A lot has happened in the last 12 months. At the start of the year, iTunes was still peddling DRM, Yahoo and Microsoft were at bitter odds over the latter’s takeover attempts, Nvidia had the fastest consumer videocard, and the ”cloud” was still a burgeoning concept. Oh, how times have changed. Follow along as we relive and reflect upon some of the most memorable moments, products, and people to impact computer users over the last year.
What was your favorite tech product or event or 2009? Let us know in the comments!
Are you planning to do some travelling or Holiday gift shopping this weekend? There's only one way you can do both at the same time, and that's with SkyMall. It's the catalog for products that didn't quite make it into Sharper Image or BrookStone, and are too expensive to sell on infomercials. We picked up the latest issue on a recent flight, and were astounded to find terrible products on every other page. Here, we've picked out the fifty worst items, including horrendously ill-conceived vehicle accessories, impractical grooming devices, and the most terribly advertised gadgets for sale.
But let's start with the gem of a cover, which apparently breaks the rules of the space-time continuum.
The newly released Chumby One arrived in the mail today, and we couldn't wait to see how it compared to the original digital connected companion device. The Chumby, in case you haven't heard of it, is a multi-function gadget that can serve as an alarm clock, RSS reader, gaming device, or music player. It connects to the internet with Wi-Fi, and runs user-created widgets to do cool things like read your Gmail or send you Twitter updates. You interact with it through a 3.5 inch resistive touchscreen, but it also has an accelerometer inside, since it's made to be held and encourages user interaction.
We liked the first Chumby an awful lot, and the One doesn't look like it's meant to be a successor or replacement for that. In fact, we're not sure not exactly sure how the Chumby One is being positioned in the marketplace. One the one hand, it's a budget model, sacrificing the original's squishy appeal for a significant price cut.
On the other hand, it also adds new functionality that makes it a better device than the Chumby Classic.
Remember Chumby, the squishy Internet appliance with a 3.5-inch touchscreen display and WiFi connectivity? Basically a glorified alarm clock, Chumby could also stream news feeds. stock quotes, photos, weather info, and whatever else could be imagined through widgets.
Well, Chumby's back, this time without the squishy exterior and renamed the 'One.' The new model puts a bigger focus on radio features with Pandora support and the ability to access other internet radio stations. And like the original, you can install widgets, of which there are about 1,500 to choose from. The One touts a faster processor, bumping up from 350MHz to 454MHz, but otherwise the specs look to be the same.
Look for the One to retail for about $100 in a month or so.
From a distance, the Windows 7 GUI resembles its predecessor, Windows Vista. However, the closer you look, the more you'll see that Windows 7's take on the GUI is a big improvement, adding more power, more customization, and better ways to open frequently-used programs and files. Join us after the jump to learn how you can tap into the power of the Windows 7 desktop, Taskbar, and Start menu.
Gadget lovers have a device for everything. We often have 15 different ways to check the weather, 10 for email, and at least 5 with built in cameras. What we don’t have is an unlimited supply of USB ports, and we often struggle to keep our army of doohickey’s charged and ready to go. This can become an even bigger challenge when we’re on the road.
That's why we were so enthusiastic when we stumbled across the Super Travel A/C USB Wall Charger. This $25 adapter can power up to 5 devices at once with the 4 built in female ports, and sports an additional 5 pin male connector for smartphones. I just ordered one for myself, and devices like these remind us why we here at Maximum PC are such big fans of devices that charge via USB.
Beleaguered Japanese electronics giant Sony is mulling drastic changes to its corporate structure, according to the Times of London. It is on the verge of shutting down many of its Japanese factories and important divisions. The world is gradually becoming inured to hearing about job cuts – if not job cuts themselves - as the global economy sinks deeper into an apparently abysmal financial quagmire. And it is very likely that the next major news of job cuts will come from Sony; it had announced last month that it was going to hand pink slips to 16,000 employees.
Sources within Sony told the Times of London that Sony’s Japanese operations will bear the brunt of the radical changes. The changes might take effect after the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in the profligate city of Las Vegas. But analysts, especially who have been calling for an overhaul for a long time now, fear that the changes might just be too late in the day.
They want Sony’s boss Howard Stringer to enjoy greater power, if the company is to extricate itself from its old ways. The road ahead is pocked with impediments for the company as it will also have to outmaneuver the global financial crisis.
Malware-infected PCs have for long betrayed their users’ most precious financial secrets to internet robbers. But researchers at IBM have developed a USB device to ensure that online banking transactions remain unaffected by malware infections. The device, which is called Zone Trusted Information Channel, can also repel man-in-the-middle attacks.
It secures online transactions by establishing a direct channel to a bank’s online transaction server through a computer’s USB port. As the transaction at the user’s end is made on ZTIC’s own hardware - no reliance on any PC-based software, it is not vulnerable to malware or man-in-the-middle attacks. The prototype is now ready to undergo trials.
Although the idea of a stand-alone security/authentication solution isn’t entirely new – Paypal already offers a stand-alone security device to its users, IBM’s endeavor is slightly different as it looks to be keen on offering a universal solution.
For the all the benefits organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) have to offer, high costs have kept the technology from becoming commonplace. And when OLED devices do emerge, they tend to command a premium, putting them out of reach for mainstream consumption. But while the world waits for a breakthrough to bring low-cost OLEDs into the marketplace, Toshiba and Matsushita (Panasonic) might already be there.
According to a report from Japan's Nikkei BP, the two tech giants say they are poised to become the first Japanese companies to mass-produce OLED screens. Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co. (60 percent owned by Toshiba and 40 percent by Matsushita) appears ready to churn out 1 million 2.5-inch organic screens per month by fall of 2009, and will target mostly handheld devices like mobile phones and GPS navigators.
The 2.5-inch screen size remains the sweet spot for many portable devices, and if the two companies' claims turn out to be true, we could see a deluge of OLED devices rolled out in a very short time period starting in late '09
Cell phone technology has come a long way since it was first introduced, and just as we can't help but snicker when catching a glimpse of the old beige bricks that started it all, it won't be long before today's mobile phones will be considered equally rudimentary. But even with the rapid pace of technology, it took Apple's iPhone to change the game, ushering in what's sure to be a new era of nifty must-have functionality. But what exactly will the post-iPhone cell phone be capable of?
Popular Science whips out its crystal ball so you don't have to, and what they've come up with are five different features that are all destined to come to future cell phones no later than 2009. More than just a wishlist, Popular Science explained the reasoning behind each category and which companies are at work on each technology. PC-grade computing and graphics by late 2009? Sign us up! The list looks sound, but one must-have feature noticeably absent is Sprint's crime deterrent system.
What features would you like to see in tomorrow's cell phones?