Sony announces Xperia Tablet Z as the world’s thinnest and lightest tablet

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Sony-Launches-Xperia-Tablet-Z-Tablet-with-Android-4-1-Jelly-Bean-5 Today Sony announced the successor to their Xperia Tablet Z, a 10.1 inch machine running Android 4.1 and boasting some impressive specs. Design-wise Sony seem to have finally conceded defeat with the rolled-over magazine look that plagued their last couple of tablets being mercifully killed off. While it wasn’t as pronounced on the Xperia Tablet S as on its predecessor the Tablet S, which won our award for worst design back in 2011, we still feel that it drew away from the whole design. This time round Sony have given their new tablet a similar look to its upcoming smartphone sibling, the Xperia Z, and have come up with a classy, minimalist design which has been met with approval throughout the Digixav office.*

At a staggering 6.9mm thick, the Xperia Tablet Z is thinner than the iPad mini, and is the lightest 10-inch tablet in the world, weighing in at just under half a kilo. Like the Xperia Z, Sony says that the Xperia Tablet Z is waterproof for half an hour, up to a depth of one metre, and dustproof too. We only hope that these claims don’t prove to be as unfounded as those of the Xperia Tablet S.

xperia-tablet-z-1358733859Software is where this tablet really excels. The screen is 1920 x 1200, significantly better than the 1280 x 800 of the last Xperia tablet incarnation, and should rival the stunning display on the Apple’s 4th generation iPad. It packs Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip, and comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It’s quite likely that, as with the Xperia Tablet S, we will see Xperia Tablet Z SKUs with varying amounts of onboard storage at varying prices although, unlike the Nexus 10, there is a microSD slot for those who want a little extra storage. The tablet comes with a solid 8.1 megapixel camera on the back, but no details have been released for the front-facing camera yet. The 6000mAh battery isn’t anything to get too excited about, but it will suffice. It also has LTE and NFC support.

No details to do with price have been released, but with those figures we’re looking at £400+. We have no idea how they managed to fit all of those specs into a 6.9mm 495g slab. It’s interesting that the Xperia Tablet Z wasn’t announced along with its smartphone cousin at CES, but we’re sure that Sony have their reasons. No release date has been announced either, but we can presume that it will come out around the same time as the Xperia Z, sometime this first quarter. We’d have also thought that Sony might have wanted to wait for the imminent release of Android Key Lime Pie to release the Xperia Z family, what with the state of Android updates. All in all though, this will surely be the best 10 inch Android tablet on the market when it comes out, and will be the tablet to beat for Sony’s rivals.

*Only joking. We can’t afford an office at Digixav.

Via Engadget
Source Sony

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Google wants to make the web more mobile

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Xavier Voigt-Hill:

Google wants to make the web more mobile, and is willing to splash the cash to do so.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Google(s goog) wants to bring more small websites to mobile phones, and to help nudge those sites along it’s willing to foot the bill for a year. Google, with the help of mobile Web optimization startup Duda Mobile, is offering for 12 months free hosting and customization of Web sites for mobile browsers in an effort to make more Internet content mobile-friendly.

Fortune first broke the story Thursday morning, reporting that the initiative as a new service, but according to The Next Web, the offer is really an extension of the Go Mo program Google launched in November. TNW cited a post on Duda Mobile’s blog that has since been removed from its Website:

“Our hope is that by offering both the education AND the service at no cost for one year, we can help businesses make the shift to mobile more quickly, benefiting both their business as well…

View original 347 more words

April Fools: Toshiba unveils new tablets that inspire individuality

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Not content with the wide range of Android tablets on the market today? Toshiba may be able to answer your prayers, with the announcement of tablets in three new form factors. The Oblong, Amore and Rhombus slates will hit the market soon, and the unveil video can be seen below.

