Sony VS Samsung…the TV war.


After having seen the best TV’s that #Sony and #Samsung have to offer, it’s hard to think why anyone can bear to look at a Samsung.  The summary below tells us why;

1)  The banding or ‘halo’ effect on colour gradiations is horrendous, entry level #Bravia sets outperform Samsungs best.

2)  The #Triluminos display on Sony’s high end is nothing short of incredible – compare the two and the Samsung cannot touch the Sony.

3)  The details that #XRealityPRO bring out are unrivaled.  Nothing Samsung can do can touch the Sony. 

4)  The Sonys look ultra classy – they’re miles ahead both aesthetically and performance wise.

Sony VS Samsung?  Sony needn’t even break a sweat. 

Stick with the Japanese innovation.

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Sony's 4K X9 BRAVIA.

Sony Mobile announces 6.9mm Xperia Tablet Z in Japan.


Sony has announced the Xperia Tablet Z in a somewhat low key affair in Japan.  Until now, Sony has not been taken as a serious contender in the tablet market, however – with the announcement of the Tablet Z, its difficult to not recognise recent efforts from the Japanese electronics maker.

Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z has struck a second blow to the fortress built by Apple and Samsung, the first being the excellent Xperia Z Smartphone, as announced at CES 2013 earlier this month.  The new slate from Sony measures an ultra svelte 6.9mm-thin, and is shielded from the elements by its waterproof trait.  In comparison, the latest iPad mini clocks in at 7.2mm.  Sony have not held back, as they’ve really gone to town on the innards of the Z, with a Quad-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon SoC, 32GB Internal memory with microSD expansion, LTE 4G, NFC, a display of 1920×1200 resolution which is running Sony’s Mobile BRAVIA Engine. 

The Xperia Tablet Z will launch on Android 4.1, and will see Sony’s latest foray into the tablet market, further push the Sony Entertainment Network as the way to access your Music and Film, via Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services.

Availability and pricing have not been announced,  however we can expect the new Sony gadget to launch in the near future.

The recent announcement of Xperia Z, and now Xperia Tablet Z, shows that Sony means business, and has arrived with its sleeves not rolled up, but torn to shreds, as it looks to take a Hulk like swing at the mobile market.

http://www.sonymobile.co.jp/company/press/20130121_xperia_tablet_z.html (In Japanese).

Something a little different…


As you’re aware, this blog focuses on technology, gadgetry and today’s multi-faceted, multi-platform world.

Today’s post though, looks not at technology, gadgets or even organisations.  This evening, your attention is bought to Germany, Dachau in particular, where over seventy years ago a concrete hell was established.

Dachau, the very name strikes every sombre note available.  A short bus ride from the Dachau S-Bahn train station concludes with a narrow drive through a twisting road, seemingly too tight for the Bendy Bus.  Upon alighting, you are greeted by an engraved sign, which signals that you have arrived.

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The freezing air quickly becomes an ally to the dark past held beyond the black gates.  Walking on past the cold slab of metal, the winter leaves crunch under your footsteps, and the silent whispers of other visitors is all that separates you from a deathly silence.  The journey continues to the main gate, which is what the prisoners would have seen upon arrival at Dachau.  ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, translating to ‘labour makes (you) free’, stands out against the solid black of the gates.

One must wonder, how many poor souls walked, lifeless, through these gates.  Just knowing that for many, this would be their final stop, the last journey they would make.  Upon passing through the gate, the vast roll-call area is covered by a blanket of grit and sand, loose gravel jumps to life as you walk across to the main office area, now an area which exhibits the terrifying acts carried out by the camp SS Men.

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Stepping into the building immediately transports you back to 1933, the cold grey walls, unpainted, with little to signify any reprieve for the prisoners.  The cold seeps through the walls, and takes the room down to a sub-zero temperature, while the exhibits loom, illuminated by weak lighting.  Walking through the building shows a moderated account of the conditions of the camp during its tenure, and the torture endured by the prisoners – the journey through the building is a cold, dark one.  You reach the communal shower rooms, where inmates were bathed – the remains of the plumbing, running through the room.  Echoes bounce off the concrete walls, now rendered and painted white, presumably to lock away a dark past.

