Category Archives: Sony

Sony Debuts DAB+ Radios



Sony has debuted two new DAB+ radios, the XDR-C706DBP clock radio and the XDR-S16DBP portable radio. Both radios can received DAB and FM broadcasts too.

DAB+ is an enhanced version of DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), which is being rolled out in several European countries and Australia and the main difference between DAB and DAB+ is support for more efficient codecs such as AAC+ and MPEG Surround.

DAB+ is not currently used in the UK, though may be introduced in the future. The whole digital radio transition has been a bit of a debacle here with only about 25% take up since it was introduced in 1995. The high cost of the radios and little perceived benefit has been the main source of the problem and the current UK government has backed away from a previous commitment to turn off the FM transmissions in 2015.

As you’ll see from the pictures, both devices are stylish and I like the retro looks of the portable radio, though I can’t find any evidence that the “portable” radio runs off batteries – they’re not mentioned anywhere in the blurb.

The XDR-C706DBP clock radio is £59 and the XDR-S16DBP, £79. Available now.

 


Sony Drops Two New Headphones



Sony has dropped two quite different headphones onto the market, one a wireless headset for cord-free listening and the other a set of noise-cancelling earbuds.

The MDR-RF865RK headphones are traditional over the ear cans with plenty of padding, finished in what appears to be a dark graphite grey. However, they have the further benefit of being wireless with a 100m range in ideal conditions, using a 3 channel FM system. When not in use, the headphones can be hung on the charging station to recharge and they give 25 hours of listening on a 3.5 hour charge. The headphones have handy volume controls, so it’s not necessary to adjust the source volume if it’s too quiet or too loud. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the headphones are a fairly weighty 320g.

At the other end of the spectrum and weighing in at just 7g, the MDR-NC13 noise-cancelling earbuds are aimed at the traveller rather than the stay-at-homers. These headphones can reduce ambient noise by over 87% meaning that “getting away from it all” becomes much easier. Impressively, a single AAA battery gets a 100 hours of noise-cancelling listening pleasure.

Available from Sony in April. Prices not currently disclosed.


Sony Pictures Releases ‘My Daily Clip’ For Apple Devices



Sony Pictures’ ‘My Daily Clip’ app is now available for iPod, iPhone and iPad from the App Store. Everyday, 365 days a year, the app will show us a different clip from one of Sony Pictures’ films. We’ll have the option to watch the clip and if it’s a movie we’ve never seen or would like to own, it gives us a link to the movies iTunes page where we can purchase the entire movie. There’s also trivia for each clip and a calendar so we can go back watch clips from previous days.

I’ve spent a little time playing around with the app and so far it’s pretty cool. Right when the app boots up you’re introduced to a memorable scene from one of Sony’s past films. When we click to play the clip a quick trivia question pops up. For instance, today’s clip was from the classic military drama ‘A Few Good Men’ — “You can’t handle the truth!” — and the question was in regards to leading ladies Jack Nicolson has worked with. More specifically, it wanted to know which of the given choices was a leading lady that Jack Nicolson killed on screen — kinda gruesome but, fun nonetheless. When the trivia question comes up you have a short amount of time to answer. The faster you answer the more points you get, that is of course if you answer right, which I did not. I’m not entirely sure what the points will grant us other than bragging rights but, everyone likes to test their movie knowledge once in awhile, right?

The clip loaded up surprisingly fast and looked great. ‘A Few Good Men’ is a movie I’ve seen countless times but, the app did a great job pulling me in, leaving me wanting more. Needless to say, I hit the calendar and found a bunch of movies from previous days. Just like the clip of the day, each of the previous clips throws another trivia question at you regarding a character, crew member or actor from the film. It’s a great way to kill some time and I will surely be going back. The calendar shows you what clips will be shown in the coming days and I’m looking forward to the quick trivia questions regarding movies I’m more familiar with — I want those points!

Another cool feature My Daily Clip provides is the sharing option. If you load up the app and happen to find a clip that you and a bunch of your friends love, you can share the clip via Facebook or e-mail to spread the movie joy. My Daily Clip is available now from the App Store and won‘t cost you a penny, unless it inspires you to make a movie purchase via iTunes which is clearly Sony’s goal here. Either way, it’s worth the free download so check it out.


