So, lot’s of amazing new tech is coming out this year, we’re going to see the real birth of Tablet computing for the mass market. We’re coming up to the end of the lifecycles of several video game consoles (in the respect of announcements of new ones, rather than final launches), and all sorts of other new stuff. It’s an exciting time to be a geek this year, and all the big brands are after your moolah. Some of the stuff I’m going to mention is complete and utter guesswork, perhaps wishful thinking, and other stuff is based on what I’ve read around the Internet.
There was only one big player when it came to tablets last year, one and a half if you include the Samsung Galaxy S. We all know I’m talking about the iPad. I snapped one up from the states when I had the chance, and I love it. And now we’re coming up to around a year since it came out, so we’re about to see the next version of the device that causes so much debate. But this year, there is going to be serious competition to Apple’s crown.
Apple – iPad 2 and iPhone 5
iPad 2: Some sort of amazing new sound tech?
When apple release a new line of products, they tend to dip their toe in the water with a “Not quite everything that’s possible will be done” way. The first iPhone was a very basic phone compared to the technology around at the time, it had a few ‘wow’ factors, the screen was one of the first to use ‘captive’ technology, when you clicked on things, things actually happened first time around. But it was still only ‘2G’, when middle line phones were ‘3G’. Same thing has happened with the iPad. Apple was launching “Facetime”, set to be the future of communications, video calling, but it wasn’t included on the iPad, even though it was being introduced even on the iPod Touch. Why? Some would say they wanted to refine the technology, but the more cynical in me is saying it is because when they launch it in the iPad 2, it’ll be a ‘new feature’. It will also have a back facing camera, which I believe will be a bit useless, imagine holding a book to take a photo, it’s just not practical.
Front facing camera – For video calling.
Back facing camera – Pointless
‘Retina Display’ – A higher screen resolution, as high as the eye can see, ala the iPhone 4. Trouble with this is that it would be a ridiculously large resolution, bigger than any TV on the market, in a 10” device.
No ‘3G’ version, maybe (see ‘iPhone 5’).
Some sort of ‘High Def’ or ‘3D’ sound system.
Apple’s direction seems to be moving into the connected home, using your iPhone as a remote control for your television. They’ve developed something called “AirPlay”, where you can seamlessly transfer video from one device to another. Your iPad could act like an interactive Radio Times. And the main thing with the connection to a television is; it’s more than affordable. I think we’re going to see a high def Apple TV this year too.
The personal Hotspot - Great for me, might piss off a few though.
In the latest features iOS (the operating system that runs iPhone/iPad/Touch/TV), they have something called a ‘personal hotspot’; this will connect your iPad to the Internet via your iPhone. A lot of people will be very angry by this; it will cause an absolute uproar. People have signed up 2-year deals at £20-30/month to get their iPad online, and I think most people with an iPad have an iPhone. Not only that, they’ve spent an extra £100 for this on their iPad. This contract they’re locked into will now be redundant with this feature. Naturally it won’t be free, but I expect it would still be a lot less than £20-30. You will need your phone operator’s blessing for this, but I expect that it won’t cost more than £10 a month, and it will get your laptop online too. People simply aren’t using their mobile bandwidth allowances, so aren’t upgrading them. By letting people use their allowances, people will be upgrading them, and everyone is making more money.
I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen with iPhone 5, they will change their antenna from the problems of last year, maybe upgrade the camera. I would love to see a new lock screen with some sort of widget system in place, so while your phone is locked, you can see your last texts/missed-calls and all that, but that also provides a risk in the respect that someone can take a peek at your phone and see that saucy message from Nancy from Hollyoaks. I would love for that to be up to developers to do what they want with, so the whole thing is optional and people can display, say, the weather, an RSS feed, Tweets and Facebook feeds, or scores from a video game. Whatever people think up really.
I think we might also see an ‘iPad Mini‘, a 7" version made for the ebook reader market.
I would like to see more usage of Ping and Game centre too, but I’m not entirely sure how.
