Gadgets in 2014: new phones, wearables and virtual reality

PCWorld | Dec 29, 2014

The new phones didn’t stop coming in 2014. We had a big hit, we had a big miss and we had a completely new idea. Plus, the hype around wearables reached new levels. Here’s our look at the year’s best gadgets.

The new cell phones didn’t stop coming in 2014. we had a big hit, we had a big miss and we had a completely new idea. Plus, the hype around wearables reached new levels and what on Earth is on this guy’s head? Here’s our look at the year’s best gadgets.
This year, the most buzzed-about launch was the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The thinner and larger phones were a big design refresh on the previous models and they also featured Apple’s mobile payment system, called Apple Pay.
Even after all these years, We saw the typical long lines outside Apple stores around the world in Palo Alto, Boston and Tokyo. Sales of the new phones set new records.
Android phones kept coming at a fast pace.
The latest from Samsung in 2014 was the Galaxy S5. The phone has a 5.1-inch screen, a 16-megapixel improved camera and a special feature to conserve battery life.
And here’s a new idea - Samsung’s Note Edge has a sliver of curved screen to deliver news, messages and notifications even even when the phone’s case is closed.
While Samsung added something, Microsoft took something away … the Nokia brand name is gone from Lumia phones. Several new Microsoft Lumia phones came out in 2014 including the 830, which the company called its first affordable flagship. Windows is now in third place with a 3 percent share of phones.
And here’s something else new. The Yota Phone is a power-conserving smartphone with two screens. One like a traditional smartphone and the other s an e-paper display.
The E-paper screen uses a tiny amount of power so can stay on continuously without affecting the phone’s battery life, which is up to 50 hours.
Amazon’s foray into the smartphone market turned out to be a flop. The $200 Fire Phone didn't sell as well as expected and contributed heavily to the company’s 170 million dollar write off in the third quarter. The phone ended up practically being given away in the US. AT&T customers were able to get a Fire phone for one dollar with a two-year contract.
Apple and Microsoft battled it out in tablets. Apple with the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 and Microsoft with the Surface Pro 3. It’s thinner, lighter, faster than its predecessor and has a larger screen at 12-inches.
2014 was also the year of wearables and the IFA tech show in Berlin turned out to be an extravaganza for smartwatches, fitness bands and other wearable devices.
Samsung has released seven in less than a year including the Gear S. Its large 2" rectangular screen and wide band made it look massive on your wrist. Rather than Android Wear, the smartwatch employs the open-source Tizen software. The Gear S has its own SIM card slot and you don’t need to use your phone to operate the watch.
Taiwan's Asus debuted its first smartwatch called the ZenWatch. It has a 1.6-inch OLED display with a curved and toughened Gorilla Glass face and a stainless steel body.
Not wanting to be left out LG debuted a slick looking smartwatch called the G Watch R. The masculine looking watch has a 1.3 inch display and is relatively light and unobstrusive.
And Motorola came out with the round-faced, stylish looking Moto 360 that runs Android Wear. It has a 1.5 inch diameter screen.
There are a lot of fitness bands on the market and Microsoft came out with its own wearable called the Band.
It looks like a bracelet and is designed to be worn 24/7 at work, at the gym, while you sleep. It’s the flagship device for the company’s new platform called Microsoft Health and packs 10 sensors to track your life.
And Apple finally unveiled the Apple Watch. Set for a release in 2015, the device will start at $350 and uses a “digital crown” to navigate through lists and zoom in on data. The Apple watch also supports Apple Pay, so you will be able to buy things with a flick of your wrist. The watch must be paired with an iPhone 5 or newer model.
Another big trend in 2014 was virtual reality. Could the stage be set for it to take off in 2015?