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printed March 30, 2015
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Apple Offering Credit for Some Android, Windows Phones

Today, 9:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Apple has expanded the scope of its Reuse and Recycling Program to include smartphones, tablets, and PCs not made by Apple. Customers can take their old smartphones directly to Apple Stores and receive credit towards new Apple gear for turning them in. Customers who don't have access to Apple Stores can mail in their devices for credit. Apple will recycle just about any old phone, tablet, or computer for free. Apple says not all devices are eligible for credit and suggests customers check eligibility (online) before heading to Apple Stores. According to Apple's web site, it is accepting handsets from Sony, Samsung, Nokia, LG, and BlackBerry. Apple has partnered with Brightstar and DataServ to handle the actual device recycling processes. The expanded Apple Reuse and Recycling Program is available in the U.S., the U.K., and select European countries.


Sony Music Unlimited Goes Offline, Spotify Takes Its Place

Today, 7:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today followed through on an announcement made in January concerning Sony Music Unlimited and Spotify. Sony Music Unlimited has gone offline in all 19 countries where it was offered. The service, which cost $10 per month, let Xperia device and PlayStation owners stream songs and playlists. Sony partnered with Spotify, which is officially taking Music Unlimited's place across Sony's devices. Spotify gives Sony hardware owners access to 30 million songs and 1.5 billion playlists. PlayStation owners will be able to create and listen to playlists when playing games, as well as listen to music on-demand whenever they wish. Spotify replaces Sony's Music Unlimited service on Xperia smartphones and tablets, too, but it isn't yet available. Sony said it should be ready for mobile devices soon. Spotify is already available to Android and iOS devices from the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store, respectively.


Nintendo Pushes 'Start' On Mobile Game Development

Mar 17, 2015, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nintendo today announced plans to develop games for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. The move is an about-face for the gaming company, which has steadfastly insisted on supporting only its gaming consoles. In order to kickstart its development efforts, Nintendo has partnered with DeNA, a Japanese mobile gaming company, to bring games to market quicker. Nintendo and DeNA are each investing about $182 million in one another, with Nintendo acquiring a 10% stake in DeNA and DeNA acquiring a 1.2% stake in Nintendo. Together the companies will launch a "multi-device membership service for the global market" in the fall encompassing consoles, PCs, tablets, and smartphones. "This will allow us to build a bridge between smart devices and gaming consoles," said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. "It doesn't mean smart devices will eat away at gaming consoles, it will create an entirely new type of demand." Nintendo did not share details about the first game, but said it will not create "hand-me-down" versions of its existing games. Nintendo's most popular titles include Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart. Nintendo has lost significant share in the gaming market due to its stubborn refusal to adapt to mobile devices. Sony and Microsoft, with their PlayStation and Xbox brands, have embraced console gaming and mobile gaming. Nintendo isn't giving up on consoles and is working on something called the Nintendo NX. Nintendo didn't provide any details about the NX.


Sony to Shutter PlayStation Mobile

Mar 11, 2015, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today indicated it will close up its PlayStation Mobile content store later this year. The platform was meant to provide the PlayStation Vita gaming handheld and select Android smartphones with access to older PlayStation games. The service never caught on with consumers. Sony will cease distributing content through the storefront on July 15. Existing users will be able to make in-app purchases and re-download their content through Sept. 10, after which the PlayStation Mobile app itself will no longer be available. Consumers who want to continue to access their content after Sept. 10 will need to authenticate their devices with Sony. Once users deactivate their device, they will no longer have access to their content.


Sony Surfaces the Waterproof Xperia M4 Aqua

Mar 2, 2015, 4:58 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the M4 Aqua, a mid-range handset for the active users. The M4 uses Sony's OmniBalance design language and mixes metals, plastics, and tempered glass. The phone is waterproof despite having an open headset jack and microUSB port. Some features include a 13-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture and Sony's Superior Auto mode. The user-facing camera rates 5 megapixels. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, which has eight cores and 64-bit computing. Sony says the battery is good for two days of use. The M4 Aqua runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. The deice will reach more than 100 carriers in 80 countries beginning this spring. Pricing will be about $335. U.S. carriers have not yet voiced support for this handset


Sony Debuts LTE Variant of Xperia E4

Feb 24, 2015, 8:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia E4g, an LTE-equipped version of the E4, which it revealed earlier this month. Like the E4, the E4g features a 5-inch qHD display, but the MediaTek engine has been swapped out for a quad-core 1.5GHz processor with 1GB of RAM. The E4g includes a 5-megapixel camera with Sony's shooting modes and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera, too. Sony says the 2,300mAh battery is good for two days of usage when in Stamina Mode and the E4g has 8GB of built-in storage. The Xperia E4g runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat and will ship in select markets later this month. U.S. carriers have not yet said they'll sell the phone. It comes in black or white.


Sony Still Weighing Sale of Smartphone Business

Feb 18, 2015, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced plans to spin off its audio and video business into a separate company. The unit will take the form of a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony. The move, explained CEO Kazuo Hirai, is to make the unit more autonomous and focused on generating profits. Sony made similar strategic moves with its television business and personal computing business. When asked if Sony would consider an outright sale of its television or smartphone businesses, Hirai responded, "I think we have to keep those possibilities in mind." Hirai hinted that Sony might sell off its smartphone business earlier this year. The company is heavily focused on generating profits, but its smartphone business has struggled against larger competitors Apple and Samsung. Hirai said there are no deals on the table at the moment.


