Posts tagged Sony

Sony NEX-5N Review

This is an in-depth review of the Sony NEX-5N mirrorless camera that came out on August 24, 2011 along with the Sony NEX-7 flagship mirrorless camera and three E-mount lenses. I had a chance to test the Sony NEX-5N, along with its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens while reviewing the Nikon 1 camera system. My initial intent was to only use this camera for lab tests, to see how it would fare against the new Nikon mirrorless cameras. But after just a day of pleasant shooting with the NEX-5N, I realized that I wanted to take it for a real spin and do a full review instead. In this Sony NEX-5N review, I will talk about my experience with the camera and provide some feedback on its features and capabilities, along with comparisons to Nikon 1 V1 and Olympus E-PL3 cameras.

Sony NEX-5N

The NEX-5N is Sony’s fourth mirrorless camera, which replaced the Sony NEX-5 that was released back in 2010. While the added letter “N” might make it sound like a slight update, the similarities between the cameras are only in external appearance – the guts of the camera, as well as some of the functionality went through major changes. From a higher resolution superb 16.1 MP sensor, to touchscreen LCD and fast 10 frames per second shooting rate, the Sony NEX-5N is a whole different animal.

1) Sony NEX-5N Specifications

Main Features:

  1. 16.1 MP Exmor™ APS HD CMOS image sensor
  2. Updated BIONZ® image processor
  3. Full HD movie shooting 60p/24p
  4. Object Tracking AF via Touch LCD
  5. 11 Picture Effect modes
  6. Regular and 3D Panorama Modes
  7. HDR Capability
  8. Phase Detect AF for E-mount bodies w/ adapter
  9. Extended battery life for up to 430 shots
  10. Tiltable 3.0″ Touch LCD with 921K dots
  11. Optional XGA OLED viewfinder with 2.395K dots
  12. Intelligent Scene Recognition and Face Detection
  13. In-camera “SteadyShot” Image Stabilization
  14. Electronic First Curtain shutter
  15. Up to 10 fps continuous shooting at full 16.1 MP resolution
  16. World’s shortest release time lag of 0.02 sec
  17. Peaking AF display for precise manual focusing
  18. 25-point Auto Focus with wide coverage
  19. Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) technology

Detailed technical specifications for the Sony NEX-5N are available at Sony.com.

2) Sony 16.1 MP Exmor Sensor

One of the most important attributes in a digital camera is its sensor – the heart of the camera that is responsible for capturing images. The Sony NEX-5N features the excellent APS-C sized 16.1 MP Exmor sensor, which in my opinion, has a great balance of resolution and noise (the same sensor is also used on the lower-end Sony NEX-C3 mirrorless camera). While the latest generation high-resolution sensors on Sony A77, A65 and NEX-7 cameras have their advantages, sometimes less can be more. For the type of the camera the NEX-5N is, which is positioned as a mid-level mirrorless camera by Sony, 16.1 megapixels is more than plenty for most photographers that will be looking into buying it.

The biggest advantage of the Sony NEX-series mirrorless cameras compared to other mirrorless cameras on the market such as Micro 4/3 and Nikon 1, is the physical size of the sensor. The 23.5×15.6mm APS-C sensor is currently among the largest sensors used in mirrorless cameras, with the exception of the expensive Leica M9/M9-P rangefinder cameras that have full-frame sensors. Large sensor size means larger pixel size, which translates to better low-light (high ISO) performance and better dynamic range. Sony picked the same 1.5x crop factor APS-C sensor size that is used in their “SLT” camera line, which is bigger than Canon’s APS-C sensors with a 1.6x crop factor and about the same as Nikon’s DX sensors. Here is a chart that summarizes sensor size differences (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Image Sensor Sizes

Another big advantage of a larger sensor is smaller depth of field, which translates to better opportunities to isolate subjects from the background – an important factor for many photo enthusiasts and pros out there. Coupled with fast prime lenses like the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS, one could capture creative photographs with beautiful bokeh – something that is hard to achieve on small sensor cameras.

