Sony officially launched its new tablet here at IFA — and it’s keeping that folded-over profile. Happily, it’s running Android ICS. We’ve just spent some time with the Xperia Tablet S here in Berlin and it’s looking like Sony wants this to be the center of your media-consuming world. The new tablet pals up with the company’s range of phones, bearing that familiar Xperia branding on a freshly hewn metal slab. Yes, the new tablet sidesteps the plastic build of Sony’s last two tablets going for a solid metal build. Fortunately, it feels just as light in the hand, while that folded design also remains well-balanced. We’re particularly pleased with the tactile finish on the folded-over surface of the tablet — it’s very grippable. Internally, we’re dealing with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, while a 10-inch 1,280 x 800 IPS display will be showing off all that media and gaming content. Browse our gallery of images below and check out our hands-on video and first impressions after the break.
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.
Splashtop is one of the premier remote desktop apps out there and, at CES, we got a pretty sweet demo of it pushing full screen games and HD video from a Windows 7 PC to a Tegra 3 tablet. Now that version (THD) is available for download in the Android Market for $6.99. Of course, you’ll need a Tegra 3 slate running Ice Cream Sandwich to take advantage, while playing Skyrimin full screen has the added requirement of PC sporting a GeForce GPU. Once you’ve gotten those basic requirements out of the way you’ll still want to make sure you’ve got a solid and quick wireless connection — all the processing power in the world won’t be able to compensate for a lack of bandwidth. Check out the video after the break to see it in action and hit up the source link to buy it yourself.
You’d think that with Tegra 3 shipping in the Transformer Prime and all, we’d know everything there is to know about the new SoC. Apparently not. NVIDIA just announced DirectTouch, a technology exclusive to its Tegra 3 platform that uses that bonus fifth core for to improve touch detection. So what does a low-power core have to do with the touch experience, you say? Essentially, what’s going on is NVIDIA’s PRISM Display technology separates color and backlight intensity to save battery life while preserving fidelity. In a demo, the technology looked mighty smooth, though we’ll need to get hands-on ourselves and see the technology in action for more than five seconds before we can weigh in on its utility.
We’ve been hitting Fujitsu phones for a while, looking in awe at the super-thin gear that remained firmly in the hands of the Japanese. Fortunately the Consumer Electronics Show is the perfect time for the company to further tease us with a product that might just make a trip to the west. Yesterday we got our mitts onto the Arrows Mu and today we’ve got a really special exclusive: a first look at the prototype of the quad-core packing Arrows super-phone. So, what delights are tucked inside and is this going to be the phone of 2012? Head on past the break to find out.
Remember our lovely leak of Lenovo’s Tegra 3 tablet from last November? Well, it showed up here at CES under the LePad K2010 moniker for China, while elsewhere it’ll likely be known as the IdeaTab K2. We won’t comment much on the unfinished software (so no luck with controlling the cursor using the fingerprint scanner on the back), but build quality wise we enjoyed the faux brushed metal cover on the back, and similarly, the sharp 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display between the speakers was very impressive (yes, we double-checked with Lenovo on these numbers).
We also received confirmation that the camera on the back has an eight-megapixel resolution, but obviously we’ll wait and see if the picture quality lives up to expectation. Alas, there’s still no word on availability, but regardless, China will get first dibs on this juicy quad-core slate. On the bright side, this should give ample time for potential buyers to save up — the K2010 is aimed at high-end business users, after all. Hands-on video after the break.
Just as we were settling down to another calm and banterful Engadget Mobile Podcast, our special guest had to go and throw us some hard news. Yup, and rather than making you sit through the entire two-hour recording (pleasant as that would be), we’re just going to come right out with it: Nicole Scott from netbooknews.com has it on good authority that the Asus Padfone will be coming out at MWC 2012 in February. What’s more, it won’t be powered by a Qualcomm Krait S4 as suggested by that strange GLBenchmark we saw earlier — it will in fact sport a Tegra 3, just like its highly capable big bro the Transformer Prime. See? That’s the kind of juicy reward our podcast listeners get for tuning in each week.
