2008 was a good year for gadgets, and we're hoping that '09 will be just as impressive. We're only a month in so far, but Palm, Dell, Sony and even Amazon have all dropped hints about what the companies have in store. We've collected the five big announcements that have us drooling, as well as five more that we'd like to see happen before 2010.
Get excited, and then come on in by clicking Continue.
1. Palm Pre
What we know: Palm's future offering is shaping up nicely. It's a multitouch smartphone with a sliding, QWERTY keyboard, gesture controls, 8 gigs of memory, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Palm's flashy new WebOS.
Why we want it: With RIM and Apple setting a stringent pace with the BlackBerry Storm and the iPhone 3G, respectively, Palm's had some catching up to do. It's good to see the company back in the game, and with such a great smartphone to boot.
Look for it: Right now, we expect the Pre to be married with Sprint sometime mid-'09 for around $200.
2. Dell Adamo
What we know: Next to nothing — Dell's not ready to reveal it's ultra-thin, 13-inch beauty just yet. Still, anticipation is high for it to be unveiled as a Macbook Air/netbook contender and, knowing Dell, hopefully cheaper. How will the company shake it up? Blu-ray? HD hook-ups? A high-capacity SSD?
Why we want it: The netbook war is really going to heat up this year, with the Asus Eee PC making them functional and cheap, and the Sony Vaio P making them look good. With the Adamo, we hope it does all of that.
Look for it: When we know more about the Adamo, you will, too.
3. Windows 7
What we know: However you feel about, Microsoft needs to move on from its oft-maligned Vista operating system, and so far it looks like Windows 7 will be the perfect way to do that.
Why we want it: It sure does looks like Mac OS X, but that's not a bad thing. It's about time Microsoft gave Windows more than just some gloss — with smart features like an improved, multi-tiered Start menu and easy-to-manage tabbed computing that'll have Apple taking notes for a change.
Look for it: You can already pick up the beta, but the full version should be out later this year — in six different flavors, no less.
4. 3D HDTV
What we know: We're still a little cynical about 3D television, especially after those horrid Super Bowl commercials. Hollywood is pushing more and more 3D cinema on us: My Bloody Valentine comes to mind, and James Cameron is going 3D with Avatar.
Why we want it: This one's a little tricky. If 3D HDTV is the way we'll all be watching television in five or ten years, we don't want it to have to fight against HDTV as a format the same way Blu-ray and HD DVD forced consumers into a mutually exclusive choice between one or the other. That's assuming that 3D broadcasts are as inevitable as high def ones were.
Look for it: The sooner the better. If 3D TVs are coming out, hopefully they'll be entering the high end market this year, with cheaper sets in the years to come.
5. Fully Featured Internet TV
What we know: Both set-top boxes and broadcasts are starting to work in some serious Internet functionality. You'll see everything from movies you downloaded (both from a service such as NetFlix or a torrent), to interacting with ads that take you right to the product at the click of a button on your remote.
Why we want it: Televisions tied to the Internet aren't brand-spanking new, but we're looking forward to some solid functionality tying everything together in 2009. Media hubs are nice, no doubt, but it's about time the good ol' TV learned to fend for itself again.
Look for it: All over the place — maybe even on the TV you've got already.
1. Sony 27-inch OLED TV
What we know: We saw a distinct lack of OLED TV prototypes at CES 2009 (and more in '08, actually), but we're holding out hope that the nascent display technology will find a solid footing this year. Sony had the strongest showing, teasing CES crowds with exceptionally bright and clear OLED pictures.
Why we want it: From plasma to LCD and then LED, OLED televisions are the next stepping stone for high-def displays. The clarity their screens can offer is unrivaled, though they've been plagued by tiny screen sizes so far. OLED TVs won't really take off until they come in sizes rivaling 40- and 50-inch LCD and plasma displays, and Sony's impressive 27-inch is another step toward them.
2. Amazon Kindle 2
What we know: The jury's still out on Amazon's second-generation Kindle, which will probably be unveiled by the company next week. We're not expecting any fireworks here — better software and an easier-to-use design is what we're most likely to see — but who knows? Maybe Amazon will have something totally amazing up its sleeve.
Why we want it: Really, we'd settle for thinner, more attractive e-readers in general, since we probably won't see color or flexible versions anytime soon. A better infrastructure backing e-readers wouldn't hurt, either; take the marketplaces away from Amazon and Sony and offer us something exterior, with support for serialized publications such as magazines and newspapers (the first of which would suffer without color), and all the books our hearts desire. As an avid reader, I'd just like to see the publishing world move away from paper, regardless.
3. Third-Generation iPhone
What we know: Apple released a new iPhone last year, almost exactly one year after the landmark gadget's launch. If the company wants to stay competitive in the fast-moving cellphone market, there's a decent chance we'll see something new this year as well. Whispers 'round the Net aren't talking about new features per se, but a serious overhaul of the iPhone we know and love.
Why we want it: The iPhone has grown a lot, most notably by the introduction of the App Store. The next iteration of the phone is rumored to have faster processing and stronger support for graphics, which which certainly allow app makers to further advance the unit's uses. And, hey, how about some copy and paste already?
4. Better Android Phones
What we know: Android-enabled phones didn't land with the same bang the iPhone did, but with growing open-source developer support and innovative new handsets, the platform should continue to emerge as a viable competitor. Apple showed computer companies could enter the phone world in a serious way, and Android is attracting the attention of companies like Dell on top of the numerous electronic giants already cranking out headsets.
Why we want it: With the Pre on the way and a new iPhone possibly in the works, we want to see an Android handset that would really make us drool. Google has already proved it can do almost everything and do it well — usually for free for all of us — and, while Apple's mobile OS is tied to just the iPhone and AT&T, Android is on a bunch of different sets on a bevy of different networks, and we like to have a choice.
What we know: WiMax, GSM and LTE technology are all gaining serious backers in the U.S. — companies such as Intel and carriers such as Sprint, Verizon and AT&T. 2009 seems ripe for a steady growth in 4G infrastructure, with increasing benefits in the years to come.
Why we want it: Upwards of 100-megabit-per-second downloads with room for plenty more — what's not to love? If we're going to live in a world full of streaming media, we need to right technology to keep it going.