The most wanted technology gadgets of 2012

Two models hold four smartphones
Smartphones will be a key battleground for technology companies in 2012

Whether it's smart phones, games consoles or video games 2012 is shaping up to be another amazing year for tech fans.

Sony, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Rockstar and Nintendo are just some of the technology giants involved.

Sorting the fact from the rumour is always part of the fun.

So let's take a look at some of the likely, and not so likely, launches expected over the next 12 months.

Mobile phones

Nokia: Although regarded by many as the best Windows powered smartphone in 2011 the Nokia Lumia 800 didn't achieve sales anywhere near those necessary to dislodge Apple or Google's Android. However, now the Finnish mobile company has successfully adapted the software expect it to throw everything it's got into hardware development. Especially when it comes to getting more form its tie in with Windows which could see greater integration Microsoft's Xbox Live.

Apple: The iPhone5 is already surrounded by more rumour and hype than most mobiles ever get. Among them claims it is thinner, has a larger, 4 inch touch screen, 4G and NFC capability and will be the last iPhone to be heavily influenced by the late Steve Jobs. For some Apple fans the iPhone 4S was not the big leap they were hoping for. But that's only served to heighten anticipation about the expected iPhone 5. Some are predicting a spring launch, others think the summer's more likely. Either way expect no end to the hype until its release date.

Sony: After a business 'divorce' from Ericsson Sony has brought all its mobile manufacturing in house. Bosses at the Japanese tech giant, which currently relies on the Xperia for 80% of mobile sales, have confirmed they will only manufacture smart phones from now on. Sony Chairman Sir Howard Stringer says the smartphone is "beginning to be accepted for more and more content and more and more services". No details yet on what that will mean but with Sony such a major player in the film, music and video game industries it certainly has the content ready to work with a great multi media device.

Consoles

Xbox 720: Microsoft's Xbox 360 has sold tens of millions of units and been a resounding success. But in console terms it's old. Originally launched back in 2005 its successor is now surrounded by more rumour and more hype than almost anything out there except perhaps the PS4 (more on that later). So, to those rumours. It's set to be unveiled at CES in January with a release date in late 2012. It won't be out till 2013. It's going to be much smaller than the 360 and more focused on Kinect. Following on from the popularity of Steam and the recent launch of OnLive it will abandon discs altogether and use The Cloud. For Xbox fans, whatever the truth, the release date can't come soon enough.

Girl looks at Xbox
Old favourite: The Xbox

Playstation 4: One of the reasons Microsoft is under pressure to deliver its next console is because its great rival of recent years, Sony Playstation, is well into development of its next generation console. Both Sony and Microsoft have publicly gone on record that their current consoles will have life cycles of 10 years, the PS3 was released in 2006. But that doesn't mean they're likely to wait until the very end of that shelf life. As for rumours about the PS4: Blu-Ray for certain, portable gaming data, a redesign of the PSN, more power (up to ten times more than the PS3 according to some estimates) and key for fans with shelves full of older titles: backwards compatibility.

WiiU: The only big player to have a new console confirmed for 2012 is Nintendo. The WiiU was unveiled at E3 in June and following disappointing sales of the 3DS the Japanese gaming giant will be hoping for a hit. The console itself will support HD graphics, a first for Nintendo, and a 6.2 inch touch screen makes the controllers almost as big as tablet PCs. But it has a lot to live up to. After being launched in 2006 the Wii went on to sell tens of millions of consoles and introduce an entire new generation to video games.

Video games

Tomb Raider: 2012 sees a re-boot of one of the defining games of a generation as Lara Croft is due to return in Tomb Raider. With a trailer first unveiled at E3 last summer this new version of the game serves as a prequel to the original. Developed by Crystal Dynamics it has high hopes for this latest edition in the hugely successful series which sees the heroine stranded on a mysterious island and fighting for survival.

Grand Theft Auto V: One of the most controversial game series over the last decade 2012 could see a new edition of Grand Theft Auto. The trailer alone made shock waves round the gaming world when it was released in early November. Set back in San Andreas it left more questions than answers for the game's fans. Who is the middle aged man featured in the trailer? Will it be as violent as previous titles? Will it prove big enough to break CoD's strangle hold on the video game market? Whatever the answers if it does make it to the shelves next year Rockstar North will surely have the biggest selling game of 2012 on its hands.

Mass Effect 3: This is one game that does have a release date confirmed for 2012 (March 9th if you're wondering). You play Commander Shepherd taking on ancient alien race The Reapers. Following their all out invasion Earth has been captured and the Galaxy is on the verge of annihilation. And you're the only thing standing in their way. So far so standard for fans of the sci-fi genre. But what makes this series' different is it wide ranging game play. From the multiple endings which play out depending on the decisions you make during the game to the type of fighting you do it's likely to earn another sure fire hit for developer Bioware.

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