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Roundup: Sony at IFA 2012

Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai headlined Sony’s IFA press conference in Berlin, where the electronics giant announced new flagship phones, tablets, and television. The most interesting announcement was a trio of new Xperia smartphones, led by the Xperia T—a high end phone Sony will make available across the globe. The Xperia T sports a 4.6 inch Reality display powered by Sony’s mobile Bravia engine. It’s a classy screen, and should be more than competitive with the Galaxy Note II’s Super AMOLED panel or the iPhone’s Retina Display. The Xperia T also has a 13.1 megapixel “fast capture” camera and a built in NFC chip. Sony announced NFC enabled accessories,  including a pair of headphones, that it will sell alongside the new phone. The T runs a custom version of Android 4.04, Jelly Bean won’t be available at launch, but Sony has promised rapid updates.  Sony also took the time to show off the Xperia V and J, lower end end phones that will be most competitive in emerging and prepaid markets dominated by Chinese manufacturers, such as ZTE and Huawei.

Sony also announced a new Android tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich, the Xperia Tablet S. Sony’s old Android tablets, the Tablet P and S, didn’t sell (or review) very well, so it’s no surprise Sony would want to abandon its older branding and try again with something a little different. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Sony has learned much from their past mistakes. The Xperia Tablet S and Tablet P tried so hard to be original they were unusable. The Tablet P’s dual displays were useless, and the Xperia S had a strange fold on the back that made it impossible to hold comfortably. Sony learned it’s lesson, but it looks like they’ve too far in the opposite direction. As The Verge pointed out, the most inspired thing about the new tablet is its terrible name; all Sony’s designers really did was knock off Microsoft’s upcoming Surface tablets; the Xperia tablet even has a bundled Android app that looks like Metro program. The sole feature Sony didn’t steal from Microsoft? The Xperia Tablet S is splash proof.

Things look a little better on the Windows front. The Vaio Duo 11 is a good looking convertible that will launch alongside Windows 8. The touch screen notebook sports a full sized articulating keyboard that slides behind the display when it’s not needed. The Vaio line of laptops have traditionally been home to some of the more premium, well built Windows notebooks, and the Duo 11 looks to be holding true to Sony’s past. Sony also trotted out the Vaio Duo 20, a twenty inch touch screen desktop that can lay flat. It’s not quite as useful as the Duo 11, but if you’ve always dreamed of a owning a touch screen table, this would be one way to mimic the experience without shelling out for the real thing.

The XBR-84X900 was also on display, and no; it’s not a robot—but it’s still pretty damn cool. The XBR-84X900 (his friend’s just call him Ted), is an 84-inch 4K Bravia television. It’s one of the first production 4K televisions, and should go on sale later this year. No word yet on how much this thing is going to cost, Sony plans to announce pricing next week, but I’m willing to bet it’s out of your price range. That’s okay though, 4K content is far and few between, and there still isn’t a final format for the resolution. You’d be better off saving your money for something more useful, like Sony’s Play Memories camera apps for your Sony NEX-5R! (So, Hirai, can I have my three dollars now?) Play Memories camera apps are apps for your camera. Sort of. See, Sony didn’t announce an SDK for their cameras, just apps. They’re going to have an app store, but it looks like it’s going to be filled with programs Sony builds themselves.  The Play Memories announcement (really more of a demo, we’ve seen this stuff before) is probably just a way for Sony to prep us for the inevitable: Sony selling software for Sony cameras through a Sony app store to give you features they should have given you to begin with.

In other words, it’s DLC.

For a camera.

The Xperia T and Duo 11 may look amazing, but I still think Sony’s lost it.

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CES: The Best of The Best, as The Lights Dim… (Wrap-Up)

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and while there may not have been many high profile products announced (in fact many claim there was no clear “Best of Show”), this years CES brought a ton of awesome new gadgets just the same.

As there was not much activity on Day 3, the final day of the show, I decided I would highlight some of my personal favorite announcements – the best of the best – from throughout the week.

Google’s Android Style Guide
Although it isn’t really a product per-se, the Android Style Guide was released to developers on Day 3, and aims to help them in creating and designing beautiful apps for Android using the new style conventions introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich. The style guide is available now on Google’s Android Developer portal.

Windows 8 tablets
Intel, along with a few other companies, showed off some prototype Windows 8 tablets at the show. I must say, Microsoft is on a roll with their Windows products lately, following up the awesome Windows Phone 7 with the equally new and unique Windows 8. It features the same gorgeous Metro UI of WP7, and aims to provide an experience tailored for touch input, as well as the conventional keyboard and mouse. Microsoft has promised a beta of Windows 8 will be released in February.

Nokia Lumia 900
I’ve recently become a big fan of Windows Phone 7, and if you’re looking for the iPhone or Galaxy Nexus of Windows Phone, look no further than the Lumia 900 from Nokia. The first LTE offspring of the Microsoft / Nokia deal, the Nokia Lumia 900 is described by company CEO (and fellow Canadian) Stephen Elop as “the first real Windows Phone”. It’s a gorgeous device that features an 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss shooter on the back, and a beautiful 4.3” display on the front.

LG’s 55 inch OLED TV and LG’s LM series 1mm bezel TV’s
LG pulled out the big guns at this years CES, showcasing a 55 inch OLED TV that The Verge states was “making love to our eyes”. LG also announced the LM series of TV’s that feature a tiny 1mm bezel. They are absolutely stunning, and all of these models will be arriving sometime in 2012.

Samsung Smart TV
This wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite products, but it is an interesting one nonetheless. Samsung announced a new Smart TV that the user can control using, yes, their voice. Wasn’t there another company rumored to be working on a voice-controlled television? Oh yeah…

Sony Xperia S
Sony’s first Android phone to debut sans-Ericsson was the Xperia S. It’s a cool looking phone that actually features a transparent plastic strip along the bottom which functions as the antenna. Neat! Unfortunately, it’s still running Gingerbread, and it is skinned, though not as heavily as some of Sony’s previous Xperia devices. This one will be hitting AT&T in the US soon.

Vizio’s all-in-one computer and thin-and-light laptops
Vizio, known mostly for their line of discount TV’s, unveiled their first foray into the personal computer market at CES. Their new all-in-one features a very modern design, announced alongside matching peripherals including a keyboard, external trackpad, and subwoofer. The all-in-one also features an HDMI input, meaning you could hook up a Blu-ray player or game console to it and essentially use the monitor as a TV.

Vizio also showcased a line of thin-and-light laptops that they insist are not Ultrabooks! Vizio says their new portables match or outdo Intel’s Ultrabook specs. The laptops are gorgeous for Windows machines, and feature the same modern and sleek design as the company’s all-in-one.

Canon PowerShot G1 X
Canon launched the G1 X, a camera with the power and performance of a DSLR, but in the body of a point-and-shoot. The $799 camera features a 14.3 megapixel sensor and a non-interchangeable 15.1-60.4mm zoom lens. The G1 X is meant for photographers that already own a DSLR, but want something more portable to carry around that can provide the same superior image quality. The G1 X is one sexy piece of kit, though a little out of my price-range…

And that is the best of the best at this year’s CES. Thanks for joining Current Editorials on our look at CES 2012!
Links via The Verge and Engadget.