As we come to the end of 2010, it’s time to reminisce over the best technology from the year that was. The Which? Tech team has joined us to run down their technology highlights, featuring the iPad and Xbox Kinect.
Some of my fellow Which? Tech members have already chastised their biggest technological disappoints of the year, but today we’re taking a more positive road.
Before we look forward to the exciting tech scheduled to meet us in 2011, what caught our eye in 2010? Me first.
Ben Stevens: Kindle’s price inspired ebook success
I was trawling through some old Which? Technology podcasts recently and ended up listening to the predictions I made at the end of 2009 for the coming year. Not only did I predict that ebook readers would sell for less than £100, but that they’d only dig their heels in once this happened. 12 months later and the Amazon Kindle can be picked up for £109. I wasn’t far off.
The device was available in the US for two years before an international version launched. And when it did it cost around £200 once import fees had been paid.
With the ground swell of tablet computers, e-readers needed to find their way – and the £100 mark (or thereabouts) has helped no end. And now that Kindles have made their way into homes, Amazon can rake in the money from ebook sales.
Matt Bath: iPad proved doubters wrong
Initial responses to Apple’s début tablet PC, the iPad, were scathing. Puffed up bloggers slammed its high price, lack of connectivity and low spec as an expensive failure waiting to happen. Best to wait, they mocked, and watch the inevitable car crash.
Only, they were wrong. Apple’s iPad has been a gob-smacking success, kicking netbooks into touch and single-handedly transforming personal computing. It’s reshaped how we tap, poke, swipe and flick our way through our daily computing and has chalked up millions of sales. Steve Jobs’ (Apple’s boss) claims of it being a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price seem less hyperbole and more understatement eight months on.
Manufacturers are desperately chucking out tablets on the tailcoats of Apple’s success, but the vast majority lack that elusive Apple secret sauce that made the iPad defy initial naysayers. Simply put, the iPad is a contender for the most successful tech product of 2010.
Jack Turner: Xbox Kinect connected with consumers
Microsoft’s camera system for the Xbox 360, Kinect, was undoubtedly one of 2010’s gaming highlights. While PlayStation Move did little more than copy Nintendo’s motion sensing controllers, Kinect took the Wii’s template for accessibility and refined it further by removing the controller – instantly making video games appealing to all.
Undoubtedly built around the casual and social gaming experience, Kinect delivered some impressive sci-fi-like tech with a great line-up of titles in its first month of release. There’s no doubt that Kinect is more than just the latest flash in the pan.
With developers working out how to get the most out of the innovative kit, we’re bound to see a lot more from Kinect in 2011 (augmented reality horror games anyone?)
Catherine West: On-demand TV set us free
Does anyone still watch TV when the schedule tells them to? Services like the ever popular BBC iPlayer and Channel 4’s 4oD have been around for awhile, but 2010 was the year that on-demand TV services really caught on. A recent survey shows that the number of UK homes watching on-demand TV has risen from 78% in 2008 to almost 90% today. The nation’s viewing habits have changed in a big way. Whether it’s on your laptop, through your TV, or even your Xbox, we all realised that there was no need to miss anything ever again.
I like the idea of TV fitting in with our own lives rather than being dictated to by the box. And there’s more to come next year with the launch of YouView and other services that work with your internet connection Virgin. Watch this space…
Al Warman: Twitter tweets success
Is Twitter a success story of 2010? Well, love it or hate it, it’s hard to argue with the numbers. More than 100 million new Twitter accounts were created this year. Even ignoring the large proportion of those who’ll never get beyond their first tweet, and those who’ll rapidly grow bored of 140-character status updates, that’s an impressive growth spurt.
The mainstream media has also jumped on Twitter, not only finding content to fill column inches and gossip pages, but using it to interact with their audiences. Programmes like BBC Question Time adopted “hashtags” (#BBCQT) to involve online comments in the studio discussion.
Although Twitter will never have the broad appeal of Facebook, its presence has infiltrated every aspect of our culture. This year’s top Twitter trends encompass both the global events that defined 2010 (the Gulf oil spill, Haiti earthquake and FIFA World Cup) and the ephemera of our existence (step forward Apple iPad, Justin Bieber and Paul the octopus). Twitter, you may not have been the success story of 2010, but you certainly helped us find out about, and interact with, the big stories of 2010.
What were your top technology successes of the past year? And don’t forget to share your technological disappointments in ‘The top technology disappointments of 2010‘.