Sony 3D Consumer Video Cameras – HDR-TD10 & Bloggie 3D



Todd talks with Paul from Sony about the the “first” 3D consumer-level video camera. The HDR-TD10 records double HD at 60 fps  with a full pair of optical imaging systems in the one camera. Playback can be either in 3D or 2D, with the camera automatically eliminating one video channel if necessary. Available soon for about $1500.

The Bloggie 3D also puts in a quick appearance on the video, if you’re looking for something cheaper at $250.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Sony Vaio F Series – 3D Powerhouse Laptop



Sony today unleashed the Vaio F Series 3D notebook – an absolute beast of a machine featuring the latest i7 Intel CPUs, 16″ full HD 3D display, surround sound, Blu-ray drive, 11n and USB3.  In short, everything needed for a full-on 3D experience.

Hyperbole aside, the Vaio F series is a powerful machine.  Under the hood, it’s powered by the new Intel Core i7 processor, coupled with nVidia’s GeForce GT540M which has DirectX 11 support built-in, giving smooth full HD video and games.

The 16″ screen is full HD at 1920 x 1080, delivering up to 240 frames per second.  The screen uses “advanced frame sequential panel technology”, i.e. active rather than passive, giving sharper and brighter images.  Sony has standardised on active shutter glasses so they are the same as used with the Bravia 3D TVs.

Incredibly, not only can you watch 3D games and films in 3D (obviously), the Vaio F Series can up-convert 2D media into simulated 3D.  Now that I have to see.

Rounding out the multimedia experience is surround sound with Dolby Home Theater v3 (through headphones) and S-Force virtual 5.1 surround sound with Inbox bass-reflex speakers to give realistic sound.

Technical features include two USB3 ports, 11n wireless, Bluetooth 3, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, HD webcam, 640 GB HDD and Ms Windows 7 Home Premium.  Available from end of February.


Sony Bloggie Cameras Go HD and 3D



Sony have announced three new Bloggie HD cameras at CES, Les Vegas, including the world’s first HD 3D pocket video camera, the Bloggie 3D.  All three cameras will record in full high definition with 1920 x 1080 MP4 video and take 5 megapixel still photos.

The Bloggie 3D (MHS-FS3) is equipped with twin lenses, twin sensors and stereo microphone to properly capture the 3D perspective.  Able to record both 3D or 2D video (as well as still photos), the content can be shown in 3D on the camera’s 2.4″ screen without glasses or else shown on any 3D capable HD TV with 3D glasses. I’d be interested in seeing the 3D playback on the Bloggie’s screen – sounds like a neat trick in pocket video cam.  Expect it on the shelves in April

“As the popularity of pocket cameras grows, Sony can provide simple, compact video and photo solutions that are fun and easy to use,” said Melody Charlesworth, Category Marketing Manager for Bloggie. “With Sony paving the way in 3D entertainment, it’s the perfect addition to the Bloggie family and offers an easy yet high quality 3D solution.”

The Bloggie Duo (MHS-FS2) is the narcissist’s favourite coming with a 2″ front mounted LCD display in addition to the 2.7″ one on the back, making it really easy to get in on the fun while still taking video.  I can see this model also becoming a favourite with video bloggers operating on their own.  Available from March.

Finally, a new entry level Bloggie (MHS-FS1) will offer great performance at a great price, with HD MP4 video, 5.1 MP stills and 2.7″ screen.  Also available from March.

All the models come with SteadyShot image stablilisation, face detection technology, auto-focus and auto-macro, HDMI output, USB arm and Bloggie software with Share-It-Later functionality.  This will automatically upload video and photos to the most popular photo sharing and social networking websites as soon as the Bloggie is connected to a PC. Sony also offers its own Personal Space to keep friends and family updated with the latest photos and videos.


Sony Reader Pocket Edition (PRS-350) Review



There’s no doubt that ebook readers are very much du jour, and Sony are keen to be part of that trend with the recent additions of the Touch and Pocket Editions to the Sony Reader line-up.

