Tag Archives: sony

A new LED world

sony40My parents’ TV was reaching a certain age (I bought their Samsung Plasma in 2005), and I’d been longing for a new LED TV with enough HDMI ports for my consoles, Internet connectivity and some other good stuff. A seasonal cash back offer from Sony later, and a quick bit of horse trading with my folks, and we’re the proud owners of a new Sony KDL40EX723BU LED TV (catchy name, eh?).

Now, it’s hardly a dramatic world away from the old TV in terms of picture quality (the last TV was an LCD HDTV from Sony), but the frame is substantially smaller, and the software is a WHOLE lot cleverer; Wifi-enabled, the IPTV services are great (although my ADSL still sucks), the picture-in-picture Nav is awesome and the integration with our Sony DVR works much better.

I’ve not (and am not really intending on) bought any 3D glasses, despite the fact the TV is 3D capable. I’m not that curious about the format, so we’ll have to see whether anything really compelling happens in time to help me make the jump there. I have got, in my ageing but evidently still useful PS3, a 3D Blu-Ray player, so am ‘future-ready’ – assuming the future is 3D… but I’m open to persuasion!

Battle of Internet TV platforms: Panasonic Vieracast vs Sony Qriocity

So, TV manufacturers are embedding Internet capabilities in their TVs and set-top boxes. I’ve recently had experience of a couple of platforms – Qriocity via my brother’s new Blu-Ray player, and Vieracast via my Dad’s Skype-enabled TV.

So: what is Qriocity? Well, the full Qriocity platform enables TV, film and music on demand – a la Spotify Premium crossed with iTunes. It’s priced comparably with iTunes and pretty easy to use. However, the real kicker here is that YouTube, iPlayer and various other Internet TV services work seamlessly (other than the fact a remote is not in any way optimised for typing into an Internet TV search bar), rather than Qriocity itself. This is awesome – easy access to everything from iPlayer HD to a bunch of other services. V. impressed.

Vieracast, by contrast, brings up a series of apps that let you access network-enabled widgets, of which Skype is one. Skype on a TV should be a good thing but – it’s not HD, so looks mediocre, you can’t use your normal Skype account if, like me, you have “too many” contacts, and its fiddly to configure for the same reason that the Sony remotes are rubbish for search – typing on a TV without a keyboard is tedious. Other apps are pretty limited, responsiveness is a bit sluggish, and on the whole it is a slightly underwhelming experience. Not to mention that the TV doesn’t come with a built-in wireless card so we had to hunt for a networking solution (the one supported brand of wireless card, a Netgear jobbie, isn’t widely distributed in Malaysia).

Therefore: de facto winner of this shootout is Sony…!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Google TV has to offer and will resist the lure of Jobs and Apple TV here. My media centre does most things you’d want from an Internet TV service, but I can appreciate it in principle… for other people. Not so much for me…

None of these service socialise TV watching – I think these is still a multi-device experience- watch on TV and couchsurf on iPad or laptop. I remember Joost trying to do real-time social TV but it was too complex for most people to handle and I’ve not heard hide nor hair from them in some time… and I’m certainly not counting Ping as having achieved anything on this front to date.

Vital tech purchases of 2009 and anticipating 2010

2009 marked the year I stopped buying any old gadget that appealed to me (due to an increased awareness of how tiny my flat is and the need to save for the wedding) but there were a few vital gadget purchases made which makes me glad to be an inhabitant of the future.

1) The iPhone 3GS. Never loved a phone before; now I do. Invaluable piece of tech as a productivity and entertainment tool. Am an addict, apparently, or so says Amanda. I’m still not a full blown member of the cult of Jobs, but this device I love.

2) Sony PRS 505 e-Book reader. Now an old model, this e-Book reader, with e-Ink, long battery life, effectively infinite storage capacity and usable open-source software has made travelling much more relaxed for me. Gone are the days of carrying multiple books on short trips (I read too fast!).

3) The MSI Wind netbook. For when the iPhone is not enough… it’s good to have a bit more edge in a package that weighs about 1.5kg with a battery life of about 5 hours.

4) Dell Studio XPS 13. For when the Wind is not enough. Beautiful LED screen, keyboard, sculpted design and great speakers for a laptop. Finally let me retire my 5 year old IBM Thinkpad R40.

5) Not really a purchase, but I traded for a Nikon D80 with Arvind. I’m not much of a photographer but the D80 makes things look really classy. I just need to work out how it works properly now…

In 2010… the only piece of tech I’m excited about is the new Apple tablet (if that happens), though I’ll be watching what happens with Android in anticipation of my next phone upgrade in early 2011. That said, if 3D TV becomes affordable and more compelling (having seen Avatar, I’m intrigued but not sold on home 3D TV), if people come up with some tech that I haven’t even imagined rather than just a “faster horse”, well, then, I won’t be held responsible for my actions…

I want to read my e-reader…

So despite the fact that the prevailing opinion from my Twitter contacts and friends alike was that I should wait for the Kindle to grace the shores of the UK, the holiday in Denmark with three bulky paperbacks squeezed into a too-cramped rucksack and the impending implosion of my bookshelves into some minor singularity broke me, and I picked up a Sony PRS 505 from Play.com about two weeks ago. I’d seen my friend Rob with one and had a pretty good idea it would be decent, which its proving to be, and I had a feeling that the Kindle would be some time coming…

Here’s what’s good about it:

1) It stores lots of book in a sleek, elegant casing. I’ve shoved a 1GB SD card (at a cost of a not so princely £4) in there, which will cover me for at least 1000 books but potentially as many as 3000 – which is probably more than I’ll need on there

2) It works well with the open source Calibre, even under Windows7 RC1 64bit, which is something of a relief (as I gather the Sony software is its usual bag of decaying tripe)

3) The screen is amazing. E-Ink works like an etch-a-sketch, so reads well in any light. It also makes for…

4) …awesome battery life. Due to the etch-a-sketch nature of the device, it only draws power when turning pages. So one charge (by USB cable), will give you room for about 4000 page turns

5) You can get books. Waterstones has many, even if Amazon is probably banking on the arrival of the Kindle in the UK at some stage.

The not-so-good

1) I’ve already mentioned Sony’s software… the navigation on the device itself is not brilliant, no way to go directly to a page (that I’ve found as yet), not until you’ve made bookmarks (although it remembers what page you were last reading), and there’s no search functionality, ability to make notes etc. I’m also having some fiddling with page alignment (page numbers in middle of page, NBSPs, etc)

2) There’s no wireless connectivity – hence awesome battery life, but hey, if I want wireless, well, that’s what the iPhone I’m planning on getting will do…

3) The page-turning is not that speedy, although its not terrible

All in all, it’s up there with my Netbook in all-time useful purchases. I carry it around daily, have got through two novels on it in two weeks and will probably maintain close to that rate, saving valuable bookshelf real-estate, holiday packing and being stuck on the bus in between books…

Here’s a quick video demo from some dude on Youtube:

Cross posted on Chivalry House.