IFA 2012 is not yet officially underway, but the press conferences have started, and with them exciting new products are rolling out. We know most eyes over in Berlin are peeled on Samsung (see our live blog here), but with only an hour or so before Sammy’s unveiling(s), Sony might have stolen a bit of the spotlight.
As expected, the first Sony gadget to be unraveled at the IFA is the first ever branded Xperia Tablet. The 9.4-incher doesn’t come with very many surprises, as it was leaked a month ago, together with its almost full spec sheet.
Xperia Blog’s leak got only one major detail wrong back in July, which actually makes the Xperia Tablet S an even more enticing device. The new tab will go on sale on September 7 starting at $399, and not at $449, as it was suspected. 400 bucks will of course get you the 16 GB model of the slate, while if you choose to add $100 and $200 to that sum, you can get the versions equipped with heftier 32 and 64GB internal memory.
Intrigued? You should well be, because the Xperia Tablet S keeps a few of the good points of the old Tablet S, while adding a number of new spices in the recipe. The curved, futuristic design is basically the same, so we’re again dealing with a magazine-shaped tablet. However, the Xperia Tablet is much more elegant (with a casing made of metal), thinner (0.35 inches in depth at its thinnest point) and also slimmer (weighing just 1.31 pounds).
Sony has considerably upped the ante as far as hardware goes too, with the new slate featuring a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, a full-size SD slot, and a 6,000 mAhbattery supposedly capable of running for ten hours between charges.
The 9.4-inch IPS panel comes with 1,280 x 800 pixels resolution, while in terms of software there’s Android 4.0 ICS out of the box with a bunch of customizations, tweaks and pre-loaded apps. There’s not much “bloatware” there though, with many of the pre-loaded software being actually useful and exciting for a change.
There’s a “Watch Now” app allowing for live TV-viewing, a Guest Mode that lets you set different preferences for different users of the tab, direct access to the Music and Video Unlimited services, as well as 5 GB of free storage space in the PlayMemories cloud service.
An Android 4.1 Jelly Bean upgrade has also been promised by the Xperia makers “as soon as all the custom apps will be optimized”, and, while we would usually not put a big price on such promises, we’re dealing with Sony here, probably the OEM that has handled ICS updates the best.
Another one of the tab’s “pieces de resistance” will be the featuring of an IR emitter, a function that worked rather well on the Tablet S. That allows you to turn the slate into a universal remote, which you can then use for controlling a pretty wide range of home electronics.
Exactly as it was rumored a month ago, there’ll be a whole bunch of optional accessories put on sale next to the Xperia Tablet, starting with a $100 keyboard and a docking stand with an HDMI output and USB adapter going for the same price. The dock speaker will be $30 more expensive, the charging cradle will go for a more modest $40, while the carrying case will cost $51 or $80, in its non-premium and premium forms.
We don’t have pics of all these accessories just yet and we only have a few press images of the tablet itself, but keep in touch, because we should get some hands-on time with the Xperia Tablet S really soon! In the meantime, you should know that pre-orders are set to start today, so you might want to get all your ducks in a row and see how you’re doing financially.
Control the Living Room With the New Xperia™ Tablet S
The Android™-powered device features a universal remote control with macro functionality, a variety of original applications and a more immersive entertainment experience
SAN DIEGO, August 29, 2012 (7:45 AM PST) – Sony announced today the launch of the Xperia Tablet S, a thin and light device packed with original applications and Sony exclusive features. The new device joins Sony’s smartphones under the Xperia sub-brand. The Xperia brand delivers mobile experiences that enhance user enjoyment through design and network services. By introducing a tablet under the Xperia brand, Sony offers users a consistent experience between the immediate convenience of an Xperia Smartphone and an immersive entertainment experience of an Xperia Tablet. Common user experience across the devices further enhances overall usability and intuitiveness. Combining optimally designed hardware and software, Xperia Tablet provides consumers with a compelling way to play, watch, listen, share, discover and connect.
CONTROL THE LIVING ROOM
Building on the popularity of the universal remote control feature in the previous model, the Xperia Tablet S has enhanced this feature by adding macro functionality, allowing the ability to turn on multiple devices of most brands, including TV, Blu-ray Disc™ player and audio system, with the touch of one button. Consumers can easily program sequenced commands such as “Watch TV” or Play Music” and perform the sequences with one tap on the screen.
To further enhance the living room experience, Sony will offer a new app called Watch Now, which enriches the TV watching experience. Watch Now provides an interactive, visual program guide fueled by personal preference and real-time trends from users’ social media feeds. TV fans can use the app to discover new shows based on intelligent recommendations from the app, change the channel with a flick of the finger and share their thoughts on what they are watching via Twitter™, Facebook® and Get Glue. The Sony exclusive app will be available for download for the Xperia Tablet S in the US from Google Play™ at launch.
