2013 – A Gadget Year in Review

I’ve had a very gadget-y year.  Apparently 2013 was the year that I became an early adopter and gadget head.  Here’s what I’ve used and how it has fared (maybe even with a CRE perspective occasionally):

Phone – HTC One S (2012)

I’ve had this phone since April of last year and it’s treated me well in the time.  HTC has had some unfortunate financial issues and they haven’t supported the phone as well as I would have preferred.  So over the last year I’ve used the stock Android OS but also Cyanogen 10.1 and 10.2.  Currently I’m running Pacman Mod OS.

It’s time for a new phone but nothing in 2013 really struck me as being really ahead of its time.  The HTC One and Moto X both had tremendous potential but I just couldn’t convince myself to pull the trigger.  The Nexus 5 is still tempting and I may still pull the trigger before the year is out but I’m just not quite sold.  The biggest issue for me is that there are no big phones on the roadmap for big phone releases.

Tablet – Nexus 7 (2013)

But recently my phone took a big step back and is not as important due to the acquisition of this beautiful tablet.  This has been the greatest gadget I’ve ever used.  It’s got unmatched portability, follows the Google Android upgrade schedule which means I get new features quickly and easily.  The Nexus 7 has allowed me to stay more connected throughout the day than any other single piece of tech.

I’ve also used the iPad mini and think that the Nexus 7 is better mainly based on size.  It’s smaller in the short dimension which makes it possible to hold the Nexus in one hand whereas the iPad mini never quite gets stable single-handed.

To accompany my Nexus I now have a Logitech portable bluetooth keyboard and stand which allows me to use my tablet more as a laptop replacement when needed.  It makes emails and document editing on the go a breeze without taking up much computer bag space.

This device is a must have for anyone looking to stay connected in a traveling role.

Watch – Pebble (2013)

The newest edition to my gaggle of gadgets is the Pebble smartwatch.  I’ve wanted one for probably a year and a half and only just got it as a gift.  I’ve only had it a short while and already think it may be the best wearable I’ve yet to encounter.  It’s simple to use because it doesn’t have a touchscreen while also being very modifiable with the many apps available for it.

It still has a lot of potential to get better as Pebble looks to open their own app store in 2014 to make finding apps for the watch much easier.  They’ve also created an SDK and API for their version 2.0 that should enhance the software on it even more.  For the cost, you really can’t beat it.

I know a lot of companies seem to be pouring their time and effort into touchscreen watches but I can tell you from my experience with Pebble that a touchscreen isn’t necessary at all on a smartwatch.  It would be nice to have color but that’s really my only complaint and I’m willing to sacrifice color for a longer battery.

Glasses – Google Glass (2013)

So this is the one that is the hardest.  Google Glass shows the power of tomorrow’s technology while not yet being ready to be an everyday tool yet.  If you haven’t had the chance to use it yourself yet definitely find someone to borrow it from (give me a call and I’m more than happy to share/teach!).

Glass shows the ability of tomorrow’s devices to understand the environment around you and constantly provide necessary information.  Wearing it gives you a feeling of having the world’s information and data always with you.  You can research, text, make calls, listen to music and more without ever pulling out a handheld device.  This leaves you free to do whatever else you were up to at the time.

Turn by turn directions show you exactly how we will consume information in the future because there is no better way to collect it – in your peripheral vision always there, look when  you want – ignore otherwise.  I can just imagine a future heads up display featuring Waze data that shows miles to cars on the shoulder, average traffic speed ahead, etc.  Sure, all of this could be embedded in a dashboard screen and with the recent iOS and Android moves to enter the car OS world this may be the case.  But it serves as an example of the type of useful real time data that can be provided given situation specific needs.

Imagine a world where you are wandering the airport to your gate.  Open the Delta app and it will tell you which gate to go to, where you are on the upgrade list, how long until take-off, delays, etc.  All useful but nice to have always available if you want it.

Glass would actually pair very well with a small handheld pocket remote that could control any touch inputs required.

This is probably the device that best helped me see the future of technology on our world.  Glass opens up a true always-on world.

But it’s not there yet.  First the battery needs to improve.  There are two things it needs to be truly successful:

  • Last 6 hours on a charge playing music it will be a winner.
  • Be usable by glasses wearers.

If Glass accomplishes these I really think it can be the next big technology.

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