Wireless Wonders: 25 Eye-Catchers At CTIA Wireless

CTIA Action

International CTIA Wireless 2011, known as CTIA for short, is one of the short-list industry gatherings for the latest and greatest in mobile and wireless devices. This year's event, taking place this week in Orlando, brought the usual bumper crop of buzzed-about smartphones and tablets, but also featured plenty of other niche devices, such as mobile backhaul gear and Bluetooth-oriented driver safety products.

Here's a look at some of the more interesting products exhibited, although it's safe to say that the buzz at CTIA wasn't about any one product, but rather a monster move: AT&T's planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

Samsung Galaxy Tab (8.9 and 10.1)

The 10.1-inch version of Samsung's Galaxy Tab debuted at Mobile World Congress last month, and has changed slightly since then, now one third of an inch thick (down from 0.43-inches) and weighing 1.31 pounds. It still has the 3 megapixel camera out back, 2 megapixel camera in front. Samsung has yet to confirm the carrier models of the 10.1, but a Wi-Fi-only version will be available in early June for $499-$599 depending on 16 GB or 32 GBs. Aboard will be Android Honeycomb (3.0).

The 8.9-inch version of the Tab will weigh in just over a pound (1.03), and be available for $469 (16 GB, Wi-Fi only) or $569 (32 GB, Wi-Fi only). No exact release date yet.

Acer Iconia

Another Mobile World Congress debut that also showed off at CTIA, Acer's Iconia A501 is a 10-inch tablet said to be available by June. It runs Android Honeycomb (3.0), uses an Nvidia Tegra 250 1 Ghz processor, has a 5 megapixel rear camera and a front-facing camera, too.

Motorola Xoom

Moto's monster tablet has been an eye-catcher since CES, of course, but Xoom has made the rounds at most of the big industry shows in 2011, including at CTIA. There was no new information at CTIA about Xoom, but to review: Android 3.0, 1 Ghz dual-core processor, 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, 2-megapixel camera in front, rear-facing 5-megapixel camera, gyroscope, barometer, Google Maps 5.0 with 3D interaction and a whole host of other bells and whistles. Pricing, confirmed in mid-February, is $600 for a Wi-Fi only version and $799 for a Wi-Fi and 3G version, and the Wi-Fi only Xoom goes on sale March 27.

LG G-Slate

No new information about the physical package of the LG G-Slate, heading for T-Mobile, except for its price: $529. The G-Slate has an 8.9-inch display and 3D cameras, along with Android 3.0, but LG and T-Mobile still haven't confirmed a release date.

LG T-Mobile G2x

Also among the T-Mobile-carried wares seen at CTIA was G2x, a Google-branded smartphone and the U.S. version of the LG Optimus 2X seen abroad. It has a 1-Ghz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 4-inch WVGA display, 8 GB of internal memory (broadened to 32 GB with microSD), HDMI mirroring, 1080p MPEG-4/H.264 video playback and recording, an 8-megapixel camera on the back, and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front. The G2x will ship with Android 2.2, but LG has mentioned a 2.3 upgrade down the line.

LG Thrill 4G

LG's Thrill 4G, a version of the Optimus 3D coming to ATT offers Android 2.2, a 4.3-inch 800x480 LCD display, 1 Ghz OMAP processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage (expandable to 32 GB with microSD) and support for 1080p regular and 720p 3D video recording and playback. On its backside are two 5-megapixel cameras for capturing 3D video and images. Due by the summer, according to LG.

Nokia Astound

Debuted at CTIA, the Nokia Astound is more or less a U.S. version of Nokia's C7, and it'll be available on T-Mobile starting April 6. Like the C7, it offers a 3.5-inch AMOLED display, 8-megapixel camera, 8 GB of memory, 720p video captrue, runs Nokia Symbian^3.1, and a few other minor tweaks. The price? Rather nice at $79.99 (after a rebate).

