Gadgets to grab your attention


Drew Turney looks at some of the innovations that will shape your life this year.

Apple’s long-rumoured tablet, the Google mobile, the rise of ereaders and 3D in the home will be among the technologies vying for your money this year. 2009 saw the continued rise of new movements in the digital sphere and the name of the game will be convergence, with new gadgets that do many more tasks than old generation tools.

The web has been full of rumours about the so-called ‘iSlate’, complete with unauthorised pictures claiming to be the device in development. Though notoriously secretive with new product announcements there was similar online chatter before the iPhone was unveiled, and Apple is said to be launching the product in March.

At approximately 11 inches and costing under US$1000, there’s no word on whether the device will come with Mac OSX orf the iPhone operating system, but reading ebooks and other content will be easy if the screen image reorients as you rotate the body like on an iPhone. Nationwide wi-fi subscriptions included in the price have been mentioned in the US media but no such plan has been talked about for the Australian market.

Google is expanding further into the mobile phone market with the launch of the Nexus One handset in four countries outside Australia. Google is refusing to comment on a local availability date.

Built by manufacturer HTC, the Nexus One runs on Google’s Android operating system. Searching online content using Google tools is easy using Android and the company hopes to compete with the iPhone application store with Android market.

The Nexus One’s release will put it in an interesting position in Australia. Because Android is already available on handsets produced by other manufacturers including Samsung and HTC itself, Google will be competing directly with providers it’s previously partnered with.

After the international launch of the Kindle ereader late last year, Amazon has followed up with the global launch of the Kindle DX. With a much larger body and screen than the original Kindle and native PDF support, it’s a better proposition for people who read preformatted pages such as textbooks.

Taking cues from the tablet computer world, you can reorient the screen according to how you want to hold the device.

As 3D continues to overtake cinema, home entertainment devices will start jumping on the bandwagon, replicating the experience in your home theatre or lounge room.

You can already buy 3D-ready TVs in Australia, though large sizes and high definition still means high prices. But the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show saw a slew of product announcements and prices will come down as they become mainstream. Samsung’s new generation LED Series 9 TVs are ready to display full 3D and have all the bells and whistles you’ll need like full HD (10180 pixel) viewing quality.

Sony announced its intention to bring 3D to your home in a wide variety of devices from movies on 3D Blu-ray DVD players to games 3D-capable Playstation games.

As the web delivers more video content, a range of tools will let you unshackle yourself from the computer to watch it on your TV. Services that let you search YouTube videos or download movies direct will become more common.

We’ve had the AppleTV device in Australia for some time, and US WebTV provider Boxee recently released the Boxee Box, a similar system to bring web content to your TV screen. The Boxee Box remote works as your normal TV remote but flips over to reveal a full qwerty keyboard for searching through all manner of web content.

Less headline-grabbing but just as important is the arrival of USB 3.0-enabled ports and devices throughout 2010. As we store more data, moving it between devices becomes more time consuming. The Seagate BlackArmor external hard drive is one of the first USB 3.0 releases and promises transfer speeds up to three times faster than usual.


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