Sony Xperia S Announced: New Unique Features, Apps, Pricing, More (Pictures)
Sony has long used the IFA in Berlin to introduce the world to the company's new products. And this year is no different. Today Sony announced the sequel to its tablet brand, the Xperia S, a 9.4-inch Android 4.0 tablet.
While Sony experimented with its dual-screen Tablet P last year, going above and beyond the typical Android tablet experience by delivering an ergonomic wedge design and an integrated IR universal remote control. It's price turned-off many a potential buyer. But it was certainly unique to the market. This year, with the introduction of the Xperia S, the company seems to be playing things a bit more conservatively.
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The new version of the tablet has been improved in a few key ways: It's now thinner than the previous version (0.35 inches at its thinnest point), includes a gyroscope and accelerometer, is faster with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor from Nvidia, and has some new functionality, including an improved remote app.
And it's the latter piece - the remote functionality - on which Sony's really focusing its attention. The tablet has an IR blaster so it can control your TV. But while you can use the tablet as a universal remote, you can also load up the Watch Now app that provides a visual program guide alongside social media feeds.
Additionally, Sony has made some adjustments to Android 4.0, including a new Guest Mode that lets you set up different accounts with parental controls, if you choose.
The 1.26-pound tablet has a 1280 x 800-resolution display, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting. The tablet will come with a $45 credit to be used on Google Play toward three of 15 available movies. No word on which movies just yet.
With pre-orders beginning today, the Xperia S is set for a September 7 release in three different storage configurations: 16GB ($399), 32GB ($499), and 64GB ($599). Sony's latest tablet still isn't cheap, either. But it does bring a ton of TV-ready features and a revamped Android 4.0 skin. Although, Sony says a 4.1 upgrade is in its very near future.
Reviews have been mostly positive for the tablet. Many sites tout it as the intuitive tablet we've been waiting for. Joining the Xperia family of mobile devices from Sony, the Xperia S is even "splash-proof," designed for real-life use around the home and outdoors. So there's no need to worry about water spillages if you're checking a recipe in the kitchen with wet hands or the kids are handling it with sticky fingers.
The full range of accessories is tantalizing, as well. You can purchase various colors for your cover, and the stands and docking solutions are quite sleek. With the unique leather keyboard case you can add a full physical keyboard to your tablet without adding any extra bulk.
The infra-red universal remote control is enhanced with a new Macro function that stores a time-saving sequence of commands for instant recall. Ask your Xperia Tablet S to switch on your TV, cable box and home entertainment system, select inputs, adjust volume and more. Everything's executed at a single touch, and up to six macros can be named and stored.
The Xperia Tablet S is a great multi-tasker. Sony-unique 'Small Apps' let you do more - like changing channels or adjusting volume while you're browsing the evening's TV program choices online. Add your favorite widgets to 'Small Apps' and make it your personal multi-tasking tool.
Incorporating several of Sony's own signal processing technologies, ClearAudio+ mode lets you effortlessly enjoy audio quality that's distinctly Sony. With one simple operation, you'll experience sound with ultimate clarity and presence across a wide spectrum from deep lows to crisp highs.
Brand-new media applications combine the best of Sony's technologies and connect to a variety of services.
The 'WALKMAN' application automatically compiles a list of your Facebook friends' "liked" songs, as well as related discographies. ClearAudio+ mode always ensures rich, satisfying sound - whatever you're listening to. The 'Album' application lets users view, sort and share pictures and videos captured with their Xperia Tablet across an intuitive user interface. The application can also consolidate users' photos posted on social media sites like Facebook to allow easy commenting. Video content can be enjoyed with high picture and sound quality using the 'Movies' application.
The three easy-to-use applications also let users throw their personal picture, video content and more to enjoy on DLNA compatible large screen TVs.
The tablet lets you store your photos and videos in the cloud for any time, any place sharing with PlayMemories Online.
Sony Entertainment Network services allow you to enjoy the movies, music and personal photos with a single account. Full access to millions of songs and themed radio channels at any time via Music Unlimited service are available. Purchase or rent on-demand hit movies and TV shows any time you want to with Video Unlimited. Browse an impressive range of dedicated content for PlayStation® Mobile at PlayStation® Store, opening this autumn (NB: where service is available).
The Reader application lets you purchase and read favourite digital books. You can also manage your bookshelf across multiple devices, including the Sony Reader eBook device and Xperia smartphone.
Available for download, 'Socialife' is a unique application from Sony that organises your social and information world. View, sort and manage all your SNS and news feeds through one stylish user interface, alongside your friends' feeds and posts. Mark interesting articles for later reading when you're not so busy. Based on what your friends are reading, Socialife also points you to other popular topics and even suggests content that you might like.
Sony Mobile Communications announced last week that it planned to lay off 15 percent of its workforce, about 1,000 employees, by 2014.