Giving you a new opportunity to tell your favorite carrier exactly where it can stick that nasty two-year agreement, the unlocked Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray has made its official debut in the United States. In partnership with NewEgg, the handset carries an MSRP of $425 (although it currently sells for $380), where shoppers may choose between gold, black, white and pink varieties. As carrier compatibility goes, the phone features quad-band GSM support, along with 3G capability over the 2100 / 1900 / 850MHz airwaves, which makes it best suited for AT&T in the US, or Bell, Rogers and Telus up north. The Xperia Ray packs an MSM8255 SoC — which features a 1GHz CPU and an Adreno 205 GPU — along with a 3.3-inch FWVGA display and Android 2.3. Of particular note, it also sports an 8.1 megapixel lens with an Exmor Rsensor that’s well-suited for low-light situations, along with an LED flash and the ability to record video at 720p. So, if you’re mad as hell at two-year ordeals, here’s a reason to not take it anymore. Howard Beale would be so very proud.
To the joy and delight of babysitters everywhere, Sony announced a boatload of new noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds to keep you sane in loud situations. Leading the pack are the $200, on-ear active / passive MDR-NC200D headphones, which have a 40mm drivers in each ear, 22-hour battery and folding design. For $150, users wanting portability can cop the smaller in-ear MDR-NC100Ds, which have a lower price tag and 13.5mm drivers. Both headphones feature Sony’s “Artificial Intelligence Noise-Cancelling” technology, which claims to automatically reduce ambient noise by around 98.2 percent — because you know, precision matters.
Also launching today are two new smartphone headsets — the $40 in-ear DR-EX14VP and the $60 DR-XB23VP earbuds — with connectivity to Android, iPhone and BlackBerry phones, as well as Sony Ericsson, Nokia and other phones thanks to an included compatibility cord. Pulling up the rear are the new iPhone control headsets — the $60 DR-XB22iP in-ear silicone hybrids, the $40 DR-EX61iP earbuds and the $150 “over-the-head” DR-ZX701iP. Currently accepting pre-orders, the headphones will be available for purchase sometime in October — just in time to tune out the doorbell this Halloween. Check out the full PR after the break.
Verizon is seriously diversifying its portfolio today with the official in-store launch of four new smartphones. Three of them roll up in Android gear, though they all have major selling points beyond Google’s software. LG’s Revolution is the sole LTE-capable handset of the bunch, bringing with it a 4.3-inch screen and pre-installed Netflix for $250. The Droid X2 undercuts it on price, at $200, but doubles the core count with its Tegra 2 processor and ramps up resolution to qHD (960 x 540). Gaming aficionados can spend the same amount on the Xperia Play from Sony Ericsson, which offers a slideout gamepad and unique PlayStation Certified status. Bringing up the rear is HTC’s well-traveled Trophy, a 3.8-inch Windows Phone that accepts it’s a little late to the party and therefore slices $50 off its asking price, with a $150 levy before the obligatory two-year contract. What say you — buy, try, or keep waiting?
The hackers just won’t give poor Sony a break, will they? Following the infamous PSN breach last month and an attack on the company’s Greek online music service earlier this week, Sony Ericsson has now seen another intrusion that extracted personal data of more than 2,000 Canadian Eshop customers. Fortunately, the company claims that passwords taken were encrypted and no credit card details were lost, but this is still worrisome nevertheless. Right now, the Eshop service has been taken off line — for the sake of Sir Howard and his Japanese chums, let’s just hope that this will be the last Sony breach we hear about.
Remember Sony’s SmartAR? The markerless AR technology that promises reality augmentation without the need for unsightly tattoos? It’s back again, showing itself once more after an all-too-brief 48 hour layoff. A new live-demo shows Sony’s markerless object recognition system focusing on posters, tables, books, and coffee cups in lieu of the traditional AR card — allowing it recognize multiple objects at once. Focusing on objects rather than markers allow augmented entities to interact more naturally with their environment. For instance, bouncing AR balls plummet off the edge of a table, and realistically ricochet off of a book placed in their path. Objects don’t even need to remain on screen, as demonstrated by an AR pop-up menu that remained viewable even after the object-marker that spawned it left the viewer’s field of vision. Sony seems to have built the groundwork of an augmented reality system that might actually be useful — pair this up with a set of swank AR glasses (or better yet, holographic AR glasses), and we’ll have a vision of the future we can really look forward to.
We’ve just gotten to grips with Sony Ericsson’s new compact smartphones, the Xperia Mini and its keyboard-equipped sibling the Xperia Mini Pro, and have a gallery of shots for you below. Hit them up now and we’ll have hands-on impressions and video coming shortly.
The Xperia Mini has wonderful size when it comes to width and height, but we have to ask: why so thick? The Mini Pro is only slightly thicker despite having a fully-fledged slideout keyboard, so it would have been nice if the keyboard-less Mini was more svelte. Sony Ericsson is clearly going after the pocket- and handbag-conscious demographic here, who might not be all that receptive to the Mini’s girth. SE also made some bold claims about the finger-friendliness of the Mini Pro’s keyboard, which we were told were backed by usability tests against rival phones. Those trials were isolated to devices “in its size class” (of which there aren’t many), but our first response was still very positive, at least once we turned on auto-correct. This will be a matter of personal preference, but we found ourselves enjoying not having to take care of every little slip of the finger. Anyway, settings adjusted appropriately, we bashed away on the Mini Pro rather speedily and would rate it right up there with the BlackBerry Bold 9700 in terms of our typing rapidity. Browser rendering has its flaws, there’s a stuttery quality to zooming in and out of a page, but at least it’s done quickly and Flash playback seems to work without a hitch.