HTC Evo 3D

HTC's Evo line continued to expand with the launch of the Evo 3D, a Sprint-carried device that offers a 1.2 Ghz Snapdragon processor, a 4.3-inch, 960x540 resolution display, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of storage expandable to 32 GB via microSD, and 1080p video play and capture capability. On board is Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread), a dual 5-megapixel cameras on the back to allow for 3D photo and video capture. Another camera, 1.3 megapixels, is on the front of the Evo for video capture.

HTC Evo View 4G

Also from HTC and Sprint: a WiMAX tablet called the Evo View 4G (updated from the previously described HTC Flyer), which runs Android 2.3 at present. View 4G has a single-core 1.5 Ghz Snapdragon processor, a 7-inch display, 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage expandable to 32 additional GB, and 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front cameras. It's a touch screen, natch, but also works with HTC's HTC Scribe pen.


HTC's HD7S, one of the manufacturer's Windows Phone 7 entries, offers a 4.3-inch, 800x800 Super LCD display, similar to HTC's Thunderbolt. Already available for T-Mobile (as the HD7), the HD7S is headed for AT&T later this year.

Google Nexus S 4G

The Google-branded Nexus S, made by Samsung, debuted on T-Mobile, and is now headed for Sprint as well. Inside the Sprint version will be a WiMAX radio along with Sprint-standard CDMA and EVDO cellular technologies. The Nexus S 4G runs Android 2.3 and will include Google Voice. Sprint's promising $199.99 and availability by June.

RIM PlayBook

At long last, pricing was announced for Research In Motion's much-touted PlayBook tablet, at least its Wi-Fi only versions. It will start at $499 for the 16 GB version, and span up to $699 for a 64 GB version. April 19 is the on-sale date.

Sprint DriveFirst

Sprint will more likely be remembered from this year's CTIA show for its big-splash devices and the bold comments of its CEO, Dan Hesse. But the carrier also introduced a new Android application called DriveFirst. Created by Location Labs, DriveFirst can lock an Android device's screen while a vehicle is in motion, and also perform functions such as blocking text message alerts, redirecting new calls to voicemail and sending out a programmed response that a driver is unavailable. The latest in an emerging series of applications and devices designed to prevent distracted driving, it will be, according to Sprint, available in the third quarter of 2011 and will add $2 a month to wireless service.

Blio eReader

Blio is a free e-reading application developed by K-NFB Reading Technology, and at CTIA, e-book distribution specialist Baker & Taylor and K-NFB announced that Blio will be pre-loaded on future mobile products from T-Mobile. While the specific devices weren't announced, the Blio application will appear on Android-based devices, according to a press release. Blio, as its backers state, "brings e-books to life, in vivid color, and with a variety of enhanced features, including audio read-along, Web browsing from inside the book and its patented Read Logic technology."

Jabra Freeway Speakerphone

Jabra's latest speaker product is the Freeway, which sports three speakers and HD voice. It's a hands-free device that can clip on to a car visor, and automatically turns on when the car door is open, syncing with a user's mobile device, according to Jabra. It arrives on U.S. shores in May for $129, and according to Jabra, each new unit will come with a gratis one-year subscription to the voice-controlled application Voice Assist.

Powerwave Picocell (indoor)

Powerwave was among the wireless coverage and capacity vendors making a splash at CTIA, and its debuts include an indoor version of its LTE Picocell that Powerwave says is optimized for office buildings, shopping centers and other wireless capacity-needing indoor venues. It's part of Inside Out Solutions, Powerwave's mobile broadband coverage portfolio, and like the outdoor version of the Picocell that Powerwave introduced in February, can support up to 1,000 registered users and all 4G frequency bands in the 700 Mhz to 2.7 Ghz range. Each has a 2x2 MIMO antenna for added capacity, and optional concurrent dual-band 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz 802.11a/b/h/n Wi-Fi radio. In addition to a remote provisioning, monitoring and other features, Powercell also claims five times less UL transmit power for connected devices when using the Picocell.

