Best innovation 2011: nominees for the 8th Pocket-lint Awards

Identifying the best innovations of 2011 is no easy task but trying to compare one to another is even harder. Innovative, ground-breaking ideas come from all sorts of fields within consumer technology and just because something hasn’t sold as many units as a popular smartphone, it doesn’t make it a failure within this area. The fact is that we’re looking for some things that just haven’t been though of before; products that bring something new and hereto unheard of.

We’ve narrowed the field down to a final five but which one is worth of your vote for the 8th Pocket-lint Awards? Get your say in before 29 November. Here’s a run down of the nominees to help you make up your mind.

OnLive

Price
£69
Released
October 2011
PL review score
4 stars


OnLive dazzled with its ingenuity and concept. To be fair, after a week or so with the service that initial magic disappears when certain practical issues get in the way but it’s still a fantastic innovation. The very basica idea is a games console has no hard media and instead you play everything via the cloud. The result is that you can play all sorts of games on all sorts of devices. Very handy when you start getting portables like tablets into the equation.



The reality, of course, is that streaming ain’t perfect and there are issues like lag, fading picture quality and the dreaded hell of your internet connection going down. In terms, of potential and possibility though, OnLive is a cracker and something that could well be trailblazing the future.

Google+

Price
Free
Released
July 2011
PL review score
Preview


Google+ is a bit of an odd one. Is anyone still using it? Does anyone care? Is there anything to stop it from becoming another of those moment’s that the Big G would rather forget? The answers to all of those are ‘no’ but that doesn’t mean that this attempt at a social network was a fault of its design necessarily. As it goes, Google+ is a fairly well put together and, yes, innovative piece of web software. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter seems to be that nobody needs another Facebook.



Google quite cleverly decided to leverage a number of its existing services - Android, Picasa, Google Talk specifically - as well as the wealth of information already available from your Google account. While it’s not over till the fat lady sings, it does seem like the plan to integrate your entire Google life and suck you in and away from other social networks very nearly worked.

Sony PlayStation 3D Display

Price
$499
Released
September 2011
PL review score
Preview


Sony announced a Sony PlayStation 3D 24-inch monitor at its E3 press conference in LA. Clearly aimed at the college students hoping to enjoy the 3D their PS3 gives them, Sony is hoping that by reducing the price and therefore the barrier to entry for 3D, more of us will want to embrace the third-dimension.



The tech specs of the new display include a 5000:1 contrast, a 176-degree viewing angle and 4ms response time. However, where the Sony 3D monitor stands out from its more expensive Bravia cousins is the ability to let you play spilt screen on the same display. One pair of glasses lets you see one image, while a second pair of glasses a second image on the same screen. The technology works by splitting the 3D signal (which is two images anyway) and only showing what the left eye would normally see to one set of glasses and the other to the right set.

Lytro

Price
$399
Released
November 2011
PL review score
Preview


The Lytro camera doesn’t look like a regular camera. It isn’t from a camera maker you've heard of and it could change the way we take photos in the future, forever. The technology behind it is completely new and it allows you to capture a digital picture which you can click on any point and change the focus as you choose.



It works by capturing 11 million rays of light within a specially designed sensor and lens. What that means in English is that you are capturing all the light in your scene which, in turn, allows you to change the focus after the fact. That differs completely to the usual method used within a traditional camera. If that sounds a tad confusing, that’s because the science behind the technology is. The point though, is that it works and it delivers something utterly, utterly unique in the world of photography.

Nintendo Wii U

Price
£unknown
Released
2012
PL review score
Preview


We’ll admit that we’re nowhere near the verdict on the Nintendo Wii U as it’s not really been finished yet and it’s a long way before it’ll make it to the sitting rooms of the world. What we have seen of it has been innovation personified, however.



The Wii U controller is a huge step forward experience and gives you a completely different perspective on gaming in the living room. It’s a big, flat tablet of a thing with all the normal buttons and sticks you’d expect but a 6.2-inch, 16:9 aspect touchscreen at its middle that you can not only draw on with a stylus but even use as a window into your gaming world. It might sound crazy, it might sound complicated, but if anyone can put it off it will be Nintendo.