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Sony Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact hands-on
This morning Sony showed off their newest smartphones, all in the Sony Xperia Z5 line. The larger of the two standard models is the Sony Xperia Z5, working with a 1080p display and the company’s finest camera setup in their relatively short smartphone history. The smaller device is the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, a device with a smaller display but just as powerful a camera and processor. There’s also the 4K-display wielding Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, which we’ve delivered a hands-on experience with separately.
The differences between the Sony Xperia Z5 and the Z5 Compact are relatively few. This follows the trend set by previous Z-family smartphones and their Compact relatives – smaller, but no less powerful. The differences include size, of course, as well as 1GB of RAM more on the Z5. The battery is bigger on the bigger phone – otherwise they’re pretty much the same.
Sony Xperia Z5 Specs
• Display: 5.2″ Full HD 1080p (1920×1080 pixels), IPS LCD display
• OS: Google Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
• Camera: 23MP camera with Exmor RS for mobile image sensor, with fast autofocus, 4K video capture and output, 24 mm wide-angle G Lens, 5x clear image, without loss of quality, HDR for photos and videos, ISO12800 Photo / 4000 Video, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode, Superior Auto
• Front-Camera: 5MP with Exmor R™ for mobile image sensor, Full HD 1080p for video chat, 25 mm wide-angle lens, SteadyShot with Intelligent, Active Mode, Superior Auto
• Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core 64 bit processor
• RAM: 3GB
• Battery: 2900 mAh
• Internal Storage: 32GB, microSD card slot up to 200GB (SDXC supported)
• Colors: White, Graphite, Black, Gold, Green
The images you see above are all of the Sony Xperia Z5. Below you’ll find photos of the Compact. You can tell the difference by the size (where visible) and the rim.
The video below shows the Xperia Z5’s fingerprint reader in action.
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact Specs
Display: 4.6-inch TRILUMINOS display for mobile X-Reality for Mobile (resolution N/A)
OS: Google Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
Camera: 23MP camera with Exmor RS for mobile image sensor, with fast autofocus, 4K video capture and output, 24 mm wide-angle G Lens, 5x clear image, without loss of quality, HDR for photos and videos, ISO12800 Photo / 4000 Video, SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode, Superior Auto
Front-Camera: 5MP with Exmor R™ for mobile image sensor, Full HD 1080p for video chat, 25 mm wide-angle lens, SteadyShot with Intelligent, Active Mode, Superior Auto
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core 64 bit processor
Battery: 2700 mAh
Internal Storage: 32GB, microSD card slot up to 200GB (SDXC supported)
Colors: White, Graphite, Black, Yellow, Coral
Of course if you want a Yellow or Coral-colored phone, you’ll need to go with the Compact. Gold is also reserved for the larger device.
You’ll find that the Xperia Z5 Compact has a plastic rim around it while the Z5 has metal – the Compact’s rim matches its body, as well, while the Z5’s rim compliments its body with a slightly different tone. The same is true of the back panel – a coral rim means a coral back.
For more information on pricing and release, stay tuned to our revealed article as well as the Sony tag portal, full of Xperia goodness.
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Physical Build and DesignSides
The Galaxy S3 has a polycarbonate blue-black back cover with brushed metal design while the Xperia V has a white pearl-like back. Both covers have one thing in common — they are removable. The batteries on both phones are also removable. This means that you can use third-party back covers and replace the batteries on both phones.
Sony deserves some credit for the Xperia V’s removable back, considering that this is a dust and water-resistant phone. When you remove the back cover, you’ll find rubber edging designed to prevent liquid or dust from reaching the battery, microSD card, and SIM compartments.
You’ll see the same elements on both phone’s backs, although they are arranged differently. The Galaxy S3 has the camera flash, rear camera, and the speaker grille aligned horizontally on the top portion of its back cover.
