Chris Nuttall Sony launches new tablet, phones, hybrids at IFA

A year after launching its first tablet, Sony has announced a next-generation version, the Xperia Tablet S.

The new slate is a slimmer version of the original, battery life has been boosted from eight hours to a claimed 10 hours and new accessories have been added.  The Tablet S was unveiled at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin along with new smartphones, hybrid PCs and an 84in 4K LCD TV.

The infra-red universal remote control feature has been enhanced with macro capabilities – so you can not only control any TV, set-top box or home theatre centre with the tablet, it now also enables multiple devices to be turned on at once for “Watch TV” or “Play Music” functions.

To accompany this, Watch Now is an attractive new app that offers a programme guide backed up by social media feeds.

The features are similar to those offered by Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1, with its Peel app.

Sony anticipates the S being used by families in the home a lot and offers a Guest Mode feature, allowing personalised configurations for different users. ClearAudio+, common to several new Sony products, is new technology that boosts the sound quality.

Specifications include Android 4.0, a Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a 1280×800 pixel screen and a full-sized SD card slot. The tablet is Wi-Fi only. Pricing is $399, $499 and $599 for 16Gb, 32Gb and 64Gb models, pitching it $100 below comparable iPad models.

There are some interesting accessories being added, including a $100 cover with integrated keyboard and an unusual docking stand that makes the Xperia look and function like a mini-monitor.

Sony also announced three new Xperia smartphones at its IFA press conference – the T, V and J. The T was described as Sony’s new global flagship model with the best HD experience, including a 13Mp fast-capture camera, 4.6in display, and one-touch NFC connectivity to transfer content between Sony devices. The V was said to have the highest level of water resistance of any Sony smartphone and the J is a value-priced model.

In its Vaio line, sony showed off two hybrid PCs. The Duo 11 is an 11in tablet that converts to a lapto with a sliding mechanism that reveals a keyboard. A stylus for its touchscreen is also included. The Tap 20 is an all-in-one desktop PC, whose screen will lay flat to become a large touchscreen tablet.

The Sony conference climaxed with the unveiling of an 84in 4K Bravia LCD TV, which will be launched in markets worldwide this holiday season. It has 10 speaker units inside. However, this will have a premium price and there is very little content out there right now that takes advantage of the beyond-HD 4K standard.