Gadget lovers are nothing if not fickle, always ditching their older tech for pretty young things. And recently, all the attention on the iPhone and Google's Android OS has made Microsoft seem a bit like Norma Desmond, wandering around the ruins of the Redmond campus muttering "I AM big, it was the platforms that got small."
But now, with the revelation of Windows Phone Series 7, Microsoft is once again ready for its closeup.
Tapping a principle of quantum mechanics and a medieval-looking nanoparticle, a UK firm has created a composite material that may soon deliver efficient, pressure-sensitive touchscreens to numerous devices. Yorkshire-based Peratech has already licensed the technology to a division of Samsung that provides mobile components to other handset manufacturers, but it's in the growing realm of touchscreen tech where the potential for Quantum Tunneling Composite (QTC) is most exciting.
Smartphones already act like mini computers—they send e-mail, play YouTube, let you shop on eBay. Now laptop makers are getting wise. Instead of trying to create ever-sleeker machines by shrinking ordinary PC parts, they’re tacking bigger screens and keyboards onto high-end cellphone brains. Witness the three-quarter-inch-thick, letter-paper-size Lenovo Skylight, which surfs the Web for 10 hours on a single charging cycle.
Google's own Android phone, the Nexus One, looks like an excellent phone--bettering in some ways Motorla's Droid, previously king at the top of the Android heap and one of only a few smartphones able to competently challenge Apple's iPhone. But in unveiling it today in California, Google did not pair it with an ad-subsidized price break that many were anticipating.
There goes 2009, and what a year she was. Let's see, the iTunes App Store eclipsed one billion downloads, Google surprised us all with the announcement of Chrome OS, Windows 7 sent Vista to the big Blue Screen of Death in the sky, Verizon and AT&T started fighting dirty and the e-reader market exploded. But instead of looking back at the year that was, we of course always find it a lot more fun to look forward. So, here's what's on my wish list for the year to come in gadgets and tech.
The goal of a watchphone is right in its name: make a phone small enough to wear. If success is rated on a scale of zero to Dick Tracy, aim to hit as close to the famed Two-Way Wrist Radio as humanly possible. And when we first saw the LG GD910 in January, we thought the mark had finally been hit (bring on the yellow trench coat!). And LG, of course, was not the only game in town; throughout the year, competitors unveiled their own wrist-bound beauties, and it seemed like the gadget-lover's fantasy was about to go mainstream. We put two current watchphones to the test to find out.
The last few days have seen Google's perceived positition regarding a Google-branded Android phone do an almost complete 180. Contrary to their previously publicized lack of interest in releasing a phone of their own, the Wall Street Journal this weekend reported on details of the Nexus One, a phone to be marketed directly to consumers as the "Google Phone" in the first quarter of 2010.
The Internet has been abuzz since the WSJ's initial story dropped, and more spy shots of the phone itself continue to leak out. But here's why you should care: it could finally make good on a strategy many have assumed was Google's intent with Android all along--a heavily discounted (or even free) ad-supported smartphone that's not tied to any specific carrier.
Dick Tracy, this is your year. Gadget makers have tried to re-create the 2-Way Wrist Radio before, but now they’ve finally managed to pack cell-phones into watches so sleek and func-
tional that you’d actually wear them.
Most people use the video camera on their phone for bootlegging concert footage or recording drunken antics. But for the deaf, to whom cellphones' audio capability is moot, cellphone video offers a chance to expand beyond texting, and into the more expressive communication of American Sign Language. Unfortunately, low-bandwidth American cellphone lines can't carry video clear enough for sign language.
That's where MobileASL comes in. This multi-university project developed a special algorithm that selectively compresses the video, lowering the resolution on everything but the speakers hands. This lowers the size of the video to the point where it can pass over regular cellphone signals. And now, the MobileASL project has developed the first prototype phone that incorporates this technology.
Besides world peace and a visit from the Publishers Clearing House van, the one thing I want in life is an always-on Internet connection—and, I want it affordably. More specifically, I want always accessible, reasonably priced, quick and dependable wireless Internet. After all, my broadband connection through the cable company is technically always on, but it's worthless once I walk out of the house. It stands to reason, then, that only a mobile provider will ever be capable of fulfilling this wish.
It dawned on me while on vacation recently that I actually already have what I've always wanted. The problem is that it's a last-generation definition of what Internet access is and needs to be.