalable CPUs, a huge memory capacity and a flexible storage arrangement means it will handle the most demanding workloads now and well into the future.”

Rack Server of the Year: Broadberry CyberServe Xeon SP1-208S


When it comes to rack servers, we were looking for something special – a product that could do the job now but have the potential to scale with your business through sensible expansion options. Enter Broadberry. “This is a highly affordable single-socket rack server that’s ideal for growing SMBs looking to upgrade to Xeon Scalable processing,” said Dave Mitchell, who’s clearly a fan of Intel’s latest Xeon chips. “It has plenty of room to expand and has the added bonus of allowing businesses to control costs by choosing their own storage devices.”

Business Hardware of the Year: WatchGuard AP420


The WatchGuard AP420 access point was admired by many of our Real World Computing editors, but we’ll leave it to Dave Mitchell to explain why it fought off all contenders. “This is an adaptable business-class wireless AP that’s packed with features and employs one of the best cloud management portals in town. But it also has a secret weapon – a third WIPS intrusion prevention radio specifically designed to keep unwanted guests out of your wireless networks.”

Business Software of the Year: Synology DiskStation Manager 6.2

“A small-to-medium sized business needs trusted local storage for reliable access even in the event of internet outage, along with appropriate simple access controls and monitoring,” said contributing editor Jon Honeyball, who was one of the cheerleaders for Synology DiskStation Manager 6.2. “But then to be able to add one or more cloud-based archive solutions on top of this – or add a second NAS and do file system snapshot replication? Everything an SME needs is found inside DSM 6.2, from storage, archive and private cloud through to security
camera management.”

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