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Sony Quits Consumer OLED Display Business - For Now Only?

There has been excitement recently, that the much-anticipated next generation OLED display technology for consumer TVs and computer monitors will finally make an entrance in the market in 2012. Fuelling this, was the announcement last week that LG is to showcase their OLED TV at CES this month. Sony was also due to introduce OLED TVs to consumers. However, this plan has now been shelved, according to The Daily Yomiuri, with Sony only continuing to sell this technology to corporate customers such as broadcasting companies, along with the associated research and development into better displays. The reason for dropping the consumer market is partly due to poor business performance in this area, so Sony cut back on capital investment, which in turn reduced its price competitiveness with its Korean rivals such as LG and Samsung.

This is a shame, because for a healthy and good value OLED TV and monitor market, there need to be many players competing with each other, which will drive down prices and increase product quality over time. However, if OLED takes off in the consumer space, it seems very unlikely that Sony wouldn't return to it eventually.
Sony XEL-1 OLED TV.Picture credit: engadget

Sony Unveils New, High-Speed XQD Memory Cards

Giving photo enthusiasts and professional photographers a new level of speed and performance, the new Sony XQD memory cards support the recently adopted XQD specification for high-speed, high-performance digital image capture.

Using the XQD memory cards, XQD compatible high-end DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera users can capture up to approximately 100 frames in RAW format in continuous shooting mode. In addition to outstanding high-speed data transfer capability, the new cards are highly reliable to protect users' data and images.

Nintendo, Sony, EA Withdraw Support for SOPA: Too Little Too Late?

Video game industry majors Nintendo, Sony, and EA dropped financial support for the passage of Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), as an increasing number of the bill's proponents are feeling the sting of bad PR as a result of their endorsement of the bill. Last month we've seen domain registrar GoDaddy suffer a mass exodus of tens of thousands of domains to its competitors due to its initial endorsement of SOPA, which it later withdrew seeing the public outcry that has some real implications on its business.

This latest withdrawal from Nintendo, Sony, and EA appears to be similar, a knee-jerk response to the bad PR each of SOPA's endorsers are getting. The updated list of the bill's endorsements (read: here) shows the three companies to be missing from it (they were earlier listed). SOPA has been widely criticized as being overkill, too wide-ranged, and too vaguely written to tackle online piracy. Critics say it is peppered with loopholes that make censorship by corporations and governments easy. Think of it as using a tactical nuclear strike to take down a pillbox. Sure, the pillbox will be obliterated, but you end up destroying everything unrelated to it in a very wide area surrounding it.Source: Business Insider

Sony and Samsung Shift to New LCD Panel Business Alliance

Sony Corporation (“Sony”) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (“Samsung”) today announced that the two companies have signed agreements to transition the current business relationship with respect to LCD panels.

Under the agreement, Samsung will acquire all of Sony's shares of S-LCD Corporation (“S-LCD”), the two companies' LCD panel manufacturing joint venture, making S-LCD a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung. In consideration for the share transfer, cash consideration of approximately KRW 1.08 trillion* will be paid to Sony by Samsung. Concurrently, the two companies have entered into a new strategic agreement for the supply and purchase of LCD panels with a goal of enhancing the competitiveness of both companies. The agreement also allows Sony and Samsung to continue cooperative engineering efforts focused on LCD panel technology.

Sony's Anti-Class Action ToS Attracts Class Action Lawsuit!

In perhaps one of the more ironic legal moves to be seen recently, Sony's clause in its Terms of Service preventing PlayStation 3 owners from filing class action lawsuits has itself attracted a class action lawsuit! The lawsuit was filed in Northern California in November, by a man on behalf of PS3 owners who signed up for the PlayStation Network before September, when the ToS were updated and this anti-class action clause added.

The killer clause is buried deep into the contract and is very hard to spot, requiring the contract to be read all the way through with a fine toothcomb - if the reader can rise to the challenge of reading the complicated and dry legalese it's written in. Compounding the problem is that the agreement isn't even readily available online for anyone to study – it can only be viewed on the PS3 itself (so the console is already used before you can even see the agreement – hardly fair?) and appears near the bottom of the 21-page form. Previous agreements had been posted online for anyone to inspect. On top of that, the only way of opting out of it, is to mail a physical letter to Sony within 30 days of agreeing to the ToS – very inconvenient and likely to be forgotten by the average person. The main thrust of the lawsuit are allegations of unfair business practices, since PS3 owners are forced to choose between forfeiting their rights or access to the PSN. Note that since Sony introduced this clause, Electronic Arts and Microsoft have both introduced similar clauses, which doesn't put them in a very good light either and potentially at the receiving end of a lawsuit themselves.

