The Best, the Worst and the Ugliest: 2005

E.G. for Example: The Year in Review.
Posted December 28, 2005
By

Eric Grevstad


Come on in! We've shoved monitors, printers, and laptops aside to make room for cake on the Labs, Weather, & Sports Desk, because it's time for our fifth annual roundup of the most delightful and most dumbfounding products and technologies of the year. Got some cake? Got a fork? Flame on.

Most boring, hard-to-follow battle: Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD. Let's let the Betamax- and laserdisc-owning, early-adopter nerds cross the minefield first, shall we?

Mood swing of the year: Palm's Treo 650 PDA/phone is a smash hit. Then Palm swallowed the bitter pill of dropping its own operating system in favor of its nemesis Windows Mobile for the 700w version.

Anticipation, it's making me wait: Record-low PC prices scream, "Buy now!" Product roadmaps scream, "No, buy later!" No sooner will Intel ship its 65-nanometer-process, ultimate-Pentium-4 "Presler" processor than we'll see the ultimate-Pentium-M "Yonah." But if you hold off until fall, Intel will supercede both with the whole-new-architecture "Conroe" and "Merom" CPUs. Or is it smart not to buy a PC at all, but wait for Apple to ship the Intel Mac? If you're going computer shopping this spring, take along a Magic 8-Ball.

The slugfest continues: Nvidia Corp. came out on top in 2005's graphics-card contest, introducing the crazy-fast, crazy-expensive GeForce 7800 GTX and seeing its trademark for dual-card design -- SLI (Scalable Link Interface) -- become PC buffs' everyday term for the concept, like Xerox for copiers or Kleenex for tissues. But don't cry for rival ATI Technologies: The Canadian company's impressive Radeon Xpress chipsets racked up big sales in the motherboard market.

The King Kong of consumer electronics: Did you ever imagine we'd see Microsoft and Sony reduced to mice scrabbling at the ankles of a giant? Apple's iPod added a word to the dictionary (podcasting), created a whole add-on industry (hi-fi speaker docks and other accessories), and burned its black-silhouette ads into Americans' retinas.

Breakout hits of the year: We've correctly predicted superstar status for LCD monitors and low-priced color laser printers, but fumbled with last year's forecast: more and more notebooks do offer instant-on media players or diagnostic tools, but most still wait to boot Windows. So do we play it safe with an obvious trend like falling laptop prices or a boom in printer/scanner/copier combos? Hell, no. Two words for 2006: Wireless USB.

Making Godot look like an early bird: Microsoft announced that its long-promised "Longhorn" operating system would be named Windows Vista, and seemed serious about hitting a fall-2006 release date -- even if it had to dump major features to do so.

Will businesses jump at the chance to buy some eye candy and a belated response to Google's and Mac OS' desktop search, or say, "No thanks, we'll wait for our next round of PC purchases?" Can we all agree to finally write off Microsoft's "Cairo"/WinFS/Holy Grail file system after 13 years of vaporware?

Villain of the year: It's hard to beat the supremely greedy, customer-bashing RIAA and MPAA when it comes to denying consumers' right to enjoy the digital music and movies they've paid for. But Sony won the prize for screwing users by putting, then initially refusing to fix, a PC-crippling spyware rootkit in its music CDs. The arrival of HD content and Vista's Hollywood-dictated file-transfer restrictions will make 2006 even messier.

Come on in! We've shoved monitors, printers, and laptops aside to make room for cake on the Labs, Weather, & Sports Desk, because it's time for our fifth annual roundup of the most delightful and most dumbfounding products and technologies of the year. Got some cake? Got a fork? Flame on.

Most boring, hard-to-follow battle: Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD. Let's let the Betamax- and laserdisc-owning, early-adopter nerds cross the minefield first, shall we?

Mood swing of the year: Palm's Treo 650 PDA/phone is a smash hit. Then Palm swallowed the bitter pill of dropping its own operating system in favor of its nemesis Windows Mobile for the 700w version.

Anticipation, it's making me wait: Record-low PC prices scream, "Buy now!" Product roadmaps scream, "No, buy later!" No sooner will Intel ship its 65-nanometer-process, ultimate-Pentium-4 "Presler" processor than we'll see the ultimate-Pentium-M "Yonah." But if you hold off until fall, Intel will supercede both with the whole-new-architecture "Conroe" and "Merom" CPUs. Or is it smart not to buy a PC at all, but wait for Apple to ship the Intel Mac? If you're going computer shopping this spring, take along a Magic 8-Ball.

The slugfest continues: Nvidia Corp. came out on top in 2005's graphics-card contest, introducing the crazy-fast, crazy-expensive GeForce 7800 GTX and seeing its trademark for dual-card design -- SLI (Scalable Link Interface) -- become PC buffs' everyday term for the concept, like Xerox for copiers or Kleenex for tissues. But don't cry for rival ATI Technologies: The Canadian company's impressive Radeon Xpress chipsets racked up big sales in the motherboard market.

The King Kong of consumer electronics: Did you ever imagine we'd see Microsoft and Sony reduced to mice scrabbling at the ankles of a giant? Apple's iPod added a word to the dictionary (podcasting), created a whole add-on industry (hi-fi speaker docks and other accessories), and burned its black-silhouette ads into Americans' retinas.

Breakout hits of the year: We've correctly predicted superstar status for LCD monitors and low-priced color laser printers, but fumbled with last year's forecast: more and more notebooks do offer instant-on media players or diagnostic tools, but most still wait to boot Windows. So do we play it safe with an obvious trend like falling laptop prices or a boom in printer/scanner/copier combos? Hell, no. Two words for 2006: Wireless USB.

Making Godot look like an early bird: Microsoft announced that its long-promised "Longhorn" operating system would be named Windows Vista, and seemed serious about hitting a fall-2006 release date -- even if it had to dump major features to do so.

Will businesses jump at the chance to buy some eye candy and a belated response to Google's and Mac OS' desktop search, or say, "No thanks, we'll wait for our next round of PC purchases?" Can we all agree to finally write off Microsoft's "Cairo"/WinFS/Holy Grail file system after 13 years of vaporware?

Villain of the year: It's hard to beat the supremely greedy, customer-bashing RIAA and MPAA when it comes to denying consumers' right to enjoy the digital music and movies they've paid for. But Sony won the prize for screwing users by putting, then initially refusing to fix, a PC-crippling spyware rootkit in its music CDs. The arrival of HD content and Vista's Hollywood-dictated file-transfer restrictions will make 2006 even messier.

This article was first published on HardwareCentral.com.






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