Tech lovers can never get enough of gadgets or the latest in technology. So, even if you have splurged on tablet PCs, gaming consoles, wireless accessories, new operating system (OS) for the PC and smartphones last year, 2012 is here to lure you with gadgets that will blow your mind all over again. Some devices may be upgrades of their predecessors, but they still promise better performance and stunning results which can be compared with those that have gone before them.
THE ‘RIGHT PRICED’ ULTRABOOKS
After the rise and fall of netbooks, Intel is now all set to bring affordable Ultrabooks. We did see a few Ultrabooks from Lenovo and Acer in 2011, but the hefty price tags kept buyers away. Intel claims that notebook computers are built to deliver best in class performance standards, and they have built-in security features with higher response rate, light in weight and sleek designs. It uses a technology called “Rapid Start”, which will make use of the flash storage, embedded in the motherboard of the system, to speed up the booting process. Ultrabooks are laptops, with good performance packed in a highly portable form.
At Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January, 30 to 50 new Ultrabooks are expected to be showcased. It is good that so many companies are planning to produce Ultrabooks, as that will drive the prices down. While Ultrabook makers may have a hard time competing with Apple currently, if prices drop enough next year the situation will surely change. Intel is predicting that 40 per cent of all laptops sold will be Ultrabooks by 2012-end.
FROM THE HOUSE OF APPLE
A lot of action is expected from Apple in 2012. Steve Jobs had told Walter Isaacson (his biographer) that he “cracked” the TV. Will we see a TV from the company, complete with some sort of Siri-based voice controls? We don’t know that yet, but rumors are that Apple will launch a high-definition television set that would be in the 15 to 19-inch range and powered by Apple’s mobile OS, the iOS. Apple TV, released on January 9, 2007, consists of a ‘set-up box’ that can be used for streaming video to a television. The 2012’s Apple TV is expected to change our television viewing experience.
Another dream gadget of the year that Apple is neither confirming nor denying is the iPad Mini or iPad 3. Touted to be a 7-inch tablet device that will be somewhere between the iPod Touch and the iPad competing with the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire. Apple is said to be pushing for release in February 2012, coinciding with the late Steve Jobs’ birthday on February 24. It is also speculated that iPad 3 will feature a new, sleeker design and will support full touchscreen HD display.
Later in 2012, we could finally see the new Apple iPhone 5. Last year’s iPhone 4S might have disappointed people but it also fuelled expectations for the iPhone 5. The actual release date is still not known.
ANDROIDS’ LATEST MILESTONE
Android smartphones and tablet PCs became a rage in 2011. This year, the Android rush will get streamlined with updated features. While smartphones and tablets you bought last year will get the Ice Cream Sandwich update or Android 4 by mid-2012, Google is busy adding finishing touches on the next Android update, rumored to be titled Jelly Bean or Android 5.
Ice Cream Sandwich already allows conversion of instant speech to text, and voice commands have been a part of the OS since Android 2.0, but they lack some of the personal charms that Apple has given in its voice-activated virtual assistant. Future Android updates could include face detection and more-advanced settings for camera lovers. Android tablets too will get better video chat support, improved video quality, especially when tablets graduate to 4G and LTE networks.
THE NEW AVATAR OF HANDHELD GAMING
Hand-held gaming, the most affordable form of entertainment, is set to get exciting in 2012. PlayStation Vita will introduce this year a gaming console with quad-core graphics processor that is designed to impress. Among the expected features are a 5-inch OLED multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, 24-bit colour with a resolution of 960×540 HD, front and rear cameras. Other features like face detection, head detection and tracking will also be incorporated within the Vita for personalisation and customisation.
Nintendo, too, is set to bring the next version of its gaming console called Wii U. The device was unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 in June 2011, and now it is ready to hit the stores. Wii U will sport a 6-inch touchscreen, 1080p high-definition graphics, a new controller, built-in microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer and camera. It is expected to be launched after March 2012.
WINDOWS 8 TABLET PCs
When the developer preview of Windows 8 came out in public, compatible devices were expected to hit the market too. But now, as the new Windows 8 arrives in 2012, we can hope to see a lot of tablets running the sleek Metro interface that has already impressed us on Windows phones and on the Xbox 360.
It is expected that Windows 8 will be shipped in the second half of 2012 and that gives enough time to bring out a whole bunch of tablet PCs to launch with Microsoft’s new OS. Manufacturers like Samsung and HP are in the running to be among the first to roll out Windows 8 tablets. There is a rumour that Dell has developed a tablet that should perfectly run on Windows 8 OS.
With consumers aspiring to buy tablets instead of desktops, Microsoft needs to come out with a viable product for the tablet market or risk getting left behind. The biggest draw for Windows 8 tablet will be the fact that consumers are used to Windows software and the unified experience. Users can transfer data from their PCs to their tablets or smartphones through Microsoft’s cloud system, the Windows Live SkyDrive. Windows 8 apps are HTML5 based and so that they can work on both tablets and PCs. Even Apple and Google don’t have the same integration, and this should come as a big advantage for Microsoft.
NEW SAMSUNG GALAXY SMARTPHONE
According to a Korean newspaper report, the Samsung Galaxy S3 could be on its way to Mobile World Congress 2012 — and its subsequent launch a few months later. Rumors are that Samsung might time the launch of its Galaxy S3 with that of the iPhone 5.
There’s no denying the fact that Samsung Galaxy S2 was a success across globe, and Samsung is keen to follow it up with the Galaxy S3. Reportedly, the S3 will have an Exynos 4212 processor with 1.8GHz and an ARM Cortex A9 chip, that is going to offer a 25 per cent performance boost and a 30 per cent reduction in power consumption. Samsung is going all out to boost S3’s hardware over the Galaxy S2 and Galaxy Nexus, even as it is yet to be decided whether or not a quad-core chip is really worth putting in a phone.
QUAD-CORE MOBILE DEVICES
Quad-core will be the new mantra for mobile devices, just as dual-core was in 2011. We have loved the dual-core smartphone but it only gets better. Ever since NVIDIA introduced its Tegra 3, the first quad-core processor for hand-held products, dual-core regime is set to be toppled over in 2012. According to NVIDIA, smartphones with quad-core Tegra 3 processors might be launched in the first half of 2012. Qualcomm, too, is looking to bring its quad-core Snapdragon in Windows 8 tablets by the second half of 2012. Whoever brings the quad-core, it is the user who wins. Asus, HTC, Samsung and others will be among the first ones gearing up to launch quad-core devices in 2012. Get ready to sample features like advanced video and photo edition, multi-tab web browsing, high-end graphics games, improved voice control and air gestures and better multi-tasking, etc on your hand-held devices.