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Future Tech 2013: The PCs, tablets and cutting-edge hardware of tomorrow

PCWorld Staff | Jan. 7, 2013
The forward march of technology moves at a dizzying pace. Yesterday's gadgets look like quaint antiques.

You won't see more tablets running Texas Instruments' OMAP platform (currently on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble Nook HD). TI pulled out of the highly competitive mobile market to focus instead on embedded systems.

Another processor battleground in 2012 pitted the aforementioned ARM-based platforms, with their efficient battery life, against x86-based platforms like Intel's Clover Trail Atom and AMD's Hondo. These processors may possess more performance oomph than the ARM processors, but battery life can lag. Their big benefit for Windows 8 tablets is that they can support full Windows 8 and all legacy applications that run in desktop mode. Few Clover Trail tablets shipped in 2012, but look for a deluge in 2013.

Microsoft Windows 8--based tablets will be 2013's biggest tablet wild card. With Apple's iOS tablets firmly en­­trenched, and Google's Android challengers looking more polished and appealing than ever, can Microsoft tablets hold the same allure and appeal? That remains to be seen. However, the confusion between Windows RT and full Windows 8 tablets may worsen once Microsoft unleashes its highly anticipated tablet, expected in January 2013.

We expect more high-pixel-density tablets to hit the market in 2013, continuing a trend begun by Apple's iPad With Retina Display and furthered by Barnes & Noble's Nook HD. Look for 1280-by-800-pixel resolution to become the norm on 7-inch tablets, and 1920-by-1200-pixel resolution to pick up steam on 10.1-inch tablets. Optical bonding, which eliminates the display's air gap, should become more common, too.

Competing with Apple's breadth, other tablet software ecosystems continue to struggle. Google has made progress, albeit slowly, while Microsoft remains far behind in app count. We expect both Google and Microsoft to expand their respective ecosystems; the trick is whether their quality and quantity can compete with Apple's strong base.

Look for more connected tablets, too. In late 2012 some of them finally hit the market. One was Google's affordable, unlocked Nexus 7 WiFi + Mobile Data, which works with 200-plus carriers worldwide. By the end of 2013, we'll look back on the connected Nexus 7 and realize that it was the start of a new trend.

Meanwhile, we expect to see prices continue to plummet over the course of the year. As demand skyrockets, so does production--and in response, prices fall. Given today's cutthroat competition, it wouldn't shock us to see a top-tier 10.1-inch Android tablet selling for $300 by the end of 2013.         --Melissa J. Perenson

Expect to see more affordable full-frame DSLRs, like the Nikon D600. Cameras

We expect several trends to emerge in connection with this year's new cameras: Big sensors in small cameras: Several excellent premium compact cameras have been released in the past few years, but 2012 was an especially innovative year for the category. That's because the image sensors in these pocket-size cameras are getting much bigger and much better, and we're reaching the point where a pocketable camera will offer the image quality of a DSLR.

 

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