Xperia ray, Xperia active and Sony Ericsson txt

Sony Ericsson has unveiled yet three more new handsets, the Xperia Ray, the Xperia Active and the Sony Ericsson txt. Does the mobile giant’s latest line offer anything new or simply mirror the features and design of their predecessors?

Xperia-Family

Like most new gadgets hitting the market, the Xperia Ray, with its sleek aluminium frame, is aimed at the more style conscious consumers. This thin and elegant Android phone features a 3.3” touch screen and an 8.1 megapixel camera that is capable of capturing 720p video – Quite an internal package considering this handset weighs in at just 100g.

Whilst the Xperia Ray has been designed for the more fashion conscious amongst us, the Xperia active is for the sportier techie junkies out there. Not only is the Active scratch-resistant, dust proof and water resistant, but it also has wet finger tracking support, meaning its touchscreen will function normally when operated with sweaty fingers – a great addition if you are inclined to want to use your smartphone straight after an arduous and gruelling workout.

Maintaining its sports conscious capabilities, the Xperia Active runs on the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread, is compatible with ANT+ technology for real-time heart rate monitoring, a feature that many other Sony Ericsson handsets possess.

Other conventional components apply, including a 3” touchscreen and a 5 megapixel camera with HD functionality.

In-keeping with Sony Ericsson’s latest ‘theme-based’ handsets, the Sony Ericsson txt is aimed at the socially-orientated consumer. A full hardware QWERTY keyboard replaces a touchscreen and the txt features an SMS shortcut for instant texting option and a “friends” app alerting you of the social updates of your top five friends, making the Sony Ericsson txt the perfect companion for texting junkies and the social media addicted.

Although it’s not just three new smartphones that Sony Ericsson has launched. Other ‘smart extras’ include the Sony Ericsson Smart Extras LiveDock, a docking station that enables users to utilise their Sony Ericsson smartphone into their home, and the Sony Ericsson Smart Extras LiveSound, headphones that provide a seamless audio experience whilst enabling consumers to remotely access applications from the phone through LiveKey control.

Minuscule over massive: Xperia mini and the Xperia mini pro

Bigger is better, they say – or is it? When it comes to technology and gadgets, minuscule is usually chosen over massive, so when Sony Ericsson tells you that they’re launching the world’s smallest HD recording video smartphone, you’ve got to open your eyes and ears and take notice.

The phone manufacturer have unveiled two new additions to their Xperia smartphone range – the Xperia mini and the Xperia mini pro.

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They both run on Google Android’s Gingerbread 2.3 via a 1GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, meaning that they are self-proclaimed “turbo charged” pieces of well-oiled machinery.

The jewel in the crown, perhaps, amidst all the app-laden japery, is that the Xperia mini holds the moniker of the world’s smallest Android smartphone with HD video recording. The Xperia mini pro, however, errs on the side of the office pen-pusher rather than the avid videomaker, with a fold-out keyboard and pre-installed antivirus and office software.

The enterprising chaps at Sony Ericsson have also unleashed ‘Facebook in Xperia’, which will allow users of the new smartphones even greater interactivity with Facebook whilst on their phone. Want to tell people about the song you’re listening to on the phone’s media player? Well, you can ‘like’ it straight from the player. It claims to offer a high level of integration between the social networking website and the phone’s functions, but we’re left however pondering how often it might actually be utilised.

Using Sony Ericsson Arc to cover the Royal Wedding

We liked the Sony Ericsson Arc so much – loaned to us by Three – that we decided to put it through its paces – on wedding-day. The question was, for a whole day of intense, outdoor media coverage, could the Arc outperform the iPhone 4?

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Screen

The huge 4.2-inch touchscreen is huge – which meant viewing the route map for the procession was easy.

The humble LED-backlit TFT, it doesn’t have the pizzaz of the AMOLED – however, the 480×854 resolution meant that we didn’t miss the iPhone’s outstanding Retina display – a surprise to us.

It was equally poor in bright sunlight, though. When will anyone fix this?

Camera

The 8.1MP resolution takes a great photo – rivalling that of the iPhone. The reason for that is the Exmor R CMOS sensor. It’s back-illuminated to take smoother, better-quality shots in low light than normal phone cameras. For darkness, it even outperforms Apple’s offering. And in normal light, it’s no slouch either.

