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 TPN.tv. 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

Sony

Sony

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

MIPS Technologies Introduces a $99 Android 4.0 Tablet

If you wanted a $99 tablet, you would wait for the HP fire sales of the TouchPad, or buy a no-name brand tablet that had a low end processor and no memory. But MIPS Technologies has announced their entry into the market – a $99 tablet that can run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

You might have MIPS technology in your home already. The MIPS processor is what powers TVs, DTV boxes, and other appliances from Sony, Pioneer, Motorola, and Cisco (Linksys).

MIPS Technologies

MIPS Technologies

Now, it’s ready to enter in the mobile market with the new tablet. The first one, a 7″ tablet created by Ainovo; the NOVO7 runs using a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) at 444MHz. The processor is a 1GHz single core, but using a technology called XBurst. Called JZ4770, it’s MIPS32,  65 nanometer architecture. The processor notes it can show 2D or 3D video in 1080p, with a low power consumption (less than 250mW).

Unfortunately, the unit is also sold out at this time.

“The openness of Android is enabling a new level of connectedness and interaction between devices and between people across the globe,” said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS Technologies. “We are excited to be a part of the Android ecosystem delivering on that vision. We applaud Ingenic’s accomplishment in developing this new high-performance, feature-rich Android 4.0 tablet, and offering it at a price point that makes it widely accessible. We look forward to teaming with Ingenic as it continues to develop MIPS-Based mobile innovations.”

Aionvo NOVO7

Aionvo NOVO7

Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google joined in on the praise:

“I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world.”

8″ and 9″ form factors will be available soon. All versions include support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3D graphics (1080p video decoding) and dual front/rear cameras (the NOVO7 has a 2MP rear, VGA face camera system).

The age of the “throw-away” tablet could be coming sooner than you think.

 

GNC-2011-11-10 #720 No Aliens?

Well no video tonight, I failed to hit record :( Enjoy the Audio :) Lots of great tech content, I am wrapping up a great week here in the Nations Capitol. Headed back to Honolulu which is hosting APEC so that should be fun.. Thanks for listening.

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Sony TV is Splitting to Three – LCD, Outsourcing, Next Generation TV

Sony

Sony

Sony announced that starting tomorrow, they will be re-organizing their TV division into three parts. The LCD TV, outsourcing, and next generation TV divisions. The idea is to better define the market to make better TVs.

Sony missed their July-September results last Wednesday, and analysts outlook is going to be under 200 bn yen (2.63 billion). It’s an eighth annual loss, Reuters reports.

Sony and Samsung Joint Venture in Jeopardy?

The LCD division is a joint venture with Samsung. As Market Watch is reporting, Sony might end this alliance that they had since 2004. Since LCD is changing to LED technologies, it is unknown how this partnership will stay fruitful.

Outsourcing Project

The outsourcing division is just that – certain TV parts are outsourced to reduce production costs. Sony began outsourcing in 2009 – which was odd for the electronics giant to do.  By outsourcing, they were able to compact their factories to bring profits up.

Next generation TV division researches the current trends of the TV. From Over the Top Television standards, to screen resolutions, OLED technology and sound breakthroughs.

Sony and Google TV

Of course, earlier in the week, Google announced upgrades to Google TV (which Sony produces for televisions and Blu-Ray players). With a better interface and the additional Android market, it breathes new life into the TV. While last years launch was not heralded, Google hopes this revamp will get Google TV in the right direction. Therefore, Sony could see a good bump in the market.

Whether this split will provide stability is to be seen. The division shakeup will happen on November 1st.

 

The iPod is 10 Years Old Today

First Generation iPod

First Generation iPod

As I reported on my Day in Tech History show, the iPod was introduced on this day in 2001. Steve Jobs got up on stage and talked about a change. They wanted to get into the digital music revolution, which was not doing too well. Jobs stated that Sony and Sonic Blue were trying their hands at this genre, but there was no real market leader.

Then Apple became that market leader.

The “First Generation iPod” came in models of 5 GB and 6 GB starting at $399. At the standard MP3 rate of 128 kbps, you could put 1000 songs on the device (as Steve put it – “That is some people’s whole music library”). The iPod connected to iTunes (which was a program you could only get on the Mac at the time) and used the Firewire port for connection.

Jobs also called the device the “Ultra-portable”, whereas the (then) iBook was the mini-portable. The first iPod was the size of a deck of cards, so you could easily put it in your pocket.  With the 100 hour battery life, you could listen to music hours on end.

How iPod Changed the Mobile Landscape

Even though Kramer created the first one, Steve Jobs and Apple changed the landscape. It was amazing how this little device shaped the 21st century. Records, cassettes, 8-tracks and CDs would soon start to give way to the digital download.

Legal Issues with Apple

The company was in battle from three main angles – One, for download piracy issues and the other from Apple records (the Beatles record label). Apple records made an arrangement with Apple computers that since they didn’t do the same thing, Apple records would not go after them. However, that all changed when the iPod came out. Eventually they settled, and in 2010, the Beatles finally appeared in the iTunes store.

The third was for the iPod itself. The idea actually was first created in 1979. British inventor Kane Kramer put together the first digital audio player, which he called the IXI. The device could only play one song. He patented the idea, but did not renew in 1998. However, Kramer did eventually get credit for his creation.

So here we are, ten years later. This version of the iPod has made it’s way as the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, iPhone and iPad have joined in this “Digital music revolution”. You can still get what is now called iPod Classic with 35x more storage and a color screen for $249. But it really was on October 23, 2001 that Steve Jobs turned this market upside-down.

GNC-2011-10-20 #715 Seven Year Anniversary!

This show is pretty close to the seven year anniversary of the show. It has been a great run, and I want to thank all of you for being loyal fans.. You will get a chuckle at the beginning of the show as I for some reason have no idea what day it is.. Lot’s of tech and thanks for all of the emailed comments.

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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 http://blog.eu.playstation.com/

GNC #706 Netflix Debacle

No hiccups during tonight’s show, this one went off without a hitch. Plenty of tech content tonight and of course I have to talk about the big mess over at netflix. What an absolute mess they have made over these past couple of months and it is not going to get any better.

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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.