Category Archives: Sony

Phones 4u Gets Xperia S in White

Phones 4u LogoWhile the Sony Xperia ion might have been getting much of the attention at CES, the Xperia S was running a close second. A flagship Android phone, it’s the full HD experience with a 4.3″ 1280 x 720 pixel TFT screen, 12 megapixel 1080p video recording rear camera, 720p front-facing camera and HDMI TV out. PlayStation-certified, 3D support, DLNA certified, Sony Entertainment Network, 1.5 GHz dual core processor, 32 GB memory; this is the mutt’s nuts as they say.

At launch, the OS will be Android 2.3, but Sony has promised Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) for the Xperia S in the second quarter of 2012. Most excellent.

Sony Xperia S smartphone

For the fashionistas out there, the Xperia S will come in two versions, a black one and a white one. (I hesitate to say “colours”, as all the pedants will weigh in with their view as to whether black and white are colours). Anyway, defectors from Apple will feel right at home.

In the UK, Phones 4u has managed to snaffle the exclusive rights to the white model, which will be available along with the black one from March onwards. Pricing and exact launch date will be confirmed nearer the time. In the meantime you can see a hands-on review of the new Xperia S and pre-register your interest in Sony’s new flagship device.

Scott Hooton, Trading Director at Phones 4u said: “The Xperia S takes the mobile HD experience to a whole new level and packages it all up in a slick new innovative design for Sony. Being the only retailer to offer both the white and black variants, along with free 4u Wi-Fi, we’re expecting the Xperia S to be a popular smartphone of choice at Phones 4u as we enter the New Year.

With luck, Geek News Central will be able to provide you with a hands-on review close to the launch.

Sony Connects Up At CES

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.

Samsung Acquires Sony’s Stake in S-LCD for $939 million


Back in 2004, Samsung and Sony joined together to produce Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD). More than TV’s and computer monitors, these LCD’s were also in phones, cars, appliances and other items needing a display. Two months after Sony announced it was reorganizing due to a 1.2 billion dollar loss, Sony has sold their part in the LCD venture for $939 million (1.08 trillion Korean won).

In the agreement, Samsung will acquire all of Sony’s shares (329,999,999) of the S-LCD Corporation. They will still cooperate in engineering efforts on LCD panel technology.

Transaction close date is expected on 1/19/2012

Sony Press Release

Samsung Press Release

Android Leads UK Smartphone Race

Android LogoIn the UK, Android is beginning to dominate the smartphone space, with 50% of handsets sold in the last quarter running Android. RIM (Blackberry) and Apple are almost level pegging on 22% and 18% and with half of UK adults now owning a smartphone, Android has an impressive lead.

Breaking the Android figures down, HTC is the top dog, with nearly 45% of Android handsets sold. Samsung is picking up the pace at 38% but Sony Ericsson is the big loser, falling to 8.5% of the Android market.

Surprisingly, this means that HTC, Samsung, RIM and Apple are each taking about a quarter of the market. Compared with mindshare that Apple generally has and the dominance in the tablet market, it’s clear that the iPhone is under performing.

Personally, I would agree with the figures. Looking round the office, Android phones are definitely in the majority followed by iPhones and Blackberries. I think Blackberries are popular with younger people as both my nephews have that brand of phone. The breakdown of the Android shares also rings true. This time last year, it would have been exclusively HTC smartphones but now there are quite a few people sporting Samsung devices.

The research was carried out by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech over the past 12 weeks. To be fair, this probably means that iPhone sales were down as people waited for new model but there’s no doubt that Android is the no.1 smartphone OS in the UK.


Sony Releases New ICF-DS15iP iPod iPhone Clock Radio Dock

Sony ICF-DS15iP

iPod and iPhone users have no shortage of accessories to choose from.  Now Sony is introducing one more.  Known as the ICF-DS15iP (catchy, huh?), it’s a clock radio dock that allows the user to plug in an iPod or iPhone to what looks like a traditional clock radio backed by a large speaker.  It’s designed to sit on the nightstand and will use music on your device, the radio, or a built-in alarm to wake you up.  But it’s portable so it can be moved around to sit on a desk or anywhere you want to listen to some tunes without headphones.

It features 3.5W + 3.5W audio output with “enhanced MEGABASS” to deliver what Sony is calling “clear, commanding music and vocals with radio or iPod/iPhone sources. With crystal-clear highs and solid bass.”  It also comes with a small remote control, just in case the device is out of your reach.  The technical specs, given by Sony, are listed below.