Samsung, Sony, Others, Form 'Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative'

Panasonic Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., SanDisk Corporation, Sony Corporation and Toshiba Corporation today announced that they have reached an agreement in principle to collaborate on a new content protection technology for flash memory cards such as SD Cards and various storage devices. Under the "Next Generation Secure Memory Initiative," the five companies will start preparing for licensing and promotion of HD (high-definition)-capable security for SD Cards and embedded memory for use in advanced consumer applications such as tablets and smartphones.

This content protection solution will be robust enough to protect HD content. A high level of content security will be realized through the use of the initiative's technologies, including unique ID (identification) technology for flash memory and robust copy protection based on public key infrastructure.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hits $1 Billion Milestone in Just 16 Days

Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), announced today that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 crossed the $1 billion mark in sales since its launch on November 8, 2011, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information. Highlighting the trend of interactive entertainment gaining a greater hold of audiences worldwide, the game achieved this milestone in just 16 days, eclipsing the record set in 2009 by the feature film "Avatar," which reached the $1 billion milestone in 17 days.

While 2011 box office revenue is on the decline — down 4 percent this year at $9.4 billion, compared with $9.8 billion in 2010 -- the number of people purchasing and participating in gaming is on the rise, with no sign of slowing.(1) With more than 30 million gamers, the Call of Duty community now exceeds the combined populations of the cities of New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Madrid.

Microsoft Tells ARM Partners to Pick Notebook Vendors

Windows (PC) will make its first transition to a machine architecture other than x86 in decades with Windows 8 Windows on ARM (WOA), and Microsoft wants to make absolutely sure that it has a well-oiled ecosystem in place to propel its growth. Currently, Microsoft picked three potent players among ARM processor vendors, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments (that have experience and can ship in Zerg volumes), and NVIDIA (which has demonstrated a lot of engineering potential with its latest Tegra products).

Microsoft reportedly asked the three ARM players to pick two notebook vendors each (one major, and one minor) with which they will work to develop some of the first WOA portable computing devices. Qualcomm selected Samsung and Sony, Texas Instruments chose Toshiba and Samsung, while NVIDIA chose Acer and Lenovo. Among these, Samsung, Toshiba, and Lenovo are the major partners. Surprisingly, Taiwan-based companies have an insignificant role in this ecosystem. ASUS, which has thus far been the largest client of NVIDIA for Tegra processors, has been left out. Now that downstream partners are selected, upstream ODMs such as Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics, Wistron and Pegatron Technology, which manufacture for those companies, are getting their R&D teams in shape to compete for the next-generation platform. The finishing line of ARM's marathon run to get into PCs is in sight.Source: DigiTimes

NVIDIA Reports Financial Results for Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2012

NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) reported revenue of $1.07 billion for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 ended Oct. 30, 2011, up 4.9 percent from the prior quarter, and up 26.3 percent from $843.9 million in the same period a year earlier.

On a GAAP basis, the company recorded net income of $178.3 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, for the third quarter of fiscal 2012. That compares with net income of $151.6 million, or $0.25 per diluted share, in the prior quarter and $84.9 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, in the same period a year earlier.

On a non-GAAP basis -- which excludes stock-based compensation, amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, other acquisition related costs, and the tax impact associated with these items -- net income was $217.0 million, or $0.35 per diluted share. That compares with net income of $193.5 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, in the prior quarter, and net income of $117.4 million, $0.20 per share, in the same period a year earlier.

BF3 Cheaters Enjoy A Bantastic Time!

Just like any good design implementing security by obscurity, hackers and cheaters will find a way to exploit the system in no time flat. In this instance, DICE said via Twitter that cheaters have "found a glitch that allows them to use the Engineer repair tool or the EOD Bot to garner tens of thousands of points in a match." A beautiful and satisfying cheat if ever there was one, really letting you get on the wrong side of your fellow player! However, there's this small problem, since developer DICE has now cottoned on to underhand tactics and is banning these sporting gamers en-masse. Isn't retribution wonderful?

