Electronic Design

Choosing The Top 101

Though semiconductors lie at the heart of most electronic designs, other components are needed to complete the design, like resistors, capacitors, inductors, interconnects, switches, sensors, LEDs, and displays. And each of these offers seemingly endless varieties.

We cover components in our “EEPN in Electronic Design” section, on our Web site (electronicdesign.com), and via an e-newsletter called Products of the Week (POW). Of all these avenues of coverage, POW gives us the most feedback from you, our readers, since we log every click you make. We used this information to compile the top 101 components for the past year (see “Top 101 Components,” p. 36).

By the time you click on a product for more info, such as a datasheet, that product has already survived quite a selection process by the editors. First, we glean all of the products released on a given day and select a bunch of them for publication on our Web site. They can be any kind of product you might use in your designs, such as semiconductors, components, boards, modules, software, or test equipment.

At the end of the week, we select six products to be published in POW. Two of these are selected for the “Components” section of the newsletter. For any given week in the Components section, you might see a power source (e.g., a dc-dc converter), an interconnect (e.g., a microUSB connector), a display (e.g., a monochrome LCD), or a motor (e.g., a pancake motor).

A week or so after the newsletter is mailed, a report tells us how interested you were in our selections. And, by the way, POW goes out twice a week, once on Monday and again on Thursday to readers who did not open the first mailing. So, we get two reports. Invariably, products get another 25% to 40% more clicks via the second mailing. Advertisers in the newsletters also receive the same benefit.

Another thing we do for the second mailing is change the subject line of the e-mail, if warranted. The first time we mail out the newsletter, we promote its first item, which is always some kind of IC such as an analog-to-digital converter, op amp, or microcontroller.

In many cases, that product also garners the most clicks, since it usually is a compelling product (best of the week for the most part) and the first that readers see. Sometimes, though, one of the components deeper in the newsletter receives the most clicks. When this happens, we change the subject head of the newsletter to incorporate the headline from this product.

This can produce a snowball effect. Even though the component wasn’t promoted in the subject line of the e-mail for the first mailing, the compelling nature of the product caused readers to notice it—either in the table of contents or when they scrolled down the newsletter. Then they clicked enough times for more information to make it the number one product for that mailing.

Later in the week when the newsletter is mailed again, that product is promoted in the subject line, and it attracts even more attention. So rather than the typical 25% more clicks, this type of product might get a 200% increase in clicks.

This particular scenario didn’t occur all that often. But two of the top 10 components on our list benefitted from the snowball effect—the Diamond Dragon single-chip, surface-mount LED from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors, our top pick, and the Activv antenna from Laird Technologies. The former received a 279% boost, while the latter got a whopping 310% shot in the arm. We do not show actual clicks in the tables, but rather the percentage of clicks relative to the top click-getter.

For a very long time, we have been categorizing electronic components. During our counting, six key classifications emerged. You can find breakout tables spotlighting the top 10 components in three of these categories (sensors, power sources, and passive components) in the article. You can find three more breakout tables that spotlight the top 10 interconnects, displays and indicators, and switches and relays online at www.electronicdesign. com, Drill Deeper 18955.

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