29 most anticipated tech products of 2011

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The new year is just around the corner, and major tech companies have promised us some innovative new products to arrive in coming months. Of course, we'll see the really new stuff at the Consumer Electronics Show in January (along with a lot of concepts and vaporware), but the 2011-ready products have been in the making for a long time. A Sony PSP phone, a white iPhone, Windows and Android tablets, and a 3D VAIO laptop are just a few of the things we're looking forward to.

So here are some of the most anticipated tech products of 2011--check them out.

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PSP Phone

Expected launch: February 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: Android 3.0, 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM, 3.7-inch or 4.1-inch screen, MicroSD slot (rumour)

About: The PSP phone has been a hot rumour for some time, but purportedly leaked photos have improved the rumour's credibility. The images show what appears to be a modified PSP Go device running smartphone software. The PSP is a standout device that offers a fantastic gaming and multimedia experience in a small package. Could Sony finally have realized that it needs to support the PSP just as vigorously as Apple supports the iPhone? Let's hope so.

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White iPhone 4

Expected launch: Spring 2011

Expected pricing: $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB)

Expected specs: 16GB or 32GB storage, A4 processor, 960-by-640-pixel retina display, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, iOS 4.2

About: The fate of the white iPhone 4 is far from certain as the device's launch date has already been pushed back four times. Some observers speculate that we may not see a white iPhone until the expected launch of iPhone 5.

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Image: Concept art - Sarah Purewal

Sony VAIO 3D laptop

Expected launch: 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: 16-inch LCD display, active-shutter glasses required, 1920-by-1080 2D resolution

About: Little is known about Sony's first entrant in the 3D laptop category, but considering the popularity of VAIO devices, a 3D Sony laptop is intriguing. There's no word on whether this device will integrate with other Sony 3D products, what it will cost, how much storage it will have, or even what kind of processor it will carry. Expect to hear more about this device in January during CES.

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Sprint 4G Tablet

Expected launch: 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: Unknown

About: Sprint's president of business markets, Paget Alves, recently told Forbes that the carrier would be bringing a 4G tablet to its network in 2011. The company made similar statements last May. It's unclear who would make the tablet and whether it would be an exclusive deal. Regardless, Sprint is investing heavily in its so-called 4G WiMax network and will likely be the first carrier out of the gate with a 4G tablet.SlashGear speculates that Sprint's 4G tablet will end up being the BlackBerry PlayBook.

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Nintendo 3DS

Expected launch:

2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: 3.53-inch widescreen top screen with 800-by-240-pixel resolution, 3.02-inch lower screen with 320-by-240-pixel resolution, glasses-free 3D, two rear-facing cameras (0.3 megapixel) for 3D imaging, one front-facing camera for head tracking, touchscreen, stylus inputs, ad hoc multiple-device Wi-Fi connection, 802.11 Wi-Fi

About: Early impressions of the Nintendo 3DS are that the glasses-free 3D device is a good first effort. The big question about this device involves pricing: The current versions of the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi sell for about $130 to $170. How much more will the 3D version cost, and what would you be willing to pay for it?

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Image credit: Images of WebOS tablets come from the site Slashgear.com

Hewlett-Packard WebOS Tablet

Expected launch:

Early 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: One-panel touchscreen, WebOS 2, touch and stylus inputs

About: HP has confirmed that the device is coming, but little is known about HP's WebOS tablet. It may or may not be called the PalmPad and may or may not run WebOS 2.0. But using Palm's critically acclaimed smartphone OS in a tablet could be a big winner for HP, and may pose a credible challenge to the iPad. In addition to powering tablets, WebOS is expected to run new smartphones, netbooks and even wireless printers in 2011.

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Windows 8 Public Beta

Expected launch: Late 2011

Expected pricing: Free until the RTM version launches late 2011 or early 2012

Expected specs: (Rumour) Deeper integration between home, mobile, and work computers, app store, simplified interface compared to Windows 7, expanded digital media support, improved start-up time and power management

About: Okay, so this one could be a stretch for 2011. Most people anticipate that Windows 8 will debut in late 2012 - if there are no delays. But lately Microsoft has been soliciting early, broad feedback about its new software, so a public beta of the new OS just might become available sometime in 2011, even if Windows 8 experiences situation-normal development.

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WebOS Smartphones

Expected launch: 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: (Rumor) 800-by-480-pixel display, 5-inch touchscreen, no physical keyboard

About: The specs listed above are for a rumoured new WebOS phone called Mansion, which may not be the only WebOS phone released in 2011.Jon Rubinstein, head of HP's Palm unit, recently said that HP would release several "radically different" devices next year including some smartphones, according to eWeek.

