How we’ll waste our time this year

 
Steve Dinneen
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SONY PLAYSTATION VITA

Expected: 24 February
Price: £280 with 3G

Sony’s long-awaited portable console is almost upon us. We now know it features both a touch-screen (expected) and an innovative touch-sensitive rear (similar to the one that failed to materialise on the iPhone 4), meaning you can control the system with swipes of your finger without getting in the way of the action. It has two stick controllers as well as a D-pad and all the trimmings of a high-end smartphone, including GPS, front and rear cameras and 3G capability. The software seems to borrow heavily from Nintendo’s 3DS, with cute bubbles and social games, seemingly aimed at younger gamers.

WII U

Expected: Summer
Price: Somewhere around £400

Nintendo was the first manufacturer to announce a new console as the current crop reaches its natural sell-by date. The Wii U is already controversial, and we still don’t know the full specs yet. It features an innovative (or downright bizarre, depending on where you stand) tablet-come-control-pad that will function as an extra screen while playing with the console and a stand-alone device when you are out and about. Nintendo has won people over on wacky ideas in the past (the motion-sensitive first generation Wii seemed outlandish at the time) but it will face a challenge to convince its market that this is the future face of gaming.

IPAD 3

Expected: Late Spring or Summer
Price: Probably near the £400 mark

Probably the most eagerly awaited of this year’s gadgets is, inevitably, made by Apple. The next generation iPad is a case of “when” rather than “if”. The question is, what can Apple add to the last one? Expect a faster processor (possibly a quad-core A6 chip), and better cameras front and rear. Other racing certainties are a crisper screen based on Apple’s Retina Display, and access to Siri voice recognition, as seen on the iPhone 4S. One popular rumour is that the iPad 3 will feature 3D capability, which is about as likely as it coming with wheels and an engine.

IPHONE 5

Expected: September
Price: Will depend on your contract

The year wouldn’t be complete without an update to the ubiquitous iPhone. Critics may have whined that the 4S wasn’t enough of a change from the previous model but that hasn’t stopped it selling out across the world. One rumour is that the iPhone 5 will respond with a complete design overhaul, with an ultra-thin aluminium back and much svelter appearance. A bigger screen has been long-mooted and an innovative display featuring round pixels could be on its way. Basically, nobody has the faintest idea what Apple are planning.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S 3

Expected: To coincide with the iPhone
Price: About the same as the iPhone

Samsung is the biggest smartphone retailer in the world and the Galaxy S II is vying with the iPhone for the top-spot. Its next update is eagerly awaited. The Android device will run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich and is likely to feature a new, more powerful processor, making it at least 25 per cent faster. The rumour mill suggests it will be released in time to go head to head with the iPhone 5. If anyone can steal Apple’s thunder, it’s Samsung.