Technologizer posts about Sony

One of the core things that digital camera buyers have always needed to know is that optical zoom is good, and digital zoom is…well, maybe not bad, but kind of worthless: all it does is throw pixels away. But as PCWorld’s Tim Moynihan reports, Sony is saying that its new Cyber-shot TX55, a super-thin camera, has a digital zoom that preserves detail rather than losing it. I’m still skeptical, but I’m looking forward to seeing reviews.

Posted by Harry at 4:14 pm

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Sony pretty much invented the modern e-reader. But it was Amazon that perfected it–and Sony’s models have generally felt like they delivered too little for too much money. But Cliff Edwards of Bloomberg says that new Sony Readers will arrive shortly.

Posted by Harry at 10:03 am

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Sony’s Tablets: Definitely Not iPads

By  |  Posted at 12:34 am on Thursday, July 14, 2011

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For products which still haven’t been officially announced, Sony’s upcoming Android tablets sure haven’t been publicity-shy. Sony first teased us about them back in April. And on Wednesday, it held press events in New York and San Francisco at which it showed them off and released more details, such as the fact that the smaller S1 will be available exclusively in a version for AT&T’s HSPA+ network–although not full specs, or pricing, or a shipping timeframe other than “later this year.”

I attended the west-coast edition of the sneak peek. When I see new tablets these days, I’m continuing to reflexively ask the question “Why should somebody buy this instead of an iPad?” It’s too early to come to any firm conclusions about the Sonys, but both pass the obvious-differences-from-Apple’s-tablet test.

The S1 is a 9.4″ model with a wedge shape that angles te screen for comfy typing and feels like a folded magazine. (It’s a major departure from every other current tablet–but it does remind me of the original 2007 version of Amazon’s Kindle.)

The smaller S2, meanwhile, stretches the definition of “tablet” a bit. It’s a clamshell device with two 5.5″ displays which, in unfolded mode, can operate independently or as one big screen. It’s reminiscent of Acer’s Iconia and Toshiba’s experimental Portege, but the hinge makes more sense on the S2: the screens are small enough that a folded-shut unit will fit in a pocket. (Try that with your iPad.)

On the software side, Sony is going through a fair amount of effort to make these tablets stand apart from the Android herd. They both have a feature called Quick View which is designed to load Web pages much faster than the standard Android browser. (For what it’s worth, it worked in Sony’s demo.) They’re also designed for extra-responsive scrolling, and are PlayStation-certified devices that can play some older PlayStation games, and will come with Sony’s Reader e-book store and Qriocity movie and music services. The S1 includes a universal remote feature (which leverages the built-in IR port) and Sony is working with Adobe to help developers build Adobe AIR apps that make good use of the S2′s twin screens.

The Sony models will suffer from some issues that are endemic to Android tablets, such as a selection of tablet-friendly apps that’s still skimpy. And while I’d like Adobe’s AIR to work well, its close technical kinship with Flash worries me: I’ve yet to use mobile Flash on a device where it wasn’t pretty darn terrible. But I don’t think the fact that these tablets aren’t here yet is a problem. Heck, given the generally disappointing state of the non-iPad tablet market to date, I think that tablets that haven’t shipped are in better shape to do well than those that have arrived–at least if their makers use the extra time to make them rock-solid. Here’s hoping that the S1 and S2 end up feeling finished in a way that the original Galaxy Tab, the Xoom, the PlayBook, and the TouchPad do not.

 



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Something’s Fishy About This Playstation 4 Rumor

By  |  Posted at 4:07 pm on Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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If the Playstation 4 really is a distant thought on Sony’s mind, then the latest rumor from DigiTimes is a longshot: Sony’s not only thinking about a new console, the publication’s sources say, it’s starting production this year and will launch the Playstation 4 in 2012.

DigiTimes doesn’t provide many details on the rumored console itself, except that it’ll have body movement-based controls like Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360. Foxconn and Pegatron Technology will reportedly assemble the PS4, with a planned shipment volume of at least 20 million units in 2012.

That shipment estimate is the biggest reason to be skeptical of this report. Sony launched the Playstation 3 mid-way through its 2006 fiscal year, and only shipped 5 million units through Q4. After that, when Sony started reporting sales instead of shipments, the PS3 took two years to reach 20 million sales. For 20 million Playstation 4 shipments to make sense in 2012, initial demand would have to be unprecedented.

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Sony Announces Playstation Vita, Stays the Course on PS3

By  |  Posted at 11:06 pm on Monday, June 6, 2011

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Hand it to Sony for knowing its audience.