It’s time for us to welcome yet another contender in the battle for world’s slimmest Android phone: the LG Optimus Black. This 9.2mm-thick handset made its debut to oohs and aahs of admiration at CES earlier in the year, and is now on the very precipice of a global release. Admittedly, it’s not quite slender enough to knock the 7.7mm-thick NEC MEDIAS N-04C off its perch as the absolute thinnest, but it is sufficiently slender to give Samsung’s Galaxy S II and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc a good fright. That pair of smartphones offer thinner proportions on the spec sheet, but when rested on a flat surface they sit ever so slightly higher than the Optimus Black. This is because, unlike its tricky contemporaries, the Optimus Black keeps to the same thickness along its full length (don’t laugh), which, technically speaking, makes it the thinnest Android handset on the European market. Check it out in the gallery below or video after the break — and hold tight, we’ll have a full review for you in the coming days!
Take one Xperia X8, add a dash of color, paint a “W” on it and, voilà, you have the first Walkman phone running Android — the W8. We’re not seeing it on the US Sony Ericsson site yet, but a quick visit to the company’s German page reveals the decidedly low-end specs: a 3-inch, 320 x 480 touchscreen, a 600MHz processor, 168MB of RAM and Android 2.1. The W8 may not recapture the luster the Walkman brand enjoyed in its TPS-L2 heyday, but at least it’ll update your Twitter status. Gallery below.
Looking for your fibrous dose of gadget leak? Look no further than China which has, again and again, outed several spy shots of what appears to be the Xperia X10 Mini Pro’s successor. Dubbed the SK17i and codenamed “Mango,” this time we’re looking at some proof of Android 2.3 on this little Sony Ericsson slider, along with a homescreen UI not dissimilar to that of the X10 Mini and X8 series. Other than that, we’re not seeing anything new here, though we can’t help but wonder if the unused Xperia Duo trademark has finally found its rightful owner — you know, maybe Duo as in a two-part slider phone? As always, only time will tell.
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.
Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play isn’t having the best of starts in the world, having been delayed by UK carrier O2 due to “software issues,” and it’s now missing its targeted launch date of April 1st with two more of the local operators, Vodafone and Three. Both have today announced that, due to shipping issues, they won’t be able to meet tomorrow’s launch date — leaving only Orange on track to release it on time. T-Mobile, Orange’s partner in Everything Everywhere, says it’ll have the Xperia Play in “mid-April.” Still, the wait isn’t that much longer as Three hopes to sell you a Play “early next week” and Vodafone, a bit more cautiously, is shooting for availability “as soon as possible.”
The PlayStation Phone. We’ve had quite the intimate history with this gamepad-equipped slider, learning of its secretive existence way back in August and then handling a prototype unit in January, so you’ll forgive us for feeling sentimental and still entertaining our pet name for it. The Sony Ericsson marketing gurus renamed it the Xperia Play when it finally went official at MWC this year, but the PlayStation connection remains as strong as ever. Aside from the D-pad, iconic game keys, and two touchpads, this device comes with a little app named PlayStation Pocket, which will be serving up dollops of classic PlayStation One gaming to all those with a taste for it. Yes, the Sony influence is strong with this one, and the Android Market will be joining the fun with Xperia Play-optimized titles from third-party developers. So all we really need to know now is whether the Android smartphone underpinning this smash-bang fusion of old and new school entertainment happens to be any good. Shall we get Started?
Oh, woe is us. Or, to be more precise, woe is us if we wanted the Xperia Play on the UK’s O2 network on the day of its release, April 1st. The British carrier has been candid in admitting it found software bugs on the Play and is holding back release of the gamer-friendly device until those have been ironed out. We appreciate its effort in “testing the phone non-stop for weeks” and its reluctance to grab a quick buck by releasing imperfectly baked goods, but a major question remains — if this isn’t an O2-specific software problem, and we’ve heard no peep of O2 customizing the Android 2.3 build on the Play, why are no other carriers signaling a similar delay? Vodafone is still aiming to deliver UK pre-orders by April 5th and there seems to be no indication of flawed software from others. Only thing we can think of, given that O2 has the white Xperia Play exclusive, is that the white phone curse has struck again.
It has begun. The Xperia Play, a device that promises to take mobile gaming to its next level of awesomeness, just scooped itself a one-month exclusive on a brand new action adventure game. BackStab, produced by mobile game makers Gameloft, has a “free roaming 3D environment” (old school 3D, not the fancy new stuff), filled with some decidedly yummy-looking graphics and what appears to be an emphasis on battling multiple enemies at once. All we’re seeing here reminds us of desktop or console games, not the usual mobile fare, so we’re most intrigued to see this game in action. It’ll hit all of Android eventually, but for the first 30 or so days after its launch in Q2 2011, it’ll be only on Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play.
Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play ad: gross human thumbs stitched onto robots, drugged clubgoers, not much more we can say (video)
Is this the creepiest ad ever produced to introduce a new video game console? That’s a high bar to pass — but is it the creepiest ad for a new smartphone? Perhaps. The minute-long spot for Sony Ericsson’s upcoming Xperia Play called “The Donor” appears to explain the backstory behind its last ad, relaying the tale of a young gentleman who was clubbing with friends, met an attractive woman, took her home, and woke up the next morning to discover that his thumbs were stone cold gone (notice the dirty, poorly-bandaged stumps on the table as he tells his tale of woe to a local law enforcement official). Cut to the next scene, where we’ve got our cute, lovable Android bot waddling around town… oh, and he’s got human thumbs crudely sewn onto his arms. Go ahead, recoil in horror, vomit in the trashcan next to your desk, then cue the inevitable increased desire in owning this phone. Follow the break for the video, if you dare.