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Lenovo Unwraps Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' Smart TV

Lenovo Unwraps Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' Smart TV

Lenovo is bringing Ice Cream Sandwich to the big screen with a new take on home entertainment. The company is "allowing consumers to customize their TV experience both with the blending of the Web -- but also by heightening that experience with Android applications," said tech analyst Charles King. "It's also talking about creating a highly integrated home. ... You might call it the home cloud."

By Katherine Noyes
01/10/12 5:00 AM PT

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Sunday, Lenovo unveiled a smart TV it says is the world's first to run Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich.

Powered by a QualComm 8060 Snapdragon dual core CPU, the smart device -- called the "K91" -- features a 55-inch screen, a gamepad, and a user interface that combines Video On Demand (VOD), Internet applications and traditional TV programs.

Thirty console-quality games will come bundled with the TV, with many more apps available in the Android Market and the Lenovo App Shop.

The K91 is now available in China, but information on pricing and availability elsewhere was not provided.

A 'Personal Cloud'

The new K91 TV is part of Lenovo's vision of what it calls the "personal cloud."

"We understand our users need more than just the traditional keyboard and screen for a truly satisfying digital experience," said Liu Jun, senior vice president and president for the company's mobile Internet and digital home business group. "Our Personal Cloud vision integrates all devices, from tablets to TVs, for a comprehensive mobile Internet experience anytime, anywhere."

Accordingly, users of the device can easily access their favorite songs and videos, share files between the TV and their tablet, smartphone or PC, and even control the TV via tablet and smartphone.

A Built-in Webcam

The K91's online HD VOD service, meanwhile, is tailored to the user's viewing history and taps 3D FPR technology to deliver flicker-free video on a full HD IPS panel at 240hz with SRS TruSurround.

Other features in the K91 include a built-in 5MP webcam with face-recognition technology for security benefits and advanced parental control. Voice control with natural language processing and speech recognition technology, meanwhile, lets viewers use voice commands to control the remote.

Lenovo did not respond to our request for further details.

"Parts of this announcement are very exciting," telecom and wireless analyst Jeff Kagan told Linux Insider. "The cloud will be one of the keys to this year's CES show. Long term, I think this is the direction of the industry."

'Heightening That Experience'

Of course, "people have been talking about the Web-enabled TV for a long time, and both Apple and Google are suppposed to be launching their own TV devices later this year," noted Charles King, a principal analyst with Pund-IT.

"You can blend the Web and TV experiences with a variety of traditional PC devices, but what I think Lenovo is doing here is interesting for two reasons," he added.

First, the company is "allowing consumers to customize their TV experience both with the blending of the Web -- but also by heightening that experience with Android applications," he explained.

It remains to be seen how many of those apps will be appropriate to the TV platform, King added. After all, there was a considerable lag between the launch of tablet PCs and the arrival of apps tuned for the devices' larger displays, he pointed out.

"Here, we're looking at potentially an even larger platform," King noted. "I'm sure they'll go out with a handful of apps integrated, and if the product is successful, I'd expect more commercial apps to come on board quickly."

'Apple Will Be After Something Similar'

Lenovo's concept of the cloud, meanwhile, is "a bit different than we've heard other vendors talk about," King told LinuxInsider.

"The cloud Lenovo is talking about is both the traditional, external cloud that consumers or businesses can link to with hosted services, but it's also talking about creating a highly integrated home where everything from smartphones to tablets to PCs to TVs can easily swap files and content -- you might almost call it the home cloud," he explained.

"That idea has been out there for a while, but this is the first time I've seen a PC vendor deliver a TV that could be integrated into that experience," King pointed out. "I'm assuming Apple will be after something similar."


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