Sony's Walkman models of today don't look a thing like the cassette-based ones we grew up with, and we're just fine with that. Instead, Sony's newest Walkman NWZ-E350 series sport modern amenities like MP3 playback and a fancy UI.
According to Sony, the new E350 series supports up to 50 hours of audio playback (MP3 files at 128Kbps) and 10 hours of supported video playback (WMV at 384Kbps).
Sony's also touting its SenseMe technology, which the company says can automatically categorize music tracks in a connected library into a variety of music channels and playlists. This comes wrapped in a new user interfaces with features like "Album Scroll" and "Scene Scroll", Sony says.
Other features include a "Bookmark Function" for creating playlists on the fly, Content Transfer Software for shuttling songs and videos from a PC or iTunes library, and audio support for MP3, WMA (DRM), AAC (non-DRM), and linear PCM, and WMV videos (DRM).
Look for the E Series to ship next month with three different color options, including red, blue, and black. The 4GB version will run $70, or just $10 more for the 8GB version.
Sony’s VAIO L-series computers boast plenty of sex appeal, and this particular model boasts a 24-inch screen that’s one inch larger than the rest of the field (albeit with the same wide-screen resolution of 1920x1080). It’s not just a pretty face, either; its benchmark performance puts it a close second to the edgy-looking Lenovo. The VAIO’s $2,000 MSRP, however, renders it $600 more expensive than that machine, $320 pricier than HP’s TouchSmart 600 Quad, and more than twice as costly as MSI’s budget-friendly offering.
Sony tapped the same midrange desktop CPU that Lenovo did, Intel’s 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad 8400S, and paired it with an Intel P43 chipset and 6GB of DDR2/800 memory on a proprietary motherboard. Nvidia’s discrete mobile GeForce GT 240M GPU, with 1GB of dedicated memory, handles graphics duties. Sony’s VAIO Media Gallery makes good use of the touch-screen display, enabling you to produce slide shows and movies by dragging thumbnail images around with your fingertips. But Sony’s touch-screen software is much less comprehensive than HP’s offering.
After nearly a year of speculation, Sony's Ericsson Xperia 10 is officially (and finally) headed to AT&T and will be available on August 15th (next Sunday) for $130.
Built around Google's Android platform, the X10 joins a growing list of smartphones outfitted with Qualcomm's popular 1GHz Snapdragon processor. It also comes with a 4-inch touch display, 8.1MP camera with smile detection, face recognition, autofocus, and LED flash, and 2GB of onboard memory expandable up to 32GB.
"Sony Ericsson is raising the bar for entertainment-rich phones with the launch of the Xperia X10," said Paul Hamnett, senior vice president, Sony Ericsson North America. "With the convergence of our user experience platform and the Android OS, we are bringing consumers a smartphone experience that is not only exciting, but also very refined. Following the successful global launch of the Xperia™X10, we are pleased to partner with AT&T to launch this phone in the U.S. market."
Less clear is exactly what version of Android the X10 will run. Sony's screenshots seem to reveal Android 1.6, which would put the X10 behind the curve right from the get-go, and according to Phonescoop.com, you can bank on this being the case. Bummer.
Sony has a history of en-forcing policy changes with harsh firmware updates, but the recently released 3.41 patch for the Playstation 3 appears to be having the unintended side effect of preventing users from upgrading their hard drives. We have applauded Sony in the past for allowing users to easily upgrade their storage by swapping out the stock 2.5” SATA disk, but hundreds of angry forum posters claim the “no applicable data” error has essentially bricked consoles that ran the update on a new drive.
Computer and Video Games claims the issue might have something to do with a new feature that allow for incremental patches, and would also explain why the problem only arises on PS3’s where the firmware is stored on the hard drive rather than the system memory. Sony has not offered any explanation or fixes yet, so we recommend not updating the drive on your PS3 until we know more.
While Amazon and Barnes & Noble go for each other's jugular by releasing new and lower priced eBook readers, Sony says it's content to sit on the sidelines rather try to chase the lowest price eReader crown.
"Pricing is one consideration in the dedicated reading device marketplace, but Sony won't sacrifice the quality and design we're bringing book lovers to lay claim to the cheapest eReader," said Phil Lubell, Sony's vice president of digital reading. "Our global customers expect to get the best digital book reading experience and we’re concentrated on delivering that by investing in Sony’s award-winning design and original digital reading enhancements, such as eBook library borrowing and the only full touch-screen on the market."
Sony's comments are interesting because they seem to insinuate that the competition is cutting corners in order to lower hardware prices. That might be true with both Amazon and B&N now offering 3G-less Wi-Fi only models, but even their original eReaders recently came down in price.
What do you think is a fair price for a general purpose eBook reader?