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Shortly after this, the exit looms, and the eerie openness of the roll-call court appears once again, like a desert, it seems to stretch on beyond the horizon.  A slow walk across to the bunkers showcases the ‘beds’ on which prisoners slept – hard, wooden structures – hardly a place to rest a tortured body.  All but two of the bunkers have been taken down, and the front two have been reconstructed, as they were in poor physical condition, numbered marker stones show where the other bunkers once stood.

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The walk past the bunkers is strange, a ghostly atmosphere haunts the area, and the trees continue to watch, just as they did all those years ago.

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Approaching the end of the walk, the only part left to see is the crematorium, and its preceding gas chamber.  The cold is now biting at you, as you feel the wind pass through you, entering the next building offering little respite from the icy temperatures.

Walking on, you enter the gas chamber – while it is disputed, that there were no mass killings in these chambers, the dingy, dark tiled room feels different to the rest of the camp.  An uneasy feeling, somewhat ghostly envelopes you, as you make your way through the chamber.  To think that it was designed  to hold 150 prisoners prior to gassing is horrifying.

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Exiting this building feels like a burden lifted off your shoulders – it is a space that was built with evil intentions, and those intentions followed their unforgiving creators to their ends.

Leaving the camp memorial, one can only wonder that over 75 years ago, buses and trains bought people here against their will, for many, their last journey.  Today, we visit, using both buses and trains at our own free will.

For anybody visiting Munich, a visit to Dachau is unmissable, if only to understand further the limits, or not so, of the human mind.

Japanese Stalwarts see ratings cut to Junk status.


Japanese firms Sony and Panasonic have had their credit ratings cut to Junk status for the first time. 

Both firms have seen demand for their products fall while their core TV businesses dwindle – the Japanese have suffered at the hands of both Apple and Samsung, as demand for Apple’s iPhone, and Samsung’s ever growing Galaxy range rises.

The cut in ratings means that for both firms, borrowing will now cost far more than before, and that their debt was no longer considered safe and investment-grade. Fitch said on Sony’s cut, “meaningful recovery will be slow, given the company’s loss of technology leadership in key products, high competition, weak economic conditions in developed markets and the strong yen”.

Fellow Electronics maker, Sharp also suffered a similar cut earlier this month at the hands of both Fitch and Standard and Poor’s, as it too was relegated to Junk status.

So where did it go so wrong? The BBC’s James McQuivey looks at this in more detail;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20449083

The Saga continues, and McQuivey has highlighted Sony’s transition to Digital as a falling point, just as detailed in a previous post;

https://xperieye.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/the-race-to-save-japan-corporation/

More on this scintillating story as it unfolds.

Sony nets a Hat-trick at What Hi-Fi Awards 2012.


Japan’s iconic electronics giant Sony has bounced back at this years awards, after last years lacklustre display (no pun intended), which saw local rival Panasonic, and Korea’s Samsung take the honours.  The firms KDL-40HX85BU was awarded TV of the year, while its larger 46′ and 55′ models secured the top spot in their respective size categories.

Since it’s poor showing last year, Sony has bounced back, and in some fashion too, with publications such as T3 praising Sony’s efforts (http://www.t3.com/reviews/sony-kdl-55hx853-review#review).  With it’s stunning angled design, and superb speaker bar, its no wonder the Sony trio saw a clean sweep.  

CEO Kazuo Hirai was determined to see a resurgence in the TV business, and this may just be what he needs.

 

 

 

Sony’s smartphone revival.


Today brings news of a renewed energy at Sony Mobile, as the manufacturer climbs above RIM (Makers of BlackBerry) and HTC – Sony have not held such a position since the days of its K Series phones.