From small sensor to large – Nikon 1 V1 vs Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony NEX-5N:

Nikon 1 V1 vs Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony NEX-5N

At the same time, a larger sensor requires a bigger image circle from lenses, which negatively impacts the size requirements of both lenses and the lens mount (read more on this below).

3) Camera construction and handling

Compared to the older Sony NEX-5 that only had its front protected with a magnesium alloy plate, the NEX-5N has a sturdier build with both front and top magnesium alloy plates. Sony did a great job designing the NEX-series cameras and the NEX-5N is no exception – I found it ergonomically superior than both the Olympus E-PL3 and the Nikon 1 V1. A big part of it has to do with the grip; the large, rubber-coated grip perfectly accommodated my right hand and made it easy to hand-hold the camera. The grip is designed to have your fingers wrap around it, with your finger tips in between the grip and the protruded lens mount. Here is the view from the top:

Sony NEX-5N Top

Needless to say, the grip is a world better compared to the little bump on the Nikon 1 V1. Looking at the neatly designed top view, you can see just how thin the Sony NEX-5N really is. If it was not for the lens mount and the grip, the camera is thinner than most point and shoot cameras out there, let alone other mirrorless cameras. The angled top panel has a simple, yet elegant design with only three buttons and the on/off switch. The shutter release button is positioned ergonomically well, just like the red video record button.

Sony NEX-5N Back

The back of the camera also has a simplistic design with a rotary dial + center button and two extra unlabeled function buttons. Why unlabeled? Because their functionality changes depending on where you are in the menu. The multi-purpose dial is similar to the one found on the Nikon 1 V1. While rotating the dial is pretty smooth, the camera might lag a little in playback and other modes. I saw a similar lag when using the touchscreen, which did not seem to be very responsive in some cases.

Sony NEX-5N LCD

Speaking of touchscreen, I kind of liked using it for selecting focus in AF and MF modes (especially cool for selecting a particular area when using manual focus), but found it not so useful for anything else. For navigation, I mostly used the buttons on the back of the camera. Unlike the versatile swivel LCD on the Sony A77, the LCD on the NEX-5N only swivels up and down, like the Olympus E-PL3 does. Still better than not having it at all (Nikon 1 V1/J1).

Now let’s talk about the size and bulk. While the camera itself is thin and lightweight (it weighs less than both Nikon 1 V1 and Olympus E-PL3), it has a rather large mount, which translates to bulky lenses. The standard 18-55mm zoom lens that is shipped with the NEX-5N is a massive chunk of glass, as clearly shown the below image:

Sony NEX-5N Overview

4) Camera Menu System

The simplistic approach with the buttons on the camera means that certain functionality can only be accessed from the camera menu system. This includes the PASM exposure mode selector dial, which is emulated inside the “Shoot Mode” menu. The menus are organized by large descriptive icons and you can navigate through them by rotating the dial on the back of the camera, or by touching the screen. The “Camera” menu contains many options, including Drive Mode (single, continuous, bracket, etc), AF/MF Select, Autofocus Area and Face Registration. The “Image Size” menu is for picking Image Size and Quality, Panorama Size and Direction, Movie Format, Aspect Ratio, etc. The “Brightness/Color” menu contains White Balance, Metering Mode, HDR, ISO, etc. Not sure why Sony decided to stick “ISO” into “Brightness/Color”, because it really should be under “Camera” menu instead. “Playback” menu is for configuring image playback for viewing images on the LCD. Lastly, “Setup” contains important camera setup options, such as Noise Reduction, Lens Compensation, in addition to “Peaking Level” and “Peaking Color” – two very useful functions for shooting with manual focus lenses.