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Mac OS X Lion

Expected launch: Summer 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: More multitouch gestures, Mac App Store, smaller footprint, full-screen application views, improved windowing organizational tools (Launchpad and Mission Control)

About: Apple's strategy with Mac OS X Lion is to bring some of the company's experience in developing iOS for the iPhone and iPad back to the Mac. That means more multitouch gestures for the touchpad; a different way to organise your apps, windows, and files; and the somewhat controversial Mac App Store.

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iPhone 5

Expected launch: Summer 2011 (rumor)

Expected specs: Faster, thinner, lighter, more storage

Expected pricing: Unknown

About: Apple has produced a new version of its smartphone every year since launching the original iPhone in 2007 - so it would be a shock if Apple didn't launch a new phone in 2011. There are relatively few rumors about this device right now, but the rumblings are likely to grow louder as Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference approaches in June.

Image credits: Photo of concept iPhone 5 is from HandyFlash.de. Cartoon illustration of iPhone is from the blog SolidBlogger.com.

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Atom-Based Tablets

Expected launch: Throughout 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: Intel Atom processor

About: Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently said that 35 Intel Atom-based tablets are lined up to hit store shelves in 2011. Manufacturing partners include Asus, Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Toshiba tablets running Android and Windows operating systems. Some of the tablets will be on display in January at the annual CES, Otellini said. If 2010 was the Year of the Tablet, 2011 must be the Year of More Tablets.

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Windows Phone 7 OS Update

Expected launch: Early 2011

Expected pricing: Free

Expected specs: Copy and paste, expanded multitasking support (rumor), Bing turn-by-turn directions (rumour)

About: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 updates won't offering anything earth-shattering, according to rumours, but they will put the company in a better position to compete against more-mature platforms such as the iPhone and Android.

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Google Chrome OS Netbooks

Expected launch: mid-2011, Acer and Samsung

Expected specs: Limited flash storage, full-size keyboard (no caps lock?), 10-inch to 12-inch screen, Google Chrome browser-based OS, limited peripheral support, 3G support (4G unlikely), and Wi-Fi.

Expected pricing: Unknown

About: Google's Chrome OS netbook pilot project, the CR-48, is getting mixed reviews, but most critics appreciate the device's simplicity. Will the world be willing to pay for a netbook preloaded with a browser and nothing else? We should know before next summer.

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BlackBerry PlayBook

Expected launch: 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: 7-inch-diagonal LCD screen, 1024-by-600-pixel WSVGA resolution, 1GB of RAM, 1GHz Dual Core processor, Adobe Flash 10.1, micro-USB, micro-HDMI, 3-megapixel front-facing camera, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi

About: The PlayBook sounds like an interesting device, and RIM's recent browser comparison demo with the iPad has whetted our appetite for this crossover BlackBerry.

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Image: Concept art (Motorola tablet) - Sarah Purewal

Android Tablets: Motorola, LG, and HTC

Expected launch: 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: 7-inch to 10-inch screen, Nvidia Tegra 2 processors, Android OS 2.2, 2.3, or 3.0

About: Google's Andy Rubin was showing Motorolaundefineds prototype in San Francisco recently. Meanwhile, LG's and HTC's tablets are largely rumours at this point. Motorola's version will most likely be running Android OS 3.0 (Honeycomb). LG is working on a Honeycomb tablet as well, according to Android Guys. HTC's tablet is slated for launch in early 2011 with Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread), according to SlashGear.

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iPad 2

Expected launch: Early 2011 (rumor)

Expected specs: Front- and rear-facing cameras, thinner, slimmer, faster, lighter, enhanced display

Expected pricing: Unknown

About: Apple hasn't yet confirmed the second-generation iPad, but the company has a habit of updating its other prominent iOS devices--the iPhone and iPod Touch--every year. There's no reason to expect its handling of the iPad to be any different.Image credit: Image shown here is a concept iPad 2 courtesy of Tim Gluth.

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HTC 7 Pro and HTC 7 Trophy

Expected launch: First half of 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: 3.6-inch (Pro) or 3.8-inch (Trophy) 480-by-800-pixel resolution WVGA display, 1GHz processor, 8GB of onboard storage, 5-megapixel camera, 720p HD video recording

About: CDMA Windows Phone 7 devices hit the market in early 2011. The Pro is headed for Sprint. Verizon is rumoured to be getting the HTC 7 Trophy (pictured here), which has a slightly larger screen at 3.8 inches.

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New Intel Chips: Oak Trail SoC and Sandy Bridge

Expected launch: 2011Expected specs: Improved graphics performance, lower power consumption, 3D video support (Sandy Bridge), fasterAbout: Intel'undefineds newest chip designs are destined for tablets and smartphones. The new chips will compete against ARM processors, the dominant chip design for mobile devices.

