Gear Diary 2010 Gear of the Year and Predictions for 2011

The past year has seen interesting developments in the gear we all use: the term iOS replaced iPhone OS as the OS that started on iPhone was also on the new iPad when it took the world and Gear Diary writers by storm, Android phones blossomed and became real competitors to the iPhone, and the iPad got its first real competition in the Samsung Galaxy Tab just a few months before 2010 drew to a close.  While there’s much more that happened in the past year, I thought let’s ask the following questions of the Gear Diary Team.

1. What was your favorite gear in 2010 and why?

2. What gear are you looking forward to in 2011 and why?

These were our replies …

Joel McLaughlin: 1. It pains me to say this, since I AM a Linux Guy, but I must say the iPad. It has changed the whole industry and the way they look at tablet/slate computing. It’s even spurred on Android developers and manufacturers to bring out the Android version. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Galaxy Tab, there just isn’t enough there to compete with the iPad just yet. As for Microsoft, I think they are on the fence with this. They were pioneers in tablet computing but must have spent too much time with Kin and Windows Phone 7 this year to notice.

2. Android Tablets! Need I say more?? The Galaxy Tab is the first real competitor to the iPad. There’s also the Archos 101 and Archos 70 to look forward to, plus a WiFi version of the Galaxy Tab. Sure, this may bring up the “fragmentation” problem, but I think that Google and the Android developers out there will be able to produce something that will really shine. Unless the Oracle lawsuit tarnishes it, I think 2011 will be a bright year for Android on both the phone and tablet fronts.

Christopher Gavula: 1. I have to agree – the iPad. This device has single-handedly created a market out of a nearly non-existent market. Its become the most quickly adopted consumer electronic device ever – beating CD Players / DVD Players and MP3 players. Martha Stewart is always saying great things about it on her show, and Oprah has declared it as “the best thing ever”. It’s caught both the attention of consumers and business alike. Developers are scrambling to build or update apps for it, and people are talking about amazing new and unique uses for it. Yeah – the iPad has changed a lot in the industry, and it is stirring up competition as companies jump into the market.

It has changed how I do many things. For example, I no longer run to my laptop to look up something quickly on the web – I just grab my iPad. I no longer carry a bunch of heavy technical books when I travel – I have them as eBooks on my iPad. Yeah – I could do much of this on my iPhone, but the iPad’s larger screen makes it easier to read without being inconveniently large, and the tap/pinch/zoom makes browsing easier. It definitely gets my vote as my favorite gear of the year!

2. I’m looking forward to a new iPad and the iPhone 5 this year. I’m also really anxious to see what Android devices make it to market, but I really hope they figure out how to reduce the fragmentation or the platform may have long-term viability issues.

Francis Scardino :1. As Joel put it, I would have to agree that the iPad is definitely the device that made the biggest difference. From Corporate America to toddlers, the iPad has something to offer everyone. I would have liked to have nominated the Nexus One, but too much attention has been stolen due to Apple’s status as Tablet King. The Nexus was considered a “push” for the market, and I think it is responsible for some of the designs we have today — but nothing tops the almighty iPad. All things tablet will be an attempt to dethrone that device, which tells me that they certainly did something right. Although I do not own an iPad, it’s one of the few Apple products that I believe to have no equal. It also pains me slightly to admit it, but I vote the iPad as the undisputed 2010 Gadget Champ.

2. There are a few things that I hope to see mainstream in 2011: The first would be a decent competitor to the iPad, another is low-priced Solid State Storage. It’s inevitable that the mobile world will continue to grow exponentially with new technology and components and features that integrate more into our daily lives. Since most gadgets are designed to be portable these days, I think one of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of a new type of renewable power source. It’s time to take all that great technology and make it run for days on end without plugging it in or recharging it. That’s my biggest gripe with smartphones, laptops, tablets, and MP3 players. I think things are progressing, but not nearly as fast as everything else. I would love to see fuel cell become a usable reality or some other type of chemical cell that replaces Li-ion as our main source of power. That’s mainly what I would like to see in 2011.

Doug Moran: 1. The iPad. I won’t go into details, but its impact on the market, the computing world, and how people use and relate to “computer devices” (ask Dan!) almost cannot be overstated. It’s Arthur C. Clarke’s “Newspad” from 2001 made real — nine years late, but good call, Mr. Clarke!

The Windows phone may make an impact going forward. But it appears to me that like almost everything Microsoft puts out into the market, the first revision is not quite ready for prime-time. I expect the next iteration or two to be much better, because based on what I’ve read Windows 7 for the phone is a better OS code base than, say, Windows Mobile.

2. More Android tablets—we need competition in that space, and I hope the Windows phone improves.

Travis Ehrlich: 1. What is your favorite gear of the year and why? I will have to go the common route and say the iPad. The technology and user experience is very clean and intuitive. I believe the iPad is the first pieces of technology I have used that seems to continually change and grow with time. It seems that I have only scratched the service on the power and uses for the device.

2. What gear are you looking forward to in 2011 and why? Of course as an Apple fanboy, I look forward to the iOS devices that are on the horizon. I think there will be some changes to the iPhone which will further compete with the number of Android devices available. I love the competition in the smartphone market, and I hope that something totally new to all of us blows our minds in 2011

Carly Z: 1.  I’m going to be the voice of dissent here. I think my favorite gear is going to be the Kindle 3, with a close tie being the NOOK line. Not only are they fantastic devices, but the price wars have made them more accessible to everyone. And even with lower prices Amazon and B&N still pushed the envelope with hardware and features.

