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CES 2012 Round-up: A Whole Bunch of the Same Alongside One Shining 7″ Quad-core Tablet

CES

The DL team left Las Vegas Friday afternoon, after a week long journey from press room to convention center to booth to party to bed to everything all over again. It was the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in case you were wondering – a gathering of 140,000+ tech industry players, that happens every year in the desert. It’s a time for companies to tell the world what they have in store for the coming year. Some of it “wows!” while most of it leaves you wondering why on Earth anyone would ever need such a product. This year, we had had one from that first category, followed by a bunch of stuff that a few may need, and most may never lose any sleep over not having. 

 Star of the Entire Show

During NVIDIA’s press event last Monday, they invited Asus onto the stage to unveil a new product called the Memo 370T. What could be so special about another 7″ Android tablet? Well, it just so happens to have NVIDIA’s new Tegra 3 quad-core processor on the inside, an IPS display, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, an HDMI port, rear camera, and weighs next to nothing. Again, you ask, “Why do we care?” Because Asus plans to introduce this tablet at $249.

In an era where tablet manufacturers think that they can’t succeed unless they tie their products to carriers and paste ridiculously high prices onto them, Asus is going to prove them all wrong. The name may be unofficial, along with the final build, but all signs point to this puppy landing in Q2 of this year. Dear Motorola and Samsung, please take note.

Best Phone

At a CES filled with a handful of phones that failed to surprise or blow anyone away, there was one that stood out above them all and that was the DROID RAZR MAXX (our hands-on) by Motorola. Sure, it runs Blur, has a locked bootloader, and looks identical to the RAZR that was released only a few weeks ago, but the highlight here is the battery. Motorola packed in a 3300mAh battery into this device, yet managed to keep it under 9mm in thickness. For reference, you can’t even buy a 3300mAh battery as an extended for most phones.

And while most of us that picked up the original RAZR feel completely insulted by this release and like we deserve an apology or the opportunity to trade ours in for this battery beast, we can still admit that this device is impressive.

A Whole Bunch of Shoulder-Shruggers

After the Memo 370T and the RAZR MAXX, we were left with a whole bunch of products that looked nice and will likely perform at top tier levels, only none of them broke new ground on any front. We had the LG Spectrum (our hands-on) and its 4.5″ IPS HD display, dual-core processor, and wallet-friendly $199 price. On paper this phone would have made the world drool in 2011. Heading into 2012 though, it just feels like another skinned dual-core LTE device that isn’t running Ice Cream Sandwich.

Followed by the Spectrum, we had a couple of additions to the DROID lineup thanks to Motorola. The first is a purple version of the RAZR (gallery) that is identical to the original RAZR, only it has a purple exterior. Nothing you haven’t seen before. Moto also introduced the DROID 4 (our hands-on) though, as the world’s thinnest 4G LTE slider. We know that many of you have been waiting almost 2 years for this device, but after just a few minutes with it, we came away feeling on the fence. Sure it’s nice to have a dual-core processor, keyboard and LTE in one package, however, it just feel like it needed a little something extra.

Then we had the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 LTE (our hands-on), which for the most part, is one of the more impressive tablets we have seen to date. It is incredibly thin, has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, vibrant Super AMOLED Plus screen, and dual cameras. The only thing not “wowing” us with this new Tab, is the fact that it is tied to a carrier which likely means a bloated, sky-high price tag on a 2-year contract. This is another of those that we hope goes WiFi-only in the near future.

Asus may have stolen the show with their 7″ quad-core tablet, but they certainly pissed off every single new Transformer Prime owner when they announced an upgraded model that has fully working GPS and WiFi. Petitions, social attacks and all of that fun is already under way.

Acer announced their first quad-core tablet which should drop at a reasonable price, that is if they follow their original Iconia Tab model.

Toshiba unveiled their 2012 lineup of tablets in a variety of sizes including a 13.3-inch behemoth. Their Excite X10, which will be the first of them all to hit stores, currently holds the title of “world’s thinnest tablet.” Overall, we liked what we saw from Toshiba, but again, we kept waiting to be blown away by some ground-breaking new tech. You can view our quick write-up on their tablets here.

Fujitsu had the world’s first Tegra 3 on display, only it was locked up tight behind a box as a “prototype.” There is an above average chance that we will see it at Mobile World Congress (MWC) next month in a more finalized state, but at CES, it was tough to really have any strong impressions of it one way or another.

