Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Top Technology of 2013

Let's start this blog with a general Best X of Y post, shall we? Its a great first post, seeing as the new year is coming up. This year hasn't been so great in terms of technology. It seems like this year has been a year of promises of things to come next year. All the great kickstarted projects, the next gen console games, further integration of the Microsoft Ecosystem, games like Starbound and Project Spark. All of that is next year. I do not count betas as released products. No one should. Anyway, without further ado, my top one X of 2013, after the break.

Top Tablet Computer of 2013- Dell Venue Pro 8- This cheap 8 inch Windows 8.1 tablet wins out over the Nexus 7, iPad Air, or Surface 2 Pro. How? Because this tablet provides a massive audience with a cheap way to get a full Windows Tablet. Not just RT, but full Windows, with all Windows apps and games, for only 299$. The specs on this tablet are rather good as well. It has an Intel Atom quad core processor, and 2 GB RAM. In my opinion, Windows 8 tablets are much better than Android and IOS, due to the sheer number of applications, using the desktop. This tablet, though not perfect, having suffered numerous bugs on launch, that are finally patched out, is a great example of a Windows tablet.

The Nokia Lumia 1020
Top Windows Phone of 2013- Nokia Lumia 1020- I could've given this spot to the Lumia 1520 for the specifications and display. But that doesn't provide anything necessarily special that Android does not already provide. I could've given it to the 520/521/525 for the same reason I gave tablet of the year to the Dell Venue, being an easy entry into Windows Phone. Indeed, combined, the Lumia 5xx series (Lumia 505/510/520/521/525) own more than half of the Windows Phone market share. But no, I am giving it to the Lumia 1020. What this phone does with photography is amazing. The pictures taken with this device, considering it is a phone, are breathtaking. It challenges standalone cameras. It has a 41 megapixel camera, which takes a 38mp and 5mp oversampled shot simultaneously. The only flaw with the device, are the outdated specifications. Yes, it runs Windows Phone OS great, with no lag, but there is no excuse for dual core in 2013 on a high end device. I really hope 2014 sees a refreshed version: The Nokia Lumia 1030 running quad core, Windows Phone 8.1, and 55 megapixel camera. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 or 805 would support it.

The Nexus 5
Top Android Phone of 2013- Nexus 5- considered the Moto X, or the Samsung Galaxy S4 for this position. They are both great devices, but as a non-android user, and developer, I feel that the rapid updates of the Google branded Nexus devices beat the neat functionality of the Galaxy S4. I also prefer the stock UI of Android to the manufacturer user interfaces such as Sense, Touch Wiz, and Xperia. I also feel that the Nexus 5 has better specifications for a better cost than the Moto X. Those are still great devices, but in my opinion, don’t match the updates, stock UI, and developer experience of the Nexus 5.  

Top Other Phone of 2013- iPhone 5S-
Before you complain that there isn't a top IOS phone category, remember that Apple only release one, or now, two phones a year. There aren't any choices. Thusly, iPhones will get thrown into the Other phone category. The entrants here would be phones running Ubuntu, Firefox OS, IOS, Asha, and any others.
My choice this year, due to lack of device releases, (I wish the Ubuntu Edge survived) is the iPhone 5S.  The iPhone 5S, has a few key additions over the iPhone 5. Namely, it releases with iOS7, it has a 64 bit processor, and it has touch ID technology. All of those aren't that huge on their own, but together provide a solid, relatively future proof, iPhone. 

Top Smartphone of 2013- Nokia Lumia 1020- My top smartphone of 2013 is the Nokia Lumia 1020. I may be a bit biased here, due to Windows Phone being my favorite Operating System for phones, but hey, this is MY top X of Y list, after all. The camera in addition to my OS of choice is far too compelling.