Via Twitter, DICE reported, "This week we've banned hundreds of offending accounts and have stats-wiped accounts for exploiting (such as boosting)..." and they also ask for honest gamer's help in nailing the culprits, "To report players cheating or boosting send us a direct message to this Twitter with a screen shot of the Battle Log Report." There is also a problem with the Sony PS3 version of the game, which will be addressed with a patch, soon. This suggests that the bug is in the core program code, rather than a platform-specific implementation. Finally, one should always strive to behave honestly and ethically in life and it looks like in this instance it really pays off. Here's wishing all honest players an enjoyable time playing BF3, free from cheaters.

Source: computerandvideogames.com

Steam Forums Get Nailed By Hackers

Valve, a company that operates solely online, takes its security pretty seriously and has a good reputation in this area. However, at the time of writing, its Steam forums are down, having suffered a hack attack earlier today. Visit the forums now and you see a message saying "The Steam Forums are temporarily offline for maintenance. Your patience is appreciated." This attack was apparently done by hackers who want to offer free game cheats (but one should be wary of stealthy malware payloads) since before the forums were taken down, they had planted this message:
Ever wanted to dominate the servers you play on with guaranteed results, but you were too afraid to cheat because of ban risks?
The rest of the message then recommends a website where one can obtain all sorts of illegal game cheats, hack tools and porn. Some Steam forum users even received an email with this text, such as this NeoGAF user. There's no indication that any user's account information has been compromised. However, if you haven’t yet set up Steam Guard, now is a good time to do so, along with changing your password when the forums come back online. Also, be sure to use different a password for every login. Of course, many other gaming forums have been hacked in the past and just this year saw many hacks against such big names as Nintendo, Sega, BioWare, Epic Games and of course Sony, which was hacked many times over in protest at their business practices, such as removing the OtherOS feature from their PS3 console.

Source: 1up.com

Sony Announces a New Range of Portable Hard Drives

Sony is making data storage and backup easier, safer and more enjoyable with its latest range of external hard drives. The new HD-EG5 and HD-EG5U offer advanced features in a slim, stylish package that enable users to save and access their data quickly and conveniently, wherever they go.

The new drives with 500GB capacity provide USB3.0 compatibility and use pre-loaded Data Transfer Accelerator software to increase transfer speeds up to three times as compared to data transmission without the software. When connected to a USB2.0 port, the software boosts transfer speeds up to two times. These features make them one of the quickest 2.5-inch hard drives in the market.

Explore your 3D world with new VAIO L Series 31 August 2011

Slip on the supplied pair of re-chargeable active shutter glasses – the same as used with latest BRAVIA 3D TV models. Then let VAIO immerse you in a fast-growing world of 3D movies, games, videos and panoramic photos.

With its slim, space-saving looks, VAIO L Series 3D makes an elegant addition in any living space. Its stunning design is accented by a 61cm (24") Full HD VAIO Display Plus screen with LED backlight. This super-size display brings all your movies, photos, music and games vividly to life with superb clarity and contrast, whether you're watching in 2D or 3D.

Sony Announces its First External HDDs that Offer Expanded Home Entertainment Options

The first ever range of external hard drives from Sony keep your precious data safe, while offering a range of exciting new home entertainment experiences. With a generous capacity of 500GB, the new HD-PG5 series offers plenty of space to store and safeguard your videos, photos, documents, digital music and more.

The HD-PG5U connects via USB with compatible BRAVIA models, allowing direct recording of HD television programmes from the TV’s tuner or connected cable/satellite service. The supplied USB adaptor cable also allows easy ‘PC-free’ transfers of video footage from compatible Handycam camcorders with Direct Copy function, including the new DCR-SX21E and DCR-SR21.

Sony Readies Micro Vault P Series Flash Drives

Sony is planning to release the Micro Vault P series USB flash drives in the Asia-Pacific region, later this week. The drives use USB 2.0 for connectivity, and feature capacities of 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB. A sturdy body aside, data encryption and data recovery software make for the "Micro Vault" name. The drive is designed to reveal the USB connector without adding to the length of the drive. A 360° LED allows you to monitor drive activity from any side, whichever way the drive is plugged in. Sony's X-Pict Story software comes bundled, which creates automated photo presentations. The drive will be available in black and white variants.

