From the PS4 to the (presumed) iPhone 5S, here are the most anticipated gadgets of the year.
New Kindle tablets and readers
In 2012, Amazon revealed its updated lineup of Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-book readers during the first week of September. We don't know exactly when Bezos and company will pull the big reveal for 2013, but with the existing products getting long in the tooth -- and discounted nearly every couple of weeks -- we're betting on a big Kindle refresh in the very near future.
What started as a rumor -- that Samsung was hoping to beat Apple's rumored iWatch to market -- is now a confirmed certainty. Details remain elusive, but we know Samsung will be announcing a new product on September 4, and that it'll be a wrist-based device called the Galaxy Gear.
The last time Apple refreshed its iPad line was way back in October 2012. Expect the full-size iPad to get Mini styling (narrow bezel) and a thinner, lighter design. The second Mini is trickier -- will it be a step-up model with a Retina Display, or a discount model that competes with cheaper Android tablets? Either way, expect both new iPads later this year -- but instead of being tacked onto Apple's likely September 10 iPhone unveiling, bet on a separate event in October.
By now, everyone knows the drill: Apple releases new flagship iPhone designs in even-numbered years (iPhone 3G in 2008, 4 in 2010, 5 in 2012), and follows up with an "S" upgrade in odd years (3GS in 2009, 4S in 2011). We expect 2013 to follow that pattern, with the all-but-certain iPhone 5S hitting in September. While the external design will likely look nearly identical to its predecessor, likely improvements will include a faster processor, possibly a better camera, and (definitely) iOS 7, which was already previewed in June.
The presumed iPhone 5S is likely to be one of two iPhones we'll see announced in September. The other is the so-called iPhone 5C, also known as the "cheap iPhone" or "iPhone Mini." This model is expected to have a plastic casing and some other step-down features, and be available at a lower cost ($399 off contract?) than the premium iPhone model. That would allow Apple to market a new model to more price-sensitive international markets and budget cell providers.
While Apple and Samsung may have smartwatch products on the horizon, Sony has one you can buy now: the $130 Sony SmartWatch. The company has even already announced its sequel, the SmartWatch 2. The Android-powered wristwatch is expected to ship in September.
In a recent poll, 79 percent of CNET readers said they wanted a larger-screen iPhone. They'll probably be out of luck in 2013, but Android fans, on the other hand, already have plenty of jumbo-screen models to choose from, and more on the horizon. The next notable "phablet" is likely to be the Galaxy Note 3, which Samsung is set to debut at the IFA conference on September 4. Expect a bigger (possibly 5.7-inch screen), better version of 2012's big-screen fave, the Note 2 (pictured above).
A rumor no longer: the Xbox One is real, and it's coming in a matter of weeks. The new Xbox will feature a powerful AMD processor, a Blu-ray drive, bundled next-generation Kinect motion control, and a spiffed-up new Xbox game pad. The Xbox One seems intent on justifying its $499 asking price with the added value of cable box integration via an HDMI pass-through and voice control. And the heavy-handed digital rights management scheme is now a thing of the past -- Microsoft did a dramatic about-face, so used games are back on the table, and daily online check-ins are out.
The Xbox One won't be the only new game console in town. The Sony PlayStation 4 is arriving on November 15 for $399 -- that's $100 less than Microsoft's offering. Moreover, you'll only need Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription for online multiplayer games; by contrast, even Xbox's media apps don't work without an annual subscription to Xbox Live.
Did you have a burning desire to buy the Nintendo 3DS, but didn't like the 3D feature? Or the convenient clamshell design? Well, then, you're in luck! Nintendo will be releasing a slate-style, 2D-only version of the 3DS in October. It plays all of the 3DS games (sans 3D, natch), and has a controversial flat design. But the $129 price is wallet-friendly -- $40 less than the 3DS. Cheap enough to make this a stocking stuffer -- or at least an iPod Touch alternative for the kids? Time will tell.
Apple gave a rare peek behind the curtain at its June WWDC event and confirmed the rumors: a new Mac Pro is coming later this year. The new model boasts a unique -- and polarizing -- tubular design. Internal expandability appears minimal; instead, the new super-Mac delivers a cluster of rear-panel USB, Lightning, and HDMI ports for connecting external peripherals. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect it to be eye-popping -- this is a machine targeted at professionals, not home users.
Like Ouya, BlueStacks' GamePop Android-powered game console was already making news. But even before the $129 console has hit, the company has already upped the ante with the GamePop Mini, which takes the price to "free" -- with a $6.99-per-month subscription, of course.
The image above is a "what-if" composite -- a Siri icon on a 2011 iPod Nano with a wristband accessory. But if the rumors are to be believed, Apple may have upward of 100 people working on just such a product. Whether it's more of an interface to an iPhone or a standalone gadget is anyone's guess -- as is when (or whether) this rumored product will see the light of day.
Photo by: Image created by Sarah Tew and Christopher MacManus/CNET / Caption by:
Windows 8 hasn't exactly set the world on fire. But with more than 100 million licenses sold, it's hardly a failure, either. That's why Microsoft is tweaking it to answer some of the criticisms -- yes, the Start button is coming back (sort of) -- and expand its device footprint, too (hello, 7-inch tablets). Look for Windows 8.1 (previously known as "Windows Blue") in October.
LG isn't the first company to come to mind when you think "smartphone," but the company is ramping up its superphone offerings with the all-new G2. The Android model features a 5-inch 1080p screen, a unique back-mounted control set (shown), and a zippy Snapdragon 800 processor. Look for it to hit carriers worldwide soon.
PCs with Intel fourth-generation Core i Series 'Haswell' CPUs
Yes, the PC industry is suffering in the wake of the tablet and smartphone onslaught. But the one-two punch of new operating systems (Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X Mavericks) and new hardware (Intel's fourth-generation "Haswell" CPUs) is offering the chance for a serious reboot. The first batch of PCs (and Macs) we've reviewed with these new chips are delivering phenomenal battery life, as promised. Expect that trickle of models to turn into a flood as we enter the fourth quarter.
If Surface was designed as an iPad killer, it failed. But the fact is, it's still arguably the best Windows 8 tablet out there. And with a few tweaks -- longer battery life, lighter weight, and a lower price -- the inevitable Surface 2 could be a game changer.
Rumors of a "real" Apple TV -- a flat-screen HDTV powered by a next-gen Apple content engine and interface -- have died down in recent months. We highly doubt we'll see such a product in 2013, if at all -- but given its holy grail status among the tech set, it's a good "what-if" to end on.