Gizmo mania

Published: Dec 30, 2012, 09:26 IST | Nimish Dubey |

Notebooks and ultrabooks paving the way for convertibles, phablets plaguing the market and Gen-next consoles making their mark � tech lovers can look forward to all this and much more in the New Year

Convertibles will be the rage

No, we are not saying that people will stop using notebooks or ultrabooks altogether, but given the touch-friendliness of Windows 8, there is a far greater chance of people using devices that can work as both tablets and conventional notebooks — the convertibles (Lenovo Yoga, Sony Vaio and Asus Tai Chi, etc). One of the sights that is going to dominate 2013 is the sight of a person working on what seems like a tablet and then sliding a keyboard out of it or just jamming it on to a keyboard dock. The era of touch might just give way to the era of touch and type.
Look out for: The Microsoft Surface Pro

The stylus will return

Steve Jobs mocked it. But then he wasn’t too fond of seven-inch tablets either. With Android manufacturers like Samsung, Lenovo and LG making smarter styluses for their devices and Windows 8 coming up with better handwriting support, 2013 will see the comeback of the stylus. Yes, it will be some time before it gets there, but by the end of 2013, most touchscreen devices will come with handwriting support. Expect styluses to get a lot sharper and more pointy as well.
Look out for: The Stylus with the Microsoft Surface Pro

Phablet rain

When Samsung released the Galaxy Note in 2011, tech pundits sniggered and said that it was too small for a tablet, and too large for a phone and suited nobody. After it sold millions of units and spawned an equally noteworthy (pun intended) successor, their tune has changed. And other manufacturers have started to jump on the phablet bandwagon — LG with the Optimus Vu and HTC with the Droid DNA, and a truckload of smaller manufacturers (Micromax, iBall). And 2013 will see even more brands join the fray — Huwaei has shown its Ascend and Sony is working on something codenamed Odin. We reckon almost everybody buying a smartphone or a tablet in 2013 will consider investing in a phablet!

Look out for: The Sony Yuga (Xperia Z?)

iPhone vs Galaxy phone wars: Round Four
Every year Samsung releases a new edition of its Galaxy S range and Apple releases another iPhone. And supporters of each side go at each other with hammers (real and verbal), claiming their device is ‘the greatest phone ever.’ We don’t see that changing in 2013. Samsung has been dropping hints about the Galaxy S4, while rumour is rife that Apple’s next iPhone will be more of a hardware upgrade (an iPhone 5S rather than an iPhone 6). Whatever each company releases, you can be assured that they will battle for title of phone of the year. And spur many a venomous argument.
Look out for: The Samsung Galaxy S 4, The Apple iPhone 5s/6

Next-generation consoles
An improved Kinect, a new Xbox with better specs, crazily better graphics, more motion and gesture based controls than ever before, better Web connectivity and multiplayer elements — will these be enough to see consoles get back into the gaming spotlight, from where they have been unceremoniously dumped by the tablet-smartphone combo? We know not for sure, but one thing we definitely will bet our last paisa on. 2013 will see consoles make a formidable stand against more casual gaming-oriented rivals. Will they succeed is going to be the question. What is certain is that entertainment is going to be redefined thoroughly.
Look out for: The new Xbox

Facebook and Instagram come together
We had expected it last year itself but it did not happen. Still we are reasonably sure, given the twiddling with interfaces and the controversial terms and conditions, that Facebook and Instagram are likely to merge into a single, seamless entity at some stage this year. What will that mean? Well, the coming together of the world’s largest social network and one of the world’s largest cellphone photography communities will result in much more spectacular image sharing and perhaps totally new apps and new filters. And of course, the need to have just one app for both services.
Look out for: A new Facebook app with full Instagram integration

BlackBerry’s next (final?) salvo

Everyone has been busy writing RIM off, but 2013 could see the BlackBerry device manufacturers make a comeback, riding on completely redesigned software. BlackBerry 10 will be unlike anything the BlackBerry Boy crowd has seen with better support for gestures and a distinctly multimedia edge. And it will come on new devices, both with full touchscreens and with the iconic QWERTY keyboard. Will it have enough apps? Will it come on relatively affordable devices or be restricted to high-end ones? We don’t know all the answers at this time. What we DO know is that it could be make or break time for one of the best-known tech brands of them all.
Look out for: The BlackBerry Z10

