You knew it was coming. With the Moto 360 being easily the most exciting Android Wear device from the initial video almost exactly a year ago, and then being something of a disappointment upon release thanks to its ancient chipset and not-really-360-degree "round" screen, a follow-up was inevitable. It looks like an executive from Lenovo (the new owners of Motorola Mobility) may have let the cat out of the bag on the company's next Android Wear smartwatch.
Lenovo has crammed just about everything it can think of into the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro to make it interesting, with the exception of a stylus and a can opener. And it is interesting, from a purely technical point of view - it has a huge 13" screen, 2.1 JLB speakers, integrated kickstand, and oh yeah, a built-in pico projector. This machine epitomizes one of the best things about Android hardware: a diversity of manufacturers can yield an amazing variety of features.
Unfortunately, Lenovo's design is more ambitious than its execution. With a build quality that's only average, some questionable hardware decisions, and a software experience that's poor at best, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro simply won't be worth a look for most people.
The photo-focused smartphone is becoming a definite niche, and at Mobile World Congress, Lenovo is hoping to break in with a new model. The Vibe Shot (which sounds a lot like something you'd order at a questionable cocktail bar) is a Lollipop-equipped phone with a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8MP front-facing shooter. Other photo-focused features include optical image stabilization, infrared autofocus, and a tri-color LED flash. Lenovo hopes to launch the Vibe Shot in June starting at $349.
We actually got a look at the Vibe Shot back in February when Lenovo's MWC lineup was leaked. What we didn't learn at the time about the phone is its price, which is particularly attractive considering its high-midrange specs.
Lenovo has used this year's Mobile World Congress as a chance to unveil two new affordable Android tablets that expand upon the immensely cheap TAB 2 A series introduced in January. These slates don't aim for a lower price point ($99 is hard to beat, after all). Instead, both come with LTE.
Left: TAB 2 A10-70, Right: TAB 2 A8
The TAB 2 A10-70 (not to be confused with the A7-10) has a 10 inch FHD screen, is only 8.9 millimeters thin, and weighs around 500 grams. It will run Android 4.4 (Lollipop expected in June) powered by a MediaTek 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 7,000mAh battery.
Ah, February: the time when mobile hardware leaks spring out of the ground like daisies. It looks like Thai gadget site MXPhone has gotten its hands on portions of the Mobile World Congress phone lineup from Lenovo weeks ahead of the event, giving us a tantalizing look at the company's hardware plans for the next several months. Of course, it's possible that at least some of the Vibe phones on display below will never leave China, and the chance of any of them coming to the US market is basically zero.
Lenovo Vibe Shot
The most interesting of the new models is probably the Vibe Shot, a camera-focused competitor to devices like HTC's One EYE.
It's not hard to find an Android tablet for less than a hundred bucks - head down to your nearest drugstore and there's a decent chance you'll see one. The trick is finding one that's worth using at that price. While most of these ultra-cheap tablets are no-name Chinese models, Lenovo just announced a pair of new 7-inchers in the A Series starting at only a single Benjamin. I guess that would make them name brand Chinese tablets, but hey, Lenovo beats whatever company is using the Polaroid license this year.
Both the TAB 2A7-10 and the A7-30 are essentially identical, but the latter and more expensive one features a 3G radio and calling support, essentially making it a giant phone.
Lenovo might own Motorola now, but the company is still doing its own thing when it comes to mobile devices. There are a pair of new Android phones today, as well as a wearable and a completely self-indulgent accessory—a selfie flash. Your life is complete now, right?
When gigantic multinational corporations buy one another, the process is a bit more complicated than grabbing a new couch off of Craigslist. Lenovo announced its intention to buy American phone manufacturer Motorola off of Google back in January of this year, less than two years after Google itself acquired the then-independent Motorola Mobility. Today the sale is final and approved by all necessary regulatory agencies, with a combined price of $2.91 billion in cash, credit, and stock.
Left to right: Lenovo Execute Vice President of the Mobile Business Group Liu Jun, Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing, Motorola Mobility President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh
Motorola and Lenovo both have "welcome to the team" blog posts on their respective websites.
Lenovo's kickstand-packing Yoga tablets are already unconventional, but the new Tablet 2 Pro is downright odd. In addition to a relatively huge 13.3" screen and a built-in subwoofer, this beast of a device packs a pint-sized Pico projector into the curve of its kickstand hinge. Lenovo claims that the Tablet 2 Pro was developed with "product engineer" Ashton Kutcher, in case it wasn't already weird enough. The redesigned kickstand also includes a cutout that pulls double duty as a hole for the camera and a handy hanging point.
Here's a video with young, attractive people using a $500 tablet to match their $500 van.
It's amazing that more than a decade after the rise of "gadget blogs," gigantic international corporations still don't tick the little "confidential" mark when submitting their gadgets for certification by the Federal Communications Commission. Keep it up, folks, it gives us peeks at upcoming hardware like the Lenovo SW-B100 Smartband. This wearable was previously spotted going through the Bluetooth SIG's series of tests, and rumored for an IFA debut, which didn't happen.
The FCC's tests and documentation vary from device to device, but in this case we get external and internal photos and a copy of the Smartband's user manual.