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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.

Bigger screens: The era of smartphones equipped with small screens is quickly coming to an end. Most of the phones released in 2012 had screens measuring 4.3 inches or greater, and that trend seems likely to continue in 2013. While having a large screen makes a phone difficult to use one-handed, the extra screen space does have some significant benefits: You can view more of your content without constantly having to zoom in and out, and typing on the onscreen keyboard is much more enjoyable, thanks to the buttons' being larger and easier to tap accurately.

NFC becomes big (again):Yes, it's this old song and dance: Last year we predicted that near-field communication (NFC) would take off in 2012, and here we are a year later saying that it will surely happen in 2013. Most phones to­­day ship with an NFC chip, though many manufacturers, retailers, and customers don't seem to know what to do with the technology.

Both Google and Microsoft let you use NFC to make purchases with your phone, but most people are reluctant to give up their physical wallet for a digital one. Samsung's recent ad campaigns showing people sharing media via NFC may help in demonstrating ways that the technology can be useful for things besides mobile payments, but broad ac­­ceptance of near-field communication won't happen until the public is ready.

--Armando Rodriguez

TVs and Digital Entertainment

In 2013, televisions are going to get bigger. Not in size, but in resolution, with the first displays to support Ultra High Definition resolutions hitting the market. The new Ultra HD standard offers two resolutions: 7680 by 4320 pixels (16 times as many pixels as on a standard HDTV), and 3840 by 2160 pixels (also known as 4K). Both can support frame rates of up to 120 frames per second for smoother video, and the higher resolution makes images sharper and more realistic. Several manufacturers have an­­nounced Ultra HD models: LG offers the 84-inch LG 84LM9600, and Sony has its Bravia KD-X9000. Because Ultra HD is so new, both are pricey--just under $20,000 for the LG, and $25,000 for the Sony.

Ultra HD: These displays may share the problem that 3D TVs did at launch: lack of content. Although the Ultra HD standard has been finalized, no straightforward way to get Ultra HD content exists, as no Blu-ray or broadcast standard supports it. So buying an Ultra HD right now would appeal only to the most ardent early adopter, until a clear-cut way to deliver the content to your TV appears. In the meantime, Sony is lending early purchasers of its Bravia KD-X9000 model a server that is preloaded with Ultra HD content, including ten movies (ranging from the recent Spider-Man reboot to the classic The Bridge on the River Kwai) and other Ultra HD content, with the promise of more such offerings to come.


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