Sony's having a huge CES 2012, with everything from LTE smartphones to Google TV devices to an Android-based Walkman for the US. We've got all the news right here!
Jan 14, 2012
Sony's new MirrorLink-enabled car head units put your smartphone in the dashboard (hands-on)
Sony's announced a number of new products this week at CES, including two car entertainment systems with MirrorLink smartphone integration. Sony's XAV-701HD and XAV-601BT feature 7-inch and 6.1-inch WVGA touchscreens, respectively, along with Bluetooth connectivity and the expected assortment of car stereo features. Where things get interesting is how they interact with your phone.Read Article >
If you're not familiar, MirrorLink is an industry standard backed by various car manufacturers, as well as consumer electronics companies like Nokia, LG, and Samsung. It works with Android and Symbian phones, and aims to allow greater interoperability between mobile devices and cars — in this case actually mirroring your phone's screen on the head unit via Bluetooth. Sony was showing off several features, including the ability to control your phone's turn-by-turn navigation app, music player, and the Pandora mobile app. For the most part MirrorLink worked as advertised, though there was a noticeable delay between touching the screen and seeing it respond. Developers will also have to specifically integrate MirrorLink support, so you aren't going to be playing Angry Birds on your dashboard out of the box.
Jan 12, 2012
Sony's RDH-GTK33iP iPod dock turns your bedroom into a disco dance partyRead Article >
Sony is showing off a new iPhone and iPod dock here at CES that's turning quite a few heads. The RDH-GTK33iP is a 420-watt boombox with a heavy-duty design that is more reminiscent of a stage monitor than a traditional dock — and it also puts on a light show to accompany your favorite tunes. You plug in your iPhone or iPod via the included 30-pin dock connector, or hook up a memory stick or other source via the USB port, and the dock's twin speaker lights pulse through a variety of colors in rhythm with the song being played. We tried it out with a track from Depeche Mode's Violator, and sure enough, it performed as promised — and delivered a nicely detailed sound as well. No official specs were given, but to our eyes the dock packs a pair of tweeters, six-inch woofers, and a ported design that should flatten the overall frequency response. Sony hasn't made any announcements on pricing or availability just yet, but we expect the new dock to be released sometime this year.
PlayStation Vita plays augmented reality soccer (hands-on video)
Earlier today, we saw Sony's PlayStation Vita show off its AT&T cellular chops with Unit 13, and now we've got the quad-core handheld demonstrating another augmented reality title. In case you're unaware, the US and European versions of the PlayStation Vita will come with six AR cards when they go on sale this February, and you can download a bunch of games: This one is Table Football, which turns the cards into goals, grandstands and a scoreboard. You can place them however you like, spreading them apart for a larger field, or closer in for a smaller one, and when you score a goal, the field gets re-rendered with fuller 3D graphics to show off the replay. Of course, you'd already know all that if you watched the video to begin with!Read Article >
Jan 12, 2012
Sony still working on OLED display tech, developing Crystal LED 'in parallel'Read Article >
LG and Samsung are showing off crazy next-gen OLED TV prototypes here at CES, but Sony went another way with its Crystal LED prototype — it's extremely impressive, with nearly 90-degree viewing angles, but it's also prompted a lot of rumors that Sony's abandoning OLED TVs for the consumer market. We asked for clarification and it seems the truth is a little different: Sony says that Crystal LED will be developed in "parallel" to OLED for future consumer and professional applications. We don't know if that definitively means that Sony will put out any future consumer OLED TVs — it hasn't done anything meaningful since it killed the XEL-1 in 2010 — but the door is certainly still open. Here's the full statement:
PlayStation Vita 3G for AT&T hands-on demo with Unit 13 (video)Read Article >
There's not much left to learn about the PlayStation Vita that launched in Japan — find our full review right here — but we just got our hands on a Vita connected to AT&T's 3G HSPA network, and playing Unit 13. It's a third-person shooter from Zipper Interactive, best known for the SOCOM games, where you run from cover to cover though a series of shooting-and-sneaking missions trying for a high score. The game has actual multiplayer over Wi-Fi, but the 3G functionality allows for the game's online global leaderboards to be updated in real time, and in a clever stroke, the game notifies you if a friend beats your score, gently nudging you to jump back into the game. Turnabout is fair play, right? The game will be available in Vita's "launch window," so we're expecting to see it shortly after the handheld's February US launch. Check out our video below.
