I’ve just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where more than 2700 vendors previewed more than 20,000 new gadgets and technologies. For Telstra’s product and technology teams, attending the Show gives us a chance to spot the best upcoming product so that we can bring it to Australia.

Based on our glimpse at the year ahead in mobile tech, I think there’s a lot to be excited about. Here are some of the big developments Aussies (including our Next G™ customers) can look forward to.
Motorola ATRIX 4G

Bigger, brighter (3D?) screens

This year we can expect thinner smartphones with bigger, brighter, higher resolution screens.

While screens are set to become bigger and brighter, tech firms are busy pioneering new battery technology that will ensure phone and mobile tablet endurance doesn’t suffer.

One vendor Sharp, previewed glasses-free 3D screen technology for smartphones. While many have met the concept with scepticism the experience is actually pretty good and we expect to see 3D make its way into some Aussie mobiles and tablets this year. We think it will be popular amongst gamers and for playing back movies.

Even more powerful smartphones

The race is on amongst smartphone makers to pack even more powerful processing power into phones. This year, for the first time, mobiles will feature dual core processors which promise to deliver faster web browsing, better mobile gaming graphics and snappier multitasking. In short, smartphones in 2011 will have the processing grunt once reserved for PCs.

Tablet range set to explode

While Apple led the tablet market almost unchallenged in 2010, this year everyone is preparing a tablet range. And with research from market watcher Nielsen claiming one in four Aussies are considering buying a mobile tablet this year, appetite for these touch screen gadgets is certainly building.

The wave of tablets set to land on our shores will mean choice for consumers. This year Aussies will be able to select from a range of price points, operating systems and screen sizes (with screens set to range from seven to 11 inches). Most will feature front-facing cameras to facilitate mobile video conferencing.

We saw some very impressive Next G™ compatible tablets running upcoming Google Android software. Watch this space.

Smartphones will double as home entertainment hubs and PCs

Smartphones have already lightened our bags and pockets by integrating high-quality MP3 players, cameras and video cameras. In 2011 mobile phone makers reckon smartphones can replace even more of our standalone gadgets.

In the home, smartphones will increasingly talk to our smart TVs perhaps reducing our reliance on DVD players and networked storage. This year many vendors will include HDMI connections in their smartphone designs that allow owners to connect a phone to an HD TV and playback, photos, movies saved to your phone and home videos (captured on your smartphone of course).

Other smartphones will take advantage of wireless transfer technology called DLNA. DLNA is being embedded in both smart TVs and mobile devices and makes it possible for consumers to stream content to the big screen without wires.

Going further still, Motorola reckons the smartphone could replace the laptop. While at CES we took a look at the Atrix (pictured in the header of this blog) which features a dual operating system and can be teamed with an all-in-one keyboard and 11-inch screen accessory that transforms the smartphone into a laptop. Cleverly the laptop accessory runs by tapping the phone’s processor, memory and mobile internet connection.

Smartphone internet speeds to jump

This year phones will serve up the mobile internet faster as vendors use chipsets capable of taking advantage of speeds available on fast mobile networks. Some mobiles in the pipeline will deliver speeds up to three times faster than today when connected to advanced networks like the Next G™ network. That means even faster page loads and snappier media streaming.

Over to you, what mobile tech advances are you looking forward to this year?