Lots of new products will be released between now and the end of the year. Here's a look at the most-anticipated gear for the rest of 2011.
Apple's next-generation MacBook Airs
The new MacBook Airs with updated Intel Sandy Bridge processors and Core i series processors are due to hit any day along with OS X Lion. The new Airs are rumored to feature a high-speed Thunderbolt port and perhaps a lighted keyboard while retaining the same design.
Back in January, the Vizio XVT3D6SP series was our Best of CES winner in the TV category. On top of offering passive 3D and a full-array LED backlight with local dimming, the XVT3D6SP series is loaded with features. Here's what editor David Katzamier had to say about it:
"The Vizio XVT3D6SP series is billed as a complement to the company's new Android phone and tablet. It boasts a custom Google TV interface and a beefed-up version of VIA (Vizio Internet Apps), our favorite Internet TV suite of last year. It also has a spiffy new remote that replaces a trendy touch screen with a much more useful touch pad, a la your favorite laptop PC. Finally it boasts passive 3D (see below) and all of the full-array local-dimming LED goodness we liked so much on the XVT3SV series. Oh yeah: it's also the first TV announced with embedded OnLive gaming."
Rumor has it that the Samsung Nexus Prime, due out late this year, will be the first smartphone to run Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0). Here's what Scott Webster had to say about it in a post on CNET:
"Keeping with other Pure Google experience smartphones, the Nexus Prime is expected to be devoid of any carrier customization or preloaded applications. Rumors also have been swirling that the first Ice Cream Sandwich handset would also be notable for another absence: physical buttons. And given that the next iteration of Android blends parts of Honeycomb and Gingerbread, it's very possible that any 4.0+ devices could operate without hard keys.
"The 'monster-size' screen will be branded as a 'Super AMOLED HD' display, matching up with previous reports of a 720p resolution. For the sake of comparison, today's top Android smart phones feature qHD screens that operate at 960x540-pixel resolution, whereas midrange devices now typically run with 800x480-pixel resolution."
Rumor has it that the Nexus Prime (or whatever name the device ends up with) will also have a next-generation dual-core processor running ion the 1.2-1.5GHz range.
While the Barnes & Noble's Nook Color isn't a full-fledged Android tablet (with Android Market) unless you root it and install custom firmware, it is the best-selling Android-based tablet out there right now, priced at a modest $249.
Before the holiday buying season, we expect that Barnes & Noble will upgrade it, perhaps as soon as late October. We doubt the design will change dramatically (if at all), but we do think it will get a faster processor and some other small but significant improvements.
The Motorola Droid Bionic is due to hit very soon and will be among the few Verizon phones to work on the carrier's new 4G LTE network. Overall, it has impressive specs, which CNET editor Nicole Lee summarized back at CES in January (watch her First Look video):
"Aside from 4G and the dual-core processors, the Droid Bionic also has 512MB DDR2 RAM; HDMI mirroring (so you can view video on both the phone and the TV when they're connected); 1080p video playback; 8-megapixel camera on the rear plus a front-facing VGA camera for video calls; Wi-Fi, of course; mobile Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five devices (subject to carrier fees); and since it ships with Android 2.2, the WebKit browser also plays in-browser Flash video."
Will Amazon put out a touch-screen Kindle? Or will it release an even more affordable non-touch model to follow up on the success of the Kindle 3? Speculation is heating up as we head into August, which is when Amazon revealed the Kindle 3 last year.
It doesn't seem like there's much more that Apple can do with the iPod Touch, but there's talk of an added 3G option (you'll have to pay for service) and the possibility of a jumbo Touch that might also qualify as an iPad Mini.
Sony's next portable gaming console, the PlayStation Vita, ups the ante in terms of graphics and features. But it remains to be seen whether the $249 Vita (or $299 with 3G) will be a hit after Sony experienced such a tepid reception for the PlayStation Go.
Due to hit this fall, the Vita has built-in Wi-Fi, dual joysticks, multitouch 5-inch OLED screen, front and rear touch pads, and front and rear cameras.
Rumor has it that Amazon will be releasing two new Android tablets by year's end. The smaller model may have a 7-inch screen and be something along the lines of the Nook Color but feature a more powerful processor (and be aggressively priced). A larger 10-inch model will allegedly be designed to compete with the iPad.
Will the iPhone 5 have an all-new design or simply retain the iPhone 4's chassis and offer such upgrades as a faster A5 processor and improved camera? And will it be a true 4G phone? At this point, no one knows for sure but all signs point to a fall release date for the next-generation iPhone, whatever it's called.