Reviewed here is the Pocket Edition (PRS-350), which is the smaller of the two models, with a 5″ touch screen.  Overall, it’s about 14.5 cm tall, 10.5 cm wide and only 9 mm deep.  At this size it can go in a (big) coat pocket and fits easily into most handbags.  As you can see from the pictures, it comes in silver, but pink and black are also available.  It’s also very light at only 155 g.

The e Ink Pearl screen is common in ebook readers but if you’ve not seen or used one, there are a couple of defining features.  First is that the letters on the screen appear to be on the surface of the screen.  It’s not like a laptop or tablet where you know that you are looking through glass.  Second the screen doesn’t flicker at all.  Not a bit.  Thirdly, text is very smooth – you have to look incredibly closely to see any pixellation or “jaggies”.  Fourthly, there’s no backlight so you need external light to read. Finally, when you do turn a page, the screen briefly flickers into a negative image as it morphs from one page to the next.  It’s a bit odd but you get used to it very quickly.

In terms of the screen, I didn’t think that the Reader screen was any better or worse than any of the others that I’d seen.  Admittedly I didn’t have a Kindle or Nook to hand to compare but all seemed normal and perfectly acceptable.

Beneath the screen, there’s a small legend and a row of five buttons along the bottom for page back, forwards, home, zoom and options.  Buttons were ok but there could have been a bit more feedback from them.

Connectivity is limited to a micro-USB connection and the Reader appears as a removable drive.  Consequently, all books have to be downloaded to a PC or laptop and then dropped into the folder.  This is sometimes termed  “sideloading” and while it’s not as convenient as wi-fi connectivity, it’s pretty idiot-proof and you’ve a backup copy of your books on your own computer. 

In use, the Pocket Reader is straightforward.  Pressing the home button takes you to a screen which shows your current reading material.  Having a touch screen means that most navigation can be done with by tapping on the screen, either with your finger or the included stylus, which slides into a silo on the righthand side.  The device never responds quite as fast, as say, a PDA or mobile phone, but I think it’s just the nature of ebooks readers at the moment.

Tapping on the option to see all the loaded books gives a list sorted by author, title and filename.  Selecting the book will open up the title and let you start reading.  The zoom button allows adjustment of the font size to five different sizes (XS through XL).  I found that the “S” setting was about the best.  To move through the book, you can either use the backwards and forwards buttons or else slide your finger on the screen to the turn the page.

One cool feature was that double-tapping on a word brings up a dictionary and show the possible meanings of the word.  Great for when you come across a word that you aren’t familiar with.

In terms of formats, the Reader can handle epub, pdf and rtf natively.  I found that epub and rtf formats worked best and that pdfs suffered when being resized to fit on the smaller screen.  Even with epub files, there were huge variations in the quality of the books.  Of course, this isn’t the fault of the Reader but rather a reflection on the ebook industry.  EPUB-based ebooks are widely available from the likes of WHSmith and Waterstones but as Amazon uses a proprietary format, you can’t get ebooks from there.

I had the Reader for just over a week and during that time I read a couple of novels and I never had to charge the battery after the initial charge.  It charges through the USB connector so there’s no power brick included.  I’d be confident that I could take this on holiday for two weeks and not have to worry.

However, my biggest issue is….how do you hold the device?  Being used to years of paperback reading with one hand I’m having to re-learn how to hold a book.

Overall, I liked the Pocket Edition Reader.  The Reader is small but the screen is clear.  Battery life is excellent and there are plenty of ebooks available.

Sony currently have the Pocket Edition on sale in the UK for £159 with the Touch Edition at £199.

Thanks to Sony for providing the review unit.

[Apologies if some of the photos are a little out-of-focus.  My camera had a hard time focussing on the screen]


Sony Bloggie Touch



Sony make.believeSony launched the new Bloggie Touch today here in the UK and it looks like quite a slick little gadget that will find its way under the Christmas tree this year.  Combining a full HD video camera and a 12 MP still camera, it actually looks more like mobile phone than a video camera, with a 3″ touchscreen on one side and a camera lens on the other.  It’s quite different from the previous generation of Bloggies, now with a brushed aluminium finish in three colours; black, silver and pink.

