New tech offerings are plentiful this year. But not all of it has made huge splashes in mainstream media just yet, so this is a quick recap of what’s out there, and what’s coming.
The big three in video gaming (Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony) have all introduced new and updated gaming consoles in recent months.
Nokia and LG have both made big splashes with their newest cell phone offerings. There are even a few new “Dick Tracy” watches available.
Samsung is releasing a new phone that might end seemingly forever the problem of broken and cracked screens.
Finally, there’s a nifty new device out that brings new meaning to the term “virtual keyboard.”
New tech in the Video Game World
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve likely been inundated with advertisements from the “Big Three” of video game console makers: Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony.
Nintendo Wii U is For Me
Of the three, my favorite is the Wii U from Nintendo since I come from the “old school” of video gaming — Asteroids on the Atari 2600 anyone? I never really got used to the multiple buttons and button combinations of the newer systems. I like the fact that whether you’re playing the new Super Mario Brothers 3D World, or the golfing simulator, you’re also getting physical exercise since the controllers make use of motion capture and accelerometer technology to translate your hand and body movements into onscreen player actions.
Since 2014 is a Winter Olympiad year, Nintendo has put out a game honoring the Winter Olympics: Super Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Bundle. In this game pack, you’ll be able to compete in numerous Winter Olympic sports, just like your favorite athletes. Skiing, snowboarding, ski jump, speed skating, and hockey are just some of the events you can participate in with other players around the world.
I was a little afraid that all the accessories and games for the original Wii would be obsolete if I got the Wii U system. However, all the games, and accessories-sensor bar, balance pad, and controllers are fully compatible with the new system.
Here’s one new feature that’s going to blow your mind: One of the new controllers (the game pad) for the Wii U comes with a touch screen with a 16:9 video display. The game pad also interacts with the old style controllers. Additionally, all your data from previous games on the old system can be easily transferred over to the new console.
Retail price on this is listed as $299.
Xbox One Thinks Outside the Box
Microsoft’s Xbox One also looks like a pretty cool piece of new tech. I think the coolest thing about the Xbox One is the fact that it’s voice activated. That’s Star Trek technology there, “Computer. Display chemical formula for transparent aluminum.”
The Xbox platform has been rated by many gaming sites as the best gaming platform available, and the Xbox One is no exception. Many of the sequences in the games are of movie quality. In fact, most of the games have sequences that are actually shot as movies, with real actors and all.
Xbox One is more of a cross between a computer and a gaming console than ever before. You can make Skype calls, including video calls, browse the web, stream from sites like Hulu and Netflix, and more. Just like on your computer, you can also go split window and do two things at once, like Skype with a friend while watching the big game, or playing one of the hundreds of available games.
It also has HDMI through-puts, which allow you to run your Cable TV box through the system. This makes it possible for you to say, “Xbox, Watch ESPN,” and it will change the channel for you. And Xbox Kinect recognizes you when you walk into the room, and it can be set up to change all its settings on the home screen to what your preferences are.
Additionally, Xbox Live lets you take your home screen with you, even if you’re using someone else’s console. It also double (triples?) as a Blu-Ray and DVD player for your home theater.
Retail price varies from around $500 to around $650 depending on what bundle you get.
Sony’s Playstation 4 Takes Another Step
Sony’s original Playstation console was my first taste of advanced gaming technology at home. I’d gone to arcades before and played some of the games there and was wowed by the graphics quality considering my previous gaming experience was with the aforementioned Atari 2600 system. The original Playstation had graphics quality that was at least as good as the arcade machines, and in many cases much better.
The Playstation 4 continues that tradition of excellent graphics and a quality gaming experience. If you already own one of the older models and/or games for them, not to worry as the new Playstation 4 is backwards compatible with these games. According to the Playstation site, there are more than 100 games currently in development or production designed to take advantage of the higher speed memory and graphics processors that Sony built into the platform.
Sony has made game experience sharing one-touch easy. Simply push the SHARE button on the controller, select the game sequence you want to share, and go back to playing your game while the video uploads in the background. You can also stream your game live. Owners can also use their Playstation to stream content from sites such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Crackle. Retail price for the Sony Playstation 4 is about $400.
New Tech in Cell Phones from LG, Samsung, and Nokia
There are a few new cell phones that caught our eye, and could be game changers for the future of smartphones.
LG G2 is A-OK!
LG has come out with what I consider to be one of the best new phones in quite some time, which is saying quite a bit since I’m a diehard Samsung aficionado. The LG G2 may just change my mind about how I think about phones. It runs on Android, so the learning curve for the basic features will be very shallow.
However, it’s the advanced features of this baby that has me wanting one. If you’ve seen the commercials, you know the main reason — almost everything works by simply tapping your index finger on a control.
- Taking a picture? The shutter control is a button on the back that naturally falls under your index finger.
- In a noisy room and can’t hear your caller? The volume controls are right there also. You can also wake the phone by simply double-tapping the screen.
As they say on late night infomercials, “But wait! That’s not all!”
Plug in your headphones and the apps you have installed that can be used with them are moved to the forefront. Plug in the USB cable, and the relevant functions move to the front. My Samsung S3 doesn’t do that. For those of you that have younger kids or that allow others to use your phone, there’s a guest mode that locks guest users out of certain functions and apps.
The G2 also lets you record video from both front and rear cameras at the same time, so even when you’re the one shooting the video, you can be in it. Even better for parents is what’s called Audio Zoom — this allows you to zoom into a single audio source (such as your child) when recording video.
Smile For Your Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia used to make some of the most popular phones on the market a few years ago, but then they seemed to quietly fade away. Well, with their new Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows 8 Phone, they’re back like gangbusters. Far and away the most noticeable feature of this phone is the camera.
My mom’s a professional photographer and her high-dollar camera has less pixel density (resolution) than the camera on the Lumia 1020 — an amazing 41 megapixels.
Imagine sitting in the back of the auditorium at your child’s play or recital and being able to capture photos or video with your camera that looks like you’re in the front row. The Lumia 1020 also has a number of pro camera features that let you take pictures like a pro and Nokia Rich Recording lets you capture high quality audio with your video.
Calling all Dick Tracy lovers!
Your watch/phone is now available and you even have choices as to what brand to get. I took a look at the Samsung Galaxy Gear not too long ago. It’s so awesome that even Santa has one. However, it only works with the Galaxy lineup of phones. For almost everybody else, there’s Pebble. This works with any Android phone and iPhones. Both tell the time, let you make and take calls, and there are a variety of apps that allow you to text, check Facebook, and much more.
Form-Fitted For Phoning
Samsung recently released a phone to the Korean market that may end cracked and broken screens. Instead of glass, this phone uses a plastic screen and has a curved display that makes the phone fit your hand and face more comfortably. They are calling this the Galaxy Round. There’s no confirmed date when it will be introduced in the U.S., though.
USB Device Puts Computer Control in the Air
I think out of everything mentioned here, this is my favorite. It’s called Leap Motion and it just feels as if it was developed especially for people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Get rid of your mouse and keyboard — you don’t need them anymore. This small USB device literally lets you control your computer without ever touching it. This commercial appears to make use of one. Everything is controlled by hand and finger gestures. Even better? It only costs $79.
Hopefully, all of these new tech devices have you excited about the future of electronics, gaming and cell phones. It boggles the mind as to what’s coming in five or 10 years!
Photo Credit: Mark Farrell