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Network World - Anyone who's attended tech conventions over the past five years has heard plenty about 4G wireless networks, but this year the hype has become a reality.
Also read: AT&T LTE service to launch in mid-2010
That's because two U.S. carriers now have 4G networks up and running, with a third slated to get its own 4G network off the ground by midyear. And as you might expect, this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has showcased smartphones and tablets designed to take advantage of these newly operational high-speed wireless networks. In addition to hardware, there was also an update to the Android operating system that is optimized to work on tablet computers.
While there are a lot of terrific products to highlight from this year's CES, the following five really caught our eye and should be a good indication of where the gadget world is headed in 2011.
AT&T's LTE network
While this isn't really a product that you can touch or see, it will be delivering high-speed data to your favorite device starting this summer. AT&T still hasn't given a specific timetable for when and where its first 4G services will launch, but the carrier assured attendees yesterday that it will have LTE-capable smartphones and tablets ready for sale when the 4G network goes live.
The carrier also said Verizon and Sprint are currently the only major wireless carriers that offer 4G services, as Verizon launched its LTE network commercially last month while Sprint and Clearwire have been rolling out their WiMAX network across the country for the past two years. AT&T's commitment to launch LTE in the U.S. this year leaves T-Mobile as the only major U.S. wireless carrier to not set a timetable for rolling out 4G services.
The Motorola Atrix 4G
The Atrix 4G, which will actually run on AT&T's 3G HSPA+ network, has a dual-core 1GHz processor that will deliver the highest processing power of any smartphone on the market. What makes the device even more striking are its accessories, as it can be purchased with a laptop dock that lets the device's screen, applications and capabilities to all be integrated into a laptop.
During a demonstration video yesterday, Motorola showed how a laptop could take data directly from the smartphone and edit it as though it had originated on the laptop itself. It also showed how the laptop could be used to enact such crucial smartphone functions as text messaging and voice calling when integrated with the ATRIX.
RIM's PlayBook 4G
We've known about Research in Motion’s PlayBook tablet for a few months now, but RIM announced this week that it would be
releasing a special 4G model that would run exclusively on Sprint's WiMAX network. The tablet has a 1GHUz dual core processor
and is slightly lighter and thicker than Apple's popular iPad. And unlike the iPad, the PlayBook is tailored for the enterprise
since it features all the same wireless security features that BlackBerry devices have and it comes installed with HD videoconferencing