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My 2011 Wish for Technology is for it to Slow Down a Bit

I know this sounds a bit heretical, but my tech wish for 2011 is for things to slow down a bit.

I realize that the pace of innovation is getting forever faster but there are times when it’s a bit overwhelming. And if a veteran technology journalist like me feels that way, I can’t help think others might as well.

Android phones, for example, seem to be coming out constantly as are new versions of the Android operating system. I’d be happier if there were fewer phones and instead of constant software upgrades, how about one or two a year that are really solid and noticeably better than what they replace.

The Apple iPad was clearly the most significant tech product of 2010 and rumor has it that there may be an iPad 2 coming out shortly. Personally, I’d prefer they wait until mid-2011. Many iPad owners are just starting to take advantage of the features on the device that came out last summer. Besides, rumors of a new iPad are causing some people I know to hold off buying the current version.

2011 will see lots of new tablets from other companies and I’m hoping that at least one or two will be a worthy rival for the iPad. What I don’t want to see are lots of mediocre products, but I suspect we will.

There is a constant parade of digital cameras hitting the market but few of them are significantly better than the ones they replace. Usually all they have are more megapixels which – after say 8 megapixels or so – has no noticeable impact on the quality of photos. I’d rather camera companies put efforts into better lenses, larger and more light sensitive sensors and bringing back optical view finders (an invention of the early 20th century) so we don’t have to hold the camera out in front of us and frame everything using the LCD screen.

There were a few years when new features on high-definition TVs were being introduced regularly but that, thankfully, slowed down once 1080p resolution became mainstream. Now the industry is pushing us all to buy 3-D TVs but most of us aren’t buying. Consumers aren’t stupid. When it comes to spending our hard-earned money, we need to see some serious value from our dollars and having to put on special glasses to get images to pop-out of the string doesn’t cut it for most people.

And speaking of slowing down, it’s time for Facebook engineers to take a well-deserved rest. They came out with an enormous number of new features in 2010 – many of which confused users and sparked outrage over privacy. I’m not saying that there isn’t room for improvement at Facebook but maybe it’s time to stop fixing what isn’t broken and leave the user interface alone for awhile.

Leaving (for) Las Vegas and CES

As I write, I’m packing for my annual pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where I expect to see still more products, most of which will never garner much market share. Still, hope springs eternal and entrepreneurs from start-ups to big companies will do their best to dazzle the CES attendees with great new products that promise to make our lives better. A few will make it out of the starting gate but most will be part of the noise and will be long forgotten by CES 2012.

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