Android Automotive remains something of an obscurity, but companies are still happy to tout their latest progress with the platform (or something like it), especially on a stage as large as CES 2018. Before we get to that, it's probably worthwhile to distinguish between Android Automotive and Android Auto: Android Automotive is a standalone, in-vehicle infotainment and control system running Android — basically Android OS for your car. This is a more appealing proposition than the rather laggy experience that is Android Auto, which just projects what's on your phone to an interface that sits in your car.
When the Google Assitant SDK was announced back in April, we knew it would only be a matter of time before we saw third party speakers with the Assistant built in. Google has announced the first three of those speakers at IFA 2017 in Berlin, and we can expect to learn more about them over the next few days.
Well, this is a bit surprising. Fiat Chrysler and Google announced a collaboration earlier this week to create a new Android-based automotive infotainment system — now Panasonic Automotive and Qualcomm are joining forces to create another one. They are touting this concept as "next-generation," whatever that means anymore.
Over the years, we've seen many companies release Android-based cameras or camera-like phones. Panasonic's Lumix CM1 was part of the latter category and the newly announced CM10 is its twin, except it doesn't place calls. That's almost all the difference there is between these two models.
The Lumix CM10's claim to fame is its 28mm F/2.8 Leica DC lens with 1-inch CMOS image sensor and manual focus ring that can take photos at a resolution of 20MP and videos at up to 4K. The rest of the CM10's specs are quite underwhelming, but they're not necessarily what you look at when buying this camera.
Panasonic is one of the world's largest TV manufacturers. The company also makes other gadgets, including smartphones, though no one would blame you if you haven't heard of any of its handsets. I mean, how many people ran out to buy this cordless phone? And who had the money to spend on a LUMIX CM1?
But Panasonic has produced and sold a few low-end smartphones priced below 5,000 rupees in India. Now it is launching a device costing 10,999 called the Eluga Icon, the latest entry in a line of handsets that began in 2012.
The Panasonic LUMIX CM1 is a strange beast: it's an Android phone with a huge focus on photography, a la the Galaxy S4 Zoom. But unlike that rather mid-range device (both in terms of Android hardware and photography prowess), the CM1 features a massive 1-inch, 20-megapixel camera sensor with a Leica 28mm F/2.8 lens and... dramatic pause... a manual focus ring. When it was announced at the Photokina trade show last year, Panasonic made it very clear that the LUMIX Smart Camera DSC-CM1 was only for the European market.
According to Gizmodo, that's changing this year. The technology blog says that the CM1 will be headed stateside in an unlocked GSM form "sometime this summer" for $1000 USD.
Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Zoom phones haven't exactly been a runaway hit. Maybe it's because no one really wants a massive camera strapped to the back of their phone, or maybe it's because they're lumpy and expensive. Whatever the case might be, Panasonic is throwing its hat into the super powerful phone-camera with the LUMIX Smart Camera DSC-CM1, a gorgeous little point and shoot that hides a full Android phone (including calls and data) on its back end.
The phone portion of the CM1 is relatively high-end, with a 2.3Ghz Snapdragon 800 processor, a 4.7-inch 1080p screen, 2GB of RAM, and a surprisingly unskinned version of KitKat.
Panasonic's KX-PRX120, besides having a sexy name, is quite the handset. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich, has access to the Play Store, and sports a 3.5 inch touch-screen that would not look out on place on display next to any other budget smartphone. The thing is, buyers won't want to tote it around town. This digital cordless phone is too timid for that lifestyle and works best within the confines of its own home.
Consider this a premium cordless phone for people who still, well, need dedicated landlines and perhaps lack access to a smartphone with the same functionality. It's a smartphone for people who don't need, like, or want smartphones.
In case there was any doubt that 5 inches is the new standard for Android superphones, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has removed all of it with a new hardware series. Right at the top of the list is a new device from Panasonic in their relatively young Eluga family, this one christened the ELUGA X P-O2E. The 5-inch LCD screen is naturally 1080p, and hides a 1.5Ghz quad-core Snapdragon Pro processor, and a 13.2 megapixel camera. Colors are a flat black and a more interesting teal, as seen below.
Other specifications include an increasingly pedestrian battery capacity of 2320mAh, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with a little over 8 dedicated to the system), LTE, and Android 4.1.
Taking a new approach to firmware upgrades, Panasonic has decided to update its Eluga handset to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich via a downloadable Play Store app appropriately named 'ELUGA ICS Update.'
For those who don't remember, the Eluga is a little-talked-about handset that debuted in Spring 2012 in Europe and Japan, touting a waterproof and dustproof chassis.
According to its description, Panasonic's update app "connects to Panasonic download server [sic] and downloads the Ice Cream Sandwich software update." Of course, many of us are familiar with what improvements Ice Cream Sandwich brings over Gingerbread 2.3.x, but Panasonic emphasizes the new "powerful new features" of its custom skin as well, listing the lock screen, status bar, home screen, and app drawer as areas of improvement with the update.