The Top 5 Hottest New Gadgets From Sony’s U.S. Press Event: Hands-On With Vaio Flip Convertible Laptops And More

 @tommylikeyt.halleck@ibtimes.com on September 05 2013 3:29 PM
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    Sony hosted an event for the U.S. press Wednesday at the Jazz at Lincoln Center venue in the Time Warner Building, overlooking Columbus Circle. Thomas Halleck / International Business Times
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    Sony's NYC event attempted to garner some American press for products also being unveiled at IFA 2013 in Berlin. Thomas Halleck / International Business Times
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    Sony unveiled the least expensive professional 4K camera on the market -- the newest Handycam costs $4,500. Thomas Halleck / International Business Times
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When Sony hosted an event at the Time Warner Center in New York City on Wednesday to introduce several new products, and International Business Times was there for first looks.

Sony used the event to showcase some, but not all, of the products unveiled in Berlin at press events prior to the IFA 2013 electronics trade show. There was the new DX10 and DX100 smart phone-compatible camera lenses, a suite of “Vaio”-branded laptops, along with several new televisions showcasing the next generation of 4K Ultra HD and curved display technology, but sadly, no Xperia Z1 (Sony Electronics U.S.A. did not want to steal the thunder from IFA).

After going hands-on with several of the new products from the show, IBTimes presents the top five coolest new products from the house that the Walkman built:

1. The smart-phone-attachable QX10 and QX100 “lens-style cameras” (DSC-QX10, DSC-QX100)

Describing the QX10 and QX100 in a concise way is no easy task – they are basically full-featured digital cameras (lacking a viewfinder or LCD screen) in the shape of a high-end camera lens. They can be attached to almost any smart phone to take higher-quality shots, including the Xperia Z, iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4, or just about any smart phone running iOS or Android.

IMG_20130904_113133 A sony representative shows off the DX10 Lens-style camera (DSC-DX10). Along with the $449 DX100 (DSC-100), Sony takes smartphone accessories to a whole new (price) level.  Thomas Halleck / International Business Times

Mobile shooters who take pride in their smart-phone shots will find a lot to like in the two new lenses. They can be attached to a smart phone or used independently. While the $249 QX10 has a 10x optical zoom, the $449 QX100 includes a larger and more high-end sensor (the same one found in the Cyber-Shot RX100 II) and a 3.6x zoom. A Sony representative said any more zoom in the QX100 would make it too large to handle.

Both the QX10 and QX100 can change mobile photography for the better -- both contain a memory-card slot and are capable of saving to a smart phone or a separate on-board memory card. While not small enough to fit in your pocket, they are both capable enough to replace the DSLR travel bag -- at least for travelling photographers.

2. New Sony Vaio Flip Hands-On

Sony is going after Lenovo’s Thinkpad Yoga in a big way with the Vaio Flip – a new convertible laptop available in 13-, 14- and 15-inch models. The Vaio Flip uses a second hinge, so that instead of folding the screen behind the keyboard and leaving the keys exposed, a switch allows the screen to “flip,” folding the keyboard underneath.

SonyVaioFLip Sony will offer the convertible Vaio Flip laptops in 13, 14 and 15-inch models. The Vaio Flip has a second hinge that, with the flip of a switch, allows it to flip from a laptop into a tablet -- without having to use the keyboard as a tablet backrest.  Thomas Halleck / International Business Times

The second hinge allows the Vaio Flip to take one of three positions: standard laptop style, tablet style (with a smooth, keyless back – as opposed to the Yoga) and a “viewer” position. The keyboard, Sony confirmed, contains most of the Flip’s components. Despite that, it felt more like an accessory than a full-fledged laptop keyboard.

The switch to lock the secondary hinge, and keep the Vaio Flip from changing from laptop to tablet mode, also took some getting used to. On the other hand, the viewer mode, which allows the laptop screen to face outwardly in front of the keyboard, is perfect for watching a video in a seated position.

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3. Curved LED

Sony showed off what it's calling the “world’s first” curved LED screen. The model – KDL-65S990A – will be available in October for a retail price of $3,999. While LG and Samsung are also working actively on curved flatscreens (usually sticking with the newer, more expensive OLED technology), Sony’s foray into curved sets is a fine one.

SonyCurvedLED Sony's new curved LED television, while not offering 4K Ultra HD resolution, was highly immersive in person. We were also impressed with its wide viewing angles.  Thomas Halleck / International Business Times

Sony heralded the set’s Triluminos color accuracy and wider viewing angles, in addition to the more direct sound reproduction thanks to the speakers mounted to the sides and rear of the KDL-65S990A.

However, the most impressive thing about a curved display is the added depth it brings to images on-screen. If you are a fan of seeing films in IMAX but not sure how a curved screen is going to improve your home-theater experience, fear not. Sony’s first curved LED screen brings a new level of immersion to home theater, an experience that 3D tried, and largely failed, to accomplish.

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4. Video Unlimited 4K Download Service

The true “world’s first” from Sony is the company’s Video Unlimited 4K service. Owners of 4K television services are faced with a lack of content. With Video Unlimited, Sony offers more than 70 films for download or rental in 4K Ultra HD.

IMG_20130904_112519_1 Sony is launching the world's first 4K Ultra HD download service. Films will cost $7.99 to rent and $29.99 to purchase.  Thomas Halleck / International Business Times

4K films will cost $29.99 to own from the service, and rentals will cost $7.99. Television episodes are also available for $3.99 each.

To access the service, consumers must first own the FMP-X1 4K Ultra HD Media Player (click here to read more about the streaming device), which ships for free with higher-end (read: $24,999) Ultra HD 4K sets. Otherwise, the streaming device costs $699, with Sony TV owners receiving an additional $200 off.

5. PHA-1 Headset DAC

Audiophiles have been using headset DACs to improve headphone sound quality for years. In an age when mobile listeners also call themselves audiophiles, larger companies like Sony finally started paying attention. The PHA-1 boosts the sound that comes from mobile phones, laptops and computers – which makes a big difference on high-end headphones. The device is not pocket-friendly, but it contains a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery with upwards of 10 hours of battery life.

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Sony announced that it will roll out the PHA-1 more widely in the coming months. Released earlier this year, the device is currently available at Guitar Center and other retailers. While the manufacturer suggested retail is $599, the device usually ships for less than $400 from most retailers.

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