Model ICF-DS15iP
Type Digital radio
FM/AM reception Yes
Preset 30 (FM 20, AM 10)
LCD Display Yes
Brightness Control High / Middle / Low / OFF
Number of Display Time Single
Buzzer Alarm Yes
Radio Alarm Yes
CD Alarm No
Dual Alarm Yes
Extendable Snooze Yes
Sleep Timer Yes
Power Back-Up Yes
Date Display Yes
Volume Control Yes (Electronic Formula)
Speaker Type Stereo Speaker
Speaker Size 57mm
Speaker Power 3.5W + 3.5W
Battery Type Lithium Battery (CR2032 – Backup Battery)
Power Type External AC Adapter
Inputs and Outputs Audio-in (Stereo Mini Jack) /30pin plug for iPod
Dimensions (W x H x D) 290 x 165 x 145mm
Weight Approx. 1.65kg
Supplied Accessories Backup Battery, Remote Control (Card Type), Batteries for Remote Control, Operating Instructions, Quick Start Guide

The ICF-DS15iP is available today, October 17th, for an unknown price because it isn’t actually listed yet on the Sony website which the press release directs to.  It also isn’t yet listed on Amazon.  Similar Sony models, however, seem to be right around $100.

Sony Issues Statement About the PlayStation Network

playstation network

2010 and 2011 have been rough years for Sony and for PS3 owners who use the popular PlayStation Network for online gaming.  The service has come under attack, and been taken down, on more than one occasion, and for extended time periods.  The latest attack began to hit the news yesterday, when it was learned that the service was again under attack.

Reports have ranged from DDOS attack to user account hacking, but earlier today Sony finally set the record straight about what is going on, how extensive the attack is, and what steps they are taking fix the problem.

According to Sony, the attack spanned three of their networks – the PlayStation Network, Sony Entertainment Network, and Sony Online Entertainment.  A total of approximately 93,000 users have been affected, and those accounts have now been locked by Sony.  It appears to have been a hacking attack – the perpetrators attempted to gain log-in access to accounts, and succeeded on 93,000 of them, which is actually a relatively small percentage.  At this time, Sony says that those users’ credit card data is still safe.

If you have a PSN account, even if you don’t think you were affected, I would still recommend changing your password.  Use a long password that incorporates letters, numbers, and symbols.  Although, Sony says credit information wasn’t gained, it would still be prudent to monitor you account closely and report anything that seems suspicious.

Below is full text of Sony’s announcement.

“12 October 2011

Tokyo, October 12 – Sony Network Entertainment International LLC and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) have detected a large amount of unauthorized sign-in attempts on PlayStation®Network (PSN), Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) services. We discovered these attempts and have taken steps to mitigate the activity.

Less than one tenth of one percent of our PSN, SEN and SOE consumers may have been affected. There were approximately 93,000 accounts (PSN/SEN: approximately 60,000 accounts; SOE: approximately 33,000) where the attempts succeeded in verifying those accounts’ valid sign-in IDs and passwords, and we have temporarily locked these accounts. As a preventative measure, we will be sending email notifications to these account holders and will be requiring secure password resets or informing consumers of password reset procedures.

Credit card numbers associated with these accounts are not at risk as a result of these unauthorized attempts. Only a small fraction of these 93,000 accounts showed additional activity prior to being locked. We are continuing to investigate the extent of unauthorized activity on any of these accounts.

These attempts appear to include a large amount of data obtained from one or more compromised lists from other companies, sites or sources. These were unauthorized attempts to verify valid user accounts on our services using very large sets of sign-in IDs and passwords. Between October 7 – 10 US Pacific Daylight Time, we confirmed that these were unauthorized attempts, and took steps to thwart this activity.

For the latest updates please visit

Sony Announces Network Media Player at IFA

While it was announced several days ago at IFA, the new Sony SMP-N200 Network Media Player has gone largely unnoticed.  The new version, which replaces the SMP-N100, brings support for HD and even 3D.  The player integrates seamlessly into your home network via 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (it is unclear if ethernet, which is the fastest most reliable connection, is included).

Of course, it integrates with the Sony Entertainment Network to get much of it’s content, but it can also stream from any compatible DLNA device on the network, including the also just announced Sony Tablet S, as well as USB drives.

There is a remote control included, but users with Android and iOS devices can get a slick remote control app, which will be available for free download from the respective mobile markets.

There is a built-in web browser, and they boast Twitter and Facebook, although it isn’t clear if these are apps or simply through the browser.  Finally, they claim a lightning-fast 3 second start-up time.

The device will be available in October 2011, but pricing has not been announced.  However, the SMP-N100 can be had for about $69.99 at many US retailers.  For more information, you can read the Sony Press Release.


Sony Announces 2 New Tablets

sony tablet s sony tablet p

Today, at the IFA trade show, Sony announced their first two tablet computers.  The Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P are both powered by Android.The Tablet S is available for pre-order today and will ship next month.  The Tablet P will be available later this year.

The Sony Tablet S has a 9.4 inch screen, NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, weighs just 1.33 pounds, and is Wi-Fi enabled.  The Sony Tablet P has two folding 5.5 inch screens, an NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, weighs just 0.83 pounds, and has both Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity.  The 4G works exclusively with the AT&T network.  While both devices currently run on Android 3.1, Sony promises that both will have version 3.2 of the OS by the time they ship.  Both devices have front and rear facing cameras for video and still images.  Both also have micro USB ports and support SD cards.

Sony’s press release states that “Sony Tablet devices are also distinguished by four key features that set them apart from any other tablets on the market. These include: optimally designed hardware and software, a “swift and smooth” experience, network entertainment services and cross-device functionality.”

