Sony Launches Affordable PlayStation 3D Display Bundle

The show stealer at Sony’s E3 event was undoubtedly the PlayStation Vita. However, the Japanese entertainment behemoth had quite a few other neat surprises in store for us. One of them was the PlayStation 3D display bundle.

3D TVs are nothing new, and have been quite the rage for the past couple of years. However, one thing that has been keeping them from going mainstream is affordability, or the lack of it. The new 24 inch PlayStation 3D TV is Sony’s attempt at tackling this problem. It’s mainly targeted at gamers who want to experience the benefits of 3D, but can’t afford the high end displays with bigger screens.

PlayStation-3D-TV

It also has a unique 2D multiplayer mode. When enabled, the active shutter glasses will present two entirely different images to two different players, thus eliminating the need for split-screen view in multiplayer games. The glasses will feature a button for toggling between ‘Player 1′ and ‘Player 2′ views.

The PlayStation 3D TV bundle will include a pair of active shutter 3D glasses, HDMI cable, and a copy of the 3D game Resistance 3. The whole bundle will be available for a very decent $499, with the bundled freebies alone costing in excess of $150.

Image via Engadget

Sony Trumps Nintendo 3DS with PlayStation Vita, the PSP Successor

PlayStation-VitaA short while back, Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai officially announced Sony’s next generation handheld gaming device the PlayStation Vita. Vita, which was originally codenamed NGP (Next Generation Portable) will succeed the ageing PlayStation Portable, which was announced way back in 2004.

PlayStation-Vita-Front

The word Vita means Life, and Sony believes that Vita has the muscles to be able to blur the differences between entertainment and real life for the first time on a handheld console. The Vita has a 4-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a 200 MHz SGX543MP4+ GPU. In short, it blows away Nintendo’s 3DS and other handheld gaming devices like the Xperia Play. The powerful hardware will be well complemented by the 5 inch OLED capacitive multi-touch screen (with rear touch panel) that boasts of a resolution of 960 x 544. The combination of larger than average size with a mightily impressive resolution means that everything from games to HD Videos will look stunning on the Vita.


Vita Announcement Video

Besides the standard PlayStation buttons, the Vita has two analog sticks and a D-pad. The device also has front and rear facing cameras, stereo speakers, six-axis motion sensor, GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity.

PlayStation-Vita-Side

Sony has tied up with over 150 developers, and there should be an impressive number of titles available at launch. Games for the Vita will be distributed on NVG cards, which will be available in 2 GB and 4 GB sizes. Some of the games that have been announced include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Killzone, LittleBigPlanet, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The Vita will also be capable of playing existing PlayStation Portable (PSP) games.

Sony is pushing augmented reality and location-aware games along with social gaming on the Vita. A feature called “Party” will allow gamers in the same room to voice chat with each other. Another feature called “Near” will allow you to connect and play with other gamers around you.

Sony will release two editions of the Vita a Wi-Fi only version for $249, and a Wi-Fi+3G version for $299. In the US, Vita will be exclusive to AT&T. It will be launched during the holiday season this year.


Vita Trailer Video

Vita’s closest competitor is obviously the Nintendo 3DS, which impressed us in last year’s E3. The 3DS’ biggest selling point is obviously its ability to support glasses free 3D imagery. However, when it comes to raw power the Vita absolutely owns the 3DS. Once again, it appears that the Nintendo’s offering will appeal more to the casual gamers, while Sony’s VIta will appeal to enthusiasts and hardcore gamers. However, at $249, the 3DS might be too expensive for casual gamers, but the Vita might be perfectly priced for gaming enthusiasts.

Sony Finally Comes Clean on PSN and Qriocity Intrusion, Admits That Almost All User Information Was Stolen

SonySony has finally come clean on the PlayStation Network and Qriocity intrusion, and everyone’s worst fears have been realized. Last week Sony pulled down its highly popular PlayStation Network and Qriocity services, which have remained offline since. Initially, Sony offered little by the way of clarification, and only stated that they are working on rebuilding PSN and Qriocity, which have been victims of external intrusion. Rumors flew thick and fast. Most people pointed fingers at “Anonymous“, which had earlier caused temporary outages of PSN. Some suggested that Sony’s actions might have been prompted by the release of a custom firmware called Rebug, which enabled PlayStation users to pirate content from PSN using fake credit card credentials. Unfortunate, the real situation is a lot more critical.

