A year ago, we predicted that 2008 would bring more of the same – at least for the most part. We suggested that CES 2008 would ultimately define many of the year's tech trends. "Expect big TVs, HD DVD vs. Blu-ray (again), Linux computers and iClones of everything Apple-esque" we suggested.
Partly right – CES 2008 brought big TVs, but they didn't astound, with the trend for thinner and lighter TVs abounding and everybody talking the talk – if not walking the walk – about green tech.
Prediction 1: Smarter mobile phones
Dean Evans, who was Editor of TechRadar at the turn of last year said, "while 2008 will be another cycle of product polishing, i.e. of version 2.0s and 3.0s, it's bound to be dominated by mobile phones," he predicted, "specifically, smartphones. It pains me to bang on about it, but Apple raised the bar in 2007 with the iPhone and, before it debuts the inevitable 3G version, we could see 16GB and 32GB iPhones, maybe even an entry-level 'iPhone nano'."
No iPhone nano or 32GB iPhone (maybe early in 2009...), but Dean was spot on with his prediction that the smartphone market would dominate the year's tech. "2008 should see a rush of new and powerful smartphones," continued Dean. "Google will also make a play for the mobile market in 2008 and we'll see the first fruits of its Android platform. Don't expect the version 1.0 handsets to blow people away - they're likely to be functional rather than slick."
Well, he didn't do too badly did he? The reaction just about sums up our take on the T-Mobile G1, but it doesn't quite tell the whole story – Android is more impressive than we thought it would be, and our initial hands-on the OS back in February impressed us. And no mention of the BlackBerry Storm...
Rob Mead, Associate Editor, also said "I'm really looking forward to the 3G iPhone, which is rumoured to surface in May or June - it'll be one less thing for Apple-haters to whinge about, and will actually make the phone even more fun to use - provided the battery gets a boost in the process." Half-right then. June for the 3G iPhone, but that battery still leaves an awful lot to be desired.
Prediction 2: Super-flat TVs
"In Japan, the smart money's on a W-CDMA version being made available to NTT DoCoMo's 50-million-plus customers and repeating the stellar sales numbers seen in the West," chipped in J Mark Lytle, International Editor. No such luck on that one yet, J Mark.
However he was more than right about this. "Several new super-slim tellies will hit the shelves next year at more reasonable prices than the 3mm OLED set from Sony that has just gone on sale in Japan." Yep, so maybe OLED was a step too far, but last year's electronic expos were filled to the hilt by thin tellies.
Reviews Editor James Rivington also looked forward to TV goodness. "There's one key product I'll be looking out for at CES and throughout 2008: and that's Sharp's range of 8th generation LCD TV panels. We first saw them at IFA 2007, and they were absolutely phenomenal.
Frighteningly slim, dazzlingly bright, and with deeper blacks than we ever thought we'd see in an LCD TV. This could be the start of something very special indeed, and if this is where the market is headed, it's something to be excited about."
Martin James, our outgoing Reviews Editor, took a more pragmatic approach. "I've got a feeling that the next 12 months are going to see consumers given a chance to catch up with the industry a bit." And there's certainly some truth in that. "I'm looking forward to seeing an all-high def home entertainment setup becoming more affordable, and I want to see better content to back it up.
That means more high-def TV and movies, and more games that take advantage of all that technology that's waiting to be set free in the PS3." Yep, we've got more content. And yes Blu-ray is gradually descending the market. But it's going to take a little more time before things really start to come down.
Prediction 3: The rise of the netbook
Martin also touched upon the now ubiquitous netbook (although we didn't know what they'd be called yet). "It's great to see the traditional computing fraternity waking up and giving us an affordable mobile computing alternative to the next all-conquering smartphone. We need some more." And we got 'em.
TechRadar contributor Gary Marshall predicted that "the big one in 2008 will be flash storage. We'll see some pant-threateningly exciting new laptops once the hard disk is no longer obligatory. We should see some interesting form factors too, and the long-awaited Mac Tablet might even make an appearance."
We'll let Gary have this one, after all, we did see the MacBook Air hit the shelves back at the end of January, but as for a plethora of flash-based lappies, we'll dream on. He managed to get the 'understatement of the year' too, about the iPhone. "Once the SDK's released we'll see some decent third-party apps. It should force other firms to raise their game too, which is good news for everybody."
Prediction 4: Faster, faster, faster for everything
This was an easy one - you can't go wrong betting on Moore's Law. Contributor James Morris said he was looking forward to trying out Virgin's 50Mbits/sec broadband (launched only yesterday), as well as "AMD sorting out its quad-core production, so it actually produces some faster chips." And even though the statement was more out of hope rather than expectation, the end of the year has seen AMD pick up its game once again.
Jeremy Laird touched on a similar issue. "The really exciting arrival should be Intel's all new Nehalem CPU architecture. The Core 2 processor is already impressive, but Nehalem promises to defenestrate that chip's final weakness - the clunky old front side bus - in favour of a more modern integrated architecture." Nehalem has certainly been an eye opener – despite us thinking we wouldn't be blown away, we were certainly impressed by Intel's latest CPU line.
All in all, we didn't do too badly. Onwards to next year then...
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