It also comes with Smile Detection technology – which automatically snaps when a smile gets big enough (i.e. anytime anyone glanced at Pippa Middleton). Video recording is 720p.

Internet

The web-browser was snappy – partially due to the 1GHz processor, and partially due to Three’s excellent coverage in Hyde Park.

We have to hand it to the network (who lent us the phone), Three lived up to anything the Arc could throw at it. We didn’t have an Arc on another network to compare with, but we noticed that Spotify streaming was surprisingly consistent, unlike our experiences on some other networks.

All the media-rich Flash content for the wedding loaded without a hitch – although sometimes the interface could be a pain, Flash Mobile still isn’t perfect.

Speaker

The Xperia Arc failed the “playing phat tunes in park” test. It’s loudspeaker works fine, it’s just a bit unrefined and muffl-y. The iPhone has it here – despite Sony’s music pedigree.

Form

It’s very thin – which is refreshing. Despite the huge screen, there’s no bulk, making the Xperia pocket friendly.

The plastic case feels a bit cheap, however, which really takes away from the whole experience.

On the plus side, it does make the device incredibly light – a helium balloon compared with the weight of the iPhone. You’ll hardly notice it in your pocket – which left us free to carry more Will & Kate flags

Battery

The battery-life is average. After a full day of Royal activities, it limped home, complaining about its tired legs and sub-10% remaining power.

Conclusion

If the iPhone didn’t exist, then the Arc would be our mobile of choice. The camera is great, it’s light, powerful, has Flash. The only issue is the speaker – but who really uses the loudspeaker function, anyway?

If it were a straight choice between the two… Well, it’s impossible. Sorry.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Review

Xperia-Play

Rumours of PlayStation phone began with the first console. 17 years later, it’s finally here, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play . While the idea may have been conceived seven years before Sony Ericsson’s incorporation, the mobile phone giant is packing the handset with thoroughly modern technology. The specifications you’ll expect to find in any high-end smartphone are as follows: there is a 1 GHz CPU (snapdragon), 512 MB RAM, a 4 inch multi-touch screen (capacitive touch, 854 x 480), a five megapixel camera and an Android 2.3 operating system.

What you won’t find on any other smartphone is the slide out gaming controls. As a benefit to being the first officially certified PlayStation mobile phone, Sony Ericsson has included most of the functionality of a proper PlayStation controller.

In all honesty, the control pad looks more similar to the slider of the PSP Go then a full controller. You finding the pad on the left, set the standard PlayStation balance on the right, stars and select buttons, shoulder buttons on the back of the device and a long rectangular touchpad in the middle for simulating dual analog sticks.

Sony promises fluid gameplay at 60 frames per second, thanks to the optimisation of the snapdragon processor coupled with an embedded Adreno GPU. It all adds up to some pretty intense gaming potential. We’ve already seen the graphical prowess of the iPhone 4, and the snapdragon/adreno combination promises to go to push the boundaries even further

The phone is not only compatible with android marketplace, letting gamers use to controller on games not designed for the Xperia, but will also boast a dedicated android marketplace gaming section. Here you’ll find 50 launch titles; although we expect a lot of these to be rehashes of old PS one games.

Preview Video:

It should ship with one A-plus game from the PlayStation’s history, with most bets placed on Crash Bandicoot. Personally, we’d like to see the Grand Turismo launch. Other franchises coming to Xperia PLAY include EA’s Need For Speed, Sims 3, a world-first multiplayer version of FIFA 10 for mobile, Guitar Hero, Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell.

Sony Ericsson is also partnering with Unity Technologies – the engine behind the iPhone’s best-looking titles, to use its award-winning development platform, to ensure plenty more beautiful games.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play and Xperia Arc: We go hands on

After years of speculation, the Playstation phone is coming. Latest Gadgets got the chance to see the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY in action. If you are looking for gaming on the go, this is fun and simple to use. Competing with smartphones and portable gaming machines could be a challenge, how does the Xperia Play compare to its rivals?

Xperia-Play-Hands-On

Designed with a powerful engine to deliver clear gaming graphics, it provides entertaining gaming for that boring train journey. Powered by Android 2.3, the latest platform, the Xperia PLAY has access to the Android Market for all the apps you want. As a phone, it has 5 homes screen which you can scroll through and customise along 480×854 resolution on a 4” screen. For quick access to a specific app, you can pinch the screen and all the widgets on each home screen combine on to a single screen and you select the app you want. But you want to know how it plays right?

