CNET Top 5: Tech trends of 2012
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CNET Top 5: Tech trends of 2012

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Putting the products aside, here are the top trends in tech that defined 2012.

In most of these videos I stand up here and reel off 5 products that are great for some reason or another. But this week, we�re going to step back and look at the big picture. Products come and go, but if you really want to know what�s going on in the tech world, it�s all about spotting the trends. So here you go, here�s a look back at what I personally think were big the tech trends that defined 2012. Starting off at #5: Virtual assistants. Siri made it�s debut on the iPhone in October of 2011, but 2012 was the year when all the competitors struck back. Google Now, Samsung S Voice, Vlingo, Robin. We�re actually having conversations with our gadgets now, and it�s kinda freaking me out that this doesn�t really freak me out anymore. At #4: convertible laptops, and hybrid tablets. With the rollout of Windows 8, we�re seeing a whole new crop of laptops that flip around into tablets, and tablets with snap-on keyboards. I can�t tell if this is really the evolution of the laptop or just an awkward identity crisis, but the idea of a laptop without a touch screen is starting to feel a little old school. Coming in at #3: 4G. Now, 4G has been with us for awhile, but 2012 was the year it really went mainstream. You almost couldn�t buy a smartphone phone in 2012 that wasn�t 4G compatible, especially after the iPhone got on board. 4G is finally becoming the norm, and we�ve got a nice little window here before everyone starts talking about 5G. At #2: Phablets! More than a phone, less than a tablet, and a the best indicator of an inferiority complex since the invention of truck nuts. Samsung introduced the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in February and then a 5.5-inch Note II in October. We laughed at first, but this is a thing now. Your smartphone can be as big as your face, and people will just think you�re cutting edge. \ Now before we get to number #1, I�d like to point out a trend that everyone predicted would dominate 2012, but didn�t: the Cloud. Everything was supposed to be sucked up into the cloud like some kind of tech rapture this year, but nothing much changed. To be fair, an invisible cloud of data is a hard thing to notice. Maybe we�re in the cloud right now. Is this the cloud? And finally, the #1 tech trend of 2012 was: 7-inch tablets! Now this one was pretty easy to spot from 2011 when the Amazon Kindle Fire became an instant holiday hit. Then Google hit back with the Nexus 7, Amazon came back with four Kindle Fires, Barnes & Noble stepped up their Nook, and then of course, the iPad Mini. Not only did the 7-inch tablet blossom in 2012, but there�s good reason to believe that this might be the dominant tablet size from here on out. So there you go, the five tech trends that I personally think did the most to shape 2012. But that�s just scratching the surface. Take a look at the CNET 100 for an exhaustive list of the year�s most important developments in tech. It�s a collaboration from all of CNET�s Editors. And for more Top 5s like this head over to Top5.CNET.com. You can also follow me over on Twitter.

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