Tag Archives | Sony

Sony’s Tablets: They’re the Sonys of Tablets!

Sony had already sort of announced its new Android tablets again and again, but at the IFA consumer-electronics show in Berlin, it did the job officially . The 10.1″ model is the Tablet S, and will ship on September 16th for $499.99 (16GB) and $599.99 (32GB).  The folding one with two 5.5″ displays is the Tablet P, and will be sold with bundled AT&T wireless service at an unspecified date (“coming soon”) and price.

I got some hands-on time with both Sony tablets, and don’t expect either to be the Great iPad Competitor that leads folks to conclude that it’s possible to compete effectively with Apple’s tablet. (In the phone world, the original Verizon Droid accomplished that, even though its reign as the iPad’s archrival was brief.) But neither one feels generic, either–they’re the sort of tablets you might expect Sony to come up with, and I mean that as a compliment. (If Sony had branded them as VAIO tablets, they would have felt right at home in its lineup of desktop and laptop PCs.)

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Sony’s 3D HDTV Headset: Hey, This is 3D Even I Like!

I’m in Berlin for IFA, the giant conference that’s Europe’s answer to the U.S.’s Consumer Electronics Show. I’ll be writing about some of the products I learn about this week–and one of the most interesting ones so far is Sony’s HMZ-T1, a personal TV headset that lets you watch movies and TV and play games with an image projected right in front of your eyes, producing a virtual theater-like effect.

The idea isn’t new–in fact, it’s an updated take on Glasstron, which Sony introduced back in 1997. But the new version has been thoroughly updated. It’s got twin 720P OLED displays, 3D, and 5.1 channel sound. You plug the HMZ-T1 headset into a converter box that connects to your TV. A cable delivers both an image and power–the headset doesn’t have a battery, which let Sony design something that’s fairly lightweight (14.8 ounces) and comfortable given how much electronics you’re strapping to your skull.

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Cross-Game Voice Chat on the PS3? Never.

Five years after launching the Playstation 3, Sony has admitted that the system is not technically capable of cross-game voice chat.

Cross-game voice chat is the ability to speak with multiple players at the same time, regardless of what they’re doing on the console. On Xbox Live, it’s one of my favorite features, because allows you to coordinate a play session with a friend with ease or have a conversation while playing different games.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said memory restrictions preclude the PS3 from ever having cross-game voice chat. Games gobble up all of system’s available RAM, leaving none for voice chat at the OS level.

“Once a game gets RAM we never give it back,” Yoshida said. “It’s not possible to retrofit something like that after the fact.”

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Gone in Sixty Seconds: The Shortest-Lived Tech Products Ever

Companies in Silicon Valley are fond of saying that they like to “fail fast.” They mean that it’s virtuous to try lots of new things, but to give up quickly when something’s not working. But sometimes they fail fast in a manner that’s nothing to brag about. They invest millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars in a new product and hype it to the Heavens–and then kill it after only a few months, if they ever release it at all.

From this day henceforth, HP’s TouchPad may be the poster child for bizarrely short-lived tech products. But it has lots of company–famously infamous flops such as Audrey, the G4 Cube, and Foleo. Let’s honor them, shall we?

For this list, I considered only products that were on the market for less than a year, or which never quite made it to consumers, period. Every item that made it was from a large company that should have known better. And while they all share the indignity of a short, embarrassing life, they represent multiple types of failure. (Some of them should never have left the drawing boards in the first place; others could have been great if they’d been given more time to succeed.)

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Coming in 2012: 3D Glasses That Aren’t Incompatible and Pricey

Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and 3D glasses maker XpanD have announced that they’re working together to design a specification for Bluetooth-enabled 3D glasses that will be compatible with HDTVs from all the above makers. They intend to ship them in 2012, and the glasses should work with existing 3D-capable TVs as well as new ones. It’ll eliminate the current hassle of having to buy glasses made by your TV’s manufacturer, and will presumably help to drive down prices for the specs.




In the West, No PS Vita for the Holidays

Apparently Sony needs more time to prepare for handheld gaming’s last stand, as the Playstation Vita won’t launch until 2012 in America and Europe.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Sony Executive Vice President Kazuo Hirai said the company needs more time to ensure a strong software lineup for the PS Vita. Sony’s not calling it a delay — the company never promised a 2011 release across all regions — but there’s no guarantee that the PS Vita will launch in Japan in time for Christmas, either.

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Sony’s Digital Zoom Breakthrough?

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.


New Sony Readers

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.


Sony’s Tablets: Definitely Not iPads

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.



Something’s Fishy About This Playstation 4 Rumor

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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