Last year our predictions for 2012 ran the gamut from higher resolution displays on everything from smartphones to TVs, to touchscreen laptops running Windows 8, to Android devices turning up the heat on Apple. Most of these have come true with everything from Retina display iPads to super high resolution smartphones from Samsung, LG and others. Here are some of our predictions for 2013, tell us if you agree.
Screen Resolutions Get Even Higher
Apple’s Retina display raised the bar on screen resolution with a 326 ppi display. Since then that threshold has been passed by the 332 ppi Nokia Lumia 920 and almost equaled by the 320 ppi Nexus 4, 312 HTC One X+ and others. We’ve mentioned IGZO (Indium Galium, Zinc Oxide) backplanes before but we expect to see IGZO and other metal oxide backplane technologies used to create next generation displays possibly even a “super” Retina display from Apple. Late in 2012 at the IFA show, Sharp showed a 6.1-inch 498 ppi LCD and announced a 3840 x 2160 13.5-inch OLED display. We predict super high resolution handheld devices and TVs will use IGZO or some other metal oxide backplane technology possibly as soon as the end of 2013 or even sooner. We’ve even heard rumors of a Sharp IGZO display being used in the iPhone 5S.
Convertible Laptops Will Help Windows 8 AdoptionWhen we wrote our assessment of Windows 8 under the title “Windows 8 Just Takes Some Getting Used To,” we were barraged with criticisms about how frustrating Windows 8 can be. Whether Microsoft can overcome all the negative criticism over Windows 8 and turn it into a success is anyone’s guess however, we think if anything can help, it will be computers like convertible laptops and All-in-One (AIO) PCs that have touchscreens along with keyboards and touchpads or mice. We’ve learned to like Windows 8 on a Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga convertible that can serve as a laptop or a tablet and lets you swipe, pinch and tap when the urge strikes. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is another example of a convertible laptop that provides a lot of bang for the buck. If anything can help consumers feel good about using Windows 8, it could be touch and type devices.
We’ve been convinced Apple will announce an Apple branded television for a long time. We not only think it’s a natural extension for them in the battle for the living room but they will need to expand their product offering in the coming year as they continue to get pressure from Samsung and other Android vendors in the smartphone and tablet market. Apple could counter Samsung with a salvo of their own in the television market. Apple could offer a new user interface for a television that could include gesture or voice commands. LG is about to launch a TV with a remote that you talk into with voice commands and companies like Leap Motion have amazing new gesture technology that could find its way into a TV interface. We suspect the only thing delaying an Apple TV announcement has been difficulty creating content deals for an iTV library.
3D Printing Gets More Affordable
Personal 3D printers have been evolving at a fast clip. You can get one of the latest personal 3D printers like Makerbot’s Replicator 2 for around $2200 or “buy” the Formlabs Form 1 on Kickstarter for around the same price as the Replicator 2. Both of these 3D printers can resolve layers under 100 microns and come with software tools that help get your 3D design to “print.” We think the 3D printer market is about to take off and anticipate a wave of “affordable” 3D printers that work with standard .STL CAD files, to hit the market in 2013.
Faster “AC” Wi-Fi Will Make More ThanYour Router ObsoleteThe predominant Wi-Fi standard is currently 802.11n however a high speed standard 801.11ac is waiting in the wings. Some of the benefits of 802.11ac include higher data rates and capacity due to an increase in bandwidth, along with higher levels of modulation and spatial multiplexing with 3x3 MIMO. Beamforming will extend the range while MU-MIMO (multi-use) will add a fourfold increase in capacity. Routers like the highly rated ASUS RT-AC660U sells for under $200. In 2013, we expect to see 802.11ac access points pop up followed by 802.11ac devices.
New Game Consoles Will Be Part Set-Top Box, Maybe With 4K ResolutionWe’re no experts in the gaming field but we do find it interesting to watch the big changes taking place with mobile developers all looking to produce a hit like the three-person Imangi team did with Temple Run. As mobile platforms continue to lure players from PCs and consoles we predict console makers like Microsoft and Sony will add more set-top box features to their game consoles with more streaming content available. Of course, we are likely to see a Blu-ray player (finally), and Kinnect (with improved gesture interface) built into a new Xbox along with a more powerful graphics engine (we hear 4-6 times Xbox 360) and improved synchronous multi-player capabilities. We also hear rumors of more “immersive” games coming with an introduction of a 360 degree environment called “LiveWall.” The next generation Sony PlayStation (possibly named the “4”) is also expected to show up sometime later in 2013. We hear they will be packing lots of processing power possibly using new AMD x64 CPUs and AMD Southern Island GPUs. The GPU is supposedly capable of 4K (4096x2160) UHD resolution which might go well with a new Sony 4K UHDTV. A 4K capable game console and 4K TV could also make good quality, glasses-free games possible.