It’s here. After almost four years of speculation, the iPhone will finally come to Verizon’s network on Feb. 10.
This week’s e-mail bag brought a note that echoes the sentiments of many others:
The star of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show wasn’t even there.
That might sound like an odd remark, but it’s true. Look, summing up the major trends of North America’s biggest trade show is more or less hopeless; there were 2,700 booths and 140,000 attendees, for heaven’s sake. But if you had to name the major player, it had to be the Apple iPad — and Apple didn’t show up.
Seriously. They should have called it the Consumer iPad Show. Here were iPad cases, iPad holders, iPad keyboards, iPad chargers, iPad alarm clocks — and 85 iPad clones. It seemed as if anyone who knew the phone number of an Asian touch-screen factory had a tablet prototype.
Welcome to the Sixth Annual Pogie Awards!
Yes, it’s time once again to recognize the best tech ideas of the year. Not the best products — sometimes, a Pogie award-winning feature crops up in a product that, over all, is a turkey. No, these awards go to the best ideas in products, clever twists that make life just a little bit better.
This week, you get two columns in one.
One is about new pocket cameras that take sharp pictures in low light without the flash — a magnificent moment in the evolution of cameras, thanks to an unusually large light-sensing chip.
The other column is about a shady scheme that’s being perpetuated by the world’s camera companies.
If there’s one single statistic that you can use to compare cameras, it’s sensor size. A bigger sensor soaks up more light. You get better color and sharper images, especially in low light. A big sensor generally means better color and clarity, and less grain and blur in low light. Digital S.L.R. cameras have enormous sensors, which is why professionals use them. (Of course, S.L.R.’s are also enormous and heavy.)
But when you’re shopping, how do you find out the sensor size? It’s not on the box. It’s not in the ad. You can Google it (“Rebel XT sensor size,” for example). But the information you will find is mostly worthless.
First, sensor sizes for S.L.R.’s are expressed in millimeters, width by height (23.7 x 15.6 millimeters), not inches diagonal. Yet sensor sizes for pocket cameras are expressed differently, believe it or not, as ratios, like 1/2.3 inches. You can’t easily compare S.L.R. sensors with pocket camera sensors and you can’t compare pocket cameras without a calculator.
At sensor-size.com , you can convert every sensor format into inches diagonal. But recently, I learned something scary: even that isn’t the nastiest part of the sensor-size shenanigans.
As the year winds down, we’ve all got problems. Economic slump. Wars. Unemployment.
But look at the bright side: there’s never been a better selection of really terrific cellphones. In fact, in the world of Google’s Android phone operating system, new phones seem to fall down the chimney once a week, each leapfrogging the last in desirability.
The one that landed this week is particularly intriguing, because Google designed it. Not just the software this time — the phone itself. Yes, “Google” is painted right on the back, along with “Samsung,” which did the manufacturing. This phone, the Nexus S, bears little resemblance to Google’s first effort at a phone a year ago, the failed Nexus One. (The S has more in common with Samsung’s Galaxy S models.)
E-book readers like the Amazon Kindle may be all the rage this holiday season. But five years from now, they’ll seem as laughably primitive as the Commodore 64.
Every time there’s some new hot, heavily hyped gadget from Apple, it takes only a few months for the copycats to crop up. IPod? Zune! IPhone? Android!
With the money Microsoft has spent on failed efforts to design hardware, you could finance a trip to Mars.