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All posts tagged "sony"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Digital Trends Reviews the Sony Internet TV with Google TV (NSX-46GT1)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:00 AM

"If every HDMI cable on earth were suddenly shredded to copper threads and you could never connect another device to your TV again, Sony's Internet TVs would be the ones to own. Simply put, no other connected television packs this much content into one clean, self-contained unit. Though the lack of cables and all-in-one approach eases setup and use, Google TV's rough edges will still make us warn non-geeks away from this otherwise sharp connected TV for the time being, but patient tech enthusiasts will find a bevy of content and possibilities built right in."

There's a lot to like about the Sony Internet TV, but ultimately the Google TV part of the experience leaves a lot to be desired. Google TV is a 1.0 product, and Google is known for rapidly improving products - just look at the constant flurry of Android releases - but from the sounds of it most people would feel a sense of buyer's remorse after investing in Google TV at this stage. Or maybe not? I recall there being a few people that were feeling very pro-Google TV in our forums here before the products it was running on shipped. Anyone bought a Google TV product and want to share your thoughts on it?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Glass for Less: A Simple Guide to Inexpensive Lenses

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

As more people get into photography as a hobby, a common refrain heard is that it is an expensive hobby. It is not without some truth, as hobbies by their nature can involve spending large outlays of money since it is human nature to delve deeper into our interests, and hobbies that involve any kind of gear will have many opportunities for the hobbyist to spend their hard-earned money on. Not helping is today's world of marketing departments' promises of being better at what you do if you buy their companies' products or services.

Even if you ignore the messages from marketing, you still need some basic gear to take a photo, like a lens, and lenses can be very very expensive. Lenses can range from the popular f/2.8 zooms (as much as US$2,000+) to the super telephoto lenses (too much). Thankfully, there are cheap options out there, some good, some downright awful. So what does a budget (and budding) photographer buy? Well, here's a short roundup of some lenses that can be considered to be not too expensive.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Sony Releases Portable HDMI Video Monitor for Videographers and Filmmakers

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

One of the difficult things in using a DSLR for recording video is that most of them do not have articulating screens, and even then the screen can be quite small. Enter Sony with CLM-V55 that can be both AC and battery powered and connects via HDMI to your camera. The neat thing about it is that the sound picked up by the camera can be passed through the screen to an external headphone set for monitoring use. Two problems solved with one accessory! The screen also adds pro features like peaking to check on exposure and magnification to check on focus accuracy. Expect it in March.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sony Churns Out Eleven Cameras, Six of Them are Budgets

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:45 AM

Let me repeat myself here: The budget market does not need overcrowding of products at every $10 price point. A couple with clearly defined features that are clearly explained to the consumer sells better than when all the differences are so minor it leaves the consumer confused.

But here's something that's not budget, and not ill-defined: The Cybershot DSC-TX100V. It features a 16 megapixel Exmor R sensor, a Carl Zeiss branded 4x optical stabilised 25-100mm equivalent f/3.5-4.6 zoom lens, 3.5" OLED touchscreen, GPS, videos at 1080p with stereo sound at 28 Mb/s bitrate in AVCHD, the ability to take 10 photos at 10 FPS, take 3D photos (how gimmicky), and SD Card support (coming from Sony, that is news) all in a slim good-looking package. Ships in March for US$380.

Cybershot DSC-TX100V

There are also some more similar slim cameras from Sony, the Cybershot DSC-T110 and DSC-TX10. The T110 drops the Exmor R sensor for a standard CCD, loses the GPS, some of the internal software like 3D photos, does 720p videos in place of 1080p vides, and has a standard 3" touchscreen LCD instead of the OLED screen. The result is the camera costs US$230 instead. The TX10 restores the Exmor R sensor and funky software features of the TX100V like 3D photos, has a 3" VGA LCD, can do the 10 shots at 10 FPS trick, 1080i videos, and a rugged body that is waterproof to 4.5 metres, shockproof from 1.4 metres, and operate at down to -10C temperatures. Not bad for US$330.

