Read An eBook Day

Read an ebook dayJust in case you were going to miss it, Thursday is “Read an a eBook Day“, a celebration of modern storytelling. Surprisingly, it’s not sponsored by Amazon on behalf of the Kindle but rather OverDrive whose apps let you borrow library books for free. Yes, for free.

It’s probably one of the best keep secrets in the whole tablet and ereader business. Contrary to what Amazon would  have you believe, you don’t have to buy ebooks from them as there are plenty of up-to-date novels available from your local library. The downside is that transferring books isn’t that slick and you need an ereader that’s not tied in to the Amazon ecosystem. I have a Nook, but ereaders from Sony and Kobo are supported as well, and you need to load the books via a PC rather than downloading across the Net.

If you have tablet, it’s much easier as the OverDrive app is available for iOS, Android, Kindle and Windows Phone, as well as for Windows and Mac desktop platforms. Check the appropriate app store or else try OverDrive‘s web site. Once you have the app, all that’s needed is a membership of a library and you can download directly from your library to your tablet.

Instead of “Read an eBook Day”, Thursday should be “Read a Free eBook from your Local Library Day”.

Sony Xperia Z2 at The Gadget Show

Xperia Z2The Android smartphone market leaders have all been refreshing their top-end ‘phones, with Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and HTC’s One (M8) already available. Sony’s previously announced Xperia Z2 will be available in the UK very shortly and I chat to Laura about what we can expect in the latest offering from Sony.

At The Gadget Show, I had a chance to play with the Z2 and its 5.2″ full HD (1920×1080) “Live Colour LED” screen looked really good. The handset was responsive, animations were smooth – everything that you’d expected from a top-of-the-line phone. There’s a 20 megapixel rear camera which ought to produce the some excellent photos too given that the Z2’s predecessor had one of the best Android cameras. The Xperia Z2 also has a big battery at 3200 mAh, which is larger than both the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. But the “pièce de résistance” is that the Xperia Z2 is waterproof to 1.5 m for 30 minutes (IP55/58). If you don’t believe me, here’s a scuba diver with a Z2 in a tank.

Xperia Z2 Underwater

Hopefully, I’ll be getting a review smartphone to give the Z2 a more thorough examination.

Sony introduces 9.1 surround wireless headset

sony-headphonesThese days many of us have a 5.1 system set up in our homes, consisting of a center channel, two front and two rear speakers, along with a sub-woofer. Some folks go the extra mile to implement 7.1, which most modern A/V receivers are capable of handling. But what about 9.1 built into a wireless headphone set?

That’s what Sony promises. “Get a cinematic sound experience all to yourself in the comfort of your home with the new MDR-HW700DS digital surround wireless headphones system”, the company claims.

The dual band connection, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, allows for smooth wireless transmission without any disruptions, with a goal of giving users the freedom to move around without having to compromise the sound quality. There is also a selection of audio types to choose from, including cinema, game and voice.

“Both good for the eyes and the ears MDR-HW700DS is crafted for a comfortable fit over long periods of use with the pressure-relieving luxury ear cushions. The 50mm driver units provide deep bass and impressive sound power. Continuous use is no problem with a battery-life of up to 12h and fast recharge. All this is packed in luxurious and executive design. The headphones are outstanding in their compatibility with the 4K technology. The MDR-HW700DS allows native 4K video content to be passed through in its original quality to a 4K TV or projector, allowing you to experience the full 4K quality while listening via the digital surround wireless headphones system”, Sony explains.

The new headphones will be available later this month. Retail pricing was not included in the announcement.

Sony’s Smart Wig – Could it Replace Rogaine?

One of the smart wig patent drawingsWearable technology is everywhere. From the wrist, to the glasses, to the… hair?

Sony applied for patent US 20130311132 A1 in 2012 and was published on November 21st of this year. It’s a wig with wearable technology inside. The wig covers the head and sensors provide input data and communicate (via wireless).

The patent doesn’t state why Sony wants to put sensors in wigs, but it does provide Sony an overall patent for the idea. Application of the wig can be figured out later.

The wig could be fashioned with different types of hairs from fake hair, to human hair and even horse hair.

Maybe it monitors your head? The head is a major point for body heat. It also is closest to the brain – so a EEG device could be a great idea for the wig. Great for anyone who is a cancer patient.

Of course, there is always a telepathic option for smartphones. Sony might even have an idea with their tablets, PS4 or another device. Nonetheless, Sony seemed to have cornered the smart wig market…

 

Redbox Instant coming to PS4

redbox instant playlists

We are only a week away from the next big gaming console launch — Sony is set to debut its PlayStation 4 on November 15, inching ahead of Xbox One by a week. Both consoles have their pros and cons, and fans residing in opposite camps may cite a particular game or feature as the defining difference, but one thing both boxes will have is Redbox Instant.

Last week the video streaming service landed on the PS3, and it was expected to also come to the next-generation console. Today the speculation becomes official reality.

