2014 was slow year for new tech

At this time last year, I was the proud owner of a new iMac, a Windows 8 laptop and the PlayStation 4 game console.

This year, I have yet to buy a significant gadget.

Those purchases last year did not break the bank, but money is not the reason why I have cut back on tech devices this year.

On this last day of the year, it is safe to say that 2014 was pretty dry in terms of consumer tech.

Sure, there have been updates on popular devices, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, and new form factors, such as the 12.2-inch Samsung Galaxy Note Pro tablet, but for the most part, this year's focus seemed to be on refining current software and services.

Sony rolled out a beta of its PlayStation Now video-game streaming platform for the PlayStation 4 console, and is working with Samsung to roll it out on Samsung Smart TVs next year.

Microsoft's biggest announcement was not about hardware, but a new Windows 10 operating system.

Meanwhile, the promise of more immersive curved TV screens has not prompted droves of fans to follow the curve. Nor have many succumbed to the allure of ultra-high-definition 4K displays. So TV vendors have been rather subdued this year.

Developers of wearable tech focused on refining their software instead of introducing new market changing devices, so 2014's fitness trackers do no more than those that debuted last year.

What's new? There are now three times as many brands trying to sell me the same thing.

As for the highly lauded smartwatches, what I have seen, so far, persuades me that I do not need one, yet.

The Apple Watch may change my mind, but that is launching only next year.

In fact, many products unveiled last year, or even before that, are scheduled to make their debut only next year. Google Glass? It made hardly a ripple this year.

According to reports, Google will either revamp the line or put the heads-up display products out to pasture next year.

The Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display was among the more talked-about products of the last two years, especially since Facebook acquired it for US$2 billion (S$2.5 billion) in March. But it looks like we will see the real deal only next year.

If you are thinking about Samsung's Gear VR head mount, made in partnership with Oculus VR, or Sony's Project Morpheus VR headset, it is safe to say that neither will debut this year.

The pre-built PC gaming systems known as Steam Machines? It was pushed back to next year because no company thinks gamers want to buy a new game console this year.

But wait, you say, wasn't the Xbox One launched here in September?

Well, not exactly. That video-game console was launched in the United States last year, and made it out here only 10 months later.

I did come close to splashing out real money. Once. On Samsung's latest Galaxy Edge smartphone.

What stopped me? I did not need a new phone.

But by this time next year, I do hope to have spent some money in several areas of consumer tech.

I'll put my parents on the 1Gbps fibre broadband plan. I have been using it this year and there is nothing quite like it for streaming and downloading content. The only deal breaker will be ViewQwest rolling out its 2Gbps service, which is currently on trial.

The next big-ticket purchase is a fancy digital lock for my home. Some newer brands offer SMS notifications and entry logs, on top of coded access. I am just tired of forgetting my keys.

My wife wants a new laptop. So I am hoping she can wait for a Windows 10 machine, as the new operating system is slated for release next year.

And, yes, I do want a smartwatch. One that can track my activities, monitor my health and last more than two weeks on one charge.

Now, let's see who gets my money first.

sherwinl@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 31, 2014.
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