At Plusnet, we like to keep an eye out for tech news and releases that could change how you use t'internet. We're expecting big things from 2012 - especially when it comes to gaming and streaming. Read on for to find out what we think is going to be making waves online this year, when it comes to events, gadgets, gaming and online streaming.
International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012 When: 10 - 13 January 2012 Where: Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas Just a few weeks ago, more than 3,100 companies showcased their latest innovations at the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow – CES. The Internet’s alive with reports and write-ups from the event. Here’s a few to get you started.
D.I.C.E Summit 2012 When: 8 - 10 February 2012. Where: Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas. The D.I.C.E. Summit, a gaming conference where industry leaders talk trends and innovation in games and gaming design, will have the web rippling with gaming-related chat.
E3 Expo 2012 When: 5 - 7 June 2012. Where: Los Angeles Convention Centre. The world's biggest and best known video gaming trade show, the E3 Expo attracts the who's who of gaming every year. From the latest announcements to previews of the hottest games and newest consoles, you'll find it all at E3.
The web will be buzzing with D.I.C.E chat in February and E3 gaming gossip in June, so if you can't get to Las Vegas or LA, use your home broadband connection to surf the web and stream the latest D.I.C.E and E3 podcasts, news items and videos. We'll be keeping an ear out when it comes to D.I.C.E and E3, so don't worry if you haven't got time to look for gaming gossip online - we'll be keeping you up to date on any big news that'll change how you game online.
New hi-res MacBooks
Apple's already announced that it will be refreshing its line of MacBooks, but it's been rumoured that the firm's new MacBook Pros will have high-res displays as well as faster processors and more memory - making it a great laptop if you're looking to stream movies or game online. The new range of MacBooks is expected to hit the shelves in late Spring/early Summer.
Macs already feature Intel's super speedy Thunderbolt ports, but DigiTimes have reported that the ports could be available for Windows-based PCs as early as April 2012. With a Thunderbolt port, you can transfer full-length HD movies in seconds. A must-have gadget for those who need to stream or access large files across their network.
In Steve Jobs' best-selling biography, he was quoted as saying that he'd finally "cracked" TV. So, we're all expecting a new Apple TV to be released in 2012. Analyst Gene Munster has predicted that the set will be on sale by the end of 2012/early 2013.
Munster told last year's IGNTITION conference that the Apple TV is likely to be a full TV set rather than a plug-in, will be pricey, and that users will probably be able to download games and content directly from iTunes, the App Store and iCloud.
You scoured the internet for information on the new iPhone ahead of the release of the iPhone 4S - and the iPhone 5 is set to create even more excitement when it launches in Summer or Autumn 2012.
It's been rumoured that the iPad 3 will be available for release as early as February or March this year - and that it'll have access to LTE and 4G networks. But there's no need to forget all about the iPad 2 - as Apple is expected keep producing new iPad 2s as well.
Samsung Galaxy S3
It's been rumoured that Samsung's setting up the S3 as a rival to the iPhone 5. According to reports, the S3 will operate on Android's Ice Cream Sandwich and could perform 25 per cent faster and use 30 per cent less power.
Sony Network Media Player
Sony's media player streams online video from services like Netflix and can be controlled with an iOS or Android smartphone. It's not yet clear if this will be available both sides of the pond, but it could be one to watch.
Last year, Sony confirmed that it had started work on the eagerly awaited PS4 - and it's been rumoured that gamers will get to clap eyes on the new console at the 2012 E3 video game conference.
The Wii U is set to launch stateside in Autumn 2012, so it should be available in Blighty before Christmas. Nintendo showcased the new console at this year's CES, confirming reports that the new Wii will have touchscreen controllers that can receive images and mini games straight from the console.
Hot gaming releases
Mass Effect 3 ETA: 6 March 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC (Online multiplayer)
Street Fighter x Tekken ETA: 6 March 2012 - for 360, PS3 (Online multiplayer)
Resident Evil: Raccoon City ETA: 6 March 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC (Online multiplayer)
Silent Hill: Downpour ETA: March 2012 - for 360, PS3
Max Payne 3 ETA: May 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC (Online multiplayer)
Halo 4 TBA 2012 - for 360 (Online multiplayer)
Grand Theft Auto V TBA 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC (Online multiplayer)
Diablo III TBA 2012 - for PC (Online multiplayer)
Bioshock Infinite TBA 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC (Rumoured to be online multiplayer)
Final Fantasy Versus XIII-2 Out now - for 360, PS3
Metal Gear Solid: Rising TBA 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC
Tomb Raider TBA 2012 - for 360, PS3, PC
Call of Duty: Nations at War TBA 2012 - consoles TBA (Online Multiplayer)
Last year saw Onlive bring cloud gaming to the UK market. And it's widely thought that the company already has over a million UK subscribers. They’ve recently launched their own games system and Android and iOS apps, so it will be interesting to see what they have in store for 2012. Both the Wii and the PS3 have been great for online gaming and for iPlayer streaming, so you can expect big things from the Wii U and the PS4. And a lot of 2012's hottest game releases are set to be online multiplayers. To help you get the most out of your Plusnet connection when gaming, just check out our gaming connection guides.
Netflix might have just launched in the UK, but it's already racking up subscribers fast. For just £5.99 a month, you can stream unlimited movies and TV episodes. And you can even sign up for a free month's trial now using your email address or Facebook account.
Not many people known about TV streaming service YouView yet - but that could change later this year. The company's currently trialling a service that'll be launched early in 2012, enabling customers to buy a set top box that connects to their home broadband in order to stream Freeview, Freesat, catch-up and on-demand services, as well as paid-for movies and TV streaming services. Details are still unclear, but YouView could be a much cheaper alternative to Sky and Virgin packages. We'll be keeping a close eye out for any developments, so just check our blog for further developments.
What do you think's going to be big online this year? Do you know about any new trends, events or releases that we've not covered?Please leave us a comment, and let us know …