See­ing is

The tech giants con­tin­ued to break through new gad­get fron­tiers in 2012. Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son lists her Top 10

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH -


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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