Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking Ahead

It is the time of the year again to look into my sometimes cloudy crystal ball and predict what devices, services and technologies will be popular in 2014.  We’ll look at what is a “must have” and what you might want to avoid.

For sure we will see more and more internet related services and devices in the new cars.  Already we have internet radio, navigation systems that watch out for traffic jams and smart phone apps that will remotely start your car on that cold winter morning.  Real time diagnostics now available on some high end models will find their way into the mid- priced models.  Dashboard idiot lights will begin to give way to technologies that constantly monitor all the car’s critical systems sending reports in real time to the manufacture that can send back tweaks to fix the issue while you are driving or contact you to arrange a visit to the closest dealer’s service department.

Once only available to the super rich and super tech smart, home automation systems will get more affordable and simple to program and use.  Using the smart phone or tablet as the controller, inexpensive interface devices can be installed in home heating, lighting and security systems.  On your way home from the weekend at grandma’s house, you can turn up the heat so it is warm and cozy when you arrive.  Many home products stores carry plug and play devices that a non-technical person can install.

The TV in the family room will continue to serve as a display screen for multiple video sources.  Seamless integration of video from broadcast, cable, satellite, DVD and the Internet will be done for you.  It will be difficult to tell if your favorite program is coming from the TV network or from the cloud.  This will increase the amount of programming available on demand and will enable “binge watching.”   Binge watching allows you to watch an entire series, like Downton Abby, in one sitting.

Added pressure for a la cart pricing will be put on some of the large cable TV providers as subscribers bridle at paying monthly fees for services they never watch.  Program services like ESPN receive an average of $5 per month from each cable subscriber even if not a single program is watched.  With internet delivered competition offering a pay as you go option, look for some changes in how your cable bill is structured.

The continued slide in the sale of traditional desktop and laptop computers will continue as more and more of us use tablets and smartphones for many of the tasks once only possible on a computer.  The prices and features will get more attractive on traditional computers so if you do find you need to replace that old clunker, you will not break the budget.

Some of the “also rans” in 2013 like 3DTV will see sales continue to languish and the adoption of the ultra HD screens will also be sluggish until more programming is available and the TV set prices fall.  Both will happen but most likely not in 2014.

Happy New Year!

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