Year in review 2011: January
Ah, 2011; a year of further monetary recession, tragic celebrity deaths, continued conflict in the Middle East, and the veiled threat of nuclear war in Korea. However, on the up side, it was a cracking year for tech. And we got our boiler fixed, so it's not all bad.
Certainly, Pocket-lint had a cracking start to the year, with extensive coverage of CES in Las Vegas and the Toy Fair in, er, Olympia, London. And, of course, we were invited to the launch of the Nintendo 3DS. Yep, January 2011 was an interesting month for the die-hard gadgeteer...
Year in Review:
iPhone New Year alarm glitch
The year didn't start so well for Apple, as iPhone owners discovered the hard way that a bug in iOS rendered their alarms impotent as soon as 2011 began.
Thankfully though, while the problem affected non-repeating alarms set for the first couple of days, all alarms started working properly again from 3 January. In many ways, it was just like the millennium bug back at the start of 2000, in that it really didn't have much impact at all in the end. Read More.
General Motors EN-V: electric car of the future
Whenever you see a cartoon (such as the Jetsons) or movie about the future, there always seems to be some weird form of transport that we're led to believe will be the de facto vehicle of choice. Well, at CES 2011, we saw exactly that... in the flesh... for real. And videoed it for good measure.
The EN-V all-electric vehicles are two-seater concept cars that have the potential to feature a myriad of technologies, such as self-driving, on-screen read outs, and more. The proposal even includes stackable garages and charge points to pop your pod into when you travel into town. Read more.
Asus Eee Pad Transformer debut
If there was one outstanding thing about CES 2011, it was that it saw the explosion of tablet devices; there were more tablets launched than Michael Jackson's bedside table. And Asus pretty much started proceedings with the unveiling of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, one of the few slates we still regard highly here at Pocket-lint. Read more.
Behold the Motorola Atrix
Like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Motorola's Atrix Android handset's biggest unique selling point was that it could dock with a keyboard attachment, and essentially become a netbook. However, it looked to be a decent smartphone regardless, when we got to play with the US 4G version at CES.
Powerful and packed with potential, the dual core device could even be hooked up to a TV via a docking station in order to watch 1080p movies, or play Angry Birds on the big screen. Of course, all of these things seem almost blasé now. Read more.
Honeycomb demoed on the Motorola Xoom
The other big kit announcement from the newly-formed Motorola Mobility arm of the company was its Xoom Honeycomb tablet. However, when we first got to taste its tantalising treats at CES, the Google Android operating system wasn't finished, so we only got to see brief demos.
That said, it still gave us a hint that the OS could make a big difference in the battle with iPad. Until Ice Cream Sandwich comes along, of course. And the one after that. And... Read more.
Britain goes Angry Birds crazy
Although Angry Birds was already massively popular in 2010, it was 2011 when the merchandising machine kicked into overdrive. Certainly, London's Toy Fair in January was awash with the poorly tempered avian agitators, in all shapes and sizes - bringing the franchise to kids.
The one that most caught our eye was the Angry Birds Catapult by Character Options. All you needed to add was a stack of pigs and block-like objects and Bob's your uncle, a home-made, real-world version of the game. It was so fiendish that the, now defunct, News of the World newspaper even ran with our picture, which we gave them so they didn't have to hack our email accounts. Read more.
iPhone turned into AR gun
British company AppToyz also used the Toy Fair to debut its AppBlaster, a plastic device that effectively turns an iPhone or iPod touch into an augmented reality gaming gun, when combined with one of the compatible applications. Strap your Apple device into the front of the £20 toy, start the app and away you go. It's still available from shops, such as Amazon and, even, Marks and Spencer, and there are new apps that work with it being developed all the time. Read more.
Hexbug: Freaky little robots
By far the most interesting gadget-based product at the Toy Fair was the new addition to the Hexbug range, a series of tiny robots that act in the same way as cockroaches and other creepy crawlies. Just flick the switch on the side, and the little beggers scuttle about in a genuinely scary fashion.
