It is around this time at the start of a new year that people believe they can get off to a fresh beginning. While most people are running out getting gym memberships or buying magical patches to stop smoking, those in the tech industry find themselves trekking out the first week of the year to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is here in the middle of the desert that companies small and large try to convince consumers, analysts, and the media that they have what you need for 2006. While investor money is not falling out of loose pockets like it was in the late 1990’s this trade show does indeed show the entire world what to look for in 2006 and beyond.
2005: A Year of Hits and Misses
Looking back at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of 2005 and what played out throughout the year we find that 2005 was a year of hits and misses. If you have investments in the technology industry you know what I mean without saying anything else. Sure we all knew 2005 was going to be a good year for companies like Apple, Google, AMD, and nVidia but how many people correctly forecast just how far these stocks would have gone. I don?t recall anyone predicting Google would break $445 a share in 2005. Forecasts is the hard part, sure all these companies have great products, but it is the consumers who pick the winners in the end. Luckily here at Legit Reviews we don?t go into that type of analysis!
In terms of hardware the year of 2005 was a diamond in the rough. We saw the release of dual-core processors, but consumers didn’t completely embrace the technology. I honestly can’t say that I blame them since many software applications and games have not yet been designed from the ground up for dual-core processors. If there is no performance gain going from single-core to dual-core then why should consumers upgrade? This delay in the acceptance of dual-core processors actually played in favor of Intel who was able to release two generations of dual core processors in 2005. The latest 9xx series from Intel clearly is better than the 8xx series in every possible aspect. On the other side of the fence AMD launched their dual-core processor and even though they were the second company to launch dual-core desktop processors they quickly won the hearts of enthusiasts and gamers. AMD was so confident in their dual-core processors they offered a ?dual-core dual? against Intel, which they later claimed victory to when Intel didn?t want to play along with their marketing ploys.
While we are on the subject of hardware we can?t leave out ATI and nVidia, which power the graphics side of the industry. The nVidia marketing machine proved how a well oiled company can run consistently over the years. The blunders of the GeForce FX series are history and nVidia proved they have what it takes to come back albeit it took a couple generations of cards. ATI came off a great year in 2004 only to have a rocky start in 2005. In 2005 ATI showed consumers that paper launches still exist after two Crossfire launches that resulted in no products reaching consumer for months after. Even after the X850XT Crossfire was launched the X1800XT Crossfire was delayed as well as their X1K series of mobile processors. With some key players inside ATI’s marketing machine leaving in 2005 this will hopefully be taken care of in 2006 once everyone gets used to working together. The next test for ATI will be the R580 video card, which will happen in Q1 2006.
This year we will again try to look past the companies’ game faces and give you the sneak peak at what we think will be hot topics for the year. By going to CES and walking the floor there is no way of picking a winner and knowing the products will come out when promised, but that is what makes life interesting and keeps people coming to the site the entire year!
While consumers will always need the staples of life consumer electronics are usually the first to be skipped when times get rough. With the majority of Americans re-financing their homes and pulling the profits out to buy more things it leaves the majority of Americans in a dilemma if the housing economy ever drops a bit as they will owe more than their house is worth. After running Legit Reviews since 2002 I have come across way too many readers that get stuck with what I like to refer to as ‘electronics envy’. These are the consumers that have to have the latest and greatest products and will go to extremes to get them. We are after all living in the age of electronic gadgets, but how many do you really need and is it worth it? These consumers are what keep the products coming, but at the same time they have to be able to afford it.
Moving into 2006 I’d like to see our readers play their cards wisely and look past some of the marketing hype at the start of the year. I am forecasting that 2006 will be a complex year for many of our readers as the majority will make the move into dual-core processors and also dual graphic card solutions. When you go to make the jump to the next generation hardware please keep in mind that a number of major changes are going to happen later in the year. First and foremost this will be Microsoft?s year with the launch of Windows Vista (previously code named Long Horn). With Vista the minimum hardware requirements for computers will be greatly increased and if you plan on moving to this operating system later in the year it should considered now when building a system. For example that brand new $1,800 Intel Centrino Notebook with Intel Extreme graphics at Fry’s or Best Buy won’t leave you being a happy camper at the end of the year. When you move over to Windows Vista one will quickly find that the integrated video card doesn’t meet the recommended requirements for the operating system. Sure it will work, but you won’t be getting the full graphical experience that you could be getting. Upgrading in 2006 can’t be done with a blindfold on and a quick trip to the local computer shop to pick one out from a teenager making $6.35 an hour. It will be one that requires a little bit of thought and some of those reading this will find themselves building their first computer or notebook to get the parts that they really need.
Being a Smart Consumer in 2006
In closing remember that your computing experience is what you, or what you let someone else, make of it. Dont let the rush of new products and the marketing campaigns of these multi-million dollar companies make you buy something you will later regret. Moving along into 2006 we hope to show you the usual leading edge products from the industry’s biggest players, but we will take special consideration to show how each individual part fits into the bigger picture. Far too many review sites give out tons of awards and tell consumers to go buy nearly every product they review. Sure the companies that send out product love the press, but how much trust can you put in those recommendations? For computer enthusiasts and gamers 2006 will be an expensive year and we will strive to help you get the right hardware on the first purchase as always.
Happy New Years,