Sony takes aim at the connected home with Xperia Tablet S

Michelle Clancy | 30-08-2012

Sony is set to launch the Xperia Tablet S on 7 September in the United States, the latest in a line of high-end tablets looking to preempt the impact of the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablet on the market. The Xperia is looking to differentiate itself with connected home features designed to play nice with television.

Building on the popularity of the universal remote control feature in the previous model, the Xperia Tablet S has enhanced this feature by adding macro functionality, allowing the ability to turn on multiple devices of most brands, including TV, Blu-ray Disc player and audio system, with the touch of one button. Consumers can easily program sequenced commands such as "Watch TV" or Play Music," and perform the sequences with one tap on the screen.
To further enhance the living room experience, Sony is also offering a new app called Watch Now, available through Google Play, which provides an interactive, visual program guide fueled by personal preference and real-time trends from users' social media feeds. TV fans can use the app to discover new shows based on intelligent recommendations from the app, change the channel with a swipe and share their thoughts on what they are watching via Twitter, Facebook and Get Glue.
"We know that 88% of tablet owners in the US are using their tablets in the living room, and are multi-tasking with their tablets while watching TV," said Phil Lubell, vice president of networked technologies and services at Sony Electronics. "We wanted to enhance that living room experience by providing interactive and useful features with the Xperia Tablet S."
The gadget also comes with native video-focused apps, like Sony Entertainment Network Services for purchasing or renting on-demand hit movies and TV shows.
Also available at launch is a promotion for up to $45 in feature films from Google Play. The Xperia Tablet S will come equipped with redemption codes to add three movies from a choice of fifteen available movies to the Google Play movie library.
Sony is also offering parental controls with Guest Mode, which lets the owner manage access to apps and widgets with password-protected profiles.
"Tablets are no longer just a personal device, but are being shared by family members, and we heard from consumers that they wanted to have parental controls," Lubell added. "It was important for us to provide parents with a solution for controlling what content their children could access from the tablet."
Specs-wise, the 9.4-inch Xperia Tablet S is launching with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. The device includes a full-sized SD card slot for expanded storage and HDMI connectivity with optional HDMI adapter cable.
The Xperia Tablet S will be available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB versions and will retail at $399, $499 and $599 respectively.