Sony has hit a strong blow in the first hours of IFA 2013, announcing a grand total of 18 new products in its digital imaging, home entertainment and VAIO notebook line-ups.
Sony at IFA 2013: Ultra HD TVs and home entertainment
Two new X Series Ultra HD TVs make up the bulk of Sony’s home entertainment announcement. The 55- and 65-inch X8504A TVs mimic the X9004A, but remove the integrated forward-firing stereo speakers — cleaner overall lines and a better look in your expensive home cinema setup, although if you don’t have a big surround sound system the X9004A is still a better choice. Pricing for the new TVs hasn’t been confirmed, but Sony has told us that it would be reasonable to expect them to be slightly cheaper than the step-up X9004A.
There are two new soundbars in the announcement — the HT-ST7 and HT-ST3. Both have nine speakers integrated into thin, sleek bodies designed to complement Sony’s monolithic television designs. Both also have built-in Bluetooth and NFC, and work seamlessly to play music from any mobile device.
Sony at IFA 2013: Smartphone cameras and digital imaging
For us, Sony’s stand-out product is one of its worst-kept secrets — the QX10 and QX100 ‘smartphone lens cameras’. Basically removing the controls and LCD screen from Sony’s WX150 and RX100 Mark II compact cameras, and cramming all the sensor and battery and circuitry into a small cylinder, these lens cameras can be hand-held or clipped on to your smartphone, using Wi-Fi to talk to an Android app that lets you change settings, zoom and snap pictures. They’re awesome.
Also in the line-up is a revitalised HDR-AS30V Action Cam, 25 per cent smaller and 35 per cent lighter than the original. Looking to take on the GoPro HERO 3 Black Edition head-on, the new Action Cam has NFC for pairing your smartphone over Wi-Fi, a more sensitive Exmor R sensor, and a swathe of new accessories including a wristwatch live-view remote control, a camcorder case with LCD screen, and various new sporty mounts.
And more professional recordists will likely be keen on the now-even-cheaper FDR-AX1 4K camcorder, designed for prosumer and small production houses at a price tag in the region of $3500. Video bloggers and amateur concert recordists should be happy with the HDR-MV1 Music Video Recorder, with twin X/Y microphones and a high-brightness wide-angle lens.
Sony at IFA 2013: VAIO notebooks, desktop PCs and more
Sony has been making innovatively designed VAIO notebooks and desktop PCs for a long time, and that hasn’t changed this year. The VAIO Fit 13A and 15A have the best approach we’ve seen yet to the dual-mode laptop-or-tablet design, with a centre-mounted hinge that lets you flip the screen to use the notebook in touchscreen tablet mode. There’ll be a 13- and a 15-inch model available in Australia.
Even more portable is the new VAIO Tap 11, an 11-inch tablet with an integrated kick-stand and a bundled detachable Bluetooth keyboard. It reminds us a lot of the Surface, but thinner, lighter, thinner (at 9.9mm thick!) and probably more versatile. It includes a smart pen for taking notes.
There’s a new VAIO Tap 21 desktop PC, which you can pick up and move around your house thanks to the built-in battery. Think of it as an oversized touchscreen tablet. It’s got a fold-out desktop stand that hides away if you want to use your PC on your lap on the couch.
All of these new VAIOs use Sony’s patented TRILUMINOS screen tech, which in practice means a wider colour gamut, brighter overall screens and more efficient power consumption. This is one of the aces up Sony’s sleeve — we really liked the TRILUMINOS screen we saw on the new X Series BRAVIA.
And, if you don’t already have a new Kindle or Kobo, Sony has a new PRS-T3 touchscreen e-reader, which includes a protective snap cover that turns the slate on when it’s opened (and there’s a model with a built-in light, too).