Year in review: All eyes on e-readers
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If 2008 was the year of the Netbook, then 2009 was, arguably, the year of the e-reader in general.
Just 12 months ago, Amazon's Kindle was the only real game in town, but as the end of 2009 neared, consumers could peruse e-books on similarly focused products, new and updated, including the Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and Interead Cool-er, as well as the lesser-known Aluratek Libre.
A number of companies that didn't launch an e-reader in 2009 announced intentions to tackle the nascent category, which is still dominated by Amazon. Among those hoping for a proverbial "Kindle killer": Plastic Logic with its Que; Spring Design with its Nook-tangling Alex; Entourage, maker of the Edge; and Zen maker Creative, which talked up its tentatively named MediaBook.
Just as e-readers made a strong end-of-decade showing, so did smartphones, which seemed unfazed by the recession. In the third quarter, vendors shipped a record 43.3 million of the devices, up 4.2 percent from last year's third quarter and up 3.2 percent from this year's second quarter, according to market researcher IDC.
A few specific devices, of course, grabbed the market share of smartphone headlines: the launches of Palm Pre, Motorola Droid, in particular, drew lots of hype, even if their first-day hoopla didn't come close to matching the madness of iPhone launches.
Thin and light were the buzzwords when it came to laptops. In the span of just a few months, Dell tantalized users with a glimpse of its soon-to-arrive Adamo laptop; Sony announced a new Vaio X series, also less than half an inch thick and weighing 1.5 pounds; Asus debuted its own line of thin and lights; and Samsung got in on the action with its X3 ultrathin.
On the home media front, Internet-connected TVs continued to grow in popularity, with set makers such as Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony competing to up the ante and come out on top. Vizio, for example, announced its Via HDTV with integrated 802.11(n) Wi-Fi--which means no separate dongle for connecting to the Web--2GB of flash memory, and a well-thought-out remote control.
Non-hardware makers angled to get in on the networked TV action too. Yahoo, for example, showed off its widget channel, a software foundation that can house programs for browsing photos, using the Internet's abundant socially connected services, watching YouTube videos, or digging deeper into TV shows--and through which Yahoo will be able to show advertisements.
The third dimension seemed to get closer to the living room too, with 3D assuming a prominent place at big trade shows such as CES, Ceatec, and IFA, and many big names in consumer technology pushing not only 3D cinema, but watching 3D movies and playing 3D games at home. Some industry watchers, however, continue to argue that 3D will never be easy enough on the eyes.
And, of course, we moved ever closer to the robot world takeover, with 2009 introducing us to a colorful cast of bots including kissing robots, jumping robots, Sudoku-cracking robots, mind-controlled robots, and robot biker dudes.
A select few could also usher in the new decade with a robot clone--if they had a mere $225 to spare.
A combination of photo album features and sophisticated Wi-Fi connectivity may make this a standout model.
One of the most buzzed-about new laptops of 2009 is Dell's Adamo, and we've managed to get our hands on a preproduction version of the hardware to bring you our initial impressions.
A study by the Consumer Electronics Association finds that about half of prospective TV buyers say they are likely to purchase an Internet-connected TV.
After a bunch of (mostly) expected games, Microsoft's E3 press conference finally revealed something of greater interest and scope: Project Natal, the code-name for their well-rumored motion-sensing bar.
CEO Howard Stringer also rolls out a global brand campaign, which he says is the new future of Sony.
The Palm Pre is finally here and early impressions are good, but the first day hoopla didn't come close to matching the madness of iPhone launches.
Consumer electronics makers, including most of those on display at IFA-Berlin, say 3D at home is the next step in entertainment. But are consumers buying it?
The new Quickplay feature offers immediate access to content users care about most, while the Smart DJ feature mimics Pandora. The lack of an app store is a bummer, however.
Barnes & Noble's new e-book reader, the Nook, has officially been unveiled. With an impressive feature set and price tag that matches the Kindle's, Amazon should be worried.
Our first impressions of Apple's new $1,699 27-inch iMac
From coast to coast, customers were not lining up to get their hands on the much-hyped smartphone. But Verizon says it doesn't see that as a bad thing.
A record 43.3 million smartphones shipped in the third quarter, according to a new report from IDC.
If you're thinking of buying an Android phone, here are some things you should know. CNET lays out the details and explains the current Android devices on the market.
In lawsuit related to trade secrets, court denies start-up's request for a halt to Nook sales, but that doesn't mean a future injunction is out of the question.