At launch Xperia PLAY will come preloaded with seven games including Asphalt, a racing game. There will be fighting games and every genre available so there is something for everyone. Further games will be available, including Need for Speed and FIFA 10, for download at launch with more in the works with a price between £3 and £5. Gameplay is simple to pick up as it plays just like a PSP down to the L1 and R1 trigger keys and analogue sticks. It comes with an 8GB memory card but if you want to store a choice of games you may want to consider buying a 32GB memory card to go with it as 8GB just will not cut it. 5 hours of constant gaming time is very good and better than the iPhone. Available from end of March/April and pricing to be announced.

For media lovers, the Sony Ericsson arc is up your street. It is built to showcase video on a large 4.2” screen. The only word I can use to describe this is stunning. Powered by the Mobile Bravia engine I was blown away when watching a video clip on the 854×480 display. Sony’s Exmor R mobile sensor allows you to take bright pictures and HD videos in low light. Then you can share it with your TV in HD using DLNA or the HDMI connector included in the box. Using the same user interface as Xperia Play, you use the phone in very much the same way. Overall, the Arc is one attractive and very thin phone. The only gripes I have are the size of the storage, 8GB and lack of front-facing camera. However, memory can be increased and apart from video-calling what do you really need a front-facing camera for? Available at the end of March.

Sony Ericsson announces Xperia Arc with Mobile BRAVIA engine

Sony makes thousands of products. But despite the technological prowess, the Japanese company has done a pretty poor job of sharing knowledge between departments – until now. The new Xperia Arc smartphone takes all of Sony’s television and camera knowledge, condenses into a tiny form and squeezes into a handset of slim beauty.

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The most outstanding feature (of three impressive ones) is the camera. It boasts Sony’s award-winning Exmor R sensor that, coupled with the f/2.4 lens, enables the capture of high-quality, bright pictures and HD videos even in low light situations. Sony even boast that it’s best-in-class for low-light photography and video capture.

And those previously inaccessible low-light photos will look great printed, as the camera takes shots of up to 8.1 megapixels. Other features transferred from full-sized cameras include the 2.46x smart zoom, auto focus, face detection and LED flash, geo-tagging, image stabilisation, noise suppression, smile detection and HD recording at 720p. There’s even a HDMI-connector to plug into TVs and computer monitors.

After the camera, the “Reality Display” definitely deserves a mention. The phone’s screen earns the special title by using Sony Ericsson’s most advanced phone display technology: the mobile BRAVIA Engine. Inspired by the company’s high-end TV range, it should deliver a crystal clear image on the 4.2-inch. At 854 x 480 pixels, however, the resolution is still much lower than the iPhone’s 960 x 640 display.

All these two winning functions are crammed into the third impressive feature: a super slim body of just 8.7mm at its thinnest part – 0.7mm slimmed than the iPhone. The complete dimensions are 125 x 63 x 8.7 mm, with a weight of just 117 grams – 20 grams less than Apple’s flagship.

The phone will run Android 2.3, so full Flash support is guaranteed. It’ll also have a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, with support for a 32GB memory card. Internal memory is a bit sad though, just 512MB.

Out in the first quarter of 2011, you’ll be able to pick one up in either Midnight Blue or Misty Silver.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro: Mini mobiles made manageable

The pros and cons of exceptionally small mobile phones always spark debate. Whilst some see them as ingenious little devices that can be conveniently placed into a pocket, without the fear of misshaping an outfit the way that bulkier mobiles can do, others regard them as fidgety, annoying and without many other uses than merely making phone calls. It is the latter grievance that Sony Ericsson seems to have rectified, with the advent of the Sim Free Xperia X10 Mini Pro.

x10-mini-pro

Similar to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and the X10 Mini, the X10 Mini Pro – despite being smaller than a credit card – provides for a host of multimedia capabilities, including video, gaming, music, email, photography, as well as a multitude of applications at Android Market. But where the X10 Mini Pro differs to its progenies and forms the basis for the word “Pro” to be added to its name, is the addition of a QWERTY keyboard, which neatly slides out from underneath this miniscule machine.

