As you may well know by now, Samsung launched a whole bunch o' tablets at CES this week, and by a bunch, I mean 4. The new Tab Pro 8.5, 10.1, and 12.2, and the new Note Pro 12.2. Four tablets, three sizes, two processors (Exynos 5 Octa or Snapdragon 800), and one screen resolution (2560x1600).
These are the first high-end tablets Samsung has produced for a couple of years (aside from the Nexus 10, of course), and it seems like after two budget-minded generations of Galaxy Tabs, they're finally ready to give the more expensive end of the market a try again.
While we flew back home yesterday, today officially marks the end of 2014's don't-call-it-the-Consumer-Electronics-Show (seriously, check out the "note to editors" on any official CES press release). Another year of crazy gadgets, an almost inappropriately huge number of televisions, and a whole lot of white particle board walls. I generally look forward to going to most tech conventions - MWC, IFA, GDC, and Google I/O. CES is the one I've grown to have mixed feelings about - it's frantic, almost inconceivably large, and increasingly straining to retain its relevance to the mobile industry.
A 6.8" phone? Madness, you say? Not according to Hisense - the company has unveiled one of the largest smartphones to date at CES in Las Vegas this week, dubbed the X1. It's 6.8" full HD LCD panel is certainly something to behold, and may manage to put the phone outside of the "pocketable" category phones like the Xperia Z Ultra just barely manage to eek into. Of course, it's no FonePad, so it may also be the perfect size for a few niche buyers out there, though I can't really see much mainstream appeal here, at least in western markets.
One of the cooler things that went a bit unnoticed at this years CES was, without a doubt, Sony's all-new XSP-N1BT automotive stereo head unit. No, it's not exactly the most exciting name in the world, but Android enthusiasts may be snatching up this double DIN unit with great enthusiasm when it arrives in May for $250 for one reason: in consort with Sony's control app, it turns your Android smartphone into a touchscreen control unit for your car stereo.
When it comes to big things happening at CES, Fuhu isn't really the first name that comes to mind. Understandably so, as it's a small, niche company. But don't sell it short, either – these guys have been hard at work and have some great-looking products set for release in 2014.
We spent some time in the Fuhu suite yesterday here at CES in Las Vegas, where company representatives walked us through some of the upcoming products and accessories that we can expect to see later this year.
Update: According to this post on Engadget, the Hisense X1 is slated to come to the United States in the second quarter of this year. The company will sell the X1 under the "Sliver" brand as an unlocked handset, and they are reportedly pursuing carrier partnerships as well.
The likes of HTC and Samsung have been pushing phones to larger and larger dimensions for years, but humble Chinese manufacturer Hisense is about to shoot for the moon.
Sony is a huge electronics and media company, so of course they aren't limiting their CES presence to phones. But there's one item that should be of interest to Android gamers: PlayStation Now. This newly-announced service will stream PlayStation games over the Internet to compatible hardware, and includes more than just PlayStation consoles. Sony explicitly announced support for the PS3, PS4, PS Vita, and certain Bravia televisions at CES, but the presentation and press materials say that support for phones and tablets will come eventually.
The Play Store is brimming with alternative home screens, but Aviate was far and away one of the most impressive we saw last year. This beautifully designed launcher takes a completely different approach to organizing your apps and data. Apparently Yahoo was just as impressed as we were because the company just announced at CES that it has acquired Aviate.
In case you missed it, Aviate tracks your usage patterns and groups apps into categories that are presented to you based on the time of day and your location.
Qualcomm wants you to imagine a world where your mobile device is always connected. No, not that phone in your pocket. Nope, not that tablet either. Bigger. That 3,000 lb. mobile device sitting the driveway. Imagine a vehicle with a screen embedded both in your dashboard and behind every headrest, all syncing up with the screens that sit in every lap except for, ideally, the driver's.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon Automotive Solutions offering combines a Snapdragon 602A processor with QTI's 3G/LTE wireless modems and WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity to provide this connected in-car experience.
We've already discussed ASUS' fun-loving ZenFone and PadFone Mini, but for those who want a little more out of their gadgets-that-do-more-than-just-one-thing, the Transformer Book Duet should be worth a look. ASUS calls its "four devices in one" since it's an Android tablet, Android laptop, Windows tablet, and Windows laptop, but you can take that for what it's worth – I think it's kind of pushing it. It's just a tablet and a laptop, silly marketing people.