While using the camera menu can sometimes be slightly laggy, I found it quite easy to use, especially when compared to the Olympus E-PL3 camera that has a horrid menu system. I still prefer the Nikon 1 V1 menu system, because it just feels less “cartoonish”, but that’s probably because I am just too used to Nikon cameras. At the same time, the Sony NEX-5N has a lot more menu features than the Nikon 1 V1 and definitely more customization options.

5) Features and Responsiveness

Unlike the Nikon 1 V1, the Sony NEX-5N has a rich set of in-camera features that can be quite useful for everyday photography. The “Lens Compensation” feature found in the “Setup” menu allows fixing len-specific issues like vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion. Obviously, the amount of lens correction depends on each lens, so Sony included current lens profiles in its camera firmware. New lenses that come out in the future will also be supported via firmware upgrades.

6) Sony E-mount Lenses

Sony has been making more and more E-mount lenses for the NEX cameras during the last couple of years, including some fast prime lenses. While the selection of lenses is nowhere close to what Micro Four Thirds has got to offer today, the available lenses do cover a broad range from wide angle to telephoto. Here is a list of all current lenses for the E-mount by Sony:

  1. Sony 16mm f/2.8
  2. Sony 24mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E
  3. Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro
  4. Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
  5. Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
  6. Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
  7. Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS

With the sensor crop factor of 1.5x, you have to multiply the focal length of each lens by 1.5 to get an equivalent field of view of a full-frame camera. For example, the 55-210mm lens is equivalent to a 82.5-315mm lens, while the 16mm pancake is equivalent to a 24mm lens.

In general, the above Sony E-mount lenses have very good performance characteristics with great sharpness and colors – they perform similarly to Sony A-mount lenses, but without the weight and bulk. One thing you might have noticed from the above list is “OSS” (Optical Steady Shot) on the last 4 lenses, which means that the lenses are stabilized. This is a disadvantage of the NEX-series cameras – they do not have in-camera image stabilization. While it is understandable that in-camera IS might have resulted in a larger body and could have increased the cost of the camera, I still think Sony should have followed the same approach as in their SLT cameras, which is to use in-camera IS instead of lens-based IS. When working with short focal length lenses, in-camera IS is the way to go, especially when using LCD/EVF for framing shots. Those shorter focal length lenses also would have greatly benefited from in-camera image stabilization in low-light situations.

As for manual focus, unlike the Nikon 1 lenses, the Sony E-mount lenses feature a manual focus ring for smoother and more precise MF operation. Once you put the camera into manual focus mode through the “Camera” menu, you can configure the camera to automatically zoom in when the focus ring is turned. I found this feature to be quite useful, because you can combine it with the touchscreen. By selecting an area on the touchscreen to zoom into, you can quickly move the desired focus area.

The cool thing about the Sony NEX mount, is that you can use many different lenses with it, as long as you have an appropriate adapter. You can use the A-mount Lens to NEX Adapter, which will let you autofocus A-mount lenses for both stills and video, or the basic LA-EA1 adapter, which only allows MF operation. There are many other adapters available for using Nikon, Canon, Pentax and even Leica lenses on the NEX cameras.

8) Autofocus / Manual Focus Performance and Metering

Unlike the Nikon 1 V1, which uses both phase detect and contrast detect for focusing, the Sony NEX-5N only relies on contrast detect. Because of this, its AF acquisition speed is not fast enough for photographing sports and wildlife. While contrast detect works remarkably faster than most live-view contrast detect implementations on modern DSLRs, it still cannot compete with phase detect AF. In daylight conditions, the AF speed is quite good, but the performance definitely suffers in low-light conditions – the camera starts to hunt continuously, even with its bright AF assist lamp. In addition, the camera has a tendency to occasionally miss focus; you might see some out of focus images even when you thought the camera confirmed accurate focus.