In contrast, all these elements are arranged vertically on the Xperia V. From top to bottom, you can find the rear camera and a small hole for the microphone, the LED flash, the Xperia logo in silver, the tiny hole for the water sensor that Sony uses to measure if the limit for safe operation has been exceeded, and the speaker grille.
The Xperia V’s back also curves slightly towards the center, which makes the phone feel like it is hugging my hand. The Galaxy S3’s back, in contrast, is flat and smooth.Screen and Display
4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED
720×1280 HD resolution
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
4.3-inch TFT LCD
720×1280 HD resolution
Scratch-resistant glassProcessing Power Benchmarks
We did some standard benchmark tests on both phones and got these results:
The benchmark tests yielded varying results, although the Galaxy S3 bested the Sony phone in most tests. This means that even if the Xperia V has dual-core processing power, it can still outperform the quad-core phone in some areas.Battery Life
From a full charge, the Galaxy S3’s battery went down to 61% while the Xperia V’s went down to 48%. You can clearly determine which phone would black out if I went with the test for 2 more hours.Connectivity
LTE 850 MHz (B5)
LTE 1800 MHz (B3)
LTE 2100 MHz (B1)
LTE 2600 MHz (B7)
Syncing screen to an HDTV
Standard Micro USB port for transferring files
5 white balance presets
Selection of photo effects
Different ISO values
In addition to those essential features, each Camera app has unique features to make it better than the other. On the Galaxy S3, for example, you’ll find these:
Burst Shot — captures multiple pictures with one tap of the Shutter button
Best Photo — selects the perfect photo from a series of Burst Shot images
Best Face — lets you select a set of pre-captured images
Share Shot — shoot images and share them instantly via Wi-Fi Direct
Voice enabled controls — control the camera using your voice
Meanwhile, the Xperia V has the following camera features:
Quick launch — set a predefined action when launching the camera from the lockscreen
Focus mode — select a method on how to focus when taking pictures
Smile Shutter — smile to activate shutter; choose between small, average, or big smiles
ClearAudio+ — instantly enhances your music
Surround sound (VPT) — uses surround sound types for listening via headphones
Clear stereo — reduces crosstalk between headphone channels to reproduce original stereo sounds
Clear Phase — adjusts sound quality of internal speaker
xLOUD — increases sound intensity from loudspeaker
Dynamic normaliser — uniforms volume levels between songs or videos
Visualizer — displays a visual visualizer on the screen
The sound quality of both phones’ loudspeakers is good. The Xperia V’s sound output, however, is louder compared to the Galaxy S3’s, but distortion was also more evident. I recommend using headphones for listening to music on both phones.
On the homescreens of both phones, you can group your favorite contacts, place widgets, or decorate the screen with the background of your choice. Homescreen layout is similar on both phones: status bar at the top edge of the screen and App Dock bar below.
The App Dock contains 4 app shortcuts and one button for the App Drawer. The location of the App Drawer button, however, differs on both phones: it’s in the middle of the Xperia V’s App Dock while the Galaxy S3 has it on the rightmost side.
The Xperia V gives you only 5 homescreen pages to play with, but the Galaxy S3 gives you two more (for a total of 7). You also get a cool flipping animation when you navigate through the Galaxy S3’s homescreens.Multitasking
Recent Apps menu — long tap Home button to open menu; swipe left/right to remove apps or tap to switch between apps; contains toggle buttons for task manager, Google Now, and delete all recent apps
Multi Window — open two apps simultaneously by splitting the screen; long tap Back key to open Multi Window bar
Pop-up Play — plays and overlays video on a floating mini video player
Page buddy — a special home screen page appears when connecting earphones, while docked, or when the phone is set to roaming
Recent Apps menu — tap Recent App virtual button to open menu; swipe left/right to remove apps or tap to switch between apps
Small Apps — overlays a small app or widgets on the screen; calculator, timer, note, and voice recorder small apps installed by default
Smart Connect — instantly performs predefined actions when connecting earphones or charging the phone
The Notification Shade is a common heritage on every Android phone, but it can vary in design and in how notifications are managed.
