2010 - Year of Gadgets on the move

In 2010, gadgets, and the people who use them, just couldn't sit still. Mobile devices from smartphones to tablets to ever-affordable e-readers made it easier than ever to work, play, surf, and chat on the go, while new motion control systems got gamers off the couch and breaking a sweat.

After months of speculation about a slate-like device, Apple kicked off the year in a big way with the iPad, consolidating the Netbook, e-reader, gaming device, photo frame, and iPod into an affordable mobile supergadget--and leading to an avalanche of apps to keep on-the-go consumers plugged in and entertained.

Non-Apple-ites waiting for an Android counterpunch to the iPad got their wish this summer, when the Dell Streak, which walks the line between smartphone and tablet, finally made its way to U.S. shores. Samsung followed with another Android contender, the Galaxy Tab, and several other companies, including Acer, Asus, and LG, announced their own plans to jump into the Android tablet pool soon.

In other news (yes there was some), Research In Motion took the wraps off its first tablet offering, the BlackBerry PlayBook, while Dell, with its Inspiron Duo, re-confirmed that Windows 7 convertible tablets aren't dead yet.

Tablets weren't the only high-profile gadgets sporting Android, of course. After a slow start, Android phones started arriving fast and furiously this year, with handsets like the HTC Evo 4G (Sprint's first 4G phone); Moto Droid X; and Samsung Galaxy S series among those leading the pack.

Not content to let Android and iOS devices steal the smartphone thunder, Microsoft revamped its problematic Windows Mobile operating system, introducing Windows Phone 7 and an international cast of Windows Phone 7 handsets. RIM also came out with an overhaul of its mobile operating system, calling it BlackBerry OS 6.

And now back to Apple, which unleashed the iPhone 4--and what soon came to be known as "antennagate." Following the outcry over reported signal issues, the company handed out free cases to allay concerns about the design of the phone's antenna and its effect on the wireless signal. In the end, though, iPhone 4 sales may have been hit harder by the phone's lack of a Verizon connection than by any antenna issues.

Mobile wasn't the word just for gadgets though. Consumers also kept moving, literally, thanks to motion sensor systems like the PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect that showed up to take on the Wii and get gamers on their feet.

For those who preferred their entertainment sitting down, Barnes & Noble upped the e-reader ante by releasing a Nook in living color. And Netflix, available on an ever-growing roster of devices, continued to drive big chunks of downstream traffic.

Robots, as they are wont to do, delivered plenty of entertainment, too--with this year's crop massaging our sore backs, giving us sponge baths, sporting '80s Mohawks, and bowling perfect strikes. We can't wait to see what robots have up their metallic sleeves in 2011.


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