Sony Showcases Intriguing Concept Tablets at CES 2012

Sony’s first attempt at creating bold new tablet devices elicited mixed responses, as the S1 and S2 ended up prioritizing x-factor over plain old usability. However, that hasn’t stopped the Japanese electronics giant from thinking out of the box again.

At this year’s CES, Sony is showcasing two new tablet concepts – the Slate and the Hybrid. The Slate is a sleek tablet with a unique oval design and a beautiful silver back. However, once again, Sony’s penchant for uniqueness means that the tablet is not without its flaws. The bezel is unnecessarily thick, and the rear has oddly placed buttons that might be prone to accidental presses.

Sony-Viao-Slate

Paired with the Slate is an equally stunning wireless keyboard. The remarkable design of the keyboard manages to transform a mundane accessory into something drool worthy.

Sony-Wireless-Keyboard

Sony-Wireless-Keyboard-Thickness

The most noteworthy concept on display was the Hybrid, which is a cross between traditional laptops and tablets. It is essentially a tablet that docks with a keyboard with embedded speakers. Once again, the design is simply stunning. Interestingly enough, the Hybrid also features a blast from the past in the form of a stylus that fits in beneath the keyboard.

Sony-Viao-Hybrid

Even though both of these devices carry the old Vaio tag, they represent intriguing attempts by Sony to redefine what we expect from a tablet. Absolutely nothing is known about the technical specifications of the Hybrid and the Slate, which were tucked inside a glass case to fend off the inquisitive journalists. In fact, we don’t even know if Sony plans on manufacturing them.

Sony Unveils The Xperia Acro HD and Xperia NX For Japan

At CES 2012, Sony (Formerly Sony Ericsson) announced two new Android phones meant only for their home market – Japan – the Xperia NX and the Xperia acro HD. Both the handsets are similar to the other two handsets announced by Sony, the Xperia S and Xperia Ion.

Both the Xperia (NX and acro) branded handsets feature a 4.6-inch LED Backlit Reality Display with mobile Bravia engine, and come with a whopping 720 (1280×720) resolution. Internally, both the handsets are powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor, an Adreno 220 GPU coupled with 1GB of RAM.

At the back of both the handsets is a 12.1MP camera with an Exmor R sensor, which is also capable of recording videos in 1080p HD resolution. There is also a front-facing camera in the front of the handsets for video calling. Sadly, the handsets run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread but will get the Ice Cream Sandwich sometime in Q2 of this year. The acro HD comes with a TV Tuner, an infrared port and NFC as well.

Other features include a micro-HDMI port, 16GB of on-board memory and an 1840mAh battery on the handsets.

The Xperia NX will be available on NTT DoCoMo’s Network beginning from February this year, while the acro HD will be available sometime in March.

 

 

Sony Xperia S Announced; Comes With A 12 MP Camera

Along with the Sony Xperia Ion, Sony announced the new Sony Xperia S smartphone at the CES 2012 in Las Vegas. It is the first smartphone in the new Sony Xperia NXT series. As usual, this handset will ship with the old Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS. But, the device will be upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) during the second quarter of 2012. Sony Xperia S will also feature the Sony logo on the front, instead of the Sony Ericsson logo. It comes with an amazing 12 megapixel camera that takes pictures in just 1.5 seconds from standby. Sony Xperia S is also a PlayStation certified smartphone.

sony xperia s

Sony Xperia S features a 4.3 inch HD display, sporting a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, 1.5 GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 dual-core processor, Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS (upgradable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich), 12 megapixel camera with 16x digital zoom, auto-focus, Face detection and LED Flash, Full HD (1080p) video recording and playback, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and so on.

Other features include a 3.5 mm audio jack, FM radio with RDS, GPS with aGPS, Bluetooth technology, DLNA Certified, HDMI support, Micro USB, NFC (Near Field Communication), USB 2.0, 32 GB eMMC, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Android Market, Wi-Fi Hotspot functionality, up to 25 hrs music playback time, up to 6 hrs 30 min video playback time, up to 7 hrs 30 min of talk-time, up to 450 hrs of stand-by time and a 1750 mAh battery.

This handset measures 128 x 64 x 10.6 mm and weighs 144 grams. Sony Xperia S will be available in 2 colors – Black and White. This handset will be available for purchase globally from the first quarter 2012. Sony Xperia S is a NFC enabled device, which allows you to share content with others as well as access a number of NFC applications and services.

Sony Exits LCD Joint Venture with Samsung for $940 Million

Sony, which recently announced that it may post a $1.2 billion loss in FY2011, has exited its LCD joint venture with Samsung which was established in 2004. Samsung will acquire Sony’s 50% stake in the S-LCD corporation for approximately $940 million. Sony has also entered into a new agreement with Samsung, to secure LCD panels from it at market prices.