Windows will come to the tablet party

The tablet battle has so far been a largely two-platform battle — between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android (with BlackBerry’s PlayBook making a slight impact). That is going to change in 2013 with a number of Windows 8 tablets making their presence felt. Users will be able to get the same interface that they have on their desktops and their notebooks in tablet form — not convertibles, but pure tablets (and irrespective of what Microsoft tells you, Windows 8 . Will the iPad-Android tablets be able to fight them off? We think this is going to be THE tech battle of 2013.
Look out for: The Lenovo ThinkPad 2

Nokia to get back into smartphone spotlight

Just about every manufacturer will be making Windows Phone 8 devices in 2013, but we think Nokia will have a slight edge over the others, simply because of its marketing and manufacturing muscle and the little matter that it has a lot more riding on Windows Phone 8 — it does not have Android to fall back on, unlike others. Expect a number of Windows Phone devices from the former smartphone number one across a wide range of prices. And while the high-end will grab the headlines, it is the more affordable ones that will grab market share. The fact that Nokia is likely to have a wide range of offerings in both could well make 2013 the year when the Finnish giant makes a comeback!

Augmented reality goggles, Google style

Some might accuse us of wistful thinking, but we are going out on a limb and saying that this is the year when eyewear will get the tech boost it is waiting for. Rumour is rife that Google’s Project Glass, which lets you communicate and find out more about the world around you through a smartphone-like interface on a heads up display (HUD), will be ready for commercial use in 2013. So you could well have a pair of spectacles that not only let you stare through them but also tell you about what you are seeing, deliver mail notifications, news updates and the Lord alone knows what else. They will run on Android and respond to voice commands too. Sci-fi stuff, you say? You might well see it in reality in 2013.
Look out: Project Glass

Android in Key Lime Pie Flavour

If pundits are to be believed, Android 5.0 (we are currently on version 4.2) will see the light of day in 2013. Supposed to be called Key Lime Pie (not confirmed), the new OS is unlikely to be as dramatic a makeover of Android as 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) was, but is expected to come with support for faster hardware, higher definition displays, and a whole new set of interface tweaks including better voice support and maybe even inbuilt handwriting recognition. Fan boys will cheer, cynics will argue about when the update will be available for new devices, but at the end of the day, the Android experience will be redefined. 

Look out for: A new Nexus phone with the new OS

More connected cameras

Nikon and Samsung have tried to bridge the camera-smartphone divide by coming out with cameras that ran Android, letting users not just take great pictures but also share them right from the camera itself, without having to mess with a computer. We see more manufacturers following their example in 2013, although we think the stress will be more on adding connectivity options (Wi-Fi, GPS, etc) to cameras rather than running Android or any other OS on them. We are betting that by the time 2013 runs out, many cameras will come with Wi-Fi and there will be at least one DSLR that will sport a SIM card slot.
Look out for: Heck, even we don’t know at this moment!

A tablet redefining iPad

The iPad pretty much brought tablets back into the tech mainstream, and we are betting our socks off that it is going to get a very significant makeover in 2013. Yes, there will be the usual better processor-better graphics tech mumbo jumbo, but if the new designs of the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini are any indication, the iPad will get a significant design makeover in 2013. It will be much sleeker and much more flaunt-worthy than its current relatively plain looking version. It might even get a much better display — although improving the retina 

display will take SOME doing. And oh yes, the iPad mini will get a
retina display.
Look out for: The fifth-generation iPad

What will not Happen in 2013
>> Nokia is NOT going to make an Android phone. No matter what the rumours say, the company is unlikely to take the Android path. Not until it has really tried out Windows Phone.

>> Smart TVs are NOT going to become the rage. Yes, everyone will make them, but most people will stick to mobile devices and computers to access the Internet. A lot of bandwidth and price issues need to be sorted out before Smart TVs become mainstream.

>> Portable consoles are unlikely to stage a comeback, although Nintendo and Sony are likely to try their best. Gaming on the move will firmly remain tablet and phone territory.

>> We are NOT likely to see a new social network replacing Facebook. Yes, people complain about Mark Zuckerberg’s baby but shifting themselves and their friends to a new one is simply too much fuss.

>> LTE might be blazingly fast but it is NOT going to go mainstream in a hurry. More devices and lower rates are needed for that to happen, and we don’t think we will see either in 2013. Siri, S Voice and other voice assistants will continue to struggle with Indian accents. That said, developers will struggle to define what an Indian accent is.

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