CES 2014: Pre-Show Announcement Roundup

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is barely underway, yet rivers of (virtual) ink have already been spilled in regards to new, fancy gizmos set to be showcased at the glitzy expo. And I’m not just talking about unauthorized information leaks, reports based on confidential sources or bogus speculation.


That’s merely the tip of the iceberg, as numerous Android players have jumped the gun with precocious product unveilings to make sure they’ll get noticed. Probably not during the actual show, but before is good too.

So as we wait for Samsung, LG, Sony, maybe HTC, hopefully Qualcomm, definitely Asus and Huawei to flaunt their early 2014 machinery, let’s recap the announcements made in the days leading up to CES 2014. Some of these actually went down in Las Vegas, while others happened on smaller stages. Regardless, all gadgets we’re about to round up will be on display in Sin City through January 10.


Here they are, in no particular order:

Upgraded Acer Iconia A1 and B1 tablets

It’s odd to see one of the world’s leading PC makers struggling so hard to break into the mobile mainstream, though if the Taiwanese stand a chance to ever become important in the Android landscape, it’s through the affordability of their A1 and B1 slates.


That said, let’s face it, the A1-830 and B1-720 are not exactly spotlight material. They’re solidly built, especially the former, and offer great bang for buck, but they’re much too similar to their predecessors. Also, there’s no wow factor. Save maybe for A1’s premium metal finish.

Acer Liquid Z5

We realize Acer means well when rolling out such crappy hardware in 2014, and this 5-inch bad boy is certainly cheap, at €169 in Europe, but it’s not cheap enough. Not nearly cheap enough. FWVGA screen? 512 MB RAM? 5 MP camera? Yuck.


ZTE Grand S II, Nubia 5S, Iconic Phablet and BlueWatch

Unlike Acer, which appears to have saved no ace up its sleeve for the Vegas trade fair, ZTE has taken a teasing approach to its early 2014 product lineup, revealing very few specifics on their Grand S II phone, Iconic Phablet and BlueWatch smartwatch.

Granted, they’ve also fully detailed the Nubia 5S, but that thing is official and out in China since November, now getting a surprisingly swift Western push. Back to the mysterious trio, it’ll be extremely interesting to see how an up-and-coming Chinese OEM prices a wearable device (hint: probably a lot smarter than Samsung).


Meanwhile, the Iconic Phablet doesn’t sound too special, and the Grand S II is expected to suffer, exactly like its predecessor, due to availability and autonomy woes. Or maybe not, who knows.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

Samsung’s big CES press conference is scheduled for day 1 of the show (i.e. later today), so it came as quite the shocker to see the Koreans intro one of their new Galaxy stars as early as the Friday before.  And mind you, it was a genuine formal announcement, not a slip-up of any kind.


Then again, to be honest and blunt, who cares about bulky, ugly, overpriced smart cameras? Sure, the GCam 2 is much better on paper than the first-gen, only most of the upgrades and performance boosts are focused on the “phone” part of the hybrid (which still lacks actual phone call support). And that’s not the way to go.

E Fun Nextbook 7, 8 and 10

Normally, we’d be pretty darn excited to hear of a quad-core line of tablets starting at $130. But in this particular case, the slates are manufactured by E Fun, an inexperienced and little known company operating in California.


Well, at least they’re not headquartered in Shenzhen, right? Not that it makes any difference once weighing in Nextbook 8 and 10’s shoddy 1,024 x 768 and 1,024 x 600 pix res panels. Also, the make and model of the quad-core SoCs is unknown, so Snapdragon 600 and 800 are probably out of the question.

As for the $100 Nextbook 7, let’s just say it’s well worth the price tag, with everything that implies.

DreamWorks/Fuhu DreamTab

Making hundreds of millions of dollars off animated movies probably even a 10 year-old would be able to write (don’t watch “Turbo”, I beg of you) doesn’t seem to be enough anymore for Steven Spielberg-founded DreamWorks film studio and distributor.

So what’s next for the creators of such “classics” as “Rise of the Guardians”? Take on Samsung in the increasingly competitive kid-friendly tablet arena, aided by industry veterans Fuhu.


The aptly named DreamTab still has most of its specs and features in a haze, as well as pricing, what’s clear is it’s going to look like every other slate of its kind while somehow acting as a multi-entertainment device and integrating automatically and frequently updated original content. Sounds intriguing, almost groundbreaking, but the execution is likely to be mediocre, as is often the case with DreamWorks’ ideas.

Archos 45 and 50 Helium

Although the OEM is far from ready to cross its swords with the industry’s big names, the dirt-cheap and unusually solid tablets released in the past couple of years have led them to believe there’s a place for Archos under the low-cost smartphone sun too.

On that note, the 45 and 50 Helium are certainly praiseworthy efforts, as they cost $200 and $250 respectively while offering at least one feature deemed high-end material: 4G LTE connectivity. But wait, there’s more.


The 50 Helium sports a 720p 5-inch IPS panel and 8 MP rear-facing camera, and both handhelds run Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, with 4.4 KitKat upgrades reportedly around the corner. Deliver on that promise, Archos, and the sky is the limit to your goals.

Polaroid Q Series

In a further attempt to reinvent itself and stray from the ill-fated camera business which made its name famous, Polaroid has joined hands with Southern Telecom, committing to an April rollout for the Q7, Q8 and Q10 tabs.


Anything special about the trio? You can say that again, as their prices range from $130 to $180. All while packing quad-core processors and, get this, running Android 4.4 KitKat out the box. Let’s wait and see, shall we?

That’s it for today, ladies and gents, but remember, CES 2014 hasn’t actually begun. Stay tuned for extensive round-the-clock coverage straight from Las Vegas and daily recaps of the most noteworthy events.