Top 50,000 Gadgets Of 2012
By Alex KIDMAN
2012 is winding to a slow close, which means it's time to wheel out that venerable classic, the end-of-year best-of list!
Except that I'm not going to do that, for a couple of reasons. Any list like that is undeniably subjective. There's nothing wrong with that per se; indeed, I'm often frustrated by the calls for "objectivity" that follow any review that the reader (or in this case, objector) didn't like. It's the easiest and laziest attack vector on any review, and ignores the fact that any review -- any review at all -- will carry a degree of subjectivity. People don't seem to complain that way about movie reviews; they accept that critics have their own tastes, preferences and viewpoints. But I'm badly digressing.
The fact is, you could indeed do a list of the top 50,000 gadgets, and while that top ten would be the most fervently read, I'm willing to bet that somebody would argue with the placements of 47,987 and 47,988. The Internet is like that. So instead, I thought I'd pick out just three things that I thought were either transformative or disruptive in mobile technology in 2012. They're in no particular order, just before anyone gets their proboscis out of joint*.
(but before I start; I very deliberately didn't include any of the mobile operating systems. Why? Because they're mostly mature products; iOS and Android really only tinkered around the edges, Windows Phone relaunched, but hasn't yet changed the market to speak of (although I did consider Windows 8 itself for a while), and RIM held off on BB10 until 2013, so it was out of contention)
Google Nexus 7
Why the Nexus 7 over so many other tablets? Because of the disruptive potential of Google (and ASUS') little pocket rocket. Prior to the Nexus 7, there were plenty of technically worthwhile Android tablets on the Australian scene, but they were always hampered by comparison to the iPad alternative; the pricing was the same, but the iPad ecosystem was more robust, with many Android apps still lacking full tablet features. That made an Android tablet the less attractive proposition. Then the Nexus 7 launched; an inexpensive, high-powered device that puts Android on the front foot, and buys it time to improve its tablet standing. The iPad's still ahead in the tablet game, but the lead is shrinking fast.
4G takes hold
Admittedly, 4G is still in its relative infancy here in Australia; we've only got two networks, and one of them doesn't have that much of a footprint outside selected capital cities. Equally, the larger network did indeed launch in 2011. Still, 2012 has been the year where we've seen 4G across all the major platforms (sorry, Blackberry users -- line to hate me is on the left), at prices that make it rather compelling. The 4G story in 2013 is going to be even more interesting, with the digital dividend auction making 700Mhz LTE a reality, Optus moving into LTE-A in Canberra and Vodafone doing… whatever it's going to do. At the same time, 3G -- a technology that at one point was transformative -- has become so commonplace that it's now on sale at bargain basement prices. 4G's a heavy enabling technology, just as 3G was before it; with 4G it becomes far more feasible to live a nearly -- or entirely -- mobile online life.
In a world where most users are more concerned about whether their mobile platform of choice will let them fling birds at pigs -- and they pretty much all will -- Eben Upton's vision of a cheap hacking computer became a reality in 2012. Sure, the Raspberry Pi didn't exactly ship fast, and there have been plenty of similar style small form factor cheap board computers since then; you've really got your choices cut out for you in terms of Pi-style devices to hack on. But the Pi's a solid reminder that for every skeumorphic design idea, touch sensitive panel and cloud-backed up selfie, there needs to be some background coding. Somebody's got to do the coding, and there's always going to need to be new coders and fresh ideas -- and they've got to start somewhere.
Did I miss any obvious contenders? Let me know below!
*Although if you really must, go for it. I wouldn't be sticking my snout in a side of beef, but if it makes you happy…
Original Image: linksfraktion
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2013 Camcorder Industry Projections
By David HAGUE
Over at http://billbennett.co.nz/2012/12/18/what-will-technology-bring-in-2013/ my colleague, good friend and veteran tech commentator has made his (NZ based) predictions for technology in 2013. With no direct data or hints to work from from manufacturers or vendors, I’d like to offer the same for the camcorder industry.
Mid Range Camcorders
The midrange models ($2000 –ish) will get more and more features bringing them to the level of what you get from today’s $5K models. This will bring the area of quality documentary making closer to the masses – although the skills to do so is a different argument again.
Low End Camcorders
As manufacturers realize that despite marketing campaigns, it will not be worth their while to develop newer models in the low end market (entry level - $600). People have become too welded to their smartphones (sadly) or have realized that for a quick and dirty video, their compact still camera’s quality will suffice. And I suspect not much of what is shot ever sees the light of day anyway.
I believe (and hope) that the masses will come to understand that a camcorder is shaped the way it is for a reason. Sure the dSLR has its place for specialist work via aficionados but it is no substitute for a dedicated camcorder across the board. And as the price of the mid level units drops, and interchangeable lenses in these models becomes the norm rather than the exception (thus also giving the manufacturers a new revenue stream), users will graduate to the flexibility these offer.
As resolution needs grow, especially with 4K now apparently just around the corner, I wonder if the humble SD will continue to be the main type of memory storage. I suspect SSD drives will become the norm as their prices drop and these will be a plug in / plug out unit for fast changing. Perhaps they’ll be mounted via a hot shoe?
The capabilities of even the lowest priced editing package are far beyond what 90% of the people use them for. I feel there will become a distinct divide between the consumer package and the ‘pro’ systems. Developers have to recoup their costs AND make a profit, so there is little benefit in developing a lower end program that has almost all the capability of the flagship package. I have a feeling we may see more “rental” of high end packages similar to what Adobe do with CS6.
I reckon Apple will get out of this market. They have no hardware to speak of, from what I can gather Final Cut X is universally despised and Adobe has grabbed a large part of the FCP user base. iMovie is free and Shake has been discontinued so why ‘ang about? Apple knows it’s quids are in music and tablets, and to a lesser degree laptop and desktops, so there is little to be gained from placing resources into a market that offers you nothing.