The Galaxy S3 has taken on the style of the Jelly Bean Notification Shade with some TouchWiz UI modifications. This notification menu has toggle buttons for most accessed Settings options. You can change the order and choices of toggle buttons on the Settings menu. A brightness slider is also present here. Notifications are grouped according to app. You can expand a notification to view more details by swiping the notification downwards with two fingers; swipe upwards to collapse. Some notifications are actionable, allowing you to perform actions right on the menu. To remove notifications, either swipe left or right or tap the Clear button to remove all notifications.
Things are much simpler on the Xperia V. The Notification Shade has toggle buttons for sounds, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile data connection, and a shortcut for the Settings menu. You cannot change or add toggle buttons. Notifications are also grouped according to app, but you cannot expand or collapse notifications. Notifications are also not actionable. Gestures for dismissing notifications are similar to those for the Galaxy S3.Personalization
Two homescreen modes
Changing the font style
4 screen modes
Changing or rearranging toggle buttons on the Notification Shade
Customizing keyboard layout and adding additional keys
Enhancing photos and videos with Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2
Changing keyboard layout and skinsKeyboard
Face and Voice unlock
remote controls via SamsungDivePricing and Availability
The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes in 16-, 32-, and 64-gigabyte models variants in select countries for about US$550, US$680, and US$800 respectively. Meanwhile, the Xperia V is available through some mobile carriers at an estimated price range of about US$500 to US$600.Video Review
(with contributions from Elmer Montejo and Carl Parker)
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Google and Sony take dramatically different approaches to their smartphone cameras, and nothing showcases that more distinctly than pitting the Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Sony Xperia Pro-I. Where Google relies on artificial intelligence to produce the best possible images with a simple press of the button, Sony is more interested in delivering accurate results that leave room for subtle enhancements in post-production. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other; they’re simply different.
Even though they share “pro” monikers, Google and Sony are pitching the Pixel 6 Pro and Xperia Pro-I to entirely divergent segments of potential users. The Pixel 6 Pro is an affordable flagship meant to appeal to the masses. At the same time, the Xperia Pro-I is a pricey professional-grade smartphone/camera-replacement combo intended for serious creators.
Despite the unique paths set by these phones, they both still want to sell you on the idea of having a powerful photography partner in your pocket. Naturally, we saw fit to compare the end results.
Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Sony Xperia Pro-I: Camera specs
Related: Google Tensor vs Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Given the vast disparity between these approaches, is there any chance the photos will look similar at all?The samples
A lot is going on in this image. The surrounding buildings shaded everything you see, but there’s still plenty of light to pull details from the shadows. The exposures are evenly matched, and clarity is about the same. Noise is nearly nonexistent. Google’s picture has a slightly bluer tint, while the Sony leans more toward yellow. The result is a more pleasing sky in the background of the image taken by the Pixel 6 Pro, but that could boil down to personal preference.
This comparison sees nearly the same results as the preceding photo. Yet, some interesting things are going on with exposure here. The Xperia Pro-I generated a cleaner look of the Oculus (the white building in the foreground), but it managed to overexpose and underexpose some background elements at the same time. Look at the painted murals and the yellowish building above them. The murals are a bit too dark, while the building is a bit too bright. The Pixel 6 Pro balanced the exposure out better and delivered more detail.
See also: How to use manual mode on your smartphone camera
There’s no real debate about which of these samples is superior looking. The Pixel 6 Pro produced a far livelier image with richer, brighter colors. By way of comparison, the Xperia Pro-I’s image is darker with more muted colors. However, the Pro-I’s sample is more representative of what my eyes saw that day while taking photos in New York City. Whether you prefer the quick win from the Pixel or the attention-needing accuracy of the Pro-I depends on what you want from your smartphone’s camera.
These two are night and day. Google’s photo comes across as cool, and Sony’s is over-warm. The Pro-I lost its way in calculating the white balance here, and it’s obvious when you weigh the photos against one another. Moreover, there’s far better detail in the Google photo, particularly in the dark tree branches. I have to give this one to the Pixel.
