3. Contact managers
I'd like to retrieve the lost hours spent building up a contacts database. Not long ago, I stopped meticulously entering names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails and now rely on other methods.
For example, I search Gmail for names and addresses. When I want to send a new e-mail, I just type a portion of a name to get the full address, type the message, and send.
However, a good contact manager could work like the iPhone: It would see phone number in an e-mail and allow me to right-click and add the name and phone number to a database automatically within Gmail. The database would be smart enough to know if a phone number already matches an existing name, and it would weed out duplicates automatically. I'd never have to type in contacts, because this "auto-database" would work as easily as a mobile phone, support any e-mail client and work in the background. Some contact managers come close -- such as Now Up-to-Date & Contact -- but it still involves a manual process.
4. Digital streaming adapters
They are supposed to solve a persistent dilemma: a PC just doesn't work with a television. A keyboard and mouse are meant for a desk, not a sofa. These adapters add another appliance to an overcrowded entertainment center bulging with DVRs and game consoles.
The fix? Put them right into the television itself. Hewlett-Packard started this with the MediaSmart TV, but I'd like to see it as a standard feature that is more open -- not just based on Windows Media Extender, but supporting any media format over Wi-Fi.
5. Video on a phone
A phone screen is too small for video, and even the iPod Touch can cause eye strain when you watch a two-hour feature film. I'm convinced that anything you only do once or twice in dealing with new technology and find it hard to do -- like load a smart phone with video clips or swap contacts with your laptop over Bluetooth -- is just a novelty and often not worth the effort. I will likely never do it again; it's not worth the time.
Even the iPhone is a poor movie viewer unless you are desperate for a Jason Bourne flick on the bus. But solid-state memory is finally getting cheaper, and it makes sense to load up a mobile device with movies.
What I'd like to see is Bluetooth built into HDTVs so that I can beam a high-resolution movie from my phone or projector in the phone (like the Pico technology being developed by Texas Instruments) or a mini-DVI port.