I feel like the new Life One X was somewhat of a turning point for Blu—they've always offered good phones for the price, but the LOX is a truly great phone for the money. It launched at just $99 for the first three days, which was an absolute steal; even now at $149, it's still a great deal for a phone that performs much, much better than its price suggests.
Today, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Blu pretty much confirmed my thoughts (that they're going to start offering even more bang for the buck moving forward) with the announcement of the Vivo 5 and Vivo XL.
The SHIELD TV, easily the best Android TV device available (in an admittedly very short field), will be upgraded to Android Marshmallow at some point. That was never really in question; NVIDIA has been quite good about upgrading software for its first-party Android devices, usually in a timely manner. That's not the important bit of NVIDIA's recent blog post. Nope, the important part is that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a PS3 port promised since the SHIELD TV was revealed way back in March of last year, will finally be available on Thursday.
Part of the attraction of things like laser tag and paintball is that they bring the team-based combat that's become so popular in online shooters into the real world. After some notable success with its embedded heads-up display for snowboarders, Recon Instruments (recently acquired by Intel) is bringing a modified version of the Android-based system to the enthusiast paintball market. The Empire EVS "smart mask" includes a tiny Google Glass-style display in the visor that relays various bits of battlefield information to the player.
Ford is showing off the current state of its Android Auto implementation at CES, which will roll out to current and future Sync 3-equipped cars later this year. In many ways, it matches that of other auto makers where Android Auto is sort of like an app inside of their own custom interface. However, a representative at Ford's booth explained that Sync 3 has been optimized to stay out of the way when Android Auto is running by hiding its own redundant systems like the built-in navigation and phone apps. Many other in-car systems tend to prefer their own navigation and dialer if they are opened from within the custom interfaces, but Ford will automatically launch Google Maps and Auto's own dialer, regardless of which interface you're looking at.
The Letv Max Pro is the world's first Snapdragon 820 phone. And yes, I know: many of you have no freaking clue what Letv is, and until recently, I was just like you. Letv is a Chinese consumer electronics and software company, kind of similar in some ways (though very different in others) to Xiaomi. They've built smartphones before, but the Letv Max Pro is easily the most internationally paid-attention-to device they've produced.
The reason for that has literally nothing to do with Letv: it's all about Qualcomm. The Max Pro is the first phone with a Snapdragon 820 processor, a chip enthusiasts have been eyeing intently after a dismal year, in large part, for Qualcomm's Snapdragon portfolio.
The Huawei Honor 5X's sales pitch isn't complicated, and it doesn't have to be: $199 gets you a metal-body smartphone with a fingeprint scanner, LTE, and a 5.5" 1080p display. There's no uninstallable 3rd party bloat (Twitter, Facebook, FaceTune, and Shazam can all be removed), and while it does run Android 5.1.1 with Huawei's lamentable custom UI layer, the price really does make this easier to ignore.
Is the Honor 5X the perfect smartphone for the Android enthusiast on a budget? Probably not, if I'm honest, unless you're willing to hold out for the possibility that a robust custom ROM community emerges after the handset's launch.
Kickstarter campaigns are not usually a good place to shop for your next phone. Hardware projects often end up massively delayed and the software becomes outdated before it even ships. However, Nextbit has updated its Kickstarter page with a new timeline for shipping the first finished Robin handsets—the first batch should go out on February 16th. Could it be a Kickstarter miracle?
The BlackBerry Priv is the sole option for Android users looking for a high-end phone with a physical keyboard. But, here in the States, the phone is currently only available on AT&T. Want the Priv? You need that carrier. Network not good in your area? Tough.
Except, that's about to change. BlackBerry announced at CES that the phone will soon come to the other big three carriers. T-Mobile will get the phone on January 26th. Sprint and Verizon will presumably get the device at some point after.
In BlackBerry's home country of Canada, Rogers, Bell, and Telus are all already supported.
This is HUGE. It might be the best news to come out of CES this year. Scratch that. It is the best news to come out of CES this year. Not just because it affects the way millions of people could potentially enjoy and experience TV and movies, but because it proves that when a company has enough clout and will, it can make licensing arrangements globally instead of tiptoeing around each country's policies and agencies.