Sony plays a smart game with Smart Watch 2, Experia Z1, and Ultra

Not to be outdone by tech rivals Samsung and Apple, Sony released three new smart devices Tuesday in hopes of snagging a piece of the wearable tech and phablet market.

By , Contributor

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    A man shows a Sony Smart Watch II at a Sony event ahead of the IFA, one of the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and electrical home appliances in Berlin, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.
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Sony is getting into the fall new release fun with a smart watch and two new smart phones: the Smart Watch 2, the Xperia L1, and Xperia Ultra -- all available in the US Tuesday online and in stores.

The Smart Watch 2 offers what has come to be expected of the smart watch: users can access Gmail, tweets, Facebook notifications, calendar events, and text messages (oh yeah, and tell time) all from their wrists. It offers a 1.6-inch display, a variety of band color options, and can access more than 80 Android apps, plus an extra 200 just for the Smart Watch. A big feature is that its screen is viewable in direct sunlight and the device is waterproof up to one meter for 30 minutes, so you don’t have to take it off in the shower or worry about splashing liquids (or even a quick dip in the pool). Plus, the battery lasts for three to four days without charge.

The device connects via Bluetooth to any Android 4.0 device or above, and automatically syncs with any Xperia phone (such as the ones below). If you don’t have an Xperia, you have to download the Smart Connect app, and then install any apps you would like to use. The Smart Watch 2 will set you back $199 at Sony stores or online.

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But you can’t have the watch without a phone.

Are you frequently on the go and like to travel light? The Xperia Z1 might be for you. With a 5-inch screen that is waterproof and dustproof, this phone won’t meet its end in a watery grave or be rendered unusable due to daily grime. But the big selling point is its whopping 20.7 megapixel camera, which offers the option to pick the best picture out of 20 rapid-fire shots. The phone retails for $649 without a two-year contract (pick whichever carrier works for you), and comes in black, white, and purple.

But if screen size and width is more your selling point, the Xperia Ultra may be more what you’re looking for. Sony boasts that the phone is the world’s largest and slimmest HD handset. What does that mean? The HD screen measures at 6.4-inches (placing it firmly in phablet territory) and is only a quarter-inch thick. Plus, with a Triluminos display the screen’s high-definition colors look natural and the display is easy to read even in direct sunlight, and the phone boasts the same water/dustproof feature as the Z1. The phone also runs on a 2.15 GHz processor, making it extremely powerful, which translates to quick graphics and better multitasking. The Ultra starts at $649 without a contract, and comes in the same color options as the Z1.

What are these gadgets up against in the smart tech world? Samsung released its Galaxy Gear smart watch in September that boasts the ability to take calls and take photos on your wrist device, which puts it a step ahead of the Smart Watch 2, but costs about $100 more. Samsung also released the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 phablet. But the real heavy-hitter is Apple whose iPhone 5S and 5C release smashed sales records and, with new iPads likely to be released next week and the ever-present rumor of an iWatch, is a threat in several fields.

For now, Sony is betting that stellar graphics, a powerful camera, and the rise of wearable tech will be enough to hoist it above powerful rivals such as Samsung and Apple.

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