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Sony Xperia Tablet S Touts Remote-Control Functionality, Trim Dimensions

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While Sony experimented with its dual-screen Tablet P last year, it seems to be playing things a bit more conservatively this year. At the IFA technology trade show in Berlin today, Sony announced its new Xperia Tablet S, a 9.4-inch Android 4.0 tablet.

The new version of the tablet has been improved in a few key ways: It is now thinner than the previous version (0.35 inches at its thinnest point), faster with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor from Nvidia, and has some new functionality, including an improved remote app.

And it's the latter piece - the remote functionality - on which Sony's really focusing. The tablet has an IR blaster so it can control your TV. But while you can use the tablet as a universal remote, you can also load up the Watch Now app that provides a visual program guide alongside social media feeds.

Additionally, Sony has made some adjustments to Android 4.0, including a new Guest Mode that lets you set up different accounts with parental controls, if you choose.

The 1.26-pound tablet has a 9.4-inch 1280 x 800-resolution display, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting.

Sony is also releasing some unique accessories to enhance the tablet experience, including a cover with a keyboard similar to the one Microsoft has shown for its Surface tablet. The $99.99 keyboard uses touch sensors rather than physical keys. It also will release a $99.99 docking stand that lets you rotate the screen; one with a built in speaker will be out in November for $ 129.99.

The tablet itself starts at $399 for the 16GB version and will be available Sept. 7 online and at stores.

Sony Mobile Communications announced last week that it planned to lay off 15 percent of its workforce, about 1,000 employees, by 2014.

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