Samsung, LG, HTC, Google, and select others may attract most of the attention when it comes to Android devices, but they're far from the only choices. There is a wide range of handsets available from brands you may have forgotten about, but not because they aren't any good. BLU Products has been upping its game as of late, pushing out products with competent specs and great prices. Now the company is introducing several new models in its "Life" series of devices.
Seeing what it clearly believes is an untapped market, Netgear announced NeoMediacast, which gives pay TV providers an alternative to the traditional set-top box. This is an Android-powered system in a Chromecast-sized package that simply plugs into the back of your TV via an HDMI port. The idea here is that service providers can offer apps and premium content stores to give their subscribers access to everything they currently get through their cable boxes.
Update: It looks like some signals got crossed. This is the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - the "Z1s" is a T-Mobile branded variant of the original 5-inch phone.
It's been said that those who want a powerful modern smartphone with a non-gigantic screen don't have a lot of options. If a new post from the tireless Evleaks is to be believed, they'll have at least one more on T-Mobile very soon.
In an odd bit of M&A news, the developers at Bitspin announced that the small company will be joining forces with Google. Whether Google has purchased the company outright or merely hired its Zurich-based development team isn't clear, but in either case, the big G will be benefitting from their impressive user interface experience soon. Google has not commented on the situation, and there is no dollar amount posted on the Bitspin website.
If you're in the market for a powerful phone that can take a few hits, then eBay's Daily Deals portal should be your first stop today. Well, so long as you need that phone to work on the AT&T network and don't mind a refurbished model. The AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is on sale for just $349.95 with free shipping to the US. You can have it in any color you want, as long as you want teal.
Lenovo has been hanging out in the bottom end of the Android market ever since they gave up on the ThinkPad Tablet, but it looks like they're finally ready to ship some high-end hardware. Enter the Lenovo Vibe Z, a 5.5-inch smartphone with an LTE radio - a first in the company's Android lineup. As usual, Lenovo doesn't seem interested in western markets for this phone. According to the press release, it will go on sale in February in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Philippines for $549.
In a world where almost all tablets are boring black slabs, Lenovo is trying to make some headway with a different design. Now you can experience Lenovo's take on the tablet for $60 less than usual – the Yoga Tablet 8 is on sale for $189.99 at Best Buy today only. That's better than the last such deal.
The Yoga Tablet 8 has a neat little stand that can be used to prop it upright or position it at a comfortable incline.
The Bluetooth experience on Android has always been a rocky road. For the first few years Android relied on BlueZ, a "protocol stack" originally developed by Qualcomm for the Linux operating system. Despite many limitations and missing features, BlueZ served admirably until Android 4.2 launched with a new stack dubbed Bluedroid, a project built jointly by Google and Broadcom. Like any young project, the bugs were plentiful, but most of the critical issues were solved in the first few weeks.
I've gone hands on with nearly every member of Blu's Life family at this point, and they've all lead up to this phone. The first four members of the Life line – the Play, View, One, and Pro – vary mostly in form factor, though the Pro also features a faster processor than its siblings. Up until the now, the general gist of the Life line has been: quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and a 720p display.