Cybershot DSC-T110/TX10

The updated H-series, like the T/TX series above, are differentiated by the sensor, LCD screen, GPS and the internal software features. The DSC-H70 has a 16 megapixel sensor with an optically stabilised 10x 25-250mm equivalent f/3.5-5.5 Sony-branded lens, a 3" LCD screen, 720p video recording, and some manual controls. The DSC-HX7V has a 16 megapixel Exmor R sensor, GPS and 3" VGA LCD. In many ways it's a superzoom version of the TX100V sans OLED screen. The H70 will be available in March for US$230, and the HX7V for US$300.

Cybershot DSC-H70/HX7V

And now, for the compacts. There are six W-series cameras here, and I am just going to mention the two most interesting ones here. First is the unremarkable DSC-W510, which comes with a 12 megapixel CCD, a 4x 26-105mm f/2.8-5.9 equivalent zoom lens, and VGA movie mode for US$110. The DSC-WX9 uses a 16 megapixel Exmor R sensor, a 5x 25-125mm equivalent f/2.6-6.3 Carl Zeiss-branded lens, a 3" VGA screen, 1080i video mode, and all the software features of the TX100V, for US$220. The rest are just filler, in my opinion, but you can take a look in the link below.

Cybershot DSC-W510/W530/W560/W570/WX9/WX10

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things I Want to See in 2011

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 08:00 AM

Welcome to 2011! The last decade was a breath-taking one for digital photography, and the last few years have brought about a torrent of changes and improvements, along with the digital revolution settling down somewhat. Still, a new year brings new possibilities, and here is what I would like to see for 2011:

1. Open Platform Camera

One reason for the popularity of cameras in smartphones is the software you can add to it. Want different effects? Download an app to process them on the phone. Want to see said effects in real-time? Download an app to replace the default camera app. Want an intervalometer? Download an app for that too!

Having an open platform for developers to add functionality to the camera would be an amazing selling point. This would go beyond consumer-level gee-whiz; there is plenty for for enthusiasts too. Change button assignments, tone curves (this has existed but not always the easiest to do), even autofocus and auto exposure behaviour for the adventerous. There is also something to be said for spending less time in image editors...

Of course this would kill some manufacturers' unique selling points. Olympus and their Art Filters will probably be the first casualty. Coupled with most camera companies being conservative in nature, this is unlikely to happen from a traditional manufacturer. Anyone out there willing to take a chance on this?

2. Truly Connected Cameras

Tying in with the above point on open platforms, connectivity is the next big thing. Most of us share our photos digitally nowadays, and the Internet is the main way to do this. Standalone cameras still rely heavily on having a computer to do this. Smartphone cameras are showing the way this should be done, so where are the connected cameras? The Olympus E-PL2's bluetooth dongle (a leaked piece of news at this time of writing) is a step forward, and hopefully will set the tone for the rest of the year.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Sony Wants to Satisfy Your Qriosity

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

"The service, called "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity," will initially be available in the U.K. and Ireland, but Sony plans to expand it to more countries in 2011. It expects to add at least Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and the U.S. next year."

Look out Pandora! Watch out! Sony is coming for you! Well, maybe. Qriosity is a new service to be offered by Sony that offers music streaming. Supported on various Sony (Surprised?) devices, it looks like it will offer music not just from Sony, but several other record companies. Aside from the obvious vendor lock-in and lack of ability to save your music for offline listening, one thing that is not mentioned is whether the service offers automatic playlist generation.

I believe that one of the reasons why Pandora and are so popular is because they make customized stations to listen to catered to your own tastes. If Qriosity does not include that, it will be a serious advantage for its competitors. Access to over 6 million songs is great, but without any way to organize and listen to what you want in that 6 million can become quite a challenge.

Of course, that does remind me of the hours, or even days, I would spend as a teenager making mix-tapes. I guess those days are largely gone and we have decided to let technology do our mixing for us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Four-way Mirrorless Camera Shootout

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:00 AM

"In this review, I'm going to stick to one camera from each maker. I'm ignoring the more DSLR-like cameras with optical (EVF) viewfinders, such as the G and GH series from Panasonic and the NX5 and NX10 from Samsung. What I'm looking to cover here is the cameras most likely to act as a competent compact replacement for a typical DSLR user. To that end I've narrowed things down to these four:"

