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Found 44 results

  1. News: FIGHT: OnePlus 5T

    With the announcement today of the OnePlus 5T, I decided to include it in the latest of our FIGHT: series of comparisons. So, without further ado, I give you the OnePlus 5T pitted against our three previous winners, the Sony ZX Premium, LG V30 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Comparing phones is always a somewhat emotive opinion on the part of the person doing the comparison, so I have tried to keep this one based upon facts rather than feelings. Some may argue with some of the decisions and some may need explanation. The winning phone in each category is shown in dark green and gains 2 points. Where no obvious winner exists, "highly commended" scores are in light green and gain 1 point) Feature One Plus 5T Sony ZX Premium LG V30 Galaxy Note 8 Construction Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Size 156.1mm x 75mm x 7.3mm 156mm x 77mm x 7.9mm 151.7mm x 75.4mm x 7.3mm 162.5mm x 74.8mm x 8.6mm Weight 162g 195g 158g 195g Screen Optic AMOLED 6.01" 2160x1080 401ppi IPS LCD 5.4" 3840x2160 807ppi P-OLED 6.0" 2800x1440 538ppi AMOLED 6.3" 2960x1440 521ppi Screen / Body Ratio 80.0 % 68.4 % 81.2 % 83.2 % Battery 3300 mAh 3230 mAh 3300 mAh 3300 mAh Processor Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 Exynos OctaCore RAM 6GB / 8GB 4GB 4GB 6GB Storage 64GB / 128GB 64GB + MicroSD 64GB / 128GB + MicroSD 64GB / 128GB / 256GB + MicroSD Camera (rear) Main: 20Mpix f/1.7 & Wide: 16MPix f/1.7, OIS 19Mpix f/2.0, Predictive Phase Detection & Laser autofocus EIS, HDR, Panorama Main: 16Mpix f/1.6 (71deg)& Wide: 13Mpix f/1.9 (120deg), IOS, HDR10, Assisted Zoom Tele: 12Mpix f/2.4 (45deg) & Wide: DualPixel 12Mpix f/1.7 (77deg), IOS, 2x Optical zoom Camera (front) 16Mpix f/2.0 13Mpix f/2.0 5Mpix f/2.2 (90deg) 8Mpix f/1.7 Connectivity 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 2.0 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 Operating System Oxygen OS 4.7 (Android 7.1.1) Android 7.1.2 Android 7.1.1 Android 7.1.1 Biometrics / security Fingerprint (rear - middle) Fingerprint (side), face detection Fingerprint (rear - left), iris detection, face detection Fingerprint (rear - left), iris detection, face detection Protection None Waterproof (IP68) Waterproof (IP68), Shockproof Waterproof (IP68) Charging Dash Charge Fast Charging, Wireless Charging QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging Price £ 499 £ 650 £ 799 £ 869 Availability Late November 2017 Now Now Now Total points 8 5 8 8 ...this newly altered scoring card has produced yet another set of mixed results. While the LG V30 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are still kings of the hill, the Sony ZX Premium has dropped back, and the OnePlus 5T has taken it's place. However, this is mainly due to it's impressive camera specifications; should the camera prove to not be as good in reality as it is in numbers (as has been experienced on the OnePlus 5), then we may need to revisit this comparison. As it stands right now, our new 2017 list of winners contains: LG V30 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 OnePlus 5T View full news
  2. FIGHT: OnePlus 5T

    Comparing phones is always a somewhat emotive opinion on the part of the person doing the comparison, so I have tried to keep this one based upon facts rather than feelings. Some may argue with some of the decisions and some may need explanation. The winning phone in each category is shown in dark green and gains 2 points. Where no obvious winner exists, "highly commended" scores are in light green and gain 1 point) Feature One Plus 5T Sony ZX Premium LG V30 Galaxy Note 8 Construction Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Size 156.1mm x 75mm x 7.3mm 156mm x 77mm x 7.9mm 151.7mm x 75.4mm x 7.3mm 162.5mm x 74.8mm x 8.6mm Weight 162g 195g 158g 195g Screen Optic AMOLED 6.01" 2160x1080 401ppi IPS LCD 5.4" 3840x2160 807ppi P-OLED 6.0" 2800x1440 538ppi AMOLED 6.3" 2960x1440 521ppi Screen / Body Ratio 80.0 % 68.4 % 81.2 % 83.2 % Battery 3300 mAh 3230 mAh 3300 mAh 3300 mAh Processor Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 Exynos OctaCore RAM 6GB / 8GB 4GB 4GB 6GB Storage 64GB / 128GB 64GB + MicroSD 64GB / 128GB + MicroSD 64GB / 128GB / 256GB + MicroSD Camera (rear) Main: 20Mpix f/1.7 & Wide: 16MPix f/1.7, OIS 19Mpix f/2.0, Predictive Phase Detection & Laser autofocus EIS, HDR, Panorama Main: 16Mpix f/1.6 (71deg)& Wide: 13Mpix f/1.9 (120deg), IOS, HDR10, Assisted Zoom Tele: 12Mpix f/2.4 (45deg) & Wide: DualPixel 12Mpix f/1.7 (77deg), IOS, 2x Optical zoom Camera (front) 16Mpix f/2.0 13Mpix f/2.0 5Mpix f/2.2 (90deg) 8Mpix f/1.7 Connectivity 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 2.0 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 Operating System Oxygen OS 4.7 (Android 7.1.1) Android 7.1.2 Android 7.1.1 Android 7.1.1 Biometrics / security Fingerprint (rear - middle) Fingerprint (side), face detection Fingerprint (rear - left), iris detection, face detection Fingerprint (rear - left), iris detection, face detection Protection None Waterproof (IP68) Waterproof (IP68), Shockproof Waterproof (IP68) Charging Dash Charge Fast Charging, Wireless Charging QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging Price £ 499 £ 650 £ 799 £ 869 Availability Late November 2017 Now Now Now Total points 8 5 8 8 ...this newly altered scoring card has produced yet another set of mixed results. While the LG V30 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are still kings of the hill, the Sony ZX Premium has dropped back, and the OnePlus 5T has taken it's place. However, this is mainly due to it's impressive camera specifications; should the camera prove to not be as good in reality as it is in numbers (as has been experienced on the OnePlus 5), then we may need to revisit this comparison. As it stands right now, our new 2017 list of winners contains: LG V30 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 OnePlus 5T
  3. In the fifth of our comparison articles, I've decided to compare the various flagship phones from all the major manufacturers. In this, part 2 of that fight, we have Mi, HTC, Sony & Huawei. The winner is quite interesting, (as is the outright looser), so read on to find out what the numbers tell us... Comparing phones is always a somewhat emotive opinion on the part of the person doing the comparison, so I have tried to keep this one based upon facts rather than feelings. Some may argue with some of the decisions and some may need explanation. The winning phone in each category is shown in dark green and gains 2 points. Where no obvious winner exists, "highly commended" scores are in light green and gain 1 point) Feature Huawei Mate 10 Pro Mi Mix2 HTC U11+ Sony ZX Premium Construction Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium, ceramic & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Size 154.2mm x 74.5mm x 7.9mm 151.8mm x 75.5mm x 7.7mm 158.5mm x 74.9mm x 8.5mm 156mm x 77mm x 7.9mm Weight 178g 185g 188g 195g Screen OLED 6.0" 2160x1080 402ppi IPS LCD 5.9" 2160x1080 403ppi SuperLCD 6.0" 2880x1440 538ppi IPS LCD 5.4" 3840x2160 807ppi Screen / Body