Hottest tech toys in works for 2012

With 2012 upon us, "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" took a sneak peek into the world of tech gadgets and the most anticipated releases scheduled for the new year.

CNET.com Senior Editor Dan Ackerman offered predictions on when we might see some of 2012's hottest toys including an "Ice Cream Sandwich" by Android, PlayStation's Vita, iPad3, and "ultrabooks" which is a PC version of the MacAir.

PROJECTED 2012 TECH TIMELINE

January

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is held in Las Vegas. This is where tech companies show off their new products for the rest of the year.

Smart phones and tablets with "Ice Cream Sandwich," the latest version of the Android operating system, start showing up -- but many devices will have to wait a few months, if they can get it at all.

February

PlayStation Vita release: Sony's new handheld gaming console. An impressive piece of hardware, but can it compete with multifunction devices like the iPhone or Kindle Fire?

March/April

iPad 3. As the first two iPads were released in March or April, you can probably expect the next one around the same time. Rumors are a dime a dozen, from a higher-resolution screen to a smaller 7-inch version.

April/May

We'll start to see a new generation of very thin laptops, sometimes called "ultrabooks" (a term Intel made up). These are meant to be PC versions of the MacBook Air, but a bit less expensive.

Midyear:

We'll see faster data networks, called 4G or LTE, get wider rollouts. That could mean surfing the Web on your phone will be faster, especially in big cities, where service can be sketchy.

Summer

Apple HDTV -- widely rumored, with a possible summer announcement. A big-screen Apple HDTV may be Steve Jobs' final big project.

Summer/Fall

iPhone 5 -- new iPhones always come out in June or July, except the most recent one, the iPhone 4S, which came out in October. Everyone expects the iPhone 5 to have a new design, and maybe a larger screen.

Fall

Nintendo Wii U -- the Nintendo Wii was such a huge hit, expectations are high for the next Nintendo gaming console, called the Wii U, which combines a game console with a touch screen tablet controller. But it feels complicated -- can it recapture the simple appeal of the Wii's wand control?

A big maybe:

Windows 8 -- yes, it'll be time to upgrade your computer again, although a lot of people are still running Windows XP. The beta version of Windows 8 is expected in February, with the final version a big question mark, for sometime in 2012.

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