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Retrevo Predicts the Future of Gadgets
Last year we saw the smartphone market continue to take off, fueled mostly by an explosive growth in the app market. Other major events in the world of consumer electronics included the introduction of 3DTV which has received a lukewarm reception so far, and the introduction and subsequent consumer infatuation with the Apple iPad. There’s no question that 2010 was a great year for gadgets but what lies ahead in 2011? We're sure tablets will be a huge part of the gadget market next year and we'll talk more on that later but first these predictions:
Smartphones Will Get Smarter
Video conferencing is nothing new but when it gets as easy to use as Apple’s FaceTime everyone is going to use it more. We expect most smartphones to include both front and rear facing cameras next year. Smartphones will continue to replace camcorders with high def video, built-in editing and HDMI output.

We’ll All Have Much Faster Connectivity by This Time Next Year

Of course, the big change in smartphones in 2011 will be higher speed connectivity through new 4G networks like LTE and WiMAX. Verizon has begun rolling out LTE to major cities and airports, AT&T says their LTE service will debut in mid-2011, Sprint has been offering WiMAX 4G for about a year and T-Mobile has their own 4G network that uses HSPA+. Whose network will prove more popular? We might lean toward LTE but stay tuned.
Apps Will Drive
Smartphone Sales

Application developers create apps for the largest audience and consumers buy smartphones with the largest selection of apps. For that reason we predict 2011 will be a battle primarily between Apple and Android for smartphone market share however, if the current trend continues with Android growth rate, the army of Android smartphone suppliers could overwhelm Apple by creating a more desirable market for developers. The losers in this battle could turn out to be Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, HP/Palm's WebOS and even RIM/BlackBerry.
Will E-Readers Survive the Tablet Challenge?
We believe there is room for a "purpose-built" device like an e-book reader that unlike a tablet, is very readable in bright light (i.e. the beach) and runs for a month on a battery charge. That's not to say tablets won't be used as e-readers but as we found in an earlier Gadgetology Study serious book readers prefer e-readers and just like smartphones and tablets, whichever e-Reader manufacturer makes it easier to acquire e-books from the largest selection will dominate the market. That puts Amazon and Barnes and Noble in a pretty good position. If e-reader prices continue to fall it will be even easier to convince consumers that they need an e-reader in addition to a tablet. We wonder if 2011 will bring a color e-ink device that looks good and runs for a month on a charge.

Source: June 2010 Retrevo Pulse Report
This just in: Google has launched its ebookstore stocked with 3 million titles most of which are in the public domain and therefore free to download. Amazon by comparison has around 750,000 in its library but they are mostly of the better selling, more popular variety.
More HDTVs Will Include
3D but Connectivity Will
Matter Most

We predict that 3DTV will slowly become a required feature of HDTV sets as long it doesn't require a price premium at least for the TV itself (glasses could be the incremental expense). Otherwise, we expect connectivity will be one of the most desirable features as viewers migrate to streaming and downloading their TV shows and movies.

Quantum Dots Will Light the Way

We're not sure if this technology will start to show up in commercial TVs this year but these nano-crystals could help LCD TVs and even OLED TVs look even better with more accurate colors and “whiter” whites. And they save energy too. Expect to see them turn up in LED backlights first but who knows exactly when.

More TV Predictions

Of course devices that connect your TV to the Internet whether it’s a Blu-ray player, game console, AVR, set top box, or the TV itself, will become more popular than ever as more TV programs, movies, music and other content become available for streaming or downloading. However a few other TV technologies could become more prominent in 2011.

Mobile DTV

Mobile DTV or ATSC M/H (mobile/handheld) uses digital broadcast signals from TV towers to send digital TV signals optimized for mobile devices. Trials in the Washington D.C. area were very well received and we should see more cities getting Mobile DTV as the year progresses. Mobile DTV tuners could show up in smartphones, laptops, portable TVs, or other handheld devices

AllVid

CableCARD could be replaced by AllVid this year if the FCC proposal goes through. Cable CARDs are still one of the only ways to get premium channels like HBO without a cable box and even though new rules made CableCARDs easier to deal with the cable companies still don’t really want to have anything to do with them. A new proposal from the FCC called AllVid would use a new “adaptor” to replace traditional cable boxes and provide new opportunities for TV device makers. It’s still in proposal phase but we could see some activity in this department before the year is out. Incidentally, Google has officially come out in support of AllVid for Google TV.

Media Sharing

DLNA or the Digital Living Network Association has been overseeing a standard that lets devices like laptops and smartphones send video and pictures to each other and to TV sets, in other words you can send a video on your smartphone to your TV using DLNA. Samsung has a version they call All Share that supports the DLNA standard. Apple, in their own inimitable style came up with their own standard called AirPlay. Either way, we predict there will be a lot more interest from consumers in moving content between devices inside the home and outside the home.


UHDTV

We don’t think we’ll see any commercialization of 4K ultra high definition TV, we do think we’ll see more demonstrations of this next generation HDTV at CES 2011.

Laptops, Netbooks and Desktops
We may be in the minority in this opinion but we still see a role for netbook computers in fact isn’t the new 11.6 inch Apple MacBook Air really a netbook? Even though desktops are declining in popularity we also envision the desktop of the future becoming more like the workstation of the past with lots of graphics processing power and lots of bang for the buck. In the meantime as Retrevo's Tech Timeline shows laptops see enhancements in performance as "emerging" features like 64-bit processors become mainstream and new features like high-end graphics emerge.

Of course tablets will steal the show in 2011, laptops, maybe even “convertible” laptops will still be a mainstay of computer users both stationary and on the go. We expect to see solid state drives (SSDs) become more common along with longer battery life and more graphics processing power.

Some Products Will Be “Endangered” By Smartphones

Even though we still see a place for dedicated navigation devices, point and shoot cameras, camcorders, and MP3 players there is no question that more and more consumers are replacing these devices with their smartphones. We predict these categories will feel the pressure and manufacturers will be challenged to create reasons consumers would want one of these devices in addition to a smartphone.

2011 Will Be The Year
of the Tablet

Saving the most important gadget category for last, here's our prediction for tablets in 2011. In a world where timing is everything (just ask Microsoft about their Tablet PC) it appears the market is ready for tablet computers and tablets are ready, well almost, for the market. With an estimated 4 million iPads sold from their introduction in June until October and 40,000 native iPad apps at the App Store and an estimated 60 million? iPad Apps downloaded from the Apple Store there's no question tablets are on the fast track. Unfortunately for the Android tablet makers it appeared that Google had overlooked tablets in its Android road map and is now scrambling to release a tablet-worthy version of Android called Gingerbread. We predict that in the early part of 2011 and continuing through the year, a wave of Android tablets will appear on the scene which could cause a minor disruption for Apple.

Retrevo Will Keep You Informed

Smaller, cheaper, faster has always been the description for the gadgets of the future and we see no reason to doubt the gadgets of 2011 will be better and even bigger in the case of electronics like HDTVs. We’re looking forward to seeing all the new gadgets and gear for living rooms, cars, on-the-go, or wherever we happen to be that will inform us, entertain us, or allow us to communicate with the world. Don’t forget to visit Retrevo for all the latest news, reviews and even manuals for electronics including laptops, HDTV, cameras, and more.

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