Ratio 80.9 % 80.8 % 78.0 % 68.4 % Battery 4000 mAh 3400 mAh 3930 mAh 3230 mAh Processor Kirin 970 (AI Engine) Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 RAM 6GB 6GB / 8GB 4GB / 6GB 4GB Storage 128GB 64GB / 128GB / 256GB 64GB / 128GB + MicroSD 64GB + MicroSD Camera (rear) Main: 20Mpix f/1.6 & Wide: 12Mpix f/1.6, 2x Lossless Zoom, Leica optics, Phase Detection autofocus 12Mpix f/2.0, Phase Detection autofocus, IOS, HDR, Panorama 12Mpix f/1.7, Phase Detection autofocus, IOS, HDR, Panorama 19Mpix f/2.0, Predictive Phase Detection & Laser autofocus EIS, HDR, Panorama Camera (front) 8Mpix f/2.0 5Mpix f/2.0 8Mpix f/2.0, HDR 13Mpix f/2.0 Connectivity 3G, 4G, Gigabit LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 4.2, IR, USB 2.0 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.0 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 Operating System Android 8.0 Android 7.1 Android 8.0 Android 7.1 Biometrics / security Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection Fingerprint (side), face detection Protection Splashproof (IP53) None Waterproof (IP68) Waterproof (IP68) Charging QuickCharge 3.0 QuickCharge 3.0 QuickCharge 3.0 QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging Price £ 799 £ 520 £ 799 £ 650 Availability Now Now November 2017 Now Total points 8 5 6 10 ...The winners from part 1 were the LG V30 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, both with 10 points. Adding in the results from this round, it seems we have a 3-way tie at the top of the table, along with a shock defeat at the bottom. Without further ado; the winners of the Mobile & Gadget best smartphone of 2017 (this week) award are: LG V30 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Sony ZX Premium ...and the looser (by 1 point) Apple iPhone X View full news
  4. Comparing phones is always a somewhat emotive opinion on the part of the person doing the comparison, so I have tried to keep this one based upon facts rather than feelings. Some may argue with some of the decisions and some may need explanation. The winning phone in each category is shown in dark green and gains 2 points. Where no obvious winner exists, "highly commended" scores are in light green and gain 1 point) Feature Huawei Mate 10 Pro Mi Mix2 HTC U11+ Sony ZX Premium Construction Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium, ceramic & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Candybar, aluminium & glass Size 154.2mm x 74.5mm x 7.9mm 151.8mm x 75.5mm x 7.7mm 158.5mm x 74.9mm x 8.5mm 156mm x 77mm x 7.9mm Weight 178g 185g 188g 195g Screen OLED 6.0" 2160x1080 402ppi IPS LCD 5.9" 2160x1080 403ppi SuperLCD 6.0" 2880x1440 538ppi IPS LCD 5.4" 3840x2160 807ppi Screen / Body Ratio 80.9 % 80.8 % 78.0 % 68.4 % Battery 4000 mAh 3400 mAh 3930 mAh 3230 mAh Processor Kirin 970 (AI Engine) Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 Snapdraggon 835 RAM 6GB 6GB / 8GB 4GB / 6GB 4GB Storage 128GB 64GB / 128GB / 256GB 64GB / 128GB + MicroSD 64GB + MicroSD Camera (rear) Main: 20Mpix f/1.6 & Wide: 12Mpix f/1.6, 2x Lossless Zoom, Leica optics, Phase Detection autofocus 12Mpix f/2.0, Phase Detection autofocus, IOS, HDR, Panorama 12Mpix f/1.7, Phase Detection autofocus, IOS, HDR, Panorama 19Mpix f/2.0, Predictive Phase Detection & Laser autofocus EIS, HDR, Panorama Camera (front) 8Mpix f/2.0 5Mpix f/2.0 8Mpix f/2.0, HDR 13Mpix f/2.0 Connectivity 3G, 4G, Gigabit LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 4.2, IR, USB 2.0 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.0 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1 Operating System Android 8.0 Android 7.1 Android 8.0 Android 7.1 Biometrics / security Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection Fingerprint (side), face detection Protection Splashproof (IP53) None Waterproof (IP68) Waterproof (IP68) Charging QuickCharge 3.0 QuickCharge 3.0 QuickCharge 3.0 QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging Price £ 799 £ 520 £ 799 £ 650 Availability Now Now November 2017 Now Total points 8 5 6 10 ...The winners from part 1 were the LG V30 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, both with 10 points. Adding in the results from this round, it seems we have a 3-way tie at the top of the table, along with a shock defeat at the bottom. Without further ado; the winners of the Mobile & Gadget best smartphone of 2017 (this week) award are: LG V30 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Sony ZX Premium ...and the looser (by 1 point) Apple iPhone X
  5. The demise of 3D televisions

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38778244 I never knew Samsung had stopped production of 3D televisions. Sony and LG to follow. I was always terribly cynical of 3D in general, especially at home but our Samsung UE55H7000 is brilliant for 3D with the active glasses. The Martian, Avatar and the adventures of Tin Tin are all must sees in 3D. I can see why it never caught on however with the right TV it really does work well.
  6. Wireless speakers are all the fashion this year following IFA in Berlin last year. Sony have pulled together several themes over the last 12 months into possibly the most complete package of products. .Sony have released 3 wireless speakers, two sound bars, one TV speaker base, two AV amplifiers and one micro hifi system. They've added Google Cast, so you can 'throw' popular services such as Deezer and Google Play, but it's also Spotify Connect certified too. See below for more info: Click here to view the news
  7. Sony have released 3 wireless speakers, two sound bars, one TV speaker base, two AV amplifiers and one micro hifi system. They've added Google Cast, so you can 'throw' popular services such as Deezer and Google Play, but it's also Spotify Connect certified too. See below for more info:
  8. Lets be honest. We'd all like a big zoom lens at times to take a picture of something far away, but don't either want to carry some sort of SLR with a huge lens, or a hybrid camera which still won't fit in your pocket. That's where Sony's new HX90 and WX500 come in.... .Both the HX90 and WX500 come with a 18.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, 30x optical zoom, and rather helpfully, 5 axis image stabilisation to stop your Full HD videos being unviewable if you use the zoom lens. Both also have a 180 degree tiltable LCD screen. The HX90 adds a few more control touches. It adds a control ring which can be used to make small adjustments such as focus and zoom. It also has a hi resolution viewfinder and GPS. Sadly, we don't have the prices yet, but we'll keep you informed. Click here to view the news
  9. Want a Big Zoom in a Compact Body?

    Both the HX90 and WX500 come with a 18.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, 30x optical zoom, and rather helpfully, 5 axis image stabilisation to stop your Full HD videos being unviewable if you use the zoom lens. Both also have a 180 degree tiltable LCD screen. The HX90 adds a few more control touches. It adds a control ring which can be used to make small adjustments such as focus and zoom. It also has a hi resolution viewfinder and GPS. Sadly, we don't have the prices yet, but we'll keep you informed.