Transformer Prime detailed: 10-inch Super IPS+ display, 12-hour battery and quad-core Tegra 3, ships in December for $499
Asus can’t be absorbing all those limelight photons today. Not when its freshly detailed Transformer Prime depends so heavily on NVIDIA’s special sauce. Admittedly, we already know a lot about Tegra 3 from its Kal-El days, but we haven’t seen much in the way of real-world performance claims. Until now, that is. Below you’ll see newly released screenshots of Android games that have been souped-up to capitalize on the imminent Asus Eee Pad as well as other Tegra 3-powered devices — including smartphones — that are expected early next year. NVIDIA has also put out slides containing in-house benchmarks and head-to-head comparisons with the Tegra 2, which you’ll find right after the break.
Fancy a glimpse of the future? That little psychedelic beauty on the right is ARM’s brand new Cortex-A7 processor. Its spec sheet might not seem so colorful at first glance, because it doesn’t really do things any faster than existing high-end smartphone processors. However, this UK-based manufacturer isn’t known for bumping its gums, so it pays to look a little deeper. For a start, the Cortex-A7 is built using a 28nm process that makes it five times smaller and more efficient than the current-gen Cortex-A8. It’s also cheap enough to power sub-$100 handsets, so we could be pulling GSII-like tricks on budget phones within a couple of years.
Is that it? Nope, there’s more: perhaps the most important feature of the A7 is that it can be combined with much higher-power cores like the Cortex-A15 side-by-side on the same chip. This allows a super-phone or tablet to switch between two totally different processing units depending on how much power is needed at the time. ARM calls this “Big.LITTLE” computing,” and a similar concept is already in use on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 (aka Kal-El) SoC, which we’ll see imminently in the next Asus Transformer. However, the Tegra 3 uses five identical Cortex-A9 cores, whereas a device that mix-and-matches the A15 and A7 could potentially deliver higher highs and lower lows, giving you speed when you need it and amazing battery life when you don’t. How cute is that? Full PR after the break.
ASUS’ Jonney Shih unveils Transformer Prime Android tablet: 10-inch, 8.3mm, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3
Whoa, Nelly! ASUS head honcho Jonney Shih just revealed the “next-generation Transformer tablet” here at AsiaD! It’s the same one that we saw teased just yesterday, and Jonney affirmed that it’ll ship with a quad-core NVIDIA chip, 10-inch display, mini-HDMI port, a 14.5-hour battery, an SD card slot and a top lid that looks precisely like its Zenbook line. Oh, and it’s 8.3mm thick, though Jonney didn’t specify as to whether that was docked or undocked (we’re guessing the former!). Naturally, it’ll ship with Android, and we’re assuming it’ll be Honeycomb to start. That said, Shih did affirm to Walt Mossberg that he expects Ice Cream Sandwich to hit tablets by the end of the year — “perhaps earlier.” Finally, we were informed that it’ll be called the Transformer Prime, and while a final ship date wasn’t given, we’re told to expect more news on that front during the November 9th “official reveal.”
We’ve known about Kal-El — the quad-core mobile processor from NVIDIA — for a fair amount of time, but a lot of the finer details have remained a secret as we’ve anxiously awaited its debut in tablets and smartphones. Fortunately, we have some reading material to bide our time as the company published white papers discussing benefits of the new CPU, and for the most part it’s what you’d expect: NVIDIA touts higher performance, better battery life and improved physics-based gaming when more cores are involved and working together.
