Audio and Video
An Entire MP3 Collection on a Flash Player
The capacity of MP3 players that use flash memory keeps on growing: Apple and Sandisk now have 8GB models. We're looking forward to a small flash MP3 player with enough capacity to hold an entire music collection. About 30GB, say, would do nicely.
Truly Mainstream High-Def
HDTVs will keep falling in price, with DisplaySearch analyst Chris Connery predicting that you'll pay $1499 for a 46- or 47-inch LCD TV in 2010.
Native Wide-Screen Projectors
Until recently most digital projectors used a native resolution of 1024 by 768. In the coming years we'll see more native Wide XGA (WXGA) models, which will more closely match the resolutions increasingly found on notebook PCs. This will mean better image quality and less fuss with your laptop when you set up your presentation.
The End of the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD Battle
The pointless war between the two high-definition DVD formats doesn't benefit anyone: The industry is divided, and consumers are confused about HD-DVD and Blu-ray. We're hoping that someone will let both sides win by coming out with a player that will work with both formats. Unfortunately, that won't be for some time, but we hope that perhaps in 2007 we'll be able to review a combo player.
High-Def Video Over the Net
Higher-bandwidth connections and new compression formats (such as the H.264 format) are a double whammy that will make high-definition video over the Internet a reality. Already, some video blogs (such as RocketBoom) are offering high-definition versions of their programs, and more will be coming soon.
The demos we've seen of surface-conduction electron-emitter displays (SED) look great, offering the bright colors of a CRT in a screen only an inch or so thick. The first SED TVs should start appearing next year.
Within four years, TVs that use LED backlights will be cheaper than the current generation of cold-cathode fluorescent backlit models. LED backlights will also produce better color, be more energy efficient, and require less cooling. We've seen the first product to use LED backlights: the $6700 NEC MultiSync LCD2180WG-LED computer monitor.
One day you'll be able to roll up your TV and take it with you. Several companies are working on flexible displays, with prototypes out now that can display color images. But it'll be several years before they are ready to replace your TV.
TVs Out of Thin Air
The Helio display can create a TV out of nowhere, projecting an image onto a curtain of compressed air. Right now it is prohibitively expensive (around $20,000), but the price will fall as the technology matures.
The Brightside Technologies DR37-P shows the full range of colors and shades, from the deepest blacks to the brightest whites. It has a contrast range of 200,000:1, while normal TVs are usually less than 2000:1. The DR-37P will cost you $50,000, but the technologies it employs will find their way into consumer TVs soon.
Lossless Digital Music in the Mainstream
The tracks you download from iTunes and similar services are heavily compressed, something you can detect if you run them through a decent audio system. However, lossless compression formats (such as Monkey's Audio and FLAC) compress audio files without any quality degradation. We hope online music services will provide an option for audiophiles to download music in these formats.
Ad-Supported Music Downloads
SpiralFrog has an interesting idea: When the service launches later this year, you'll be able to download lots of free music. You'll get a short advertisement before you can listen to a song, and the record company will receive the money for that ad. It's certainly a radical idea, but the downside is that you will have to use the service's own player, and you won't be able to transfer the music to a portable device.
High-Res Displays With Unlimited Colors
Tiny artificial muscles developed by a team at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich could make for high-resolution displays that can reproduce the entire visible spectrum of light. This Swiss technology is ten years away, but it could produce some truly amazing screens.
One-Box Surround Sound That Works
If products such as Yamaha's promising $1700 YSP-1100 Digital Sound Projector continue to improve (and become affordable), complex surround-sound wiring could become a thing of the past. The YSP-1000 uses 40 beam drivers to focus surround precisely, creating a convincing surround effect out of just one box.
Special Report: Tomorrow's Technology
|The Future of Your PC||The Future of Robots|
|The Future of Cell Phones||The Future of Privacy|
|The Future of the Web||The Future of Nanotech|
|The Future of OSs||The Future of You|
|The Future of Fun||100 Fearless Forecasts|
|Incredible Tech: Lies Ahead||A Look Back|