Sony Xperia Touch
£TBC (€1,499) • sony.co.uk
While MWC is typically all about phone, tablets and smartwatches, Sony had something completely different which caught a lot of attention. The Xperia Touch is a short-throw projector that can turn any flat surface into a touchscreen.
Like Sony’s other new products at MWC, including the Xperia XZ Premium, the Xperia Touch release date is set for ‘Spring’ so it shouldn’t be too long before you can get hold of one.
Whether you’ll want to at a price of €1,499 is another matter, though the device doesn’t have any real competition.
The look of the Xperia Touch might fool you into thinking it’s an external hard drive – at least when the device is not in use – but even if it was just storage we’d think it was good looking.
It’s a very compact projector at 69x134x143mm and weighs less than a kilogram making it easy to move around to different surfaces or another room in the house.
We like the perforated metal casing and glossy black panels giving the Xperia Touch a premium and stylish look.
The projector sits on the side and casts an image downwards onto a flat surface like a desk. The controls, then, sit on top in a nice neat line including an NFC chip and camera.
It might sound odd to have a camera on the top but you can change the orientation of the Xperia Touch so that the image is projected onto a wall. This means the camera is pointing towards where you’re sitting.
First things first, the Xperia Touch can project a 23in image onto your chosen flat surface with an HD resolution (1366x768). Your desk or kitchen worktop doesn’t need anything fancy as the Xperia Touch turns it into a touchscreen with a combination of Infrared and real-time detection via the built-in camera at 60fps.
When projected onto a wall, the touch element still works but you can make the image larger than 23in by pulling the Xperia Touch further away. It can go up to 80in and once you’re beyond 23in, you’ll lose the ability of touch input. Sony told us that it’s working on gesture controls via the 13Mp camera which will arrive with a software update.
During our hands-on time we were impressed with the Xperia Touch, both on a desk type surface and a wall. However, it’s not all plain sailing as 720p isn’t great for watch films and we didn’t always find the touch input responsive.
It’s perfectly fine for casual tasks but when we played a game or tried to DJ, it got occasionally frustrating. You’ll also need to use the device in the dark ideally because in regular lighting the image can look pretty dull. We’d prefer it if the Xperia Touch wasn’t limited 100 nits.
In terms of core specifications, the Xperia Touch is running on an unnamed Qualcomm processor, 3GB of RAM and has 32GB of storage. However, you can add up to 256GB more via the microSD card. It’s also got an HDMI post, so you can plug in other devices to project and it has USB-C for data and charging. That’s right, there’s a battery inside but Sony says you’ll only get an hour of battery life (video playback), so it’s really just for doing something quick or until you find another power source.
Remaining specifications include Bluetooth 4.2, 11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, Miracast, GPS, ambient light sensor, gyro, accelerometer, a mic and stereo speakers. That’s quite a lot to pack in and the Xperia Touch can automatically switch on when it detects a person.
The Xperia Touch runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and has Google Play Store access so you can use all manner of apps via the 23in projected touchscreen. Gamers will also be pleased to hear it supports Sony PlayStation 4 Remote Play, although we haven’t been able to try this.
The Xperia Touch is an interesting device with most rivals concentrating on phones and the like. We’ve not seen anything quite like it and while it’s impressive, the high price will put many potential customers off. That and the fact it’s limited to 720p and doesn’t have great brightness. Chris Martin
• Android 7.0 Nougat
• Qualcomm processor
• 3GB RAM
• 32GB storage
• 23in projected 10-point touchscreen
• Up to 80in non-touch
• 13Mp camera
• 11ac Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.2
• Stereo speakers