With this move, Sony aims to streamline its business and reduce costs, in a bid to become lean and profitable again. It will also get a much needed cash infusion thanks to the sale of its S-LCD stake.

The new arrangement will be beneficial for Samsung too, as it now has greater flexibility, efficiency, and control over its LCD panel production business. The deal is expected to be closed by January 2012, barring any regulatory delays.

Sony desperately needs to restructure its business, in order to become the giant it once was. It has been posting losses for many quarters, and has been hit hard by the strong yen and the weak television sales in Europe and the U.S. It has also lost a significant amount of market share to competitors like Samsung. This move will lead to savings of $640 million every year, according to Sony.

It recently acquired Ericsson’s 50% stake in the Sony Ericsson partnership, to focus on the more lucrative mobile phone business.

PS Vita Gets Hacked, Runs Hello World Code

Of course gets hackedis a broad term and generally this means that the handheld can play homebrew games, but considering that the device was released just a couple of days ago, I think this is a brilliant development. Yes, Sony’s new handheld gaming console, the PlayStation Vita has made to run custom code within two days of its release. The handheld features a 5 inch OLED touchscreen display, along with a touchpad behind at the back of the device, to analog stick and a motion sensor along with more-than-capable innards making this a brilliant little gadget. However this hack was performed using the PSP emulation feature of the Vita, with a homebrew jailbreak called the Half-Byte Loader (HBL) being used to run the custom code. helloworldvita Japanese PSP hacker mamosuke put up this post on his blog. The post explains how he used the HBL for firmware 6.31 to run the hello worldscript on his brand new PS Vita. His blog, though, is mostly in Japanese and Google’s translate feature leaves one wanting for something far better. Taken up from his site:-

PSN version save game exploit with other titles, so there are some that may be realized in the start of the PSP Homebrew PS Vita Once you have established how to start the HBL, the saved data is Sony ” Administrative Assistant for PlayStation content “must be transferred to the PS Vita, and further to transfer the state must now transfer the save data folder into the Hello World binaries that only the saved data . Will be transferred into the data folder in the save if the body can then be started with Vita HBL.

This new development also has the ominous effect of Sony noticing and crushing this exploit pathway sooner or later. For a company that has been dealing with leaks for so long, I guess it becomes second nature. So, will you be buying the new Sony PS Vita? Tell us in the comments!

PS3 Firmware Update 4.00 Removes Support for the PSP. Oh Dear.

I have this theory that in the Tokyo headquarters of Sony Entertainment Corporation, a Gríma Wormtongue-like figure ominously whispers and fills in the ears of Kaz Hirai, who is reclining like King Theoden. (If you do not understand what I am talking about, then you really must read The Lord of the Rings. Please do so immediately!) Otherwise there is no explanation as to why some of the best features of the PlayStation 3 (PS3) console have been serially diluted over the years. The original PS3 was a brilliant console with backwards compatibility and hardware emulation for PS2 and older consoles, along with the ability to install a custom OS (Linux, to be precise) and connect a PlayStation Portable (PSP) and transfer compatible games to it. In the next sub-iteration of the PS3, called the PS3 Slim, the hardware emulation was replaced by software, and eventually a firmware update permanently removed the ability to install Linux on the system.

PS3

Now, it seems that firmware update 4.00 adds support for the PS Vita (due to be released on December 17th in Japan and parts of Asia) and, surprisingly, removes support for the legacy PSP.

Shacknews reports that the glitch(we are giving Sony the benefit of doubt here) removes the Copy function of every compatible game from the Xross Media Bar (XMB, the UI of the PS3 and the PSP) on the PS3’s screen, effectively disallowing the copying of a legally downloaded game on to a legally allowed secondary platform.

We await more news on this, but I really hope for Sony’s sake that it’s a glitch and not a feature.

Bittorrent Pirates Are Everywhere, Even Inside Sony and Fox Networks!

Over the last year, there has been a hard crackdown on piracy, backed by lobbying efforts from the media industry. These efforts made the RIAA and the MPAA the most notorious lobbying groups of last year. Their efforts have been overshadowed by the ongoing SOPA case, but they still exist and are fully functional, nonetheless.  These firms earn their daily bread by preparing infringement cases for media companies like Sony, Fox and NBC. Though, what happens when people inside these very companies are found downloading files illegally?

The guys at TorrentFreak used the web-service http://www.youhavedownloaded.com,  which tracks IP addresses and links them to Torrent downloads. Using this service, they found illegal downloads taking place inside Sony and Fox. They also found illegal downloads at Google’s Corporate office in New York and at NBC Universal. Surprisingly, there were no traceable/illegal download at the Bittorrent Inc. headquarters.

Ernesto ends the article with,

Yesterday, the Dutch blog Geenstijl  exposed  how someone at the local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra downloaded a copy of the TV-show Entourage and video game Battlefield 3.

