Gearing Up

Gearing Up

What’s in store for home gadgetry in 2011

Another year, another Apple product. The recent announcement of the upgraded iPad could have the geeks among us pondering what’s on the tech horizon for the year, and judging from some of the hardware launched at January’s Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show, there may not be much that’s new, but it’s certainly shiny.

For tabletop goodies that can easily be shared by everyone — kids, adults, students, business professionals — all eyes are on Motorola’s XOOM tablet, the one product many pundits believe could give Apple a run for its money. Motorola is upping the ante even further with what it considers the year’s must-have tablet. The XOOM runs on the tablet-specific Android 3.0 Honeycomb, runs Flash for a full web experience, and sports a 10-inch HD display.

The XOOM also “delivers performance that’s twice as fast at web browsing as the leading competitor.” Ahem. No names. It can be used at 3G or upgradeable 4G speeds and best of all there’s an available smart dock that makes viewing video content, working and listening to music (you need external speakers) possible while it charges. To say it has all the other bells and whistles is moot.

If you prefer kicking back with a movie or that television series you’ve been meaning to catch the old fashioned way—on a TV set—then you’ll want to hunt down either the new Samsung UN65D8000 3D TV or the Vizio XVT3D580CM. Samsung was one of the first out of the gate with a 3D television unit, and its upgraded model proves the Korean electronics giant hasn’t given up on the format just yet — regardless of the failure of 3D TV to take off in 2010. The new model is a super-thin 0.2 inches, elegantly designed and comes Internet connective-ready. High definition resolution is a given, and the improved active-shutter Bluetooth glasses allow for more range of vision for 3D images; you don’t have to sit still at one exact spot in front of this idiot box. That said …you still have to wear 3D glasses.

If you’re still resisting the 3D juggernaut, Vizio’s LED-backlit Cinemawide model may be just what you need. Movie buffs have long bemoaned the thick black bars at the top and bottom of TV screens that attempt to replicate Cinemascope. The Cinemawide TVs come with a film-friendly 21:9 aspect ratio that mimics theatre dimensions, giving the impression of a true movie screen. Just in your living room.

Lastly, what would home entertainment be without new gear from the gaming industry? Xbox Kinect, Wii’s Remote Plus and PlayStation Move all made motion control gaming a reality last year, and the next step appears to be 3D gaming. Nintendo announced its 3DS in Las Vegas, and the unit has just gone on sale in Japan, Australia, North America and parts of Europe (surely a Hong Kong release is on the way). The 3DS is a portable model but it dispenses with the need for those glasses through use of autostereoscopy. If you thought regular games were misery just wait until you get behind someone on the MTR playing Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy with this thing. Here’s hoping they never combine 3D with motion control. Black eye, anyone?