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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.

4K/Ultra HD camcorders and DSLRs: Quite a bit of hype has surrounded 4K (or Ultra HD) TV recently, and you'll see a few early-generation 4K HDTVs re­­leased in the upcoming year. But UltraHD is at least a few years away from being mainstream-ready, in large part because not a lot of 4K content is yet available for viewing. And no wonder: At 3840 by 2160 lines, 4K footage has four times the resolution of 1080p video.

Right now, the cameras and camcorders capable of capturing 4K footage are professional-level models, most of which cost several thousand dollars. The exception is the rugged $400 GoPro Hero3 camera, which can capture 4K video, but only at a sluggish rate of 15 frames per second. In the coming year, watch for more video-capable DSLRs and high-end consumer camcorders that can capture 4K video. These models will be strictly for the early-adopter crowd--very expensive and storage-hungry--and unless you've already bought a 4K TV or projector, will you notice the difference when viewing favorite videos?  --Tim Moynihan

Smartphones

Spoiler alert: Your current, top-of-the-line smartphone will be quite outdated by this time next year. That's not entirely a bad thing: Advances in mobile technologies come at an astonishing pace, and smartphones will continue to get smarter and better as time goes on. So while you may think your current phone has a lot of nifty features, your next smartphone will be capable of even more.

But what kinds of improvements can we expect from smartphones in 2013? By looking at today's smartphones, we can get a sense of the kinds of features smartphone makers will focus on in the coming months. Here are some of them.

Wireless charging: This isn't anything new: For years now, you've been able to charge your smartphone wirelessly, thanks to battery cases and charging pads from companies such as Duracell and Energizer. Only recently, however, have we started to see smartphones with inductive charging coils built into the handset itself, obviating the need for special cases or battery packs in order to charge the phone wirelessly. You can recharge models such as the HTC Droid DNA and the Nokia Lumia 920 with any wireless charger that supports the Qi standard, and more Qi-compatible handsets are expected in coming months.

Quad-core becomes the norm: Phones with quad-core processors may be newcomers, but we expect that they will quickly become standard in 2013. These processors let you run more-advanced apps on your smartphone, and they are especially good for playing games with high-definition graphics. If you still use a phone that has a single-core processor, it may be time to consider upgrading to something with a little more oomph under the hood.

 

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