Bloggie Touch, front and backIn addition to filming in full HD, 1920 x1080, the Bloggie can also record 360 degree video with a special clip on lens.  I’ve no idea how this works but it’s quite intriguing.  GNC is on the list for a review unit, so when I actually get my hands on one, I’ll let you know.  The press release also mentions “freestyle shooting” which apparently allows you to capture video in both landscape and portrait mode.  Again, no idea but will let you know.

Details that I do know are that the Bloggie has 8GB storage built-in and should record about 4hrs of video in 1280 x 720, though the battery will run out after about 2.5 hours.  There’s a flip-out USB connector plus an HDMI connector for instant playback on a TV.  Obviously the LCD screen can be used to review the video and stills but it also sounds like you can use the touch screen to select the photos and movies you want to upload to, say, Flickr, on the Bloggie and then when you actually connect the Bloggie to you PC or laptop, the material is automatically uploaded. That sounds pretty cool and a good compromise on a device that doesn’t have wireless.

You can peruse the full specs on Sony’s website.

It’s for pre-order on Sony’s website for £219 but should be available any day now.


Sony Launches HDMI Ethernet Channel Cables



Sony LogoSony have launched a series of high performance HDMI cables to meet the needs of the latest developments in audio and video entertainment, including 3D and Ethernet.

All the cables in the DLC-HE series offer:
HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), allowing the cable to not only carry audio and video, but also data.
Audio Return Channel (ARC),  permitting audio to be transmitted in both directions.
3D support, for the latest movies.
Quad Full HD, for resolutions up to 3840 x 2160.
48 bits per pixel colour depth, giving richer colour reproduction.

Obviously, the TV and the connected device, e.g. an AV amp, have to support these features to take advantage of the cable.

Although the press release doesn’t make it 100% clear, I believe that these features mean these new cables conform to the HDMI 1.4 standard.

There are five different cables in the range, from general purpose to premium, with variants using horizontal and vertical swivel connections.  There’s also a special cable for connecting from HandyCam or Bloggie cameras that have the HDMI type C connector.

CablesThe cables come in a range of lengths from 1m to 10m.  Additionally the HDMI connector body has been redesigned so that it’s easier to see which way round the cable is before trying to plug it in.

Available now from all good stockists with prices starting from around £40.


Twonky Mobile Server



It’s always fun when technology intersects, and it becomes possible to do something cool that was previously not possible and/or was never thought of.

Such is the case with my Sprint HTC Evo smartphone. Sure, it’s a pocket computer. Sure, it has WiFi. As such, sure, it’s a network device with a potential node on my home network.

Rewind. What was that last bit again? My phone is a network device with a potential node on my home network. Let’s see – what can I do with network devices – share resources, share drives and therefore share files.

Enter the free Twonky Server Mobile for Android. Twonky Server Mobile is a free piece of software available in the Android Marketplace that shares audio, video and photos from the phone to UPnP and DLNA certified receiving devices on a home network. This includes software such as Boxee and UBMC among others.

I had a copied a number of videos to my Evo’s 8 media card so I’d have them available to watch if and when I had time. Hummm – with the Evo’s WiFi turned on and connected to my home network, if I ran the Twonky Server Mobile software, would I be able to see Twonky Mobile Server as an available network share with my Western Digital TV Live Plus boxes? If so, how would it work?

I’m happy to report that the free Twonky Mobile Server for Android works flawlessly. Simply start the app and there’s nothing else to do on the phone. Twonky Mobile Server shows up as an available server on the network, and the audio, videos and photos show up and play with UPnP and DLNA certified receiving devices such as WD TV Live Plus boxes.

Twonky also offers a small array of inexpensive server software products that make it possible to easily share audio, video and photo media from your Windows or Mac computer via UPnP and DLNA to certified devices such as Playstation 3, many digital photo frames, many Blu-ray players, and other devices and softwares.