Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Mobile World Congress: tags, watches and Vita - a visit with Sony

I must admit that I’m a bit of a Sony-phile and still reminisce about the glory days of mini-disc and Trinitron. They’ve fallen on hard times recently, which made my visit to their MWC stand all the more encouraging.

I liked 3 products in particular, ranging in price from EUR15 to EUR300.

NFC tags

At the lower end of that spectrum were a set of four NFC tags. These are delightfully simple one inch diameter circles that you can hang off a rear view mirror or leave on a table. When you place your NFC enabled phone on them, it enables a user-defined programme of settings. For example, it could go silent and set an alarm when you put it on your bedside table, or enable Bluetooth, navigation and music when you get in the car. Simple in concept and an elegant piece of design.

Smart watch

At EUR129 was the LiveView Android watch, which links up to your smartphone via Bluetooth and displays four applications at a time. Flicking through menus was beautifully smooth and there was enough screen real estate to show a couple of Tweets or some Facebook status updates. This might sound a little pointless, but my experience is that when on the move I want snippets of information, rather than a flood, therefore not having to wave a giant smartphone around would be a boon. I’ll definitely be getting one...

PS Vita

...which is also what I said about the Playstation Vita. At nearly EUR300 for the full fat 3G version, some may call this device an anachronism in a world of 0.99c Angry Birds, but it offers something for the hardcore gamer that a smartphone simply can’t deliver. The console is roughly the same size as the old PSP, but sports more buttons, a touch screen and a multi-touch back panel. All of the controls are beautifully judged, particularly the analogue control sticks, which the Sony demo guy said had taken thousands of iterations to get right.

The Vita’s screen is a wonder – rich and deep colours with no discernable streaking even on fast-paced racer, Wipeout 2048. It really is a handheld Playstation 3 and, with Playstation Network allowing users on the two consoles to play against each other, it offers the committed gamer a way of remaining anti-social when mobile. I want one, and if you consider that a smartphone can already deliver the graphics of the original PSP, 2015’s devices will be truly remarkable games machines... if we can add on analogue sticks...

In short, then, it was great to see Sony back on form and experience some slivers of their “four screen” strategy in the flesh.

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