CES Round-Up

CES Round-Up

A flurry of new smartphones, tablets and gadgets were unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, with wireless carriers taking center stage, touting their new 4G products.

AT&T introduced its first 4G smartphones. The Samsung Infuse features a gigantic 4.5-inch touch screen — the carrier’s largest ever — blurring the line between smartphones and tablets, while the Motorola Atrix promised speedy performance, integrating a 1-gigahertz dual-core processor and 1-gigabytes of RAM. HTC also announced the Inspire. All three run on Google’s Android software. AT&ampT also unveiled a wireless “pill cap” that uses its service to remind patients to take their medication.

Verizon fired back, annoucing four new 4G smartphones — the HTC Thunderbolt, LG Revolution, Samsung 4G LTE and Motorola Droid Bionic — and two tablets — the Motorola Xoom tablet, one of the first tablets to run on Google’s Android 3.0 software, known as “Honeycomb,” and a 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. All the devices run on Google’s Android mobile operating system and are compatible with its new 4G LTE network.

T-Mobile, which plans to double the speed of its 4G service by mid-year, said it will release at least 25 4G devices in 2011. It showed off the LG G-Slate, another 4G tablet to run on Honeycomb, optimized for the larger-screen devices, as well as the Dell Streak 7, a larger version of the tablet it released in the summer. The carrier will also launch the rather mediocre Motorola Cliq 2, a mid-tier 4G phone with a slide-out keyboard.

Sprint was rather quiet on new smartphones, but announced that it will release a 4G version of Research in Motion’s upcoming PlayBook tablet in the summer.

But, of course, none of the carriers really run on 4G. They just call it that. They’re actually 3.5G.

Sony Ericsson revealed the Xperia Arc, an ultra-slim Android smartphone, measuring less than 9-millimeters, and featuring Sony’s Bravia Engine for enhanced color, contrast and sharpness. But it was LG that set the new record for the world’s slimmest phone. The Optimus Black beat out the iPhone 4 for the title.

Tablets were also in full-force.

TV maker Vizio officially entered the mobile area, unveiling its first tablet, the Via Tablet — an 8.0-inch device with a front-facing camera for video conferencing — and its first smartphone, the Via Phone — offering a 4.0-inch screen, a 5.0-megapixel camera and a front-facing lens for video calls. Both products run on Android.

Panasonic showed off a series of Viera tablets, which double as remote controls for Internet-connected televisions, allowing users to preview what to watch before sending it to the big screen.

Asus, the maker of low-priced notebooks, said that it will sell four “Eee” tablets, ranging from 12.1- to 7.1-inches, later this month.

Lenovo unveiled its IdeaPad Slate tablet, a 10.1-inch tablet-laptop hybrid with a detatchable screen.

Hewlett-Packard was missing. But it sent out invitations for an event next month, widely-expected to be the unveiling of its PalmPad tablet, or Pre smartphones.

While Microsoft was a comparatively muted presence at CES, the company did introduce a new version of its Surface table-top computer, complete with 40-inch touchscreen display.

And in the future of television, Vudu introduced a streaming 3D movie service, allowing customers with 3D equipment to rent films for $7 apiece.

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