More reading: The best triple camera phones available
Shooting red hues is always a great way to test cameras. In this sample, the Pixel overexposed the entire frame by just a bit, which washes out the flower’s bright red color to a small degree. It also washes out the background a bit. Furthermore, the photo from the Pixel isn’t as sharp as it could be, and there’s more noise than I care to see. The flower captured by the Pro-I is richer, and the background looks deeper and cleaner.
Here’s a shot I captured with the phones’ wide-angle cameras. Google’s image is sharper and delivers far more detail, particularly in the background. For example, you can clearly make out the support cables of the Brooklyn Bridge to the right of the underpass in the Pixel photo. These same details are obscured in the Sony sample. While the Sony photo underexposed the areas under the bridge just a bit, it managed to deliver much richer colors and even kept some blue hue in the sky rather than washing it out.
This was a fun shot, as there is plenty to put under the microscope. The photo from the Pixel looks a bit more balanced overall, thanks to the bluer sky, sharper focus, and starker detail in the shadows along the dock and tug boat. However, the photo from the Pro-I is a more accurate depiction of what I saw in real life and produces a nicer red along the boat’s waterline.
More reading: What is HDR photography?
The Pixel produced a crazy amount of contrast for this photo of a seagull and the Brooklyn Bridge. You can tell the software algorithms worked overtime to generate the range visible here. It makes the Pro-I’s sample look a little washed out in comparison. As much as I like the clarity and detail of the Pixel’s photo, there’s something pleasingly film-like about the Pro-I photo’s warmth that gives it a vintage overtone.
Related: 10 best photography apps for Android
Shooting directly at the sun is not easy for any camera. The Pixel did an incredible job delivering detail in the pylons in the foreground, which were heavily shaded. It also added lots of contrast to the water and kept the background details, such as the Statue of Liberty, in sharp focus. The Pro-I almost appears to have given up in comparison. While the warmer tone is more accurate to the real-world environment, there’s almost no detail at all in the pylons or the clouds, and the statue is not much more than an upright smudge.
Taking photos in Times Square is a rite of passage for tourists. Thanks to the constantly changing billboards, no two shots are ever quite the same. The Pixel photo here looks washed out. The pink overtone to the image is thanks to a brilliant ad for Coke that flashed to my left as I took the shot. What the Pixel image does do, however, is showcase some details in the background, such as the tall buildings and the not-quite-blackened evening sky. The Pro-I’s photo is more accurate in terms of color, but I wish there was more detail in the people who make up the foreground. Overall, the Pro-I’s shot wins for not being totally pink.
Then there are the concert photos. Everyone loves to take pictures when they’re at a show. Here, the Pixel delivers sharper focus, more detail in the dark regions (in this case, the guitar player), and more accurate colors throughout. Due to the changing background light, it may not be a strictly apples-to-apples comparison, but it still gives you an idea of the differences these cameras deliver. Again, there’s plenty to like in the Pro-I shot, but you might have to spend some time adjusting it.
The selfies above showcase the simple differences in how Google and Sony are processing their photos. Looking at my face, there’s plainly more detail in the images from the Pixel, in addition to a little more color. That’s not to say they are perfect. There’s lots of noise from the Pixel, which I don’t like. On the other hand, I come across as a little washed out in the images from the Sony, with less detail visible in my skin. The photos from Sony also have an old-time feel to them that makes them look as though they were taken decades ago. One isn’t necessarily better than the other; they’re just different.
Google Pixel 6 Pro vs Sony Xperia Pro-I: The verdict
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Pitting the Google Pixel 6 Pro vs the Sony Xperia Pro-I isn’t necessarily a fair comparison in some respects, and it isn’t strictly to declare a winner in this head-to-head. Google and Sony have taken entirely different approaches to creating these cameras and target wholly different user types. Moreover, the phones don’t play in the same economic space, given the vast price delta. Even so, it’s undoubtedly a fascinating exercise to highlight what Google and Sony are up to.Which smartphone camera takes the better pictures?
