As evidenced by a few early product announcements, this will be the year manufactures find out if there's a market for all-in-one systems running Android instead of Windows. Acer will be one of the first PC makers to find out, having just introduced its DA223 HQL, a 21.5-inch portable AIO running Android Jelly Bean and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz. In addition, Acer unveiled its TA272 HUL, another all-in-one, but with a 27-inch display and a WQHD (2560x1440) resolution.
Lian Li has been known to flirt with funky looking case designs. Remember the shell-shaped PC-777 Memorial Edition chassis? And then there was the PC-CK101, a train themed enclosure that rolled into view towards the end of 2012. There have been others and there will be more, not all of which turn into shipping products. One prototype that's up in the air is the DK-01, which is a computer case that doubles as a desk.
It seems like forever ago when the only Android tablets on the market were the ones trying to compete with Apple's iPad line at the $499 price point and above. Fast forward to today and affordable Android tablets are fairly common, though not quite ubiquitous. Might that change this year? Well, we're off to a good start with Acer announcing two new Iconia slates starting at just $130.
Acer was the first to market with a touchscreen Chromebook when it introduced the C720P back in November, and in case the addition of a touch panel alone wasn't enough to make you consider Google's cloud-based platform for a secondary notebook (or primary one for little Billy), then a color change probably won't be the straw that breaks your back. Regardless, Acer just expanded its touchscreen Chromebook line by unveiling a Moonstone White model.
Peripheral maker plans to show some love to PC gamers
PC gaming is not only alive and well as we kickstart a brand new year, it's also the primary focus of some peripheral makers. That includes Roccat, a company based out of Germany that's been increasing its focus on the U.S. market with a variety of hardware aimed at gamers. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week, Roccat will showcase a number of new gaming products.
It's been quite a ride for ASRock, the motherboard maker that came into this world as a budget-oriented subsidiary of Asus. ASRock is now owned by Pegatron, which itself is a spin-off of Asus, and these days it competes with all comers (including Asus) in every section of the motherboard market, even the high-end. Pegatron's spunky subsidiary ended 2013 as the third largest motherboard maker in terms of shipments, though it may relinquish that spot to MSI before the new year is over.
Ultra-compact PCs measuring less than 13 inches high
One thing we saw towards the tail end of 2013 is a concerted effort to shrink the desktop. Perhaps it was Valve's aggressive push to get PC gamers into the living room with Steam Machine systems, or maybe it's simply the evolution of desktop design based on advances in technology. Whatever reason(s), the trend continues into 2014 with boutique builder Velocity Micro rolling out what it's calling "SmallBlock" desktops.
Lenovo had a memorable year in 2013. While the competition struggled to turn a profit selling PCs, Lenovo stayed in the black while simultaneously becoming the world's largest PC maker in terms of shipments. At the same time, Lenovo hasn't been ignoring the mobile handset market, and to kick off 2014, the OEM is announcing four new smartphones, including its first ever LTE-enabled handset, the Vibe Z.
Google Music All Access subscribers have a chance to shake their Glass
If you're a member of Google's Music All Access subscription streaming service, keep your eyes open for an email from the sultan of search inviting you to participate in the Glass Explorer program. Google hasn't made an official announcement, though some Music All Access subscribers report receiving VIP invitations to be part of what's so far been an exclusive club only open to developers.
By far the biggest revelation of 2013 was that of the U.S. government's overreaching National Security Agency (NSA) and its PRISM surveillance program. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the government's ability to spy on various forms of communication by leaking several documents to the press, and since doing so, new information keeps coming out. One of the most recent reports claims the NSA routinely intercepts computer deliveries in order to exploit vulnerabilities to aid with spying.