Android Tablets, Smartphones to Rule at CES

Android is set to "explode" at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, with smartphones and tablet computers from Motorola, HTC and others out in force in Las Vegas.

Fortune said 2011 will be the year Google's Android operating system "explodes" across the technosphere on smartphones, tablet computers and other devices hardware manufacturers cook up.

Time for a level set: "Explodes," or some variation thereof, is the dramatic euphemism people in the technology industry employ to proclaim that a product is set for some super definitive growth. In this case, it's the kind that blows RIM's BlackBerry and Apple's iOS smartphone platforms out of the water.

Android fans will wince at the too-common use of the expression "Android explodes." This is because it may be turned for mischievous purposes to describe what an Android phone does when a user holds it up to his ear or what an Android tablet does when a user swipes it with her fingers.

So "explodes" may be a tad rich a description, but if there is any event that could signal that Android is ripe for hyper growth (Fortune apparently doesn't see Android's rise to 23.5 percent of U.S. smartphone share in 2010 as "explosion" worthy), it's the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. The annual event commences in earnest Jan. 5 in Las Vegas.

eWEEK's Clint Boulton and Nicholas Kolakowski will be attending. Here is a preview of a handful of Android-related announcements the reporters expect to hear and see.

1) Motorola Android 3.0 Tablet

Motorola Dec. 20 issued a video alluding to a tablet computer based on Google's Android Honeycomb OS, which will be at least shown off at CES.

We believe Google Android honcho Andy Rubin teased this tablet earlier in December, showing off the new 3D Google Maps for Android.

An alternative to the sector-defining Apple iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab, this will likely be a device to accompany Verizon Wireless' Droid line of smartphones.

2) Samsung Galaxy Player

Speaking of Samsung, the company will likely make a few Android-related announcements at CES, including a Google TV appliance and the Samsung Galaxy Player iPod rival.

The Galaxy Player runs Android 2.2; is powered by a 1GHz processor; and features a 4-inch LCD screen, SoundAlive audio enhancing technology, WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, a 3.2-megapixel rear camera with a front-facing camera for video calling, GPS, HD video playback and a microSD card slot.

The Galaxy Player could be for Google's Music what the iPod was for iTunes. The Google TV bit should be bold considering rival TV makers reportedly bagged their launches at Google's behest.

3) HTC Thunderbolt

The HTC Thunderbolt, pictured here by Droid Life, will be the first 4G LTE device from Verizon Wireless. The gorgeous gadget resembles Sprint's HTC Evo 4G, complete with a 4.3-inch touch screen, front and rear-facing cameras, and Google and Verizon branding.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will keynote CES, where he could well unveil the gadget.

The Thunderbolt introduction at CES will beat or be accompanied by the 4G Motorola smartphone eWEEK wrote about Dec. 22 based comments Verizon COO John Stratton made to the Wall Street Journal.

4) HTC Shift 4G

While we're on the subject, it looks like Sprint is set to unveil the HTC Evo Shift, the company's successor to the Evo 4G, on Jan. 9, the last day of CES. Android Central spotted this Radio Shack sign announcing the price at $149.99 after a two-year agreement.

If the sign rings true, Sprint will have a nice counter to Verizon's Thunderbolt and as-yet-anonymous 4G Motorola Droid gadget next week.

5) ViewSonic Tablets

Dow Jones reported that ViewSonic will introduce a hybrid Android-based smartphone/tablet that can support 4G wireless connections.

The device will feature a 4-inch screen and let people make phone calls. Sounds a lot like the Dell Streak, which isn't good news for ViewSonic, but we'll reserve judgment until and if we get our hands on the device in Vegas.

Have we forgotten any phones, tablets or other Android gadgets? Perhaps, but these are the ones our sources put stock in, so that's how we're rolling with our expectations heading into the show.

Stay tuned for the Android "explosion."

Alternatively, for some more bitter tastes to balance out the Android sugar, read Kontra's rant on Android, as well as Royal Pingdom's reprise treatise on Android application market fragmentation.