Sony has now revealed that “certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion” into their network. Sony became aware of the intrusion between 17th and 19th April, and turned off PSN and Qriocity on 20th April. The intruder managed to gain access to profile data, which includes name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. Needless to say, all of this is extremely sensitive information. In the wrong hands, this kind of information can be misused in any number of ways. However, the bad news for PSN users doesn’t stop at this. According to the official update:

While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.

The fact that your credit card information might be up for sale is unnerving. PlayStation Network, which is accessible via the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and PlayStation Portable (PSP), has more than 60 million registered accounts. If you had your credit card information stored with either PSN or Qriocity, then it’s highly recommended that you change your credit card number. Get in touch with your credit card issuer to find out how you can do so. However, this is something that will take time. In the meanwhile, it’s recommended that you place a fraud alert on your card.

At no charge, U.S. residents can have these credit bureaus place a fraud alerton your file that alerts creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity prior to granting credit in your name. This service can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name. Note, however, that because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect you, it also may delay your ability to obtain credit while the agency verifies your identity.

To do this, contact any one of the agencies recommended by Sony (Experia, Equifax and TransUnion). If you also have the nasty habit of using the same password for multiple services, you will have to go through the time-consuming procedure of manually changing passwords for each of those services that had the same password as your PSN account.

In the coming days and weeks, Sony will have a lot of answering to do. What is baffling me is the fact that sensitive information like account password and credit card were obtained by the hacker. It is common practice to secure such data by using encryption along with salting. Unless, the information was stored in plain text, or encrypted using weak techniques like MD5 hashing, the intruder should never be able to extract the original data. If Sony didn’t implement appropriate security measures, then they have no one to blame but themselves, and they will probably have to pay very dearly.

It was also irresponsible to sit on this information for a week before alerting affected users. Sony should have come clean as soon as they knew what had happened. Instead they seem to have been busy trying to save their own ass.

This incident once again highlights the pitfalls of storing your information on the cloud. Every time you trust an online service with your data, you add another source that might be exploited by hackers. It’s time that the congress makes it mandatory for every service that stores sensitive information like credit card numbers to have certain minimum security protections. Sony is currently working on making PSN and Qriocity more secure, and hopes to restore services, at least partially, within this week.

PlayStation Network Continues to Remain Offline as Sony Works on Rebuilding It

PSNSony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) is down for the fifth straight day, and there is no word on when it will become operational again. Earlier, we reported that PSN and Qriocity were pulled down by Sony due to “external intrusion”. In a sparsely worded update, Sony’s Patrick Seybold wrote, “We sincerely regret that PlayStation Network and Qriocity services have been suspended, and we are working around the clock to bring them both back online”.

While Sony didn’t divulge any specifics, it did state that it is working on re-building the system to further strengthen its network infrastructure. The simple fact that Sony chose to suspend its services, instead of restoring the services as it is, and working on beefing up security in the background, suggests that the intrusion was quite severe. The big question is exactly what kind of information, if any, did the hackers manage to get hold of. The PSN is an online multiplayer gaming, and content distribution service that is an integral part of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) experience. Many customers have sensitive information like credit card details. Unconfirmed reports suggest that admin dev accounts were breached. Understandably, Sony is remaining tightlilpped about the nature and the extent of the intrusion. Hopefully, once it manages to get PSN and Qriocity back online, it will share more details. For now, the only thing that we can do is wait.

Sony Confirms That PlayStation Network Downtime Is Due to “External Intrusion”

A couple of days back, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity services went offline without any prior notice. Immediately speculation began to mount that “Anonymous”, an infamous band of hacktivists, had succeeded in hacking the PSN. Anonymous had earlier taken issue with Sony’s strong stance against jailbreaking of the PS3, and the treatment meted to Geohot. It had threatened to fight back against Sony. However, after initially causing intermittent outages of PSN, Anon decided to stop its attempts to knock out the PSN, in order to avoid inconveniencing users.

Now, Sony has finally broken its silence, and has confirmed that the PlayStation Network and Qriocity were taken offline due to “an external intrusion”. Anonymous has, however, distanced itself from the hacking of the PSN through its press release titled “For Once We Didn’t Do It”. The release states that, “While it is possible that other Anons have acted by themselves, AnonOps was not related to this incident and does not take responsibility for whatever has happened”.

Anonymous-PlayStation-Network

Irrespestive of the cause of the outage, this is bad news for gamers all over the world. Sony hasn’t clarified how long the outages are likely to continue; however, there is a good chance that the services will not be restored within the next couple of days. This means that PS3 owners are going to have a long weekend.