Random Stuff

 

We got our hands on the Galaxy Nexus portrait dock while hangin’ with Samsung. Unfortunately, they could not give us a date as to when it would be released. We handed them our contact info and they hit us back by the end of the week with a “it should be available now at the Samsung store.” Of course, we all know that not to be the case.

Motorola announced that it would release far fewer phones this year and focus more on marketing better products. They also announced a new multi-year partnership with Intel to be able to include their Atom processors in Moto phones. The jury is still out on whether or not this means much, but I think we all know the history of Intel and the fact that this could be a game changer down the road. And speaking of Intel, we went hands-on with their “Medfield” developer phone. It was nice, for a developer kit.

The folks at I’m Watch finally showed off their Android watch product – we were not all that impressed. Being Italian, it had plenty of style. Other than style though, it lacked any sort of speed or OS polish and was a lag monster.

Gorilla Glass 2’s strength was put on display. We captured the demo on video.

Completely Random CES Notes

  • On a completely random note, Motorola interviewed us briefly at their booth, asking what we love about Android. Let’s just say that the video will likely never go public after I tossed in “unlocking bootloaders” within the first 20 seconds. :)
  • Two booth girls from Wicked Audio nabbed us to try and sell us on the quality of their headphones when compared to Skull Candy’s. It took me an extra listen before I could tell the difference during their blind sound test, but Tato got it wrong. Boy was that booth girl not happy with him.
  • The number of times you get run into at CES by people walking with their head down, staring at their smartphone is uncountable.
  • Tato made it into the Intel press event, but I was locked out after sitting through LG’s entire presentation. He had saved me a seat, but when they shut everyone else out, he moved over onto the seat he was saving for me to let a girl take his spot. This was also right next to our pal Phil from Android Central. At the end of the event, Intel announced that they had stashed 50 Asus Zenbook ultrabooks under select seats for press to take home. The Zenbook was under Tim’s chair. I was jealous all week until Friday when Tim found a card in the box that read “this is a loaner and is not yours to keep.”
  • Justin Bieber made an appearance, and we ran into a couple of our fellow industry personalities who were ecstatic about the news, even bragging about getting pictures with him. We will do our best to keep their names from this post. Love you guys!
  • Say Media threw one of the better parties of the week at the Mirage’s 1Oak nightclub, even introducing an indie band named GIVERS. As a predominantly older crowd, their 5 song encore was not exactly accepted by the entire room. While there were no boos, calls for the DJ to return could be heard in dark corners…or just next to us at the bar.
  • Dear dueling pianists at the Palazzo, talking trash to the tiny crowd because they aren’t digging your rendition of Katy’s Perry’s “Fireworks” is not going to fill that tip jar.

Final Thoughts

Again, the star of the show was clearly the Asus $250 tablet. We talked about it constantly throughout most of the week. After that, we saw a handful of nice products that will likely never create as much buzz as I think these companies think they will. Most of our focus is now on MWC in February, where the world will focus all of their attention on Samsung and the possible unveiling of the Galaxy SIII. Also, a number of companies kept asking us if were going to be at MWC as they had saved some of their spice for it.

So overall, CES 2012 was another fun time as a tech geek, but it just didn’t have the same buzz as 2011 where we saw LTE, dual-core processors, Honeycomb, Android tablets and so much more for the first time. Here’s to hoping MWC brings it.

  • Nosgoth1979

    The quad-core Asus tablet looks good—great, even—at that price-point. But I’m not sure I’d agree that it was the star of the show. Not with all the other great stuff shown there. There were some beautiful new TVs there, and the new Audi HUD, although it’s still pretty early, looks like it’s going to be awesome. My favorite though, was DISH’s new DVR: the Hopper. I’ve been hoping DISH would come out with a whole home DVR for some time now, and from the other people I’ve talked to in my time working for DISH, I know I’m not the only one. But the Hopper looks like it’s definitely going to be worth the wait with it’s enormous hard-drive, and ability to record up to six shows at once with the PrimeTime Anytime feature. I can’t wait to get one.

  • Davros

    Like the random notes, and still wonder if Kelex and Tato are in this pic from the Samsung event.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/samsungces2012images/6671465727/lightbox/

  • Anonymous

    Was definitely a let down considering we had been hearing so much about quad core phones and we really didn’t see much.  Although I’m not surprised strangely enough because I’ve always said quad core phones are pointless right now, we’re just scratching the surface of using dual cores.  

