2010 will go down in history as an important year for the tech industry. This is the year the first flickers of 4G technology popped up on American carriers. It's the year netbooks receded from their high water mark while the tablet form-factor made its impact on the public psyche. 2011, of course, will be an even bigger year. So let's pause a moment to look at the highlights of 2010 before it dies.
The Most Useful. In terms of straight-up practicality, my favorite gadget of the year was actually a battery. Seido's Innocell series of extended battery has turned my Evo into a whole new phone. I don't even want to buy a new smartphone until Seido launches a 3500 mAh battery for it. And this isn't a minor improvement either.
My Evo gets at least 2X the working battery life now, which makes more of a difference than you'd think. A smartphone isn't like a PMP. If you run out of juice, you have no way to communicate with people or navigate your way home. With a stock battery, the Evo doesn't last long enough for me to risk using 4G or doing much browsing when I am out-and-about.
But now I can use my 4G hotspot feature for an hour or two, spend another hour or two browsing the Internet, take a call, navigate out to a bar and navigate my way back home with texting and IM-ing in between. By the end of the night, I've still got a charge.
The Most Important. The iPad. Duh. No other product in 2010 single-handedly launched a device market. Before the iPad, "tablets" were cumbersome devices with crappy battery life, usually sold as tablet-notebooks. Now analysts are calling 2011 the "year of the tablet". CES 2011 will see the launch of a huge portfolio of next-gen slates, all marketed and crafted to be iPad-killers.
The iPad's success is made all the more impressive by the fact that many tech bloggers had mixed feelings when it was first unveiled. It would be too slow, break too easily, cost too much. There was no camera, no real content creation. What did the iPad have going for it?
Apparently, enough to sell 7 million units in its first year.
The Most Potential. Verizon's LTE network. First off, it has in-use speeds of 7-9 Mbps on the low-end, with a staggering high speed of 32.8 Mbps. Sure, this means you can drain your 5 GB of monthly data in no time flat. But it also represents a huge leap forward over 3G.