There seemed to be a lull in interesting gadgets somewhere between iPods and iPads – until touch-screen technology really started becoming ubiquitous. The technology seems to be leading a new revival of must-have devices.
The time when you will be able to use your mobile phone as a credit card is nearly here. Google’s Nexus S, made by Samsung, will contain a computer chip and software using near-field communication technology, allowing you to “Tap to Pay” for your purchases.
This technology has been available for some time in some store credit-card readers, and the “tap and touch” to pay option has been used in Japanese mobile phones for at least five years. The Japanese phones are used for rail and bus travel as well as to pay for shopping and other items. This could be the first stage of a transition that will replace credit cards completely – just make sure that you don’t lose your phone.
Another smarter smartphone to watch for this year is the Motorola Atrix 4G. It’s a phone, and a whole lot more. You can dock it with a full-size keyboard and monitor at home or at the office to handle e-mail, document editing and web surfing. On the road, the phone is the heart of the optional laptop-like docking station. Snap it into the ultrathin laptop docking unit with full-size screen and keyboard to work from anywhere. There’s a separate HD dock for watching movies on your home theater system. The Atrix 4G also has a built-in fingerprint-reader in the one place it makes sense to put it: the power button. The Atrix could be available as early as March 2011.
seems to be leading a new revival of must have devices.
Apple iPad 2
This is the next iPad. For those who have not yet picked up an iPad, you might want to wait just a little longer. If you have one already, I’m sure some family member would appreciate your hand-me-downs.
Apple is great at upgrading its products, and making noticeable improvements while doing so. The iPad 2 will have a faster processor, 4G connectivity, a 9.7-inch “retina” display similar to the iPhone 4’s, a front-facing camera and a built-in FaceTime video-phone app and expanded support for AirPlay streaming. Its other features are little more than rumors right now, but they may include improved speakers, USB and HDMI ports and dual cameras. Watch for the iPad 2 to hit shelves in April 2011.
BlackBerry, Acer, Motorola, ASUS, MSI and Toshiba are all planning to launch their tablet computers early this year. The frontrunner of the batch? Motorola’s Xoom Tablet. It was voted Best of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas in January, and for good reason. The Motorola Xoom is expected to offer Apple’s iPad some stiff competition as it will be the first tablet running Google’s Honeycomb operating system – the Android OS that’s made explicitly for tablets.
The features are also worth noting: it runs on Verizon’s lightning-fast 4G LTE network, has 32GB of storage, two cameras, HD video capture, an SD card slot and a 1GHz processor, plus it’s upgradable from 3G to 4G, meaning you can use it on 3G now and then on 4G when the faster network becomes available in your area.
3D Without the Expensive Headgear
The Nintendo 3DS game system is going to turn some heads this year. It includes 14 hours of battery life, 2 GB inbuilt storage and numerous pre-installed applications. It will also free fans of 3D gaming from having to use 3D glasses. The handheld Nintendo 3DS game console will offer an autostereoscopic screen that delivers a 3D effect to the naked eye, and one that can be controlled with a switch for comfortable viewing. Other features include rich graphics, 3D camera, widescreen and touchscreen.
Wireless Charging Devices
These have been out for a while, but they are expanding to include more devices. Products like the Electro Hub and the Powermat will charge battery-powered wireless devices such as your iPhone, Nintendo DSi or a Sony PSP using a magnetic inductive charging system. The mat communicates to the receiver attached to your device to deliver an exact amount of power for the proper length of time so that the transfer of power is safe and efficient and no energy is ever wasted.
The Microsoft Touch Mouse is an extreme mouse upgrade, sure to please even the non-gamer in your family. It’s easy to use and features multi-touch gestures that have become second nature to Smartphone users. No more scroll wheel: just slide your finger along the mouse surface to scroll through a document. Better yet, use an array of multi-finger gestures to shrink or zoom screens, manage applications or navigate windows.
Smartphones can do anything. To prove it, LG is introducing a series of “smart appliances” built with Thinq technology. This Thinq technology features smart grid, access, diagnosis, adapt and food management capabilities. LG Thinq will let you schedule the oven cook time, washing machine cycle and refrigerator defrost at the most cost-effective or convenient times. The LCD displays on LG’s Thinq appliances show daily, weekly or monthly reports detailing each appliance’s energy consumption.
Real 3D TV
Finally, if you are considering a 3D TV this year, you may want to wait for the innovative StreamTV. Currently, the worst part of having a 3D TV is the need to buy $100 glasses for everyone who wants to watch. But with StreamTV, you don’t need the glasses. This technology is so new that it may not even come out this year, but by 2012, wearing expensive 3D glasses will be so last year.