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CNET Tech Review
2011 Year in reviewThis week on the CNET Tech Review, join Molly Wood for a look back at the year in tech that was 2011. Revisit the hottest products and biggest news stories, including some you might prefer to forget.
This week on the CNET Tech Review, it's time for our 2011 year end review. Join us as we examine the highlights and low points we saw this year in the technology world. Are you still glad you bought an iPad 2 or an iPhone 4S? Wondering why you're still holding on to your Netflix subscription? We'll look back at a cookie camera that you don't have to focus. Complaining again about yet another Facebook redesign and say a final goodbye to a beloved visionary. It's all coming up right now. Hi, everyone. I'm Molly Wood and welcome to the CNET Tech Review year end review for 2011. Normally on the show we collect our hottest videos of the week and tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech plus offer our own unique tech wisdom in the form of the bottom line. We'll kinda do that this time, but instead of a week's worth of product and news, we'll do a whole year of the most notable gadgets good and bad and the new stories that we saw this year. Now, we have a lot to get through, so let's start things off with the good. The year started off hot with one of the most anticipated devices of the previous year while every other tablet maker was struggling to play catch up and we'll get to that later. Apple came out of the gate with the iPad2 and crushed it. Speaker 2: We're going to introduce today iPad2. The second generation iPad. Speaker 1: Our own Donald Bell called it predictable and awesome with it's much thinner design, faster processor and front facing camera. Plus of course the little magnetic cover that rock our collective tech work. Speaker 3: For me the reason I keep coming back to iPad is the apps. There's really no beating the selection and the quality of the stuff you can download here. At launch , there are over 65,000 apps designed specifically for the large community iPad and no one else has that and is a key part of what keeps the iPad fresh and fun. It's thinner, lighter, faster, there's more carriers, more colors, more cameras, and more apps than you'll ever need. If you're looking for the best all around tablet, this is the one. Speaker 1: Obviously the iPad2 wasn't the only huge Apple release of the year. Months of speculation about iPhone5 brought us to the big review in October and it was not the iPhone5. Speaker 4: I'm really pleased to tell you today all about the brand new iPhone4S. Speaker 1: Man, listen to that half hearted applause. The masses howled about the unchanged design. The lack of 4G and all that. But despite that initial disappointment of course some pesky battery troubles out of the gate, iPhone4S turned out to be pretty darn good. IOS5 added much needed improvements The camera is spectacular and the voice assistant, Siri became everybody's favorite punchline Easter egg generator and occasionally even assisted. Speaker: Who's your daddy? Speaker: You are can we get back to work now? Speaker: In other phone stories, Microsoft got series about it's mobile platform in 2011 and unveil the massive update Windows Phone Mango. It didn't Siri, but Microsoft promised there were 500 improvements in there. We like this (beefy?) tiled interface features like group contacts, threaded messaging and unified inboxes and there were some pretty impressive Bing search features. It's attractive. It's usable and we expect Mango to be contender in 2012 and beyond. Speaker: There are still some snags here and there and the platform may not be ready to conquer the smart phone world, but it is much closer than it was before. Speaker: In other notable developments in 2011, Google got serious about social... very serious about social. As Larry Page took the reigns as CEO, he tied the bonuses of just about every employee to social success. And took aim at Facebook with a new social network called Google Plus. It took many of Facebook's favorite features and added (??) privacy controls in the form of drag and drop and circles. Speaker: The key in social concept of Google Plus is the circle. You can create circles for the different parts of your life, your work, your family, your friends, your hobbies. And then to keep you from getting overwhelmed by all your contact social updates, you can watch just what's happening in particular circles by using streams. So if you're in the mood to see what's going on with your family, you just check out your family stream. Speaker: At this stage in the game, Google Plus is getting huge traffic, but Facebook proving just as hard to kill as it ever was. Although, they did themselves a little damage, we will get to that in a bit. Meanwhile, another big trends of 2011. It was the year of the music services. Amazon, Spotify and Google Music are all trying to win you onto their individual music clouds. Amazon started it off in March with a cloud drive and a cloud player that lets you upload all your tunes to Amazon server and then stream them from anywhere. Of course, by the time we uploaded all that music, and it took awhile, Spotify arrives state side with the ability to subscribe and then play any song any time minus the uploading. And then just as we got use to Spotify, Google came along with Google Music. Cloud stored locker streaming plus some staff recommendations. How adorable your 2000? It does have good sharing though including one full song share with your Google Plus friends. It's an abundance of riches in the music world. In fact, I think at this point, I might be using some combination of all three of those. Exhausting. But if you were bored by yet another version of Cloud Storage and the digital music locker along came some all new technology