The best of everything in tech this year

The best of the best in tech

We asked Fortune's top editors and writers to curate the best of, well, everything in tech so far this year. Which investments and acquisitions were the smartest? Which devices were truly ground-breaking and not simply wanna-be's? Which blogs had the most influence, broke the most news, and, presumably, made gadget executives sweat the most? (Besides our own, of course.) Here are our answers.

Miguel Helft's picks

Best device of 2012: The new Samsung Chromebook. I know, there are gobs of new tablets and phones, and they're all faster, thinner, lighter and sharper than last year's models. Many are great. But I'm going to go with the new Samsung Chromebook. The limitations are obvious. This is not a full-fledged computer, just a window onto the Web. For $250, however, it's a very nice window indeed. It has the look and feel of an ultrabook. It starts up fast and never needs upgrades. And it's inexpensive enough that you could have two or three lying around the house.

Miguel Helft's picks

Best acquisition of 2012: Facebook buying Instagram. Yes, it was very expensive, and no, its not clear how Facebook will get its money's worth. But by snatching Instagram, Facebook got the platform with the greatest potential to disrupt the social media order. Better yet, it kept Instagram from going to powerful rivals like Twitter or Google.

Miguel Helft's picks

Best hire or promotion of 2012: Marissa Mayer. Take a struggling, demoralized tech giant with a faded Web brand and dimming prospects. Add a strong dose of glamour, smarts, tech cred and product vision, and bingo, you have a company that's exciting again. Of course, Mayer's challenges at Yahoo are enormous. The odds of pulling off a turnaround are arguably slim. But there's no question that it will be fun to watch.

Miguel Helft's picks

Best investment of 2012: $60 million financing of Instagram in April. The round valued Instagram at $500 million. Investors doubled their money in a few days, when Facebook bought the company for $1 billion. In the end, the sale price was a bit less than a billion because half of it was in Facebook stock, and we all know what happened post-IPO. But as weekend wager, not bad at all.

Miguel Helft's picks

Best tech blog of 2012: AllThingsD. Scoopy, thoughtful and accurate. On most days, the ever expanding AllThingsD handily beats the competition with a combination of news, analysis and reviews.

Jessi Hempel's picks

Best device of 2012: iPad mini. Just ask Doris, Fortune's wonderful research editor who swears by hers. And if that doesn't sell you, consider this: Just when consumers thought that a smartphone, tablet and laptop was enough screen to have around the house, Apple introduced a smaller, lighter iPad that has all the bells and whistles of the iPad 2 at an affordable price.

Jessi Hempel's picks

Best acquisition of 2012: In the if-you-can't-beat-it-then-buy-it category, props to Google for paying a reported $350 million for social marketing company Wildfire. In addition to gaining access to the type of data Facebook is privy to -- and how the company and the technology it has communicates with third-party apps -- Google gets a Zuckerberg: Mark's younger sister Arielle Zuckerberg is a junior product manager.

Jessi Hempel's picks

Best hire or promotion of 2012: Pinterest exploded into a full-blown company in 2012 from it's clubhouse-size team of ten or so, and in so doing, the social pinboard has landed some big names, including Tim Kendall. Kendall was head of monetization at Facebook before he joined Pinterest in March to help the service figure out how to make money.

Jessi Hempel's picks

Best investment of 2012: Facebook agreed to pay a billion dollars for photo-sharing service Instagram on Monday, April 9; Just days earlier, Instagram closed a $50 million round of funding led by Sequoia that valued the company at $500 million. Sequoia and the other investors in on the round (including Greylock) doubled their take in less than a week.

Jessi Hempel's picks

Best tech blog of 2012: AllThingsD is the most ethical and intelligent of the tech blogs.

Michal Lev-Ram's picks

Best device of 2012: The Samsung Galaxy S3 may just be the "iPhone killer" we've been hearing about since 2007—or at least it comes close. Shipments of the S3 have already outpaced the iPhone 4S (in the third quarter of 2012, says research firm Strategy Analytics). My favorite spec: The S3's big, beautiful display.

