Gadget Show Live 2012 - the world of Sony
At the Gadget Show Live this week I got the chance to visit the world of Sony. Before I introduce you to the shiny new hardware you'll be seeing on the shelves at your local technology store, I want to take you on a tour of Sony's online entertainment services. The Sony Entertainment Network comprises Mobile Unlimited, Video Unlimited and PlayStation Network.
A library of over 10 million songs, Music Unlimited lets you access your favourite music through your PC, Android phone, or enabled Sony devices. It trumps a lot of competing online music services as there are no adverts to annoy you, and you can skip as many songs as you like. If you register now you get a 30 day free trial.
Feed your film addiction with Video Unlimited. You can enjoy the latest Hollywood blockbusters, movies from all the major studios, classic films and TV shows. Video Unlimited is available on your Xperia smartphone, Sony tablet, or any enabled Sony device. You can buy or rent in Standard or High Definition, or even 3D where applicable.
That's a quick run down of the Sony entertainment software available for you to play with, now what about the hardware?
Sony Tablet S
The Sony Tablet S is your living room buddy. It can be your infrared universal remote or your connection to friends via Facebook. It's good for music, games and your movies look super sharp on the high quality, 9.4" TruBlack display. Powered by Android, tablet S gives you access to hundreds of thousands of applications and games. The tablet is PlayStation certified, so you can download PS titles from the Xperia section of Google Play, and even use your physical PS3 controller with selected Android games.
One of the great things about this tablet is that it is DNLA enabled, so if you have other enabled devices around your home you can stream a film from your tablet to your TV, or view photos stored on your tablet on your phone screen and vice versa.
Onto the specs! Tablet S has a dual core Tegra 2 1.0GHz processor, 1GB memory, a 9.4” TFT Colour LCD screen and up to 32GB storage capacity. The SD card slot is something special, it fits a full SDHC card. You can capture crisp photos and videos using the 5MP HD camera, or enjoy video chats with friends using the front-facing camera and a Wi-Fi connection.
Sony Xperia smartphones
The first phone I saw from Sony's new range is the Xperia U. Designed to be different, Xperia U comes in two colour ways with interchangeable bottom covers - the black device comes with a pink bottom, and the white device comes with a yellow one. The strip of LED lighting above the cover acts as a notifications bar, and as a nice added touch it lights up when you're looking at photos with a colour that complements the picture.
This phone isn't out yet but will be coming soon, hopefully in May. It has a 3.5" scratch-resistant TFT screen with Sony Bravia Engine which gives more accurate colours and acts as a quality control to what is shown on the screen. There's a 1GHz dual core processor to keep everything running smooth and fast, plus a 5MP camera with LED flash for your snapshots. Xperia U ships with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), but will be upgradeable to Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich soon.
This is a great entry level smartphone for design-conscious Android fans who want a nice balance of power and style.
The next unreleased Android smartphone on show is the Sony Xperia P. You can see how this steps up from the U as it has an 8MP camera and a sharp 4" TFT screen. The same 1GHz dual core chip and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) software sit inside. What's unique about Xperia P? A big plus, the screen features WhiteMagic technology as well as Bravia control. WhiteMagic adds another subpixel to make images look sharp and clear - pixels are usually made up of red, green, and blue, but in this case, clever Sony have added white as well. This makes your holiday snaps and home movies really pop.
A great thing about the camera on this phone is it has an Exmor R sensor which lets you take impressive photos even in low light conditions. The camera has fast capture, so as soon as you hit the capture button there's only 1 second to wait until you can take the next shot.
The top end Sony smartphone, Xperia S is out now. This supercharged, Android powered mobile has a stunning 4.3" 720p HD screen running on the Sony Bravia Engine. It boasts a 1.5GHz dual core processor and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). The camera is a whopping 12.1MP with LED flash, and the Exmor R sensor. There is also a HDMI out port for you to hook your phone up to a TV and see all those amazing quality photos on the big screen.
This is the one phone in the new Xperia range that is PlayStation certified, like the Xperia Play before it, just minus the physical controls, so you can play selected PlayStation titles available to download from Google Play, like Crash Bandicoot and FIFA.
PlayStation Vita console
The PS Vita is the first handheld gaming console with dual analogue sticks and a front and rear 5" touchscreen to use in gameplay. You can use it as a PlayStation 3 controller, play multiplayer games with your friends, and there are apps for music, videos, photos, plus a web browser. You can also find your way around using Google Maps.
Giving you 3-5 hours of continuous gameplay, or 5-7 hours of general use from one full charge, PS Vita is a great entertainment device to have to hand.
It seems a little late to the mark to be bringing out a dedicated portable music player now that smartphone music apps are so sophisticated, but there's no denying that the Z1060 is a nifty little Android powered Walkman. You can use it to connect to the internet, play games, view videos, chat on Facebook and download apps from the Google Play Store. Handy if you're not in the market for a smartphone or you're looking for a present for a child. Alas though, pricewise the Z1060 is more costly than the ever popular iPod Touch, so I wonder what place in the market this Walkman will hold.
My take on Sony's digital world
I was impressed by Sony's tablets and smartphones, and especially enjoyed taking a sneaky peak at the two unreleased smartphones. I hope you all have a play with Xperia U and P when they arrive in Carphone Warehouse stores, and let your friendly neighbourhood Geek Squad Agents know what you think of the new devices. I personally like the fact there's something for everyone, from an entry level device (Xperia U) to a flagship for tech fans (Xperia S).