Looks like those leaked slides showing Sony's Xperia-branded tablet were right about pretty much everything. (Well, everything except the price, anyway). The company just formally announced the Xperia Tablet S and, as rumored, it features a Tegra 3 chip, Android 4.0 and up to 64GB of built-in storage. Like last year's Tablet S, it has that distinctive folded-over magazine shape, except this go-round it's made of metal, and measures between .35 and .47 inches thick (the weight, too, has dropped to 1.26 pounds, down from 1.31). Sony also kept the Tablet S' IR emitter, which allows the tablet to double as a universal remote, and this time you can program shortcuts to do things like watch sports. Rounding out the spec sheet, there's a full-size SD slot, a 9.4-inch (1,280 x 800) IPS screen and a 6,000mAh battery promising 10 hours of runtime.
As we mentioned, the tablet will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich, but Sony is promising an upgrade to Jelly Bean as soon as it can optimize all its custom apps. And indeed, there are quite a few specialized applications here. For starters, there's a new Watch Now app that allows for live TV-viewing (cable subscription required), with the option to "check into" shows and share comments on Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, Sony added a Guest Mode that lets you create custom user profiles, forbidding the use of certain apps -- a handy parental control tool, we say. Naturally, Sony also threw in Music and Video Unlimited, where you can buy content from Sony's vast movie and song catalogs. Finally, the tablet comes with 5GB of space in PlayMemories, Sony's new cloud storage service.
The tablet will be available September 7th, though Sony is accepting pre-orders starting today. It will start at $400 for the 16GB model, with the 32GB going for $500 and the 64GB for $600. And yes, as those leaked slides indicated, there will most certainly be accessories. For starters, there's that optional Surface-like keyboard we heard about, priced at $100. There's also a three-position stand, with HDMI output and a USB adapter for a charging. That, too, costs $100. Sony is also selling a charging cradle ($40), a plain-Jane stand ($25), a dock speaker ($130) and a carrying case, priced at either $51 or $80, depending on whether or not you get it in leather. We very much expect to get some hands-on time at IFA, so stay tuned for first-hand impressions.
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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.