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Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Tablet-Netbook Hybrid

Expected launch: First half of 2011Expected pricing: $1000Expected specs: 10.1-inch detachable LED-backlit touchscreen, 1366-by-768-pixel resolution, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (tablet mode), 1.3GHz Core 2 Duo SU1400 processor (laptop mode), 3G and Wi-Fi connectivityAbout: This tablet-laptop hybrid was supposed to debut in 2010, but its launch date has been pushed back to some time during the first six months of 2011. It's another candidate for a CES status update in January.

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Asus U36 Ultraportable Laptop

Expected launch: End of 2010, early 2011

Expected pricing: $1000

Expected specs: Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, 13.3-inch screen, Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics with 1GB of memory, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD (7200 rpm), USB 3.0, Windows 7 Home Premium

About: This superthin ultraportable sounds like a worthy competitor to the Dell Adamo and the MacBook Air, though at 0.75 inch the U36 is slightly thicker than either the Air (0.68 inch) or the Adamo (0.65 inch).

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LG BD690

Expected launch: Likely 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Expected specs: Wi-Fi Direct connectivity, Blu-ray Disc compatibility

About: This Blu-ray player was the first of its kind to show up on the Wi-Fi Alliance's certification list. Wi-Fi Direct functionality allows devices to share data directly via the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard without a network router. This could mean fast data transfers from mobile devices or from your computer to the Blu-ray player without the need for anything to pass through a media streaming set-top box such as Apple TV.

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Panasonic Lumix GF2

Expected launch: January 2011Expected pricing: UnknownExpected specs: 12-megapixel resolution, 3D still image support, 1080i and 720p video capture, RAW, JPG, mostly touchscreen controls, 3-inch touchscreen LCDAbout: It won't do 3D video, but the Panasonic Lumix GF2 will work with the company's new 3D Micro Four-Thirds lens for 3D still image capture. Of course, to view your new 3D images properly you'll need a 3DTV and active-shutter glasses.

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Notion Ink Adam

Expected launch: Early 2011

Expected pricing: $375 to $550

Expected specs: 10.1-inch-diagonal display, 1024-by-600-pixel WSVGA resolution, dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, 8GB of flash storage, expandable MicroSD card slot, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 3G HSPA, two USB 2.0 ports, GPS, 1080p HDMI-out, swivel Webcam

About: Notion Ink recently started taking preorders for the Adam, but some observers continue to call it vaporware because the vendor hasn't yet announced a specific ship date. Nevertheless, the Adam (not to be confused with Dellundefineds Adamo ultraportable laptop) sounds like an interesting tablet device.

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10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab

Expected launch: First half of 2011 (rumor)Expected pricing: UnknownExpected specs: 10-inch touchscreen, Android OSAbout: Rumors about a larger version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab device have been circulating since the fall, and some company executives have been quoted saying that such a model is coming. But Samsung has not yet officially announced a 10-inch version of the Galaxy Tab, so technically the product remains a rumor. It's also unclear whether the larger version would have similar specs to the 7-inch Galaxy Tab.

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Sharp 3D Android Phones

Expected launch: 2011 Expected pricing: Unknown Expected specs: Android 2.2 (Froyo), 1GHz processor, 9.6-megapixel camera (model 003SH), 720p video capture, 8.0-megapixel camera (model 005SH), up to 32GB MicroSD card storage support. About: The Sharp 003SH and 005SH 3D smartphones are just hitting the market in Japan, but Android and Me spotted these devices making their way through the Federal Communication Commission's approval process. Neither device requires the user to wear glasses in order to view 3D games and movies on the handsets.

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iPhone and iPad Apps

Expected launch: Throughout 2011 Expected titles: TXT Fighter for iPhone, iPad; Neon Battle HD for iPad; TiVo for iPad; The Daily About: Some amazing latecomers to the iPhone and iPad have already appeared in the late days of 2010, such as the recently released Infinity Blade. Next year should be bring additional interesting games and utilities to Apple's popular mobile device OS.

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Image: Concept art - Sarah Purewal

Windows Tablets

Expected launch: 2011

Expected pricing: Unknown

Specs: Windows 7, possibly one Windows 8 device, slide-out keyboard

About: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce several Windows tablets during CES to compete with Appleundefineds iPad. It's hard to know how people will react to this second foray into iPad-style one-panel tablets since Ballmer introduced the lackluster Hewlett-Packard tablet at CES 2010. Some people are anticipating new Windows tablets, because they love Windows. Others are looking forward to Windows tablets, because they like to laugh at Microsoft. Which camp do you fall into?

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