The fall gadget rush is coming, and here's what to expect

As much as we hate to admit it, summer is starting to wind down. All the classic signs are coming together: Days are getting shorter, nights are getting cooler, and all the big names in tech are poised to release a new wave of gadgets in time to gobble up your holiday dollars. The rumor mill is pointing to several new and exciting announcements that will likely begin rolling out within the next few weeks, so let's take a look at the most anticipated portable gadgets coming soon to a coffee table near you. 

Kindle Fire 2
Why we think it's coming soon: Based on how rumors of the next Kindle Fire were already swirling even as the original Amazon tablet was just heating up, the Kindle Fire 2 seems to already be late to its own party. In order to keep its brand relevant, the company's scheduled event on September 6 will undoubtedly reveal the next iteration of the Fire.

What we're expecting: Before the original Kindle Fire even hit store shelves, the web was abuzz with talk of an even larger version of the hot-selling Amazon tablet. The current, 7-inch Fire is considered small by today's tablet standards, and now that the company has its foot in the door with consumers, look for Amazon to take on the iPad head-first with a larger, 9.7-inch version of the Fire. Along with a larger screen, we expect a processor upgrade which will better make use of an expanded selection of Android apps.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Why we think it's coming soon: Sources from Samsung's suppliers have been teasing news of the next version of the phone/tablet hybrid for months, and the company has already said that it will finally reveal the device at an event on August 29, just in time for the 2012 IFA consumer electronics show.

What we're expecting: Samsung's original Galaxy Note straddled the line between smartphones and tablets with its massive 5.3-inch screen and stylus-friendly interface. If a few well-sourced rumors pan out, the next Note will be even larger than the original, with a screen measuring a full 5.5 inches. An upgraded camera is also said to be in the works, which would definitely help the new handset capitalize on the success of its predecessor.

Nokia Windows Phone 8
Why we think it's coming soon: Microsoft and Nokia are set to hold a joint event on September 5 in New York City, and it's a given that the spotlight will be on the all-new Windows Phone 8 platform. The two companies partnered on the well-received Lumia line of Windows Phone 7 handsets, and that team mentality is set to carry over to Windows Phone 8 devices. Sources point to the debut of as many as three brand new smartphones, all running on the latest Windows Phone operating system.

What we're expecting: We already knew a few key features of Windows Phone 8, including its Shared Core technology which will let it work hand-in-hand with the desktop version of Windows 8. But the details of the devices themselves are still largely unconfirmed. In order for Windows Phone 8 handsets to compete with the latest Android and iOS devices on the market, Nokia will need to offer a low-priced, feature-rich base model that will grab the attention of those who have already committed to the Google and Apple platforms. A high-resolution display, powerful processor, and excellent battery life are absolute musts this time around.

iPad mini
Why we think it's coming: Apple has dominated the 9.7-inch tablet market since the original iPad's debut, but in the time since that device hit stores, a new species of slate has taken hold. The 7-inch tablet market — currently firmly in the hand of Amazon's Kindle Fire — is as of yet untapped by Apple. Experts expect that the long-rumored iPad mini will finally see the light of day at an event in October.

What we're expecting:
The iPad is an expensive piece of technology, and a smaller version would allow Apple to offer it at a reduced price. The diminutive slate will also likely not feature a high-resolution Retina display, and perhaps even drop the rear-facing camera entirely. Look for the iPad mini to fill the gap between the larger iPad and the iPhone, and attempt to beat the Kindle Fire at its own game.

iPhone 5
Why we think it's coming soon: Apple is nothing if not predictable, and the company's upgrade timeline for the iPhone has remained largely unchanged since the original device debuted. Add to that a bounty of well-sourced information surrounding an anticipated (but as of yet unannounced) iPhone event scheduled for September 12, and we have the makings for yet another Apple smartphone rollout.

What we're expecting: An all-new device. Last year's iPhone 4S reveal left those hungry for an iPhone 5 largely unsatisfied, and the next Apple smartphone will undoubtedly feature a larger screen and more powerful processor in order to compete with the army of Android handsets marching into wireless providers worldwide. The iPhone 5 will also undoubtedly feature near-field communication (NFC) technology, allowing the phone to be used as a virtual wallet at retail stores.

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