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Between Thanksgiving and CES, there’s not too many new devices that hit the market. But the start of a new year brings fresh Android handsets, including an array of Ice Cream Sandwich-powered phones from HTC and most major OEMs, finally rounding out the early offerings from Samsung, Motorola and Asus. But what’s more exciting are the fresh concepts for connected devices, inspired by Android and hoping to broaden our user experience. Let's focus on three non-phone (or tablet) devices that are getting ready to hit the market, taking Android far outside the box.
Lenovo K91 Smart TV
Lenovo stole the show early with its first smart TV to recognize voice commands and run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich apps. It’s a leap ahead of Apple’s rumored TV efforts with advanced features, and is also part of Google TV’s big comeback for 2012. Dubbed the K91, this smart TV will act as a regular television set, but will also support voice control and console-quality gaming capabilities. You can operate your TV without picking up the remote, and tap into your favorite Android apps for gaming, social networking or productivity. It’s more personal than your average television, and has the Android OS to expand its functions even further. You’ll also get LenovoCloud services to download upgrades over the air, as well as accessing personal multimedia content and social networks.
Samsung revealed a slew of connected devices at CES, but one of the more intriguing Android devices is the InTouch. It’s an HD Skype video phone for your television set, so you can operate the chat service and conduct video conferencing without pulling out your laptop. The InTouch runs Android 2.3 and comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and 720p video. Skype is built right into the unit, so you can log-in and get started with video calls immediately. There’s a handful of other preloaded apps including YouTube, Google News and Weather, along with full web browsing. The InTouch also comes with USB support so you can pull up images from a flash drive to display on your TV. At $199 the Samsung InTouch comes in $50 cheaper than its early competitor, the TelyHD from Tely Labs, and runs a higher version of Android (though it has less storage). Look for the InTouch to hit stores in March.
Sensics’ Natalia takes its SmartGoggles technology to new heights with its latest gadget. The fully-immersive 3-D goggles run Android 4.0 and come with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, high-end graphics capabilities and a 3D accelerator. There’s 1GB of on-board memory, which can be expanded with an SD card. Once you put these massive goggles on, you’ll see two 1280x1024 OLED screens that display a 720p picture. You can then connect content wirelessly through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. What makes Natalia stand out is its camera system to track your hand movements, so you can interact with the interface using gestures and movements alone. Natalia is designed for gaming, augmented reality or any other form of content interaction you can dream up. Better yet, Natalia’s being offered as a development platform so app makers are limited only by their imagination when it comes to these smart goggles.