New iPad out now, but not for £50

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Announced just over 1 week ago, Apple’s new iPad is now available. The ‘resolutionary’ tablet sports a  2048 x 1536 display that covers 9.7″, doubling the pixel density to Retina levels. The processor has received a 200MHz bump to become a 1GHz dual-core chip, while the GPU from the PlayStation Vita completes the A5X chip. 1GB RAM, a 5MP rear camera that borrows optics from the iPhone 4S and support for ’4G’ LTE and HSPA+ networks round out the change list.

Stores will be selling the new tablet from 8am on Friday in various locations, with the UK pricing starting at £399 for a 16GB WiFi model, before progressing up to £479 and £559 for 32 and 64GB respectively. To get LTE capability as well, expect to pay an additional £100, up to £659 for the 64GB WiFi and 4G model. Do not, however, expect to pay £49.99 for it. A technical blunder from Tesco, similar to that involving Argos and the Nokia Lumia 800, priced the high-end model at this bargain level, but orders were swiftly cancelled. A spokesman confirmed:

We like to offer our customers unbeatable value, but unfortunately this is an IT error that is currently being corrected.

Will you be getting one, or does the newly reduced iPad 2 still float your boat? Let us know in the poll and comments.

The sorry state of Android updates

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With Samsung’s announcement that Galaxy S II owners will not in fact be getting their Ice Cream Sandwich updates today as previously stated by one of their websites, the age-old discussion regarding Android updates, skinning and fragmentation has returned to the fore. Android 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich and referred to as ICS, was confirmed on way back on October 15th of last year, the same day that this very website launched, yet now, almost 5 months later, only a small handful of devices from major manufacturers have either launched with or been updated to Google’s latest and greatest operating system. Why is this the case, and what can be done to help the situation?

Take a look at this graphic, taken from the Android website, which shows the versions of Android which have accessed the Android Market Google Play in the two weeks leading up to March 5th.

Just 1.6% of Android devices are running the latest version of the software. A comprehensive list of devices that have either shipped with or been officially updated to Ice Cream Sandwich is below. Please note that this does not include devices that have been announced but not shipped.

  • Archos G9
  • Asus Eee Pad Transformer
  • Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
  • HTC Sensation
  • HTC Sensation XE
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Nexus S

Firstly, some of the blame has to be placed on Google. The OEMs do not get access to the source code until it is publicly released, with the exemption of the partner making the flagship Nexus device, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, announced alongside Ice Cream Sandwich at a press conference in Hong Kong last year. While Google should want the Nexus phones to succeed and have an advantage over other handsets on the market at the time of release, I believe that major manufacturers such as HTC, Sony, Samsung and Google’s own subsidiary Motorola should get early access to the source code, so that handsets and devices can get the latest software promptly after it is unleashed upon the world. It is wrong to go into a store at this stage and see just one device, the Galaxy Nexus, sporting up-to-date software.

We must never forget the manufacturers themselves, as they too delay updates for a number of reasons. Firstly, they already have your money and, as such, there is little benefit to them if they spend time and money preparing software updates for phones. This raises a whole load of questions regarding the state of customer service in the 21st century, but those are for another day. An example of this kind of neglect is Samsung, with the Galaxy S. Late last year, the Korean company confirmed that they would not update the phone, the second biggest selling Android device of all time, to Ice Cream Sandwich. Their excuse? TouchWiz and Ice Cream Sandwich can’t live together on the ROM. Why not just get rid of the crappy skin which users hate?

Of course, manufacturers feel that they have to stick their bloated skins on top of Android, and updates get delayed to ensure that this is the case. Take LG for example. At Mobile World Congress 2 weeks ago, they unveiled a host of new Android devices – the Optimus L3, Optimus L5, Optimus L7, Optimus 3D Max, Optimus 4X HD and the Optimus Vu phablet. Of these, half are scheduled to launch with Gingerbread, and only the L7, L5 and 4X HD are guaranteed to have Ice Cream Sandwich. As for the rest, LG issued a vague timeframe for updates of later this year. Considering that they have no plans to update their existing phones until Q2 or even Q3 at the earliest, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of this ever happening. If such an update actually does come, the community will probably have Jelly Bean stable on the handsets. LG’s excuse? A combination of the skin and the fact that they seemingly don’t care about consumers – a statement that can be applied to almost all Android manufacturers. This infographic, made last year by Michael DeGusta of The Understatement, shows just how slow these updates can be, especially compared to iOS.