ImageTop Device of 2013- Tie- Nintendo 2DS and Xbox One- There is a tie. This is chagrining because I don’t like ties. However both of these devices have their own merits, and their own faults. The Nintendo 2DS has a great price point of 130$, meaning that people who couldn’t afford the 3DS, like me, now are  able to. The common complaints against the 2DS are that it is inferior to the 3DS in terms of features, and the 2DS doesn’t have a good form factor, but you have to remember the 2DS target audience. the 2DS is targeted to children. It's tougher form factor is better in this regard. It heralds back to the days of the invincible Game Boy. It is designed to survive the inevitable dropping by children. Same with it's lack of 3D. That is targeted to children, and parents worried about the 3D harming peoples eyes. However, that feature is also great for me, as I find the 3D to be a bad gimmick, and in the off-chance that it is harming to eyes, I would rather it be permanently off, and have the system cost less.
The Xbox One is an entrant here over competitors such as the Play Station 4 for one main reason. The Windows OS inside the Xbox, and it's potential in the Microsoft Ecosystem, and the Microsoft Three Screens and a cloud vision. The Xbox has the potential to run Windows Apps, and be tied in with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Microsoft has plans in threshold to converge Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Xbox. This will start next year with Windows Phone 8.1, Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Xbox OS Update 1. I am very excited to see where this leads. There is an ideal future where developers can develop one app, with one project, that deploys on Xbox, Windows, Windows Phone, and Windows RT, and has the app sync between those platforms. We are already starting to see this with Play Pause Resume on games like Skulls of The Shogun between WP, W8, and Xbox. This allows you to play a game on one, and then continue where you left off on the other platform.  

Top Software of 2013- MonoGame 3.0- There are many runner ups, but I would say my software of the year for 2013 is version 3 of MonoGame. How couldn’t it be. Beside Visual Studio 2012, and 2010, which didn’t come out this year, Windows 8.1, which I feel wasn’t enough of an improvement to warrant this spot, and Microsoft Office 2013, which was a close contender, MonoGame may be the software I use the most. MonoGame is a framework that extends the now depreciated XNA 4.0 framework. XNA was a great way of creating DirectX games with C#, and I am very upset that Microsoft retired it. Thankfully though, MonoGame came to the rescue, allowing XNA to continue life as an open source multiplatform framework using Mono, XNA, and SharpDX. MonoGame 3 was one of the biggest updates to the MonoGame framework yet. MonoGame 3 added 3D support, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Ouya, and PS Vita, among so many other fixes and additions. I use MonoGame daily for most of my game development projects. This earns it my software of the year.

Game of the Year 2013- None- A few days ago, I talked with my friend Sebastian Benjamin about 2013 in gaming. I felt like there were no real standout game of the year worthy games released this year, and I wanted to see if he shared my concern. We discussed it more, and he did. There wasn’t a standout game this year, or at least there wasn’t a game I was excited about, or played for more than a few hours. If I had to pick a game of this year, it would be Dota 2, and I don’t even like Dota 2, compared to League of Legends. However, I didn’t play any other games this year that were from this year. Dota 2 is a great game, just not for me. But due to lack of anything else, Dota 2 wins my Game of the Year, if I had to pick.

ImageDisappointment of the Year 2013- Ubuntu Edge Kickstarter- My disappointment of the year for this year was the Ubuntu Edge's indiegogo fund not reaching it's funding goal. I saw it coming, with an ambitious goal of 32 million dollars, it was unlikely they would succeed, and they didn’t, but the concept of the Ubuntu Edge was one I really wanted. This device would was my dream phone conceptualized. It "only" managed to reach 12 million dollars. The Ubuntu Edge dual booted Ubuntu and Android. It also ran a desktop version of Ubuntu. It had 4 GB of RAM. It was multi core. It had 128 GB of storage space. This was a super phone, and for only 695$. This would have been my device of the year without hesitation, had it succeeded the kickstarter. Oh well. Some good things aren't meant to happen. At least not yet. I am sure that by 2015, we will see a device of this magnitude.

That is my top technology and events of 2013. Leave any disagreements in the comments section, bearing in mind that this is an opinion piece, and I would also love to hear your top X of 2013! I am so excited to see what 2014 brings. 2014 is shaping up to be a big year in technology. And not just because Kerinova has a lineup of releases for 2014.

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