9) Movie Recording

Every new camera that comes out seems to have impressive movie features and the Sony NEX-5N is no exception. It can record full 1080p HD movies at 60 fps (AVCHD 2.0) for smooth playback, which is very impressive (better than Nikon 1 V1 and Olympus E-PL3). You can also pick lower resolution MPEG-4 format and slower rates (down to 24 fps) for smaller movie files. Another advantage of the movie mode is that you can fully control the exposure while recording movies – you can easily adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO when shooting videos in Manual mode. If the scene you are recording is too bright or too dark and you are in one of the P/A/S modes, you can also use exposure compensation to adjust the brightness level. The camera LCD will reflect these changes and you will see exactly what you are capturing. Autofocus and subject tracking both work when recording videos, but the AF speed and accuracy is not as good as on the Nikon 1 V1 camera. As for Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, it works pretty well when recording videos, but you have to be careful when panning the camera with SteadyShot turned on, because it will occasionally bump the camera up or down. This is normal behavior and the same thing would happen if you were to pan while taking stills.

10) Dynamic Range / HDR / DRO

A big advantage of a larger sensor is its ability to produce images with more dynamic range. Compared to the Nikon 1 V1′s much smaller sensor, or the Olympus E-PL3′s Micro Four Thirds sensor, the Sony NEX-5N 1.5x crop factor sensor is capable of producing higher dynamic range. DxOMark ranks the Sony NEX-5N at #14 spot in dynamic range, which is higher than any other mirrorless camera on the market, except its bigger brother, the Sony NEX-7 (which is ranked #8). As with all digital cameras, increasing camera ISO also decreases dynamic range, so shoot at base ISO of 100 if you want to preserve the most amount of information on your photographs.

Summary

Overall, I am very impressed by the Sony NEX-5N – it is a high-quality camera with excellent image quality characteristics. As you can see from the previous page of this review, the Sony NEX-5N easily beats the Nikon 1 V1 and the Olympus E-PL3 in terms of image quality and high ISO performance. Despite having the highest resolution among the three, it provides cleaner images at almost all ISO levels, especially above ISO 1600 and that’s at 100% view! Once down-sampled to 10 MP, it blows the Nikon 1 V1 out of the water and puts the Olympus E-PL3 high ISO performance to shame. True, sensor size does play a huge role here, which at the same time results in a lens size disadvantage for the Sony NEX-series cameras. However, what is more important for you – higher image quality or smaller camera system size?

The Sony NEX-5N has its share of problems. Despite its impressive image quality and high ISO performance, the camera’s biggest weakness is its AF performance. While contrast detect has gotten better over the last several years, the Sony NEX-5N is just nowhere as responsive as the Nikon 1 V1 for fast-action photography. Occasional focus errors are typical, but the worst is its low-light AF performance, where in very dim conditions the camera seems to continuously hunt for focus, even with the AF assist light turned on. These AF issues might not be a big deal for landscape and portrait photography, but will definitely be problematic for sports, indoors and other fast-action photography. Lastly, the lag that is clearly noticeable when using the touchscreen or accessing some of the menu items is rather annoying, which I very much hope Sony will address with future firmware updates.

Despite these shortcomings, the Sony NEX-5N is a great camera for those that do not want the weight and bulk of a DSLR system. While it is not comparable to a DSLR in terms of features, autofocus, speed and versatility, it certainly is comparable to some of the best APS-C DSLRs in terms of image quality. Hence, if you already own a DSLR and would like to have a smaller and lighter stills & video camera for travelling and hiking light, the Sony NEX-5N is definitely a camera I would recommend to consider.

Where to buy and availability

If you live in Kuwait, then you can get Sony NEX-5N camera with its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens for 249.900 KD and with extra Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS lens for 320 KD, from the Sony Official Dealer in Kuwait.

Also you can find it online on Amazon for 700$ with its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens and for 600$ without the lens.