According to research firm Canalys’s latest figures, Sony sold 8.8 Million handsets in the third quarter of 2012, compared to 6.2 Million in the same quarter last year4.4, a full 41.1% growth year-on-year, thus seeing Sony claim a 5.1% market share.  Sony’s more driven and well placed marketing campaigns, alongside the re-introduction of ‘Brand Bond’ in ‘Skyfall’, has made for some huge gains at the Japanese smartphone maker.  Sony also looked strong in their home market of Japan, as the Xperia GX and SX (both LTE devices) accounted for over 14% of all smartphones shipped.

 

While Apple and Samsung lead by quite a margin, Sony have seen steady growth.

 

HTC and RIM both saw drops in both sales and market share – somewhat expected after HTC’s rather rocky journey earlier this year (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19638862).  RIM, much akin to a falling superstar, have had their troubles well documented, with talks of sales (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/telecoms/9468187/IBM-considers-buying-RIMs-BlackBerry-server-unit.html), and heavy losses despite misleading surges in share prices (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/28/blackberry-rim-problems).

With Sony’s latest portfolio (which includes the superb Xperia P, and the former flagship Xperia S) led into battle by 007’s ‘Xperia T’ – has the change from ‘Sony Ericsson’ to ‘Sony’ been a good one?  Well, according to the general feeling amongst consumers, yes.  When it’s backed up by cold figures?

Most definitely.

The race to save ‘Japan Corporation’.


‘Unsinkable’.

Almost one hundred years ago, the Majestic RMS Titanic sank – with a great loss of life.

At around 11:40pm, on the fateful Sunday night of April, 1912, the great Ocean Liner struck an iceberg.  Initial thoughts were that all was well, after all, it was deemed ‘Unsinkable’, that “God Himself couldn’t sink this ship”.

However, little did anybody know, that little under three hours later – the Titanic would fall victim to the icy depths of the Atlantic.

In a technology focused blog – you may wonder ‘why the Titanic?’.

Well, as we speak – Japan’s electronics industry (this report focuses on Sony Corp) is running parallels to the Titanic tragedy.

In the same way that the Titanic was built to showcase Engineering at its finest, so was Japan’s electronics industry, and very much like the Titanic, Japan’s Sony Corporation is slowly fading away, as the lights flicker and the world watches.

‘Unbeatable’.

May, 1946 – in a bombed out Department store, the forerunner to Sony Corporation was born.  Akio Morita, an individual with a deep interest in Physics, and Masaru Ibuka, an electronics industrialist formed what was to become one of the most powerful companies in the world.

The Sony Corporation quickly became a name synonymous with quality, their innovations everywhere – from transistor radios to television sets.  Sony was the brand to beat, as they introduced technologies such as the ground breaking ‘Walkman’, with unrivalled sound quality, and the ‘Trinitron’ television, which delivered images 25% brighter than its nearest rival.  Sony’s myriad innovations and glorious history has every ingredient for success – so why then has it gone so wrong?

In a nutshell, it’s Sony’s hubris that has caused the sprawling giant to fall.  Once the King of the analogue era, the transition to the digital era saw rivals such as Samsung Electronics dethrone Sony as the Monarch of the Industry.  While others began to pile resources into LCD, Sony continued its production of non LCD devices, as the time grew closer for Sony to introduce digital music to the Industry, (it was theirs for the taking, they had the market in their hand, and the technology available), they stalled – their internal development teams developed two music players – both of which were unveiled simultaneously.  The VAIO Music Clip, and the Memory Stick Walkman, Sony’s attempt to build on their dominance in the portable music market were both overpriced, under-specified and gravely misunderstood, not only by the market – but oddly, Sony themselves.

