(Ken Macharia) 2011 saw two major tech companies solidify their market positions, especially in the smart phone and tablet fields. Samsung and Apple’s stiff competition went as far as court cases in a bid to give either an upper hand in several markets. The turf wars spilled over to the two main operating systems – Apple’ iOS and Google’s Android.
1. iPhone 4S
Apple rarely disappoints even when fans expect more than the tech company can churn out. 2011 saw Apple release iPhone 4S, an upgrade of the iPhone 4, having retained most features. The most notable and exciting addition was the surreal personal assistant app on the phone known as Siri. The application turns voice into commands. Users can use voice commands to create and send text messages, schedule meetings, set alarm, make phone calls and reminders. With in-built artificial intelligence capacity, Siri turns the iPhone 4S into the ultimate personal assistant.
2. Samsung Internet TV
Samsung released its new internet-enabled Smart TV, with an app hub. The Smart Hub onscreen menu is accessed through a button on the remote control. The Samsung UE55D8000 has three USB ports and has an in-built browser. Since its launch, Samsung Smart TV users have downloaded over 10 million apps from the Smart Hub.
3. Amazon Kindle Fire
Retail giant Amazon threw its hat in the tablet ring with the launch of the Kindle Fire. The 7 inch tablet runs on Android OS and is direct competition with Black Berry’s PlayBook and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
4. MacBook Air
Apple introduced the ultra-thin 13 inch MacBook Air in 2010 but the 11-inch 2011 upgrade is by far the lightest laptop Apple has released. However, power has not been compromised. The MacBook Air did away with the Intel Core 2 Duo processors and introduced Intel’s Dual-Core i5 and i7 chips. A key board backlit has been added to the new upgrade. The new MacBook Air also launched with Apple’s latest Mac OS Lion operating system, ushering in new gestures and hundreds of new features over Snow Leopard.
5. Sony Projector Camcoder
Sony’s HDR-PJ50 Handycam can not only record full HD films, but can also project them on a screen as large as 60 inches at a distance of 3 metres. It comes with a 220 GB storage space and can take still photos on the 7.1 MP camera.
6. Apple iPad 2
Apple continued with its stellar performance by releasing iPad 2 before most companies launched their first iPads. With a 10-inch screen, the iPad 2 is lighter, faster and thinner than its predecessor though the software specs are near identical. The significant changes include new dual core A5, more memory and a pair of new cameras.
7. Samsung Galaxy S2
The Samsung Galaxy S2 goes head to head with the iPhone 4 series, with most features almost at par. However, Samsung’s Galaxy S2 has a bigger screen (4.3”) but is several grams lighter than the iPhone 4S. Galaxy II is built to run to run on 4G networks, making it faster, with speeds of up to 42 mbps.
8. Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1
Samsung entered the tablet space with a heavier first release but reviewed after the launch of Apple iPad 2. Packed with a 1GB RAM and 16GB flash storage, the Galaxy Tab performs better than the iPad 2 in this respect. The ultra thin 8.66 thickness and weighing 565 grams upgrade makes it lighter, and has a super bright screen. Apart from the differences in their OS’s, the two tabs are almost the same in all other respects.
9. Motorola Droid Razr
Motorola has claimed the Droid Razr is the world’s ‘thinnest’ phone with a 7.1 mm thickness. The phone has a 8MP LED flash rear camera and a 2 MP front-facing secondary camera for video chat. The smartphone, with its 16G internal storage, has multi touch input method.
10. BlackBerry Playbook
Research in Motion (RIM) plunged into the tablet market with the BlackBerry PlayBook running on the BlackBerry Tablet OS. BlackBerry partnered with Adobe Systems to create a fluid user interface which supports high video resolution playback. However a slow uptake of the tablet forced RIM to slash prices of the Playbook. An upgrade is set for release in the first quarter of 2012.