This week saw the Consumer Electronics Show — or CES — take place in Las Vegas, an annual gathering of the technology industry to show off the latest and greatest. As with recent years, a big focus has been on Android and the evolving smartphone and tablet landscape. In this special edition of This Week In Android, we’re going to take a look at some of the show’s big announcements and call out a few of our favourites.
We’re going to kick off coverage of CES with one of the more exciting announcements of the show: NVIDIA’s Project Shield.
Project Shield is a portable gaming system running on pure, stock Android. With a Tegra 4 chip inside — NVIDIA’s newly announced quad-core mobile processor — and a 5-inch 720p display, the console is an exciting development in the world of Android gaming that can output games to a TV in up to 4k quality.
Availability details aren’t exactly plentiful. Some reports have said the device will be made available in the US and Canada sometime in Q2 with a worldwide rollout following suite, but no pricing has been announced, outside of NVIDIA hinting that it won’t be cheap or sold as a loss leader.
Sony Xperia Z and Xperia ZL
Sony’s leaked Xperia Z and Xperia ZL were far from secret prior to CES, but the company used the tradeshow to make the devices official.
Available globally later in the first quarter of this year, the Xperia Z and ZL are both powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor with an impressive 2GB of RAM, running a 5-inch, 1920px x 1080px display. The 13mp camera will yield some high-quality shots, and LTE connectivity will make sharing them a breeze. NFC is also included.
The Xperia Z lives in a carbon fibre body that is claimed to be both water and dust resistant, while the ZL uses plastic but sports a dedicated camera button.
The new members of the Xperia family.
Sony also started talking about leaving the entry-level tier, instead taking an Apple-style approach by focusing on premium devices. Xperia product marketing manager, Stephen Sneeden said, “we’re ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the ‘Sonyness’”.
In our coverage of CES 2012, we highlighted the i’m watch, an Android-powered smart watch. Fans of the form factor won’t be disappointed with this year’s announcements as the Kickstarter-born Pebble watch was finally given a definite release date.
Backers of the Pebble’s original Kickstarter campaign — which surpassed its $100,000 goal to raise $10,266,845! — will receive their product after shipping starts on January 23rd. Production was ramped up to 15,000 units per week, and you can still preorder your Pebble from the device’s website.
The Pebble smart watch.
Samsung’s Flexible OLED
Samsung didn’t spam CES with a ton of new Android announcements, but they did show off something interesting in the world of hardware. Samsung demoed a functional flexible 5-inch, 720p OLED display that wraps around the sides of the test device.
Samsung’s flexible OLED display in action. (Image courtesy of The Verge)
Archos TV Connect and GamePad
The TV space is a very interesting area to watch right now. With rumoured TV consoles on the horizon from Sony and Microsoft, constant talk of an Apple TV and a big focus on PC gaming through a TV set from Valve, the market is still emerging and far from saturated.
Archos came to CES with its TV connect device, a Google-certified Android 4.1 device that throws the tablet UI of stock Android up on your TV and offers access to the Play store. Archos’ device lives on top of your TV set and connects with a QWERTY-equipped controller.
The TV Connect will go on sale in February at a cost of $129.99 and, with dual-analogue sticks, might be a great idea for mobile gamers.
Archos TV Connect
Archos also announced the Archos GamePad, a separate device that, at $169.99, provides a handheld console experience reminiscent of a PS Vita. The GamePad runs Android 4.1 on a dual-core 1.6GHz processor, a quad-core MALI 400 GPU and 1GB of RAM.
ZTE Grand S
ZTE used CES to announce a 5-inch 1080p smartphone, the ZTE Grand S. Equipped with a 1.7GHz quad-core S4 processor, a 13-megapixel rear-camera, 2GB of RAM, LTE and NFC, the phone will launch in China in Q1. Reports suggest the phone may go on to launch in Europe and Asia by Q2.
The ZTE Grand S.
Nexus 7 Dock to Launch
The release of the ASUS Nexus 7 Dock has finally been announced, some six months after the initial release of the tablet. The dock will charge your tablet and provide users with a 3.5mm audio output jack.
You’ll be able to pick one up soon for $39.99 in the US or £24.99 in the US — the original UK price was originally reported as a whopping £79 but that has since been clarified.
Nexus 7 Dock.
Samsung’s Android Fridge
Instead of announcing any phones or tablets, Samsung used CES to announce the obvious home of Android: the fridge. The Samsung T9000 is a $4,000 fridge-freezer that runs Android on a 10-inch display.
Naturally, you can install all apps that are relevant to the culinary process: photo galleries, cookery apps or your favourite email client! You can register your interest for the fridge right now.
Samsung’s T9000. (Image courtesy of Engadget)
Vizio’s 10-inch Tablet
There weren’t an awful lot of tablet announcements at the show, and only a few that particularly stood out. Perhaps the most newsworthy is Vizio’s 10-inch tablet because of its processor, the Tegra 4.
At launch, the device will run Jelly Bean on its 10.1-inch, 2560px x 1600px display. The tablet sports 32GB of internal storage, front and rear cameras and the standard set of ports and connectivity.
Vizio’s new tablet. (Image courtesy of The Verge)
Polaroid’s Android Camera
Polaroid announced the iM1836 at CES. This mouthful of a name refers to an android-powered camera that includes the ability to change lenses. The mirrorless body wields an impressive 18.1 megapixels camera, a 3.5″ display and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The device will cost $399 when it goes on sale in stores in the first quarter of the year.
Polaroid’s Ice Cream Sandwich camera.
CES is always an interesting time for any device category, and with products across categories being announced, this year wasn’t too bad. Have a favourite announcement from the show? Let us know in the comments!