Continuing from his earlier compact camera review, Thom Hogan looks at four mirrorless cameras (I can't quite call them EVIL, can I?) and not surprisingly finds them all capable of producing good photos; just a matter of what one's preferences are. Personally, I can't give up a viewfinder, so all of them are out for me. If you're looking for such a camera though, check out the article for a experienced photographer's viewpoint.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sony NSZ-GT1 Blu-Ray Player with Google TV Reviewed By AnAndTech

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Offering unprecedented content aggregation via a consumer oriented federated search experience, the Google TV (GTV) platform is a fascinating product with incredible promise. Subsequent to its launch amidst high expectations, users have slowly come to terms with the capabilities of the software as well as the underlying hardware platform. Without doubt, the Logitech Revue was the flagship product for Google TV at launch. However, many of its users are finding it hard to justify a dedicated device for just the functionality provided by Google TV. A detailed review of the Revue will follow in the coming weeks. However, the unanimous opinion amongst the editors at AnandTech is that Google TV could only be justified as a bundled value add-on for already existing CE devices in a HT setup. Consumers would probably be willing to pay for Google TV on devices such as TVs, Blu-Ray players, media streamers, STBs or even AV receivers."

This was an expected move and one I am not surprised to see Sony do. Having dedicated devices purely for one function is no longer what consumers seem to want, and integrating this with a blu-ray player is the right move I believe. The review by AnAndtech is fairly comprehensive and does hgihlight the good and bad points of Google TV well. It's certainly not the cheapest blu-ray player out there and you would have to decide if having Google TV is worth the extra premium.

Memory Card Standard Upgrades: CompactFlash's Turn This Time

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"Today SanDisk, Sony and Nikon 'announced the joint development of a set of specifications that address the future requirements of professional photography and video markets.'"

CompactFlash still has plenty of life left in it as a professional medium for photographers; its durability and physical size (SD is a bit fiddly to work with in the field) are great plus points. What Nikon, Sandisk and Sony should do next after making them go faster (500 MB/s is the target), larger (2TB cards anyone?) and tougher, is to make a portable and fast CF card reader solution. I have had enough of dangling card readers and fiddly cables I keep on losing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sony SLT-A55 Reviewed by Digital Camera Resource Page

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 02:30 PM

"The SLT-A33 and A55 have a unique translucent mirror that allows light to hit both its 16 Megapixel CMOS and autofocus sensors at the same time. That means that you get full-time live view and fast phase detect autofocus for both still and video shooting. And, since the mirror doesn't need to flip out of the way, you can also shoot continuously at up to 10 frames/second, with the camera refocusing between each shot. "

Sony's camera division was pretty much struggling for the last half of the year, especially in the DSLR segment. The SLT-A55 is a camera that brings an old idea with new technology, and to me it does away with all the disadvantages of Sony's previous attempts at live-view, which were the absolutely horrible viewfinder, and the inability to do video. The review is mostly positive, and now it's up to the market to judge the product. Any Minolta/Sony users interested in this?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So Long and Thanks for all the Mixtapes!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"When I was a youngster, albums were most often heard in order. 8-track tapes were the only technology that could jump from channel to channel; LPs and cassette tapes were strictly sequential-listening affairs. But one electronic device made the cassette tape a must-have for any young music fan. It was the Sony Walkman, and today we gather to memorialize its passing as Sony has decided to cease sales of the cassette player in the land of its birth, Japan."

Fear not! The Sony Walkman is not completely dead! It will still be produced in China but it seems as if its birthplace has turned up its nose for all things old. Sure, some might say that the Walkman was the beginning of using devices to isolate ourselves from personal interaction. Why say hello to those that you walk by when you can be jamming to some tunes? For me, the Walkman was just a part of a different revolution for me; the cassette tape. I think the cassette tape represents one of the more significant points in music history, right alongside the birth of the mp3 and the Internet. Instead of LPs or 8-track tapes, you had a relatively cheap way to not only listen to music, but record and mix music. It was the birth of the mix-tape! Instead of being limited to what was playing, you could, after many hours of careful tape-2-tape recording, come up with your own music mix that suited your tastes. It was one of the starting points where consumers could take control of what they heard. It become a form of self-expression. Whether it was a mix-tape you brought to a party, or something you made up for that special someone, music became personal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 Looks at the Sony Internet TV with Google TV

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:30 PM

Curious about the new Sony Blu-ray player with Google TV? There's 15 minutes of video goodness here waiting for you.

Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7 Reviewed by PhotographyBLOG

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

"The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 is the latest addition to Sony’s extensive range of slim, compact and stylish pocket cameras. The 10 megapixel TX7 has an Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS image sensor which promises to greatly improve low-light performance, resulting in cleaner images with less noise. Featuring a metal body, sliding front plate and folded lens optics, the super-slim Sony TX7 offers a 25-100mm equivalent 4x zoom lens, 3.5 inch touch-sensitive rear screen, SteadyShot optical image stabilisation, face and smile detection technology, ISO 3200 and intelligent scene recognition."

Phew, Sony seems to be packing a lot of stuff into their recent compacts. I'll admit I generally don't follow Sony products ("Friends don't let friends buy Sony" is a personal mantra of mine), so some of the features on the new cameras are surprising to me, like the inclusion of a SDHC card slot. Sony must be hurting for sales if they're doing that; traditionally they've almost always favoured their in-house proprietary solution. PhotographyBLOG seemed quite impressed with the camera, and I'm sure the extra features like Sweep Panorama will entice a fair number of buyers. I still won't be buying one though!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sony's Google TV Event

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 10:37 AM

The gang over at Engadget attended the Sony Google TV event, and Sony is the first TV OEM to integrate Google's TV platform right into the box. The prices range from $599 (26" TV) to $1399 (46" TV), which is definitely a price premium on the low end - in the 26" TV space, they tend to cost about $350 or so. Sony is betting that people will want to pay a premium for Google TV. They're also offering a $399 Blu-ray player that will have Google TV functionality - though it's unclear as to whether it has the "capture and re-broadcast" approach - I see two HDMI ports on the back of it, presumably HDMI IN/HDMI OUT, so perhaps.

Although this is a long, hard road to go down - asking people to replace their HDTVs to get the new technology is a slow process - ultimately I think it's better than the add-on box route in the long term. Short term, the geeks among us will probably embrace Logitech's Revue box, but long-term, I think direct integration into your TV is the way to go. Agree? Disagree? Sound off.

Tags: tv, sony, hdtv, google tv

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Would You Pay $20-$30 to Watch a New Movie at Home?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:52 AM

"Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Co. are in talks with the largest cable TV systems to offer films for as much as $30 per showing soon after they run in theaters. The studios are talking with In Demand, a partnership of Cox Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., Bob Benya, chief executive officer of In Demand, said in an interview. Disney is also discussing streaming films on Web- linked devices such as Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox console and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, people with knowledge of the talks said."

So would you pay $20 or $30 to watch a brand-new, just released to a theatre movie in the comfort of your own home? I'd might pay $20, because that's about the price of two movie tickets, but $30 would be a bit too much in my opinion. I have a nice Toshiba 72" TV coupled with a set of Orb Audio 5.1 speakers, so my at home theatre experience is quite fulfilling. And, certainly, it's valuable for me to have the flexibility of watching a movie at home; no one talking behind me, no one kicking my seat, and (presumably) a pause button for bath room breaks. On the other hand, a 72" TV pales in comparison to the truly BIG SCREEN experience of a newer theatre rocking a digital projector.

Where do you weigh in on this? Would you pay $20 to watch a brand new movie at home?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Will You Invite Into Your Living Room?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Think about it: unlike so many other sectors of society, the living room is one in which traditional approaches to media still largely dominate. DVD sales still dwarf streaming and online video in both numbers and revenue, while the web has yet to make any serious inroads onto people’s TVs."

I remember when the PlayStation 2 first came out, Sony was touting it as a home entertainment center. Microsoft also made some comments to the same effect when their original XBox was released. Convergence was all the talk. As it turns out, neither really lived up to the hopes of their creators, but it looks as if the battle for the living room is still going strong, but instead of Sony and Microsoft duking it out, two other challengers have entered the ring. Each have their own advantages, though I would think that Sony and Microsoft have an edge, with their well established install base of game consoles. Apple also has some strengths owing to its iTunes empire and iSomething devices. Google seems to have the greatest challenge ahead of them as all they really have is their branding. Of couse, if one company manages to ink deals with a lot of cable companies (something that Microsoft seems to be trying to do, really hard) that may just seal the deal. All I know is that for many years to come, I will have to be satisfied with watching a blank TV screen, in HD, of course, since it will be decades before any of these neat devices comes to Canada.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sony's SLT A55 Given a Review by Digital Photography Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

