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The Sony Xperia Z, the Huawei Windows Phone (and a TV 2 Can Watch Different Channels on at the Same Time)
This week has seen Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, running over in Las Vegas. It's a week that usually features a couple of smartphone announcements and this year's show hasn't disappointed.
Sony are the first to admit that they've needed to get their smartphone house in order, especially since the buy out of Ericsson. They've produced good phones but nothing to rival the iPhone 5 or Samsung's Galaxy SIII. That's where the Xperia Z in particular comes in.
It's 5 inch full 1080 HD display follows the trend for larger screens pushed by Samsung's SIII Note 'phablet'. However, the design is 'squarer'than rivals with more angular rather than rounded corners.
In terms of specs, they're pretty impressive. A quad core processor should ensure smooth operation and the Xperia Z also includes contactless technology NFC and 4G connectivity. It will run the Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system but will be upgraded to the latest version (4.2) shortly after launch.
Unsurprisingly for a company that produces great cameras, the Z includes a 13 megapixel which can shoot HDR video (a first) and a 2.2 megapixel front facing camera for video calling.
All good so far, however, there are a couple of features that make the Xperia Z stand out from the crowd. For example, the phone has a battery stamina mode which promises to extend battery life by up to 4 times (basically, by switching off all running apps - except ones whitelisted by you - when the screen switches off). It also comes pre-loaded with the Walkman, Album and Movie Apps which give access to millions of tracks and 1000s of movies, albeit for a monthly subscription.
But perhaps most interestingly, it's water and dust proof and it's touchscreen will operate even when your fingers are wet. In terms of the those of you that have a habit of dropping your phones into the bath or down the toilet, or like using your phones in the pouring rain, there couldn't be a better option.
When and if the Xperia Z comes to the UK is unknown - it ven may be a US exclusive. But we should get it's similar cousin at least, the ZL. The ZL's shape is slightly different and it's a little thicker, although the screen is still 5 inches. The major difference is that it isn't dust or waterproof, unfortunately.
The other mobile phone manufacturer that's been busy at CES has been Huawei. We've talked about the Ascend D2 and Ascend Mate in another article, but we haven't yet mention the Ascend W1 - a new Windows Phone.
If you're looking for a high spec, top end phone you can skip this bit as the W1 is pitched at the entry level of the smartphone market. For example, the screen resolution is just 480x800 on a screen the same size as an iPhone (4 inches) and the camera resolution is only 5 megapixels.
Still, it features a beast of a battery which promises 470 hours of standby time and, knowing Huawei, it will be very competitively priced. Those looking for a perfectly functional and cheap phone running Windows 8 aren't going to be disappointed.
That's it for the phones but one other thing did catch our eye from CES - a TV 2 people could watch different channels on at the same time. This isn't split screen - both channels are shown on the whole screen at the same time - you just need to wear special glasses to see 'your' picture. Whether it ever comes into production is a moot point but we see the potential for it to end the remote control war being waged in sitting rooms up and down the country. That can't be a bad thing!