10 technologies that defined the Noughties

At the turn of the century the gadget and technological world that we now live in was a very different place. For the most part we were still reading books on paper, taking pictures with 35mm "wet" film, playing video games with our mates from next door and heading down to the shops to buy CD singles.

So what are the technologies have changed the way we live in the last 10 years, what have been, not necessarily the first, but the most defining gadgets of the "Noughties"? The ones that have changed the way we live, the way we play and the way we embrace the world around us? Read on...

The rise of the digital camera

There are so many digital cameras that we could profile here as influential that we couldn't possibly name them all without boring you half to death. Although the digital camera has actually been around a lot longer than the year 2000, it's the last 10 years that has really pushed the field to the max. Now virtually everyone has one, whether it's a dedicated model from companies like Canon, Nikon, Olympus or Pentax, or in their phone. At the start of the decade we were excited about 1 or 2 megapixel offerings, now the standard is 12. But it's not just compacts that have changed the way we snap the world, the Noughties saw the adoption of the digital SLR camera. In 2003 Canon launched the 300D for under £1000, now every major manufacturer has an entry-level DSLR, something that wasn't even comprehensible in 1999.

The games console becomes king of the living room

Games consoles have been around for decades, but it wasn't until the launch of the Xbox 360, PS3 and family-friendly Nintendo Wii that they were embraced by wider age groups and demographics, now taking pride of place in the living room, instead of the bedroom or den. Online gaming, motion controls, video and music downloads, it's all now standard fare with the PS3 going as far as replacing your DVD player with its Blu-ray drive to boot. Gaming also came out from under the "geeky teenage" banner with many games now performing as well as Hollywood movies. The Noughties has been a good decade for the video games industry - it's never been so mainstream.

Music goes digital

The birth of the Apple iPod and later the iTunes Store was probably the defining moment for digital music in the last 10 years. Again, MP3 players courtesy of Creative and Rio were already around offering their 64MB (roughly one album) of storage to listen to music on, but in stepped Apple with a good, but not amazing product and people started to get excited about storing whole music collections on this little box. Then iTunes came along and provided a seamless music-buying experience that really turned the industry on its head, taking control from the major labels that were fumbling around with DRM which broke peoples' computers. Now, the term "iPod" has almost become the "Hoover" of the MP3 player market and Apple is still dominating with its current range. 

HD brings clarity to the television

Like most people you probably watched the new millennium come in on a TV that was bigger and heavier than you. The Cathode Ray Tube (big fat telly to you and me) was amazing but just that - big and heavy. Over the last decade TVs have got thinner and the picture quality better. Ask the average television viewer in 1999 what HD was and they wouldn't have a clue, and while most are still not entirely sure what it is now, for those that do, TV has never looked so good.

Computers got cheaper and smaller

Laptops in 1999 were big, were slow, were clunky. They allowed us to work on the move, but anyone that remembers carrying those things around will know that you wouldn't want to carry them far. Now laptops, netbooks, notebooks, smartbooks or whatever else you want to call them are small enough to fit in a handbag and small enough to carry around with you wherever you go. Now, considerably cheaper than they've ever been, they allow you to do things that even your desktop computer would have struggled with 10 years ago.

The mobile phone became stylish and software centric

When mobile phones first launched they were big, they were heavy and they were ugly. It wasn't until the Motorola RAZR that style and form became part of the equation. Overnight the mobile phone industry became sexy. Bricks were few and far between. The problem was, they were still dull when it came to using them with unfriendly menu driven interfaces. It wasn't until Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 that the user interface became important. Thanks to the efforts of the two companies the phones that we use today are more consumer focused than ever before, with the amazing rise in popularity of apps, again thanks to Apple, as well in part to Google's Android platform, arguably changing the face of the mobile industry as much as the advances of hardware.

The road map gets binned as GPS takes over

In 20 years time the term "get lost" won't mean anything, as you won't be able to. Before 2000 how many times to do remember pulling over to ask a random stranger directions to a street they had probably never heard of? The Noughties has seen the rise of the GPS to such an extent that it's hard to head out on the roads and not see one in a car at some point. From the rather rough and ready approaches in the beginning, the GPS isn't a true 2000-plus creation, but it's one that we've certainly enjoyed adopting, with GPS in phones making the tech an almost as-standard converged, as well as standalone option.

Pausing the telly

If you missed a TV programme pre-2000 you would have to wait until the TV station decided to show a re-run. Now thanks to services like Sky Plus, Virgin Media and Freeview here in the UK, TiVo in the US as well as a range of personal video recorders (PVRs), the idea of pausing live television or recording shows or films ahead of time, without having to have a degree in how the VCR works is second nature. Series link and remote access are just some of the key ways that the Noughties have changed the way we watch television, and that's without even taking into account the rise of online, on-demand, catch-up services that the BBC kicked off with its launch of the iPlayer service on Christmas Day back in 2007.

Computing goes mobile

Once mobile phone operators realised that we weren't going to be using the vast 3G network for making video calls, a new plan had to be devised and so the mobile broadband dongle was born. Now you had no excuse, well apart from a lack of coverage, to work on the train, in the service station, in your home or anywhere else for that matter. Good or bad, it meant that the Noughties is the decade where working from the beach became a reality.

Access to the Internet got a whole lot faster and wireless

At the turn of the century the Internet was fantastic if you loved text and the written word as long as your computer was near your phone socket. When Pocket-lint launched in 2003 we purposely kept images small or non existent, not because we wanted to, but on a 56Kbps modem, if we didn't, it would take you forever and a day to open up the page. Now the UK government believes it is our right to a minimum of 2MB broadband, while those lucky enough to live near an exchange, or in an area with cable, can already get 20MB and up with some trial areas seeing speeds of 100Mbps. We also have wireless routers that, while occasionally flaky, let us work from the sofa or bed without Ethernet or modem cables trailing all over the floor.

 



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