What to Expect at CES 2011

In two days, CES 2011 will begin. The event which lasts from January 6th to 9th will bring together most of the top players in the world of consumer electronics, including cellphone manufacturers and cellular carriers. If you are into wireless news, this is one Consumer Electronics Show that you will want to keep tabs on. Here is a rundown on what to look forward to starting this Thursday.

Verizon Wireless and 4G LTE

Verizon Wireless is working on deploying its 4G network across the country. While a number of large markets already have 4G service available for laptop cards, there simply are no 4G handsets available yet for the network. Get ready for Verizon to announce more than one. And yes, they will all be running Google’s Android operating system.

Remember, that’s 4G LTE, not just 4G. Verizon wants you to know the difference because its service can compete with your home’s wired Internet connection in the speed department and uses different technology than Sprint’s 4G network and T-Mobile’s 4G network. Don’t worry, AT&T will be jumping aboard the LTE ship itself later this year and rolling out its own network through 2012. LTE stands for long term evolution in case you were wondering and yes, the phase does mean something. LTE technology will eventually be upgradeable to faster speeds.

Rumors claim a camera capable of 1080p video recording will be inside the Thunderbolt from HTC.

The models expected to be unveiled include one from Motorola and one from HTC. HTC’s is expected to be called the Thunderbolt. The ‘4G’ label may or may not be tacked on at the end. Motorola’s is going by the codename Etna at the moment and is identical to AT&T’s coming Olympus but with a 4G LTE compatible radio inside. AT&T’s model lacks one due to the cost and the fact that by the time the carrier’s network is ready for 4G LTE, newer, faster phones will be on the market.

HP Announcing the PalmPad Tablet

Palm fans may now rejoice.

Things have been mighty quiet over in the Palm/HP camp lately but that should all change soon. According to Fox News, which received a spec sheet and information on the PalmPad from a “trusted source,” HP will unveil its first tablet at CES. Not just one either—three different PalmPad models will be shown at the event. A fourth model will eventually be released that is designed for college students. All of them will run HP webOS 2.5.1. Here are the specs that are known about the PalmPad so far:

An approximately 9.7 or 10-inch touchscreen “nearly identical” to the one in the iPad will be found in the three PalmPads that will make an appearance at CES.

The “university version” of the PalmPad will feature a smaller, 8.9-inch touchscreen and will have custom software loaded onto it for students.

The PalmPads will harness Sprint’s 4G network for much faster browsing than is possible through 3G networks.

Mini HDMI output and USB 3.0 connectivity will be found inside of the PalmPad.

Both front and rear facing cameras with LED flashes at 1.3 and 3 megapixels respectively will make the PalmPad a video calling and augmented reality capable tablet.

March 2011 is the expected release date for the PalmPad.

The Dual-core Processor Era

2011 will be the year of dual-core processors in smartphones and tablets. Expect many of the new devices being unveiled at the event to sport two processor cores. A lot of hype has surrounded NIVIDA’s Tegra 2 chipset, which features a dual-core processor, NIVIDA’s own 3D accelerator chip for mobile devices and 1080p output abilities. However, more processor makers than just NIVIDA will be trying to catch your attention and your wallet with their dual-core offerings. Keep your eyes peeled.

How much faster are dual-core processors? Take a gander at this simple, unscientific speed comparison between the LG Optimus 2X (the first smartphone with the Tegra 2 inside) and the iPhone 4:

 

And yes, the rumors are saying that the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5 will both be dual-core. Keep your fingers crossed…

Vizio Entering the Smartphone and Tablet Market

Vizio wants in on the smartphone market.

Vizio is not satisfied with just its televisions occupying a spot in your living room; it wants more. A lot more actually. The company will show off two new products at CES this year: the Via Phone and the Via Tablet. Both devices are powered by 1 GHz processors and have HDMI out and microSD card slots. The Via Phone features a 4” touchscreen, a rear-facing, five megapixel camera with HD video recording, a front-facing camera for video calling, and the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options. The Via Tablet has an 8” touchscreen, a front-facing camera for video calling, three separate speakers and its own GPS unit inside.

Can Vizio break into the highly competitive smartphone and tablet markets? It might have an unexpected boost that could really help it out in the minds of mainstream consumers.

Both the Via phone and tablet feature the highest performance coupled with innovative features that tie them into the media consumption experience. And by integrating the Via Plus user experience also found on our next-generation TVs and Blu-ray devices, Vizio is delivering the multi-screen, unified ecosystem others have talked about for years and never delivered,” says Vizio’s Chief Technology Officer, Matthew McRae.

Could Vizio be planning on creating its own type of AirPlay to make the integration between smartphones, televisions, tablets and entertainment systems a walk in the park? Food for thought.

Motorola Taking a Shot at the iPad

Motorola has been hard at work making a tablet that can actually offer the iPad some real competition. The Galaxy Tab was a semi-decent attempt but as the sales figures have shown—the Galaxy Tab passed the one million sales mark at the beginning of December—it can’t hold a candle to the iPad despite the popularity of Samsung’s Galaxy S series of smartphones.

While little is known about Motorola’s tablet yet, we do know that it is a 10-incher and will run Android ‘Honeycomb’. Honeycomb is expected to be given the version number 3.0 or 2.5 and is the first version of Android specifically written for better tablet support. Between Motorola’s knowhow and the new OS, Android could finally have a champion ready to knock the iPad down a peg or two.

Get ready for a lot of fun and ultimately better tablets at better prices when the dust settles.

What You May See at CES

  1. Smartphones capable of recording 1080p video.
  2. A PlayStation Phone from Sony Ericsson (probably called the Xperia Play).
  3. Samsung launching its own Google TV device despite the platform’s poor reviews and Google’s efforts to keep anyone else from making one until it can fix the whole system.
  4. Microsoft unveiling its own TV device to compete against Google TV and Apple TV (it’s on the way, but no firm timeline yet).

What You Won’t See at CES

Repeat after me: “No Verizon iPhone.” Sorry but it’s the truth. Here’s the reason in list form.

  1. Apple doesn’t attend CES events.
  2. Verizon wants to talk about its 4G network and the Android smartphones coming out that work on it at CES.
  3. Steve Jobs will want an event dedicated solely to himself the Verizon iPhone to create the proper furor.

You think people are crazy lining up outside of AT&T stores for new iPhone models? Let’s hope no one is trampled to death, screaming concert fan style, trying to get their iPhone fix on Verizon’s network come release day. Can we call that day V-Day? Verizon’s logo might not be the only thing stained red when all is said and done (read: sidewalks).

Tags: , , , ,