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Sony’s New Xperia Z Ultra ‘Phablet’ Now for Something Completely Different

Loren W
Melbourne Oz
Update 15 August 2013

Question: What do you get when you cross technology from a mobile phone, tablet, and a classy TV ?
Answer : A real big phone, an average size tablet (based on the new 7" form factors) , and a real small TV, a GREAT picture, with a sophisticated elegance

Ladies & Gents, Geeks & Geekettes the Sony Xperia Z Ultra Mobile Phone / Phablet (or c6802)

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Actually launched in June 2013 (shhh don’t tell anyone), Note: that quiet launch unless repeated for the west, might be the only downfall of this otherwise spectacular device.

As when I got the Samsung Note 1, the first thing I thought was, Oh Crap, this thing is too big.  But I knew as with the Samsung Note 1, I would get used to it fast. Now, as a long time Samsung fan in everything they offer, from TVs, and Appliances to testing their first phablets (large mobile phones) via the Galaxy Note 1, since its launch in 2011 so this was an easy decision.

Unfortunately being a new tech junkie wanting everything new, the Samsung Note 2 did not float my boat beyond, the boat floating I was still feeling from the Note 1. I loved it, and am now hooked on the form factor of the Phablets. I am not so sure that the Samsung Note 3 will be so radical to make me want it as bad, as I thought I wanted the Note 2.

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Magpie Effect- However, on looking to see what my next phone was going to be, I made a discovery I am sure many already had made. The Samsung Note 2, has a larger bezel on it than many of the new phones. This means I could buy a smaller phone yet still get the same or similar screen size depending on the phone of course of what many refer to as the first real Phablet (tablet sized mobile phone).
This has been badly reported on in the media.

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Nokia- Personally I almost bought a Nokia 1020, I love the idea, of the amazing camera. But I did not for the same reason I dumped my 1st Windows 8 Phone Mobile, the eco-system for Microsoft does not do it for me app wise. There are some great apps, but how Microsoft goes from being the world leader in dumb phones / PDAs, with Windows CE to last place in smart phones war still amazes me as an old school Microsoft fan boy. I want to play as well as work, and the balance is skewed against Windows Phone 8 for me. Windows has a big advantage, the last to market, but I have not seen anything to make me think they are going to pull out an Internet Explorer vs.. Netscape Play.

The result of all of that and as I will soon be going on a holiday to an exotic South Pacific destination, a bit of snorkeling and a bit of diving, so am getting a GoPro pro, but I was looking strongly at the benefits of the Sony Xperia Z, then I discovered something amazing to me, Sony has gone and launched their new Phablet version of the Xperia Z (called the Ultra) globally (outside the USA). It then turned out it is for sale in many countries already. Again to well reported and not reported at all in most of the usual USA press.

One phone call later and I have a review unit due in 2 days herein Australia. As I scratch below the surface (no MS pun attended), I have discovered a few interesting facts on this device that is raising as many questions as it answers, before I even receive the device.

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Convergence – Before I get into the device, (a more detailed review is forthcoming when I receive it), I have to raise what might the elephant in the room that has not been discussed in the present sense yet.
We have long known that the day would come when a Phablet would be the same size as a tablet. But with the rise in demand and increased interest in 7”tablets, and now 6+” Phablets, emerging, more so with the Samsung Note 3, at least a 5’7” phone, that day is nigh and I expect a big story in the weeks ahead. Obvious questions is when the next iPhone will be a Phablet, or the iPad a phone. Will the Nexus 7 (2014) be a phone, and an alternative to a Nexus 4. Or the Motorola Nexus Phone 2 (announced) be a Phablet?

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Phablets = Tablets – An interesting element of this is reading reviews comparing the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, not to any present or forthcoming phone/phablets, but to the new Nexus 7 (2013) and iPad mini. A silly comparison if you ask me, unless the Nexus 7 (2013) and iPads are a phone, but sets I believe the ground game for what happens next.

Picture This – The physical size as mentioned is 6.4” on the Sony, and 7” on the Nexus 7 – ( 2013) 1080×1920 and 1280 x 800 respectively. However, the Nexus 7 has an impressive ~323ppi whilst the Sony has an equally amazing ~344ppi. The Sony takes a micro SSD to 64gb whilst tablets do not. Wi-Fi is also offers a/b/g/n/ac, and a 2.2 ghz cpu vs the 1.5GHz on the Nexus

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Waterproof – Oh, did I mention HD Video underwater- to 5 feet ? Though the phone has an average camera by today’s standard, (same as the Note 2). However the Sony has no flash, possibly a big deal. In all the tests I have seen thus far, the Sony, Ultra Z appears to triumph pretty easily over the Samsung Note 2, how it will compare against the Note 3 remains to be seen. Sony have competed against the stylus pen of Samsung by suggesting users can use anything they want from their finger to a real pencil instead of the OMG I going to lose Samsung Note stylus. Possible improvements by Samsung in the Note 3 might include a flexible display, 3GB vs. 2GB of RAM, whilst the Note 3 will likely have the respectable 13MP camera vs. the Note 2 camera in the Sony. Samsung Note 3 body construction is still a bit of a mystery.