  10. Given more photos are taken with mobile phones these days than with conventional cameras, it made sense for Sony to include mobile photos as a category in the World Photo Awards. .This photo won: This came second: This came third: Here's some information about the winner and the awards: And as fate would have it, I took my own version of the runner up photo today. I think his is better than mine. Click here to view the news
  11. This photo won: This came second: This came third: Here's some information about the winner and the awards: And as fate would have it, I took my own version of the runner up photo today. I think his is better than mine.
  12. TVs are becoming thinner and thinner, this also means that speakers, and their sound are also becoming thinner and thinner. Soundbars are becoming more and more popular to compensate and to fill you living room with a decent cinematic sound to match the cinematic pictures. .Sony have launched some new soundbars. Here's their press release: Click here to view the news
  13. Sony have launched some new soundbars. Here's their press release:
  14. We were invited down to Sony's European HQ in Surrey to have a look at some of the products the company has lined up for 2015 and meet with some key people there. So what were they like?. Rather than go into featuring the huge variety of products on display, and trying to capture all the information passed on, I'll give general coverage of some products and more importantly an idea of what the company is planning on launching, and the direction it's moving in. The product groups could be divided into three segments, so I'll cover them each seperately. Audio As previously mentioned during our coverage of IFA in Berlin last year, Sony has gone big on HiRes Audio. In much the same way people have upgraded their TVs from standard definition to Full HD, and now looking to move to 4K UHD (I'm still not sure what to call it as each company still has a slight variation of term). Sony is betting that people are wanting either to upscale their MP3's to something more listenable, or play other higher resolution audio formats. With that in mind, we had a look at a variety of new headphones and home stereo equipment. Whilst they were keen to show a range of new affordable headphones and earphones for sports people, what did catch the eye was the new MDR-1ABT Headphones. These largish headphones build upon the wired HiRes MDR headphones launched last year, and are NFC enabled bluetooth with an integrated Digital Audio Convertor and able to stream HiRes audio from your phone/portable audio player. Not only that, it has a rather swish touch control system on the outside of one of the ear pieces. You can control volume, skip tracks, pause etc and battery life is an impressive 20 hours. It should cost about £300 when released soon. On the home stereo front, Sony is again looking to HiRes audio to boost it's fortunes. They have the HAP-S1 (£800) which has a built in 500GB hard drive which downloads all your music from your computer or Android/iOS device (you need to install software/app to do this) and cuts out any networking issues you may have streaming locally. If 500GB isn't enough, then you can add more storage via the external USB socket. Apart from supporting virtually every audio format known to man, what makes it interesting is that it upscales all sub-CD quality music to something theoretically higher than CD audio. As does it's sibling the MAP-S1 (£700) which can connect to virtually any streaming device and repeat the same trick, as well as having built in FM/DAB radio and CD player. Both players have built in amps, so all you have to do is add speakers. Things went to 11 though with the HAP-Z1 which amongst many things also played DSD (Direct Stream Digital) files. Whilst repeating many of the same tricks, it when being played recordings made in DSD, that you can really start to appreciate to value of high end HiRes audio. The problem is, at £2000 for this stereo component, how many are likely to get the opportunity to enjoy it? I was left with a few questions though. Not many people have any sort of HiRes (better than CD quality) files stored on their computer/phones etc, and so most of the time, these devices will be upscaling your standard MP3 to sound better. In effect, creating sound where there isn't any. Sony said it was no different to what your average Full HD / 4K TV does with lower resolution pictures, its only really a stop gap until higher resolution audio becomes commonly available, and we're not seeing that happen. Record companies don't seem to be fully on board, Sony has abandoned it's own music streaming services, and until must have albums become only available in these formats, I can't see it taking off no matter how wonderful the results might be. Older people may remember how Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms' album virtually made the CD. Digital Imaging Sony showed off a variety of photo and video cameras. The stand alone camera is often forgotten now by many people as mobile phones become better and better at taking photos and videos. Whilst that is true, and there's a convenience factor also involved by almost always having your mobile with you, there's no getting away from the fact that mobile cameras capture moments, but dedicated cameras make pictures. Sony makes about half of the world's camera sensors, and their included in many high end mobiles such as the Xperia series, but to make the point, they showed the size of the sensors in each type of device. Bigger sensors, generally means more light is captured, creating more detailed photos and greater 'texture' and depth of field to pictures. This also greatly improves photo capture in dark situations without the need to resort to flashes and photos with red eye and washed out faces etc. Sony definitely feels there's still life in the higher end compact cameras, as well as the future lieing in compact system cameras like the Alpha series (formerly NEX). They still plan to continue selling full size DSLR cameras, but it's not where they feel they'll make most progress. 4K is obviously where the video action is these days, and they naturally have a range of 4K Handycams, but what was most impressive was the image stabilisation used these new cameras which enable you to zoom and also move without photos blurring, losing sharpness, or videos shaking and making the viewer feel sick. What was also fun was the AXP33 (£999) which not only has 4K recording (for that new 4K TV of yours), fancy image stabilisation, but also a built in projector so you can instantly show off what you've recorded, or use the HDMI input to connect to your phone/laptop etc to watch a couple of Hollywood films too on the 'big screen'. Sometimes, it's also forgotten that not only GoPro make action cameras, and the Minicams are able to record in Full HD and 4K, as well as having clever watch accessories to do remote recording and controls. TV + YouView News 2015 is looking like a big year for TVs across the industry as the pieces all seem to be falling into place. 4K content from a variety of providers is already in place, whilst more conventional broadcasters are also looking to get in on the action soon too. Sony does seem to have lost ground to it's competitors over the last couple of years, but the company hopes to revive it's fortunes this year with a new 4K X1 processor, aka 'Reality Pro'. Sony's looking to improve their picture processing on three fronts. Clarity/Colour / Contrast. All this is done as video is fed into it in some pretty nifty technology which analyses the picture, the textures such as skin, materials etc and adds more depth to the picture, so even a Netflix 4K video of House of Cards looks impressively improved over a 2014 TV. Not only that, but Sony has integrated Android TV into the majority of it's TV line for 2015. Controlled by a touchpad remote, steering your way through the menus is pretty easy, and it also has the benefit of an integrated microphone for voice search and app activation, including turning the TV on/off. All the Android TV enabled sets will also be the first to have YouView integrated into them in an exclusive deal. This means 70 live channels, on demand, and 7 day catch up will be available. The new range of TVs will be launched starting from April, and prices will be announced in March. It was unclear at the time if the Android TVs will be able to add additional storage as they come with 16GB integrated, and we know how big some games/apps can be these days! Whilst you don't need to use your Google ID to use all the features of Android TV, it's currently a little unclear how it manages a household with multiple users with different Google accounts and apps etc. Three TVs did stick out of the huge new range and are worth a special mention. Firstly, there's the X93/X94. Whilst sticking with a familiar design from 2014, they now also include Android TV and YouView. The built in speakers will also play HiRes audio, as well as upscale conventional audio. (The X93 has edge LED backlighting, whilst the X94 has full LED backlighting). The upcoming also caught the eye for it's beautiful new design. Sony has rethought many processes in the design of a LCD TV and have changed the way it ventilates itself so that it can now sit flush against the wall, making it look even slimmer than an iPhone 6. Not only that, but there's been some new magical manufacturing processes involved in making the screen, so now not only is it very thin, but also the picture goes almost right up to the edge, making it virtually frameless! Summary It's clear that Sony has put a lot of thought into reinvigorating itself in order to justify the premium price it charges. Whilst HiRes audio is definitely a winner to our ears, we're not sure the Public will follow. There is no doubt though that Sony remains very strong with it's imaging products, and will hopefully soon be back at the top with it's TVs this year. We hope to have a closer look at all these products again closer to launch. Click here to view the news
