From the Nexus 9 —the first of a new generation of Android Lollipop tablets— to convertible touchscreens, AiO PCs like the 14.7 million pixel 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display and designer laptop bags, these are some of the hottest trends in desktop, laptop and tablet computing.
Tablets continue to be red-hot performers in the high tech world, but with the growing popularity of phablets (which rival a small 7-inch tablet in size), larger models are once again in the spotlight.
First, it’s an interesting size. With an 8.9-inch display, the Nexus 9 isn’t as bulky as other full-sized tablets. But it’s significantly larger than the small 7-inch tablets that were so popular last year. In other words, size-wise the tablet seems perfectly placed to appeal to those who want a traditional full-sized tablet, while being a compact addition for someone who already carries a phablet around —but would consider a 7-inch device to be unnecessary overlap.
The Nexus 9 also sports impressive hardware. That display is QXGA resolution (2048 x 1536 pixels) for an impressive 281 pixels-per-inch density. Its processor isn’t the usual Snapdragon, its NVIDIA’s new 64-bit Tegra K1 “Denver” a mobile CPU that’s scoring big on raw power, graphics performance and energy efficiency. It also features front-facing speakers with HTC’s BoomSound —making this tablet a multimedia champ.
The Nexus 9 is also the first tablet to hit the market running Google’s newest version of Android, 5.0 (or Lollipop). This is billed as the biggest upgrade to Android yet and features the slick new Material Design interface along with 64-bit support and other performance boosts, better battery life and enhanced notifications.
Finally, as a “Nexus” device —the branding assigned to Google’s Android showcase devices— the Nexus 9 is free of third party interface elements and will be first in line to receive future Android updates.
PC manufacturers noticed that many people were lugging around two devices: a traditional laptop and a tablet. When Microsoft released Windows 8 with its touch-friendly interface, the opportunity was there to use some clever engineering to produce a single device that fulfilled both needs.
Convertible touchscreen Ultrabooks are Windows machines, packing the same Intel or AMD processors as traditional laptops. They run Windows 8 (or 8.1) and all your Windows software. They have a keyboard and trackpad, but also a touchscreen display to take advantage of Windows’ touch capabilities.
Here’s where things get really cool. “Show off to your friends and cubicle neighbours” cool. These convertible touchscreens all transform from an old-school laptop form factor into the slate form factor of a tablet.
They do it different ways. The Asus Transformer Book packs all its hardware behind the display and docks with its keyboard, letting you simply remove the display altogether and use it as a standalone Windows 8 tablet. Lenovo’s Yoga 2 Pro is the latest in a line that’s perfected the art of the 360-degree display rotation, letting you flip the screen flat against the base to become a tablet.
Whatever method they use, a convertible touchscreen device offers the power of a PC, Windows 8.1 and Windows software, a built-in keyboard and the ability to transform into a tablet on demand.
AiO PCs: Not Your Parents’ Desktop
In all fairness, this heading is a little misleading, at least for some of us. The first desktop PC I owned —a hand-me-down from my wife’s father— was a Mac SE.
An all-in-one computer...
However, today’s AiO PCs are a far cry from the little beige box with the 9-inch monochrome display I started out with.
Apple is far from the only game in town, though. Other PC manufacturers including Dell, Lenovo and HP offer all-in-one PCs of varying sizes, many with touchscreen support.
The key attraction of an AiO PC is the fact that it literally is “all in one.”
These PCs combine the display and the case containing the CPU and other components in a single device. It’s aesthetically pleasing, saves on desktop space and a heck of a lot easier to set up. When you need to move it, there’s no disconnecting components, you simply unplug the AiO and carry it away. If you use a wireless keyboard and mouse, there’s only one cable —the power cord.
Since they can function not just as PCs, but compact multi-media and gaming centres (and are so easy to pack up and move), AiO PCs are extremely popular with students, too.
The PC sitting on my desktop right now is a 27-inch iMac (no, not the 5K Retina display version —I wish...) and it does everything I want while taking up a minimum of desk space and looking good while doing it. Considering I started with that Mac SE, I guess some things never change.
Must-Have Accessories: Laptop Bags and Sleeves
What’s the hottest trend in laptop computing —besides convertible touchscreens?
They may not have the wow factor of a sleek new Ultrabook, but laptop bags and sleeves are must-have accessories that are always in high demand.
When you invest in a portable PC, that portability is a big part of the equation. But one slip while carrying it to a meeting and your new laptop is a pile of broken glass and plastic on the stairs. One rainstorm and it’s a shorted out bookend. Shove it in a purse, backpack or briefcase with your other stuff and its liable to come out scratched.
Laptop bags are specially designed to carry your notebook PC in safety and style. They have plenty of padding, storage space for accessories like the power adaptor and most are water resistant. You can get laptop bags in form factors ranging from messenger bag to backpack and there is wide selection of designer cases to choose from too. Utility doesn’t need to look utilitarian...
I already have a leather messenger bag I love, but it was not designed with laptop protection in mind. It has the space, but lacks the padding. That’s where a laptop sleeve saves the day. I slip my laptop into the padded, protective sleeve, put the sleeve in my bag and we’re good to go. I get protection from drops, bangs, scratches and rain without having to leave my favourite bag at home, or sling two bags around.
Stay tuned for more of the hottest trends in all the gear you love.
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek and collector who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I’ve written for a range of publications and websites including Wired.com, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, the London Free Press, Techi.com, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and —combining technology and my three kids— I’ve been a Core Contributor to Wired’s award winning GeekDad since its launch in 2007.