It’s worth taking a moment to laud the Pixel 6 Pro. Though Google and Sony are coming at the cameras from wildly different directions, the Pixel 6 Pro proves that expensive hardware doesn’t always get you the best results. Google’s algorithmic approach does a great job of delivering hassle-free results that regular people can put to use right away.
Both of these phones take terrific pictures. Some may prefer the ready-to-consume results from the point-and-shoot Google Pixel 6 Pro, while others may need the accuracy and warmth of the more complicated Sony Xperia Pro-I. Whichever device you end up with depends entirely on what you need the phone — and its camera — to do.
If you want to see the Pixel 6 Pro camera battling it out with other high-end devices, we have a comparison against the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Also, don’t forget to take a look at our list of the very best camera phones, as well as the best budget camera phones.
Keep in mind that all this excellent camera hardware can help, but it’s not what photography is all about. Skill and knowledge are what really take your photos from average to outstanding, and we have some content to help you polish your photographic prowess. Let’s start with a look at the most important photography terms. Also, take a look at our tips for taking your images to the next level.
Apple and Sony have both designed and built brilliant tablets here, and it’s a tough decision between the two. The Xperia Z4 Tablet has some obvious bonus points thanks to its waterproof nature, its better screen, its lighter weight, its battery life and its good front-facing camera, but we’re not as keen on the overall design of the tablet, and if £499 does turn out to be the starting price it’s a bit on the expensive side.
Sony didn’t launch a new smartphone at MWC 2023 in Barcelona this year, but it did unveil a new iPad Air 2 rival in the form of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet. Here, we put the two flagship tablets head-to-head to find out how they compare in our iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet comparison article. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2023.
In depth: Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet hands-on reviewiPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Price & availability
First things first, let’s take a look at how much these tablets will cost you, and how you can go about buying one.
We were surprised by the high price of the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet. We had predicted a £399 price tag, but Sony has now revealed that it’ll cost £499 when it becomes available to buy in June.
The iPad Air 2 is already available to buy, after being unveiled in October 2014. It starts at £399 for the 16GB WiFi-only model, or £499 for the 16GB WiFi+ Cellular model. Below is the full set of prices:
So far, £499 is the price Sony has revealed for the WiFi-only model with 32GB of space and it comes with a keyboard, so it’s possible that you’ll be able to pick up the Xperia Z4 Tablet at a lower price without the keyboard. The 4G version is £579 with the keyboard.
You’ll also like: Best tablets 2023iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Design & build
The iPad Air 2 and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet are quite different to look at. The iPad Air 2 is smaller with a 9.7in screen, while the Xperia Z4 Tablet has a 10.1in display. The latter is a square, blocky-looking device compared with the iPad Air’s softer, more rounded design.
The new Xperia Z4 Tablet is even thinner than its predecessor, the Xperia Z2 Tablet, at 6.1mm compared with 6.4mm. The same goes for the iPad Air 2, which matches the 6.1mm of the new Sony tablet, reduced from the 7.5mm of the original iPad Air. So both of these tablets are exceptionally thin.
They’re light, too. The WiFi model of the Xperia Z4 Tablet is 392g, while the 4G LTE model is 396g. That’s actually a fair bit lighter than the iPad Air 2, which is an already light 437-444g depending on the model. Both are a delight to hold, but it’s particularly impressive that Sony has managed to make the Xperia Z4 Tablet so light, especially considering its display is bigger than the iPad Air 2’s.
The Sony tablet also trumps Apple’s when it comes to durability. It’s waterproof up to the highest rating available: IP68. The headphone port and microUSB ports don’t even need covers to make the device waterproof, so feel free to use the Xperia Z4 Tablet in the bath or by the poolside without a worry.
You won’t want to do that with the iPad Air 2, which certainly isn’t waterproof.
