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Sony Ericsson unveils Xperia Arc

Sony Ericsson doesn't have the PlayStation phone at CES, but it kicked off its time in Las Vegas by announcing the Android-powered Xperia Arc multimedia smartphone.

LAS VEGAS--Sony Ericsson kicked off its CES experience today by announcing a new Android smartphone, the Xperia Arc. Though it's not the long-rumored PlayStation phone, the Android-powered handset offers an impressive load of features and a sleek candy bar design in midnight blue or misty silver.

Front and center on the Arc is the 4.2-inch, 16.7 million-color touch screen (854x480 pixels). Sony Ericsson is no slouch when it comes to displays so we're expecting a stunner here. The capacitive display also has an accelerometer, a multitouch interface, and a Sony Bravia engine.

Exterior features include three physical controls (back, home, and menu), a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headset jack. The Arc has a trim profile at 0.342 inch, but we're glad to see Sony Ericsson isn't trying to push it as "the world's thinnest smartphone." And even if it did, that race changes almost every day.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Sony Ericsson

Inside, the Arc runs on Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread, which is the latest version of Google's OS. Multimedia is the main theme deeper down. You'll find stereo Bluetooth, a digital media player with TrackID, HD (720p) video recording, and an 8.1-megapixel camera with Sony's Exmor CMOS sensor. The shooter also offers a variety of editing options like auto-focus, face and smile detection, geotaging, digital zoom, and an LED flash.

Other features are just what you'd expect from an Android device. There's a WebKit browser, text and multimedia messaging, Microsoft Exchange e-mail, a voice recorder, assisted GPS, Wi-Fi, USB mass storage, PC syncing, 512MB of internal memory, and the usual set of Google apps.

Pricing and carrier support were not available at the time of this writing, but the Arc will be available in the first quarter of this year. We'll have to see if it lands at a U.S. provider, but you should be able to buy it unlocked given that one version of the world phone will support North American GSM and 3G bands.

So it's back to the waiting game for a PlayStation phone, but Sony Ericsson promised in its statement that the Xperia Arc is just the first of "a new generation of Xperia smartphones to be announced in 2011." Look for February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to tell us more.