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Sprint on Thursday began taking pre-orders for the LG G Flex, a curved Android smartphone with self-healing properties. The phone won’t be available until January 31, but those interested can place their order on Sprint’s product page for the phone. The unique handset costs $299 with a 2-year contract. It may pay to place the order early if you’re set on this phone: Sprint is including a $59 Quickwindow Folio Case with pre-orders for a limited time. The handset is designed to use Sprint’s Spark service, which can intelligently route traffic over different frequencies for optimal bandwidth.

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HP Chromebook 11

Earlier this morning, I noted that Altair announced its chip would power the HP Chromebook 11 LTE model on Verizon’s network. I figured the updated model would be available soon, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. On Wednesday, Liliputing spotted the HP Chromebook 11 priced at $379 on Best Buy’s mobile site. That’s a reasonable $100 premium for LTE connectivity and I’m anticipating the Chrome OS laptop will get at least 100 MB of free monthly data. The laptop may also be readily available after official launch. I checked my local Best Buy locations and all of them say the device is in stock. Altair says there’s a $50 activation rebate, so your net cost could be $329.

In Brief

While the HP Chromebook 11 debuted as a Wi-Fi only model, the product page has long said that LTE would be an option. A chip from Altair Semiconductor will add mobile broadband to the laptop, but don’t expect a signal outside of Verizon LTE coverage areas. To keep costs down the chip won’t support 3G networks. That means you’ll have to find Wi-Fi for the laptop if there’s no LTE available. Chromebook Pixel owners are already used to that: That laptop’s LTE model also has 4G and Wi-Fi only connections.

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The Motorola Assist app received a nice update on Monday, adding a feature that lets you respond to text messages by voice while driving. The contextual software, available on the Moto X and latest Verizon Droid lineup, could already detect when you were driving. In addition to the hands-free SMS responses — the app could already read incoming messages aloud — this new version can also automatically open the music app of your choice as soon as it determines you’re driving; helpful if you want to stream tunes in the car over Bluetooth or a wired connection. Android Central notes that driving detection is improved in this version as well.

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New products shown at CES this week should offer hope for more sales and HTC surely needs them. The company experienced a second consecutive quarterly operating loss on revenues of NT$42.9 billion (US $1.43B), according to Bloomberg. Without profits from the sale of its stake in Beats, HTC would have posted another quarterly net loss as sales have continued to trend down, but it eked out a small after-tax profit of NT$0.31 billion. For a visual look at HTC’s woes, check out this chart of HTC’s monthly revenues for the past 24 months that ZDNet put together: December’s year-over-year revenues were 42.36 percent lower in 2013.

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