Also available with playsets and raceways, the end result is like a futuristic version of I'm a Celebrity Get Me out of Here, although we wouldn't recommend downing one of these wee fellas alongside a crocodile's nob, it'll still be wriggling inside you a good year later or so; the batteries seem to last forever. Read more.
London 2012 Olympics Scalextric
Although it wasn't fully working at the time, and was more a concept build to illustrate what it'll look like, the London 2012 Olympics Scalextric Team GB Track Cycling Set was another to cause a stir at the Toy Fair. It's certainly be a different sort of game to the conventional racing car version, with the "vehicles" being taller and more unstable, and the track being an oval, like a cycling velodrome, but collectors everywhere are already snapping up the £70 set in their droves. Read more.
Sony NGP announced - eventually to become PS Vita
That a PSP2 was coming was no secret; however, few could have guessed that it would be so revolutionary in its specification and design. Not only would the Next Generation Portable (its original codename) have a full 5-inch OLED touch screen, but the rear of the console would also be touch enabled, with many games making use of the feature as an extra control system.
The announcement came at the company's PlayStation Meeting 2011 in Tokyo, and was clearly a reaction to the launch shindig held for the Nintendo 3DS just over a week beforehand. Read more.
Nintendo 3DS revealed
Pocket-lint travelled over to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in order to check out the new Nintendo hand-held console, and, like TV presenter and self-confessed games geek Jonathan Ross, was initially impressed by its three-dimensional charm. Little did we realise at the time that it would fail to set the world alight.
This was partly due to its price, with retailers listing it at £230 - a massive amount for a portable device partly aimed at kids. Then, of course, there was that 3D screen... Read more.
Thumbs Up 1980s iPhone Case released for yuppie chic
Fitting the iPhone 3G, 3GS and iPhone 4, the retro case by gizmo designer Thumbs Up may not be the most practical of sheaths, but it fitted the 80s mood at the time. Plus, it featured the side benefit of helping with the iPhone 4's antenna issue, even if it did make you look like a bit of a nob at the same time. Read more.
Kara Tointon roams London in her nightie
BT launched an initiative to give its broadband customers free Wi-Fi on their iPads around the UK, by simply logging into their existing Internet accounts, but that's not really enough to make it into a tech retrospective of the year. Strictly Come Dancing 2010 winner Kara Tointon in her skimpies was. Read more.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talks the future of the site
Pocket-lint was invited to interview the workaholic figurehead behind the 'net's biggest free information resource, and got to chat to him about all manner of subjects, including the philosophy behind Wikipedia, and how it could possibly ever make money. And, to his credit, his brief illustration of the site's history, its future and the world wide web in general ended up taking a talk-packed 45 minutes. All fascinating stuff, too. Read more.
The Gadget Show's Suzi Perry takes the Tech Tin Test
The first and last of our series of celebrity grillings, the Tech Tin Test was devised to help interviewees speak comfortably about technology and gadget-based subjects without a set structure of questioning. And TV presenter Suzi Perry was the ideal subject, giving us more than we could ever have asked for, simply by drawing different subject headings from a tin. Come to think of it, we should dust off the old idea for 2012. Read more.
We get to drive the Chevrolet Volt electric car
Pocket-lint really stepped up its coverage of motor vehicles in 2011, mainly because motor vehicles really stepped up their use of gadgetry and technology inside. And there was no better example at the time of a more gizmo-friendly car than the Chevrolet Volt.
It ran completely on a lithium-ion battery, which would last around 40-50 miles, until it was completely depleted, and then switch to a petrol engine to drive the wheels. This would allow the vehicle to remain completely emissions-free for short trips, yet provide the peace of mind that it wont conk out on the motorway. Plus, it hooked up to General Motors' OnStar Mylink iPhone, Android and BlackBerry app in order to check battery levels or even unlock the doors remotely. Read more.