The fourth and final instalment of our round-up of the best 40 products of the last 40 years...

As What Hi-Fi? celebrates 40 years in the game, join us for a nostalgic look back at four decades of landmark products.

This is part four, featuring our pick of the best products from 2007 to the present day, and showcasing some hugely influential products including the Apple iPhone, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, the Pioneer Kuro plasma TV, Spotify, the Sony PS3 and more.

Missed the previous parts? You can click through to each one below.

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Apple iPhone (2007)

Choose any superlative you like – it applies to the Apple iPhone. At a stroke, Apple redefined the concept of the mobile phone, recalibrated consumers’ expectations, and forced any number of venerable and successful brands to rip up their blueprints and start again.

In terms of functionality, design, ergonomics and performance, it set a standard to which rivals (such as they are with iPhone’s 44 per cent market share) must aspire to.

It’s a camera, a music player and a portal to the sum total of human knowledge, which can also be used to make calls. The release of the iPhone was clearly a watershed moment in technology.

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It’s a camera, a music player and a portal to the sum total of human knowledge

Sony PlayStation 3 (2007)

The Sony PlayStation (1994) and PlayStation 2 (2000) had done just fine as games consoles.

But the arrival of the PlayStation 3 in 2007 turned the games console into a multimedia hub for kids and home entertainment-savvy adults alike.

For a long time, the most affordable (and one of the best-performing) Blu-ray players on the market, it also packed a hard-drive of up to 500GB capacity and Bluetooth 2.0, while it has since acquired Netflix and Amazon Prime connectivity over time.

It’s just possible that the word ‘convergence’, as it relates to home entertainment, became common currency with the PS3.

MORE: PlayStation 4 review

For a long time, the most affordable (and one of the best-performing) Blu-ray players on the market

Pioneer Kuro (2008)

There are very few televisions that could realistically be considered ‘classics’. Flatscreen technology has moved so fast in the years since first plasma, and then LCD, began to replace hefty old CRT in the nation’s front rooms that even a high-performance model is a museum piece in a few years.

But while Pioneer’s Kuro can be bettered in a few ways by the best TVs 2016 has to offer, very few products in this list have generated the almost mythical status of Kuro.

For almost the entirety of its production run, no rival could touch Kuro plasma TVs for black levels, motion precision, or the almost uncanny naturalness of its images.

When Pioneer announced the end of the Kuro line in 2010, the last remaining models in showrooms sold for well over list price.

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For almost the entirety of its production run, no rival could touch Kuro for black levels

Spotify (2008)

After it launched in 2008, it didn’t take long to realise Spotify was going to change the way we listened to music forever. By offering free (with ads) access to a streamable library of millions of songs, Spotify undermined a business model that had been in place since music began.

The option of ‘Premium’ membership, which improved sound quality and deleted the interruption of adverts, made more sense – but either way, the fundamental proposition of access to a planet’s-worth of music without having to store it proved irresistible.

By March 2016, Spotify had claimed 30 million paying users, inspired a slew of imitators and opened up an ongoing philosophical conversation about the value of music and the remuneration musicians might realistically expect for their work.

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It didn’t take long to realise Spotify was going to change the way we listened to music forever

More after the break

Bose QuietComfort 15 (2009)

The QC15 headphones weren't Bose’s first active noise-cancelling on-ear headphone design (that was 2006’s QuietComfort 3), but it was the first that established a template that’s been oft-imitated but has proven extremely difficult to better.

Generating noise-cancellation via both active, battery-powered mic-driven algorithms and passive, padding-and-materials methods, the QC15s negated the hubbub of an aircraft cabin (or similar) more or less completely. Suddenly a long-haul flight stopped being a nightmare of background drone and became the perfect place to catch up on movies, enjoy some favourite tunes or just get some uninterrupted sleep.

And so headphone brands both established and upstart climbed aboard the newly manufactured (and very quiet) bandwagon.

MORE: Bose QuietComfort 35 review

Suddenly a long-haul flight stopped being a nightmare of background drone and became the perfect place to catch up on movies

JVC DLA-HD750 (2009)

There was nothing that wasn’t impressive about JVC’s beefy DLA-HD750 projector. We can only speculate about the number and expense of the hoops JVC had to jump through before THX certification was secured. Then there was the £5500 price tag which while steep now, was even more eye-watering in 2009.

But it was the pictures the HD750 projected that impressed us most of all – JVC brought all of its considerable technological know-how to bear, and the Full HD pictures that resulted were the sharpest, most detailed, with the highest contrast… you name it, the JVC led the way.

It’s possible the HD750 was a high-point in JVC’s 90-year history – certainly the company hasn’t struck the bull’s-eye so sweetly since. 

MORE: JVC DLA-X35BE review

It’s possible the HD750 was a high-point in JVC’s 90-year history

Roksan Caspian M2 (2010)

Roksan’s Caspian M2 integrated stereo amp had been knocking around in one guise or another for the best part of 15 years before the M2 hit our test rooms. At a stroke, Roksan redefined what was possible at the price – in terms of build, usability and performance, the Caspian M2 set a dizzily high standard.

The inevitable Awards followed – Roksan, emboldened, shifted the price of the M2 upwards to a point it ceased to be a bargain and became simply cracking value. Nevertheless, its appeal is undimmed and we don’t envisage falling out of love with it any time soon. 

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At a stroke, Roksan redefined what was possible at the price

Audioquest Dragonfly (2012)

Though expensive in terms of cost per square inch, for its effect on your music the Audioquest Dragonfly was superb value for money.

Recognising that consumers were starting to use computers for listening via headphones or streaming to a system, Audioquest took the crucial work away from computers and made sure it was done properly.

Plug your headphones into your laptop and have a listen. Then plug your headphones into a Dragonfly plugged in to your computer and do the same. Hear the difference? Of course you can.

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Hear the difference? Of course you can

Chord Hugo (2014)

There’s a strong case to be made for quite a number of Chord products to appear in this list. But it’s the oddly named Hugo that gets the nod, and we’ll say here and now that it’s a classic-in-waiting.

Everything that Chord does differently to any of its competitors is in place here, from the delightfully tactile casework, through the lovely shades of illumination indicating what Hugo is up to, to the inputs that are just slightly too close together for comfort. But what elevates Hugo is the sound it serves up when amplifying your headphones or converting your digital audio files. 

Unlike its nominal competitors, Chord doesn’t buy in DAC chipsets but instead uses bespoke programmable circuits of its own design – and the results are unarguable, as a brace of What Hi-Fi? Awards demonstrates.

MORE: Chord Hugo TT review

We’ll say here and now that it’s a classic-in-waiting

Naim Mu-so (2014)

New ground can be broken only once, and so it was that Naim – venerable Salisbury doyen of ‘real’ hi-fi – established the wireless speaker as ‘real’ hi-fi

And, at the same time, it established a market for £1000 wireless speakers where none had existed beforehand. If your product is available in John Lewis and Apple stores, at precisely no discount whatsoever, you know you’ve conquered the mainstream.

By refusing to compromise – in the quality of materials and components, on the functionality and aesthetic of design – and by treating the (previously relatively low-rent) wireless speaker market with the same seriousness brought to bear on its more traditional products, Naim at a stroke invented a product category, inspired any number of imitators and raised its profile no end.

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Naim… invented a product category, inspired any number of imitators and raised its profile no end