  15. . Rather than go into featuring the huge variety of products on display, and trying to capture all the information passed on, I'll give general coverage of some products and more importantly an idea of what the company is planning on launching, and the direction it's moving in. The product groups could be divided into three segments, so I'll cover them each seperately. Audio As previously mentioned during our coverage of IFA in Berlin last year, Sony has gone big on HiRes Audio. In much the same way people have upgraded their TVs from standard definition to Full HD, and now looking to move to 4K UHD (I'm still not sure what to call it as each company still has a slight variation of term). Sony is betting that people are wanting either to upscale their MP3's to something more listenable, or play other higher resolution audio formats. With that in mind, we had a look at a variety of new headphones and home stereo equipment. Whilst they were keen to show a range of new affordable headphones and earphones for sports people, what did catch the eye was the new MDR-1ABT Headphones. These largish headphones build upon the wired HiRes MDR headphones launched last year, and are NFC enabled bluetooth with an integrated Digital Audio Convertor and able to stream HiRes audio from your phone/portable audio player. Not only that, it has a rather swish touch control system on the outside of one of the ear pieces. You can control volume, skip tracks, pause etc and battery life is an impressive 20 hours. It should cost about £300 when released soon. On the home stereo front, Sony is again looking to HiRes audio to boost it's fortunes. They have the HAP-S1 (£800) which has a built in 500GB hard drive which downloads all your music from your computer or Android/iOS device (you need to install software/app to do this) and cuts out any networking issues you may have streaming locally. If 500GB isn't enough, then you can add more storage via the external USB socket. Apart from supporting virtually every audio format known to man, what makes it interesting is that it upscales all sub-CD quality music to something theoretically higher than CD audio. As does it's sibling the MAP-S1 (£700) which can connect to virtually any streaming device and repeat the same trick, as well as having built in FM/DAB radio and CD player. Both players have built in amps, so all you have to do is add speakers. Things went to 11 though with the HAP-Z1 which amongst many things also played DSD (Direct Stream Digital) files. Whilst repeating many of the same tricks, it when being played recordings made in DSD, that you can really start to appreciate to value of high end HiRes audio. The problem is, at £2000 for this stereo component, how many are likely to get the opportunity to enjoy it? I was left with a few questions though. Not many people have any sort of HiRes (better than CD quality) files stored on their computer/phones etc, and so most of the time, these devices will be upscaling your standard MP3 to sound better. In effect, creating sound where there isn't any. Sony said it was no different to what your average Full HD / 4K TV does with lower resolution pictures, its only really a stop gap until higher resolution audio becomes commonly available, and we're not seeing that happen. Record companies don't seem to be fully on board, Sony has abandoned it's own music streaming services, and until must have albums become only available in these formats, I can't see it taking off no matter how wonderful the results might be. Older people may remember how Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms' album virtually made the CD. Digital Imaging Sony showed off a variety of photo and video cameras. The stand alone camera is often forgotten now by many people as mobile phones become better and better at taking photos and videos. Whilst that is true, and there's a convenience factor also involved by almost always having your mobile with you, there's no getting away from the fact that mobile cameras capture moments, but dedicated cameras make pictures. Sony makes about half of the world's camera sensors, and their included in many high end mobiles such as the Xperia series, but to make the point, they showed the size of the sensors in each type of device. Bigger sensors, generally means more light is captured, creating more detailed photos and greater 'texture' and depth of field to pictures. This also greatly improves photo capture in dark situations without the need to resort to flashes and photos with red eye and washed out faces etc. Sony definitely feels there's still life in the higher end compact cameras, as well as the future lieing in compact system cameras like the Alpha series (formerly NEX). They still plan to continue selling full size DSLR cameras, but it's not where they feel they'll make most progress. 4K is obviously where the video action is these days, and they naturally have a range of 4K Handycams, but what was most impressive was the image stabilisation used these new cameras which enable you to zoom and also move without photos blurring, losing sharpness, or videos shaking and making the viewer feel sick. What was also fun was the AXP33 (£999) which not only has 4K recording (for that new 4K TV of yours), fancy image stabilisation, but also a built in projector so you can instantly show off what you've recorded, or use the HDMI input to connect to your phone/laptop etc to watch a couple of Hollywood films too on the 'big screen'. Sometimes, it's also forgotten that not only GoPro make action cameras, and the Minicams are able to record in Full HD and 4K, as well as having clever watch accessories to do remote recording and controls. TV + YouView News 2015 is looking like a big year for TVs across the industry as the pieces all seem to be falling into place. 4K content from a variety of providers is already in place, whilst more conventional broadcasters are also looking to get in on the action soon too. Sony does seem to have lost ground to it's competitors over the last couple of years, but the company hopes to revive it's fortunes this year with a new 4K X1 processor, aka 'Reality Pro'. Sony's looking to improve their picture processing on three fronts. Clarity/Colour / Contrast. All this is done as video is fed into it in some pretty nifty technology which analyses the picture, the textures such as skin, materials etc and adds more depth to the picture, so even a Netflix 4K video of House of Cards looks impressively improved over a 2014 TV. Not only that, but Sony has integrated Android TV into the majority of it's TV line for 2015. Controlled by a touchpad remote, steering your way through the menus is pretty easy, and it also has the benefit of an integrated microphone for voice search and app activation, including turning the TV on/off. All the Android TV enabled sets will also be the first to have YouView integrated into them in an exclusive deal. This means 70 live channels, on demand, and 7 day catch up will be available. The new range of TVs will be launched starting from April, and prices will be announced in March. It was unclear at the time if the Android TVs will be able to add additional storage as they come with 16GB integrated, and we know how big some games/apps can be these days! Whilst you don't need to use your Google ID to use all the features of Android TV, it's currently a little unclear how it manages a household with multiple users with different Google accounts and apps etc. Three TVs did stick out of the huge new range and are worth a special mention. Firstly, there's the X93/X94. Whilst sticking with a familiar design from 2014, they now also include Android TV and YouView. The built in speakers will also play HiRes audio, as well as upscale conventional audio. (The X93 has edge LED backlighting, whilst the X94 has full LED backlighting). The upcoming also caught the eye for it's beautiful new design. Sony has rethought many processes in the design of a LCD TV and have changed the way it ventilates itself so that it can now sit flush against the wall, making it look even slimmer than an iPhone 6. Not only that, but there's been some new magical manufacturing processes involved in making the screen, so now not only is it very thin, but also the picture goes almost right up to the edge, making it virtually frameless! Summary It's clear that Sony has put a lot of thought into reinvigorating itself in order to justify the premium price it charges. Whilst HiRes audio is definitely a winner to our ears, we're not sure the Public will follow. There is no doubt though that Sony remains very strong with it's imaging products, and will hopefully soon be back at the top with it's TVs this year. We hope to have a closer look at all these products again closer to launch.
