CES 2017 Day 2: Asus Zenfone AR, BlackBerry ‘Mercury’, Sony 4K OLED TV and more

CES 2017: Here's everything that happened on the second day of the Consumer Electronics Show.

Written by Anuj Bhatia | Las Vegas | Updated: January 9, 2017 2:20 pm
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It’s Day 2 of CES in Las Vegas, and it has been pretty exciting with announcements and product launches from all the major players. From a smartphone that supports both AR and VR to OLED TVs where the sound comes directly from the screen, here are the highlights from Day 2.

Asus bets big on AR, VR

Asus made a big jump into the AR and VR territory with its smartphone called the ZenFone AR. After Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro, the ZenFone AR is the second phone based on Google’s Tango platform. The high-end smartphone, which could be launched in India this year, is also a Daydream-ready device.

This means the ZenFone AR is the world’s first smartphone to support both Tango and Daydream platforms. That’s not it all, it even packs in 8GB RAM. While the AR software didn’t run at the demo centre, which was odd, this is an innovative phone from Asus.

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Asus also introduced the ZenFone 3 Zoom, which looks like a mid-end smartphone. It is definitely slim, despite the 5,000mAh battery and sports a dual-camera setup. Although I got to spend a few minutes with the ZenFone 3 Zoom, I have to say the camera was able to hold off easily in the demo room. Asus borrowed a couple of camera tricks from the iPhone 7 Plus, which I will be explaining in a separate article.

Samsung’s latest Chromebooks run Android apps

While Samsung may be making waves in the smartphone world, the company announced two new Chromebooks at CES 2017. Both Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro will include high-resolution touchscreens that can rotate 360 degrees; they even runs Android apps.

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Both notebooks will also come with a stylus. The Chromebook Pro features an Intel M3 processor inside. While it’s hard to say if Chromebooks will eventually be able to compete with Surface Pro 4 or iPad Pro, for now it is good to see Samsung and Google bringing high-end options in the segment.

Sony 4K OLED TV has been made official

We’d heard rumours about Sony bringing its ultimate 4K OLED TV to the market. At its press conference, the company confirmed this with the announcement of the new Bravia A1 OLED range. Available in 77-inch, 65-inch and 55-inch, the A1 series will feature the same X1 Extreme processor found previously in the Sony KD-65ZD9BU.

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What’s interesting about the OLED TV is the company’s Acoustic Surface technology, which makes sound by vibrating the screen. Yes, the sound comes directly from the screen, removing the need for speakers. This 4K HDR TV runs Android TV, and supports Dolby Vision content. No word on price or availability, though honestly this will cost you a bomb.

TCL-made BlackBerry smartphone revealed

BlackBerry’s manufacturing partner TCL Communications Technology (TCT) has showed off the “Mercury” smartphone to selected press at the ongoing CES 2017. The smartphone hasn’t been announced yet; “Mercury” is still a working name. The company says you can expect more details about the BlackBerry-branded smartphone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) later next month.

Casio Smart Outdoors comes with Android Wear 2.0

Casio has announced a new smartwatch called the WSD-F20 at CES 2017. This is Casio’s second smartwatch, and is designed for outdoor use and also comes equipped with low power GPS and offline maps. This is also one of the first smartwatches (when it launches) to run Google’s much-delayed Android Wear 2.0.

The WSD-F20 features a 1.32-inch dual-layer LCD display and is claimed to be water resistant. Casio didn’t reveal the pricing, but the company did say that one should expect the watch in April this year.

ZTE’s crowd-sourced smartphone gets a name

Last year, ZTE started working on its first crowd-sourced smartphone. At CES 2017, the company did share a few more details about the device. It’s called the Hawkeye, and one can pre-order it on Kickstarter beginning today for $199 (or approx Rs 13,485). The company still hasn’t locked the final specifications, but said that it will come with a 5.5-inch display and a fingerprint scanner. Interestingly, the most important aspect of the “Hawkeye” is eye tracking. The phone’s front-facing camera will track a user’s eye movements. The company says it expects to ship the device by September 2017.

Disclaimer: The author is covering CES 2017 on the invite of Qualcomm, which is paying for accommodation and travel.

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