Although the Playstation 3 has become a multimedia powerhouse — Sony dropped the nugget that its console accounts for 30 percent of all Netflix streaming — Sony’s E3 press conference was almost entirely about games. The requisite parade of exclusives came first, followed by launch details for Sony’s next-generation portable, now known as the Playstation Vita.

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Playstation Store Returns as Sony Hacking Continues

By  |  Posted at 3:27 pm on Thursday, June 2, 2011

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Sony just can’t get back on track. On Wednesday evening, the Playstation Store came back online, finally making the Playstation Network whole again after April’s devastating security breach.

But now, a group of hackers known as Lulz Security claims to have breached Sony Pictures’ website, stealing e-mails, passwords, addresses, birth dates and opt-in information for more than a million users. All of this information is now posted to the Internet.

To be clear, we’re talking about two different divisions of Sony. The hacking of Sony Pictures has no effect on the Playstation Network. Still, this is another embarrassing security breach for Sony, and a sign that the company isn’t finished fending off hackers. It’s not even the first attack since the breaches of PSN and Sony Online Entertainment in April. Other smaller attacks have included a leaked database in Japan and a phishing scam site on Sony’s Thai web domain.

On the bright side, the Playstation Network has remained relatively stable since online play resumed in mid-May. That’s the best way Sony Computer Entertainment can redeem itself, along with the “welcome back” package of free games and other benefits that’s reportedly in its final testing stages.

But as a whole, Sony needs to show its customers that it’s taking security more seriously. Obviously, the entire company is now a target, and customers are the innocent bystanders. Perhaps it’s time for CEO Howard Stringer to change his tone.



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In the Tech Industry, Management Change Comes Slowly

By  |  Posted at 11:12 am on Monday, May 30, 2011

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Reuters’ Alastair Sharp has published a story saying that some investors are wondering whether it’s time for a change at the top of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, which is led by Mike Lazaridis (who founded the company in 1984) and Jim Balsillie (who’s been co-CEO since 1992). Sharp’s piece follows a flurry of debate last week about the future of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s president and CEO, who’s been with the company since 1980 and has been CEO since 2000.

I’m not making any predictions about what’s going to happen at either company–except to note that lack of change is usually a more likely outcome than change in these situations, at least in the short term. But the stories got me thinking about the durability of many of the top executives in tech companies. I decided to graph out the management of a few major corporations.

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Hey, Sony’s Thinking About the Playstation 4 After All!

By  |  Posted at 9:55 am on Saturday, May 28, 2011

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Just a few months ago, the Playstation 4 was not even a thought on Sony’s collective mind — at least according to Sony Computer Entertainment head Kaz Hirai.

But now, a different executive has fessed up. Work on a future Playstation platform is already underway, says Masaru Kato, Sony’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. His comments came up when asked to explain higher research and development costs to investors, Eurogamer reports.

Sony’s next video console, which at this point has no name or release date, won’t require the kind of huge investment that made the Playstation 3 unprofitable for years, Kato said. With the Playstation 3, Sony invested in its own semiconductor facilities, but that seems unlikely this time around.

(UPDATE: Kato tells the Wall Street Journal that his remarks on research and development costs were actually in reference to Sony’s next-generation portable system, and that his other comments were a “general statement,” rather than an acknowledgement that the PS4 is in development. Sounds like spin to me, but whatever.)

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PSN Users Get Identity Theft Protection At Last

By  |  Posted at 9:02 am on Thursday, May 26, 2011

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It took a few weeks, but Sony is making good on its promise of free identity protection to Playstation Network users.

The service, good for one year, is offered through AllClearID PLUS, and is available to anyone who activated a PSN account before April 20. To get the service, enter your e-mail at Sony’s identity theft protection page. Within 72 hours, you’ll get an activation code, which must be redeemed at AllClear’s website by June 28. The AllClear package includes $1 million of identity theft insurance, cyber monitoring and other perks.

The Playstation Network was hacked between April 17 and April 19, forcing Sony to shut down the network for four weeks. Nearly a week after confirming the outage, Sony revealed the full extent of the damage: Hackers stole names, e-mails, addresses, birthdates and passwords. There was no evidence of credit card theft on the Playstation Network, but a separate attack on Sony Online Entertainment resulted in the theft of 12,700 credit card numbers. All but 900 were expired, Sony said.

At this point, I wonder how many people are going to take Sony up on the identity theft protection offer. Judging from the reader reaction here and on other blogs, there was a strong sentiment of “I don’t care about the data, just let me play Call of Duty again.” Sony began restoring Playstation Network services on May 14, although the Playstation Store for downloadable content remains down until the end of this month.



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Sony’s Bringing PSP Games to the PS3

By  |  Posted at 1:07 pm on Monday, May 23, 2011

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Finally, some good news out of Sony. The company announced that it’s going to remaster PSP games for the Playstation 3, with high-definition graphics, new content and possibly 3D support.

