Top 10 techs of 2010
OLED has already penetrated the handheld market, and its advantages – stunning contrast, high power efficiency, easy “printing” onto flexible materials – mean it will inevitably seep upwards into larger or more innovative devices. We’ve seen luxurious keyboards with dynamic OLED key labels; hi-tech watches with OLED faces; at Intel’s Developer Forum we even saw a laptop with three additional OLED screens beneath its main TFT.
We’re still some way from seeing OLED monitors or TVs at reasonable prices, but Samsung, the largest OLED manufacturer, has predicted that the technology will be commercially viable for laptop displays in late 2010. That remains an exciting day in the distance, but while we wait we can pass the time with any of the large number of smartphones, media players, digital cameras and photo frames sure to make the logical move to a display technology that perfectly suits their needs.
4. USB 3
USB 3’s final specification may have been confirmed in November 2008, but it isn’t until 2010 that the super-fast technology will begin to make waves, as component and peripheral manufacturers introduce products that can take advantage of the super-fast standard.
It’s ten times faster than the near-decade-old USB 2, with the new SuperSpeed mode running at 4.8Gbits/sec rather than the mere 480Mbits/sec offered by the old standard, meaning that a 25GB file can be transferred in only 1min 10secs. USB 3 cables can also power larger devices, with the new wires carrying 150mA of juice compared to 100mA from USB 2.
USB 3 may be backwards compatible, but firms are already preparing products that will benefit from the additional speed and power on offer: the first USB 3 motherboards have already landed in the PC Pro Labs, and a wide range of products – including external hard disks, IP cameras, DisplayLink devices and high-end flash drives – will be unveiled in the coming year.
5. ANDROID MARCHES ON
Nobody was particularly overwhelmed when Google Android made its debut in the T-Mobile G1 back in February, although as we stated at the time, that was more down to the lacklustre hardware than the operating system itself. A succession of vastly improved handsets later (such as the HTC Hero, Droid and more recently the Nexus One), and Android is now the most credible threat to the iPhone OS’s sheer desirability.
Android has one huge benefit over the iPhone OS: it isn’t tied to a single piece of (albeit magnificent) hardware. That’s why international analyst firm Gartner predicts it will overtake BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile and the iPhone OS to become the world’s second biggest mobile operating system (behind Symbian) by 2012.
There’s plenty to look forward to before then, however. The forthcoming Android 2 software will offer features such as multiple email accounts (including Exchange), improved camera support and social-networking synchronisation. Google has also lobbed a hand grenade into the back garden of satnav makers such as TomTom and Garmin by offering free turn-by-turn directions on Android 2, a feature that could arrive in the UK in 2010.
With Nokia still busy at the drawing board with the next version of Symbian, and Windows Mobile 7 unlikely to appear until the summer at the earliest, Android is poised to be the smartphone OS of the year. Just pray that it’s kept away from netbooks (see our review of the Acer Aspire One D250 to find out why).