The tech giants continued to break through new gadget frontiers in 2012. Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson lists her Top 10
2. MINIATURE TABLETS
Small tablets became big business this year, starting with a little something from Google and finishing with a handbag- friendly number from Apple. While 7- inch tablets had been seen before, Google made the small tribe bigger with its Nexus 7, largely due to its power and price ( a quad- core tablet for $ 249 was hard to beat). Apple followed with a gadget it once said would never happen – the iPad Mini – offering a slick metal form, 7.9- inch screen and a 4G option.
3. LYTRO CAMERA
It’s the camera that lets photographers change a photo’s focus after it’s been captured and it arrived in Australia this year. The Lytro camera, created by Australian Ren Ng, makes sophisticated technology easy to use, as it contains a series of tiny lenses that capture light from all angles. An update has also delivered Perspective Shift that lets photographers move the image to the left or right.
4. PHONES GO LARGE
Big phones are now big business. The tech trend started last year but went mainstream in 2012. From the HTC One X, with its 4.7- inch display, to Motorola’s new 4.7- inch RAZR HD, smartphones edged closer to tablet size. Even Apple joined the trend, upping the iPhone’s screen to 4 inches, and Nokia produced its first 4.5- inch screen on the Lumia 920. Samsung retained its crown as size leader, however, with the Galaxy Note II boasting a 5.5- inch screen.
5. 4G SPREADS
The fastest mobile phone network became a lot easier to access this year. Not only did many more smartphones and mobile modems start supporting 4G this year, but Telstra and Optus delivered Long- Term Evolution networks to more areas. Telstra’s 4G coverage now extends more than 5km outside Australian CBDs and will reach 66 per cent of the population by mid- 2013. Optus responded by delivering 4G access in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Newcastle and pockets of Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Vodafone promises 4G next year.
6. MACS SEE RETINA
Laptops chips, drives and lids get the most upgrades, but Apple this year focused on the screen. Unveiled in June, the 15- inch MacBook Pro became the first Apple Mac to receive a Retina screen, so- named because users are unable to see individual pixels up close. The screen features more than five million pixels, giving it a resolution sharper than a TV. The technology has since been passed on to the smaller 13- inch MacBook Pro.
1. GOOGLE GLASSES
Created under the moniker Project Glass, Google’s wearable technology was finally seen in the real world in April on the face of Google co- founder Sergey Brin. The space- age spectacles replace one lens with a 1.3cm headup display offering information otherwise seen on a smartphone screen. Google Glasses can, for example, let users message friends, read maps and look up pub trivia answers. Google Glass Explorer Edition will be available to app developers early next year for $ US1500.
7. MUSIC- STREAMING SERVICES
Music no longer has to be stockpiled. From 2012, it can just as easily be streamed. Subscription music service Rdio kicked off the trend in January, joined by Rara just days later and by Spotify in May. Telstra’s MOG, Sony’s Music Unlimited, Nokia Music and Microsoft’s Xbox Music are also dancing to the same tune now, all for a monthly subscription fee.
9. INSTAGRAM BOOM
The future will be documented in vintage photographs, thanks to Instagram. This photo app, launched in 2010, boomed in more ways than one. It launched on the Google Android system, announced it had attracted 30 million users and was bought by Facebook in a $ 1 billion deal in April. Rather than turning users off, the announcement boosted its popularity. More than 150 million photographs had been cut into squares, filtered and shared by August.
8. CONNECTED CAMERAS
Cameras finally dropped their pretensions and joined the internet revolution this year. Some fully embraced the trend, including Samsung’s Galaxy Camera that offers the latest Google Android software and, for the first time, a built- in 3G connection for instant sharing. Similarly, the Nikon Coolpix S800c features a wi- fi connection and Android apps. Other cameras offered wi- fi connection, including the Canon 5D Mk III, while internet- ready memory cards upgraded the rest.
10. OLED TV SCREENS
Unveiled in January, organic light- emitting diode TVs represent a giant leap in technology. OLED screens offer significantly brighter pictures, higher contrast, smaller screen borders and significantly thinner forms. This will be one to watch in more ways than one.