Sony Xperia Tablet S official: slimmed-down design, Tegra 3, IR remote and Android 4.0, starts at $400
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.
Android and PlayStation Vita owners have felt the Music Unlimited love on their respective devices for quite some time now, but the Spotify / MOG / Rdio competitor has finally made its way to the App Store, bringing with it yet another option for streaming music on iOS. The free app appears to be optimized for iPhone and iPod touch (though it’s also compatible with iPad), and will enable on-the-go jammin’ with a $4-per-month Basic subscription over 3G, 4G or WiFi connections. You can pull in tunes from the millions of tracks in Sony’s collection, or access songs on your PC using the Music Sync service. The app is currently only available in the New Zealand App Store, but it’s expected to hit other Music Unlimited countries soon. For now, you can hit up the source link for the Kiwi App Store preview, or head over to the Music Unlimited site to sign up.
Sony’s connected Music Unlimited offering is already available online, on gaming devices, on Android phones and tablets, so nice to see it’s finally available on its, you know, Walkman music players. In what feels somewhat like an afterthought, “compatible Walkman devices” (currently just the NWZ-E465) can play your favorite channels and playlists on the move — no connection required. Only those paying the $9.99 premium, however, get to add songs from the actual Unlimited music catalogue. Plug-in at home, sync the music, and listen at your leisure offline via the dedicated app, but with so many other competing ways of enjoying your music from the cloud, on a plethora of connected devices, it really is surprising this wasn’t already possible. Still, if you own an NWZ-E465, and subscribe to the Music Unlimited, you can feel all gooey knowing Sony has your back. Hit the PR after the break for more info.
Sony didn’t make a big to do about the arrival of its Music Unlimited service on Android — perhaps it’s the fact that the market for streaming music on mobile devices is getting a bit crowded these days, with recent arrivals from Apple, Google, and Amazon. Or maybe it’s that the mention of Qriocity, the service that powers the offering, is still likely to leave a bad taste in the mouths of lots of folks, after the whole, well, you know. Whatever the case may be, the app is now available as a free download for those with Google’s dessert-based operating system on their handsets, plus either the $4 a month basic or $10 a month premium plan.
Can it be happening? Is Sony’s security nightmare finally over? Seems to be. On Tuesday, Sony promised full restoration of its PlayStation Network and Qriocity services in the Americas, Europe, and Asia (excluding Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea) by the end of the week. Now Sony is proclaiming that today is the day for full restoration with details of its “welcome back” package to be announced from each region. The PlayStation Store is already up with a “huge lineup” of new games, demos, add-ons, themes, avatars, and videos along with an updated Playstation Plus. Hey, look on the bright side Sony, even though you’ve lost the confidence of millions of your customers, at least now they’re aware of your Qriocity service.
What started as loose-lipped tattle is now official: the PSP will get a taste of Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming music service starting on April 14th. The service, tortuously entitled “Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity” by Sony, requires a PlayStation Network ID to access all that digital audio. Once setup, Sony promises a “synchronized music experience” across your PSP, PS3, PC, and other network-enabled Sony devices like Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players — a claim backed by a cloud-based catalog of some seven million tracks supported by a “music sync” functionality that will automatically organize your Music Unlimited library after perusing the local files and playlists found in your existing media player (yes, iTunes is supported). Click through the break for the full press release and a good video overview of the service while you ponder the $3.99 basic and $9.99 premium monthly service fees.
Sony's Music Unlimited streaming service coming to NGP, will hit Xperia Play this year and PSP 'in a matter of weeks'
It may sound patently obvious at this point, but there’s still cause to celebrate — Sony’s streaming subscription music service, Music Unlimited, is headed to both the PlayStation Portable and its pair of divergent spiritual successors the Next Generation Portable and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play. Eurogamer sat down with Sony Network Entertainment VP Shawn Layden, who spread the news readily, confirming that the service would be activated (at least in the UK) on PlayStation Portable “in a matter of weeks.” Meanwhile, Android phones including the infamous PlayStation handset will get Music Unlimited “this year,” and SNE “will make it happen” on the NGP as well, presumably sometime after the company reveals when its beast of a portable game station will actually come out. All in the name of taking your tunes with you wherever you happen to travel — a concept that’s getting rather popular right now.
In case you missed the news, last night Amazon gave us a little surprise by launching its free Cloud Player service, which lets you stream your music collection from the cloud to your computer or Android device. While this has no doubt put a smile on many faces (American ones only, for now), Sony Music isn’t too happy about Amazon jumping the gun over licensing for streaming rights. The record label told Reuters that it’s hoping Amazon “will reach a new license deal, but we’re keeping all of our legal options open.” Yikes. In retaliation, Amazon responded with the following statement to Ars Tehcnica:
“Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It’s like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available. The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.”
Of course, the bigger story here is that Amazon’s free Cloud Player is going head-to-head with Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming subscription service, which was pushed out last month after plenty of money talk with various record labels. Understandably, Sony isn’t willing to let Amazon cut through the red tape here without a fight, and this may also affect similar music locker services like mSpot and MP3Tunes, albeit at a much smaller scale. In fact, Sony’s already expressed its discomfort with those particular companies’ mode of operation, so you can probably expect to see this tension boiling over to some form of legal action before long. Now that a big shot like Amazon’s involved, it’s almost inevitable.