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Sony Xperia S shows off NFC tech in our video

We go hands-on with the Sony's NFC tags, which allow you to load apps and change settings by tapping your Xperia S against a tag.

Now playing: Watch this: Sony Xperia S with NFC tags hands-on

We got our first look at the Sony Xperia S -- the first Sony phone to have dropped the Ericsson name -- over at CES and we're cautiously optimistic about its 720p screen, dual-core processor and unusual see-through strip design. Today we went hands-on again, to see what trickery it's up to with NFC.

NFC (that's near-field communications) is the technology that allows devices to communicate simply by touching. It's the same gubbins found in London's Oyster cards and we've been hearing for years that it'll revolutionise contactless payments, allowing you to pay for your shopping at the till just by tapping your phone on a reader.

Stuffed in the box with your shiny new Xperia S, however, you'll find four NFC tags (depending on your network -- not all will include them as standard) and each one can be programmed to activate a set of commands on your phone.

So what does that actually mean? Say you had an NFC tag in your bedroom. When you get in, you can tap your phone against the tag, which could automatically activate Wi-Fi, pair to your Bluetooth speaker and start up your music player to play your favourite tunes, all without having to even touch your screen.

There's any number of tasks you can associate with each tag -- the one in your office might automatically turn silent mode on, the one in your car might load up the GPS navigation.

We were only given a brief demo of the system, but it all seemed to work perfectly smoothly, so we're really looking forward to playing with the tags in our full review and seeing just what devilry we can conjure.