Ep. 156: Android and 4G are big news at CES
Since it precedes two very large wireless trade shows, Mobile World Congress and CTIA, you never know what CES will bring in the way of cell phones. Some years can be pretty quiet, but other years the wireless industry decides to show up in force. Fortunately, CES 2011 was a big wireless event, with two companies in particular, Motorola and Verizon Wireless, pulling out all the stops. You also might call it the "Year of 4G."
Moto goes the extra mile (and then some)
It was late last year when we saw the first signs of a big cell phone presence at CES. Motorola was at the forefront of the talk early on with a rumored Android Honeycomb tablet and an Android dual-core smartphone. Indeed, most of the gossip proved to be true and Moto emerged to dominate the show. Its Xoom tablet won CNET's Best of CES Award and the Atrix 4G for AT&T took the Best of CES title in the smartphone category. The company also brought us its clever laptop dock, the 4G-enabled Droid Bionic for Verizon Wireless, and the Motorola Cliq 2 for T-Mobile.
Verizon Wireless used CES to introduce the first selection of LTE phones and devices for its new 4G network. With an immense booth on the show floor and an opening-day keynote address by CEO Ivan Seidenberg, Big Red had its largest presence in Las Vegas in recent years. The carrier didn't announce an iPhone--that may come Tuesday--but it did give us the aforementioned Droid Bionic, the long-anticipated HTC Thunderbolt, the LG Revolution, and the horribly named Samsung 4G LTE Smartphone.
AT&T tries for 4G
The carrier took us by surprise when it used a developer's meeting the day before CES started to announce that LTE service would begin in the middle of this year. Until then, the carrier is pushing HSPA+ service as "4G" and it rolled out three new HSPA+ handsets. Yes, we know AT&T is playing fast and loose with 4G terms, but the Atrix looks so cool we're excited anyway. We also saw the HTC Inspire 4G and the Samsung Infuse 4G. Unfortunately, Sammy wouldn't let us touch the latter.
All the rest
Sony Ericsson introduced just one phone, the Xperia Arc. It's not bound for a U.S. carrier just yet, but its gorgeous hardware and Bravia multimedia engine make it worth a close look. Sprint scooped almost everyone by unveiling the HTC Evo Shift 4G early in the week and LG also showed its own strengths by displaying the Optimus Black and Optimus 2x.
So as we close CES we look back at a busy, innovative, and impressive show for wireless. CES usually sets the stage for what's to come in technology in the new year so we expect the next two trade shows to be equally full. Next stop is Barcelona, Spain, for Mobile World Congress. CNET will bring you all the news when it begins February 14.