Ah, lists. So much fun when doled out in the right amount. Yes, yes, I realize that my Top 5 Phones list was devoid of any BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7 devices, and that including a low-end Android phone (LG Optimus V) and last-year’s entry-level webOS device (Palm Pixi Plus) immediately qualified me for “The Shady Pines Home for Journalists Who’ve Lost It” in some of your eyes. But, hey, that’s why we have a commenting system and encourage you to use it.

So now on to a Top 5 that might incite less of a comment board flame riot, but hopefully will still spark you to chime in with your own one-through-fives: The Top 5 gadgets I’m really looking forward to over the next six months or so. Since I apparently should have been more specific about the rules for the phones list (Samsung’s Galaxy S II was left off because it’s not yet for sale in the U.S., where I live and work), I’ll lay out the ground rules for “gadgets coming soon.” This list is comprised of phones, tablets, gaming hardware, and other electronic hardware that’s either been announced but hasn’t yet gone on sale in the U.S. or I’m personally convinced will be at least announced before the end of this year. That makes Wii U eligible (announced but not on sale) but MIDI-to-Brain 5,000 (figment of my imagination) ineligible. Cool? Cool. Here we go.

1. Amazon Tablet

Amazon tablet mockups

My sources tell me Amazon’s tablet computer will run Android but feature Intel-based innards, and not an Nvidia Tegra processor, but what beats at the heart of Jeff Bezos’ secret creation is barely half the story here. The all-but-confirmed Kindle successor should be available online before the end of this year – perhaps before Summer’s end – and while we don’t know anything official about it, most everybody and their “sources” agree that the thing will run Android. And no, really, I actually have sources. I promise. It almost has to given that Amazon’s gone and built their own Android App Store already. And that’s what makes the Amazon Tablet rumor so interesting: Not only does Amazon have the name and reach to get an attractive piece of hardware into millions of hands at a competitive price, but they also have the content and retail inventories to sweeten the pot with all sorts of tie-ins. From streaming movies to music lockers in the cloud to discounts on old fashioned retail goods, Amazon can literally offer it all. I could be way off here, but it just might be that the newest challenger to Apple’s handheld kingdom comes in the form of a tablet that doubles as a gateway to daily deals on diapers and dining room sets, and not just apps and movie rentals.

2. Samsung Galaxy S II


This thing is a flat-out beast. Processing horsepower, display quality, thin/light/sexy factor, and build quality: The Galaxy S II has it all, or at least the pre-production versions I’ve played with do. And get this, I actually kinda liked the newest version of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI when I saw it on the SGSII. Three million strong couldn’t wait to pre-order this Android phone before May had even arrived, and I can’t wait for a version to ship in the States.

3. iPad 3


I say we’ll see a new iPad – or an iPad-esque device – from Apple before the year’s out. Sean says I’m crazy. I say Apple needs a flagship product for the Christmas shopping season, and they’re too deep into this “touch-based future of computing” trip they’re on not to come on strong with another so-called magical and revolutionary product before 2012. Sean’s not writing this post, so he doesn’t get to call me crazy again. (But I am editing it, and I still say Noah is crazy. – Sean) Mentions of a 1536 x 2048 resolution display in iOS 5 beta have fueled the fires of speculation this week, and I’m siding with the kids on the ‘iPad 3 for Xmas!’ side of said fire. Though I kind of think the next iPad will be somehow different than the first two. If only I knew how.

4. HP TouchPad

HP TouchPad

Seems like forever and a day ago that Jon R and I headed to a building in San Francisco’s Fort Mason for HP’s webOS press event. Seems like so long ago that we turned to each other and said, “Wow, TouchPad looks really cool.” Seems like a long time since HP got us all excited for the second coming of webOS, but this time with some big-time corporate muscle behind it. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that long ago, but man I want TouchPad to hit the streets already so we can all decide for ourselves if webOS still has a future. I, for one, really hope it still does. Only a few more weeks until July 1!

5. Sony S1 and S2 Tablets

Sony S1 & S2 tablets

I know their gaming and entertainment network was recently the victim of a high-profile, massively damaging hack. I know their Pictures division then suffered a smaller but similarly devastating hack. And I know that they haven’t churned out an honest-to-goodness home run of a smartphone or gadget in awhile. But PS Vita has a ton of potential, and I grew up on the Sony Walkman and cut my cell phone teeth on SE’s K- and W-series phones – so the Sony name still holds some mystique for me. What we’ve seen of Sony’s fledgling Android tablets, the S1 and S2, look interesting and unique. Here’s hoping they don’t let us down. Seriously, Sony, don’t pull an Echo here.