The iPad Air 2 is undoubtedly more stylish, though, with a brushed aluminium, unibody chassis, available in Gold, Silver and Slate Grey.
There are pros and cons to both of these tablet’s designs, so it could come down to a choice between practicality and style.iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Hardware
Taking a closer look at the screen on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, you’ll find a 10.1in display with a 2560×1600 resolution, which equates to an impressive 299ppi. That beats the iPad Air 2’s 264ppi, 9.7in display.
Inside the Sony tablet is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, which is both octa-core and 64-bit. It’s paired with 3GB RAM, 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot for adding up to 128GB more.
The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, boasts Apple’s own 64-bit A8X processor and M8X co-processor, paired with 1GB of RAM and a choice between 16GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. It lacks the microSD card slot found on the Xperia Z4 Tablet, though, so you’ll need to decide how much storage you think you’ll need when you buy it.
We’ll bring you more detailed information about how these two tablets compare in terms of speed and graphics performance as soon as we get the Xperia Z4 Tablet back to our labs for benchmarking.
Connectivity-wise, you’ll find 11ac WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and MHL 3.0, as well as an optional 4G LTE model for the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet.
The iPad Air 2, meanwhile, also sports 11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G connectivity is available too. But there’s no NFC in the iPad Air 2.
Sony’s new tablet has High-Res audio, too, with front-facing stereo speakers, digital noise cancelling support, automatic headphone compensation and a new LDAC codec which supposedly transmits data three times more efficiently than Bluetooth.
The iPad Air’s additional feature that the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet lacks is the TouchID fingerprint sensor, housed beneath the Home button. You can use it to unlock the tablet, unlock certain apps and also use Apple Pay online.
We’ve not yet been able to test this claim, but Sony suggests that you can expect a whopping 17 hours of video playback from the Xperia Z4 Tablet’s 6000mAh battery.
That’s compared with Apple’s 10 hours for the iPad Air 2, so is particularly impressive.iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Cameras
On the rear of the Xperia is an 8.1Mp camera, which uses Sony’s Exmor RS sensor. The front-facing camera is a 5.1Mp camera with a wide angle lens, which will allow you to get more people in the frame.
On the iPad Air 2, you’ll find an 8Mp iSight camera on the rear, which we’ve found to be quite impressive even though we think using a tablet as a camera is a major no-no. The front-facing camera is 1.2Mp but does the trick for FaceTime calls, for example.iPad Air 2 vs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Software
Not everything is as black and white when it comes to software, as it’s often more about opinions than it is about facts. You probably already know whether you prefer Android or iOS, and there are arguments for and against both operating systems.
The iPad Air 2, of course, runs Apple’s iOS 8. You’ll get Apple’s apps and services including FaceTime, iMessage, iCloud, Continuity between your other Apple devices including Macs, access to the enormous iOS App Store, iBookstore, Newsstand and more.
The Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is instead running Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google’s latest version of its operating system. Sony has added its own interface, though it’s not much different from stock Android aside from the pre-loaded Sony apps such as Walkman, Album, PlayStation and Lifelog.
There’s also PS4 Remote Play, which lets you play PlayStation 4 games on the device from the console over the same WiFi network.Specs Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet: Specs
Android 5.0 Lollipop
10.1in IPS Triluminos screen, 2560×1600, 300ppi, 500cd/m2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 64-bit
32GB internal storage, microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
8.1Mp rear camera with Exmor RS
5.1Mp wide angle front camera
Nano-SIM (LTE model)
6000 mAh battery
392g (Wi-Fi), 396g (LTE)
Sleek, sexy, and slim, the Sony VAIO X Series is the perfect netbook for the stylish, executive jet-setter. While this machine is smaller than most netbooks and measures just 0.55 inch thick, it packs a bit more gusto–and, starting at $1299 (our unit sells for $1499, as of 11/10/09), it carries an over-the-top price tag that screams, “CEO only!”
