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Hands-On With the Sony Xperia Ion

With a 12-megapixel camera and a 4.6-inch display, the Ion might be the most enticing Xperia phone yet.

The Sony Xperia Ion, announced Monday, has some pretty drool-worthy specs. Not only does it hook into AT&T’s LTE 4G network, but it has a 4.6-inch display, HDMI-out with a TV launcher interface, and a super thin design. Oh--and a 12-megapixel camera. Yep, you read that right--a 12-megapixel camera. And it is pretty darn good.

I got my hands on the Xperia Ion Monday night and I think this might be my favorite of the Xperia series of smartphones. The display is roomy but not oversized, while the interface feels snappy and smooth. AT&T coverage was dismal (meaning there was absolutely no signal) at the event I attended, so I couldn’t test LTE speeds.

But let’s talk about that camera. Sony Ericsson (which is now rebranded as Sony, in case you didn’t notice) has a strong tradition of producing phones with high quality camera lenses. I only took a few snapshots, but I was impressed with how the Ion’s camera handled the dimly lit show floor.

The Xperia has a 1280-by-720-pixel display, which uses Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine. I’ll find out more about what exactly that means when I meet with Sony later on, but I imagine it uses a similar technology to Sony’s Bravia line of TVs. Regardless, the display looks great with bright colors, sharp text and good viewing angles.

The Ion is compatible with a dock so you can view it on a larger display. It's similar to the Motorola webtop experience (as seen on the Atrix 2, Droid Bionic and Droid Razr): You can send texts, play music, and view photos from the Ion on your TV. According to Sony, you can also control the phone from any TV remote.

The Xperia Ion doesn’t have a price nor a release date yet, but hopefully we’ll see it in the next few months.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.

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