"Sony's latest interchangeable lens cameras, the SLT Alpha A33 and A55 represent a significant technological milestone - not just for Sony but for the enthusiast camera market as a whole. The company has rejected the traditional DSLR design and instead created a hybrid that, like a compact camera, is from the ground up built around live view, but one that is also capable of offering full-time DSLR-style phase-detection autofocus. The combination means they can offer features such as phase-detection AF during movie recording and extremely fast continuous shooting rates (10 frames per second on the A55), previously unthinkable at this price."

Sony's finally done something interesting and different with the SLT cameras with their pellicle mirrors; instead of having the mirror reflect a minor portion of the light to a optical viewfinder, it instead uses the light for a phase detection autofocus system. This allows Sony to implement a viewfinder that is larger and brightter than that of their previous live view attempts, allows for AF with all lenses in the Alpha lineup, while using the more time-tested phase detect AF system. DPReview liked the camera plenty much, and the new 16.2 megapixel sensor looks good.

We now have three systems on the market for live view AF; Sony's implementation, Panasonic's improvements on the traditional contrast detection system, and Fujifilm's hybrid AF system. It should be interesting to see which method is the more successful one, both technically and commercially.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sony Alpha A550 Reviewed by PhotographyBLOG

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

"The Sony A550 is a mid-range 14.2 megapixel DSLR camera offering enhanced Live View, Auto HDR functionality and high-speed continuous shooting capabilities. Slotting in above the A3- series cameras and below the A700, the Sony Alpha A550 employs a new Exmor CMOS sensor for better low-light images with an increased ISO range of 200-12800. The A550 offers 7fps continuous shooting when using the optical viewfinder or 4fps in Live View mode using the 3 inch tilting LCD screen, while the new Auto HDR mode promises to capture a huge range of shadow and highlight detail in landscapes, interiors and other scenes."

PhotographyBLOG has a pretty positive review of the Sony a550, but it is baffling how a review of a camera does not dock more points for it having a crappy viewfinder. I wonder if the tech specifications are that good to overcome what is essentially the main interface to taking photos. I struggled with cameras like the Nikon D70, and the Sony DSLRs with their live view implementation is worse; it really is like looking through a straw. I think Sony knows the issue as well, hence the pellicle mirror a55 and a33 cameras, as well as the NEX cameras.

Sony Alpha a55 and a33 DSLRs Revealed

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 06:30 AM

"Sony is set to introduce shooting speeds of up to 10fps, as well as video, in its latest Alpha DSLR cameras, the Alpha 55 and Alpha 33, by using a new non-moving 'translucent' mirror. Echoing the technology of the pellicle mirror in Canon's EOS RT of 1989, Sony's new semi-transparent mirror allows light to be fed simultaneously to a camera's imaging sensor and AF system, removing the need for a moving mirror and providing the potential for much improved focus tracking as well as active AF in Live View and video modes."

Looks like Amateur Photographer has let out a confirmation of the new Sony DSLRs. These are true SLRs; in place of a standard slivered mirror is a pellicle mirror that lets light to the viewfinder and the sensor at the same time. Canon has used a similar setup before, the last camera being the EOS 1N RS. Back then the main complaint was dust on the mirror affecting the images, but now since digital cameras suffer from the same problem, the inconvenience of cleaning a surface in the imaging path from dust is no longer an extra annoyance. Whether this helps Sony remains to be seen; their DSLR ambitions have been flailing for a while now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mirrorless Cameras Round Up

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

"Having compared the size of several different mirrorless interchangeable lens systems, we'll now take a look at how much detail relative to noise is captured at any given ISO by each of these systems. "

Serious Compacts has done a really nice comparison of the various mirrorless cameras on the market, comparing them based on their size, as well as doing an ISO test. The comparison is split into two parts, so be sure to check them out.

Part 1: Mirrorless Camera Size Comparison: NEX5, NX10, E-P2, E-PL1, GF1, G2

Part 2: Mirrorless Camera ISO Signal/Noise Shootout: NEX5, NX10, E-P2, E-PL1, GF1, G2, GH1

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