Best of all, the players’ progress in a game will be transferable between either platform, so you can pick up on the PS3 where you left off on the PSP, and vice versa. Japan will get the first PSP remaster with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, a hugely-popular game in that country. It’s not clear what other games or regions are in the works, but hopefully the E3 trade show in June will bring some clarity.

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The Playstation Network may be back online, but the hacking of Sony’s websites never ends.

Posted by Jared at 3:40 pm

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Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer’s Surprising, Cranky New Tone

By  |  Posted at 3:00 pm on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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Facing increasing criticism of his company’s handling of the PSN hack — and now apparently a new security issue — Sony’s CEO Sir Howard Stringer has suddenly become much more vocal in striking down critics. The company’s new logic appears to be that “no network is 100 percent secure,” and that the attack on its servers was “unprecedented.”

Stringer’s comments came in the form of interviews with several outlets, including Bloomberg, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and others. He argued that the company’s notification of the hack within a week was faster than other companies have alerted their own users of data loss, sometimes months after the fact.

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You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me: New PSN Exploit Surfaces

By  |  Posted at 7:56 am on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

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One of Sony’s new Playstation Network security measures has turned into another vulnerability.

As Eurogamer describes it: Anyone who signs into the Playstation Network after the outage is required to change his or her password. But with this exploit, all you need to make the change is the e-mail and date of birth associated with the account. This information was compromised during the PSN breach last month, which means hackers could use the vulnerability to take control of users’ accounts. The exploit was first reported by Nyleveia.com, and confirmed to Eurogamer with video evidence.

Of course, this isn’t a problem on actual consoles. A hacker on the other side of the world can’t change your login from your living room. But it does present an issue for Sony’s websites, where Sony has now shut down the login process entirely.

To be clear, the exploit has no impact on the Playstation Network itself, which was back online as of Saturday. And I doubt many people were affected, but if you were, you’d have received an e-mail from Sony saying your password was changed. If you’ve already changed your own password, there’s nothing to worry about.

Still, the exploit is another blunder by Sony, which spent four weeks rebuilding the Playstation Network to prevent future attacks, and brought in outside experts to make sure everything was clean. I guess they missed a spot.



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Sony’s PSN Apology Package Won’t Please Everyone

By  |  Posted at 5:30 pm on Monday, May 16, 2011

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Poor Sony. In addition to rebuilding the Playstation Network and enduring weeks of well-deserved criticism for letting hackers through its defenses, the company faced one more unenviable task: creating a “Welcome Back” package that will actually pacify customers.

The result is rather generous. Playstation 3 users get to choose from two of the following: Dead Nation, inFamous, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD and WipeOut HD + Fury. PSP users get two games from another list: LittleBigPlanet for PSP, Modnation Racers, Pursuit Force and Killzone Liberation. Everyone gets a free weekend of selected movies, 30 days of Playstation Plus (or 60 if you’re already a subscriber) and 100 free items in Playstation Home. Music Unlimited users get 30 free days.

I assume most people are mainly interested in the free games, which make up the bulk of the retail value in this apology package. And while I have a hard time faulting Sony for giving away so much — the PS3 package has a maximum $60 value — I also can’t shake the feeling that Sony’s best customers are getting a raw deal.

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The official PlayStation Network blog has news of what Sony’s going to offer PSN fans by way of apology for the weeks-long outage and security breach: free games, movie rentals, service extensions, and more.

Posted by Harry at 3:44 pm

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PlayStation Network: The Restoration Begins

By  |  Posted at 6:25 pm on Saturday, May 14, 2011

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Here’s Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, announcing that the PlayStation Network is on its way back online after its amazing, amazingly lengthy outage:

Seems like he struck the right tone: apologetic and acknowledging that Sony has to rebuild trust, and with a minimum of self-pity over the fact that the problem stemmed from an illegal hacker attack.

Sony isn’t just flipping a switch that will put things back to normal: it’s rolling out the restoration region by region, state by state, and city by city. It’s also requiring PSN users to install a firmware upgrade and (understandably) change their password to get back online. Some parts of the PSN and Qriocity services, such as the PlayStation Store, aren’t part of the initial reboot. And Sony is going to offer a “Welcome Back” package but hasn’t announced the details.

Given the story thus far–Sony initially said that the PSN would be down for a day or two and then said that the restoration that’s only now happening would commence back in early May–I suspect that many PSN fans won’t assume anything until they see the network working for themselves. Even then, the enormity of the security breach means that this saga is far from over.

If you see the PSN working properly with your own eyeballs, let us know.



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