A Little TV – Tech

Sony Bravia range

With the Z Ultra, Sony uses 2 bits of Tv tech to Improve the picture from the Bravia TV side of things partly.

These are Triluminos and X-Reality Engine technologies. With the ~342 pixel density, this gives the Z Ultra one of the best displays period and the best by far on a Phablet. Sony had been given a bad rap previously (perhaps deserved) for not having the crispest of colors. Triluminos effectively uses quantum dots, to give a 50% crisper color by allowing better color separation thus less wash out. This is further done by something called quantum dots, that effectively means to the human eye colors are crisper. The X reality engine does the same thing in reverse sort of by analyzing the image received then separating the colors. Effectively it improves image quality in dark or over bright areas to get the tones right.

Not for everyone perhaps this hybrid device really is one to be considered.


How Google is Helping Customers Get Over Apple.

 

31 July 2013
Melbourne Oz,
Loren W.

 

 clip_image002_thumb.jpg With the release of the Nexus 7 Tablet, Google with Asus did something pretty special. They took the tablet form factor dominated by Apple since the launch of the iPad since its release in November 2012, and shrank it from a 9.5 x 7.3 x .37 inch device to a more ‘svelte’ 7.8 x 4.7x .41 inch device with only a little bit lower screen quality (~216 ppi vs ~264 ppi for the iPad). This happened  a month after Apple launched the iPad mini with a 7.87×5.3x.28 in model in October 2012., However the iPad Mini took a step back and only offered a ~162ppi screen a whopping 25% reduction in screen quality of the Nexus 7 and a 29% reduction over the larger iPad.

This is all relevant because when Google/Asus launched the Nexus 7 they did this for under $200, Apple for $329, for what many felt was a lower quality device. However, many marveled at the new Apple device whilst others were just locked into using Apple eco-system having media, such as music and video in the Apple only iTunes, so it was not a slam dunk for Google by any stretch of the imagination.

 clip_image004_thumb.jpg Well Google/Asus has done it again, this time with the launch of the new Nexus 7 (or Nexus 7 – 2013).
Now the quality gets a big bump above the golden chalice title of retina screen with ~323ppi. Retina® screen being the name Apple gives to devices with over 326ppi for small devices and 264ppi for iPads.

Apple has hinted the retina screen for their iPad is not possible till 2014 at the earliest (either a market issue or a technical one). In the case of the new Nexus 7, few will care, it will attract new users, now a slave to the Apple eco-system or make many consider the jump.

For 15% of this huge marketplace there is yet another factor. The television, that other golden chalice, which has yet to see an elegant transition of content and users otherwise watching from other mobile devices or computers. That is many watch content (movies, video, YouTube, Netflix etc.) on a device other than the TV (85% to be exact), and using 50% of the Internet in the process. But getting content to the TV has proved less than simple.

 clip_image006_thumb.jpg In my case I get content from my PC computer and ‘stream’ it my Apple device then stream it to my Apple TV connected to my TV. Far from difficult it is not elegant, but works well usually. The complication there, is the streaming device (say an iPhone or iPad) cannot totally be used to turn off during the streaming process, and there is no social element to it, just a technical one.
 clip_image008_thumb.jpg For that Google has launched the GoogleCast a small device looking a lot like a USB key, but offering a method to stream from apps, videos, PCs, Macs, music etc. simply and cleanly. It essentially makes any TV with an HDMI port (smart tv or dumb), into a viewing device via a method it would not normally get.

About Me

Loren W

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An American/ Brit, that immigrated to Australia less than a decade ago, after running an ISP or two, then as a product manager for one of the largest Telcos in the world British Telecom, I went on to introduce something called business broadband in the UK then several other mobile, and cloud services in the UK and here in Australia for some of the largest companies in the world including NEC Japan (man this dude is old). Many of these are mainstays of technology today. As a result passion for all things tech are part professional and part personal. Full of funny and not so stories, this is my brain dump page.“The Technology Market like the Internet itself, evolves differently in different continents and countries”. Like the cars shown in Mad Max and the fact the last Pontiac GTO was made here, Australia, offers a different view, cool, and sometimes out of sync with the rest of the world. A country the size of the USA but the population of New York City, some things here are just not like the others