Tech in 2016

Why we’re ex­cited about the year ahead

Tech Advisor - - WELCOME - JIM MARTIN

Wel­come to an­other is­sue of PC Ad­vi­sor r and let me take this op­por­tu­nity to wish you a Happy New Year. One of the most com­mon ques­tions at the start of a year is, “What’s go­ing to be the most ex­cit­ing new tech?” Most ex­perts are pre­dict­ing that vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) will take off in 2016, but it re­mains to be seen whether prod­ucts such as the Ocu­lus Rift, and ri­vals from Sam­sung, HTC and Mi­crosoft, will per­suade en­thu­si­asts to part with their cash.

The most com­pelling use of VR for home users is gam­ing, but there are plenty of other things you can do with a VR head­set, in­clud­ing watch­ing 360-de­gree movies, tak­ing vir­tual tours of places you’re un­likely to visit in per­son, and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing more im­mer­sive sim­u­la­tions than you get with a flat PC mon­i­tor, such as driv­ing a tank or train.

Don’t forget that you can try vir­tual re­al­ity with your smart­phone by buy­ing a Google Card­board head­set for around £10 and down­load­ing the Card­board app from the Google Play store, or the App Store on an iPhone.

Aside from VR, 2016 isn’t likely to be a break­through year for new tech­nol­ogy. We’ll see in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments in phones, tablets, cam­eras, and smart home (or IoT) gad­gets will be­come more com­mon­place.

One rel­a­tively new gad­get is the dash cam. We’ve rounded up a se­lec­tion on page 76. Th­ese cam­eras record video while you’re driv­ing and pro­vide time-stamped ev­i­dence which you might be able to use to prove whose fault it was if you’re ever in­volved in an accident. Some in­sur­ance com­pa­nies will give you a dis­count off your pre­mium for us­ing a dash cam, too.

4K TVs will be­gin to re­place HD sets this year as prices tum­ble even fur­ther, and broad­cast­ers (and stream­ing ser­vices such as Net­flix and Ama­zon) will in­crease their 4K con­tent. BT is one of the first broad­cast­ers to have a 4K chan­nel, al­though you need a fast broad­band con­nec­tion to re­ceive it. We’ve checked it out on page 52.

Mi­crosoft has made some pre­dic­tions for 2016, which we’ve sum­marised on page 146. One is that in­ter­net TV will over­take broad­cast TV, as more peo­ple choose to watch live or on-de­mand via the web than through an aerial, satel­lite dish or ca­ble.

2015 was a big year for Mi­crosoft, putting its “cloud first, mo­bile first” phi­los­o­phy into prac­tice. Win­dows 10 launched to mixed re­views, and Win­dows Phone slumped even fur­ther in pop­u­lar­ity. We’ve taken a closer look at the hits, misses and plain crazy things the com­pany has been up to on page 14, and re­viewed the new Win­dows 10 phone it hopes will re­store its for­tunes in the smart­phone world on page 30.

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