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What have we learned from 2008?

Posted: 01.05.09

We make such a big deal about the changing of the year that you can’t help but reflect on the past year. Even if you had a crappy year you would like to forget, you’ll think about it. And if you had a great one, like we did, you’ll want to savor it and try and make it last but, of course, you can’t, you’ve got to get up and move on, albeit with a little reflection, and hopefully wisdom.

The high point of the year for me was my birthday, and the best birthday present was from the U.S. when we elected a new president. The low point was the oil shock of the fall followed by the bank and real estate market crash. All that has put the world in a tumble, knocked the hell out of everyone’s forecast for ’09 and ’10, and basically sent most companies into duck-and-cover mode, or made them retreat into the storm cellar.

That’s a pretty presumptuous headline, what the heck do I know about what you might have learned, it should be what I learned from 2008. In 2008, one of the most striking things I learned was how personal and social things have become.

Over the past 27 years, from the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981 to today, we have seen computers becoming more personal. In 1981, we thought it was miraculous if we could get a printout from a local printer and not have to go to the IT center. In 27 years, our computers, the little ones we carry in our pockets, the slightly larger ones we carry in our backpacks and purses, bigger ones we carry in a brief case, and the big ones that stay at home holding dual four-core processors and three to four humungous graphics boards, have all become extremely personal. We have quasi HUDs and personal navigation systems, mobile phones in our ears, and an almost always on online connection to the web. We have personal movies, photo albums, music selections, community game playing, and bidding wars for every kind of product, service, or commodity imaginable. Not only has the computer become more personal (jeez, I sound like an HP ad) but it has made us more sociable, albeit in a somewhat virtual manner. We communicate with more people more often on more subjects than not only ever before but more than imagined by even the most creative science fiction writers.

In addition to what we learned in ’08, there is also the natural sentiment­ality about what we liked.

My favorite products of 08

With so many different products introduced in 2008, it is extremely difficult picking the highlight of the year. The best I could do was to pick favorites in categories.

Chips:

  • ATI RV770. ATI changed the game with the RV700—scale up and scale down
  • Intel Nehalem. We got two of these monsters to play with and they are De-Lightful—best computer ever. In one, we have two HD4780x2s, and in the other we have three GT280s—how much power do you want?
  • Intel Atom. Game-changing and threatening to the mother ship.

AIBs

  • ATI HD4870x2 clearly the fastest, most compact, and best price-performance AIB of the year.

Computers:

  • HP Blackbird. Awesome performance, outstanding engineering, and great style, but a little pricey.
  • HP Mini note. Including the one they just introduced at CES. I love this little machine, fits in a purse or a backpack.
  • HP TouchSmart. The all-in-one computer, great for a dorm, a kitchen, a media center, or bedroom.

Displays:

  • HP DreamColor LP2480xz. Amazing color fidelity, surprisingly low price, extended color ranges and control. WYSIWYG has finally
    arrived.
  • Samsung 120Hz 22-inch display. Not really a 2008 product but Samsung has ushered in the future with 120Hz monitors, and they enable game-changing stereo view.

Games:

  • Stalker Clear Sky. Still fascinating, big open world with a story, but a sequel is still a sequel.
  • Bioshock. Totally innovative, great sounds, crazy premise, interesting villains, sub plots, and multiple play scenarios, very good graphics.

Applications:

  • Baddaboom. Elemental’s revolutionary transcoder using a GPU—ground-breaking, innovative, and market-leading technology.
  • PowerCinema 6. CyberLink’s use of GPUs for filters and color, at an affordable price.
  • Roxio Creator. The sweetest of the suites, this one works, with an easy to use photo editor.
  • MotionDSP. Shake, rattle, and roll no more, and how about being able to zoom in on a scene? Most exciting new video app in a long time.

Honorable mention:

  • Chips: GTX 216, Shanghai.
  • Games: Call of Duty World at War, Fallout 3, Spore.
  • AIBs: GF260, HD 4850x2.