 


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Sony DSC-TX200V digital camera is super slim

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Thin is still in where digital cameras are concerned, and while we took a look at a couple of shooters from Panasonic yesterday, Sony too, did not want to lose out on the game, and the Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer has just added yet another model to the ultra-thin Cyber-shot T series – with the model number DSC-TX200V. You might want to look into expanding that external storage space collection of yours if you happen to pick up the new TX200V camera though, considering it is capable of shooting 18.2-megapixel images thanks to its “Exmor R” CMOS sensor.

This would clearly place the Sony DSC-TX200V as the highest-resolution digital camera that is currently on offer in the “point and shoot” market segment, and when coupled with the spanking new BIONZ processor, both of them will work in tandem to create images as well as video files with extremely low noise.

Just what else do you expect the Sony DSC-TX200V to carry? This advanced model is also tipped to deliver lightning-fast AutoFocus speeds of approximately 0.13 seconds in daytime and 0.25 seconds in low-light situations. Bear in mind that the speeds quoted are just on paper, when in real life, they might vary depending on shooting conditions. With such shooting speeds, they will more or less ensure you are able to capture the right moment at all times.

Not only that, the TX200V Cyber-shot will also look good externally, as it comes with a new and beautiful, reinforced glass design which encases a large, 3.3? Xtra Fine TruBlack OLED wide touch-screen display. Want to bring this with you on your next watersports adventure? Not to worry – considering this is water-proof (up to 5m or approx.16 feet), and I am quite sure that also, to a certain amount of time.

In addition, the Sony DSC-TX200V is also dust-proof and freeze-proof (up to 14F), and will boast a “Photo Creativity” interface which allows you to easily adjust creative settings in order to roll out unique, custom-styled photos. If you happen to have case of shaky hands, fret not – image stabilization will kick in during video and still shooting, thanks to borrowed technology from the Sony Handycam range, where its “Optical Steady Shot Active Mode” drastically reduces blurring caused by camera shake while on the move.

Expect to pick up the DSC-TX200V camera in silver, red, and violet shades for around $500 when it hits the market later this month.


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Sony’s SmartWatch Accessory for Android Phones

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The SmartWatch is part of Sony‘s Smart Extras for their Xperia smartphones.  The SmartWatch connects to an Android phone via Bluetooth and shows you information about incoming calls, and lets you see emails, weather, Twitter and Facebook updates, and even the time.  You can even control music playback with the SmartWatch.  It has a cliplike the one on Apple’s iPod nano, so you can clip it onto your bag’s strap.  Or you can buy one of Sony’s optional watchbands, available in several colors, and wear it on your arm.  It  fits on any 20mm watch strap, if you have one you already like.  The SmartWatch doesn’t have a speaker orheadphone jack, but you can listen to the music on your smartphone with a Bluetooth headset.  You can even buy apps for the SmartWatch from the Android Market.  The SmartWatch should be available in Q1 of 2012.  The Sony website doesn’t show a price yet.


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PSP Vita @ X-Cite

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For Video Games lovers, you can Pre-Order the long awaited Device, Sony PSP Vita @ X-Cite.

The device is released in two versions, Wi-Fi & 3G.

The prices announced by X-Cite are, 147KD for 3G and 120KD for Wi-Fi.

You can Pre-Order online by visiting their website here


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Sony Tablet S Review: Slick, and Simply Sony..

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It’s been some time since Sony had a tablet on the market. Times have changed since the VAIO UX’s day, though, and where once tablets were niche devices, now they’re making headway into our living rooms. The Sony Tablet S is the first model of the company’s new strategy, packing Android Honeycomb into a hardware design that’s a little more interesting than many rivals have managed. Late to the game against the iPad, though, has the Tablet S’ tardiness undermined its potential?

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Hardware

Sony hasn’t strayed too far from the Honeycomb herd with the Tablet S’ core specifications. Powered by NVIDIA’s dual-core Tegra 2 paired with 1GB of RAM, its dimensions are kept compact thanks to a slightly smaller than usual 9.4-inch capacitive touchscreen. This still runs at 1280 x 800, like 10.1-inch Honeycomb slates, so the only real difference is a slightly higher pixel density. The display overall is a success, with wide viewing angles and solid contrast, though as is often the case it’s highly reflective and a fingerprint magnet.