While we sit and wait for downloadable and streaming content to fully replace optical media, Sony, with the help of some talented folk at Tohoku University, is already working on the next iteration of Blu-ray. Those involved say that by harnessing a blue-violet laser, a disc could come crammed with up to 50 full-length movies or an entire TV series.
"This latest successful development is an all-semiconductor laser picosecond pulse source with a laser wavelength of 405 nanometers (1nm = one billionth of a meter) in the blue-violet region," Sony explains. "It is capable of generating optical pulses in the ultra-fast duration of 3 picoseconds (1 picosecond = one-trillionth of a second), with ultra-high output peak power of 100 watts and repetition frequency of 1GHz."
We love it when companies talk all geeky to us, and there's plenty of nerd-speak in the full press release. Put into plain English, this latest blue-violet laser is more than a hundred times stronger than the world's highest output value for conventional blue-violet, and barring any setbacks, will succeed the current Blu-ray format in the coming years.
There has been quite a bit of speculation about a batch of new PS3 models -- CECH-2501 series -- that popped up in the FCC's database, and it appears we now have our answer. According to a press release put out by Sony Japan, the two new models consist of the 160GB "Classic White" and 320GB "Charcoal Black" consoles.
Both are molded from Sony's PS3 Slim form factor, and both are planned for release in Japan on Thursday, July 29. The Classic White unit will sell for 29,980 yen (about $342 USD), while the 320GB Charcoal Black will sell for 34,980 yen (about $400 USD).
In addition to the Classic White console, Sony said it plans to release a matching Dualshock 3 Wireless Controller and stand.
No word on when Sony plans to release any of these in the U.S. market.
Call it the snowball effect from Apple's iPad launch, if you will, because one after another we're seeing ebook reader makers drop their price of the hardware.
With tablets clearly ready to encroach on ebook hardware territory, Barnes & Noble quickly slashed the price of its Nook reader from $259 to $199, while simultaneously launching an even lower priced Wi-Fi only model for $149. Hours later, Amazon responded with a price cut of its own, dropping the Kindle from $259 to $189. And then on July 1, Amazon slashed the cost of its Kindle DX from $489 to $379.
Now the snowball has crashed through Sony's camp, which went and quietly dropped the price of its entire line of ebook readers. Here's how it all breaks down:
Pocket Edition: $149 (down from $169)
Touch Edition: $169 (down from $199)
Daily Edition: $299 (down from $349)
Pocketbook 360: $199 (down from $239)
Pocketbook 301: $219 (down from $279)
Pocketbook 302: $279 (down from $339)
This puts Sony in better position to compete with the competition, but is it enough? At $149, the Pocket Edition won't break the bank, but it doesn't have Wi-Fi like B&N's Nook.
With all the recent price cuts, do you plan on picking up and ebook reader? If so, which one?
We're guessing there won't be scores of consumers who chuck their home theater equipment to the curb so they can go out and buy 3D-capable components, but for those who planned on upgrading anyway, is 3D where it's at?
Electronic makers are hoping so, including Sony, which just launched its new Elevated Standard (ES) AV receiver line, including the STR-DA5600ES, STRA-DA4500ES, and STR-DA3600ES, as well as a 3D Blu-ray player, the BDP-S1700ES. That's all well and good, but what do the AV receivers have to do with 3D?
"By focusing on seamless integration with custom home theater control partners, Sony is working to deliver products that support the custom and specialty retail business like no other manufacturer," said Brian Siegel, vice president of Sony's home audio and video business. "Because Sony is involved in every stage of the 3D ecosystem, specialty dealers and installers can rest assured that our AV components leverage that deep expertise to deliver the most technically advanced experience possible."
Sounds like a whole lot of nothing, but there is a point to the marketing. According to Sony, the new ES models offer 3D pass-through, which means they're able to take 3D video from connected devices and pass them through to a 3D compatible HDTV.
See here for full specs, pricing, and release dates.
The release of the updated Amazon Kindle DX wasn't met with the same level of fanfare it was used to in a post iPad world, but the new gadget showcases the next generation of e-ink displays which offer up impressive performance improvements over what you may have seen in the past. The new "Pearl" display featured on the DX is currently one of a kind in the electronic reader market, but the E Ink Corporation has already successfully ported the design over to smaller screen sizes, most of which are slated for product releases later in the year.
The difference between the previous generation displays and the pearl is described as the difference in contrast between a newspaper, and a high quality paperback book. In terms of numbers this is estimated to be a 50% improvement over the previous generation, and even offers up additional power savings. According to the company, "the crisp text and detailed graphics also continue to remain pleasant to view when E Ink products are enjoyed outside. In addition, with 16 gray level depth, E Ink Pearl offers the sharpest rendering of images and allows product developers to display images with smooth tones and rich detail."
Improved contrast and better battery performance are going to make for an impressive next generation of e-book readers, so those who are on the market would be well advised to wait a couple of months if they can help it.