We still don't know what exactly Sony has up its sleeve, only that "On the 9th of January you will change the way you look at laptops. Forever." Or at least that's what the mysterious tagline read on Sony's pre-launch website before the company inexplicably took it down.
But while the countdown has been whisked away, Sony continues to tease one picture at a time. The latest shots to make it to the web show a full size keyboard like the one on the Vaio TZ, along with a track stick. Not much else is visible from the cryptic pics.
It looks like we'll have to wait for CES for the full skinny. In the meantime, we're left with speculation and leaked specs. According to preliminary reports, the notebook that will apparently knock everyone's socks off will be the smallest in Sony's lineup, likely a netbook running an Intel Atom processor. The presumed netbook will come with an 8-inch LED backlit screen with a 1600x768 resolution, and either a 60GB HDD or 128GB SDD, if reports hold true.
Well, it’s not completely a mystery, but with a tagline like “On the 9th of January you will change the way you look at laptops. Forever,” you can’t help but be a little titillated.
It looks like Sony couldn’t let Dell be the only laptop vendor that had a secret (but not so secret) launch on the horizon. Their latest in the Vaio series was packing its very own launch site with a counter, but it would appear that at time of press they’ve taken it down. Still, the secret lingers.
We’re not sure if the pressure was just too much, or that they’ve mixed up on the release counter somewhere, but it is still expected that at CES 2009 they will announce the new notebook (or netbook?).
If anyone else out there would care to keep the rumor mill going with your own secret launch, do so now. It appears to be the thing to do!
With pirates closing in on all sides, many publishers abandoned PC gaming's ship as though it were already a potential set for Little Mermaid 9: I Don't Want to Be A Mermaid; I Want to Be A Boat. PC Gaming Alliance president Randy Stude obviously wasn't one of those naysayers, but he does have a few choice words for them.
"If someone wants to leave the PC market [because of piracy], we’ll miss you," he told Gamepolitics. "We’ll watch with admiration as your titles ship in a diluted fashion without a whole lot of game play innovation, at least until you copy the innovation that occurs on the PC. We'll find the great games on PC and we’ll play those."
On top of that, Stude believes PCs and consoles aren't so different from each another, and thinks the two walks of life will end up meeting somewhere down the road.
"The guts of every console should tell you that the capability is there for the PC to act as the central point for all the consoles," he said. "If you bought a PC and as part of that equation you said, Okay, when you’re on the phone with Dell, 'Hey, Dell, on this PC, this new notebook I’m buying, can you make sure it has the PlayStation 4 option built into it?'"
"Well, why not? Why shouldn’t that be the case? [Sony is] certainly not making any money on the hardware. I mean, can’t they create a stable enough environment to specify that if Dell’s going to sell that notebook and say that it’s PlayStation 4 [compatible] that it must have certain ingredients and it must meet certain criteria? Absolutely they could do that."
Sony’s latest addition to the Walkman line is slated for a 2009 debut at CES. The supposed touchscreen Walkman will come in 16GB and 32GB flavors, sport an OLED screen, and even feature some Wi-Fi capabilities! You know, so you can watch YouTube and other completely original tasks for a internet-capable touchscreen MP3 player.
It’s suggested that the software of the Walkman will remain essentially the same, and there won’t be much difference between the menu structure of current Walkman players and the expected arrival. It’ll support MP3, WMA, AAC and PCM audio codecs along with AVC, MPEG-4 and WMV video.
Heck, the player is so advanced that it even features a fully featured music store, a web browser, and to help set it apart from anything else on the market that might bear any resemblance, an FM tuner! Booyah!
It’s rare that in today’s market you’ll see fresh and original pieces of technology like this. It’s always great when a big company like Sony takes it upon themselves to really break the mold. I wonder what Appl--- err, Sony will come up with next?
Sony BMG has agreed to pay $1 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges claiming Sony violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While $1 million might seem a drop in the bucket to a company like Sony, the FTC points out the $1 million penalty matches the largest ever paid in a COPPA case.
The suit, which was filed just yesterday, alleged that Sony managed to collect personal information on roughly 30,000 users under the age of 13, including full names, gender, birth date, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and in some cases, full mailing addresses. According to the FTC, the information was obtained through various Sony-owned websites designed to promote and advertise the company's music offerings, but didn't restrict visitors under the age of 13 from registering.
"Sites with social networking features, like any Web sites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," FTC Chairman William Kovacic said in a statement. "Sony Music is paying the penalty for falling down on its COPPA obligations."
In addition to the $1 million penalty, Sony must also delete all personal information it had collected from those under 13 years old, and must also distribute the FTC's "How to Comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule" to all of its employees. In addition, Sony's also required to link to the children's privacy section of the FTC's website for five years.
More bad news for big business, as Japan's Sony Corp. announced plans to cut 16,000 jobs, cut back on investments, and pull out of businesses all in attempt to save $1.1 billion a year. The job cuts rank as the biggest ever announced by an Asian company so far in the economic crisis, but some analysts are saying it might not be enough.
"The number sounds big, but this staff reduction won't be enough," said Katsuhiko Mori, a fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments. "Sony doesn't have any core businesses that generate stable profits. After the workforce reduction, the next thing we want to see is what is going to be the business that will drive the company."
Sony already trails Apple's iPod in portable music and the company is losing money on flat TVs. But it could get even worse. Sony acknowledged the market may force its hand at making equivalent cuts from its videogames and movie businesses, saying that the situation was "under simultaneous review."
