Berlin, Germany — If at first you don't succeed... Well, you know how it goes.
After Sony's initial lettered tablets and Xperia smartphone were met with nonchalance in the market a year ago, Sony here at the IFA electronics show bowed a newly-named Xperia Tablet S, three new Xperia smartphones (the T, V and J), a convertible laptop/tablet dubbed the VAIO Duo 11, and several other new AV and PC gadgets.
But the headline announcement was the world's first 4KTV, an 84-inch Bravia LCD HDTV with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (8.29 megapixels), four times the resolution of current HDTVs. Officially the KD-84X9005, it'll convert all content to 4K and provides audio from 10 speaker "units" (not sure what it means by that, but it has large speakers hanging off each side of the screen).
It also is a passive 3D set — you use the light 3D glasses you get in a movie theater; at such a high resolution, it likely doesn't suffer from the poor image quality current passive 3D sets do. Sony says it'll sell the set (try saying that three times fast) later this year.
It's clear Sony is trying to reassert its gadget bona fides among us geeks after having lost much of its gear mojo to Apple and Samsung with the TV. But the company's smartphone and tablets still lag.
It's new Xperia Tablet S, for instance, wasn't presented with any new technology, just a new name. And the main cache for the flagship Xperia T smartphone will be its use by James Bond in the new 007 film, Skyfall, this fall. But Daniel Craig's wielding of a Sony Ericsson handset in Casino Royale didn't help save that partnership.
Just for the record, the Xperia T, also coming this fall, will feature a 4.6-inch screen capable of displaying 1080p video (although at that small size, that's like saying an XXXXL T-shirt is better because it's bigger), a sleep-to-snap feature designed to enable faster photo taking from sleep mode, and is imbued with NFC designed to tap-and-pair the phone via Bluetooth to a number of coming Sony NFC accessories such as speakers and headphones.
European purchasers or the Xperia T also will get a 60-day trial subscription to Sony's Music Unlimited service, which regularly sells for 4.99 euro a month. No word if a similar deal will be extended to U.S. Xperia buyers.
The middle model, Xperia V, will be splash proof, and the J will be the entry-level model.
More ham-fisted is the VAIO Duo 11, a laptop with an 11.6-inch touchscreen convertible to a tablet — the back of the screen collapses flat onto the keyboard — and includes a digitizer stylus. Once the iPad hit, what few convertible laptops there were quickly began going extinct. But Duo 11 offers no weight advantages compared to an ultrabook — it's nearly a half pound heavier than Apple's 11-inch MacBook Air, and at 2.86 pounds, it's just a tenth of a pound lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Duo 11 is likely to suffer the same swift fate as other convertibles as a result.
I'm a bit unsure about the Tap 20, essentially a 20-inch tablet designed to be used around the house. It has a built in stand, or can be laid flat on a coffee table. It allows up to 10 points of contact, so lots of folks can touch and play. I saw an air hockey app that looked kind of cool. How it does depends on the price — no prices for any of this gear was announced.
For you kids, Sony will be releasing "Pottermore," a PlayStation 3 game based on the Harry Potter books based on J.K. Rowling's "Book of Spells." Rowling has produced original material for the game, which will come with a Harry Potter wand to turn your sister into a cat.
Posted on location at IFA 2012 in Berlin. All images by Stewart Wolpin for DVICE.