The Year in Tech: 2004
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The Year in Tech: 2004

2004_12_31gadgets.jpgJust when you got in the habit of writing 2004 on your rent cheques, it’s all about to change. A new year of gadgets and tech advances is upon us. 2004 was the year tech went cool. The family geek, once the outcast, became the gify consultant, dispensed software recommendations and set up your printer. Electronics were the hit of the Christmas shopping season. In 2004, you didn’t give a date your phone number, you gave them your URL.

The Good:

Blogs. Everyone had one, or an idea for one, or some liquor-induced bluster about starting one. ‘Blog’ became part of everyday language. The discipline necessary to post regularly and keep a steady audience seems to be what separates the good from the bad.
Bluetooth. Yeah, we’ll soon be living in Star Trek. No wires anywhere. Wireless headsets, headphones and mice and syncing with everything. Soon you’ll have a chip in the tip of each finger, so you can type on anything. Drool.

iPod hit the big time and created a whole new market for its accessories. It was one of the hottest selling items this Christmas, making it hard for Apple, retailers and component suppliers to keep up the ever-increasing demand. It carries your contacts, syncs with your calendar in order to beep and remind you where you should be and most importantly, it carries your tunes. Thousands of them. It looks hot, feels good in your hand and has a brilliant interface. What more do you want?
Digital Cameras are outselling film cameras and then some. They have really come into their own now that many retailers are offering affordable and competitive printing services directed towards digital camera owners. The technology has caught up and megapixels are really no longer an issue.
DVD. The big hit of 2003 continues to better last year’s sales. Prices continue to drop and consumers have taken notice. What used to be a $35 DVD is now on a store’s ‘2 for $30’ rack, so you won’t feel so guilty about coming home with a bag of six or eight. Forget Film School – just listen to the Director’s commentary and watch the extras, which are becoming more extensive with each release.

The Disappointing:

Bad-mouthing the Segway. A lack of Government support made them illegal in most US States and in Canada, so it could hardly become the life-changing device it had the potential to be. It ran on batteries, had zero emissions and only cost 25 cents to charge, by plugging it into any household outlet. Could Lobbyists from automakers and oil companies have had something to do with this? Ya think?
Handheld Computers / Tablets: Their great expense turned off consumers, or they were underpowered. I refuse to use one and sold my Sony Clié after growing tired of converting all of my documents before leaving the house. A handheld that can’t just display a jpeg or a PDF without a ten-minute conversion and sync step isn’t going to be of any help to anyone.
Microsoft. Do they do anything new? They came out with the Media Center to steal market share from TiVo, much like how they created the XBox to muscle market share from Sonyand Nintendo. Apple’s iTunes store was a hit, so they decided to launch their own. Now they’re working on software, for their next version of Windows, which will rival Google desktop. With so many staff and all of that money, why no new ideas? They have the potential and resources to innovate and are just copying and resting on their laurels.

Forecast for 2005:

Podcasting will mature and see more uses in 2005. Geeks with some recording gear will become online celebrities and influence the media in the way that sites‘and did. Someone will create a phone-sex equivalent of the dirty story podcast meets Penthouse Letters.

Wishes for 2005:

A Breakthrough in Batteries. It has to happen. Laptop batteries get 30 minutes to 5 hours of battery life and intensive use, like watching a dvd, will use up so much juice you won’t see more than one before recharging.
Wireless Everywhere. I’m not writing this from Starbucks. Oh, well. Too many damn screaming kids and strollers anyway.