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In Pictures: 2011, A Year In Review

RPGs

No gamer was left out this year. If you're not a first-person shooter fan, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Star Wars: The Old Republic are both RPGs that proved to be very popular in 2011. Neither game's graphics requirements are very high. So, if you're still rocking older hardware, there's no reason to put off play-time while you wait for a platform upgrade.

SATA 6Gb/s SSDs

Enabling snappy responsiveness isn't limited to fast processors. If you really want the best of the best, you're also going to want an SSD. In 2010, the enthusiast-oriented options were still somewhat limited. Really, Crucial's C300 was the only SSD capable of demonstrating the benefits of a 6 Gb/s interface.

The performance story in 2011 was a lot more competitive. First, OCZ released an SSD based on second-gen technology from SandForce.Crucial followed up with its m4, and Samsung ended the spree with its 830 series. Each solution is capable of delivering blistering sequential transfers in excess of 500 MB/s.

Tablets

Apple was the first company to really demonstrate that tablets could serve as notebook replacements. However, it took a while for the competition to catch up.

Back in January of 2011, several companies demoed their tablets at CES. But it wasn't until August that they started hitting fast and hard. We covered a number of them: Motorola's Xoom, Acer's Iconia Tab A500, HP's TouchPad, Asus' Eee Pad Transformer, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, Toshiba's Thrive, Sony's Tablet S, and Motorola's Xoom Family Edition.

Overall, the tablet experience still isn't as natural to us as some of the better netbooks we've used, but you can't deny their portability advantages. Hopefully, the weaknesses identified in 2011 will be addressed next year by faster SoCs, Google's next version of Android, and ARM support in Windows 8.

Get Ready For The Countdown

And that's a wrap. The close of 2011 sees us welcoming 2012. Technology always moves forward, and there's a lot to look forward to in 2012: Intel's Ivy Bridge architecture, the entirety of AMD's Radeon HD 7000 family, Nvidia's Kepler design, larger SSDs based on 20 nm NAND, Windows 8, and Android 4.0. Naturally, we'll be covering the latest tech and putting it through its paces for your reading pleasure. See you next year!

  • Dacatak
    What is that thing in the last picture? (15)
    Reply
  • jvt6
    Nixie tubes. Not one of 2011's highlights.
    Reply
  • basbarian
    Thanks Toms! For another year of great reading, youre a ficture on my desktop an it ain't going nowhere! keep it up and best wishes for next year.

    (its a clock, a very cool one :) )
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    let us also note that Toms has improved much throughout the year; finally using spell check, and getting better with grammar. I dont mean to be insulting, It was really bad there for a while, and we really do appreciate the care and the quality of work you have put out in this last quarter!
    We also appreciate the removal/blocking/banning of the stupid adds in the comments. Bravo to the tech team on that one!

    Looking forward to 2012! Keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • nottheking
    The sad thing that if we look at a similar article (focusing on tech) from a mainstream media source, the only person's death they take note of is Steve Jobs, and entirely neglect Dennis Ritchie. And here, we see Jobs mentioned in passing, and Ritchie accompanied by numerous other luminaries who perhaps rivaled him in their contributions. (who likewise got zero mention in major newspapers, magazines, and TV) So good work, Tom's, on not letting us down here: we enthusiasts know who really mattered when it comes to technology. We'd mostly all still be here, reading and commenting, had there been no Steve Jobs.

    If I were to boil it down to what impacted the tech industry the most, I'd bring it down to these points:

    - Memory prices way down, HDD prices way up. While the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami was likewise a very tragic disaster and more costly, (in both lives and dollars) it's the Thai floods that really punched tech in the gut, spiking our HDD prices, and eating up all the savings we got from unprecedented DRAM price drops.
    - Intel finally makes Nehalem worthwhile with the 2500K. In all honesty, the Nehalem i5s and i7s just weren't appealing enough, given all the drawbacks and controversy with them originally, to have made them a solid choice. The 2500K, (and 2600K to a lesser extent) changed that, by giving both excellent overclocking capability, as well as perhaps the best higher-end price-for-performance ratio since Intel's Wolfdale-core E8400... From four years ago.
    - Bulldozer finally releases; isn't a bust, but many disappointed. For such hype, it did fail to deliver: the next "Athlon64 vs. Preshot" was what most wound up trumpeting it as. With a slight apparent decrease in per-clock power, it was leapt upon and torn to shreds. Still, given all considerations, it perhaps shows a lot of promise... Let's just hope AMD can scale it quickly, including getting out the 3.9 GHz 8170 soon. (and possibly a 4.2 GHz 8190 might not be too much to ask for, given 5.0 GHz isn't out of the question for 8150s with decent air)
    - Dennis Ritchie Dies. Oh, and a number of other pioneers, particularly Daniel McCracken and John McCarthy, also died... If Steve Jobs' death meant anything to the tech industry, it was more perhaps as a sign that Apple would, in all likelihood, start contracting and eventually return to their obscurity during the non-Jobs era of the 1990s.
    - Android (and iOS) devices set fire. Smartphones and tablets have gone, at first, from niche devices, and just until last year, were still more "premium." Now, smartphones are practically considered "standard," even for the non-technically inclined.
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  • Gamer-girl
    Maybe adding a Edit button the comments section can be a 2012 highlight? lol
    Reply
  • nottheking
    Gamer-girlMaybe adding a Edit button the comments section can be a 2012 highlight? lolClick the "View comments on the forums" link that appears at the top of the comments section. There, you'll be able to edit your comments. Of course, it may feel a little cumbersome, but you shouldn't need to edit repeatedly. The only real downside is that it only works for Tom's Hardware: on Tom's Guide, (which a lot of article links on the front page go to) you can't edit your posts there for some reason.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    The disasters really strike at my heart every time I see the images. More than anything I think the flooding in Thailand and disaster in Japan forced us to realize that a handful of countries holds the key to our technological life.
    Reply
  • ojas
    Have a happy new year Tom's, you've taught me a lot about computer sciences and electronics in the last 8 months... i dare say that i don't think i'd learn this much at college.

    *respect* :)
    Reply
  • Lokster1
    Waiting for HDD prices to come back down to get a storage drive for my new build, hopefully it won't take them long to get back in full swing.
    Reply