The X Series boasts an 11.1-inch screen that measures merely 0.125 inch thick. The laptop comes with two interchangeable batteries: a standard (3.5-hour) battery and a larger, heavier, battery-and-stand combo that supposedly lasts for up to 14 hours, according to Sony spokespeople. They were wrong. It lasts just a few minutes under 15 hours — that’s easily the longest running laptop we’ve tested to date. International jet-setter, we’ve found your PC. The additional battery brings the weight of the X Series to approximately 2.2 pounds. (For reference, the popular MacBook Air weighs about 3 pounds.)
Though the laptop may look like a Jaguar, it runs like a Ford Taurus. Don’t forget, that while this looks sweet and costs a fortune, it is still a netbook at heart. The X features a 128GB solid-state drive, 2GB of RAM, and a 2GHz Intel Atom Z550 processor. In PC WorldBench 6 tests, it earned a 39–hardly smoking fast, but better than the average netbook score of 36. In my subjective tests, the X Series ran Windows 7 Home Premium Edition smoothly enough, though I did find the machine slowing down when I tried to get more than three programs running at the same time.
The X Series features a 1366-by-768-pixel, 11.1-inch LCD screen–theoretically, you could get 720p video to run on this machine. Streaming HD (480p) video from Hulu was fantastic: Image quality was crisp and clear, and colors looked fully saturated. Since the machine supports 720p resolutions, we had to throw our higher-quality test video (of a shuttle launch) at it; the result was a herky-jerky viewing experience, however. Your HD-video mileage will vary.
The LED-backlit screen looks good both indoors and out. At the highest brightness setting, it was still readable in sunlight (using the highest brightness setting, however, will cut the battery life to 2.5 hours on the standard battery and 12 hours on the extra-life battery).The only problem: The higher resolution hurts the VAIO X Series. I, admittedly, have bad eyes, but looking at the tiny screen started to give me a headache after about half an hour. Fortunately, I did have the option of zooming (stutteringly) in.
The touchpad also seemed ridiculously small, considering all the space (clearly for aesthetic concerns) surrounding it. The mousing surface measures about 2 by 1.5 inches, and the buttons are 1 by 0.5 inches. And they don’t appear to be well made. The touchpad is flimsy, and the buttons seem like they’ll be quick to break–it’s almost as if Sony is really trying to push its matching wireless mouse.
The included software was pretty basic: Microsoft Works SE 9.0, a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security, and some of the standard bloatware. (A 90-day trial of AOL? Last time I checked, it wasn’t 1998 anymore.) Sony also tosses in a bundle of multimedia tools, such as the VAIO Video & Photo Suite and the Sony Picture Utility.
Windows Phone 7 Series hands-on
Microsoft have officially launched Windows Phone 7 and with it the Windows Phone Series, promising we’ll see the first devices on the market in time for the holiday 2010 shopping season. Windows Phone 7 marks a new, more end-user aware phase for the platform, with Zune and Xbox integration, together with stricter controls over the overall end-user experience: third-party UIs, such as HTC Sense, will not be allowed (though OEMs will be able to add into the new WP7 UI), and while they’re not yet revealing the details, Microsoft have a long technical specifications list for handset manufacturers that will better standardize the platform.
There are no handsets debuting today – though HTC, Dell and Qualcomm are among the manufacturers onboard – and all of the demo devices are unbranded, generic models specially built by ASUS. Still, they’re a decent example of what we can expect: a large, multitouch-friendly capacitive touchscreen with a glass front, three front-panel buttons (back, Start and search), GPS and a rear-mounted camera. They also have a front-facing camera, though there won’t apparently be support for it natively in Windows Phone 7, and OEMs are limited to what hardware controls they can add; it’s pretty much down to volume buttons, camera shortcut and power.