To weather the storm, Sony said it has also raised European prices for its electronics products. And yes, that could mean higher Blu-ray player pricing, but not for PS3 consoles.
On Wednesday of last week, Microsoft rolled out its long anticipated dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console. Among other things, the update incorporated support for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account to be able and stream the online rental service's catalog of downloadable movies and TV shows through the Xbox 360, some of which is in high definition. With consumers slow to warm to Blu-ray, the Netflix capability could potentially nudge undecided console owners in Microsoft's direction rather than opting for Sony's Playstation 3 + Blu-ray combo. But does Sony feel threatened?
Officially, the answer is 'no.' Following the dashboard update, Sony films pulled a disappearing act from Xbox's Netflix streaming service prompting all kinds of speculation and conspiracy theories. And all of it wrong, according to Sony.
"This issue is not specific to Xbox or any other individual platform," Sony said in an email statement. "Sony Pictures is currently in discussions with the relevant parties to resolve certain licensing matters related to the distribution of its motion pictures. Given the ongoing nature of these discussions, we don't think it is appropriate to comment further at this time."
Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey didn't wish to comment on any specific studio licensing deals either, saying only that titles "come in and out of licensing all the time." And that's where things currently reside in the standoff between Sony and Netflix. Some Sony films have reappeared on the streaming service, but neither Sony or Netflix are saying when the rest might return.
According to a filing released Thursday, the Vista Capable program originally included support for the Windows Driver Display Model (WDDM) as part of the requirement for support of core Windows features. Although OEMs such as Dell, Sony, and Fujitsu all asked for waivers from the WDDM requirement for various computer models that used Intel chipsets with integrated graphics that could not run WDDM drivers, Microsoft refused all three companies' request for waivers because of the improvements in stability and features resulting from WDDM drivers.
However, when Intel came calling on Microsoft , it was a different story. After a series of email exchanges between Intel and Microsoft, Microsoft dropped the WDDM driver requirement, enabling Intel and its OEM partners to market systems with Intel 915 integrated graphics as being "Vista Capable" - even though their integrated graphics would never support Aero Glass or be supported by a WDDM driver.
To find out why some OEM vendors were pleased with Microsoft's relaxing of the WDDM rules, and some weren't, join us after the jump.
It seems there's always a notebook battery recall taking place, and the latest round comes from a handful of PC manufacturers using Sony-manufactured batteries. Potentially affected units stands at 100,000 worldwide, with 35,000 of those in the U.S.
The affected lithium-ion batteries were manufactured by Sony Energy Devices Corporation of Japan. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says the batteries could overheat and pose a fire hazard, a likely result given the complaints that have trickled in so far. According to the CPSC, there have already been 19 reports of overheating batteries, and all but 2 of those reports also indicated flames or fire. Two consumers report suffering minor burns, and 10 have complained of property damage.
No OEM has been more affected by the latest recall than HP. Out of the 35,000 batteries recalled in the U.S., 32,000 are being used in HP systems. These include the HP Pavilion dv1000, dv8000, and zd8000 sold from December 2004 to June 2006.
Other popular vendors include Toshiba and it's Satellite A70/75, P30/35, M30X/M35X, and M50/55 notebooks, as well as Tecra A3, A5, and S2 systems sold from April 2005 to October 2005 (3000 in all), and about 150 Dell Latitude 110L, Inspiron 1100, 1150, 5100, 5150, and 5160 notebooks sold between November 2004 to November 2005.
Notebook owners sporting one of the potentially affected units are advised to remove the battery and head over to CPSC's website for more information on how to contact the manufacturer to obtain a free replacement.
Edited 10/31/08 for clarification on the number of units affected and to include CPSC information.
"Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, Fable 2... uh, LittleBigPlanet," I nonchalantly listed, sliding my scroll bar up and down a ludicrously large list of games that'll begin hogging shelf space next week. Instantly, a deafening shout of "OH! LittleBigPlanet!" flew straight and true, right into my unsuspecting ears, from the other side of a view-obscuring television. "You're so buying LittleBigPlanet!" My friend's voice continued, registering at somewhere around War-crime on the decibel scale.
Yeah, LittleBigPlanet's kind of a big deal around the gaming scene's more console-y bits, but what's it mean for PC gamers? Well, in these parts it's not quite a revolution, but it's pretty damn close.
Over the past couple years, "user-created content" has crept onto many game developers' billowing lists of PR-friendly buzz words, and with good reason. Whether it's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's character creation system or Spore's, well, everything, people love to spill their creative frustrations onto videogaming's canvas. (And drawing new Mega Man levels on graph paper is so nineties.)
Now stop! Take your finger off the scroll wheel; the comments section isn't going anywhere. Yes, PC gaming gospel states that we must fling ourselves into Internet forums, kissing the ground, and praising mods -- and games like Oblivion and Spore did not invent user-created content -- but guess what? Mods are old news, no matter how crazy-awesome they might potentially be.
Why? Consoles. Consoles. Consoles. Like it or not, aside from a few shining examples, game design has parked its heart in simpler interfaces and ease-of-use. PC gaming, its cash cow now six feet under for a number of reasons, simply isn't worth the effort these days. As a result, real mod support -- sloppily attempted in only a single console game -- watched its bungee cord snap as it plummeted right off developers' priority lists. After all, mod tools don't just appear out of thin air; they siphon extra time and cash away from other areas of development. When simple user-creation tools can offer a menagerie of similar (but less versatile) powers to a wider range of people, mod tools sadly get kicked to the curb.
Continue reading to find out why this trend might not be as awful as it sounds.