Sony will also include their own services which include Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited, PlayStation, Reader Store, and Personal Space.  To get more information on these services and more, you read the full Sony Press Release.

Barnes & Noble Nook – A UK Perspective

When it comes to ebook readers, I think it’s fairly safe to say that there are three main contenders in the market – Amazon with the Kindle, Barnes & Noble with the Nook and Sony with the Pocket Reader range. Three contenders in the US market that is. If you live in the UK, your choice is more restricted with only the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Pocket Reader being widely available.

Regrettably, Barnes & Noble don’t exist over here but there are plenty of bookstores such as Waterstones and WHSmith. There are others readers available too, such as the Samsung E60/E65, the Kobo, the iriver Story but I’ve never met anyone who actually has one, whereas I know several people with Kindles and Sony Readers. The latter was previously reviewed on GNC in the autumn.

Like many of my compatriots, I’ve looked longingly at the Nook while on holiday. It seemed to have the best of both worlds – although it has access to a closely integrated store in the same way as the Kindle, it reads the more open epub format like the Sony Pocket Reader can. It doesn’t have the full touchscreen of the Pocket Reader but it does replace the Kindle’s keyboard with a small colour touchscreen, which I like.

But a little research showed that Barnes & Noble won’t sell ebooks outside of the USA, so I was reluctant to purchase a Nook in case I ended up with an expensive paperweight.

Further research on the forums suggested that sideloading ebooks onto the Nook worked fine, i.e. copying ebooks via USB, so in the end, I took the risk and imported a Nook back into the UK. I only purchased the wifi version rather than the 3G version as even if the 3G worked (and I doubted it would), there wasn’t going to be much I could do with it if I couldn’t buy directly from Barnes & Noble.

Here’s what I’ve discovered after a few days of playing around.

The good news is the you can easily purchase books from the likes of Waterstone’s and read them on the Nook. The first step is to download and install Adobe’s Digital Editions on to your PC or laptop. When the program is run, you “authorise” the computer to store and manage your DRM’d ebooks (not that you have any at this stage).

Once that’s done, the second step is to go to the ebook store of your choice and purchase what you’d like to read. When you download the purchased books, Adobe’s Digital Editions will automatically launch to receive them and once completed, you can see and read them within the software.

Finally, when you connect your Nook via USB, Adobe Digital Editions will ask you if you want to “authorise” the Nook reader. After accepting this, the Nook appears as another container within Digital Editions and you can then copy your newly purchased ebooks to the Nook. Disconnect the Nook from the PC or laptop and the ebooks will appear in “my library” on the Nook. Select one of your choice and you’re reading. Excellent!

That’s the main concern dealt with so what else is good? I didn’t exhaustively try to break B&N’s regional restrictions but some content, e.g. The Daily blog, is available to be read.

Disappointingly, the built-in web browser doesn’t allow downloads. There are many ebook stores such as SmashWords which offer un-DRM’d ebooks which could be downloaded direct to the Nook because there’s no need for Digital Editions to manage the DRM. Unfortunately, when you try to download anything directly to the Nook, the web browser refuses to do it. A little irritating.

The audio player works ok, though it relies on the small colour screen to select tracks. This is fine if you have a small music collection or you shuffle the playlist, but it’s not great if you have a big collection and want to listen to ZZ Top.

If weight is an issue, Nook is definitely a bit heavier than both the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader. Folio covers seem to work better on the Kindle with its latching mechanism whereas the Nook seems to rely on “pockets and elastic”.

Overall, I like the Nook. The loss of the connection to the Barnes and Noble shop puts in on a par with the non-Kindle ereaders in the UK and it’s really a choice between the touch screen of the Sonys and the colour navigation screen of the Nook. But the main point of this article is that if you are in the US and you like the look of the Nook, you can be confident that you’ll be able to purchase and read ebooks from bookstores here in the UK.

Sony Wireless 7.1ch Headphones

Sony in the UK have announced the MDR‑DS6500 digital wireless 7.1ch surround sound headphones. That’s quite a collection of adjectives, so to break it down into the constituent parts…

Digital wireless – All-digital wireless transmission resists noise and interference from other devices in the home. Automatic tuning switches seamlessly between RF channels in the 2.408 – 2.473 GHz range to optimise signal reception. Range approximately 100 m so you can roam your home while listening to you tunes.

7.1ch – Exclusive to Sony, Virtualphones Technology (VPT) reproduces the soundstage of multi-channel speakers. Even if you’re listening to a stereo 2ch or 5.1 channel programme, VPT builds a virtual 7.1 channel stage that stretches behind and beyond the screen. There’s also a choice of selectable surround sound modes to optimise listening for movies, gaming or speech.

Surround sound – Supporting Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS and DTS ES, the base station will take both digital optical and analogue inputs.

Headphones – Over the ear, weighing in at 320g. Pretty good looking too. When they’re not being used, you can rest the MDR‑DS6500 headphones on their wireless charging dock. Three hours charging time provides power for approx 20 hours listening time.

Available in May for a £249. Not cheap. Full specs here too.