  16. Android wear has been about for a while, and we are now on second generation watches, but should you go out and buy one? We take a look at the Sony Smartwatch 3, Sony's first foray into Android wear. At IFA 2014 it was slated as being boring, but can it give those fancy round watches a run for their money? And more importantly, is it worth upgrading from Sony's previous watch, the SW2 which is still availalble, for a lot less moneyWell I thought it time to give Android Wear a go. Coming from a Sony Smartwatch owner I was a little frustrated with Sony’s support for ‘non-standard’ android apps such as BBM and needed a solution for this, instead of installing 3rd party apps to solve the problem. Having spent a while pondering over the options available out there, the obvious choice was the amazing looking Motorola 360, but concerns around battery life not lasting 24 hours, and of course that segment at the bottom of the screen where the light sensor gizmos is located put me off. The LG G-Watch R is just far too big for my wrists, so I looked to Sony’s new offering. I wanted to hold out for the metal edition, which has been mentioned on numerous websites, but no real images have been released, so I snapped up a bargain on a nearly new black version. When Sony announced their SW3 at IFA 2014 it was slated by most for being ‘boring’ and underwhelming, but real-world reviews are proving to be favourable. Yes the SW3 has been reviewed to death by people who are paid to write reviews, so what about a review from a real end user? I’m going to skip the technical details and give real world information. As previously mentioned I’ve been a SW2 user – Sony’s previous smartwatch that used a heavily customised version of Android, and required additional apps to be installed to enable functionality such as viewing SMS, Calendar Appointments, Controlling Music or even taking photos using your watch screen as a viewfinder. I could easily get 3-4 days out of the old watch so the expectation was high for this watch. ON THE WRIST On the wrist, the watch doesn’t feel bigger than the old watch, but it is marginally larger mainly due to the strap that the watch sits in. Yes that’s right you can pop the watch out of the strap and fit a different coloured strap, the choice of colours is limited at the moment and it’s disappointing that you can’t fit a metal strap at the moment. The standard strap is a dust and fluff magnet, but if starts looking bad, then just run it under the tap as it’s all waterproof. I hated the plastic strap on the SW2 as it got very sweaty, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with the SW3, and it has a very nice looking metal clasp, which doesn’t feel too sturdy, but in the three weeks I’ve had the watch I’ve only accidentally knocked it open once. CHARGING Sony have not opted for wireless charging in their watch, but instead have carried over the micro usb charging from the SW2, this works well for me as I can charge the watch whenever I like without needing a specialist charger or an Qi charging plate. My opinion may change if I start owing Qi devices, but at the moment they are absent from my home. BATTERY LIFE While we are talking about charging, I should mention the all important battery life. With most manufacturers getting excited about getting one days use from their watch (Apple included), Sony have managed to achieve two days battery life. I have made no tweaks to my watch, it’s all at standard settings and I can take the watch off charge at 6:30am on day 1 and it’s usually on about 3% by 10pm on day 2. Day 1 usually ends at about 55%, but today on day 1, it sits at 64% and it’s 8pm. When the watch gets below 10% you are nagged to charge, and at 5% the screen is shut off in standby mode to eek out that bit more battery life SCREEN The screen is a giant step up from the SW2, and I’m not a screen snob, but it does the job perfectly well for me and I have no need for a 1080p or 4k screen on my wrist (or whatever the newest fad is) A neat feature of the Sony watch (and this may be on other watches) is that the screen lights up when you lift your wrist to see the watch face, this can be a bit hit and miss, but it generally works well, although it does have a habit of lighting up when I move my hand from my gearstick to the indicator in my car! If you want to dim the screen, just placing your hand over the screen dims the screen, which is quite a neat trick, and easier then pushing the bezel/button on the side of the watch. Tap the screen and the watch is awake again. You can also change the watch face, Sony ship a few faces with the watch, and there are some amazing 3rd party watch faces out there, but as Google have not yet released an API for watch faces, some of these can cause battery drain, I’ll live with the standard faces until then. ANDROID WEAR The concept behind Android Wear (if you didn’t know) is to push the notification cards from your phone to your watch. When I read the initial reviews that tried to explain the concept, I just didn’t get it, but having used it, suddenly it all makes sense. That’s not to say there isn’t niggles with the concept, but I’ll cover these later. When a notification arrives on your phone, it is then pushed to the watch, seconds later. Every time you receive a notification, the screen will light up and you will be shown a preview of your notification, you can then scroll through this notification and view the whole e-mail, if you fail to view the message after 5 seconds the screen will dim and the top edge of the most recent notification will be displayed, you can then simply tap the screen to wake it, and then drag up the notification to view it or swipe down to hide it. Once done, swiping the notification to the left removes it from the watch and from your notifications drawer on your phone. Amazingly most apps seem to work on the watch without any 3rd party software, such examples are:- Phonecalls E-Mail Text Messages BBM Calendar Reminders Copy upload notifications Bejewelled Blitz Facebook Twitter Linkedin Sonos Google maps Google Fit Google Music I’m not a big app user so have yet to test further The Sonos functionality is interesting, without any support from Sonos (who seem somewhat shy to support new technologies at the moment), you get a card on your watch that allows you to pause the music (complete with album art) , and a swipe to the right allows you to skip tracks and set the volume – pretty cool! Google maps pushes text directions to your watch screen, so you can keep your phone in your pocket and navigate via the watch, but when I tried it in the rain in central London trying to find a client site with slightly un-reliable GPS, it was easier to use the phone screen to see the road ahead. I’ve yet to try out other apps on the watch, but I understand the Google Camera app works well with Android Wear. My one niggle is that if you have multiple notifications of the same type, such as e-mail, you cannot drill down into an individual e-mail, you have to pick up you phone and look there. GOOGLE NOW Google Now is how you are meant to get stuff done on you watch, my first few attempts to get anything done failed, but then it suddenly seemed to get what I wanted to get done. When the screen is ‘awake’ which means lit-up, the watch will respond to the OK Google command Yes you do feel a bit of a tit idiot saying to your watch ‘OK Google, set a timer for 10 minutes’, but when I’m at home (and my cooker timer is currently broken) it’s actually really useful. And you can do simple maths too! http://s15.postimg.org/mmkb602tn/DSC_1084.jpg%20http://s8.postimg.org/hbhzwe8vp/DSC_1085.jpg A session of trying to insult my iPhone toting friend resulted in some very strange text messages being sent, sometimes having to confirm which phone number to send to. I can see the possible uses when you are in a pinch, but for every day use I’m not sure, and you won’t see me using it in public OTHER STUFF The Sony watch also packs 4gb of internal memory for uploading music to, which can then be used via Bluetooth headphones paired to the watch, I’ve yet to find my Bluetooth headphones to test this (I’ve got a set of Earins coming from Kickstarter in 2015). I’ve also seen that music transfer can be a bit fiddly and requires the phone to have something like 70% battery There is also GPS built into the watch, which is another feature to test when I actually start running again, otherwise I’m not 100% sure where else I would use it. App support for GPS is somewhat limited at the moment. NFC is also included but there is no real support for this in Android wear. According to the spec sheet, there is also WiFi included, this is not activated yet as Android Wear does not support it, but it’s good to have it there for future functionality. WRAP UP Well I’ve rambled on for 1400 words so time for a wrap up, so first lets give the good and the bad points THE GOOD Standard charger Comfortable design Two day battery life Great app support as standard Waterproof Wifi for future functionality TBA THE BAD No-standard straps Price - £180 is a lot for a watch that could be outdated soon No wireless charging – I suspect this will be an issue for some To sum up, I don’t regret splashing the cash on the SW3, it fills the feature gaps that the last edition, the SW2, had, and I’m excited for what Google have planned for Android Wear, and I really hope that a metal strap will be released in 2015 for it. Do I regret not going for a round watch? Well no, not really, if you look at the screenshots of the round watch faces, yes they look good as a watch, but for getting the job they were designed to do done, you seem to lose a lot of text from the google now cards, it seems to me to work better on a square screen! Click here to view the news