2. I’m excited in 2011 to see the directions and changes to computing. We’ve seen changes with the iPad in how people manage work on the go, and the team at CES is going to be rocking Galaxy Tabs instead of laptops. Plus I’ve been pretty immersed in cloud/lightweight computing with Chrome OS lately…and I’m seeing that there’s a lot more that can be done through lightweight apps and using the internet for heavy lifting. I think this coming year with the increased availability of tablets, smartphones, etc we’ll see computing become even more decentralized, and how we adjust and adapt is going to be fascinating to watch.

Michael Anderson: 1. I will have to join the iPad chorus – aside from being a constant companion for email, web and social networking, I use it for loads of productivity (full MS office, mind mapping, todos, scientific calculations and statistics, and on and on!), gaming, video, music listening and most recently music production – the AmpliTube and Tascam Portastudio are excellent!

2. I see 2010 as a year of expansion – we have all of these so-called ‘convergence’ devices, yet most people are carrying MORE than ever! I am hoping 2011 will be the year for useful convergence – we have the technology with stuff like tablets, so it is time to ditch dedicated iPods, low-performance notebooks, and other superfluous crap!

Dan Cohen: 1. It would be easy to join the iPad-chorus since that device has certainly impacted to many aspects of my life, both professional and private. But I won’t. No, I won’t say the iPad, because it is the standout. Rather I’m going to go with… The Samsung Galaxy Tab. Why the Tab? Simple. The Tab is increasingly well-received by people; it is not an iPad, but it is a darn good device. The reason the Tab stands out for me is that it will push Apple to be even better. I don’t subscribe to the idea that Apple does ONLY what Apple wants to do. Sure they are arrogant; sure Steve Jobs does what he wants but lets face it… Apple is in the business of making money. And if people like what they see in the Tab, then Apple will take notice. Maybe not A LOT of notice but they WILL take notice and react somewhat. No, they will never let on that they are following the Tab’s lead, but they will follow. Were there NO competitor to the iPad at all, Jobs and Co. would make their decisions based ONLY on Stevo’s Vision. The Tab means Apple has to look and respond to things a bit differently, and that is good for the entire market.

2. I have two predictions, and they are not tied to specific gadgets…

a. The hybrid cloud will reign supreme: I have been using the term “hybrid-cloud” for some time now. I don’t know if I coined it or not, but regardless it aptly describes services like Dropbox and Evernote. Data is stored in the cloud but ALSO synced to a variety of devices. The services are cross-platform and, as a result, let you access your data everywhere no matter where you are or what device you are using. As always-on data connections continue to grow and cloud storage continues to become cost-effective these approaches will continue to grow. Add in the expected and we will all be using more cloud on all our devices. That’s good news in a variety of places but especially since new notebooks like the MacBook Air offer storage limits.

b. Voice-to-Text will become ubiquitous: I use voice all the time and am pleased to see more and more people using it. Voice on the Mac has finally begun to catch up to Windows, iOS devices have Dragon Dictation and Vlingo and Android has voice input EVERYWHERE. It ain’t perfect but it is amazing how useful it can be. As the technology moves forward on all devices more and more people will come to rely on it. I see that moving forward in 2011 to a great extent.

Judie: 1.In 2010, I rediscovered my love for reading digital content — both magazines and eBooks, and my favorite gear included the devices that allowed me to do it comfortably and conveniently. Without a doubt for most of 2010 the iPad dominated as my favorite device, but recently the Samsung Galaxy Tab has completely usurped it due to its built-in camera, lighter weight and more portable size … plus the fact that the WordPress app actually works properly and allows me to snap a photo and upload posts to pending without accidentally posting. It’s a big deal to me, anyway. 😉

I think that the Tab has found my sweet spot; it’s small enough that I can always tuck it into even my smallest purse, yet its screen is large enough that I can comfortably use it for browsing and writing posts. The only caveat so far has been that a few of my favorite apps (cough cough — Zinio!) aren’t yet available for the Tab. Because AT&T has a straight-forward (and contract free) pricing structure, I went with their version, but unfortunately AT&T has the Tab locked down, which means that there are certain apps — such as eReader — that I can’t sideload. All this means is that I will be rooting the Tab soon.

My second favorite piece of gear is the new 11″ MacBook Air; this is the travel laptop I have always wanted! It fits perfectly in my bag, weighs next to nothing, and it doesn’t hurt anything that it looks nice, too.

2. The gear I am looking forward to in 2011 will be some of the obvious choices — the new iPhone and new iPad — I’m hoping that Dan is right, and that Apple will feel enough pressure to resist resting on their laurels. But I am also looking forward to seeing an HTC Android tablet, to seeing new Windows Phone 7 apps that will allow it to become more of a daily driver possibility, and I’m looking forward to trying out the next big “thing” — whatever it may happen to be.

2011 takes us one step further into the great unknown, and it will be fun to see what products are introduced, which devices will fall to the wayside, and which gadgets will still be considered necessities as we go forward.

But what about you? Why don’t you tell us …

1. What was your favorite gear of 2010 and why?

2. What gear are you looking forward to in 2011 and why?

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