As the United States pauses before the sprint towards the holidays, here’s a list of the five technologies that inspired a strong sense of thanksgiving this year.
These five things stand out this year because they changed the way I work, live or play. All of these things became nearly indispensable in a first-world way. None of these replace family, friends or faith. However, I’d fight before I’d give them up.
Some things didn’t make the list because I didn’t get to use it like Google Glass, which looks like a life-changing technology. It’s not ready for the masses thanks to Google’s slow roll-out and high price.
The new Apple Thunderbolt Display that sits on my desk nearly made the list, but its been around for too long and Apple didn’t change it much this year. The Xbox One fits the criteria but it’s too new. Look for it next year.
When the CR-48 Chromebook first hit the scene I wondered who would bother with a web-only device. Than I tried out a Samsung Chromebook and liked it. The current generation of Haswell-based Chromebooks, like the HP Chromebook 14 or the Acer C720, feel like real notebooks and offer enough power, excellent battery and nice design quality to make them compelling.
Chromebooks could benefit from better screens and online video editing tools. We also need a mid-level hardware option, something better than ultra-low-end models but not as expensive as the overpriced Chromebook Pixel.
Why should Microsoft or Apple fans care about Chromebook? Competition will push Windows and OS X to improve to keep the upstart ChromeOS from stealing market share. We’re not there yet, but ChromeOS keeps getting better.
Wireless Streaming to TV via Chromecast or Apple TV
Apple TV isn’t new but the Chromecast hit this year and this inspired Roku to add streaming from mobile devices to an upcoming update of their mini set-top boxes.
Apple keeps improving the Apple TV with more content. Google introduced their device at an incredible price and it flew off shelves. Together, these devices make us think differently about connecting phones, tablets and laptops to an external display and that’s exciting.
Verizon & AT&T in My Rural Neighborhood
Finally the hicks in the sticks, here in rural America, can get online wirelessly through LTE. This year AT&T turned on LTE in my neighborhood 90 minutes from the closest big city. Thank you AT&T and Verizon for bringing my community into the 21st century finally.
iPad mini with Retina Display Update
When Apple announced the first iPad, I didn’t plan to buy one for one reason – no Retina Display. Then I used the first gen iPad mini for a little while and got one in spite of the lower res display. I longed for the crisp text of my larger iPad 3 all year. Thank you Tim Cook for releasing the iPad mini with Retina Display just in time for the long holiday weekend.
Auto Awesome from Google+
This seems like such a minor thing, but when someone gets their first message from Google telling them there’s an auto-awesome video available in their picture and video gallery, they’ll flip.
I created a short video of my family’s trip to a nice restaurant on the Catawba River. I shot some video, edited it and posted it all from my iPad. It took me about an hour to edit the video after about ten minutes of grabbing a few shots.
The Google+ app automatically uploaded the video when I got home within range of Wi-Fi. Google+ Auto Awesome spliced the video together and added some generic background music. The video looked better than the one I made with painstaking effort.
At first it disappointed me that I couldn’t do better, then I realized how much time I’d save when shooting videos of events at my church or with my family.