  17. Sony SmartWatch 3 Review

    Well I thought it time to give Android Wear a go. Coming from a Sony Smartwatch owner I was a little frustrated with Sony’s support for ‘non-standard’ android apps such as BBM and needed a solution for this, instead of installing 3rd party apps to solve the problem. Having spent a while pondering over the options available out there, the obvious choice was the amazing looking Motorola 360, but concerns around battery life not lasting 24 hours, and of course that segment at the bottom of the screen where the light sensor gizmos is located put me off. The LG G-Watch R is just far too big for my wrists, so I looked to Sony’s new offering. I wanted to hold out for the metal edition, which has been mentioned on numerous websites, but no real images have been released, so I snapped up a bargain on a nearly new black version. When Sony announced their SW3 at IFA 2014 it was slated by most for being ‘boring’ and underwhelming, but real-world reviews are proving to be favourable. Yes the SW3 has been reviewed to death by people who are paid to write reviews, so what about a review from a real end user? I’m going to skip the technical details and give real world information. As previously mentioned I’ve been a SW2 user – Sony’s previous smartwatch that used a heavily customised version of Android, and required additional apps to be installed to enable functionality such as viewing SMS, Calendar Appointments, Controlling Music or even taking photos using your watch screen as a viewfinder. I could easily get 3-4 days out of the old watch so the expectation was high for this watch. ON THE WRIST On the wrist, the watch doesn’t feel bigger than the old watch, but it is marginally larger mainly due to the strap that the watch sits in. Yes that’s right you can pop the watch out of the strap and fit a different coloured strap, the choice of colours is limited at the moment and it’s disappointing that you can’t fit a metal strap at the moment. The standard strap is a dust and fluff magnet, but if starts looking bad, then just run it under the tap as it’s all waterproof. I hated the plastic strap on the SW2 as it got very sweaty, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with the SW3, and it has a very nice looking metal clasp, which doesn’t feel too sturdy, but in the three weeks I’ve had the watch I’ve only accidentally knocked it open once. CHARGING Sony have not opted for wireless charging in their watch, but instead have carried over the micro usb charging from the SW2, this works well for me as I can charge the watch whenever I like without needing a specialist charger or an Qi charging plate. My opinion may change if I start owing Qi devices, but at the moment they are absent from my home. BATTERY LIFE While we are talking about charging, I should mention the all important battery life. With most manufacturers getting excited about getting one days use from their watch (Apple included), Sony have managed to achieve two days battery life. I have made no tweaks to my watch, it’s all at standard settings and I can take the watch off charge at 6:30am on day 1 and it’s usually on about 3% by 10pm on day 2. Day 1 usually ends at about 55%, but today on day 1, it sits at 64% and it’s 8pm. When the watch gets below 10% you are nagged to charge, and at 5% the screen is shut off in standby mode to eek out that bit more battery life SCREEN The screen is a giant step up from the SW2, and I’m not a screen snob, but it does the job perfectly well for me and I have no need for a 1080p or 4k screen on my wrist (or whatever the newest fad is) A neat feature of the Sony watch (and this may be on other watches) is that the screen lights up when you lift your wrist to see the watch face, this can be a bit hit and miss, but it generally works well, although it does have a habit of lighting up when I move my hand from my gearstick to the indicator in my car! If you want to dim the screen, just placing your hand over the screen dims the screen, which is quite a neat trick, and easier then pushing the bezel/button on the side of the watch. Tap the screen and the watch is awake again. You can also change the watch face, Sony ship a few faces with the watch, and there are some amazing 3rd party watch faces out there, but as Google have not yet released an API for watch faces, some of these can cause battery drain, I’ll live with the standard faces until then. ANDROID WEAR The concept behind Android Wear (if you didn’t know) is to push the notification cards from your phone to your watch. When I read the initial reviews that tried to explain the concept, I just didn’t get it, but having used it, suddenly it all makes sense. That’s not to say there isn’t niggles with the concept, but I’ll cover these later. When a notification arrives on your phone, it is then pushed to the watch, seconds later. Every time you receive a notification, the screen will light up and you will be shown a preview of your notification, you can then scroll through this notification and view the whole e-mail, if you fail to view the message after 5 seconds the screen will dim and the top edge of the most recent notification will be displayed, you can then simply tap the screen to wake it, and then drag up the notification to view it or swipe down to hide it. Once done, swiping the notification to the left removes it from the watch and from your notifications drawer on your phone. Amazingly most apps seem to work on the watch without any 3rd party software, such examples are:- Phonecalls E-Mail Text Messages BBM Calendar Reminders Copy upload notifications Bejewelled Blitz Facebook Twitter Linkedin Sonos Google maps Google Fit Google Music I’m not a big app user so have yet to test further The Sonos functionality is interesting, without any support from Sonos (who seem somewhat shy to support new technologies at the moment), you get a card on your watch that allows you to pause the music (complete with album art) , and a swipe to the right allows you to skip tracks and set the volume – pretty cool! Google maps pushes text directions to your watch screen, so you can keep your phone in your pocket and navigate via the watch, but when I tried it in the rain in central London trying to find a client site with slightly un-reliable GPS, it was easier to use the phone screen to see the road ahead. I’ve yet to try out other apps on the watch, but I understand the Google Camera app works well with Android Wear. My one niggle is that if you have multiple notifications of the same type, such as e-mail, you cannot drill down into an individual e-mail, you have to pick up you phone and look there. GOOGLE NOW Google Now is how you are meant to get stuff done on you watch, my first few attempts to get anything done failed, but then it suddenly seemed to get what I wanted to get done. When the screen is ‘awake’ which means lit-up, the watch will respond to the OK Google command Yes you do feel a bit of a tit idiot saying to your watch ‘OK Google, set a timer for 10 minutes’, but when I’m at home (and my cooker timer is currently broken) it’s actually really useful. And you can do simple maths too! A session of trying to insult my iPhone toting friend resulted in some very strange text messages being sent, sometimes having to confirm which phone number to send to. I can see the possible uses when you are in a pinch, but for every day use I’m not sure, and you won’t see me using it in public OTHER STUFF The Sony watch also packs 4gb of internal memory for uploading music to, which can then be used via Bluetooth headphones paired to the watch, I’ve yet to find my Bluetooth headphones to test this (I’ve got a set of Earins coming from Kickstarter in 2015). I’ve also seen that music transfer can be a bit fiddly and requires the phone to have something like 70% battery There is also GPS built into the watch, which is another feature to test when I actually start running again, otherwise I’m not 100% sure where else I would use it. App support for GPS is somewhat limited at the moment. NFC is also included but there is no real support for this in Android wear. According to the spec sheet, there is also WiFi included, this is not activated yet as Android Wear does not support it, but it’s good to have it there for future functionality. WRAP UP Well I’ve rambled on for 1400 words so time for a wrap up, so first lets give the good and the bad points THE GOOD Standard charger Comfortable design Two day battery life Great app support as standard Waterproof Wifi for future functionality TBA THE BAD No-standard straps Price - £180 is a lot for a watch that could be outdated soon No wireless charging – I suspect this will be an issue for some To sum up, I don’t regret splashing the cash on the SW3, it fills the feature gaps that the last edition, the SW2, had, and I’m excited for what Google have planned for Android Wear, and I really hope that a metal strap will be released in 2015 for it. Do I regret not going for a round watch? Well no, not really, if you look at the screenshots of the round watch faces, yes they look good as a watch, but for getting the job they were designed to do done, you seem to lose a lot of text from the google now cards, it seems to me to work better on a square screen!
