[Returns After Hiatus] 2013 Retrospect...Too Late Perhaps?

by Matt de Neef | IndeterminateBlog Team

Ta-daa! I'm aware that's quite a juvenile way to re-introduce myself to all you InHub fans after so long, but, as a friend once told me, explaining why I haven't been blogging over the last few months would constitute excuses, and nobody likes those. So here I am, back again, from my hiatus (as implied by the title).

Having realized I'm still not entirely sure what content I should blog about, I'll do a quick look back at what happened in tech in 2013, followed by some expectations for this year. Then there'll be a brief rambling on about some movies I've watched, followed by other odds and ends liable to end up in the blogosphere. Not all in one post though, just to ease your fears regarding cross-categorization (or I could just "tag ALL THE TOPICS").

Tech in 2013...Smorgasbord anybody?

Before you Google "define smorgasbord" I'll save you the trouble:



smorgasbord
ˈsmɔːgəsbɔːd/
noun
noun: smorgasbord; plural noun: smorgasbords
  1. 1.
    a range of open sandwiches and delicacies served as hors d'oeuvres or a buffet.
    • a wide range of something; a variety.
      "the album is a smorgasbord of different musical styles"
Right. Understand now? Anyway, last year saw companies big and small release mobile, not so mobile and arm-attaching (here's looking at you, smartwatch) gadgets for fan-boys, early adopters and grandparents alike.

Intel stickers are portrait again!
Intel trotted out on its steady "tick-tock" cycle, hitting the market with its new generation of Core processors for desktops, laptops, not-sure-if-laptop-or-tablet, and more "conventional" mobile form factors. Haswell, or 4th generation Intel processors formerly Haswell, as the Santa Clara chipmaker enjoys stating, brought with it lower power consumption, better CPU performance per core and stupidly good integrated "Iris" graphics (running Call of Duty MW3 on high natively. Yes indeed).

What does the fox say?
Software, Software, Software. In operating systems, Microsoft unveiled Windows 8.1 while Apple took wraps of their Mavericks , OS X 10.9(this blog is full of info on both these OSes). Meanwhile the sly Mozilla staff foxed consumers (yes, pun intended) by releasing Firefox OS, a phone OS based on, well, Firefox, to run on entry-level and "midrange" phones to compete with Android and iOS, although at that price point I'd say mainly Android. Its main goal was to give users what they wanted and support them with a global team of developers who understood local needs. We'll see how that pans out.

The big Redmond crew dished out a tasty helping of tablet too this year, with the Surface Pro 2, a wholehearted improvement on Microsoft's lacklustre overpriced first in-house Surface tablet brand. The new Pro runs a proper Intel Core CPU, has
That keyboard should be part of the deal you know.
some graphics beef and lasts almost a week in active use, whilst sporting a 1080p panel showing off the true usefulness of Windows 8.1 at last. Yes, the RT version is on the lower powered, cheaper ARM CPU variant (the kind used in Android tablets) with Windows RT (Windows 8.1 without the desktop, basically) but prices dropped steadily until by end 2013 a Windows 8.1 [Pro/RT] tablet cost the same as an equivalent Android one. Good going Microsoft!

It's so...beautiful (sheds tear)
Google seemed to be on a roll swallowing up mobile manufacturer Motorola Mobility, and thereafter bringing out some very smart smartphones indeed. Also in the limelight were the Nexus family babies, the new Nexus 7 tablet (we've discussed that at length) and the Nexus 5, LG's gorgeous new flagship that oozes Nexus and makes geeks WANT IT REALLY BADLY. Excuse the sudden longing use of the Caps Lock key.

Not to be outdone, Samsung released its own flagship, the Galaxy S4 with an advertising campaign so immense it must by now surely be burned into our retinas, then went further with the faux-leather covered behemoth, the Note 3 later in the year.

It clearly has nice curves...
Away from phones, some decidedly skewed logic (pun intended) brought LG to release the world's first curved OLED TV panel, and then Samsung joined the fray. The net result (besides new curved TV tech, obviously)? The LG G-Flex and the Samsung Galaxy Round, two curved-screen phones, curved on the X and Y axes respectively. Not sure what they were good for per-se compared to a "plain" smartphone, but each manufacturer came up with nifty tricks to use the curved screens (like push one side of the phone, it rolls over, and shows you the time and notifications).

Google Glass(above) without lenspieces and Oculus Rift (below)
If you're South African, this image
should be familiar to you (EVERY SINGLE MALL IN SA)
The year's bigger stories culminated around the future. Yes, all tech heads into the future faster than a hungry fox on hunting day, but these stories in particular made us think "too fast, too fast!". Google Glass, the wear-em-on-your-face-like-glasses Android device that costs $1500 and does nearly nothing still made an impression on the tech community at large because of how it challenges the social norms we're used to. It takes photos, videos, records audio, does voice-based searches, look-ups and commands, and feeds back to a tiny slab of glass just above your right eye. Although it wasn't the first device to do this, it spawned the "wearable tech" category and soon Samsung had the Galaxy Gear watch, Sony had one, Pebble had one, and amazingly, DIY and indie developers everywhere where going along with this new concept. Oculus Rift, the super-cool Virtual Reality goggles took Glass a step further into the "whoah" category by immersing you into 3D gaming powered by your PC.


Pick your colour, carefully!
So there we are, the nuggets picked out of the basket. Oh wait. I've found the T-Bone steak hidden at the bottom, labelled "consoles". Indeed 2013 saw the biggest console refreshes since yours truly was still a veritable young'un. Both Sony's Playstation 4 and Microsoft's XBox One now run x86 architechture (read: "they're becoming PCs") and set gamers and fanboys alike frantically scrambling for their credit cards in a rush to buy their particular console and flame the other party about their choice.

2014, we're already a month in (I won't even try to alter the blog post date, that'll be just wrong) and what's expected this year? Another HTC phone to rival last year's One, they say. Naming ideas anyone? The Two? Maybe the One Two? Now you're done counting like Grade R's, we're also expecting the Galaxy S5 and the Note 4 sometime this year, and Microsoft wants to reportedly make a Surface 3 tablet, a Surface Mini and, now they have the Nokia brand, what next, Surface Phone?

Enough tech? I'd say so. Thanks for reading, welcome back to the blog (I know you gave up on it didn't you?) and we'll see you soon.