Looking Forward to 2012: Apple TV, iPhone 5 and Goodnight PCs

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Onward, tablets, smartphones and post-PC (yet still just as much “personal computing”) devices — call them whatever you like, 2012 will see a glut of me-too mobiles designed to untether us from stodgy office desktops and augment our everyday, ordinary activities by slipping into our everyday, ordinary surroundings. With that in mind, here’s my list of up-and-coming 2012 tech picks:

Apple TV, the Next Generation

The trouble my 37-inch, four-year-old LG 1080p LCD TV has squeezing inside my mammoth mission-style entertainment center aside, I’ve been eyeballing a new TV all year. I already have an Apple TV, but we’re talking the tiny black box, not a full-blown TV set. So when I say I’m eyeballing an Apple TV, let there be no confusion — I’m speaking of the rumored 32- and 37-inch Apple television sets due sometime this summer, not the device I only use to stream my music library to the living room.

Apple’s challenge, assuming these things are real, is twofold: Leapfrogging the current black box Apple TV’s features, and pricing its televisions competitively (assuming it wants to sell these things mainstream, anyway). Feature-wise, Apple needs to do more than offer access to a few third-party services and stream iTunes media from an Apple computer (it needs to be more than just an Apple TV inside an Apple-branded television, in other words) so here’s my wish list: An Apple TV that could sync wirelessly with iOS devices, allowing video, photos and even apps or games to appear (magically!) on the TV without cables, and a Siri-like voice command feature, making an appearance alongside a motion-control interface similar to (but ideally miles better than) Microsoft’s Kinect. Bring it on, Apple!

(MORE: Looking Forward to 2012: The End of Media Ownership)

iPhone 5 or Android Whatever

The iPhone 4 I picked up last February — my first iPhone, if it matters — has been a mostly up experience. It’s quick, dependable, swarming with apps that cover all my bases and not a total disaster when texting so long as I use just one finger (in lieu of two thumbs). My only complaints: The screen is too small, the phone’s too breakable (all glass, front and back) and I’m still not sold on finger-gaming, especially first-person stuff where I’m fighting just to see around my thumbs (would someone please release a thumbstick snap-around like the 3DS’s add-on already?). I have mixed feelings about most Android phones, but after playing with a friend’s Galaxy Nexus, I’ve sort of done a one-eighty: Unless the iPhone 5 is thinner and has an edge-to-edge 4.65-inch or larger display, I may just pick up a Galaxy Nexus to go hand-in-glove with a new Windows-based, gaming-angled ultrabook.

Goodbye forever, desktop PCs — hello ultrabooks and tablets!

I ditched my tricked-out Windows desktop PC a few weeks ago — good night, good luck (and, with all due respect, good riddance). I barely touched the thing in 2011, and I’ve jettisoned any nostalgic sentiments I once had for screwing around with soldering circuits or tweaking liquid cooling kits. My work machine’s now an 11-inch MacBook Air, though it might as well be a Windows-based ultrabook. I love OS X, but I’m almost as fond of Windows 7, and since I’ve kept my personal and work data agnostic, organized and easy to migrate, I’ll be happy to switch if the right hardware comes along (hello Razer Blade!). The desktop PC is a dinosaur, and Moore’s Law ceased to matter years ago (just because computing power doubles in a given period doesn’t mean app requirements or consumer needs do), so bring on the souped-up ultraportables and 2012’s enhanced tablets (be they Android or iOS based), and may the space beneath (or beside) our desks, chairs and tables remain case- and cable-free forever.

MORE: Looking Forward to 2012: Ultrabooks

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham, Google+ or Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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