Like last week’s PS3 launch, this version also comes with an only-on-Sony feature — “exclusive to Playstation, the PS3 and PS4 contain the Playlist feature containing a specially-curated, rotating collection of Redbox Instant by Verizon movies that highlight the most exciting titles and serve as a great destination for fast, simple and fun movie discovery”.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with PlayStation by bringing Redbox Instant by Verizon to PS4″, said Shawn Strickland, CEO of Redbox Instant by Verizon.

As with any other Redbox Instant subscription, you will pay $8 per month in exchange for unlimited streaming and four physical disc rentals per month from any of the many kiosks. If you wish to take it for a test run, the company offers the first month free as a trial.

Sony Will Fix Your Brick

bigstock-single-red-brick-isolated-on-w-42513223Sony recently released an update to the PlayStation 3 that didn’t work as intended. The software update was version 4.45. Some gamers quickly discovered that it bricked their console.

They reported the problem on the PlayStation Community Forums. Several people said that after they updated to 4.45, their PlayStation 3 wouldn’t go to the screen that would let them play. It was stuck.

They also found that they could not shut down the PlayStation 3 by pressing the power button. Unplugging the console didn’t solve the problem either. It was still stuck after being plugged back in.

If this happened to your PlayStation 3, fear not. Sony is aware of the problem. They are working on fixing your brick. They posted the following information about it on the PlayStation Community Forums:

We have identified the issue related to the PlayStation 3 software update (version 4.45) that impacted a small number of PS3 systems earlier this week. A new PS3 system software update is planned to be released on June 27 that resolves the issue. Thank you for your patience and understanding and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Image: stock photo single red brick isolated on white background by BigStock.

4 Reasons to Buy a Sony PlayStation 4

PlayStation logoSony released some extremely interesting news at E3 2013! Those of you who have been trying to decide between the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One now have all the information you need to make this a super easy decision. Personally, I believe that the Sony PlayStation 4 is the winner in this situation. Here’s why:

Price: Sony PlayStation 4 will be released with a “holiday price” of $399.99. That’s $100.00 less than what the Microsoft Xbox One will be selling for.

Privacy: Sony PlayStation 4 doesn’t come with Kinect (or anything even remotely resembling it). I find the level of detail that Microsoft Xbox One can identify with Kinect to be creepy.

Internet Connection: Sony PlayStation 4 does not require you to check-in online in order to play a disc-based game. The console doesn’t require you to have it constantly connected to the internet.

The Microsoft Xbox One will require you to check-in online. If you don’t check in and authenticate in more than 24 hours the Microsoft Xbox One will stop working. This means you have to keep the console constantly connected to the internet, even if you are playing a disc-based game by yourself.

Used Games: Microsoft has allowed publishers to block access to used copies of games on the Microsoft Xbox One. This means that gamers cannot save a few dollars by purchasing a copy of a used game from a store. They would have no other option than to buy a new copy for full price. It also means that gamers cannot choose to share one of the games that they purchased with a friend.

Sony PlayStation 4, on the other hand, won’t place those restrictions on used copies of games. If you buy a disc-based game for the PS4, it is yours. You keep the rights to that copy of the game (and can give it to one of your friends if you want to). Your friend will be able to play the used copy of that game on his or her PS4. Here’s how:

Netflix updates PS3 app

The PlayStation 3 may soon be getting replaced as the flagship console for Sony, but that does not mean customers will suddenly cease to use it for gaming and entertainment. Today Netflix gives customers of the device even more reason to stick with the aging platform, by announcing a major update to its PS3 app.

“The first thing you will notice an updated design that is more consistent with the Netflix player on the Web as well as our mobile and tablet applications” claims Chris Jaffe, Director of Product Innovation at Netflix.

netflix for ps3

The key feature in this update is the ability to easily manage audio and subtitles selections. customers can now do that directly in the player on the PS3, without having to return to the browse experience. For customers using the social features, there is now the ability to not share the current title available in the player. Netflix also claims improved design and performance.

Jaffe says “the updated Netflix player experience is available now on PS3 and will be coming soon to select Smart TVs and Blu-ray players”.

Sony HDR-PJ790 Camcorder

Sony LogoThe Gadget Professor, Don Baine, checks out a forthcoming video camera from Sony which comes with a couple of neat new features.

This prosumer camcorder, HDR-PJ790 has two features that set the camera apart from the rest of the crowd. The first is that it has a built-in video projector, which will project both recorded video and video from an external source via HDMI. The second feature is gyroscopic image stabilisation, Balanced Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode moves the entire optical block at once, with the lens floating within the camera’s housing.

The HDR-PJ790 will be available in February / March for $1599.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Sony Handycams HDR-PJ790, HDR-PJ430V

Sony came out with a few new models of Handycams with new features at CES. We saw them at Digital Experience.

HDRPJ790V

HDRPJ790V

Sony released the HandyCam PJ790 camera with 24.1 MP sensor. The camera also has a projector so you can show people what you recorded. However if you need to connect another device to the projector the new dual HDMI connection will let you do so.

The HDR-PJ790 is available for Pre-Order $1599

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We also take a look at the HDR-PJ430V which for an additional price you can get the Wifi dongle that can turn your iOS or Android device into a remote control.

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