Wow ... what a month it has been. June 2012 has been, without a doubt, one of the biggest in terms of major news and product reveals for the tech industry in recent memory. We had not one but three major press events from Microsoft, along with Apple's announcements at its WWDC event. This week, Google went pretty nuts with lots of reveals for its Google I/O conference.
So which of these presentations were the best and which underperformed. We have some very informal awards to give out to the various parties involved.
Biggest Surprise - Microsoft Surface: Until a few days before the reveal of Surface, most people might not have believed that Microsoft would make its own Windows 8/RT tablet device. But that's exactly what Microsoft presented to the assembled media in mid-June. Perhaps the bigger surprise was that we and other members of the media were impressed with what we got to see and touch of the Surface, if however brief.
Biggest Disappointment - Nintendo's Wii U reveal - E3 2012 was supposed to be the show where Nintendo was supposed to wow everyone with the Wii U's formal reveal. However, aside from a couple of games that were shown at the show (ZombieU looks fun), the next generation console from Nintendo looks to be underpowered compared to what 2012 console hardware should be up to. Add in the awkward looking GamePad, with its touch screen, and it all adds up to a failed experiment (remember Virtual Boy?).
Slickest UI - Xbox SmartGlass - Microsoft wants to give Xbox 360 gamers a supplement to their console experience, rather than a full controller, with Xbox SmartGlass. We were impressed that this upcoming feature would allow for adding supplements to games like Halo 4 or allow for streaming movies and music from a tablet to the console. The user interface demonstrated at E3 2012, based on Metro, looks pretty slick as well.
Best looking console games - The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls - Sony announced Beyond: Two Souls at its E3 2012 press conference for the PS3 and it has, without a doubt, the best looking graphics we have ever seen on a console game. The game itself looks pretty creepy as well. Sony also showed off more of The Last of Us at E3 2012 and this post-apocalyptic action game could be a condenter for Game of the Year for 2013 if it lives up to its E3 2012 demo.
Best looking PC notebook display - Macbook Pro with Retina display - Apple turned up the heat when it comes to PC displays when it announced the new version of the MacBook Pro at its WWDC event this month. With a 2800x1800 resolution Retina display, it now sets the standard for what other notebook displays should be able to support.
Best smartphone announcement - Windows Phone 8 - Microsoft showed it is still very much serious about making a dent in the smartphone business with this month's official reveal of Windows Phone 8. While we were disappointed to learn that current Windows Phone devices won't get a WP8 upgrade, what was revealed of Windows Phone 8 impressed us, including support for quad-core processors, apps that can be ported from Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 and more.
Coolest looking new hardware - Google Nexus Q - Google's newly revealed Android-powered media streaming device looks like it came from Aperture Labs in the Portal universe. With its sphere design, its black finish and its constantly changing LED lights circling the Nexus Q, it will make a lot of people do a double take if you sit it in your living room. We were also impressed that the Nexus Q was designed and made in the USA but not its $299 price tag.
The "we are still not sure" award - Google Nexus 7 tablet - On the one hand, the new Asus-made tablet that Google is selling does have Android 4.1 out of the box and it has a quad-core processor. It's also cheap at $199. On the other hand, none of the Android-based tablets have yet to make a dent in the sales of Apple's iPad juggernaut and the Nexus 7 is entering a market place that's crowded with such devices. It remains to be seen if the Nexus 7 can change that.
Best giveaways - Google I/O freebies - Google likes to treat Android developers very well. At this week's Google I/O conference, Google gave its attendees not one, not two, but four hardware products: The newly revealed Nexus 7 tablet at $199, the Nexus Q at $299, a Galaxy Nexus smartphone at $349 and a Chromebox at $329. Add that all up and Google I/O attendees got a whopping $1,176 worth of hardware.
Best demo presentation EVER - Google Glass' skydivers - We are still not sure that Google Glass is the next big thing, but this week's demo of the upcoming tech glasses at Google I/O was without a doubt the best tech demonstration we have ever seen. Four skydivers, all wearing the Google Glass devices, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and parachuted down to the top of the Moscone Center in San Fransisco, all while their journey was being seen by Google I/O attendees, and people who live streamed the keynote address, via the Google Hangout software. It was, in a word, spectacular.