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.
We've had a chance to spend some significant time with the Huawei Mate 8 in the last 24 hours, and so I felt an intial impressions post was warranted. The "space gray" (yes, really) 32GB unit I've been using is technically preproduction per Huawei's own disclaimer, though the software feels largely finished and the phone physically feels ready for sale.
The Mate 8, by the way, is not a phone you'll be seeing in America. Huawei has taken a pretty careful approach in regard to its US device launches, and its most expensive handsets generally never make it here through any official channels.
CES always seems to have at least one major trend at the trade show, and this year's hot ticket is virtual reality. With a new HTC Vive headset, the announcement of the Oculus Rift's pricey consumer model, and all manner of smaller announcements, it's safe to say that VR is the belle of the ball on the show floor. But all of them have one thing in common: you can't fit them in a pocket. Even Google's super-cheap Cardboard system is about the size of a dSLR camera when assembled. Case maker Speck thinks it's solved that problem with a new design, which is about the same size as a phone.
HTC raised more than a few eyebrows when it announced the Vive, a VR headset that ostensibly competes with the more well-known Oculus Rift. But far from being some one-off excursion like the Re Camera, the Vive has gained critical acclaim from those who've had access to its pre-production developer units, and HTC's partnership with Valve gives the company an in with one of the gaming industry's most influential players. At CES 2016, HTC revealed a new model, the Vive Pre, with some very interesting additions to the original.
On top of some ergonomic adjustments for more comfortable wear, the Vive Pre adds a front-facing camera to the design, which allows for easy viewing of the real world without having to remove the headset.
We had a few minutes with the new Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 after Huawei's CES press conference this morning, and here's the rundown on the upcoming slate. This isn't Huawei's first tablet, but it may well be their first particularly respectable one. While it does appear it will ship with Android 5.1.1 - everyone sigh collectively - the tablet itself feels like a reasonably nice piece of hardware.
In its most basic form, the M2 comes with a modest 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, which is what we played with today. But 3GB/64GB models will also be sold, plus LTE variants, and ones with Huawei's Surface-esque stylus accessory, the M-Pen.
When it comes to fitness bands, Fitbit is the name to beat. But with new smartwatches from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Pebble all touting some degree of activity tracking, the company knows the competition comes in more forms than the bracelets Misfit and Jawbone strap onto the wrists of athletic people.
Fitbit has experimented with watch-like devices for a couple years, starting with the Force, which was ultimately recalled. Fitbit replaced that product with the largely identical Charge. Now it's making a smartwatch that looks less like an activity tracker and more like the Asus Zenwatch or the Apple Watch.
Most of the Android Wear devices out there are similar takes on the same use case, but watchmaker Casio is trying something a little different. The Casio Smart Outdoor Watch (WSD-F10) is an Android Wear device with sport watch styling and a seriously rugged design. It can even run for as long as a month in basic monochrome mode. It might not be a watch you wear every day, but outdoorsy folks might really dig it.
Companies want us to perceive their products in a certain way. We hardly agree with them, but sometimes we oblige their marketing taglines. Creative has come to CES with a particularly bold one. The company believes its new iRoar speaker is the most intelligent speaker on the planet.
Qualcomm gave a brief reveal of the upcoming Letv Max Pro smartphone, the first announced device equipped with the company's Snapdragon 820 processor. Few details about the phone were provided - basically none - but we know it has an 820, Qualcomm's nifty ultrasonic fingerprint authentication system (it's on the back of the phone), and WiFi 802.11ad, also known as WiGig.
Qualcomm provided a few updates on Snapdragon 820 generally, saying the chip has secured over 80 design wins at this point, which is no small number for such a powerful - and pricey - mobile SoC.
The Letv Max Pro remains largely a mystery until we hear more from Letv themselves, though Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkompf did briefly show off what looked like a functional device on stage.
Huawei's latest flagship phone is official, but you won't be able to get it in the US. That didn't stop Huawei from showing off the new Mate 8 at CES today. It will, however, launch in more than two dozen countries in the first wave starting now. Pricing will vary by region, but it won't be cheap. The base 32GB model is about €599 with a 64GB upgrade for €699. Maybe that'll seem worth it when you learn this phone has a massive 4000mAh battery.