2010 – Tech Highlights

2010 has been quite a geeky year for me though not all highlights have been really high tech.

First item on the list is a SodaStream. My parents had one of these when I was a child and we used to get our sugar rushes from cola and lemonades. However, after a trip to Outi & Rob’s this summer I decided it would be great to have soda on tap.

They have spring water coming out of their ears almost and I thought it would be ideal to be able to supplement other liquid intake with soda – I’m not a big fan of natural water.

Sstream

So thanks to SodaStream I now drink a lot more water which I feel good about. It also costs (if you write off initial outlay) about 17 cents a liter and most importantly leaves a lot smaller carbon footprint than importing bottled water. Nice one!!

XBMC has been going from strength to strength. Dharma is the 10th incrementation of the media center and it has some really nice features making updating and maintaining plug-ins easier. I have probably been running XBMC on my Apple TV for about 18 months now and I am at the point where I am wanting HD content streamed to my TV. This has not been possible with the current set up. However there are workarounds – namely a hardware hack that replaces a WIFI card with a graphics card. Another option is a light Linux installation that is said to work out of the box with limited hassle. Having investigated this a bit over the past few days I still think it is too hard to install right now.

2011 promises LG Bluray players with Plex built in. I have Plex media server on my Mac-Mini and this currently serves content to my iPad so maybe I will wait.

Xbmc

I started 2010 with a Nokia N95 8GB – a great phone but I really wanted to get into the “touch” arena. In March I was finally able to join in the fun with a Nokia 5800. Despite a fair amount of negative opinions I liked the phone very much. I guess looking back on it the phone was slightly limited but it was a nice introduction to a touchscreen device with free maps and navigation. This all paled into insignificance when I got my N900 in May.

N9005800

The N900 takes mobile computing to the next level. Sure it misses some of the normal “phone” features that you would expect and it doesn’t utilize the services provided by Ovi by Nokia but you can do almost anything you want with it. Fantastic for music and connecting to other computers with a very fast web browsers it really suits my needs. Admittedly some of these afore mentioned “phone” features are a little hard to find sometimes and the out-of-the-box experience leaves a little bit to be desired but I think this more about the target audience of the devices and part of the fun of a new toy. I am still loving it 7 months on. I don’t know where to go from here as you are so unrestricted in what you can actually do on the phone.

I touched on the iPad earlier. I know that there is a new model coming out in a few months but I just wanted one. I couldn’t hold off any more. It absolutely fits my needs. It is like a giant remote control for my XBMC, I can control iTunes on my Mac-Mini too and then there are the great applications for news aggregators. Not forgetting Angry Birds :-)

To be honest I am still not entirely convinced by this “different app for everything” mentality but I know I am one of the few that think this way. I know that it is necessary on the iPad where you have limited access to write to the device (i.e. you need to create an app and get it into the app store) but the way the N900 works for example the need for applications (something the community moans about the lack of) is lessened because there is an excellent web browser built in for starters. A good example would be Facebook. There is no good application on the N900 for this, but then you can browse the full site and it works very well so there is actually no need for one. On the iPad I use friendly as the browser doesn’t work so well on Facebook.

Ipad

Back to the iPad in general, it just works. It connects beautifully to other Apple stuff that I have around the house. It is very hard to put it down with so much information at your fingertips. What was your gadget / tech highlight for this year?