In 2008, some media outlets started publishing their "best of" lists by June. For 2009, we didn't want to come in second. So here are our predictions for the best gadgets of 2009.
We've seen the first wave of unusable netbooks with tiny screens. Then they got an upgrade to 8.9, 10 and even 12-inch screens. Now it's time for netbooks to get WiMax and HSDPA connections as a standard. Hopefully they can still stay half-way affordable...
When I tested the Wii MotionPlus attachment at E3, I felt that Nintendo had fulfilled the promise of the Wii, finally offering a motion controller as accurate and responsive as we'd all hoped the Wiimote to be originally. If Nintendo can coax developers to support Wii Motion Plus, we can expect some killer Wii titles in '09 (on top of Wii Sports Resort in spring), but it might be 2010 before we see all that many compatible games.
Microsoft can do better than Windows Vista. And with Windows 7—expected sometime before the year is up—they will. Whether it's the new features or the less taxing system requirements, Windows 7 promises to be a vast improvement on Vista, and hopefully enough to coax most of us still clutching XP for dear life to finally upgrade.
$99 Blu-ray Player...That Does More Than Play Blu-ray
The $99 part is only slightly wishful thinking, but if LG's recent announcements are any indication, we can expect more players with expanded services like Netflix, YouTube, CinemaNow...and who knows, maybe even Amazon VOD, Hulu and Rhapsody. Let's watch as these companies compete for our digital download dollar.
A New iPhone
Whether it's the iPhone 3G Part II or the rumored iPhone nano, it's not hard to imagine Apple releasing another new iPhone this year, maintaining their trend of releasing an iPhone per year to stay competitive in the everchanging post-RAZR cellphone market. It's no secret that most of Gizmodo loves the iPhone, so we're pretty excited to see what's next. (Juicy rumors of a new Mac mini and iPod Touch XL are going strong, too.)
3G is alright but we're looking forward to even faster 4G wireless networks soon. Intel-backed WiMax launched in a few locales by carriers Sprint and ClearWire. The wide-area network currently promises peaks of 10 megabits per second but on paper it's capable of over 70. We will likely see slow but steady expansion of the service through 2009. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon (and eventually T-Mobile) are gearing up LTE technology. The Nokia-driven GSM-based "Long Term Evolution" may actually whomp WiMax with download speeds of over 300Mbps—though its presence probably won't be felt in the US before 2010.
A Decent-Sized OLED TV
The Sony XEL-1 OLED television rocked our world when it was released this year, but there was a catch. Its screen size was a measly 11 inches. And while we can't expect 50-inch Kuro killers just yet, we do anticipate a very expensive mid-sized set—27 to 32 inches—to hit the market in some form this year. (Sony actually showed off a prototype that was 27 inches at CES 2008. Stay tuned for what we see at CES this year.)
A multitude of companies have various wireless HDMI technologies, but there's no set standard (two warring factions need to settle the fight before we can have interoperable products). The technology is there, now it's just a matter of logistics and handshaking. With luck, by next Christmas, you'll be able to add it to a sub-$2000 1080p projector for the ultimate no-mess home theater.
USB 3.0 Devices
Wireless HDMI may not be quite cooked yet, but the eSATA-crushing USB 3.0 standard is ready to roll. Look for a multitude of products announced within the next week with blazing transfer speeds of 4.8Gbps (moving a 25GB file in under a minute). They'll also benefit from USB 3.0's higher electrical power output. [Image]
A Great Android Phone
The T-Mobile G1 was the necessary first step, but with Google amping up their Android development staff and interest coming from other major phone makers like Motorola, we assume we'll see a truly great Android phone soon. Motorola promises that their own offering will be better and cheaper than the G1, but it's not hitting before next Christmas, so we assume HTC's own follow-ups will come first.
And Your Best Guesses
These picks for 2009 are pretty sure things, but what wilder guesses do you have for best of 2009 products? A new PSP? A BlackBerry with a touchscreen that isn't crap? Real light sabers? Ketchup and mustard in one container?? Dogs and cats living in harmony??? If you don't offer up some kind of prognostication in the comments, you can never tell everyone, "I told you so."