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CES 2014: Day 1 Roundup (Samsung, Sony, Asus and ZTE Say Viva Las Vegas)

Nothing meaningful in the long haul ever happens at CES, blah blah blah, the expo lives in MWC’s shadows, yada yada yada, tech journalists only go to Vegas to socialize, drink and gamble. Be honest, you’ve heard one or all of the above at least a dozen times this past week or so, am I right?

CES 2014

Meanwhile, day 1 of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (or should I say day 0, since technically the trade exhibition gets underway today, on January 7?) brought to light Samsung’s four proudest tablets to date, a heap of exciting new Asus products, Sony’s highly anticipated “uncompromising” mini flagship, a super-slim, dirt-cheap “true” octa-core phone from Alcatel and another from ZTE that tops Motorola’s innovative Moto X in voice recognition technology.

Bottom line, your argument is officially invalid, dear CES haters, and that’s just looking at things from an Android perspective. Because the show is not only about gadgets running on Google’s mobile OS, and if we add curved 4K and 5K TVs, wearables and Windows machines in the equation, the resulting picture is even more incredibly flattering for a “second-tier” consumer electronics press event.

Las Vegas

Paying no further attention to biased criticism and pointless debates therefore, let’s recap all things Android that went down in Sin City yesterday, January 6:

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, 10.1 and 8.4

Sammy fumbled and tumbled and struggled to keep the new four-member slate roster a secret, ultimately failing miserably and spilling the beans early. Yet everybody was still looking their way when actually introducing the Notes and Tabs.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro-Note Pro

And even without the surprise factor, no one was really disappointed. How could you be as long as these are by far the strongest Android-based iPad contenders in history, from a design standpoint, as well as in terms of hardware and software?

They all run 4.4 KitKat, sport mind-blowing screen resolution and pack quad-core Snapdragon 800 heat in 4G LTE variations and octa-core Exynos oomph with Wi-Fi and 3G. Their exteriors are clean and sleek, and the Note Pro 12.2 is an absolute productivity beast. Be afraid, Cupertino, be very afraid!

Sony Xperia Z1s and Z1 Compact

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat. We were expecting more from Sony. After all, they stole the CES show a year ago, wowing with the world’s zippiest smartphones (at the time), the Xperia Z and ZL.

Playing it a little safer this time around, the Japanese look to be holding off their “next big thing” announcement for when Samsung, LG and HTC do the same. Still, the Z1 Compact can very well campaign for the title of “best of CES 2014”.

Sony Xperia Z1s

Heck, if we didn’t know it was coming for so long and if a Japanese version wasn’t official since last fall, the crown would probably already be in Sony’s camp. As for the Z1s, it’s a couple of months or so late, however it’s more than welcome to help Sony’s bid of once and for all becoming relevant stateside. Too bad T-Mo has exclusivity rights, which doesn’t exactly help the company’s cause and isolation.

Asus PadFone X for AT&T, Zenfone line, Intel-powered PadFone Mini and Transformer Book Duet

The details are scarce (to say the least), but one of those quirky PadFones is at last heading to America. Check that, two PadFones, albeit probably only the X will be subsidized by AT&T, whereas the PadFone Mini is on its way carrier and contract-free.

asus-zenFone

The Zenfone series includes three handhelds, a 4, 5 and 6 incher, neither of which plans to break any kind of speed records. But you can bet they’ll be cheap, plus they’re looking hot. Finally, the Transformer Book Duet keeps the Android/Windows dual-boot computer sector alive for some reason, though it has slimmer chances of breaking into the mainstream than, well, the PadFones.

Alcatel One Touch Idol X+, Pop C9, Pop 7 and 8

I know, I know, you don’t really trust Alcatel as you’ve probably heard very little of the brand. And I don’t blame you. But they’ve been making huge strides of late, including in the US, and the OT Idol X+ is the icing on the cake. It’s a “true” octa-core phone with a 5-inch Full HD panel, 7.9 mm waist and 13 MP rear-facing camera that, get this, is rumored to cost no more than $330. Crazy, huh?

Alcatel One Touch Idol X Plus

The Pop C9 phablet and Pop 7 and 8 tabs are far less exciting, although Alcatel has a way of pricing such products so low that it’s almost impossible to say no to them.

ZTE Grand S II

Marketing focused on software add-ons and “user experience” didn’t exactly work for the Moto X, whose sales numbers paled compared with advertising investments, yet ZTE takes a similar promoting path with the Grand S II.

zte-grand-s-ii

The difference? This spanking new 5.5-incher is actually quite special in the hardware department too, as it touts a state-of-the-art S800 Soc, Full HD panel and 2 GB RAM. Also, the voice commands on the Grand S II are more evolved and complex than on the Moto X. Interested? You damn well should be.

Huawei Ascend Mate 2

It’s as if the competing China-based OEMs made a deal to hit Las Vegas with the most unusual sales pitches. Well, if that was the case, Huawei may just trump ZTE, as it focused its Ascend Mate 2 propaganda on the phablet’s ability of charging… other devices.

Huawei-Ascend-Mate-2

But hey, who can blame them for grasping at straws as there wasn’t much else to flaunt about the Mate 2. I mean, a 720p 6.1-inch screen and 1.6 GHz quad-core Qualcomm CPU? What is this, Huawei, CES 2012?

HP Slate 21 Pro AiO and Lenovo ThinkVision 28 4K monitor

Sorry, HP, Lenovo, but your Android-powered CES guns are so… odd and hard to market they don’t deserve their own sections in our recap. Of the two, the ThinkVision 28 screams vaporware, as it’s pricey and pointless, while the Slate 21 Pro all-in-one PC is, well, at least fairly cheap, at $400.

HP-Slate-21-Pro

Alright, that’s a wrap, but be sure to continue keeping your eyes peeled on The Droid Guy for the most epic CES coverage around. Remember, there are still three days to go.