Most exciting consumer tech for 2011

2 Jan 2011

Gaming, mobile, computers … we take a look at some of the most exciting upcoming tech for 2011.

Google Nexus S and Gingerbread

Google’s upcoming Nexus S has a lot to live up to. Not only is it the sequel to the Nexus, but it’s also the first phone to sport the latest Android update – Gingerbread.

It’s looking promising so far. Google co-developed the phone with Samsung and it features front and rear-facing cameras, a dedicated GPU for mobile gaming and near field communication (NFC) functionality.

Gingerbread has its own slew of features, including a new keyboard tool, improved copy-and-paste functionality and improved apps, such as a redesigned YouTube experience and Voice Action.

iPad 2

Apple’s next upgrade to the iPad is a popular topic, with rumours abounding that it will be out in early 2011. So far, the most predicted new feature is a front and rear-facing camera, like the one on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. There are also hopes it might have the fabled “USB port” I’ve been hearing so much about in the media these days.

Other predictions include Retina display, just like the iPhone 4 has and 3-axis gyroscopes for improved gaming control. While all of these sound great, it would be nice if the upgrade has a few brand new features that haven’t been seen before to help the iPad keep its edge. Apple has always been innovative, so I’m excited to see what the company will have cooked up in the new year.

Motorola Honeycomb tablet

Not only is Google upping Android for mobiles, but it’s also bringing Honeycomb for tablet computers, too.

Arriving in 2011, the 10-inch Motorola tablet will offer video chat capabilities, an NVIDIA processor and a dual core 3D processor. It will also bring the ability to split apps into panes.

While details are still quite scant, not only is the prospect of Honeycomb exciting, but it’s great to see such a heavy-duty tablet computer come to the fore. It will be interesting to see what effect it will have on tablet gaming.

Nintendo 3DS

Thanks to the Kinect and the PlayStation Move, Nintendo hasn’t been incredibly prominent this Christmas. However, it could change once it brings out the Nintendo 3DS, a portable gaming console which brings 3D visuals.

It’s impossible for computers to capture just how the 3D capabilities will look on a standard computer screen, but it has potential. Along with the visuals, it has online functionality and a Mii Studio.

And while the library of games seems to be mostly sequels and remakes, they’ve picked the cream of the crop to reinvent. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition? Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater? It’ll be a busy new year …

Chrome OS

Google is set for a busy 2011, after recently introducing the Chrome OS.

While there has been no release date for notebooks running the web-based operating system, Google has already sent out pilot laptops to lucky users for feedback on the system.

The OS lets users synchronise their Chrome experiences along numerous platforms and offers speed and security. It’s always online with 3G connectivity, and Google will be working with Samsung and Acer to bring out devices to run it.

It’ll be interesting to see how Chrome OS will impact the computing world and how it and Honeycomb will live side by side.

Microsoft’s Windows slates and Windows 8

Microsoft is set to unveilWindows-powered tablets at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, developed by Dell and Samsung. They’ll apparently be “similar in size and shape” to the iPad, but thicker, as it will run the Windows 7 OS in full.

The tablets are said to focus on both consuming apps media and also focus on products – seems like the tablet will be aimed at professionals. It should be pretty interesting to see how Microsoft takes on the tablet world, though even more interesting is the rumoured reveal of Windows 8, which may be where Microsoft starts its real tablet battle.

PlayStation Phone

One of the hottest rumours circulating has to be the PlayStation Phone. It’s said it’ll run on Gingerbread and will be a slider touchscreen phone, which reveals a PlayStation controller underneath.

It also features a 4-inch screen and a long touchpad in the centre. Considering how huge mobile gaming has become recently, it’s exciting to see a phone that will have a strong focus on gaming. It might give the mobile gaming sector, particularly for the Android market, an even bigger push.

OnLive MicroConsole

The OnLive MicroConsole could be a strong threat to the traditional console market if it fulfils its potential. It offers on-demand cloud gaming on HDTVs. Users can play games with buying discs, updating them or downloading them.

The service will also offer new games, classic games and indie games, providing a new medium for developers to get their creations seen.

Now, I say this is exciting for “2011,” but unfortunately, this time could extend further for Irish shores. In the UK, BT has signed a deal to bring it there by the end of 2011. Let’s hope our own services follow suit quickly.

Mac App Store

One thing you can say about Apple: they know how to make things cool. Even though apps for phones have been available for years, it took the App Store and the iPhone to make them a huge industry in and of itself, changing what we want in consumer tech.

And now, Apple is planning to bring a store to offer app functionality to Mac computers. Will it revolutionise the Mac as we know it in 2011? Only time will tell.

Interactive TV

TV is attempting a comeback, thanks to big companies dragging it kicking and screaming into the interactive age.

Google will be releasing its own service, bringing apps and internet connectivity to televisions. Apple has its TV service and Microsoft may be putting its own spin on it, perhaps combining the Xbox 360 with the concept. And UPC plans to bring an interactive TV service of its own – but not until 2012.

While it could be a while before we see the impact, it will be interesting to see how the living room will be affected by this new look at the humble television.

And now for a gadget that may not revolutionise 2011 as we know it:

White iPhone 4

All right, I’ll admit it – while I like Apple products, I don’t get the huge desire Apple fans seem to have for the white iPhone 4. The hype sort of reminds me of Waylon Smithers from The Simpsons justifying the demand for the new Malibu Stacey doll because “she’s got a new hat!”

Oh, well. The iPhone with the coat of paint has been delayed for months now, and if anything, that has helped it out, sparking demand for the device. It’s expected to show off its new look in the spring.

It’s not going to be particularly innovative or game changing, but that’s not really what Apple was going for, anyway. I suppose it is a bit pretty. No matter how you feel about it, expect it to sell by the bucket load.