What came as a surprise to us was the fact that this quad-core CPU actually utilizes five cores: in addition to the standard four main Cortex A9 high-performance cores, Kal-El throws in a fifth Cortex A9 “companion” core specifically designed to handle less demanding tasks in effort to minimize power consumption caused by active standby processes. How is it done? The Companion core’s max operating frequency gets capped at 500MHz, offering higher performance and greater efficiency per watt when running menial tasks such as push email, Twitter / Facebook sync, widgets, background apps and live wallpapers. This leaves the four main cores free to take care of the stuff it does best — games, web browsing, transcoding / editing audio and video, 3D, physics simulations and image processing, to name a few — allowing performance bumps of up to 50 percent when compared to Tegra 2. We can tell that quad-core devices are going to make us very, very happy. If charts and geeky stats brighten up your day like it does ours, head to the source to read the papers in their entirety.
As if showing up in two of the first four reference devices for Windows on ARM wasn’t enough of an achievement for NVIDIA’s quad-core Kal-El superchip, it decided to visit us in person here at Computex to demonstrate its splendid graphical prowess. Running Android 3.1 on a 10-inch WVGA screen, it gave us a first-hand look at the Glow Ball demo that wowed us in video form just a couple of days ago. What we saw on the dev tablet before us was no less impressive; lighting was being rendered in real time and scattering all over a multiplicity of surfaces, while the cloth simulation was, to use a terrible pun, silky smooth. NVIDIA also ran us through a sightseeing tour of the Unreal Development Kit and Lost Planet 2, noting that the PC game took only a couple of months to port over to work on the Kal-El architecture. Unfortunately, no new details were forthcoming about when Kal-El devices might be coming or what developers we should expect to see coding games and other content to exploit the platform’s evidently mighty capabilities. For now, we’ll just have to sate ourselves with the video after the break.
You might think yourself too grown-up to be wowed by shiny, glittery things, but we doubt many will be able to watch NVIDIA’s new Glow Ball tech demo without a smidgen of childlike glee. Built to run on the company’s quad-core Kal-El processor, it shows us the first example of true dynamic lighting on mobile devices and also throws in some impressive physics calculations like fully modeled cloth motion. Instead of the pre-canned, static lights that we see on mobile games today, NVIDIA’s new hardware will make it possible to create lighting that moves, fluctuates in intensity, and responds realistically to its environment — all rendered in real time. The titular glow ball can be skinned with different textures, each one allowing a different amount and hue of illumination to escape to surrounding objects, and is directed around the screen using the accelerometer in your tablet or smartphone.
NVIDIA demoed the new goodness on a Honeycomb slate with 1280 x 800 resolution and the frame rates remained smooth throughout. In order to emphasize the generational leap that we can expect with Kal-El, the company switched off two of the four cores momentarily, which plunged performance down to less than 10fps. That means the simulations we’re watching require a full quartet of processing cores on top of the 12-core GPU NVIDIA has in Kal-El. Mind-boggling stuff. Glow Ball will be available as a game on Android tablets once this crazy new chip makes its way into retail devices — which are still expected in the latter half of this year, August if everything goes perfectly to plan. One final note if you’re still feeling jaded: NVIDIA promises the production chip will be 25 to 30 percent faster than the one on display today. Full video demo follows after the break.
The Eee Pad Transformer may be wowing tablet lovers with its unbeatable price-to-features ratio today, but ASUS looks to have its sights set on even mightier devices for the future. DigTimes reports that the Taiwanese company is hard at work on a Tegra 3 tablet — built around the spectacular Kal-El quad-core SOC that we saw demonstrated at MWC 2011 — as well as another one running an Intel CPU. As far as the Intel slate is concerned, we’re probably looking at the tablet-centric 1.5GHz Atom Z670, which promises 1080p playback and great battery life. You’ll forgive us if we reserve our excitement for the Tegra 3-powered tablet, however, which should be able to churn through quite a few more pixels than regular old 1080p. There’s no indication on when ASUS intends to deliver it, but NVIDIA’s roadmap for devices with the quad-core chip expects to start appearing in August. Video of that awe-inspiring MWC demo follows after the break.