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Sony showcases phone with ultra-HD video recording

By AP - Feb 24,2014 - Last updated at Feb 24,2014

BARCELONA, Spain — Sony is borrowing innovations from its audio and camcorder businesses and incorporating its new Xperia Z2 smartphone with noise-cancelling technology and ultra-high-definition video recording.

Noise cancellation works with an in-ear headset sold separately for 60 euros ($82), while the Z2’s built-in camera can capture video in so-called 4K resolution, an emerging standard that offers four times the details as current high-definition video.

Kazuo Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Corp., described Sony’s new lineup as “products that are built on the shoulders of 60 years of design, engineering and artistic excellence”.

Monday’s announcement at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, comes just weeks after Sony said it was selling its Vaio personal computer operations and making its Bravia TV business a subsidiary company. Sony also plans to cut its global workforce by about 3 per cent, or 5,000 people, by the end of March 2015.

Sony, once an electronics powerhouse when its Walkman music players defined what portable gadgets should be, has had difficulty keeping up with Samsung and other rivals in various consumer electronics.

Phones are no different. Despite favorable reviews, Sony phones haven’t had much traction in an industry dominated by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

With the Z2, Sony is trying to innovate on hardware, while many of the groundbreaking features in rival devices have been in their software.

The Z2 sports the same 20.7 megapixel camera found in its predecessors, the Z1 and the Z1s. Most other smartphone cameras have eight to 13 megapixels. The Z2 is waterproof, like the Z1 phones, and its screen is slightly larger, at 5.2 inches  (13.2cm) diagonally instead of 5 inches (12.7cm).

At Monday’s announcement event, Sony also demonstrated a SmartBand fitness accessory that works with a Lifelog app on the phone to record your day. You see key moments on a timeline, including photos taken and messages sent and received. As your day progresses on the timeline, you see the number of steps and calories burned to that point.

Sony also announced a high-end tablet and a separate, mid-range smartphone.

The tablet is also called the Xperia Z2 and features a 10.1-inch screen, larger than most full-size tablets. It is also waterproof. The Wi-Fi-only model weights 426 grams (0.94 pound), which is lighter than Apple’s lightweight iPad Air, despite the Z2’s larger size.

Sony’s Xperia M2, meanwhile, is meant as a cheaper alternative to the Z2. Its camera isn’t as powerful, at only eight megapixels, and the screen is only 4.8 inches. Still, the camera is the same as what the iPhone offers, and it’s larger than the iPhone’s four inches (10cm).

Sony is making a version of the M2 with two SIM card slots, something in demand in emerging markets, where plans vary so much that people often have service with multiple carriers and use what’s most economical for the circumstance.

Both Z2 devices and the SmartBand will be available in March, while the M2 is slated for April. The SmartBand will sell for 99 euros ($136). Prices for the phones and tablet weren’t announced, nor were any specific US plans. Sony sometimes makes phones available in the US later than elsewhere around the world.

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