Gadgets

When Should You Buy Your Next Gadget?

As Laptop Mag’s Avram Piltch explains, if you want to reach a state of true techstasy, you may need to repress your desire to buy a new gadget today and wait for the next version to come out.

To be fair, playing the waiting game to buy great new gear is an endless cycle, so don’t feel that you need to wait at all. It’s just nice to know what’s around the corner to make your own judgement.


The iPhone

If you have your heart set on purchasing a new iPhone, don’t do it yet. Every rumour points to the arrival of a much-improved product in a few months. We don’t know what exact specs the iPhone 5 will have. We don’t even know if it’ll be called the iPhone 5 (my money’s on “the Brand Spanking New iPhone”), but we can be pretty certain it will have 4G LTE, a faster processor, a better camera, and a larger and sharper screen.

While four or five months may seem like a long time to wait, most iPhone owners are on two-year phone contracts that usually won’t allow them to upgrade until after 20 months. Do you really want to spend 2013 being known as the loser who has to “take a grenade” with Siri’s older, slower moving sister while your friends cosy up to the new model?


Windows tablets

Let’s face the facts. If you want to buy a Windows 7 tablet, you’re either a multitouch masochist or a sadistic CTO, looking to pinch-zoom in on employee suffering. Though Windows 7 runs all the applications you could ever want, its touch-unfriendly interface makes it really difficult to use with adult-sized fingers. Ever try tapping the X widget to close a window? You’ll need to stick your index finger in a pencil sharpener first, so you can make sure it’s thin enough.

Coming later this year, Windows 8 offers a very touch-friendly Metro UI and a host of touch-friendly apps on top of it. Even better, Windows 8 will run on ARM-based tablets, allowing for thinner, lighter and longer-lasting designs. A slew of new convertible notebooks that run Windows 8 is coming too. I can’t wait for the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, which bends its hinge back 180 degrees to become a slate. Even Kanye West would sit in his seat long enough to wait for Windows 8.


Ultrabooks

The first generation of ultrabooks — a new category of uberthin, fast-booting portable PC — arrived last year with prominent entries from all the big vendors. We’re huge fans of current Ultrabooks like the ASUS Zenbook UX31 and Toshiba Portege Z835, but it’s worth noting that new generation of improved specs will arrive in coming weeks. Upgraded versions will sport Intel’s faster, more efficient third-generation Core Series processors (aka Ivy Bridge), and many will offer higher-resolution displays.

The Ultrabooks we’re excited about: The ASUS ZenBook Prime will offer a generous 1920×1080 screen that will let you watch HD movies at their native resolution, while viewing more of your favourite web pages and documents without scrolling. Meanwhile, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon could be the ultimate productivity Ultrabook when it launches in coming weeks. It will pack a gorgeous 14-inch, 1600×900 matte display into a 19mm thick chassis that weighs just 1.36kg. Plus, you’ll get the industry’s best keyboard.


MacBook Pros

If you have your heart set on an Apple MacBook Pro, tell your heart to go on without one for just a little longer. Everyone expects Apple to announce a new lineup of MacBook Pros in June, and these new notebooks will reportedly weigh less, feature high-resolution “retina” displays and provide USB 3.0 ports in addition to running Ivy Bridge CPUs. These notebooks will also be running Apple’s new OS X Mountain Lion software, which brings more iPad-like functionality to Macs along with stronger security.

Unless a pack of rabid Windows fanboys breaks into your house and smashes your current MacBook Pro with a Metro-UI styled hammer, you can hold on for another few weeks. The retina display, which should show more content on the screen at once, is reason enough to wait.


Android tablets

Though we’ve seen some speedy quad-core tablets like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, we’re still waiting for Android tablet makers to come out with screens that have higher than 1280×800 resolution. Both ASUS and Acer have announced 1920×1200 tablets, but neither one has hit the market yet. If you plunk down $800 on a tablet now, you may feel silly when the new HD models arrive within the next couple of months. But again, if you have a need for one, don’t let us stop you. The curent crop of Android tablets are still a great alternative to the Apple universe.


Smart TVs

Apple can play coy all it wants, but many industry insiders believe that the Cupertino company plans to launch its own TV later this year. There’s no question that the Apple TV will have deep iTunes integration, a gorgeous screen (Apple is known for that) and some kind of Siri-based voice control.

When it comes to launching new Smart TVs, Apple won’t be alone. LG recently showed off its G2 Smart TV, which uses the Google TV 2.0 interface, supports voice commands and comes with a gesture-controlled “Magic” remote. Lenovo just began shipping its Android 4.0-powered K55 Smart TV in China, and it may come here at some point as well. The Samsung and Sony’s of the world are also about to launch a whole new 2012 range of TVs onto the Australian market.


Windows phones

The Nokia Lumia 900 has a gorgeous design and the HTC Titan II has an awesome 16-MP camera. However, when it comes to specs, apps and basic multitasking, Windows Phones still lag behind their Android and iPhone counterparts.

With Windows Phone 8 due out later this year, Microsoft could finally start to close the feature gap with Apple and Google. According to some reports, the new mobile operating system will support higher-resolution screens, dual-core CPUs, NFC payments and apps that can control other apps — a necessity for true multitasking.

Microsoft has issued some conflicting statements about whether current Windows Phones would get an OS upgrade, so I wouldn’t count on the Lumia you buy today running Windows 8 tomorrow. Beautiful phones, though.


Ereaders

There are several great ereader options on the market right now (if you count overseas availability as well). However, as strong as the ereader offerings are today, they’re about to get much better. Barnes & Noble just released its Simple Touch with GlowLight, and rumour has it that Amazon is set to release its own backlit e-ink-based Kindle in coming weeks.

However, backlit e-ink is just the tip of this innovative iceberg. Expect Amazon to launch the second-generation Kindle Fire 2 later this year, complete with higher-res screen options and possibly larger form factors like 8.9 inches. Flush with investment money from Microsoft and not content to stand still, Barnes & Noble is sure to release a new Nook Tablet sometime later this year as well. We’d expect the next Nook to also have a higher resolution than 1024×600.

There’s also a persistent rumour that Amazon will release Kindles using colour e-ink later this year. We just reviewed the colour e-ink-powered Ectaco Jetbook Color, so the technology is already out there. How bad would you feel if you bought an old-school greyscale Kindle today, only to see one with a backlight or a colour screen come out within a few months?


BlackBerrys

Research in Motion, the company that makes Blackberry phones, seems to be stuck in a time warp, offering phones that have the best specs of 2009, including single-core 800MHz CPUs, tiny 2.4-inch screens and an outmoded BlackBerry 7 OS.

What we’re looking forward to: RIM seems to understand the problem too as it plans to release an entirely new line of phones running its new BlackBerry 10 OS later this year. The new touch-friendly BlackBerry London phone, complete with a bigger screen and faster processor than we’ve seen on a BlackBerry before, should arrive by Christmas. If you must have a BlackBerry, this is the one to wait for.


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Top image: Shutterstock/WilleeCole

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