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Where Sony first pulls away from the pack is in the physical design; this is no basic slab. Sony calls it “folding design” and says the tapering form-factor is based on a folded-back magazine. The company has even carried that through to the rear panel, emphasizing the asymmetry with a ridgeline where the curve ends, and using contrasting white and black plastic to highlight. Ports – including a full-sized SD card reader, useful for quickly checking shots from your digital camera, and microUSB, though no HDMI – are clustered in the white end-caps, some under flip-out panels.

It’s a design concept we’ve seen attempted before – Notion Ink’s Adam, for instance, has a swollen battery bulge intended to offer an easier grip – but Sony’s downsizing abilities make it more successful. The Tablet S is purposefully made with off-center balance so that, when you’re holding it in portrait orientation and gripping the thicker edge, the weight is biased to your hand. That reduces the leverage effect; we found we could hold the slate single-handedly for longer than with regular tablets. The downside to the lightweight is that it feels less “premium” than, say, the aluminum iPad 2, instead being more plasticky like the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Unfortunately it’s also – even at its thinnest edge – thicker than the Samsung.

In landscape orientation, meanwhile, the Tablet S’ profile angles it on the table, mimicking the slight elevation many cases offer for easier typing. Sony says it helps avoid lighting reflections, too, though we still found ourselves shuffling around the glossy tablet frequently. A matte screen may not lead to the same eye-popping colors as a gloss-finish one, but it’s still a sacrifice we’d be happy to make.

Sony will offer two models, one with 16GB of onboard storage for $499, and another with 32GB for $599. Connectivity on both includes the usual WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, together with USB and a headphone socket. There’s no 3G/4G option at this stage, unlike the AT&T 4G support the Tablet S’ clamshell sibling, the Tablet P, will arrive with. Up front is a 0.3-megapixel camera for video calls, while a 5-megapixel camera capable of 720p HD video recording is on the back.

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More surprising is the return of the infrared (IR) port, though as with Vizio’s tablet it’s here for universal remote control duties rather than sluggish file transfers. Sony preloads a Remote Control app, which, happily, works with TVs, cable boxes and other A/V hardware from other brands too. Setup is straightforward, requiring a selection of category (e.g. HDTV) and then manufacturer, and there’s a basic button layout for full control along with a swipe-gesture based channel/volume control, which lets you flick through without having to look down at the screen. What you can’t do is customize the layout: we’d like to have combined controls for several pieces of A/V kit onto a single panel, rather than have to jump between them via the app home screen, as well as ditch a few of the less frequently used buttons.

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Software

Like other tablet manufacturers before them, Sony has been unable to leave Honeycomb alone. The software modifications are less obvious, initially, than say Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but there are more preloaded apps for what Sony says is a boosted “out of box experience.”

Preloads generally make us wary, but Sony’s choice isn’t too bad. The Tablet S will get a selection of homegrown and third-party titles, including Evernote, FourSquare and USTREAM though they weren’t present on our review unit, plus the Remote Control app mentioned before. There’s also Sony’s Reader app for ebooks, the Reader Store, a File Transfer app, along with Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited. It’s also PlayStation Certified for mobile gaming, so you can load PSOne and PSP titles just as on the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Play.

Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes will come with the slate, and Sony expects to launch a dedicated PlayStation Store for tablet gaming later in 2011. Since there are no hardware controls, the Tablet S uses on-screen buttons: a D-pad is on the left side and the familiar action buttons on the right. The exact positioning of these can be adjusted according to where your fingers most comfortably fall, though we reckon the clamshell Tablet P may be the gamers’ choice thanks to its more compact scale. The classic and portable titles should have no problems running on the Tegra 2 chipset, though they won’t be available to test until the tablet’s launch.