Source: TechConnect Magazine

Sony Announces New VAIO-Z Series, Ultimate Performance and Design

Weighing little over a kilogram, the new VAIO Z Series notebook PC from Sony is created for mobile professionals who demand absolute performance and portability. VAIO Z blends ultra-desirable styling and premium carbon fibre with no-compromise specifications and innovative productivity features. In the office or on the road, this class-leading business notebook helps demanding users work more efficiently with the ultimate in on-the-move computing power.

All-new VAIO Z takes cutting-edge styling by Sony to new extremes, with a 'full flat' body and display lid that are crafted in tough, ultra-light carbon fibre. At just below 1.2kg and 16.65mm slim, the new VAIO Z is the perfect partner for business travellers who demand ultimate power with less to carry.

New Sony VAIO E-Series Laptops Bring Exceptional Design to Everyday Use

Sony today debuted a new, artfully-crafted collection of its affordably-priced line of VAIO E Series notebooks. The E Series 14-inch and 15.5-inch notebooks are available in four stunning colors- midnight blue, glacier white, charcoal black and blush pink - while the 17.3-inch model comes in charcoal black and glacier white. Geometric patterns appear on the lids, and on matching palm rests, and all the colors are fingerprint-resistant to help keep the models looking brand new while users stay connected and entertained.

"The VAIO brand stands for excellent quality and standout design," said Mike Lucas, senior vice president of Networked Technology and Services Division at Sony Electronics. "The new E Series delivers both, plus entertainment and connectivity options, at a price the everyday user can afford."

Sony VAIO L Series All in One PC Combines Productivity with Entertainment

With so many integrated features, including a 3D display, the L Series delivers the ultimate one-stop shop for your every productivity and entertainment needs. The VAIO L Series All-in-One desktop is a contemporary high-definition PC/TV with a stunning 24-inch (diag.) LED backlit multi-touch display that offers intuitive touch access to Internet and TV(select models), Blu-ray Disc movies (select models), music, photos and more.

The Sony VAIO L Series features a full HD 3D display and lets you enjoy 3D Blu-ray Disc movies and PC games in 3D. You can also connect to a PlayStation 3 entertainment system via HDMI and enjoy 3D gaming on the 24-inch full HD display. One pair of USB rechargeable, active shutter 3D glasses are included with the L Series desktop.

Sony Announces PlayStation Vita, Revolutionary Portable Entertainment Device

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) announced PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) (PCH-1000 series) as the official platform name for the next generation portable entertainment system at E3 2011. With an RRP of €249 for the Wireless model and €299 for the Wireless/3G version, PS Vita will launch in the global market starting at the end of 2011.

"Vita", which means "Life" in Latin, was chosen as the most appropriate name for the next generation portable entertainment system as it enables a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context as SCE aims to transform every aspect of a user's daily life into an entertainment experience and an opportunity to play.

Sony Announces MDR-DS6500 Wireless 7.1-channel Headphones

Now you can experience a rich, 3-dimensional world of crystal-clear sound with your headphones – with no interference and no wires. The new MDR-DS6500 digital surround headphone system from Sony gives TV programmes, movies on Blu-ray Disc/DVD and PLAYSTATION 3 games the soundtrack they deserve.

Exclusive to Sony, Virtualphones Technology (VPT) reproduces the soundstage of multi-channel speakers to create an immersive acoustic space. Even if you’re listening to a stereo 2ch or 5.1 channel programme, VPT builds a virtual 7.1 channel soundstage that stretches ‘behind and beyond’ the screen. There’s also a choice of selectable surround sound modes to optimise listening for movies, gaming or speech.

Boost Your Productivity with New VAIO S Series Notebooks

Power, design and mobility come together beautifully with the new VAIO S Series of 13.3” (33.7cm) slim notebook PCs from Sony. The slim, light VAIO S Series features a stylish new ‘full flat’ design that’s crafted in magnesium with a wide aluminium palmrest for strength, lightness, usability and looks. There’s also a cleverly concealed hinge mechanism that doesn’t distract your view of what’s on screen. Overall thickness shrinks to less than 24mm, while weight is a travel-friendly 1.75kg (approx.)