Across the internet, I have seen people complaining about the update situation, only to be told to buy a Nexus phone and have all their problems solved, but this argument is ridiculously stupid. The beauty of Android is the wide variety of handsets, tailored to suit every need. To be told that, in order to be certain to get the latest software officially, you have to buy a certain device, takes away this beauty. If I wanted that kind of situation, where I no choice in form factor in exchange for a guarantee to get updates, I’d buy an iPhone. Take the Galaxy Nexus, for instance. At 4.65″, it is way too big for me. I think the design is horrible in comparison to some other smartphones, the rear camera is, for such a high-end device, sub-par for the course, and Samsung’s incessant use of flimsy plastics mean that I would never even consider buying one. If I want to get an Android phone with almost a guarantee of an update however, I have no other choice. This is not on.

Even if I were to jump on the Nexus bandwagon, I still wouldn’t be 100% certain of updates. Certain Nexus S owners are still waiting for Google and carriers to push the ICS update to their devices, even though most GSM variants of the phone got the update to 4.0 back in December. We must not forget the Nexus One either. The HTC device was Google’s first flagship and, despite the fact that the Android community can do it, Google has announced that they do not plan to push an ICS update to the handset which is still less than 2 years old.

So, until the day comes where updates are prompt and ensured, I will not buy an Android phone or tablet. I know that there are other ways of getting updates, but manufacturers and carriers should have a duty to ensure that devices are kept up-to-date for at least the standard contract length of 24 months. And finally, before you dismiss this whole post as pure trolling of Android, I am an Android user and I am still waiting for Gingerbread. If HTC doesn’t care about an 18 month old phone, why should I?

Apple confirms new iPad

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At a press conference in San Francisco today, Tim Cook unveiled Apple’s latest tablet, the new iPad. It has a 2048 x 1536 Retina display at 264ppi and an Apple A5X chip with quad-core graphics, probably using the same GPU as the PS Vita. The device comes with a toned-down Siri and support for LTE networks, along with a 5MP iSight camera on the rear that shoots 1080p video. There is most definitely a home button on the device, slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor, the iPad 2. Pricing remains the same and it will launch worldwide, including in the United Kingdom, on March 16th.

Apple iPad 2 review

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Launched almost 1 year ago, Apple’s iPad 2 remains the biggest selling tablet of all time but, with its successor’s unveil coming in as little as 2 weeks, is it still a viable option in the tablet space or could it become the next budget smash hit?

Hardware

The main upgrade from the iPad to the iPad 2 is the dual-core A5 processor, clocked at around 1GHz, which definitely contributes greatly to the immense speed of the iPad. It also includes both a front and rear camera at 0.7 and 0.1 mega-pixels. You may look at these specs and sneer, but the back camera also is capable of up to 720p HD. Admittedly, using the iPad as a camera does make you look stupid, as Spike Lee demonstrated in front of Barack Obama. With a choice of either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, you can choose the model that is right for you. The iPad 2′s 9.7″ IPS screen is once again fantastic and, while not quite full HD at 1024 x 768, still provides a fantastic image. The battery life of the iPad is surprising, as it is able to be used non-stop for a full 10 hours before charging is required. The iPad still uses the same 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use any old headphones. This is unlike Sony Ericsson, for instance, where the proprietary connector needed is often very hard to find and sometimes quite expensive. The three axis gyro and accelerometer make hand-held gaming entertaining. A great app to test this out is Sonic Riders, a game just like Mario Kart but with Sonic characters. You tilt the device to steer and it is much more enjoyable than moving an analog stick with one finger.