Other changes are more subtle. Sony has polished the homescreen transitions as part of what it calls “Swift and Smooth”; it did seem like there was a little less jerk or lag in swiping between homescreens, but it’s not a groundbreaking difference. Better is Quick View in the browser, baking a proprietary algorithm into the native Honeycomb app that speeds up webpage load times as well as pre-caching offscreen portions of each site. That means less catch-up when you scroll, though it may have an impact on data use if you’re relying on a mobile hotspot to get online.

While the homescreen looks like the Android norm, Sony also has its Favorites screen, a Pulse-style shortcut page with nine tiles on the right side and a dynamic preview window on the left. Apps and content can be pinned to each tile, either a single program or recently played content, your bookmarks, browser history or recently added music. There’s plenty of nice pivoting animation as you flick between each one, though we wish there was a way to set Favorites as the default desktop.

Just as the universal remote app tries to join the dots between the Tablet S and the rest of your A/V kit, there’s DLNA support on the tablet to handle media streaming. The audio and video apps have “Throw” buttons, which automatically scan for DLNA-compliant hardware – such as speakers or your network-connected HDTV – and then allow you to drag & drop the currently playing content to those outputs. It works just as you’d expect, and we were able to quickly get video recorded using the tablet streaming to our smart TV. For all Sony’s branding this is regular DLNA at its core, which means that other brands of TV and speaker system are supported (they’ll need to support MPEG4 rendering for video use, however).

Honeycomb still lags behind iOS for tablet-specific apps, and the Android Market doesn’t exactly help what with its filtering shortcomings. Sony has begun a new site, called Select App, to guide new users toward key software, split across various categories like home, lifestyle and entertainment. It’s sparse on information – just a short blurb about each app – and there’s no way for Tablet S owners to leave their own reviews or suggestions, but it’s better than nothing. What will make the difference is how often it’s updated, something Sony isn’t yet pinning down.

Battery

Sony claims iPad 2 equaling battery life from the 5,000 mAh battery in the Tablet S, and our experience suggests that’s a reasonably fair estimate. With mixed use but a solid amount of browsing and gaming, together with multimedia playback, we saw approximately ten hours of runtime. Less ambitious use, like ereading, and more casual browsing should see that extend even further.

Accessories

Sony has two key Tablet S accessories initially, a Bluetooth Keyboard ($79.99) and a Desk Cradle ($39.99). The former – which in fact works with any Bluetooth tablet – is a low-profile ‘board with a similar layout to the keys on Sony’s VAIO laptop range. It has a line of dedicated keys for Android tablets, such as Home, Search, the contextual menu, etc., which work with models from other companies.

The Desk Cradle, meanwhile, is a little less useful. It only charges the Tablet S, and has no ports or other connectivity. While it can be adjusted for angle, it only has two positions rather than free movement. Drop the slate in, and a menu offers a choice of displaying the gallery, a desk clock or the preloaded chumby app with its various widgets. With no HDMI output on either tablet or dock, there’s currently no way to hook the Tablet S up to a big-screen TV, Sony instead relying on the DLNA support.

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Wrap-Up

Sony’s UX series VAIO UMPCs were, with their tiny slide-out keyboards and futuristic design, innovative enough to still show up in motion pictures as space-age props long after their actual hardware was outdated. The company has attempted some of that creativity with the Sony Tablet S, too, though it’s far more in line with what other Android device manufacturers are pushing out. We’ll have to wait for the dual-display Tablet P, with its pair of 5.5-inch touchscreens, for the truly eye-catching hardware.

