Gearing for war
Sony has been gearing for war the last few quarters, that much is apparent if you consider the now quite extensive and well-reinforced army of a portfolio that the Japanese company hopes will make the first notable dent in the established status-quo. More specifically, the introductions of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Sony Xperia Z1 have hardly exhausted the seemingly bottomless bag – we have premium, high-end flagship devices that should cater to a wide range of consumers, with a number of accessories and proprietary functionality in tow.
Seeing as Sony appears to have spent a considerable amount of time working (and marketing) the 20.7MP camera on the Xperia Z1, it seems logical that we check what the smoke is all about. With noteworthy camera internals such as the 27mm wide angled G Lens with a bright f/2.0 aperture, bundled with a large 1/2.3'' Exmor RS sensor, it's easy to forget that software also has its role to play. To that end, the Xperia Z1 will feature Sony's proprietary BIONZ for mobile image processing engine that is supposed to help with color and luminance noise reduction in photos, enhancing your snaps in areas such as color reproduction and detail clarity. Sony has also added a number of new features to the camera app that will come with the Xperia Z1's firmware.
Camera app features
Social Live will let Sony Xpeira Z1 users broadcast chosen moments and events directly on Facebook, live from their smartphone. Working in real time, the camera app feature will also feed your friend's comments right on your screen.
Info-eye is Sony's spin on Goggles, Google's app that allows you to snap a landmark or an object, performing a relevant search afterwards based on the image. Sony promises that items such as books, wines and landmarks will be recognizable by the Z1's software.
Timeshift burst takes, well, a burst of 61 images in a window of two seconds – one second before and after you press the shutter button, letting you pick the perfect image.
AR effects lets you add an augmented reality layer on top of your existing photos. Sony claims these are both customizable and fun, though they look quite the gimmick to us.
An 'All Sync' feature that will make use of PlayMemories Online, a service that Sony will start offering to its customers, which will allow you to back up each and every snap that you take, automatically. According to CEO Kazuo Hirai, the storage for Xperia Z1 buyers will be unlimited.
Best of all, the software is open-source, and Sony says it already has a number of developers hard at work on projects that will hopefully bring even more functionality to the Xperia Z1 and its camera. Those will be available via the Sony Select app.
Toys, toys, toys!
Sony further detailed a bunch of other accessories that it hopes will tip the scales with consumers, if slightly, in its favor. One such accessory is the so-called Smart Imaging Stand (IPT-DS10M), which the Japanese conglomerate claims will help the Xperia Z1 “detect smiles and capture special moments without the need to hold the handset”. A separate, stand-alone Smartphone Tripod (SPA-MK20M), offering extra stability and reliability when shooting videos or snapping photos, was also made available.
Taking a step away from the camera-centric extras, Sony also introduced a number of wireless add-ons available for the Z1, like the SBH52 Smart Bluetooth Handset – a splash proof wireless audio accessory which allows you to listen to music, or talk on the phone without having to whip out your far less wieldy smartphone. Next on Sony's list of extra gadgetry are the NFC-enabled MDR-10BT NFC headphones, and the SRS-BTS50 wireless speaker. Sony has obviously grown big on NFC tech, for starting from today, it'll also offer what the the company dubs SmartTags – NFC-enabled badges that work much alike QR codes, but are less of a hassle.
Last, but not least, Sony is also making available the BM10 Bluetooth Music Receiver that can stream music to your home system directly from the Xperia Z1, along with the IM10 Miracast Wireless Display which lets you mirror your smartphone's display on your HDTV/projector.