In a response Buma/Stemra  issued  a press release stating that their IP-addresses were spoofed….After all, if it’s so easy to spoof an IP-address, then accused file-sharers can use this same defense against copyright holders. Checkmate?

As said by Ernesto on TorrentFreak, an IP address is not a person. However, every employee of a company stands for its values and represents the company, especially in their behavior inside the company. Apparently, Sony and Fox have some internal policing to do before they go out and change the world. As for their anti-piracy efforts, pirates are happy, now that the messers become the messies.

iOS and Android Claim 58% of US Portable Game Revenue

You would have thought by now gaming companies like Nintendo and Sony would have started to offer games for mobile devices. Despite so many wake up calls, they are choosing not to act on it. By not doing so, they are harming their own interests. Really foolish. For example, Nintendo reported a $923 million loss just a few weeks ago.

iOS and Android games

Today, a new report from mobile analytics firm  Flurry revealed  that it has been a disastrous year for portable gaming machines like the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS. New data reveals that iOS and Android are capturing a significant share of U.S.’s portable game revenue in 2011. Flurry revealed that free and inexpensive games from iOS and Android devices have taken control of the portable gaming market. Shockingly, both mobile platforms controlled 58 percent of revenue in 2011. This is a significant change from 2009 when the Nintendo DS commanded 70 percent of the portable industry’s revenue. Wouldn’t it be cool if games like Zelda and Pokemon were available on mobile devices? Yeah, I think so too.

You thought that was brutal? Just wait until you read the next part. Nintendo (the leader in video games) saw its  market dominance shrink to just an estimated 36 percent of the U.S. portable gaming market in 2011, while Sony’s PlayStation Portable platform is expected to represent 6 percent domestically. Holy moly! How times have changed. When I was a kid, portable gaming used to be a hot market, but now it is quickly vanishing. I don’t even see people around here using portable gaming devices anymore. Unreal.  In fact, the success of smartphones has prompted invested Nintendo to brings its popular video games to platforms like the iPhone and iPad.

“The days of paying $25, or more, for a cartridge at a retail store may soon end,” Farago said. “Further, the installed base of iOS and Android devices has not only reached critical mass, but also continues to grow at unprecedented rates.”

Why these gaming companies are not listening to the press, analysts, and consumers is beyond me. This is the one time they should. If this is how much mobile devices are affecting gaming companies, just imagine what effect AirPlay Mirroring in iOS 5 will have. With an Apple TV hooked up to a high-definition TV, an iPhone 4S or iPad 2, what’s the need for video game consoles? Firemint, the developers of Real Racing has already proved more disruption is on the way.

Sony and Ericsson Finally Part Ways

Sony and Ericsson have just announced in a press release that the former will acquire Ericsson’s 50% stake in their Sony Ericsson partnership. This move will make Sony the sole owner of handset division, thus ending this long partnership.

Sony-Ericsson-Split

This move will allow Sony to integrate its smartphones into their network-connected electronic devices like their BRAVIA TVs, Personal Computers and much more. Sony will also gain access to a broad intellectual property cross-licensing agreement covering all its products and services along with the ownership of five essential patent families relating to wireless handset technology. Sony will need to pay Ericsson EUR 1.05 Million in cash for buying their 50% stake.

The transaction has already been approved by all the members of both the companies, and is expected to close in January 2012.

The Sony Ericsson partnership started way back on October 1, 2001, and comes to an end after a decade. Both the companies entered into the partnership to turn their unprofitable handset operations into a profit making business, and were successful to a certain extent. However, for the last few years, Sony Ericsson had been going through a tough time, and was suffering major losses.

Fellow Gamers Are Helping You Retain Your Legal Rights!

EA and Sony have become recipients of yet another slew of criticism for the addition of some unsavory legal clauses in their Terms of Service (ToS). When you agree upon these clauses (whenever the user clicks on the I agree to the terms and conditions’ checkbox), you are essentially waiving your rights to sue the company over any legal issue with the use of its products. This is obviously completely unacceptable!

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In the age of technology and considering that the products in question are digital distribution platforms, it seems completely cranky that the only way to get yourself released from these binding clauses is by sending snail mail with your dissent to the clause to the company’s headquarters! I mean, think about it, you buy the game online, download it from the net over wireless and you have to go out into the wild urban areas populated by terrifying cars and motorbikes just to send a piece of data to the company!

gamersoptout

A bunch of gamers from Chicago have made their website called Gamers Opt-Out that allows you to send the opt-out letter online, for free. Indeed, it will not cost you a penny to send the letters to the respective companies. Just fill up the online form and the good folks at Gamers Opt-Out will send the mail for you. The site primarily functions via the donations received by other gamers that help send the snail mail (it actually costs money! How strange!)

Jokes apart, I think the people here have shown the world that concerned gamers do exist. Mad props to them! (If you can, please donate to them!)