Apart from the slide-out physical keyboard, which makes a refreshing change to awkwardly tapping on a tiny keypad with a toothpick, the X10 Mini Pro boasts a 5 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, GPS, video streaming, a 16M color TFT capacitive touchscreen, micro SD, Wi-Fi, a 128Mb memory, and a built-in FM radio – Quite a bundle for something which has dimensions of only 90 x 52 x 17 mm, and weighs just 120 grams.

According to some who have had the pleasure to dabble with this remarkable little mobile, its physical keyboard and simple user interface, which enables you to access favourite apps from the homescreen with just one touch, is surprisingly easy to use – quite an achievement for something so small.

Another added bonus of the Sim Free Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro is that is unlocked. You can therefore use it with any GMS SIM card in the world, and are not confined to either a contract or pre-pay Pay As You Go.

Aesthetically, the X10 Mini Pro is an attractive and stylish mobile that is available in black, red and white livery. Although such an array of multimedia capacities in such an attractive and dainty casing does not come without a fairly hefty price tag, and this nifty little number will set you back £249.99.

Spyro and Zylo join Sony Ericsson’s Walkman family

Using your mobile as an MP3 player is not a new idea, but one that Sony Ericsson have been successfully peddling for many years now. Their Walkman mobiles may not offer the glamour of Apple models, but they come at a considerably lower pricepoint and with a host of additional features, including one button access to social networking sites and the option of using your music as a background to your calls. The idea behind the new handsets is that music is no longer a purely personal experience, and the phones continue a one button linkup to various social networks to allow you to recommend tracks and videos to your friends.

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Here’s the lowdown on the latest handsets

The Zylo

This is undoubtedly the Daddy of the pair, featuring a more comprehensive spec list and a rather stylish candybar slider. Interestingly (and great for audiophiles) it’s the only one of the pair to support the FLAC lossless codec which means it lets you enjoy a premium audio experience on compressed files. A nice feature about this handset is its ability to let you listen to tracks whilst taking phone calls (cleverly titled the Music Call), which adds to the sharing element of the phone, and enables you to integrate music into every aspect of your life. The handset also comes preloaded with sounds so the user can pretend they’re hanging out in the office or sitting in a restaurant- that is, if you like adding an element of subterfuge to your friendships.

The Zylo is 3G enabled and boats quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE for world-wide accessibility. It features a 2.6 inch screen and a 3.2 megapixel camera with 2x digital zoom, which is a little bit of a letdown as their more premium music phones such as the W995 and the Satio have 8.1 and 12.1 megapixels respectively. However, it does let you geotag snaps, which you can then upload to YouTube, Facebook or Twitter all of which are integrated into the homepage of the handset for easy access. As with all Sony Ericsson phones there are certain features you can expect, and this doesn’t disappoint, featuring Track ID (a Sony Ericsson version of Shazam which lets you identify music that’s playing on the radio by using the internal mic), WalkMate (an internal pedometer) and Shake Control which lets you alter the volume and switch songs with a deft flick of the wrist.
It boasts a 240×320 QVGA screen and features USB 2.0 connectivity as well as Bluetooth, and you get the option to purchase a snap on speaker stand for easier ways to share your tunes. There’s 260 MB of internal memory, but you’ll really want to invest in a microSD card (up to 16GB) to really make use of the phone facilities.

It will be available in three colours, Black, Silver and Pink, from Autumn 2010

The Sony Ericsson Spiro

Not to be confused with the beloved purple dragon (Spyro, for those not in the know) this handset bears few similarities. Fire breathing qualities? Zilch, but it does however have some stake in the cuteness department, as it will be available in a selection of colours. At 90g, it’s 25g lighter than its big brother and is a trimmed down version of the Zylo. This handset has a 2.2 inch QVGA screen, but features so little onboard memory, that forking out for a microSD card is mandatory- but it can handle up to 16GB which is a fair amount of tunes.

The Spiro features many of the same Walkman benefits as the Zylo, with enabled networking applications, TrackID and access to the PlayNow store, but has a 2 megapixel camera and lacks the FLAC codec. It doe however double up as torch (handy when hiking late at night) and features a micro USB connector which makes charging simpler and more efficient.

The handset also features a 3.5mm jack, which means you can use it with your own headphones (hurrah!) and it will be available in Contrast Black, Sunset Pink, Spring Green and Stealth Black. I’m not sure the difference between those two types of black- possibly one will be gloss and the other matte?

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a mid ranged mobile with music functionality, these babies could make you very happy come Autumn.