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A black version of the device will go on sale in the U.S. in the second quarter, priced $499 with 16GB of storage or $599 with 32GB, Sony said on Monday. A white 32GB version will be sold at Sony’s stores and web site. Storage can be extended via a microSD slot.
The company did not indicate pricing for other countries.
Sony said the device will have the highest levels of water and dirt resistance in a tablet, and can be held under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. It will also feature speakers designed to offer surround sound regardless of how the tablet is gripped, as well as an 8-megapixel rear mounted camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera using the company’s own image sensors.
The new tablet will join Sony’s Xperia Z phone, announced in January, as a flagship device, part of the company’s quest to regain the gadget glory of years past. The company has set a goal of becoming the world’s number three smartphone maker, behind Apple and Samsung.
The tablet has touch-card NFC (near field communication) technology, allowing devices to transfer video and audio files by tapping them together. Sony is increasingly incorporating NFC into its new products
Sony is also striving to give the tablet a key role in users’ living rooms. It can be used as a universal remote control, and the company is launching a new app called “TV SideView”, which allows users to search for shows on traditional channels as well as Netflix and YouTube, and share content on social networks.
The device will launch with Android 4.1 and an update to 4.2 will be made available after it goes on sale.