    Despite Motorola’s multiple failures this year, I think they showed their best at CES by putting a 3300mAh battery in a very thin device, which is exactly what we need right now.  Sadly they put it in the Razr and not something new.

    Once other companies start doing the same, we’ll be looking at some dramatically improved battery life, which will really free us from constant charging with LTE devices with large screens. 

  • http://quiklives.tumblr.com quiklives

    My thoughts on tablets at this point: I had a Nook Color running CM7, and it was great. It’s a bit underpowered and there was some lag, and I missed having cameras on it, but the form factor was perfect for me, the battery life was great, and there are/were tons of accessories so I found a case that I really, really loved. 

    Eventually I got tired of the lag and limitations and sold it, and bought an Iconia A500, which I still have. It’s nice, quite fast, camera quality is fine, battery is just ok though, and the 10″ form factor just doesn’t work as well for me. I found a case that works, but it’s not as nice as the one I had for the NC.

    As for this one, I don’t NEED a quad-core tablet, I’d rather have the battery life, and the A500 is plenty fast without it. 

    I know 7″ isn’t the most popular form factor, but it’s the best one for me in terms of portability and for how it feels in my hands. What I want is that Google tablet that was teased a week or two ago, 7″, running unskinned ICS…basically a Nexus tablet. It would be great if they made a 10″ version too because it’s so popular, but where can I sign up for the 7″ one?

  • http://quiklives.tumblr.com quiklives

    My thoughts on tablets at this point: I had a Nook Color running CM7, and it was great. It’s a bit underpowered and there was some lag, and I missed having cameras on it, but the form factor was perfect for me, the battery life was great, and there are/were tons of accessories so I found a case that I really, really loved. 

    Eventually I got tired of the lag and limitations and sold it, and bought an Iconia A500, which I still have. It’s nice, quite fast, camera quality is fine, battery is just ok though, and the 10″ form factor just doesn’t work as well for me. I found a case that works, but it’s not as nice as the one I had for the NC.

    As for this one, I don’t NEED a quad-core tablet, I’d rather have the battery life, and the A500 is plenty fast without it. 

    I know 7″ isn’t the most popular form factor, but it’s the best one for me in terms of portability and for how it feels in my hands. What I want is that Google tablet that was teased a week or two ago, 7″, running unskinned ICS…basically a Nexus tablet. It would be great if they made a 10″ version too because it’s so popular, but where can I sign up for the 7″ one?

  • Anonymous

    “And while most of us that picked up the original RAZR feel completely insulted by this release and like we deserve an apology or the opportunity to trade ours in for this battery beast, we can still admit that this device is impressive.”
    Why should you feel insulted? The phone still works as advertised, does the things a phone is supposed to do. You knew there will be battery life issues when you bought it and that you will need to make compromises. If you weren’t willing to make those compromises for the length of the contract, why did you buy it in the first place? 

    People have always been willing to sacrifice battery life to buy a phone that is slim and sexy for no reason. 

    Motorola should be commended for there engineering prowess. They might be able to put a 5000mAh battery and still make it thinner than the rezound. I see a future of long lasting phones from Motorola.

    Now if only the get rid of Blur, unlock bootloader and put in NFC, I may buy one..

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      The point isn’t about making comprises or how the phone was advertised. The point is that Motorola sold a product knowing that they had a better one only a month out and failed to inform anyone.

      Same thing applies with these colored versions. I would have bought the white version over the black had I known it was coming just weeks later, but again, none of us knew it was coming.

      If we had known there would be options in two months, I would bet that many would have waited.

      • Anonymous

        I understand what you are saying, but I still feel that Motorola should be commended for making a phone less than 9mm with a 3300mAh when no one else has been able to do so. This should be considered revolutionary unlike some of the other features in recent times (like Siri, facetime, Android beam, google wallet, etc.).
         The single most important thing while using a phone is battery life. 95% of the things we do with a phone are calls, texts, browser, GPS, music player, video player, youtube app, email and a few apps. All of these basic functions can be done using any OS or any UI (sense, blur, stock Gingerbread, stock Honeycomb, etc.) None of this can be done if the phone is dead by the end of the day. I am tired of having to keep a watch on how much I am using 4G LTE during the day. Tired of looking at my battery widget multiple times a day even with an extended battery on my nexus.

        All the other things that we complain about on this website constantly (availability of ROMs, the appearance of blur, etc) are not as important as battery life.