mid-year to get us excited about of all things, cameras. I mean look at this thing. Speaker: Hey, guys. Brian Tong here with CNET TV and we have a first look at the Litro camera. This is the first ever light field camera. Now you see this design, it's really unique, it's a traditional camera because this camera does not do traditional things. The light field technology and the litro promises to capture all the information in an image. You don't need to focus and then you create a full 3D image that you can manipulate later. Speaker: No matter what I take right now after the fact, I'll be able to choose what I wanna focus on, Speker: Awesome? I pre-ordered the blue one and it had better ship in February like they say. And finally, here in the good. We went into the year talking tablets. No surprise, we're leaving the year talking tablets. iPad2 may have kick things off, but year's end all we could talk about were the Kindle Fire and surprisingly the HP TouchPad. With the Fire announcement, Amazon put the tablet world on notice announcing $199 device. It doesn't try to be an iPad. It tries to be an eReader, a movie viewer and a basic web surfing device all tied to Amazon and offer a 199 bucks. Speaker: At that price, I think it's a slum dunk. You're getting more entertainment options than on Barnes and Noble's and the tablet, more screen than Apple's $199 iPad Touch and an (Easyviews?) you're really not gonna find at any price. Speaker: Now, speaking of low priced tablets, the HP TouchPad was just another iPad competitor when it launch early in the year. In fact, if felt more like an iPad 1 competitor that an iPad2 competitor. But when HP killed off the touchpad just a few months after it went on the market and then started selling it 99 bucks, it suddenly became the must have tablet of the year. It rocketed to the number 2 best selling tablet after the iPad. What a difference a $400 price cut makes. Speaker: On Friday after HP's announcement that it was going to discontinue it's TouchPad tablet, the company announced an inventory Fire sale. TouchPads began liquidating at retails around the country for just $99 for the 16 gigabyte version and a %149 for the 32 gigabyte version. The nation's largest electronics retailer, Best Buy reversed it iself when it decided to join the sale rather than just return shipments back to HP. Speaker.: I've been trying to pick up one of those $99 TouchPad for months now. I'm still holding out hope. And I'm exhausted already, but we haven't even gotten to the juicy stuff in the bad yet. So before we do, let's take a quick break. We'll be back with more scene at Tech Review right after this. Welcome back the CNET Tech Review, our weekly video digest of all things good and bad we've seen here CNET TV. This week, we're taking a look back at the tech year that was 2011. We've seen a lot of great stuff so far, but it wasn't all good news this year as you'll see in our look back at the bad. Let's be honest, 2011 was the year of the also run tablet. The Motorola Zoom kicked off the Android tablet fanfare in March, but it's high price and buggy honey comb installation kept it in the niche category. Tablet after tablet follow. Remember some of these names? Lenovo, Idea PadK1, the VCO Tablet, the Sony S Tablet. That was actually kind of cool. The Lenovo Idea Pad A1, the Toshiba Thrive 7 inch tablet, the Asus Iconia Tab A5014G on AT&T. The Asus ePad Slider S101. Only the Samsung Galaxy tabline had any traction at all, but Samsung spent the whole year fighting patent infringement lawsuits from Apple. Speaker: It's somewhat surprising news Apple has won a preliminary injunction against Samsung's new Galaxt Tab10.1 Android Power Tablet in Europe. Samsung says that the ruling was disappointing. The company also says that the injunction was filed with no notice on Samsung and that the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung. Speaker: And of course, there was the ill-fated BlackBerry Playbook which best to not even speak of it. Speaker: The top of the Playbook is a sour note for me. There's a headphone jack and a pair of stereo mikes, that's fine. The power button if you can see it, is this little teenie tiny thing made for baby fingers. It's also the button you'll need to use for waking the screen out of sleep mode, so you'll have to contend with it everyday. Speaker: Frankly, I think the ASUS Transformer Prime could turn it all around though. Go check out that review at CNETTV.com. Bad tech news dominated 2011 as a massive earthquake and tsunami brought devastation in Japan. It killed thousands. It brought the country to the brink of nuclear disaster and the effects on global manufacturing are still being felt. Speaker: An 8.9 magnitude earthquake Sendai, Japan today and early reports show extensive damage along the Northeast region. Video and photos of the disaster are flooding the web through Twitter, Facebook and Youtube and Google has taken the unusual step of posting tsunami warnings in the Pacific rim on it's highly track at homepage. Google has also launched person finder to help find people by name or leave information for loved ones. Speaker: Stateside, we said goodbye to the US man space shuttle mission with final vonages by Discovery and Atlantis. Then again at the end of the year, scientists noticed a potentially earth like planet inhabitable zone, so may we'll be back in spacecraft sooner than expected. Speaker: This morning the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed at 5:57 AM marking the 135th and final flight of the space shuttle program. The mission was commanded by Christopher Ferguson with three other NASA astronauts who have come and be known as the Final Four. For now, visitors at the space station will have to rely Russian Soviet's space flight while NASA begins work on it's next man base craft. Speaker: And crazy times at