Despite Sony’s string of Walkman’s post iPod, the battle to regain its throne as the leader in the field was being fought internally between various silos, and competitors were readying their onslaught of devices to launch a crusade against the Japanese conglomerate.  In 2001, Sony joined forces with Ericsson to reverse its fortunes in the Mobile arena, and for a while, things at the joint venture did look up.  Devices such as the W800i borrowed Sony’s Walkman brand, and the device did well – Sony Ericsson continued to borrow branding from its Japanese parent, with Cyber-shot being next, the first in line was the K800i – a superb imaging device, which also ushered in the ‘Bond’ marketing channel.

However, as the Mobile landscape changed, so did Sony Ericsson’s fortunes – dogged by quality issues, and a lack of innovation – the JV became a drain on both Sony, and Ericsson’s resources.  Sony Ericsson fell victim to Apple’s iPhone (although they weren’t alone here), were slow to respond and another iPod-esque failure to respond had unfolded in a rather grotesque fashion.  The move to use Google’s Android platform was a smart one – although this proved to be too little too late, as a confused marketing drive saw the stunning Xperia X10i (Launched on the outdated Android 1.6 Donut), being sold beside the lacklustre Vivaz (Running the clunky Symbian UI).  Further quality problems haunted Sony Ericsson, until 2011 – where their portfolio bought a great improvement in quality, and some great features such as ‘Exmor R’ (an advanced BSI Imaging sensor) and ‘Mobile Bravia Engine’ (Software trickery from Sony’s Bravia TV’s).

2011 also saw the introduction of a device that the market had demanded since the inception of Sony Ericsson – the Xperia PLAY, an amalgamation of a Sony PSP, and a Mobile phone.  This should have been the game-changer for Sony Ericsson (excuse the pun), but not even a somewhat stronger marketing campaign could save this poorly executed phone.  Sadly, it just wasn’t enough – the device was unpowered, and while competitors were launching multi-core devices, this gaming-centric device was launched with below-par specifications.

The over-clocked, re-hash of the rather successful Xperia arc (aka Xperia arc S) was to be the Swedish-Japanese firms last handset (Internationally), and on February 16, 2012, Sony acquired Ericsson’s share in the venture.  Born from the ashes (or rather re-born), was Sony Mobile Communications.

So what can be done to fix Sony’s deep cultural malaise?  While they have seen difficult times, it’s vital that they look at ramping up their marketing efforts in the form of a more substantial ATL campaign, which will grant heavier exposure.  While yes, the current ‘Skyfall’ campaigns are very much everywhere – what they do is showcase the product, not the experience.  Sony must look at focusing on the important core business needs, such as Mobile.  The split from Ericsson was beneficial, but may also present a pitfall, if Sony cannot implement their wizardry and electronic prowess in a high quality (note, Premium feeling) device.  The current portfolio must be looked at in detail, and cut down considerably; while iPod like mistakes must be avoided at all costs (another would surely be somewhat fatal).  By bringing together the technical knowledge of the VAIO team and Xperia device team, Sony could fashion another hit, however it will take more than just a great device – the marketing too, will need to hit the spot.  More than anything though, Sony will need to once again be the innovator, the leader and the brand always one step ahead, by doing so they will capture the hearts and minds of the new generation, the ones who know Sony only from their PlayStation, or the old VCR.

Given the company that Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka built is very much a thing of the past – it’s vital that Sony, through Kaz Hirai, now reinvigorates that ‘Sony Spirit’, and inspire a new generation of ‘Digital Dream Kids’.

However, if this much revered brand fails to strike the right notes over the coming months, the battle to save Sony may very well be lost.

Nonetheless, for the sake of unrivalled Innovation, ingenuity, and sheer brilliance, not only must Sony’s fight be won, but so must Japan’s.

(Note:  This report only explores a microscopic part of the race to save Japan’s electronic industry, and as such does not reflect any personal views).

The Bond Phone has arrived – Xperia T preview.


So, Sony has finally bestowed upon us the mighty Xperia T – its a beautifully crafted design, matched to Super-spy specs, from the stunning HD Display, to the 1080p capable, 13 MegaPixel Exmor R camera – the Xperia T from Sony truly is ‘The Utimate HD Smartphone’.