They’ll be plenty more devices that’ll be able to connect to Apple products, such as car radios, TVs and…ermm… kettles.
Blackberry is entering the world of Tablet computing. For some reason that is obscure to me, people like Blackberry. I’m not going to get into a flame war about Blackberry, but RIM seem to know how to market their products well. Pretty much every celeb out there has one, and they speak high praise of them. They were designed to be cheap for big companies to buy en-mass and handle communications, but they’ve sponsored MTV and managed to get it to be a device that every teenager in the country wants. RIM, the makers of Blackberry, have bought the Swedish design firm ‘The Astonishing Tribe’, so are hoping with sleek design and integration with their phones, it’ll become a product people lust after. I’ll be honest, the Playbook looks good, and if it’s at the right price, it could end up in school satchels and handed around conformance rooms alike.
I think their design is going to take a change of direction design wise, it’s currently to clonky for my liking, I would like to see it to be more smooth and slick, and more usage of touch screen.
Android is going to make a few changes, they’ve got a new version coming out called Honeycomb that is designed for tablets, and so we’ll see a whole range of android tablets coming out. From the relatively cheap random Chinese markets, to the more established brands such as Motorola. It will continue to develop into something that non-geeks will love. The likes of HTC and Sony will come out with versions that have their own skins, making it all smooth and sleek, and seamless with social networks.
HP / Palm.
The HP Topaz: Looking good.
I think this is the hidden gem of the year; I’ve always loved their operating system, WebOS, and this year we’re going to see loads of phones and tablets making use of this amazing operating system. Palm never, in my opinion, backed up the amazing software with any good Hardware, but I can’t imagine HP will let their investment go on the side. They’re doing a big launch on the 9th of Feb, and we’ll see some real ‘wow’ technology.
Nintendo are going to launch the ‘3DS’, the world’s first true 3D video games console. It’ll be a big hit and sale out straight away. Continuing with Nintendo’s desire for innovation, they’ll be a huge range of ‘Augmented Reality’ games. You would be able to hold up a card to the camera and through the screen the card will turn into a monster. This is such huge potential for card manufactures; imagine playing Top Trumps or Pokémon style cards where creatures pop up and fight. I generally find that Nintendo consoles don’t last with me, I get ‘wow’d by the new technology but bored of the games and sale it on, and this will be no different… still want one though.
I think at E3 this year, they’ll hint towards a High Def version of the Wii, but we won’t see anything for it until at least the middle of next year. They’ve got something coming out that’ll allow games to react to your pulse, and that’ll be their next big move, however, I think it’ll be a gimmick.
Microsoft 360, Windows Mobile 7, Windows 8.
We’ll see more kinect stuff and more merging of Windows Mobile 7 and Xbox. Maybe even seeing Xbox Live bought more to the desktop. I think we’ll also see a tablet version of Windows Mobile 7. Cloud Computing will be the big thing for Microsoft, aiming to get as little information on your computer and more on the internet in general… to the point where you can go to any computer, put in your details, and it’ll be like that is your main home computer, where ever you are. Even expanding this to their mobiles.
This year we’ll see the start of the new playstation portable, apparently as powerful as a playstation 3. I’ve heard a lot of rumours that this will have a phone built in, and I really hope it doesn’t. If it does, it means contracts and high prices. I think games will be bought via the Internet, which will be a big problem for retail stores. Although video games in general are moving towards digital purchasing, such as that with movies and music, it’ll be a shame for people buying presents; sometimes something physical is nice and exciting.
X-men: The First Class - OH BOY
I’ve said this from the beginning, Will Smith to play Barack Obama in his life’s movie. I’m looking forward to the new X-MEN film, about the early years of how they all started out, and the merging of Marvel brands. I think we’ll see the announcement of a new Iron Man movie. They are doing a Thor movie too, and The Avengers (which will merge quite a few well known Marvel superheroes).
I’m extremely looking forward towards Portal 2, more so than any game in years and years. I’m going to be getting the Playstation 3 version as that comes with the Mac/Windows one too. Awesomeness.