2009 was a great year for technophiles. Android OS got me excited about wireless phones, which I’ve always had a strange aversion to. The eBook reader is evolving into something that is starting to become an attractive device for ordinary people. The first of a tidal wave of tablet devices has started to hit the market and while they’ve all been duds so far, the potential is so obvious that it is easy to get excited about what is coming in 2010. All in all we’ve had plenty to talk and speculate about, and despite a crappy economy there have been some cool toys to look forward to.
So on the eve of this new decade I found myself thinking about the last year, and what I was looking forward to in 2010.
The stuff that really stood out to me in 2009
- Android OS While I didn’t fall in love with the Motorola Droid, it certainly made me open my eyes in a big way. Android OS is ready to take on iPhone. While it still may not have the spit and polish of iPhone OS, Android has advanced like terminal cancer and I don’t see Google stopping anytime soon if they keep getting successful devices that people want in the market. Lots of growth in Android development, lots of improvement in the interface and applications, and nothing but good things to look forward to. Next week Google will make the Nexus One official, and while I think T-Mobile was the wrong partner for the device, there is no denying that it is a killer piece of hardware. Verizon are you listening? Give me an Android phone from Motorola or HTC with a sexy form factor, a big screen, and a GHz CPU and I will sign any piece of paper you want me to.
- Barnes and Noble Nook I like the Nook not so much for the actual device, but for the fact that now that there is a serious contender to the Kindle it will accelerate innovation and design in eBook readers, and you and I will have better devices to pick from. That said, I do like the Nook. It has a nicer form factor than the Kindle. If they can fix the performance issues with firmware updates it is a legitimate alternative at the exact same price point. Bravo Barnes and Noble. Oh, and for those of you holding out on an eBook reader because you think a tablet device will somehow be magically better at being an eBook reader than an actual eBook reader, have fun testing that theory. eBook readers are good at what they do because they approximate reading from paper. No matter how good your monitor or tablet is they will still induce eye strain. eInk is here until someone figures out something better, so the death of the eBook reader has been greatly exaggerated.
- LED LCD Television The addition of LED backlighting has solved two LCD problems: one, you should never wear out a backlight with LED. Two, dark detail and contrast that could never have been achieved on LCD is here, now. There is now no reason to cling to any other display technology. Goodbye plasma and DLP.
- The netbook is dead, long live the tablet! We’re not there yet, but the idea took in 2009. Look, if I feel cramped on a 13″ or even a 15″ laptop, how am I going to like using an 8″ or 9″ netbook? I get the idea, cheap, portable computing. Wrong form factor. No one gets the same wow response the first time they use a netbook that they do the first time they use a capable smart phone. Now just magnify that cool smart phone experience to something that is a little bigger and the appeal is obvious. Tablets are going to be huge. Not only will they sell people on a niche that netbooks never would have, a lot of people shopping for laptops will decide a tablet suits their needs better. I want one yesterday.
- Demons Souls (PS3) God bless Atlus for publishing this gem from From Software in North America. It would have been criminal if this game had never made it off Japanese soil. What is all the fuss about this game that has so many editorial reviewers crying because of the difficulty? This game is simply the best RPG of 2009 for any platform. Heavy on the action and less so on RPG elements, Demons Souls makes you remember when games were actually challenging, and you didn’t mind because they were also well designed. An immersive world, phenomenal and huge boss battles, and fighting like your own welfare depends on it because the game does not allow you to save, and you are carrying six hours worth of souls, the only currency or experience that means anything in the game. All of these aspects are so well crafted and wrapped in a game that looks and plays like a dream (a really challenging dream) that it just impresses the hell out of you. We don’t get very many games like this, and I’ve been collecting console games for longer than most of you have been alive. Buy Demons Souls and cherish the experience. This game is reason enough to own a PS3.
2010 is going to deliver on many of the promises made in 2009. Here is what is foremost on my radar going into the new year:
Get this stuff in my hands, now
- iSlate If you haven’t been paying attention, this is the presumed name for Apple’s mythical tablet device that they will be making official in January. We don’t know the specs. We aren’t sure of the size. We aren’t quite sure about the form factor, other than that it will appear like an oversized iPhone to one extent or another. What we do know is that Apple won’t be content to simply offer a tablet device that functions as a large iPhone sans the phone. Look for their tablet to bridge the gap between handheld device and full blown laptop, integrating features of both, and doing so with a user experience that everyone else will copy. I started to think outside the box a little today. Sure, a 10″ Android powered tablet would be cool, maybe just the thing, but that isn’t what Apple is looking to deliver. Remember how the iPod and the iPhone changed the whole game for their niches? Expect iSlate to do the same. On the plus side for the anti-Cupertino, it will also have the effect of making everyone else step up their game, and tablets are going to get really cool really quick. (HTC is already rumored to be showing an Android tablet behind closed doors at CES next week.) I am so down with this, I can’t wait to get one.
- Next Wave of Android Phones Google’s Nexus One is your first glimpse. Expect Motorola and HTC to follow suit by summer time. Android OS 2.x is a solid system, and when you pair it with a gigahertz CPU and a lucious high res capacitive OLED touch screen, well there is only so much sexy your pocket can hold. We know that HTC has a similar device headed to T-Mobile in the Bravo come April, and rumors are starting to fly about new Motorola phones. What you can count on is that they will show up. On the fence about a Droid right now? Can you wait a little while? I would.
2009 was a fun year to write about, and 2010 is shaping up to be even better for overgrown kids like me that never outgrew toys. What did Santa leave in your stocking last week? What are you saving up for in 2010?
Have a safe and happy new year, Connected Internet!