Sony at CES 2014: Xperia Z1 Compact, PlayStation Now, TV Base Speaker, UHD TVs and 4K cameras
CES 2014 has seen lots of news when it comes to 4K TVs, but most smartphones have been saved for MWC in February. Sony, on the other hand, revealed its smaller Xperia Z1 Compact, a host of cameras, 4K TVs and a new PlayStation Now online platform.
Here's everything you need to know from Sony at CES 2014.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and Z1S
Making a down-sized flagship smartphone is getting common with HTC and Samsung leading the way, not Sony has joined with its Xperia Z1 Compact. But this will differ from the available rivals in that it doesn't skimp on specs, even though it comes in a smaller package.
The new phone, available in the UK in mid-February, will offer virtually the same specifications as the Xperia Z1 launched in 2013, but have a 4.3-inch IPS 1280 x 720 display rather than the 5-inch 1920 x 1080 display found on the Xperia Z1, but that still makes it a screen with a relatively sharp 341ppi.
The new phone will feature the same 20.7-megapixel camera found in the Xperia Z1, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean but with the promise of Android 4.4 KitKat in the coming weeks. It has the same 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with 2GB of RAM, and a range of colours: pink, lime, white and black.
Sony Xperia Z1S
Sony also announced its Xperia Z1S which is heading to the US this month.
A year after the introduction of the Xperia Z, the company has announced another waterproof phone for the States - the Xperia Z1S. Essentially, it's the US version of the Xperia Z1 with a few minor differences.
The new flagship heading stateside features a 5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 3000mAh battery, and is waterproof down to 4.9 feet for 30 minutes.
Sony has placed Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on the Xperia Z1S as its software, but has thrown its custom interface on top.
T-Mobile will begin offering the Xperia Z1S on its online store on 13 January, and it will be available in-store on 22 January. The Xperia Z1S will be available for $600 or $22 a month for 24 months.
Sony fitness: Core, SmartBand and tennis racket sensor
Sony has made the leap into fitness tracking in 2014, the year that promises to be wearable filled. The CES announcement from Sony is for the Core and SmartBand devices.
The Sony Core is a tiny Bluetooth-enabled gadget that is being described as a lifeblogger. It is not only capable of tracking activities, including sleep, but it will also keep tracks of the photos you've shared and music played through your phone and social networking. It combines with an application on a phone or tablet and can tell you a swathe of information about what you've been getting up to, including, naturally, how many calories you've burnt.
You can also couple it with the similarly announced Sony SmartBand. The wristband makes the package a lot more like a Nike FuelBand or similar device, but without a screen to see what's going on. You will still need to check your phone for gathered information.
The Core will also have other accessories and ways to wear it when it is released for real. For now, its appearance at CES is a taster of what's to come. Intrigued? So are we.
Sony tennis racket sensor
Sony has also unveiled a tennis racket sensor so you can track your swing via Bluetooth.
It simply latches on to the bottom of your tennis racket, almost inconspicuously, to stream data to your smartphone over Bluetooth. An app will tell you how fast the ball is travelling thanks to vibration and motion sensors, what kind of swing you performed, the amount of spin you applied to the ball, and a breakdown of the performance of your swing.
For now, Sony's Tennis Sensor is a concept and won't be on sale anytime soon. But it leads the way for future gadgets in an era where even your tennis racket has become "smart".
Sony PlayStation Now
With Valve launching an onslaught with 12 Steam Machine systems unveiled at CES, Sony appears to be responding by taking to the cloud too. This way games can be accessible from multiple locations, other than your console.
Sony will launch a closed beta in the United States at the end of the month, and plans to roll out the service more broadly by the end of this summer.
This appears to be what Sony is doing with cloud-based gaming service Gaikai which it bought last month.
Like OnLive, the service will allow access to games run from remote servers. For a subscription fee, players will be able choose any they like and play them without having to install them locally. This way, Sony's enormous back catalogue of games could be available for a flat monthly fee. And although you won't be able to play the actual disc copies you've accrued over the years on a PS4, you will be able to play a cloud-based equivalent.
