2013 roundup

Those of you who are subscribed to our Twitter feed will know that we tend to tweet tech news items that we come across on the inter webs.

We tend not to take this too seriously, often putting the amusing or even the downright trivial before the weightier issues of the day. Our take is usually oriented to the news that isn’t necessarily trending, but rather concentrating on the softer underbelly of tech news.

If you read any of the websites we read, you’ll be aware of some of the better known sites: CNET, Gizmodo, Ars Technica and The Register - we’d always refer you to sites like those to get your ‘real’ news fix. But, perusing the web as we do daily, we thought it interesting to flag up some of the more important trends that the year just gone has brought up.

The big story in 2013 was indubitably the Snowden affair. With personal privacy exposed as seemingly non-existent, the whole notion of what’s private and what’s available to ‘higher powers’ is thrown into doubt. Put simply, MI5 spy on the American public, and the NSA spy on us Brits. And the Germans. By circumventing rules preventing domestic snooping, the intelligence community simply shares information it has on each other’s populations.

We predict a boom in the sales of encryption software!

2013’s watchword was “cheap”. Cheap kit has always been available, but up to this year, it’s been pretty terrible: cheap tablets, phones and laptops have almost always disappointed.

However, the arrival of two devices in particular have shown us that cheap kit can now have real quality.

The Tesco Hudl retailing at £119 represented probably the first tablet that was more than half decent for a low price. That is, if you could get one! Every Tesco store in the land sold out in the run-up to Christmas, with queues appearing early mornings as people became increasingly desperate to get their mitts on one.

In the land of smartphones, cheap has not usually equated to cheerful. Until the new Moto G arrived, available free on a £15 per month contract. A really good device at a gobsmacking price. It may herald a new era of (almost) disposable tech.

Finally, spare a thought for poor old BlackBerry. Haemorrhaging money, the Canadian firm formerly known as RIM is, in the medical vernacular, CTD (Circling The Drain). Criminally late to the world of touch screens, CrackBerries’ sales have slumped as people opt for Android or iOS handsets. There may be a niche left for phones with physical keyboards, plus companies who’ve invested heavily in BlackBerry infrastructure may continue to keep some revenue flowing to the company. But essentially, they’re goners.

Finally, we often tweet about ‘gadget desire’. With so many shiny things to attract our (i)geeky attention, our gadget of the year is a difficult choice. And like the true prevaricators we are, we have had to choose several!

This author’s choice: the Cambridge Audio Minx TV. Replacing your TV’s terrible speakers, it’s a plinth providing great British sound quality. Plus you can stream to it via Bluetooth using the apt-X codec, for improved wireless sound quality.

Being Apple fanbois, we have to mention the iPhone 5S. Evolution rather than revolution, it’s the first 64 bit phone and carves the way for others to follow. A great camera, fingerprint recognition and whacky visuals in iOS7 that (thankfully) you can turn off, this phone has been flying off the shelves.

The Logitech Harmony app for Android and iOS is a winner, replacing all the disparate remotes lying around your living room. Connecting to the Ultimate Hub, you can now use gestures on your phone to control channel changes, volume and so forth on up to eight devices.

We’re also rather fond of the new MacBook Air. Speedy, light, massive battery life, a lovely screen and designed to death, it remains the go-to laptop for the travelling geek.

Happy new year to one and all!

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