Michal Lev-Ram's picks

Best acquisition of 2012: Every single cloud computing acquisition made by companies like Oracle and SAP—and there were a lot. That's not to say they will all succeed, but it's the least the tech behemoths can do to stay relevant in an IT world that's increasingly going to the cloud.

Michal Lev-Ram's picks

Best hire or promotion of 2012: Ginni Rometty. The newish CEO of IBM has the tech chops and people skills required to lead Big Blue into the next wave of computing—think Watson-like machines capable of learning—plus keep its swarm of employees feeling warm and fuzzy.

Michal Lev-Ram's picks

Best investment of 2012: Imagine a startup that's profitable, growing revenue at a rate of 300% year-over-year and already has 1.7 million uber-loyal customers. There aren't too many of them. That's what makes GitHub—an online repository for developers to store code—a smart investment for Andreessen Horowitz. The venture capital firm put a whopping $100 million in the little-known company last July.

Michal Lev-Ram's picks

Best tech blog of 2012: GigaOM is an oldie but goodie. Good journalists, good analysis, and good access to tech companies both large and small. The tech blog's conference business has also been heating up, and its events—focused on cloud, big data, mobile and more—have drawn some big names in recent months.

JP Mangalindan's picks

Best device of 2012: MacBook Pro Retina (15-inch). Apple's latest 15-incher couples the best notebook display with an iconic aluminum design that, at 4.5 lbs., is way lighter than its predecessors. And with a quad-core processor and dedicated graphics card, this notebook is one of the best combination of raw horsepower and portability. If money is no object, it really doesn't get better than this.

JP Mangalindan's picks

Best acquisition of 2012: Amazon's acquisition of Kiva Systems -- As part of Amazon's massive expansion, the company is building more fulfillment centers -- it currently has 88 around the world -- and also increasing their efficiency. That explains why the company spent $775 million to buy the warehouse robot-maker Kiva Systems. Theoretically, it means Amazon workers will eventually be able to ship up to four times more packages every hour, which only bodes well for the company's bottom line in the long-run.

JP Mangalindan's picks

Best hire or promotion of 2012: Jony Ive at Apple to "human interfaces," or software -- When Apple announced Scott Forstall, the man behind the iPhone and iPad's operating system, was leaving, many wondered just how smart a move that was. But putting Ive, the mastermind behind Apple's standout designs, in charge of "human interfaces" could be the adrenaline shot the company needs to keep innovating in a post-Jobs world.

JP Mangalindan's picks

Best investment of 2012: Google's Project Glass. Let's face it: the last revolutionary consumer device to hit the market might have been the iPad. Which is why a pair of glasses that isn't even out yet already has some people excited. When released, Google's augmented reality glasses, which project images onto the lenses, could usher in a new generation of tech that could seriously change the way we interact with our surroundings.

JP Mangalindan's picks

Best tech blog of 2012: The Verge. Started last year by a group of Engadget writers, The Verge already has a large and loyal following thanks to the some of the best online editorial around and web layout that screams "cutting edge." Their in-depth product reviews are useful and entertaining to read -- which can't be said of many others. Their push into long-form Web features is really paying off.

Adam Lashinsky's picks

Best device of 2012: Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite. It's a single-purpose device that, as Steve Jobs might have said it if were his, is Amazon's best Kindle yet. Super light, backlighted, wicked fast. It's not an iPad, but it's really good at what it does.

Adam Lashinsky's picks

Best acquisition of 2012: Apple's purchase of AuthenTec, a specialist in fingerprint scanning technology. AuthenTec was a public company and yet almost no one noticed when Apple bought it in Octrober for $356 million. AuthenTec's technology should allow Apple to do nifty security-related stuff with its mobile devices.

Adam Lashinsky's picks

Best hire or promotion of 2012: IBM Ginny Rometty. A promotion from within the ranks shows a big company at the top of its game.

Adam Lashinsky's picks

Best investment of 2012: Anyone who shorted shares of Zynga after its December, 2011, IPO. Enough said.

Best tech blog of 2012: I try so hard not to read the tech blogs. I guess that makes my favorite Techmeme, the tech news aggregator.