VAIO S Series introduces a smart new battery concept that lets you keep working day and night without a pause. The internal lithium polymer battery provides power for up to 7 hours on-the-go computing (in Stamina mode). It’s partnered by a second thin, flat optional lithium polymer extended battery that can be charged separately from the PC and added without removing the internal battery. The second battery attaches without having to switch off the PC, boosting stamina to up to 14 hours if you’re far from mains power.

Sony Announces VAIO C Series 14-inch Notebooks

Seeing really is believing. With eye-grabbing looks that demand attention, the colourful new 14” VAIO C Series from Sony makes a dramatic lifestyle statement. It’s also a fully-featured notebook PC, with ample power to handle your day-to-day computing needs. The latest VAIO C Series showcases a radical style direction by Sony that stands out from run-of-the-mill notebook PCs. A choice of fashion colours include two special orange and green ‘light emitting’ options. This audacious design scatters light along edges of the translucent PC lid and other key surfaces to create a dramatic glow effect.

Aside from ground-breaking looks, new VAIO C Series balances portability and performance to make light of everyday tasks – from emailing to editing presentations. The high contrast 14” (35.5cm) real-wide VAIO Display with LED backlighting provides plenty of screen space for web browsing, photo viewing and document editing.

Sony Announces VAIO L Series All-in-One PC

Everyone in the family can enjoy a beautiful view of their favourite videos, photos, games and more with the stylish new VAIO L series multimedia PC from Sony. The all-in-one VAIO L Series makes an elegant focal point for your home multimedia collection. Ideal for any living space, the slim, space-saving design features a glossy black finish, with the tilt-adjustable 'floating' display resting on a sleek V-shape stand.

The stunning design of new VAIO L Series is accented by a 24" (61cm) Full HD VAIO Display Plus screen with LED backlight. This super-size display brings all your movies, photos, music and games vividly to life with superb clarity and contrast. It's beautifully easy to interact with your media collection using the full-frame multi-touch screen. Open and scroll through files, zoom and rotate images with intuitive fingertip gestures... and no mouse or menus needed.

Sony Intros 17-inch and 24-inch Trimaster EL OLED Monitors

Sony launched 17-inch and 24-inch Trimaster EL professional-grade monitors, which are based on the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology. OLED is not to be confused with LED-backlit LCD, which is merely LCD with LED illumination instead of CCFL. OLED is a kind of a flat-panel display technology in which electroluminescent organic compounds spread across a film generate images. Hence, OLED provides far greater picture clarity, and eliminates pixellation, a problem encountered with low pixel-density LCD displays. OLED-generated images are more CRT-like in terms of fidelity. Sony’s new Trimaster OLED monitors are targeted at the broadcasting industry and professional studios that seek bleeding-edge image quality.

Both Trimaster OLED monitors feature resolutions of 1920 x 1080 (full-HD), with 10-bit drivers, 100 cd/m² brightness, and 178° viewing angles. Display inputs include HDMI, DisplayPort, and SDI, which is used in professional development houses. Carrying the model numbers BVM-E250 and BVM-E170, they will cost $28,900 and $15,710, respectively.

Source: FlatPanels HD

Sony Develops Hybrid FPA Technology, Lowers LCD Response Times

Sony Corporation has developed "Hybrid FPA (field-induced photo-reactive alignment)", a new liquid crystal alignment technique which enables a significantly faster response time for liquid crystal displays. Fast responses of less than 3ms have been achieved in test cells through this technology. Aside from contributing to 'picture quality enhancement in 3D and high frame rate video', this technology will improve 'product stability' during the display panel manufacturing process as well as after long-term use. Additionally, this technology will achieve production efficiencies by reducing the manufacturing process and time.

Sony previously developed the "FPA *1" high-speed liquid crystal response alignment technique based on vertical alignment (VA) liquid crystal modes. One method for improving liquid crystal response time is to generate pre-tilt of the liquid crystal molecules. "FPA" technique uses the alignment layer developed by Sony and maintains pre-tilt of liquid crystal molecules by irradiating UV while applying voltage in manufacturing process. This facilitates the stable and even alignment of the liquid crystal molecules *2, thus achieving improvements in both liquid crystal response time and the contrast ratio. In addition, this has made it possible to eradicate the Mura (uniformity problem) in the display as well as to eliminate the 'sticking image' that can occur after long-term use.
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