Tech that's in, and tech that's on its way out
Technological change: It's not pretty. Our recent past is littered with millions of abandoned PCs and other gadgets. And when it comes to tech, the pace of change is increasing, not decreasing. That's my number-one tech prediction of 2014. Do you think things are dizzy now? Hold on, it's going to be a bumpy year.
Here's what I think is coming and going in 2014.
• Drones, drones and more drones: Drones are here already, of course. We saw that Amazon is testing drone delivery, and there's a company in Sydney that has already put action to words. New in 2014 will be more and growing real-world uses.
• 3-D printers: This year, we'll see more and more regular folks buying and using a fascinating product just a few businesses now use. Poke around online and you'll see downloadable plans for toys, novelties (like the clever promotional ploy of a key from the latest “Hobbit” movie), educational materials, tools and common household items. As the price of printers and materials come down, these products will become common. On the science front, watch out for breaking news on organ printing, the frontier of a brave new world indeed.
• Wearable tech: Google Glass is a puzzle. The device, glasses with a built-in smart phone and a video camera to boot, is already a joke in some tech circles, and boy are they pricey. ($1,500!) But don't be surprised if they catch on in the coming year. Many other wearable products look promising, from the new breed of smart watches to socks that track your pace and blood pressure.
• More and more tablets: Look for cheaper more powerful ones, too. Forbes reports that growth in this realm is estimated at nearly 20 percent in 2014, a sizable figure for an already huge product. Apple is offering medium and small iPads and is rumored to be coming out with larger ones this year.
• Also: Crazy vivid 4K TV content; our homes becoming as smart as our TVs and phones with those intelligent new thermostats, smoke alarms, even refrigerators.
• Plasma TVs: Panasonic has announced that this year's models will be the last for its respected line of plasma TVs. Their picture quality is the cat's meow but the market has spoken.
• MP3 players: Just like hand-held cameras and standalone GPS units, these once-iconic devices have been preempted once by smartphones and now again by tablets.
• Smart TV boxes: If you want a smart TV today, you can buy one.
• Hard disk drives: HDDs are the hard drives we all have on our desktops, laptops and bigger iPods, inside of which a tiny reader moves at impossibly high speeds to read gigabytes of data in milliseconds. The new solid state drives, or SSDs, do the same thing with no moving parts. They aren't even disks — they are really just giant thumb drives. Big, 500-gig SSDs in the swankier laptops are now common, and bang for your buck on these will rise exponentially. Smaller and much less susceptible to wear and tear, SSDs are the future.
E-mail Kim Komando at firstname.lastname@example.org.