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Tuesday, December 30, 2003  

2003 Octy for Best in Technology and Gadgetry
Each Octy Category was a difficult decision for me, but all for different reasons. For the sake of brevity I decided to condense nearly all non-media products into this one category and I ended up with a field that was nigh impossible to narrow down. The runner up in the category is Cell Phone Cameras! phonecams finally started to hit the US shores in 2003 and for the first half of the year I thought they would spread across the country like the SoCal wildfires bringing a new information revolution with them. After all, if everybody had a camera (that was capable of wirelessly transmitting its pictures to almost anyone at anytime) on them at all times thinks would HAVE to change. The phonecam revolution wasn't as quick or dramatic as I had hoped but at least the installed base is steadily climbing upwards. Now if Joe Sixpack could overcome the learning curve, ridged stupidly of the cellular carriers, and controversy surrounding phonecams we could get on with the damned revolution! I've heard people bitch that it is too hard to change ringtones yet I expect them to figure out complex workarounds to e-mailing attachments under SprintVision, all the while fearing they will loose their jobs if they are caught with a phonecam in the workpalce? Good luck J6P...

But at any rate, the 2003 Octy in Tech/Gadgetry goes to: Apple Computers! Thats right a whole damn company. My "nominations" for this category included (among others) the 12 inch Powerbook, the iTunes Music Store, the G5, and the new iPods so I shoehorned them all into one and am giving the Octy everyone's favorite Cupertino CA computer company. Say what you will about Apple, but they had a HUGE year in 2003, and there was certainly more than one comparison made to 1998 (when Steve Jobs returned and the iMac was introduced.) Not only did Apple release two of the coolest portable computers to ever make a geek cry with desire (the 12 and 17 inch Powerbooks) but 2003 saw the update to the unstoppable iPod line which further cemented its dominance of the Digital Music Player market. 2003 was also the year Apple changed the way people bought music with the launch of the iTunes Music Store in April. The service was almost instantly cloned by a half dozen competitors and for the first time since the RIAA beat back the original Napster is is looking like we might actually see a change in the was the Recording Industry works. And lets not forget the introduction the the G5 Powermac, one of the fastest desktop computers on the planet. It was a long time in coming, but when it finally arrived it blew everyone away (especially the people at Virginia Tech who built a cluster supercomputer out of 1100 dual 2.2Ghz G5 towers for a total computing power of 10.3 TERAFLOPS at peak performance, making it the 3rd fastest supercomputer in the world.) Throw in the release of the next version of OS X (Panther) and it was a particularly banner year for Apple Computers. It was also the year I officially switched. Go Figure.

And finally the Honorable Mention in the category goes to the Pioneer TiVo/DVD burner units. These devices blend the super-bliss of a TiVo with a DVD burner that allows you to archive recordings you have made on the TiVo to DVD-R(W) discs! This unit is SO close to being exactly what I want in a Tivo-Burner, but it has a few minor shortcomings that have prevented me from upgrading. First there is no way to edit shows before burning them, so you are stuck with the commercials and other TV detritus, secondly it lacks a Firewire connection which I feel is important for any device dealing with digital video, and thirdly it lacks any kind of automated batch recording features; all the recordings have to be manually set up by the user. Oh, and then there is the price; the unit lists for just over one thousand bucks (though its street price has already dropped into the high $600 range.) Once these issues are addressed in the second-gen models the TiVoBurners will be an über-device to swoon over.

posted by JMV | 12/30/2003 01:14:00 PM
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