        All I need are reviews that will confirm the battery life of the RAZR MAXX and I might give up my nexus for this.

        • DroidzFX

          Go grab the Razr maxx and month or two later they will one up ya with the razr maxxipad.

          I like Moto but these recent releases has me thinking twice about buying anything from them. 

        • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

          Well I did give them major props for packing in a 3300mAh hour battery. :)

          I’m just pissed that it came out a month after the original RAZR.

          • Anonymous

            Now here’s hoping the XT928(DROID X3) comes with the same battery and “MOTODEV” bootloader unlock tool gets blessed off.

          • Kuboo99

            An unlockable DX3 would be awesome

      • Anonymous

        double post; thanks for letting me edit unlike other websites :-)

      • Anonymous

        Early adopters always get screwed.

        • Anonymous

          The point I’m trying to make is, if I feel that battery life is so important to me, I shouldn’t have compromised and bought the RAZR in the first place. If I bought it anyway, that meant that I had already decided to compromise (by carrying a battery pack, charger, etc.) Now if I had the RAZR and the MAXX came out, I still would have to carry on with me compromise. Bummer for me but not Motorola’s fault that I compromised. (If battery life was so important, I shouldn’t have bought it)
          Now if I buy the MAXX and they come out with MAXX HD with a 720p screen, what then? The screen on the MAXX still works as advertised and I’m satisfied with the battery life. I would be ok with compromising the screen quality. The risk you take as an early adopter. If you knew for sure there is a MAXX HD coming, would you wait another 2 months for it? Maybe, maybe not.
          If they promise a 4.0 update and don’t deliver on it, that would make me mad.

      • EC8CH

        especially with the color options… why not release them all at the same time???

        or at least announce they’ll be available soon

      • Mark

        There are ALWAYS options around the corner. It is foolish to whine that the next thing is better than what you bought. Motorola does not OWE us anything. They are in the business of making money. It is naive to think otherwise. Your very point that so many people would have waited is exactly why they didn’t announce it. How much money would they make if they said, “This phone is really great, but if you wait 2 months, there will be a better one for the same price you’re paying now.” ??? That’s the price of being the first kid on the block with any new toy. Tech companies know exactly what they will be offering years in advance. I’m frankly amazed that Verizon offered the extended holiday returns, especially since they must have known there would be these announcements at CES before the return period was over.

  • http://twitter.com/kirilv Kiril

    Why make a tablet without a front camera? I know this will seem like I am complaining, but a big feature these days for casual tablet users is video chat, which can’t be done on this tablet. Does anyone even use tablets for taking photos? I know this has been said by many people, but I would rather have a small front camera and no back camera.

    I’d rather wait for the supposed Google tablet. I’ve taken this for granted before, but Google seems to have some of the best use experience people in the industry.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      I’m with you. I would have liked to see them ditch the rear camera and include one in the front.

  • Skyskioc

    CES = ZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZzzzzz ! What happened at CES i hope stays at CES !

  • Kris Brandt

    That $250 tablet looks just about right.  I played with the Kindle Fire and the form factor just fit.  No large and useless tablet for me.  I intend to pick one up since I was unable to get my hands on the G-Nex.  I hope it doesn’t get delayed.

  • Bewara2009

    I can’t wait for the MWC week! I’ve been saving my upgrade for this.. 

  • GNEX(MOTOX)

    i want my galaxy nexus docks and that 249 tablet… not really looking to spend 500 on a quad core tablet when i already have a laptop…:) when will the asus memo be out?

  • http://twitter.com/GRZLA Grizzly Atoms

    You thought the Droid RAZR MAXX was really the best phone? That battery should have been standard. 

  • http://www.reedpop.com Milton

    CES seemed like a whole bunch of nothing…

    • Anonymous

      Pretty much. I mean, no one had much to say going in, but I expected more Google TV’s, and possibly an update.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Kirk/1386021939 James Kirk

        sony’s google tv receiver is also a dvr that has 2 terabytes of memory for recording thousands of hours and other stuff, it was nice

        • Anonymous

          Really? Nice. I mean, it’s not great for me since I already have Sony’s Google TV Blu-Ray player, but it’s still a good concept. Does it require some sort of plan like TiVo or DVR from providers?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Kirk/1386021939 James Kirk

            suppose to be 10 dollars a month or under 10 dollars. watched the CES event on attack of the show , its probably on g4tv.com