We just got back from a meeting at ASUS's CES suite, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the full portfolio of the company's new Android products (apart from Padfone X, which sadly sat walled off in a glass case). Of great interest to some of you, no doubt, are the company's new ZenFone handsets. Johnny Shih, ASUS's enthusiastic chairman, announced the ZenFone 4, 5, and 6, would be priced at $99, $149, and $199, respectively.
If you know anything about ASUS, it's probably that they love to put things in other things. I'm pretty sure they pioneered putting phones inside of tablets, turning tablets into laptops, and other forms of turducken technology. In true ASUS form, the company announced not one, not two, but three new turduckentech devices yesterday: the PadFone Mini, PadFone X, and Transformer Book Duet.
As the smallest, most agile, and most affordable of the three, the PadFone Mini is ASUS' entry-level PadFone device.
Amid all the gadgets and gizmos at CES, Sony has quietly announced a new in-car entertainment system, the XSP-N1BT. It was announced so quietly, in fact, that everyone seemed to miss it until @evleaks pointed it out. It seems like Sony should have made a bigger deal, because it looks neat.
Sony understands wearables, for the company's no stranger to Bluetooth headsets, earbuds, and, more recently, smartwatches. Now it's hitting CES with a new vision of SmartWear, a.k.a, basically whatever Sony makes that can pair with a phone and fit comfortable on, or in, your body. The most interesting of the newly unveiled gadgets is the SmartBand, a FitBit Flex-style bracelet that logs your activities throughout the day. It's thin, safe to wear in the shower, and has enough battery life to last for up to five days.
Sony has two new phones to announce here at CES in Las Vegas: one specifically for the purple people over at T-Mobile, and one meant to appease users who want a premium phone without the bulk. The Xperia Z1s is T-Mobile's branded variant of the slightly older Xperia Z1. Aside from the extra letter and doubled storage, it's identical to Sony's international flagship. The Xperia Z1 Compact is a smaller 4.3" phone that keeps most of the premium features.
ASUS is breaking out its phone lineup at CES in a big way. The new "ZenFone" series is coming in 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch versions to suit just about anybody, and each one of these new devices will be sold in a variety of metallic colors. Features and specs vary a bit between models, but the basic gist is that you pick your screen size and work up from there. All of them are on the low end and aimed at price-conscious buyers.
Samsung is not letting us down with its CES announcements despite Mobile World Congress just over the horizon. The South Korean company has revealed the new larger 12.2-inch Galaxy NotePRO tablet and three sizes of the new Galaxy TabPRO – 12.2, 10.1, And 8.4-Inches. They all run the newest version of Android with Samsung's UX changes, and will come with a huge package of premium content and services too.
Get this - dedicated GPS units are still a thing. Not only do they still exist, people are still buying them. So with these two things being true, Magellan has announced a new line of RoadMate GPS units running Android. These products aim to address a key advantage smartphones have had over their more-focused counterparts, their highly responsive screens. The company is now bringing the finger-friendly capacitive screens they've reserved for high-end models down to a more affordable level.
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.
Asus likes to explore unusual designs for its Android devices, as one look at the Padfone X will tell you. Another fresh take on mobile devices announced at CES comes in the form of the Asus Transformer Book Duet. This is a convertible laptop/tablet hybrid that dual-boots Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2. It also packs some serious laptop-grade hardware.