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.

iPad2 review roundup

In its short life, the iPad has managed to turn on an enormous number of people to the joys of tablets. More than 15 million have been sold in just nine months.

Now it’s all about to start again as the iPad 2 hits the shelves of the UK stores on March 25 (the same day as the 3DS). Coming in at around twice the price of Nintendo’s pocket gaming device, the iPad 2 will require you to splash out 399 of your Earth pounds.

iPad-2

At first glance, reviewers are not convinced that this second generation of the iPad is much of an upgrade at all: “It’s thinner, lighter and also available in white,” points out Mark Prigg in the Evening Standard.

However, having had a bit of a play with said devices, he changed his mind, pointing out: “while subtle, this really is a major upgrade and a glimpse of the future of computing.”

So what has Apple actually tweaked and improved in its latest release? Well, the first most obvious thing is the size, as Jason Snell at MacWorld explains:

The iPad 2 is easier to carry with one hand, and the decreased weight makes it easier to hold for longer periods of time. But if you’re planning on using the iPad 2 to read a lot, you’ll still find yourself propping it against your chest or setting it on a table.

Joshua Topolsky at Engadget has been wowed by the design : “Apple is known for its industrial design, and they didn’t just chew scenery here; the iPad 2 is beautifully and thoughtfully crafted.”

But he was not quite so impressed with the two cameras: the rear-facing camera can record 720p video at 30fps and images at 720×960 pixels (about 0.69 mp), while the front-facing camera (designed to be used with Apple’s video calling package FaceTime), records stills and video at VGA resolution (640×480). “They’re not unusable, but it’s clear that the sensors employed are not top shelf by any measure. If you have a fourth-generation iPod touch with cameras, you can expect the same results.”

The IPad 2’s screen remains the same as its predecessor – 9.7inches, backlit multitouch with a resolution of 1024 x 768 at 132 pixels per inch.

But the biggest changes, explains Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica “are under the hood.”

The iPad 2 is the first Apple device to sport the company’s brand new A5 SoC or System on a Chip. This one chip contains the CPU (a dual-core ARM A9 processor in a power-saving configuration), the GPU (a PowerVR SGX 543 MP2), and 512 MB of DDR system memory.

Over at PC Pro, the experts there put the increased power and new iOS 4.3 to the test: “We upgraded the first iPad to iOS 4.3 (the same version as the iPad 2) and ran a number of tests with the two iPads side by side. In BBC iPlayer, programmes consistently launched a couple of seconds more quickly on the iPad 2.”

When the iPad was first launched it had no competition, but this time around Android tablets are up against it, however, PC Pro points out:

“It’s even more impressive when compared to its Android rivals. Even the original iPad had a significant edge over the Tegra 2-based Android tablets we’ve seen, and the extra core of the iPad 2 gives a further boost.”

Adam Banks at MacUser watched Steve Jobs handle the US launch of the iPad 2, and found that what really excited everyone was the possibility for more powerful apps:

“What got the audience going were the demos of iMovie and GarageBand. There’s already a mini-iMovie for the iPhone; the iPad version, still only $4.99, does much more, and a single purchase covers both devices. Before we called software “apps”, we used to test products that did less for 20 times that price and call them top value.”

So the new iPad, is disarmingly slimmer than its older brother, has more power, potentially more exciting apps, and decent battery life (up to 10 hours).

So should you buy one? “If you already have an iPad, you may feel it’s too soon to shell out to get your hands on one. There’s not too much to make it worth a whole new upgrade – after all, you can still use the same applications. This upgrade is designed for those who don’t have an iPad, and desirable it will be to those who aren’t yet equipped with one,” says Clare Hopping at Know Your Mobile

But the last word goes to our first reviewer, Mark Prigg at the Evening Standard, who concludes: “the incredible lure of Apple means there will be an awful lot of households with two iPads over the coming weeks.”