“We know that eighty-eight percent of tablet owners in the US are using their tablets in the living room,¹ and are multi-tasking with their tablets while watching TV,” said Phil Lubell, vice president of networked technologies and services at Sony Electronics. “We wanted to enhance that living room experience by providing interactive and useful features with the Xperia Tablet S.”
BEYOND THE LIVING ROOM
Not only will Xperia Tablet S owners be able to control their living room, but they can also control content on the device for various other people using Sony’s new exclusive Guest Mode feature. Guest Mode allows for personalized configurations for different users by displaying different wallpaper, applications and widgets. The tablet owner can manage access for any friend or family member by regulating which apps and widgets are accessible by others. Guest Mode can provide parents with a strong parental control tool by offering more supervision over what content their children can consume.
“Tablets are no longer just a personal device, but are being shared by family members, and we heard from consumers that they wanted to have parental controls. It was important for us to provide parents with a solution for controlling what content their children could access from the tablet,” Lubell added.
Xperia Tablet’s splash proof design helps provide assurance that the tablet is protected from the elements. With an IPX-4 splash proof rating, the Xperia Tablet S can withstand splashing water at all angles when the multi-port cover is in place. Even with wet hands the LCD screen will still recognize touch gestures, making the device a perfect companion in the kitchen and beyond.
Preloaded onto the device are the Sony Entertainment Network Services, giving consumers access to their favorite songs, movies and TV shows with a single sign on:
– Purchase or rent on-demand hit movies and TV shows anytime you want with Video Unlimited.
– Discover and listen to millions of songs from all your favorite artists with a Music Unlimited subscription, now with the ability to cache playlists for offline listening.
– Store your photos and videos in the cloud and share on any device at any time with friends through PlayMemories Online™ service.
Book lovers can also purchase and read their favorite eBooks with the pre-loaded Reader™ application and manage their bookshelf across multiple devices, including Sony Reader and Xperia Smartphones. This fall, Sony Xperia Tablet S owners will also be able to enjoy dedicated content from PlayStation®Mobile on their tablets.
Small Apps allow tablet owners to truly multi-task by using a minimized version of the browser, calculator, remote control, recorder, timer, memo or scrapbook simultaneously while using another application. Any widgets downloaded to the device can also be added to the Small Apps.
Scrapbook, a new app available at launch, allows users to clip from websites, services or apps to create their own scrapbooks. Users can then share clips or scrapbooks as images across multiple apps. Users can download Socialife, a fun, stylish viewer to manage your social networking sites and news feeds in one place. Lastly, Sony offers three media applications, WALKMAN®, Album and Movies, allowing users to consume their content in feature rich and easy-to-use apps.
The Xperia Tablet S, which launches with Android 4.0, has a thin and light aluminum body while still maintaining a unique design for a comfortable grip and feel. It is fast and powerful with a NVIDIA® Tegra™ 3 quad-core processor. The screen maintains a crisp display and fingerprint and glare reducing coatings. The device includes a full-sized SD card slot for expanded storage and HDMI® connectivity with optional HDMI adapter cable. With built-in Wi-Fi® compatibility, users can browse the internet, check e-mail and access digital content anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection.
Sound quality is enhanced with ClearAudio+ mode. ClearAudio+ mode, developed with Sony’s own signal processing technologies, allows users to effortlessly enjoy audio quality that is distinctly Sony. ClearAudio+ mode incorporates a variety of Sony’s technologies, but with one simple operation, users can easily enjoy Sony recommended sound in ultimate clarity and presence, across the entire spectrum of sound.
Also available at launch is a promotion for up to $45 in feature films from Google Play™. The Xperia Tablet S will come equipped with redemption codes to add three movies from a choice of fifteen available movies to the Google Play movie library.
Users can personalize their Xperia Tablet S with a new line of optimized accessories (sold separately). The Cover with Keyboard features a thin keyboard that connects via the device’s multi-port, so no pairing is needed. The Docking Stand is sleek, stylish and adds functionality with three USB ports and one HDMI port. Other accessories include a Simple Stand, Carrying Cover in seven stylish colors, a Charging Cradle and a Dock Speaker.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICING
The Xperia Tablet S is available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB versions and will be sold at Sony Stores, including online, and other authorized dealers nationwide for about $399, $499 and $599 respectively starting September 7 (preorders start today).
Accessories (all available at launch with the exception of the Dock Speaker):
Cover with Keyboard – $99.99
Docking Stand – $99.99
Simple Stand – $24.99
Carrying Cover –$50.99 – $79.99
Charging Cradle – $39.99
Dock Speaker – $129.99, available November
For more information please visit www.sony.com/tablet, visit blog.sony.com/xperiatablet for a video first look and follow #SonyTablet on Twitter for the latest tablet news.