Sony VAIO ultrabook prototype shown behind glassRead Article >
Sony doesn't technically have an ultrabook — the VAIO Z or VAIO SB doesn't really count — but it seems Sony's planning to look at the category sometime in the future. Labeled as a "future ultrabook concept," Sony's displaying a laptop that looks a lot like its current VAIO Z. Unfortunately, it's behind glass, but from what I can tell it has a different touchpad than the current VAIO Z and is a bit thicker. That's all I could really glean from the chassis trapped behind glass, but it seems very likely that Sony will join the race at some point this year. Now, let's just hope that external GPU and docking station comes along for the ride.
Jan 10, 2012
Sony Smart Watch (aka Sony Ericsson LiveView 2) hands-on
Last night we spotted what looked like the successor to Sony Ericsson's LiveView auxiliary display, and it's true: this is the Sony Ericsson Smart Watch. Well, it'll probably just be the Sony Smart Watch soon, given how the company recently swallowed its joint Sony Ericsson venture and has already begun rebranding. Note the lack of an "Ericsson" in that logo? Sony Ericsson reps tell us it can store 255 widgets, most of which will interact with your Android 2.1+ Sony smartphone (some work with Android phones, period, and others run all on their own) and that it will be on sale at an unspecified date for $149. That screen certainly is sharp. Take a gander at the device in our gallery and video below!Read Article >
Sony displays VAIO tablet prototypes; future Windows 8 hardware?
If you blinked while watching our Sony live blog, you likely missed Kazuo Hirai teasing of a few prototype VAIO laptop and tablets. Well, luckily, Sony's displaying them behind glass at its booth. To me, the most interesting of the two is the tablet that slides over a detachable keyboard. It's a lot like the Series 7 Slider Samsung showed last year (it never came to market), but the tablet separates from the base and also has a stylus. There's a short video of it behind glass below, but if I had to guess this really seems like a perfect fit for Windows 8. (VAIO is Sony's Windows-only brand, its tablet is part of its mobile group.) That said, I ran into a Sony executive at the booth, who said these are really just prototypes, and that they are merely to show Sony's design prowess.Read Article >
Sony's also showing a smaller tablet with rounder edges. The tablet itself looks like a beautiful piece of hardware, and the keyboard dock seems to be just a flat piece of metal. Pretty crazy stuff, but it'd be even crazier if Sony surprised us by bringing these to market soon.
Sony Google TV-powered NSZ-GP9, NSZ-GS7, and motion remote hands-on video and pictures
Sony's just announced its second stab at Google TV products with the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray player and the NSZ-GS7 streamer. We just snuck a look at a few of them during the press conference and even lived to put The Verge up on a 55-inch HDTV.Read Article >
So the remote isn't exactly what you'd expect. It's a little lighter than it looks, the entire trackpad is a button, and the keyboard is made of rubber — there's sort of a springy feel to the whole thing. Sony's done a little additional work smoothing out and integrating the Google TV UI with its own design language, and the result is fairly pleasing, although it's still not perfectly intuitive; we hit the home and back buttons to reorient ourselves quite a bit. The trackpad works well enough, although there's no two-finger scrolling or gesture support, so you have to jump up to the D-pad to scroll or move around any of the menus. We tried out the "three-axis" motion controls on a game called Dot, but it didn't seem to be working very well — we never got it to consistently move our dot as expected. (We'll chalk that up to early prototype glitches for now.)
