The consumer’s never had it so good. This year sees an array of tech products and services that are not only innovative but also fun and functional. Here are the Top 10 innovations that made the headlines1) Apple iPad
The iPad is arguably the most talked about consumer electronics device of the year, and also possibly the most sought after. According to Bernstein Research, three million units were snapped up in its first 80 days of sale, and in its first quarter of the year, 4.5 million units. This makes it the consumer electronics device with the fastest adoption rate of all time!
Perhaps its greatest selling point is its striking feature — a 9.7-inch touchscreen that uses liquid crystal display technology for a vivid image and a wide viewing angle.
Marketed as a platform for audio and visual media such as books, periodicals, movies, music and games, as well as Web content, the iPad has opened up new market opportunities for application developers.
It made its official local debut at the end of last month.
2) iPhone 4
Compared with other smartphones launched this year, iPhone 4 is the one that created the biggest ripple in its class. With features such as Retina display, dual cameras and HD Video support, it also delivers video calling via FaceTime, games support through Game Centre and Internet browsing using its web browser, Safari. While users also benefit from Apple’s iPod music expertise, other down-played features such as iMovie, iBooks and Find My iPhone also add value. And all that are encased in a cool form factor!
3) 3-D TV
3-D is the buzzword for home entertainment this year and many leading vendors such as Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony have brought in introductory LED 3-D TVs.
Although the take-up rate is still relatively low due to high prices (from RM10,000), the prospect of 3-D TVs is big especially when 3-D content such as Blu-ray titles become common.
There are about 24 3-D titles available this year, with 30 more expected next year.
Astro Beyond made the first broadcast of 3-D content during the World Cup soccer finals in South Africa this year.
What makes 3-D different from LCD and plasma is its ability to operate in both 3-D and 2-D modes.
LED 3-D TVs usually support HDMI 1.4 and a minimum (input and output) refresh rate of 120Hz and normally each TV comes with a pair or two 3-D glasses.
There are also richer colours, clarity and contrast, as the LED panels deliver up to 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
Some of these high-end TVs also offer Internet capability — users can surf the Internet on their TV with a LAN cable connection.
4) LCD LED TV
LED TVs are superior to LCD and plasma TVs in terms of brightness, colour and contrast ratio of more than 2,000,000:1.
Traditional LCD televisions use cold cathode fluorescent lights (CCFLs). The use of LED backlighting, however, results in a thinner panel, less power consumption and a brighter display with better contrast levels. It also generates less heat than an LCD TV.
An LED backlight offers higher brightness compared with a regular CCFL backlight TV. Advancements in CCFL technology mean wide colour gamuts. However, the principal barrier to a wide use of LED backlighting on LCD televisions is the cost.
LED-backlit LCD TVs last longer and have better energy efficiency than plasmas and conventional LCD TVs.
5) Sony NEX-5
After Panasonic and Olympus introduced mirror-less interchangeable lens camera, the term MILC has become familiar. This year, Sony’s NEX-5 stands out due to its ultra compact formfactor. Only 3.8cm thick, the camera packs a 14.2-megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor, Full HD movie recording, 3-D Sweep Panorama shooting mode and a host of lens for users to play with.
At the end of last month, the Malaysian Digital Association cited Facebook as the most popular site, with eight million Malaysians accessing the online social network service.
From the ordinary Mamat and small-time home entrepreneurs to celebrities and politicians, Malaysians are flocking to Facebook to connect with current and would-be friends. This is driven by greater broadband penetration and an increasing number of phones with pre-installed Facebook.
The social network was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. It was launched in February 2004. The service is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. As of the third quarter of this year, it has more than 500 million active users worldwide.
Users can create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users can join common interest user groups, categorised by workplace, school, and others.
Other than connecting with friends, a growing group of Malaysians is also providing applications for Facebook.
7) Full HD dSLR
It’s the year of full high definition cameras and the same is true of the dSLR range. The ability to shoot video in full HD quality has become a main criteria for consumers. The feature has reduced the need to carry an extra video camera. It also complements the popularity of full HD TVs.
Although Nikon pioneered HD video in dSLR with its D90 model, Canon perfected it with full HD ability in its 5D Mark II, 7D, 550D and the latest 60D model with swivel LCD screen for easier video shooting.
Nikon followed suit with the full HD-capable D3100 and D7000 models, allowing active and continuous auto focus in movie mode.
What makes this full HD video feature even more compelling is the inclusion of in-body movie editing tool. Users do not have to download movie files to a PC for editing as they can do it on the camera itself. This feature is available in Canon’s EOS 60D, 550D and Nikon D3100 and D7000.
This feature is expected to be a must-have in upcoming dSLR models, whatever the make.
8) Motorola DEFY
When it comes to Android-based gadgets, there were plenty to choose from, but Motorola Defy stands out for two reasons:
First, it is encased in a rugged housing that can stand dust, water spills and everyday scratches. Gorilla Glass was developed in 1962, yet this sheet-thin and super strong glass only recently found its way into consumers’ pockets.
Second, the device seems to be sending a signal that Motorola is making a comeback into the local market, and with Android as its compass, one can expect an exciting product in Motorola Defy. The model also uses Gorilla Glass touchscreen.
Since its launch early this year, Unifi, the fast broadband service by TM, has changed the way people use the Internet.
What used to be a mere 1Mbps “slow” broadband connection has now been boosted to 20Mbps, allowing users not only to experience fast broadband connection, but also TV channels or Internet TV via the same connection.
The Internet TV, or Hypp TV, offers catch-up and video-on-demand (VOD) features that allow subscribers to watch TV programmes and movies at their convenience.
Currently there are 29 HyppTV channels, with more than 30 VOD titles monthly. Among the channels on HyppTV are TV1, TV2, TV3, Bernama TV, ntv7, 8TV and Hikmah.
There are also 14 international channels such as BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies, Channel NewsAsia and DW-TV.
Wired fibre connectivity provides HyppTV with more stable video streaming and HD quality content delivery as well as a host of other interactive applications as its value added services.
The UniFi service for residential areas comes in three packages: VIP5 with 5Mbps connectivity, VIP10 with 10Mbps connection and VIP20 with 20Mbps connection. TM also offers three Unifi packages to businesses.
10) Papago! H5600
Launched late this year, the Papago! H5600 is a high-end Personal Navigation Device that stirred a lot of interest among car owners and frequent travellers who still prefer a reliable, dedicated gadget that won’t stop giving voice-assisted directions when a call comes in.
Loaded with maps of Malaysia and its immediate neighbours, the H5600 also offers a big library of Points of Interest, FM transmitter and clear Junction Views. Its 800 x 480 HD screen can also be used to view photos and videos, and with AV-in jack, car owners can connect it to the rear camera