As the summer nears its end, gadget companies are gearing up for the fall and upcoming holiday season. With the iPhone 5 and Amazon tablet topping the list, here's what we have to look forward to.
Not since probably the iPhone 4 has a device elicited as much anticipation and speculation as the iPhone 5. The device's rumor mill runs the gamut of features, from the aesthetic to the functional. Will it be bigger? Smaller? Thinner? Curved? Cloud based? The list goes on and on. Predictably, of course, Apple has said next to nothing about the device, leaving all the marketing hype to the collective (and unpaid) blogosphere. What do we know? Besides the strong possibility that the device will get released either this September or October, painfully little.
For the generation of gamers who grew up playing multiplayer games on home consoles like the Nintendo 64, probably nothing is as frustrating as split screen multiplayer. Prone to allowing less-than-legal practices like screen watching, splitting a screen into two or more parts also severely cuts down on the screen real estate allocated to each player. As a result, many gamers were pleasantly surprised when Sony announced its Playstation Television at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. The 24" 3D display spits out a duo of 3D images - one for each pair of its bundled 3D glasses. The result is single display pretending to be two, as well as legions of happy Playstation-owning college students.
Similar to the iPhone 5, very little about Amazon's tablet project is known besides its existence. Possibly the most dangerous dark horse competitor for Apple's iPad, a tablet from Amazon would allow the company to leverage both its content and distribution channels. And it gets better. According to people in the know, Amazon is intent on selling its tablet at a lower price point than the $500 iPad. While this has forced the company to make a few hardware sacrifices, ranging from limiting memory to nixing the device's built-in camera, the omissions may be worth it: Amazon aims to sell the tablet for as low as $249.
Plus, there's even speculation that Amazon is planning not just one tablet but two. Apple should be on guard.
Sony's Playstation Vita is a powerhouse of a portable console. With its 5-inch multi-touch display, dual analogs, and dazzling visuals, the Vita is shaping up to be the portable gamer's wet dream. Only problem? Sony isn't releasing the device until early 2012 in the U.S. and Europe. Fortunately Sony does plan to release the Vita in Japan before the end of the year, so if you are looking for another reason to head over to the land of the rising sun, this is it.
Microsoft has a lot riding on its upcoming upgrade to Windows Phone 7. Dubbed "Mango" the update promises over 500 new features, including multitasking, conversation threads, and the speedy Internet Explorer 9. With the update also comes a trio of new hardware partners - Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE - which join previous manufacturers like HTC and Samsung. The update may also shed light on the direction Nokia plans to go with its upcoming Windows Phone 7 handsets.
Part marketing moonshine, part actual technological improvement, HTC's partnership with Dr. Dre's Beats Audio is set to bear fruit as early as this fall. The devices will aim to improve the traditionally lackluster audio components present in mobile devices, bumping them up to the high-end. Audiophiles rejoice.
With both the Nook and Kobo making the jump to the touch screen, it's only a matter of time before Amazon does the same with the Kindle. Touch, after all, is a natural transition from the button-based navigation present in the current generation of the Kindle. Considering how the technology has fared on other eReaders, not to mention tablets, its fair to say we can expect an announcement from Amazon pretty soon.
There has been a lot of speculation over whether or not Apple would be brazen enough to release an HD version of the iPad later this year. Aimed at the power user, the beefed up device known currently as the iPad HD (or iPad Plus) is said to feature a significantly improved 2048 x 1536 display. Will it happen? Probably not, considering that Apple's manufacturers have reportedly been having issues manufacturing the device's display. Still, we can dream.
Everything you need to know about Samsung's Galaxy S II is evident from its sales numbers. Since its May release, Samsung has shipped 5 million of the devices across the world - and that's before the device has even been officially announced in the U.S. Clearly, the phone has been successful. But how close are we to a U.S. release? Judging by the star-speckled August 29th event invitations sent out to journalists last week, extremely.
The 3DS has not had a good run. Shunned by consumers and plagued by a dearth of must-have titles, the 3DS has fared so poorly that its condition forced Nintendo give it an unprecedented $80 price cut. That was a move of desperation, but it might have worked. The price drop, which took effect on August 11th in Japan, has triggered a resurgence of 3DS sales in Japan. Nintendo moved 215,000 3DS in Japan between August 8 and 14, nearly double what the company sold for the whole month of May. And things are sure to get better. This fall Nintendo is finally bringing new entries in some of its most significant franchises to the 3DS. If Mario can't save it, nothing can.