So there you have it. If you have any thoughts, please share them! And have a safe and happy Chrissy and New Year – and take lots and lots of video. Remember, a still photo is a snapshot of time; a video is a time machine!
And you can still snare a top Chrissy present for someone with a subscription of Auscam – a REAL paper magazine. See http://auscamonline.com/product/auscam-the-hardcopy-magazine for details.
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Peeking around the corner at 2013 ...
By Ian GRAYSON
Each year around this time, business technology watchers have a go a predicting what the key trends and issues will be for the gleaming new year that's just around the corner. Here's my take on the topic.
Once the tinsel and trees have been cleared and the NYE party stories shared, the five topics that will top the lists of CIOs and IT managers will be:
It occupied many minds throughout 2012, and it will remain a hot issue in 2013. IT managers have to determine their policies when it comes to BYOD, device security and access to centralised IT resources. These topics have no simple answers, but ignoring them is not an option.
Acceptance of cloud-based resources and services came a long way in 2012, but many organisations are still wrestling with exactly how the approach can be made to work for them. Expect massive campaigns from cloud providers as they try to convince those who are yet to embrace the largest trend to hit the IT sector since the internet.
Recent industry numbers have shown a significant drop in the sale of desktop PCs, as attention shifts to more mobile devices. IT managers will need to devise effective methods of managing fleets of devices that may spend little or no time in the office. Over-the-air updates and browser-based tools will grow in usage.
It's being talked about almost as much as cloud computing, but the rise of big data has only just begun. Organisations that manage to harness the massive flows of information washing across their sectors will gain a significant competitive advantage.
This one always seems to make it into top-five lists, and there's no reason that won't be the case in 2013. Recent reports of malicious cyber attacks where corporate data has been held hostage by international hackers means businesses are more acutely aware of the importance of proper security than ever.
But before the pressures and stresses of the new year descend, be sure to find just a little time for relaxation and enjoyment. For that reason 'Work' is taking a break and will return, bright and shiny, in the new year.
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Have a ripping Christmas
By Adam TURNER
I've just added a 2TB drive to my media centre in anticipation of the Christmas rush.
Amazon UK tends to be my Christmas shopping destination of choice these days, stocking up on movies and music for family and friends. It's less complicated than buying from Amazon US, as Australia and the UK both use the PAL video standard. You do however need a multi-region DVD player to watch UK Region 2 discs, as Australia is part of Region 4 (which makes the region-locked PlayStation 3 such a frustrating media player). Thankfully Australia and the UK are in the same region when it comes to Blu-ray movies.
Despite the ease of legally downloading content, I still prefer the security blanket and improved sound and video quality of a physical disc -- which I can then format-shift as I see fit. I can then store the original away in a cool, dry place. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not ready to completely abandon physical media just yet.
After I recently scratched a brand new DVD I'm now extra cautious when it comes to backing up my movies, even though it's still against the law in Australia. With a few expensive DVD and Blu-ray box sets under the Christmas tree this year, I'm taking extra care. AnyDVD HD lets me rip them without losing picture quality, while HandBrake compresses them for watching on handheld devices. The latest version of HandBrake can even rip directly from Blu-ray discs if something like AnyDVD HD is installed, although you might need to upgrade to the latest version of AnyDVD HD to bypass the protection on the latest Blu-ray movies.
Windows 7's default media centre interface turns my media centre into a video jukebox, with the My Movies plugin downloading artwork and other details just like iTunes does with music CDs. I had a lot of trouble importing my HandBrake Blu-ray rips into iTunes even though they'd place nicely in QuickTime. iTunes was sorting them into the Home Videos folder, but they still wouldn't show up in iTunes.
After a lot of Google searching I eventually discovered that simply restarting iTunes was enough to fix the problem, although your mileage may vary. Once I could see them in ITunes I simply went into the file properties and changed the Media Kind from Home Video to Movie. I then used MetaX to add all the metadata including cover art. I ran into a few issues with MetaX as well, causing movies not to play correctly, but enabling support for large files and not copying the chapter titles seemed to fix the problem.
Ripping all my movies is now becoming second nature, with $99 for a new 2TB USB3.0 drive a small price to pay to have all our content at our fingertips without the risk of grubby fingers destroying an optical disc.
What's your strategy for protecting optical discs this holiday season?
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What a difference a day makes
By Stephen WITHERS
Tony Bennett was right when he sang "What a difference a day makes." Allow me a little license in talking about one working day rather than Tony's "twenty four little hours," but a remarkable turnaround occurred during the past week.
Two weeks ago I noted Apple's confirmation that the 27in iMac would ship in December as originally announced, contrary to an earlier rumour that deliveries might not start until the New Year.
But last Friday, Cnet reported "The 27-inch iMac now has a vague ship date of January, not exactly an improvement over the previous estimate."
But by Monday, Cnet had changed its tune: "A few MacRumors forum members who snagged the new large-screen iMacs say they've received notices indicating that the order status has been changed to 'Preparing for Shipment.' At least one person also said his credit card has been charged.
"Both signs mean the 27-inchers are almost ready to be handed off to the shippers."
MacRumors subsequently noted "Apple has now begun shipping these early orders, with many customers seeing delivery dates of December 18 while a few are seeing dates as early as December 13. We're also hearing from customers outside of the United States that their orders are similarly progressing toward shipment."
This presumably applies only to orders that were placed early in the piece. If you haven't got round to ordering that 27-incher, Apple's currently quoting January delivery for new orders via its online store. If you must have a new iMac by Christmas, it looks like you'll have to make do with a 21.5in model unless you strike it lucky at an Apple Store or reseller.
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