WHAT will be the breakthrough technology this year, and which gadgets will you be unable to imagine life without 12 months from now? If we really knew the answers we’d all be rich, but as 2013 dawns a few trends are already emerging...
Fibre broadband: If I had to bet the farm on anything it would be that this is the year we embrace next-generation internet connections. Fibre broadband, delivered to your home via fibre-optic cables instead of copper wires, is now widely available, and over the coming months prices will tumble. Depending on the location of your house, you can get speeds of up 76 megabits per second for just over £20 a month – that’s up to eight times faster than average speeds now.
YouView: Part of the reason we’ll need this faster connectivity is the rise of the new generation of Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes that connect to the internet as well as your aerial or satellite. YouView integrates catch-up services like the BBC iPlayer with the guide to upcoming programmes, so you can watch everything on one screen using the same remote control. We are already starting to see YouView boxes being given away with broadband contracts – and with the launch of similar boxes from the likes of View21 (www.view21.com) they are becoming even more affordable. Soon, the concept of a “dumb” set-top box – one with no internet connection – will seem as arcane as a TV with knobs on.
Ouya Console: I’m no gaming expert – I have difficulty navigating snakes and ladders, let alone Grand Theft Auto – but I do know a bargain when I see one... and this £99 console puts the big-brand boxes from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo in the shade. Ouya, a silver brick around the size of a Rubik’s cube, will go on sale in the spring and will stand or fall on the number of titles available for it – but my guess is that gamers will be only too keen to throw off the corporate shackles of the other consoles.
Android tablets: 2013 will the year they finally bury the netbook, and it’s not just Apple’s iPad that has taken away their market; newer models from Google and Amazon are just as impressive, if not more so. These tablets run Google’s Android system, which is easier to customise and, in its latest incarnation, every bit as user-friendly.
Anything from Apple: But don’t get complacent about 2013... there’s always the possibility that some new device from Apple is just around the corner, rendering everything else suddenly redundant. iToaster, anyone?