Windows Phone 7 Series hands-on video:
The on-screen Start button has been retired, and the hardware Windows flag now takes you directly to a blocky homescreen. Each app on the screen is dynamically represented, pulling in the user’s content and constantly shifting; the gallery icon, for instance, transitions through recent shots from the camera. Microsoft contrasted it to the iPhone OS, where the extent of user app customization is rearranging the icon layout on their homescreen; Windows Phone 7, meanwhile, pushes up constant reminders of the user’s content. Swiping to the right, however, gives instant access to the entire app list, again something prompted by user requests for easier access. Microsoft have created six “hubs” – People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace and Office – which collate similarly themed content. So, the Music + Video hub resembles the Zune HD UI, and if you install a media plugin, such as Pandora (which Microsoft also announced today), it will integrate in here. The Games hub links in with a user’s Xbox Profile, and you can modify your profile, view those of others, and play games (though Microsoft haven’t announced a list of titles yet). The People hub pulls in updates from across the phone and various linked services – though we only saw Windows Live and Facebook mentioned – and you can post your own updates and read those of others.
Microsoft are retiring not only their “Windows Mobile” nomenclature but ActiveSync and any other desktop sync app they’ve used in the past. Instead, the Zune desktop manager software is being rolled-out worldwide, and that will be used to sync Windows Phone 7 devices. Both wired and WiFi sync will be possible, which is long-overdue.
Confirmed carrier partners includes AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, while manufacturers Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm are on-board. Those partners won’t be able to change the onscreen QWERTY keyboard – which is one of seven layouts (including numeric) Microsoft have developed – but they will be able to add on a hardware QWERTY. For the moment, since Microsoft have screen aspect ratio specifications, they’ll have to be landscape rather than portrait QWERTY devices, too. In the display units Microsoft showed us, the accelerometer wasn’t working properly, but final devices will flip automatically between portrait and landscape on-screen keyboard layouts.
We had a chance to try out some of the prototypes – though not take photos or video yet – earlier on today, and first impressions are reasonably positive. Microsoft were at pains to point out that it’s still an in-development build, and indeed we saw various bugs and slow-downs. Often these would take place when opening an app, with data being pulled in but no on-screen indication of that taking place nor its progress. The touchscreen on the development device seemed responsive, as was the onscreen keyboard, and the animations are smooth. The browser supports pinch-zoom and will eventually reflow text on a double-tap.
Windows Phone 7 UI Demo:
Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Series
New phones designed for life in motion to debut at holiday 2010.
BARCELONA, Spain – Feb. 15, 2010 – Today at Mobile World Congress 2010, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the next generation of Windows® Phones, Windows Phone 7 Series. With this new platform, Microsoft offers a fresh approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences that bring to the surface the content people care about from the Web and applications. For the first time ever, Microsoft will bring together Xbox LIVE games and the Zune music and video experience on a mobile phone, exclusively on Windows Phone 7 Series. Partners have already started building phones; customers will be able to purchase the first phones in stores by holiday 2010.
“Today, I’m proud to introduce Windows Phone 7 Series, the next generation of Windows Phones,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “In a crowded market filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience. We believe Windows Phone 7 Series is a phone that truly reflects the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people.”
Designed for Life in Motion
With Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft takes a fundamentally different approach to phone software. Smart design begins with a new, holistic design system that informs every aspect of the phone, from its visually appealing layout and motion to its function and hardware integration. On the Start screen, dynamically updated “live tiles” show users real-time content directly, breaking the mold of static icons that serve as an intermediate step on the way to an application. Create a tile of a friend, and the user gains a readable, up-to-date view of a friend’s latest pictures and posts, just by glancing at Start.
Windows Phone 7 Series creates an unrivaled set of integrated experiences on a phone through Windows Phone hubs. Hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 Series includes six hubs built on specific themes reflecting activities that matter most to people:
* People. This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.
*Pictures. This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.
* Games. This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7 Series.
* Music + Video. This hub creates an incredible media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is rich and easy to navigate, and immerses the listener in the content.
* Marketplace. This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.
* Office. This hub brings the familiar experience of the world’s leading productivity software to the Windows Phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users stay productive and up to date while on the go.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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