Starting at $499 when the Tablet S goes on sale in mid-September, Sony matches the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 pricing. That’s perhaps a brave strategy given the Apple slate’s current dominance, though viewed against the Samsung each has its strengths and weaknesses. Sony has packed the Tablet S with a higher resolution rear camera than that in the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the custom apps are arguably more useful than Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, especially the universal remote; on the flip-side, it’s a chunkier tablet than the Samsung and the asymmetrical design forces compromises in terms of bulk that have to be balanced against the increased ease of holding it in portrait orientation. Performance and app selection are in the same ballpark, for the most part.

Below you can find a video about the Tablet:

this tablet is available in Kuwait in Sony Showrooms, also you can get Sony Tablet S 32GB from Blink for 199KD for a limited time while it’s available on Amazon for 499$


The Best PlayStation 3 Ad We’ve Ever Seen Will Give You Chills

When Sony announced their "Long Live Play" campaign a few weeks back, the entire interwebs lit up with buzz as to what it would herald. A PlayStation Home re-launch? New on Vita? Now, weeks of speculation have come to this, the "Michael" advert: a parade of first-class characters from the best games available on the PS3. You’ve got your Nathan Drake, Cole McGrath and some Chimera aliens from Insomniac’s Resistance games all cheering the humble player who, in essence, brought them all to life.

So, while there may be some disappointment that the ad doesn’t herald any big platform developments for the PS3, let’s at least glory in the high production values and pitch-perfect character moments that the "Michael" video offers. Makes you want to change your name, doesn’t it?


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Uncharted 3 Bigger than 50GB Blu-ray Disc

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The old adage states, the bigger the better. Developer Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed Unchartedseries is returning to PlayStation 3 with Drake’s Deception this fall in extra large fashion. Naughty Dog community manager Arne Meyer has shared some details about what it is like to be a PS3 exclusive developer, as well as the fact that Uncharted 3 is currently too big.

Speaking at gamescom about being PS3 exclusive, Meyer told NowGamer:

I think it really helps. It’s not even about sales. It’s about what we can push on the platform and how far we can take it. I’m sure you’ll hear this from every other Sony developer but you know, I can’t tell you how much we’ve been able to optimise Cell and you know, the amount of content we can put on Blu-ray.

When asked about Uncharted 3?s current data size Meyer stated:

Uncharted 2 barely made it to 25GB, while Naughty Dog is going over 50GB this time, for Uncharted 3. But in the end we’ll be under 50. We’ll be one disc.

Obviously, there is some serious compression that is still going to take place to ensure the game will ship one one disc this November.


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Analysis: Did The PSN Outage Hurt U.S. PS3 Hardware Sales?

[As part of his monthly analysis of NPD Group’s U.S. physical video game retail sales estimates, Gamasutra analyst Matt Matthews examines how the weeks-long PSN outage affected PlayStation 3 hardware sales.]

In mid-April, Sony discovered traffic on its PlayStation Network that was eventually revealed to be an unauthorized intrusion that gave access to consumer data. Once the intrusion was detected, administrators took down the servers to avoid further damage.

The network, including online multiplayer gaming, was partially restored on May 14, 2011, and fully restored in many territories, including the U.S., by the first of June.

Sony’s compromised, disabled network was widely reported on during this time and we wondered whether sales of the PlayStation 3 hardware, software, or accessories would suffer as a result. After all, free multiplayer gaming – a feature Sony has often touted as an important part of its product – was completely disabled for approximately one month.

Looking first at hardware, the simple fact is that Sony’s hardware sales have been decreasing since they peaked briefly back in February. It would be difficult to discern without finer-grained data whether the network outage was responsible for PS3 sales declining in April and in May, since sales were already going down in March. The figure below demonstrates this.

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PS4 Not Coming “For Some Time”, Says Sony

Despite letting slip a few details to the contrary in a recent investor meeting, which were, to be fair, later brushed aside as referring to the PlayStation Vita, Sony says it’s new home console is still a long way coming. And honestly, having had a look at what the Wii U is bringing to the table, it’s pretty hard to argue. Not to mention that Sony even has a line of PlayStation tablets coming out soon.

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