Event Coverage

IFA 2016: Sony updates its mobile and audio offerings

By Bryan Chan & Peter Chu - 2 Sep 2016

Xperia X Compact, Xperia Ear, Signature Series

Sony has been a very busy bee at IFA 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Since we’ve already taken a closer look at its newly-minted flagship device, the Xperia XZ, it’s only fair that we gave the many other products that the company unveiled the same treatment.

Xperia X Compact


The Xperia X Compact is essentially a smaller iteration of the Xperia XZ. It packs a 4.6-inch HD (1,280 x 720) display, a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable to 256GB via microSD), and a 2,700mAh battery.

On the imaging side of things, the Xperia X Compact has a 5MP front-facing camera, and the same impressive 23MP rear camera as its flagship sibling – one that features a 1/2.3-inch Exmor RS imaging sensor, triple image sensing technology (which comprises a laser autofocus sensor, an RGBC-IR sensor, and the aforementioned Exmor RS sensor), and five-axis image stabilization. Sony claims that its triple image sensing technology “allows you to capture beautiful images in motion with true to life colors in virtually any conditions.”

The Xperia X Compact will be available globally later this month. Sony has yet to disclose how much it would cost.

Xperia Ear

You can pair up the Xperia X Compact with the Xperia Ear, a wireless Bluetooth earpiece that’s capable of understanding voice commands. For example, you can literally tell the Xperia Ear to read out your messages, search the web, navigate you to a particular location while you’re walking or driving, brief you on your daily schedule, and update you with the latest news.

No word on how much this in-ear personal assistant will cost you, but Sony did mention that it will be available in select markets from November onwards.

Sony MDR-Z1R Headphones

More of a die-hard audiophile than a technophile? Then you would definitely be more interested in Sony’s new ‘Signature Series’ high-res audio peripherals, which is made up of the MDR-Z1R headphones, two new Walkman models (NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A), and the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier.

Let’s first dive into the MDR-Z1R headphones, which will cost you a whopping US$2,299 (~RM9,394) when it launches in the U.S. in November. What will you be getting for all that money? A pair of headphones that has a frequency response 4 Hz – 120,000 Hz, a sensitivity of 100 dB/mW, an aluminum-coated LCP-edge diaphragm with magnesium dome, neodymium magnets, and a titanium alloy headband that’s wrapped in leather. Whether all that impressive audio credentials translates to an audio experience worth shelling out US$2,299 (~RM9,399) for is something that you’d have to determine for yourself.

Sony Walkman NW-WM1Z and NW-WM1A 

The gold-plated Sony NW-WM1Z Walkman.

Perhaps the best way to do so would be by using it to listen to music that’s being played on the NW-WM1Z or NW-WM1A Walkman. Most probably the former, considering that it has a gold-plated copper chassis that helps to minimize magnetic and electronic interference that could potentially affect audio quality. Its internal components are also of top-notch quality as well – its headphone jack is connected to its built-in S-Master HX digital amplifier using Kimber Kable, which is specifically designed to eliminate noise and improve audio fidelity. As you’d expect, the NW-WM1Z it’s not going to come cheap: USD$3,199 (~RM13,077).

But of course, if its asking price is a little too much for you to handle, you can always opt for the latter of the two Walkmans instead, which has a more down-to-earth aluminum chassis, and a relatively more affordable price tag of US$1,199 (~RM4,902).

Sony TA-ZH1ES Headphone Amplifier

Rounding up Sony’s ‘Signature Series’ audio peripheral lineup is the TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier, which has a bountiful amount of different outputs to cater for different headphone connections, including 4.4mm standard, 3.5mm balanced, 6.3mm standard, and 3.5 mm stereo mini. It has a number of different input ports as well, including coaxial, optical, line L/R, pre out (variable /fixed), Walkman/Xperia USB-B input.

Naturally, the TA-ZH1ES is packed will a bevy of high quality audio components to ensure that your music will sound as pristine as humanly possible, including a brand new D.A. Hybrid Amplifier Circuit, a S-Master HX digital amplifier, and an aluminum FBW chassis designed to isolate its circuit board from vibrations for clearer, purer sound.

The TA-ZH1ES will be yours for US$2,199 (~RM8,990)