Sony, like Samsung, has used the IFA 2012 event in Berlin to introduce a number of new devices-in Sony’s case, three Xperia smartphones and an Xperia Tablet S. The announcements come before Apple is expected to introduce a new iPhone, iPad and television.
The new devices also are notable for further ushering users into a time of not only phone makers producing phones, but of electronics giants creating ecosystems of complementary-if not symbiotic-devices.
Sony introduced the Xperia ion in June, and on Aug. 29 gave it three sisters-the Xperia T, V and J. The highest-end model of these is the Xperia T-the smartphone of choice for James Bond, in his upcoming film, and Sony describes it as combining its best screen, camera and connectivity options.
Like the ion, the Xperia T features a 4.6-inch HD Reality Display powered by a Mobile Bravia Engine-technology borrowed from Sony’s television line. It has a 13-megapixel camera that can go from sleep-to-shoot in under 2 seconds, and it can record video in full 1080 high-definition video. There’s a camera on the front as well, which is capable of 720p HD, a Qualcomm 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor and Android version 4.0.4, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, though an upgrade to Jelly Bean (version 4.1) is promised “following launch.”
Near-field communication (NFC) technology is also included, and as Sony did with the Xperia ion-selling NFC-based SmartTags alongside the phone-it’s pushing for NFC uses beyond mobile payments or ticketing.
“Consumers can easily and instantaneously enjoy their music and photos across an array of NFC-enabled Sony devices, by simply touching one to another to establish a wireless connection without a cumbersome pairing process,” Sony officials said in an Aug. 29 statement, dubbing the feature “one-touch.”
The Xperia T-which will be called the TX in some markets-will come in black, silver and white, is PlayStation-Certified, and can be paired with an Xperia TV Dock to make it simple to send images and video from the phone to an HDTV.
The Xperia V is a more midrange option, with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity, a 4.3-inch display and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. The OS is Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and this phone, too, is PlayStation-Certified. It’ll come in choices of black, white and pink.
Finally, the most affordable of the three will be the Xperia J. It’s 9.2mm thin, features a 4-inch display, a 5MP camera on the back and a lower-resolution one up front. It illuminates when social media updates come through, and it will be available in black, white, pink and gold.
The Xperia T will launch in the United Kingdom in September and continue on with the other phones later into the fourth-quarter.
Xperia Tablet S Can Be Paired with a Cover Similar to That of the Surface Tablet
Sony’s new Xperia Tablet S features a 9.4-inch touch display with a resolution of 1280 by 800, runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), is splash-proof and can be used with wet fingers. Sony expects users to be pulling up recipes and cooking with it in arm’s reach.
As the rumors suggested, the Xperia Tablet S can be paired (for an extra $100) with a very Microsoft Surfaceâlike cover that doubles as a keyboard.
The Tablet S is now available for preorder and will go on sale Sept. 7 in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options. It runs a Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, has WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, front and back cameras (a VGA and a 5MP), and Secure Digital (SD), headphone, USB and stereo-jack slots.
While these hardware details would at one time have been the place to dwell, it’s now software that’s becoming the greater tablet differentiator. Sony’s press statement focuses on the tablets’ uses, particularly on the sofa, where research suggests 88 percent of tablet owners use their devices most often.
Like Samsung with the Galaxy Note 10.1, Sony has enabled the Tablet S to function as a universal remote, able to control televisions, Blu-ray Disc players and audio systems, whether Sony-made or not. A Watch Now app offers a visual program guide, picks up on trends from the user’s social-media feeds and can make “intelligent recommendations” about programs the user might like to watch.
At launch, the app will be available in the Google Play store.
Another software perk is Guest Mode-a way for users to personalize the tablet for different members of the family. Sony says parents asked for a way to control the content their kids can access, and Guest Mode delivers this.
Still other software perks include Sony Entertainment Network Services, through which users can purchase or rent movies or TV shows and download songs, and a cloud-based PlayMemories Online service, where users can store photos and video.
The Xperia Tablet S will be available in seven color options and be compatible with a number of accessories, including a docking stand, simple stand, carrying cover and dock speaker. The 16GB version will be priced at $399, the 32GB at $499 and the 64GB at $599.