However, the Xperia T isn’t just all about the specifications, its design echoes the same arc inspired lines as the Xperia arc and arc S before it (While running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with a promised update to Jelly Bean) – while the UXP Overlay from Sony keeps everything looking clean and crisp.  Watching videos is quickly taken care of on the 720p 4.6” touchscreen with Mobile BRAVIA® Engine, while the 1.5GHz Dual-core Krait processor keeps things moving along smoothly (The Xperia T comes with 16GB memory onboard, plus a microSD slot for expansion) – lets not forget that the Xperia T is a PlayStation® Certified smartphone, meaning gaming on this device is a real premium experience.

From an audio perspective, Sony have it nailed – they have introduced the ‘WALKMAN’ app, which aims to deliver the highest quality sound in the business – coming from the creators of the original ‘Walkman’ – Xperia T may just have what it takes.  The Xperia T features xLoud, a proprietary Sony Audio loudness enhancer, which can boost loudspeaker performance, without distortion, and to top it all off, Xperia T is HD Voice certified.  This means that you can talk normally and be heard clearly, without having to raise your voice, even in noisy environments – and this s something that truly has to be heard!

Other features such as NFC make their way into everyday usage through Sony’s ‘One-Touch’ sharing technology – an excellent way to share not only content, but also a superb way to link your wireless devices effortlessly.

Sony are also currently offering the Xperia range with the added benefit of a 60 Day FREE Trial of Music Unlimited – Sony’s answer to iTunes, and Spotify.  Its a superb service, with an excellent catalog of music (expected, considering Sony have their own record label in Sony Music).

So, have Sony finally introduced a device capable of running with the big competitors, or is this simply a case of Mission Failed?

Well, its only fair to say that considering independent benchmarking tests have seen the Xperia T outrun its closest rivals*, this is mission,  is very much a success.

Sources;

*Business forum, 2011.  Xperia T Gets benchmarked, proves its a worthy flagship. [online] Available at: <http://blog.gsmarena.com/sony-xperia-t-gets-benchmarked-proves-its-a-worthy-flagship/> [Accessed 17 October 2012].

Sony sends in Bond and Xperia to interrupt your ‘X Factor’ viewing.


In a move to quickly spread the word about its new Xperia T Smartphone, Sony is launching a new 007 inspired commercial, which sees the main protagonist (clearly meant to be Bond) on a mission, driving a speedboat, car and climbing over buildings – all to get to his new Sony Xperia T Smartphone.

The commercial features 007’s famed Aston Martin Vantage V12 and a Frauscher speedboat.

See the new commercial at;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywUrekw_sHQ

‘Skyfall’ will launch on 26 October, 2012.

Sony Xperia handsets outselling BlackBerry and Nokia in Europe


The good news hits for the Japanese powerhouse, as they make up for lost time by rapidly catching up RIM and former leader Nokia.

From Kantar Worldpanel;

‘After joining the European smartphone market late Sony is making up for lost time with its Xperia series, outselling both BlackBerry and Nokia as a result of strong performances in Spain, Germany and France.’

This is due in no small part to the excellent feature set, build quality and brand power that Sony heralds, along with the superb reliability.  Since the split from Ericsson, Sony has seen the release of handsets such as Xperia S, P and U from the Xperia NXT series, and the recently introduced Xperia T, as used by Daniel Craig in 007’s latest Silver screen adventure, Skyfall – set for release in November 2012.

So, has Sony finally rid itself of the hubris and insularity which left it reeling, haemorrhaging money from all angles?

The answer, is yet to reveal itself, however – this may just be the beginning of a revival at the sprawling Japanese conglomerate…

Perhaps the ‘pure’ Sony devices (minus the liquid identity) we’ll be bound to see at MWC and CES next year will be the rebirth of Sony.