Design


As mentioned earlier, the iPad 2 features a 9.7″ IPS LCD screen which, in my opinion, looks stunning. It makes tablet gaming, surfing the web, and watching movies much more enjoyable than on my other devices. The size of the screen makes for excellent cinematic experience as it is nearly as big as some smaller netbooks. I love the aluminium body, only 8.8mm thick and weighing just over 600g. This makes it nice and simple to carry around and it fits snugly into your hand during use. It can simply slip inside a bag or a coat pocket and is easily accessible at all times.

Software

iOS 5 was released in October and comes with over 200 new features including iCloud, iMessage, Newstand, Reminders, Notification Centre and WiFi syncing, much of which has made its way across to OS X Mountain Lion. iCloud enables Apple device owners to store music, videos, apps and anything else to “the cloud”. This means that you can wirelessly add all your files to any of your iOS 5 devices such as Mac, Apple TV, iPod Touch and iPad 2. iMessage is now open to iPad and iPod Touch as well as just iPhone. It allows to to send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G. You do not have to pay to do this which I think is an amazing bonus. Reminders allows you to store dates, meetings, shopping trips and much more. You can also set alarms to help you remember when and where to be. The new Notification Centre allows you to have all your notifications in one place to access instantly. Personally, I am glad that Apple have finally decided to do this as I find the small red circles on apps quite annoying as you would have to load up the app to find out what it was. Now, however, you can see all your notifications for all apps, all on one page. PC free registration now enables people who don’t even own a computer to own an iPad, part of Apple’s quest to kill the PC and make the tablet king. With PC Free you can simply set everything up on the device itself. This means you can have your brand new tablet up and running in less than 10 minutes.

There are over 140,000 apps available for the iPad now and the variety is massive. You can have everything from apps for fruit-slicing to apps for checking your football teams latest scores. Apple, of course, have made their own apps for the iPad including Apple’s own iWork suite for document editing, GarageBand, iBooks and iMovie. These all are very stunning on the iPad and are definitely worth getting if you ever get the chance. However, as well as Apple’s first-party apps, there are thousands more out there waiting to be downloaded. Some of my personal favourites include Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Stick Cricket, Temple Run, Sonic Riders and Doodle Jump. There are also all the social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Skype. For primary school children, secondary school children and even students at university there is a wide selection of educational apps in many subjects. One of my favourite educational apps is The Night Sky. You simply point the device towards the sky and the advanced gyro spins the star map to show you the names of all the stars and planets in the sky. Great for learning about the constellations and planets. There are also apps to help you out in business, sports, news, travel and much, much more.

Accessories

Even though the iPad 2 is a stunning piece of equipment on its own, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of accessories to help you out with making the most out of your tablet. The iPad 2 smart cover is a quite interesting piece of equipment. When you snap it over the screen, it not only fits snugly and perfectly, but it automatically put the iPad into sleep mode. The cover can also be folded into a stand so you can sit back and watch a movie or even if you just want that extra bit of elevation. The Smart Cover comes in many different colours and you get the choice between polyurethane and leather, but you will, however, have to pay an extra £24 for the premium leather, which will fade over time. Another great accessory is the camera connection kit. It includes two small dongles that plug into the main iPad port. One has a SD card slot for instant download capability should the internal storage not be sufficient, whereas the other has a USB 2.0 port for camera cables to be plugged directly into the iPad.

Conclusion

Even 1 year on, the iPad 2 is still the best tablet on the market. With so much more tablet specific software than other platforms, a fantastic aluminium design and a lower price than a number of its competitors, there is no real reason not to choose anything over it at the moment, but be wary of the iPad 3 launch that lurks just around the corner.

CES time!

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The annual Consumer Electronics show, or CES, takes place this week in Las Vegas and we will have daily roundups of the new products announced at the show. We sadly won’t be there this year but we will still get you all the news. Expect to see:

  • Nokia Lumia 900
  • Victorinox 1TB USB flash drive
  • HP Envy 14 Spectre
  • Ultrabooks
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Stupid high-resolution TVs
  • More…

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Enjoy the articles coming up,

Xavier