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By Sandeep Sharma on 7.5.2023

Technology Round-Up

Sandeep Sharma keeps pace alongside the rapidly evolving technology arena for a brief few minutes to report on the latest (and greatest)…

2011- The Year of 3D?

Since Avatar was released at the close of 2009, the profile of three-dimensional media has been relatively slow thus far to perforate the mainstream. Apart from last summer’s Toy Story 3 proving a big hit with UK audiences (grossing £73 million), consumers have been reticent about splashing out on new televisions, as Skyreported a mere 70,000 had subscribed to their 3D channel in the 6 months since launch. Perhaps this is hardly surprising, given the move to High Definition took four years to come to fruition.

That said, the “big six” films studios are predictably pushing on with a slew of animated and live-action releases this year and next, including a re-release of Titanic in 2012 in the new format. Sky will continue to promote with selective sports fixtures to draw in the punters, highlights including the finals of the Champions League and the FA Cup. LG, manufacturer of 3D TV screens, forecasted increased interest in the run-up to the London Olympics; days later the BBC hinted that boxing and gymnastics may provide the centrepiece for their 3D coverage.

Quite apart from the 45% of people who wouldn’t buy a 3D TV because it was too expensive, an almost equal 42% said they wouldn’t want to wear the glasses, a recent NPD Group study showed. Auto-stereoscopic (glasses-free) screens have made the leap to mobile phones and handheld gaming consoles (see below), but not much bigger, presenting a significant challenge to the purveyors of 3D content and the kit to play it on.

Smart-er-phones

LG are about to go to market with the world’s first full 3D handset, packing dual cameras for capturing 3D photos and videos while simultaneously having the (glasses-free) ability to play back the content with the added depth in-tact. There is competition on alternative fronts though, as the imminent Motorola Atrix showcases a laptop dock, effectively a screen and keyboard, utilising the phone for its raw 1Ghz processing power and 1GB of memory with up to 48GB for storage. And if that isn’t enough, the mind boggles as to how Samsung can cram so much technology into a 9mm device, 4.3” Super AMOLED Plus screen and Full HD recording notwithstanding.

All of these smartphones sport dual-core processors, an increasing trend in the high-end of mobile technology. Although in theory this should reduce energy consumption, with feature-creep battery life suffering to the displeasure of many. As our lives become progressively nomadic, power supply will need to be addressed. The other correlation between these phones is that they run on Google’s Android platform, which commands half of all smartphone operating systems, according to current data from Nielsen. Microsoft have been struggling to roll out updates for their new Windows Phone 7, and are hoping their recent partnership with Nokia can transform both of their fortunes, as the Finnish company lost market share with its legacy Symbian platform and Linux attempts.

The next ‘big thing’ is NFC, or Near- Field Communications, technology being adopted by smartphones which allow consumers to shop with contactless payment, akin to London’s Oyster card. At the time of writing, only Google have bolted on the feature to date with its Nexus S handset; some of the UK networks are in talks with credit card processing companies to further its availability by the summer.

BlackBerry, once the preserve of the corporate world, are enjoying something of a revival with their Messenger service, a comparatively cheaper option to text messaging, employed by teenagers and young adults. Specification-wise, their phone models tend to lag behind their peers, though their Bold 9900 seems closer to mark with a 1.2 GHz processor and NFC on-board, slated for a summer release. The white edition of the iPhone 4 debuted a few days ago, and has brought about the trademark queuing outside Apple stores upon launch. iPhone 5 has a reported September unveiling, with the Cupertino-based company typically tight-lipped about its details.

Tablet Computers

Apple, largely credited for pushing the tablet form factor into the limelight with the iPad last year, is back with its successor, the iPad 2, which is more evolution than revolution. It is a lighter design and encloses a dual-core A5 processor, but the real boon seems to be in the wealth of applications available from the App Store. A spate of hardware manufacturers are trying to play catch-up with Google’s Android 3.0 ‘Honeycomb’, while BlackBerry are touting their PlayBook, running its proprietary platform.

The netbook craze from 2007-2010 seems to have gone quiet, while the Amazon Kindle and the market for eReaders also seems to have been usurped by the more powerful offerings from the tablet market. Microsoft has stated it has no intention of getting involved “unless [they] can be distinctive”.

Gaming

The big story in game news at the moment is the infiltration of the PlayStation Network by hackers, exposing the credit card details and personally identifiable information of 77 million users. As one of the largest global data breaches, it has triggered a class-action lawsuit in the United States and attracted the attention of the Department of Homeland Security. Sony has apologised and while conducting a thorough investigation in conjunction with law enforcement, is hoping to restore services by the end of this week.

Duke Nukem Forever, the game mired in ‘development hell’ for an astounding 14 years, will finally break out on May 6th, for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Infamous for its politically incorrect, testosterone-fuelled gameplay, Duke is happy to declare “it’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m all out of gum”. Portal 2, (read our review!), is garnering a lot of praise for its spirited follow-up, providing a worthy substitute experience to the adroit first-person shooter.

Where the Wii led in the next generation of console gaming, Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 took the concept of motion capture and ran with it, beckoning that we, the players, were the controllers. Nintendo continue to maintain a foothold in the handheld gaming market with the 3DS, replete with 3D glasses-free images but have failed to meet their own sales expectations. Undeterred, a Wii 2 has been announced for 2012.
Sony have handheld fans excited with the prospect of the Next Generation Portable, headlining with a monstrous 5-inch screen, quad-core processor and unlike its predecessor (PSP), will flaunt dual analog sticks like its bigger brother. With a release date not forthcoming, the determined can soon engage with Sony-Ericsson’s Xperia Play, dubbed the PlayStation phone, which will run some classic titles from the PS One including Crash Bandicoot and Assassin’s Creed.

And finally…

A new live streaming record has been set with the Royal wedding last week, topping President Obama’s inauguration of 70 million online viewers. Though finalised figures are not yet in, Google expected 400 million spectators via YouTube, in addition to the many millions watching on news agency websites across the world. The four major mobile operators drafted in engineers and increased network capacity in London, specifically for the event.

Footballers are discovering a steep learning curve in getting closer to the fans, as Danny Gabbidon of West Ham United closed his Twitter account with an explicit rant seemingly aimed directly at his followers. This comes swiftly after his teammate, Carlton Cole, was disciplined for insensitive comments tweeted during England’s friendly with Ghana in March. Manchester United’s Darron Gibson abandoned Twitter after just two hours, because of the abuse he was subjected to.

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