When this year began, we were feverishly speculating about an Apple tablet, looking forward to 3-D TV sets, and optimistically waiting for the end of the cable companies’ cruel grip on our wallets.
We had to settle for one out of three. While manufacturers did release a handful of 3-D TVs, there’s just not enough content either on cable or Blu-ray to justify purchasing one yet. The heavy, expensive glasses you need to buy don’t make the proposition any more attractive, either.
And as for getting all our video from the sweet, ever-flowing bounty of the internet? Sure, we still do that — when we’re at work. But at home, internet TV is still struggling to stand on its own. The gadget we’d pinned our hopes on, the Boxee Box, is unfinished and buggy. Google TV is hampered by the unwillingness of the TV networks to play ball. Apple TV remains locked into its own little iTunes-centric world.
So that leaves the Apple tablet. If you’d told us in December 2009 that we’d be using the word “iPad” every day without giggling, well, we would have giggled at you. But there it is: There’s no getting around the fact that the iPad, silly name and all, has completely and successfully redefined what a “tablet computer” could be.
But the iPad was far from being the only big gadget news of the year. E-readers, cameras, and even exoskeletons made huge strides in 2010. Here, then, are the 10 gadgets that were most significant in 2010.
Is it too late for holiday shopping? Not at all. If you act fast, you can still get some cool gifts for the geeks on your list. Some are available online and some require a trip to a local store — but all of the items on this list are likely to be well-received by any Wired reader.
This is a partial list, of course. Got any great last-minute nerd gift suggestions? Hit us in the comments!
Red Swingline Stapler
This might appeal more to the dorks than the geeks on your shopping list, but anyone who has seen and lovedOffice Space (and what nerd hasn’t?) will appreciate having their very own red Swingline stapler. $22 from ThinkGeek, which will ship in time for Christmas if you order by 12/21 at 11:59pm Eastern time.
Newly-approved Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan is a Kindle user, while longtime conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wields an iPad.
This nugget of information appeared in a recent video clip on C-SPAN. Both justices use the devices (plus hard copy printouts) to read the vast quantities of written material they must wade through — up to 40 or 50 briefs for each case, Kagan says in the video above.
The news, however, made us wonder about something of far more pressing national importance: Is this a deep ideological divide on the Supreme Court?
Would Scalia see things differently if he read opinions on the monochrome Kindle? Does Kagan need a dose of iPad color, and maybe a round or two of Flight Control HD between court sessions?
Are Kindle-wielding Justices writing angry “Mactard” and “fanboi” comments on the opinions of their opponents, while the Mac-loving faction refuses to talk or even think about anything that wasn’t designed in Cupertino?
Every day, 3.2 gajigabytes of streaming video are delivered straight to the screens of slackers like you and me, sitting at our desks at work and gawping at classic outtakes from The Muppet Show in 1979, re-creations of news events by creative Taiwanese animators, and adorably cute animal babies.
Why don’t we just take all that entertainment home and splash it up on our HDTV screens?
That’s the idea behind Boxee, which organizes web video for you, makes it easier to share with other people, and simplifies the browsing interface, so it’s better suited for when you’re sitting on the couch.
Boxee has existed as software for over a year now, and now it’s available as a $200 gadget, the Boxee Box.
Research in Motion announced this morning that it acquired Swedish interface design firm TAT, whose initials stand for The Astonishing Tribe.
RIM clearly plans to use the Swedes’ talent to beef up future versions of the BlackBerry user interface, which despite the addition of touchscreen tech in the last year still seems clunky and quaint compared to iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. That could make future BlackBerry phones — not to mention the upcoming Playbook tablet — a whole lot more exciting.
That got us wondering: What might the future, TAT-enhanced BlackBerry UI look like?
We have no idea, but if these concept videos produced by TAT are any indication, we’re guessing your next BlackBerry might have:
* A touch- and motion-sensitive UI that reponds to your body’s movement as well as your fingers on the screen
* Eye-tracking technology to provide enhanced 3-D effects
* A slicker, easier-to-manage interface for switching between multiple apps