Sony's first TV Base Speaker and soundbars
This is the first speaker base from Sony, an improvement on TV speakers without taking up even as much room as a soundbar.
The Sony Speaker Base offers space-saving sound expansion for TVs by sliding under the stand of televisions between 32 and 50-inches. The scratch-resistant, strengthened-glass top should complement you TV nicely, says Sony, while delivering 2.1 virtual surround sound via HDMI. With two built-in subwoofer drive units and 170W of sound the HT-XT1 should also bring a more immersive sound experience to your TV.
Sony has also announced two new Sound Bars. The HTCT770 offers 330W of sound with a 160mm subwoofer driver and NFC/Bluetooth connectivity. The cheaper HT-CT370 Sound Bar delivers 300W output and also features NFC and Bluetooth connectivity.
The speaker base and soundbars will be available from April in the UK. Pricing will be announced nearer to the release date.
Sony cameras: Action Cam, A5000 and 4K camcorder
At CES 2014 Sony has unveiled a broad range of cameras, from compact snapper to DSLRs and video cameras.
Sony AX100 4K camcorder
A rather exciting announcement in the camcorder department, yup that still can happen, is Sony's AX100 video camera that shoots in 4K.
This is Sony's first compact 4K handcam that records at a 3840x2160 resolution with help from a 14.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor and Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens. It won't be cheap by any means at $1,999.99 (£1,220), but compared to most 4K camcorders on the market it's not too shabby.
The AX100 carries NFC and Wi-Fi inside, letting users stream 4K content to their televisions. It'll be pretty impressive in the field too, with a 29mm wide-angle lens that can zoom up to 12x.
The AX100 will be made available in March. If you like the design and features of the 4K camcorder, but can't justify the price, Sony has a $1,499 option, dubbed the HDR-CX900 that drops the 4K resolution.
Sony Action Cam AS100VR
The Sony Action Cam AS100VR is a wearable camera that is claimed to offer more advanced SteadyShot image stabilisation, with a 2.5x improvement over the previous model, so you'll have less wobble to worry about.
As this Action Cam is splashproof, you won't need to put it in a casing to use it in wet conditions, with Sony saying that the design is aerodynamic too, perfect for strapping to your helmet when bombing down the slopes. However, for extreme conditions, there is a protective case for underwater use down to 5m.
The AS100VR shoots with Full HD capture at 60/50/30/25/24p. There are slow-motion offerings too, with 240/200p offered if you accept a drop in resolution down to 800 x 480, but the 1280 x 720 120/100p should give some great results. It's got Zeiss optics and uses NFC and GPS.
The new Sony Action Cam will be available from April 2014, priced at £349.
Sony A5000 mirrorless camera
This got announced at CES 2014 as the successor to the, now dead, NEX brand.
The mirrorless A5000 will have a 20-megapixel APS-C sensor, Wi-Fi and NFC, 3-inch LCD, use E-mount lenses and weigh 210g (body only).
The Sony A5000 will be available in March 2014 in silver, black and white for about $600 (£366) in a kit with a 16-50mm motorised zoom lens. The new, black-finish E 55-210mm zoom lens will be available in March for roughly $350.
Sony 4K TVs to support 4K Netflix
Netflix CEO Reed has announced that LG isn't the only company to support the movie-streaming services's 4K offering. Sony's new range of nine 4K televisions will also offer Netflix 4K support.
Taking the stage at Sony's press event at CES 2014, Hastings also announced that its original programming from here on will be shot in 4K.
To complement Hastings' announcement, Sony said its flagship XBR-X950B television, available in 95 or 85-inch models, and its 55, 65, and 79-inch XBR-900B mid-range television, will support Netflix native 4K streaming when they hit the market.
In the past, content streamed through 4K was thought to require insane data speeds, but while on stage Hasting said Netflix's 4K content would work at 15Mbps - a pretty average speed for homes these days.