December 28, 2006

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Tech that didn't happen
Why 2006 was the year of disappointment
By John “jaQ” Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

Forget overpriced game systems that confused polygon count with fun.

Forget the continuing miniaturization of portable gadgets masquerading as innovation. Forget even TIME magazine's selection of "You" as the Person of the Year because "You" are suddenly making and posting all this great content on the Web.

A lot of truly exciting technology that could have come our way this year just didn't. Maybe I'm becoming spoiled, but I like my upgrades fast and furious so I can snag the last generation of gizmos for cheap right after they come out. What will have to wait until next year's Christmas list? Read on.

• Blu-ray/HD DVD combo player I asked the consumer electronics industry for this machine way back in January. I even predicted it would be out in September. Let it never be said that I don't cop to mistakes.

To review: DVDs have just pitiful quality, so two standards battled to become the next generation of home movie media. So far, neither has won, even with a Blu-ray drive integrated into the Playstation 3. Microsoft's gaming arm got into the format war with an HD DVD drive for its Xbox 360 at a mere $200, which was quickly hacked and connected to PCs. From there it's a short cable to the 42" plasma screen all geeks are legally required to own.

The two formats are physically the same size and shape as DVDs and CDs, so making one player that could read both of them shouldn't be a huge technical issue. The problem is more about getting companies backing the two competing standards to play nice with each other. Hurry up, guys, I'm ready to predict when the first combo recorder will be released.

• IEEE 802.11n WiFi No, despite the numerous "pre-N" devices on the market for year, you still cannot have a faster wireless network. Not yours. At least, not one that's guaranteed to be compatible with devices from other vendors supposedly based on the same standard, currently only in draft form.

802.11n, a successor to 802.11b and 802.11g wireless standards, is still slated for release, but the current Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers timeline has the final publication date pushed out all the way to April of 2008. It's supposed to offer faster throughput and greater range, but geez, by then, the whole Internet thing is gonna be so passe.

• Flying cars and vacations on the moon These were supposed to be here for the millennium. They even got an extra year with that whole "there was no Year 0" nonsense. But I'm getting a little tired of waiting, folks. Get with it.

• If they mated: iPod & cell phone A few wireless communications vendors rolled out cell phones with small amounts of memory and music playback capability this year, but the long-pined-for iPhone never materialized. Numerous rumors, sketches and faked videos purported to herald the coming of this great device, but alas, nothing doing. Come on, Apple, how hard would it be to slap a little more circuitry in an 80GB iPod to give it voice capability? There had to have been money there partnering with service providers. Could you just not stomach a little logo messing up the sheen of your media player? You could've sold them unlocked, even.

What really sounded the death knell for the iPhone was, well, the iPhone. By Cisco's Linksys brand name. The Linksys iPhone, announced just this month, is a considerably less sexy gadget, basically another handset for using the Skype Internet telephone service.

Ah well. There's always next year.


12/21/2006 Do not want

12/14/2006 Meet the new web
12/07/2006 Extreme price shopping
11/30/2006 They want what?
11/23/2006 Zat zany Zune
11/16/2006 Shop smart
11/9/2006 Your data's new home
11/2/2006 Hotkey heaven
10/26/2006 Computer to go
10/19/2006 Tech news roundup
10/12/2006 A different drummer
10/05/2006 Who needs TiVo?
09/28/2006 Disk drives without disks
09/21/2006 Movies, just click your mouse!
09/14/2006 Laptops for less
09/07/2006 GPS everywhere
08/31/2006 The printer dilemma
08/24/2006 A series of tubes
08/17/2006 More music, more places
08/10/2006 How big is your drive?
08/03/2006 It's a WiFi world
07/27/2006 Fancy a spot of memory?
07/20/2006 Under the sea
07/06/2006 eBaysic training
06/29/2006 You paid money for that?
06/22/2006 Processing ... processing ...
06/15/2006 C:\Run for the border
06/01/2006 The keyboard is mightier
05/25/2006 Geek phone home
05/18/2006 Super highway information
05/11/2006 How to host a site
05/04/2006 If they mated
04/27/2006 Apples to apples
04/20/2006 Flash uber-drives
04/13/2006 Web site, by you
04/06/2006 Ayyy, jaQ's right!
03/30/2006 Choose wirelessly
03/23/2006 Tax programs cometh
03/16/2006 And the Spammie goes to...
03/09/2006 Take in the Vista
03/02/2006 Cheap moviemaking
02/23/2006 Go directly to iJail
02/16/2006 Will you stamp your e-mail?
02/09/2006 War of the machines
02/02/2006 Faster than a speeding packet

01/26/2006 Free software made simple
01/19/2006 The Worst of CES
01/12/2006 Radio you
01/05/2006 Making Movies
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