TrangoLINK ApexPlus

San Diego-based Trango Systems offers a range of microwave backhaul solutions, and its ApexPlus and Elite series backhaul systems were on display at CTIA. Of note was the new TrangoLink ApexPlus, which Trango describes as a "full outdoor capacity microwave system available in all licensed bands 6-40 Ghz," and the Elite series, which Trango says offers 1 Gbps on a single carrier using intelligent payload compression, and is NSA Suite B-, IPSec- and FIPS197-certified for its encryption capabilities.

ZoomSafer FleetSafer Vision

ZoomSafer was among the top three winners of CTIA Wireless' first BIG IDEA contest, which recognizes new and/or innovative concepts for wireless products and applications. The winning product, FleetSafer Vision, is a cloud-based analytics service that monitors driving data (such as trip information and vehicle speed), mobile phone usage (calls, texts, etc.) by a driver and other information, such as weather and traffic patterns, to allow administrators closer details on employee phone usage while driving and identify risky driving practices.

SuperTooth HD

How about that SuperToot HD: a car device with two speakers and microphones that according to SuperTooth, the France-based company, is the most enhanced BlueTooth speaker phone out there. It's battery-operated, clips a car visor, and can offer users information such as remaining memory or battery life status with voice command prompts. According to SuperTooth, it offers 1,000 hours of standby time and 20 hours of talk time per battery. It's coming in April for $129.

Zagg's ZaggMate

CTIA is heavy on wireless and mobile device oohs and ahhs, but there's also plenty of action in the device protection category. Zagg was at CTIA with ZaggMate, which came out in 2010 and is made specific for Apple's iPad, and the ZaggMate iPad 2 case, new this year for Apple's second generation tablet, and also offering a slide-out Qwerty keybord option. ZaggMate includes what Zagg calls a "bead-blasted, anodized finish" to match the iPad, high-density padding for drop protection, a hinge that offers up to 10 viewing angles for the iPad, and a flat base for using iPad on an uneven surface. Zagg claims it's half as thin as many competitive iPad cases and adds 1/8th-of an inch to the iPad's total thickness when carried.

OtterBox Reflex Series

OtterBox specializes in protective casing for mobile devices, and brought its latest wares -- including a Defender Series case for RIM's upcoming BlackBerry Playbook, and the Utility Series Latch for iPad -- to CTIA. Also new is OtterBox's Reflex Series -- protective casing for handheld mobiles that provides an air cushion around a device, and whose spring-back ability, according to OtterBox, was inspired by the crumple zone of a car.

Laird Technologies

A specialist in wireless machine-to-machine (M2M), Laird was on hand at CTIA with its full line wireless embedded modules, antennas and M2M devices, including its Access Point Gateway (APG), which can support short-range wireless networks such as Bluetooth, Zigbee or proprietary RF, as well as IP connectivity via Ethernet, wireless LAN and cellular, according to Laird. Among Laird's most recent releases for the mobile space are the WPD136M6C-001 Multi-Band Mobile Antenna, targeted to public safety voice and data deployments and operating on a 136 to 174 Mhz Band, a 380 to 520 Mhz band, and a 760 to 870 Mhz band.

Novatel MiFis

Novatel brought several MiFi devices to CTIA, including the LTE 4510L Mobile Hotspot for Verizon, due in the U.S. in the second quarter of the year. Novatel's 4082 WiMax Hotspot for Sprint, also viewed at the show, will be about $100, and according to Novatel will support wireless on up to five connected devices.

Cobra Android PhoneLynx

Cobra's latest wireless device is Android PhoneLynx, a Bluetooth device that can send calls from an Android-based mobile device to other phones nearby. The PhoneLynx hardware works with an app installed on the Android mobile phone, and according to Cobra, supports voice dial to any number in the Android device's phone book, as well as message waiting lights, speed dial and alarm clock. The app is a free download; the device itself will be $60 when it launches in May.