  18. We all know Sony is a giant in consumer electronics, offering everything you can think of (apart from laptops and e-book readers), but Sony really put it all out there at their IFA launch event. There's so much stuff out there that the mind hurts. I'll try to make the best of it. Z3 Mobile The Z2 came out at MWC in February, and the Z3 is an incremental upgrade upon that. The display is the same 5.2" 1080p one, no 4k screen here. The processor is upgraded slightly to a Snapdragon 801, and the battery is actually slightly smaller at 3100mAh. Sony do claim though, with the improved processing, memory and power saving modes, that you should be able to get 2 days usage out of it. Build wise, it continues it's waterproofing line, but there are subtle improvements in the design of the phone, with softer edges, making it easier to hold, and it's only 152g. It'll come in white, black, copper and green. It also has a 20mp rear camera which Sony claims to provide outstanding low light results. Z3 Compact Mobile This is no budget option. Sony continue to lead the 'compact' market when compared to other Android manufacturers. It has the same processor and camera sensor as it's big brother, and a still impressive 2700 mAh battery, which is fine as it as a smaller 4.7" 720p screen which needs less energy. The design language is slightly different, in that it uses colourful plastics around the edges instead of metal and comes in black, white, red and green. Like with the full size version, it has 16GB built in memory, but it can only take up to 64GB memory cards, and not 128GB which it's big brother can. Z3 Tablet Compact Sony's been making desireble 10" tablets, but it's shrunk it to a 8" version which borrows many of the same components as the mobile. It as the same processor and 3GB memory. It also looks very similar and again has a 1080p display, which I admit is starting to look dated on a tablet. Battery life is claimed to be 13 hours. Hi-Res Audio Apologies to Sony for cramming so much stuff in here, but they've made a big play to say that people should be ditching MP3's and listen to higher definition lossless audio formats. One could describe it as a cynical attempt to push consumers into upgrading all their gear, but I've been listening to lossless audio for a long time now, and you start to forget that most consumers listen to mediocre bit rate MP3's. The difference in sound quality is remarkable, and I do wonder why consumers are always keen to upgrade to higher definition video, but not audio. I guess Sony has been wondering the same. Sony talked about how it's mobiles can upscale MP3's using its DSEE HX processing, but as with video, upscaling isn't as good as with listening to original hi res audio. With that in mind, Sony released a range of new products. There was the NWZ-A15 HRA (£170 from October) portable audio player (can't call it an MP3 player!) which reminds me of a version of the iPod Nano. It does feel odd that there's no touch screen, and you have to navigate with buttons, but it does offer 50 hours battery life, expandable memory (16GB built in) and play both FLAC and ALAC lossless formats. There's also the PHA-3AC digital amplifier (£725 from October), which is basically a fancy Digital Analogue Convertor, which upgrades the audio produced by your computer into a more HiFi sound. It is a lot of money to splash out though, and there are cheaper competitors out there which I'm sure most people would opt for. Naturally, listening to all this Hi Res Audio, means you'll need new headphones. Sony have three on offer. The MDR-1A (£170 from October), MDR-1ADAC which is similar but with built in DAC (£250), and the range topping MDR-Z7 which has had a lot of attention lavished on it (£550!). I'll be honest and say that's a lot of cash, and unfortunately a show wasn't the best place to listen to these and see any noticeable benefits, but we'd love to hear these in a proper test environment. It's also worth mentioning that Sony showed some very attractive hifi and home cinema amplifers and speakers which also focussed on higher resolution audio, although details were a bit sparse, as were opportunities to test them. Lenses You may remember that we did a full review of the QX10 lens last year. Sony have developed the concept further. Firstly, there's the QX30 (£250 from October) which is an upgraded version of the QX10, with an improved 20 mp sensor taken from the HX50 compact, paired with a 24-720mm lens. Then there's a new device! The ILCE-QX1 means that you can take the attachable lens to a new level by adding on Sony's E-mount lenses (used on the previously named NEX range). While this is quite mind blowing, with it's excellent sensor, you soon hit upon a snag. What is it for? You can't seriously add this to a phone and hold it, as it becomes seriously lop sided in weight, so it costs £250 for a mount. You could buy a budget mirrorless camera for that money. I did question Sony about this, and they could only suggest that you could use it in more novel ways as a remote/detachable camera. I must admit I'm slightly sceptical about this! Televison Sony has a fine reputation in television, with generations of well branded technology. Their latest innovation is a pseudo-surround sound curved LED 4K screen. The KD-S9000 has speaker on the bottom and side of the frame which bounce sound off the walls in your living room to make a surround effect. I don't think this is great though, as it can't be altered to the size and shape of your room, and so it has a questionable benefit. The SWF-BR100 wireless subwoofer on the other hand was a useful addition which did add bass to the audio from Sony's 2014 range of televisions. Smartwear We'd previously covered the Smartband back in February, but Sony have upgraded it to the Smartband talk which now incorporates an e-ink display and also a voice element, so you can use it to make calls with (when linked to a phone) and also do Google Now type questions, and get audio answers. It also now comes in a new range of colours and straps. Finally, Sony also revealed it's own Androidwear smartwatch, the Smartwatch 3. Details were a bit loose on this, but we expect it to be released for about £200 for this 1.6" screen, 420mAh powered (usb chargeable) device. Sadly it's not a looker. As you can see, there was a lot to get through! If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them, or get further answers from Sony! Once again, my apologies for having to skim through it all. Click here to view the news
  19. . Z3 Mobile The Z2 came out at MWC in February, and the Z3 is an incremental upgrade upon that. The display is the same 5.2" 1080p one, no 4k screen here. The processor is upgraded slightly to a Snapdragon 801, and the battery is actually slightly smaller at 3100mAh. Sony do claim though, with the improved processing, memory and power saving modes, that you should be able to get 2 days usage out of it. Build wise, it continues it's waterproofing line, but there are subtle improvements in the design of the phone, with softer edges, making it easier to hold, and it's only 152g. It'll come in white, black, copper and green. It also has a 20mp rear camera which Sony claims to provide outstanding low light results. Z3 Compact Mobile This is no budget option. Sony continue to lead the 'compact' market when compared to other Android manufacturers. It has the same processor and camera sensor as it's big brother, and a still impressive 2700 mAh battery, which is fine as it as a smaller 4.7" 720p screen which needs less energy. The design language is slightly different, in that it uses colourful plastics around the edges instead of metal and comes in black, white, red and green. Like with the full size version, it has 16GB built in memory, but it can