Verizon at CES: No iPhone yet, but 10 first-wave 4G LTE devices

The wireless carrier follows up its morning keynote with a press confab that showcases the first suite of 4G LTE devices, including the HTC Thunderbolt, Droid Bionic, and LG Revolution.

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HTC's Thunderbolt: One of the devices in the first round of 4G LTE products for Verizon. Sarah Tew/CNET

As expected, Verizon unveiled its first 4G devices today--and it used grand language to do so.

"The speed of thought is now the speed of action," a voice boomed over the speakers at the beginning of Verizon's CES press conference. "For the first time, mobile is in real time."

Earlier in the day, Verizon used its keynote to hail its new 4G LTE broadband infrastructure. At the press conference a few hours later, partners including Alcatel-Lucent, HTC, and LG Electronics talked up the endless possibilities of LTE. Then Verizon trotted out new devices that are ready for the network.

But first, let's get this out of the way: Verizon did not announce that it would be carrying Apple's iPhone!

With rock music blaring in the background, Verizon execs stood before a table displaying the first suite of 4G LTE consumer devices: four smartphones, two tablets, two mobile hot spots, and two notebooks, all coming in the first half of the year, and some as early as March.

"It's not just about doing things faster, it's about doing things you couldn't do before," said Marni Walden, chief marketing officer.

The devices that got stage time (details on pricing and rate plans were not announced today) include:

  • The LG Revolution, LG's first 4G smartphone (see CNET's hands-on photos here). The Revolution has HD support for streaming, playing, and recording video; a 4.3-inch touch screen; Android 2.2; video telephony support with front-facing camera and mobile hot-spot capability to share a 4G connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

  • HTC's first 4G LTE smartphone, the HTC Thunderbolt. "Let me tell you, it's blazing fast," said HTC CEO Peter Chou, who noted that he has been using the phone as his "personal device" and specifically touted Skype video chat and video streaming over LTE. The Thunderbolt features HTC Sense 2.0, Skype mobile with video, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 4.3-inch WVGA display, Dolby surround sound, an 8-megapixel camera and HD video recording, and wireless DLNA capability.

  • Samsung's Galaxy Tab, 4G LTE Smartphone (previously called the Inspiration), and 4G LTE mobile hot spot, which is small enough to fit into a pocket or purse.

  • The Motorola Droid Bionic, which has Android with Adobe Flash and HTML5, a front-facing VGA camera, a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera, 4.3-inch HD quality screen, HDMI connectivity, dual-core 1GHz processor, and 512 DDR2 RAM.

  • The Motorola Xoom. The 10.1-inch tablet runs on Android Honeycomb, plays 1080p HD video, has an Adobe Flash Player, a front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video chats, and a 5-megapixel camera to capture video in 720P HD. Mobile hot-spot capability provides connection for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

  • The HP Pavilion and HP Compaq notebooks in their 4G incarnations.

And then, questions from reporters in the audience.

Will devices support simultaneous voice and data? "Some of them, but not all." Pricing data caps? Not sure yet. Will the network experience degradation once people start using the new devices?

Verizon CTO Tony Malone said original claims of 5Mbps to 12Mbps down were "based on a loaded network," suggesting there shouldn't be drops once the masses get in on 4G LTE.

And, of course, many have also expressed concerns about battery life on the 4G devices.

"We've spent a lot of time working with our suppliers making sure we optimize the devices and the network to give the battery life that our customers expect," Malone said. "We feel very confident that the battery performance will meet expectations."

He also said global roaming won't be an issue.

Our CNET Reviews team, of course, will be putting the 4G devices to the test, so keep an eye out for those results.

Verizon says some customers report that 4G speeds are 10 to 20 times faster than what they got on 3G. Sarah Tew/CNET

CNET's Marguerite Reardon contributed to this report.