Jan 10, 2012
Netflix coming to PlayStation VitaRead Article >
At CES 2012, Sony has just announced Netflix is coming to the PlayStation Vita, bringing the big red streaming service to the portable device's 5-inch OLED screen. That's at a resolution of 960x544, at around 220ppi. We hope the service will work with AT&T's 3G plans when the Vita launches on February 22nd.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Ion hands-on photos and video
From a hardware perspective, the Ion felt solid with a evenly-curved back and didn't feel especially heavy in the hand, despite (or because of?) the aluminum shell. The 4.6-inch, 720p display is nothing to sniff at, and around back there is a 12-megapixel Exmor R camera. It should be available in the Spring and be upgradeable to Android 4.0 at some point in the future — and given Sony's willingness to be forthcoming with Ice Cream Sandwich information, that upgrade promise might actually happen.Read Article >
Sony Walkman Z1000 media player hands-on photos and first impressionsRead Article >
We got a chance to quickly take a look at the just-announced Sony Walkman Z1000 at Sony's press conference. It's running a custom Android 2.3 skin and feels quite light despite the large 4.3-inch screen. Between the bezel and space for the capacitive buttons on the bottom, it does feel large in the hand, though, despite the light weight. The 800 x 480 screen looked nice and sharp, with deep blacks and a decent viewing angle. As for the software, the skin wasn't the most appealing thing we've ever seen, but it did put main functions like music and video playing right up front. There's also a well-stocked app drawer, with Google apps and a link to the Android Market on board, so despite the skin you can still get the full Google experience.
Sony BDP-S70 Blu-ray player upscales to 4k resolution, supports Skype webcams
Sony just announced its 2012 line of smart Blu-ray players at CES, and the highlight is the BDP-S790, which can upscale "any content" to 4K. We're don't know exactly how that'll look, but we're guessing it'll be a lot like scaling DVD to 1080p — so probably just good enough to hold you over until true 4K content becomes more readily available. The S70 also features built-in Wi-Fi with the usual Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu support, but you can also connect an optional camera and use Skype, and Sony's new Socialize app lets you share to Facebook and Twitter. No pricing yet, but Sony says it'll be out this April.Read Article >
Sony's also releasing two other smart Blu-ray players in Feburary, though: both the BDP-S390 and BDP-S590 offer Wi-Fi connectivity with app support (but no Skype), Socialize, HomeShare media streaming, and Media Remote control apps for iOS and Android — the S590 adds 3D playback to the mix. Again, no pricing, but we'll dig around and see what we can find.
Sony tries Google TV again with motion controls, voice search, and gaming
Sony just announced two new Google TV devices at CES: the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray player and the NSZ-GS7 media streamer. Both feature a new remote with a backlit keyboard, a touchpad with gesture navigation support, and three-axis motion sensing for gaming. (We're guessing that means phone-style tilt and rotation, not full six axis control like the PS3, but we'll have to confirm that.) The Blu-ray player remote also has a built-in microphone so you can access Google voice search and find content across live TV, streaming services, and the internet just by speaking.Read Article >
Both models have tighter integration with the Sony Entertainment Network and support for streaming content from smartphones and tablets, and they're of course built on Google TV 2.0 with support for Android Market, so you'll have access to apps like HBO Go, Netflix, and Pandora.There's also Chrome for simply browsing the web, of course.
Sony Walkman Z1000 media player coming this spring: Tegra 2 and Android 2.3 for $249.99Read Article >
Check out our hands-on photos and impressions right here!
Sony Xperia S first hands-on
Want to know what a Sony Ericsson phone looks like without the Ericsson? Here you go: the Xperia S, presented here today at CES 2012. Oddly, the live phone still has the old-school Sony Ericsson branding, so it's hard to say what's going on here — it's entirely possible that this prototype was made prior to the Sony-only press photos we've seen today.Read Article >
We just had a few brief seconds with the phone so far, but stay tuned for more shots and impressions and soon as we can get them. We've played a bit more with the phone (video below) and it's a very handsome device, especially with the transparent strip at the bottom, which isn't actually touch-sensitive — the labels are for the touch-sensitive soft buttons on the screen above. The transparent panel is hiding a secret, though: if you look closely you can see the mesh of the radio antenna hidden within. (Check out the macro shot in the gallery below.) The soft-touch feel of the device should keep it from slipping out of the hand, but even with the 720p Reality Display we're not entirely sure that the Xperia S can hang with the top of the line Android phones of December 2011, much less 2012. Naturally, we'll need to give it a full review before we pass further judgement.