only take up to 64GB memory cards, and not 128GB which it's big brother can. Z3 Tablet Compact Sony's been making desireble 10" tablets, but it's shrunk it to a 8" version which borrows many of the same components as the mobile. It as the same processor and 3GB memory. It also looks very similar and again has a 1080p display, which I admit is starting to look dated on a tablet. Battery life is claimed to be 13 hours. Hi-Res Audio Apologies to Sony for cramming so much stuff in here, but they've made a big play to say that people should be ditching MP3's and listen to higher definition lossless audio formats. One could describe it as a cynical attempt to push consumers into upgrading all their gear, but I've been listening to lossless audio for a long time now, and you start to forget that most consumers listen to mediocre bit rate MP3's. The difference in sound quality is remarkable, and I do wonder why consumers are always keen to upgrade to higher definition video, but not audio. I guess Sony has been wondering the same. Sony talked about how it's mobiles can upscale MP3's using its DSEE HX processing, but as with video, upscaling isn't as good as with listening to original hi res audio. With that in mind, Sony released a range of new products. There was the NWZ-A15 HRA (£170 from October) portable audio player (can't call it an MP3 player!) which reminds me of a version of the iPod Nano. It does feel odd that there's no touch screen, and you have to navigate with buttons, but it does offer 50 hours battery life, expandable memory (16GB built in) and play both FLAC and ALAC lossless formats. There's also the PHA-3AC digital amplifier (£725 from October), which is basically a fancy Digital Analogue Convertor, which upgrades the audio produced by your computer into a more HiFi sound. It is a lot of money to splash out though, and there are cheaper competitors out there which I'm sure most people would opt for. Naturally, listening to all this Hi Res Audio, means you'll need new headphones. Sony have three on offer. The MDR-1A (£170 from October), MDR-1ADAC which is similar but with built in DAC (£250), and the range topping MDR-Z7 which has had a lot of attention lavished on it (£550!). I'll be honest and say that's a lot of cash, and unfortunately a show wasn't the best place to listen to these and see any noticeable benefits, but we'd love to hear these in a proper test environment. It's also worth mentioning that Sony showed some very attractive hifi and home cinema amplifers and speakers which also focussed on higher resolution audio, although details were a bit sparse, as were opportunities to test them. Lenses You may remember that we did a full review of the QX10 lens last year. Sony have developed the concept further. Firstly, there's the QX30 (£250 from October) which is an upgraded version of the QX10, with an improved 20 mp sensor taken from the HX50 compact, paired with a 24-720mm lens. Then there's a new device! The ILCE-QX1 means that you can take the attachable lens to a new level by adding on Sony's E-mount lenses (used on the previously named NEX range). While this is quite mind blowing, with it's excellent sensor, you soon hit upon a snag. What is it for? You can't seriously add this to a phone and hold it, as it becomes seriously lop sided in weight, so it costs £250 for a mount. You could buy a budget mirrorless camera for that money. I did question Sony about this, and they could only suggest that you could use it in more novel ways as a remote/detachable camera. I must admit I'm slightly sceptical about this! Televison Sony has a fine reputation in television, with generations of well branded technology. Their latest innovation is a pseudo-surround sound curved LED 4K screen. The KD-S9000 has speaker on the bottom and side of the frame which bounce sound off the walls in your living room to make a surround effect. I don't think this is great though, as it can't be altered to the size and shape of your room, and so it has a questionable benefit. The SWF-BR100 wireless subwoofer on the other hand was a useful addition which did add bass to the audio from Sony's 2014 range of televisions. Smartwear We'd previously covered the Smartband back in February, but Sony have upgraded it to the Smartband talk which now incorporates an e-ink display and also a voice element, so you can use it to make calls with (when linked to a phone) and also do Google Now type questions, and get audio answers. It also now comes in a new range of colours and straps. Finally, Sony also revealed it's own Androidwear smartwatch, the Smartwatch 3. Details were a bit loose on this, but we expect it to be released for about £200 for this 1.6" screen, 420mAh powered (usb chargeable) device. Sadly it's not a looker. As you can see, there was a lot to get through! If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them, or get further answers from Sony! Once again, my apologies for having to skim through it all.
  20. I have to take my hat off to Sony for this idea. They've thought about creating a new UI for new Android users who need to learn how to use all the basic functions we all take for granted. The idea is to gamify the process by creating tasks for users to complete before they unlock another feature to make their phone more useful. Hopefully the new user would then learn how to use the new features and become proficient, unless they're my parents.....
  21. There's been lots written about Sony's SmartBand, but little about how it actually all works and what it means. We spent some time with Sony's team looking at the SmartBand and how it works with their LifeLog to see how it all works, and why people would actually want to use it. I must admit, that like many, I've been sceptical about the new range of lifestyle wearables coming out, but I can see how some people may actually enjoy using this. Hopefully we can get to spend more time with a SmartBand and Sony Xperia Z2 some time in the near future to give a deeper account. Click here to view the news
  22. . I must admit, that like many, I've been sceptical about the new range of lifestyle wearables coming out, but I can see how some people may actually enjoy using this. Hopefully we can get to spend more time with a SmartBand and Sony Xperia Z2 some time in the near future to give a deeper account.
  23. News: Sony Gets Smaller

    Sony is one of those companies that seems to do everything. You name, they make it. Given that Sony's struggled to make profits over the past few years, it's going through a major reduction in what it does.First of all, Sony plans to sell of it's Vaio PC business to an investment fund. Don't worry, your warranties will still be valid. Secondly, Sony's also stopping it's Reader Division which has also been less than spectacularly successful. Thankfully, people's accounts will be transferred to Kobo, and selected future Xperia handsets will come with Kobo preinstalled. It's not all doom and gloom for Sony fans though. The company will be looking to focus more on it's TV business, by driving efficiencies on concentrating on 4K sets where the company believes it's got an advantage. Click here to view the news
  24. Sony Gets Smaller

    First of all, Sony plans to sell of it's Vaio PC business to an investment fund. Don't worry, your warranties will still be valid. Secondly, Sony's also stopping it's Reader Division which has also been less than spectacularly successful. Thankfully, people's accounts will be transferred to Kobo, and selected future Xperia handsets will come with Kobo preinstalled. It's not all doom and gloom for Sony fans though. The company will be looking to focus more on it's TV business, by driving efficiencies on concentrating on 4K sets where the company believes it's got an advantage.