some big name company. HP abruptly killed off it's WEBOS division and announced plans to spin off the PC unit. Then the board (camped?) the guy who came up with that crazy idea after hiring that guy and installed Meg Whitman in his place. At press time, Whitmam was still trying to decide what to do with WEBOS and presumably the rest of the company. It was a rough year for Netflix too. First the company announced in July that it would hike prices around 60% and try to push more users stored streaming only plans. Users revolted and quit. Not surprisingly the concept over roughly 70% price hike for DVD's and streaming made people who are addicted to TV and movies lose their might. The Netflix Facebook page is filled with angry messages from people who say they're cancelling their service. I mean, I'm sorry Netflix, it's just you know I love you. I'm just not sure that I'm in love with you like I was and I... I guess I just think maybe it's time to start seeing other people. Then Netflix said it would split into 2 companies and he second one, Quickster would handle DVD's while Netflix just its streaming. Users revolted and quit. Speaker. The online streaming service will keep the Netflix name. If you're confused and annoyed from the changes, Netflix is well aware, the company co-founder and CEO, Reed Hastings is responding to thousands of angry comments on the Netflix blog after writing an apology and an explanation about the decision saying this is a move to help strengthen the selection of shows on the streaming service. Speaker: Finally, Netflix announced that it was really, really sorry and would stay together after all price hike and all. Users revolted and quit. Speaker: Netflix said it would continue to operate one website for both services. CEO, Reed Hastings said in a statement, consumers value the simplicity Netflix has always offered and will respect that. There is a difference between moving quickly which Netflix has done very well for years and moving too fast which is what we did in this case. Speaker: Like I said, bad year for Netflix. Also, a pretty bad year for Sony, which was hacked over and over again all Spring.T he worse attack took down the PlayStation Network, expose the user information for some 70 million people and may have exposed credit card data as well. Speaker: Security analyst say this breaches one of the top 5 in history. Identity theft is a serious concern and you should pretty much not trust any e-mail that you receive from anyone for I don't know like the rest of your life especially after the whole Epsilon thing a couple of weeks ago. Oh and oh, as usual, there's really nothing you can do here except sue as part of a massive class action lawsuit and then 6 years from now you'll get a check for about $3. Sometimes the cloud kind of sucks. It took Sony some 2 weeks to restore partial service about a month to get PSN fully up and running and then it was hack again in September. Plus there were smaller hacks on Sony's sites around the world for weeks. In fact, summer 2011 was the summer of the hacker. Anonymous was constantly in the news along with it's splinter group, (Lil Sac?) which actually took responsibilty for the Sony hack. (Lil Sac?) also defaced the PBS website, hacked Nintendo and even messed with Rupert Murdoch. Speaker: The news of the world scandal has brought the hacker group, (Lil Sac?) out of retirement. News corporation used paper the Sun's homepage was attack and directed visitors to a fake article claiming that CEO, Rupert Murdoch was dead. Later the Sun's website redirected to (Lil Sac's?) Tweeter feed taking a step even further to a hack group then twitted the name and phone number of a son online editor and to other associated with the company. Speaker: Although the group was mostly vapor by the end of the year, after increasing international heat and multiple arrests. Now we would be remiss if we didn't take a poke at Mark Zuckerberg you know at year-end wrap up. Facebook's (FAid?) conference brought us the big fancy new timeline and open graph. The seamless sharing that means that in the future everytime you listen to a song, read an article, comment on post, watch a movie, pick your nose, it will get autoposted to Facebook. Huh? 2012? Year of Google Plus. And after a sea of bad news, October brought us news that will change the tech world forever. On October 4th, 2011, Steve Jobs died. Speaker: We got another really cool piece of hardware. We're really excited about this. One of the most amazing things we've ever created. The most beautiful things we've ever made. This is really hot in all new design. Let me show it to you now. This is it right here. This is what it looks like. This is the result. Let me show it to you now. There it is. It is the thinnest even thinner and faster. It is the thinnest the fondest... after small nothing even approaching this. It's amazing. Stunning. Just beautiful. Beautiful. It's really beautiful. Really nice. Gorgeous. How thin it is. Fantastic. Incredible. Astounding and it feels even better in your hand. Almost floats. Very beautiful. I'm still stunned. See you all soon. Thanks. Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute now. I forgot. There is one last thing. Speaker: The bottom line for 2012, RIP Steve Jobs. What's next for Apple? Is it an opportunity for some other company? Or will Steve's legacy carry Apple's dominance into the next year and beyond. It's hard to say, but as the Steve Jobs biography started popping up in everyone's hands at the end of 2011, it was pretty clear that tech world just wouldn't be quite the same. So there you have it. We reach the end of the show and the end of another year, but come back next week for an all new scene at Tech Review. Until then there are tons of great videos available everyday at CNETTV.com. I'll see you next time and thank you for watching.