So, CES. Now that the dust has settled — it mostly was kept down by a rainy week in the desert anyway — I'm trying to think about what stood out, at least from an Android point of view.
There wasn't really any single Android product that did it for me. I reviewed the Huawei Mate 8, which is an impressive piece of hardware coupled with a user interface that still is in dire need of fixing, at least where Google Play apps and services are concerned. Huawei's actually got a lot of good stuff baked in there — things you'd expect on any other phone — but it just gets overshadowed by the things that are broken, or the annoying additions that get in the way. Nobody needs to be reminded every 2 minutes that the apps they're using are, in fact, using the battery.
The Honor 5X, meanwhile, is an interesting little $199 phone. It's got EMUI as well, but some of the gripes have been fixed. But it's definitely not anywhere near as powerful as the Mate 8. (But it's also something like $500 cheaper.) And just as I predicted, it's a test of that "line in the sand" I (and we collectively as a site) drew in the sand in early December about new devices launching on something older than Marshmallow. As I wrote at the time:
This won't stop Lollipop launches from happening, of course. We're a month away from the CES show in Las Vegas, and we'll undoubtedly see any number of devices running Android 5.x. Some might even be worth looking at.
We'll be giving the 5X a full review, of course. And while the 5X almost certainly wouldn't end up on anyone's must-have list this year, you almost can't ignore that price. It might not be a long argument about what to do with this thing, but there certainly will be one. This should make for some great podcast fodder.
For me, though, what really stood out was all the virtual reality. It was everywhere. A lot of that was Samsung's Gear VR. You saw all kinds of partners showing it off. And probably even some companies that were just "borrowing" the platform for their own products. Also all over the place was the HTC Vive Pre — still my favorite implementation of VR. HTC and Valve did a great job having demo stations set up all over the show, and all over town. I tried Vive again for the first time since a prototype in Barcelona last February, and it's definitely gotten better. The new "Chaperone" stuff is an awesome mix of "Dark Knight" vs. "The Matrix." Question is whether it's gotten any more practical.
And I finally got to try Oculus Rift. That is a very cool middle ground between Gear VR and Vive, in implementation as well as price, most likely. You don't get the same whole-room, 3D experience that you do with Vive, but it was still very good. I could play Bullet Train for hours. Playing with the hand controls was a lot more fun than holding a gamepad, though. I'm actually tempted to shell out the $600 for it. And then, uh, find a computer to run it.
The rest of the show was lousy with Android, of course. You could spend two weeks writing about all the little devices that had Android on them. For the most part, though, the show was sort of a snoozer. Interesting to see Qualcomm tuck a Snapdragon 820 into a phone from LeTV, I guess — that's going to be an interesting company to watch.
But really, it's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February that's going to be the big show. B.I.G. Stay tuned.
A few other thoughts on things ...
- It was a shame, really, to see the Oculus and Sphero booths (they were next to each other) buried about a half-mile back in the bottom of South Hall. That didn't seem to hurt the crowds, though. Gotta love the full-size BB-8 replica.
- Nobody won Powerball and then next one is at $1.3 billion? I totally still have a chance then.
- Apparently Alex isn't a fan of the Nexus 6P. He's wrong, right?
- Crazy bug he's seeing, though.
- That Steelers game last night. Crazy doesn't begin to describe it. "Implosion" is a good start. And that catch.
- I get hard hits. I get a little dirty play. What I will never get is Cincinnati fans throwing garbage at an injured player as he's being carried off.
- Where do they think they were? Cleveland?
- Twitter is silly.
That's it for this week. Glad to be home. Time to get back to work.
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