Sony Offering Its Smart EyeGlass to Developers

Feb 17, 2015, 8:25 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said a developer kit for its Smart EyeGlass will be available to developers in March. The Smart Eyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 includes the glasses, sensors, camera, and associated software for controlling the ensemble. The Smart EyeGlass projects augmented reality images to the eyepieces of the spectacles, which still allow plenty of light to pass through so users can see both the AR content and the world around them. The developer kit will be available first in the U.K., Germany, Japan, and U.S. for about $830. Sony hopes developers put the kit to use in creating apps and experiences. The Smart EyeGlass requires an Android smartphone nearby.


Sony Xperia E4 Targets the Low End

Feb 10, 2015, 7:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced the Xperia E4, an inexpensive Android handset that offers Sony style in a more economical package. The phone will ship in black and white colors and makes use of Sony's Omnibalance design language with a large screen lock button on the right side. The phone features a 5-inch qHD display and quad-core MediaTek 1.3GHz processor with 1GB of RAM. The E4 includes a 5-megapixel camera with many of Sony's shooting modes, such as AR Fun, Timeshift Burst, Creative Effect, and Social Live. The phone has a 2-megapixel user-facing camera, too. The phone has Sony's PartyShare feature for pushing audio content to home theater equipment and xLoud for improved sound. Sony claims the 2,300mAh battery is good for two days of usage when in Stamina Mode and the E4 has 8GB of built-in storage. The Xperia E4 runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat and will ship in select markets later this month. None of the U.S. carriers have yet said they'll sell the phone.


Qualcomm Boasts of Snapdragon 810 Support

Feb 2, 2015, 8:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Following reports of poor performance of its flagship Snapdragon 810 processor, Qualcomm today rounded up support from a handful of handset makers that plan to use the chip. LG and Xiaomi have already committed to using the processor in the G Flex 2 and Mi Note Pro, respectively, and reiterated their trust in the processor. Motorola, Sony, Oppo, and Microsoft today also offered statements in support of the processor and suggested they each plan to use the 810 in forthcoming handset designs. Last week, Qualcomm lowered its revenue outlook for the year after stating that a "large customer" decided to pass on using the Snapdragon 810 in its own flagship device. Earlier in January, Samsung claimed the 810 overheated. The Snapdragon 810 is a premium mobile processor with a quad-core design, advanced GPU, and support for Cat 9 LTE.


Sony Bags Music Unlimited In Favor of Spotify

Jan 28, 2015, 12:48 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it will replace its Music Unlimited service on Xperia phones and tablets, and the PlayStations 3 and 4 gaming consoles with Spotify. Sony said Music Unlimited will go offline March 29 in all 19 countries in which it is currently offered, including the U.S. Like many services, Sony's Music Unlimited offered streaming music to smartphone, tablet, and console owners for a monthly fee. Sony says with Spotify its customers will have access to 30 million songs and 1.5 billion playlists. Spotify on Sony devices will launch in 41 countries, including the U.S., at the end of March.


T-Mobile to Add 700MHz Support to Select Phones

Jan 26, 2015, 3:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile plans to make some of its handsets compatible with its 700MHz spectrum through a software update. Today, only the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge can use LTE on T-Mobile's 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said it will provide the system update to the Motorola Nexus 6 in the early part of 2015, followed by the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Avant in May, and the ZTE Max later this year. Two tablets and T-Mobile's Z915 LTE 4G Hotspot also support the 700MHz airwaves. T-Mobile is supplementing its AWS-based LTE network with its 700MHz holdings in select markets around the country. The company is still in the process of deploying LTE to all its 700MHz spectrum.


Xiaomi Debuts High-End Phablet

Jan 15, 2015, 8:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Xiaomi today announced the Mi Note, a new flagship device for the company that will compete with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Note and Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. The Mi Note features a 5.7-inch full HD display, 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0. The main camera has a 13-megapixel Sony sensor with OIS, f/2.0 aperture, and two-tone LED flash. The user-facing camera has a 4-megapixel sensor. The phone has curved glass on the front and back surfaces and it measures 6.95mm thick. It will cost about $370. Xiaomi also announced a Pro version of the Mi Note, which steps up the display resolution to quad HD, improves the processor to a Snapdragon 810 with better graphics, and boosts memory to 4GB. It will cost about $520. At the moment, Xiaomi sells its devices only in China, India, and other emerging markets. The company has global ambitions, but it hasn't announced plans to sell the Mi Note outside of its home region.


Sony Dives Deep Into Wearables

Jan 5, 2015, 8:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced several new initiatives surrounding its wearable devices and services. Fist, the company revealed a new stainless steel version of the Smart Watch 3, which will be available in the weeks ahead. The company is soon going to sell a holder for the Smart Watch 3 that makes it compatible with standard 24mm watch bands. Sony plans to push to exclusive apps to the Smart Watch 3 in the weeks to come, including Golfshot and iFit. The company also talked about pending improvements to its Lifelog application, which will be accessible from any web browser (desktop, tablet, smartphone). Through the web, users will be able to see a more visually appealing representation of their health and fitness data. The company is working with If This Then That, Habit Monster, and Withings to further expand the functionality and appeal of Lifelog. Lifelog is free to download from the Google Play Store. Sony said it is partnering with with Virgin Atlantic to explore possible SmartWear initiatives that Sony and Virgin Atlantic customers can use "to support operational activities" in the months ahead. Sony showed off a Smart Eyeglass Developer Edition, which is a single lens that can be attached to standard glasses for unique sports and entertainment purposes. Last, Sony debuted the Smart B-Trainer Prototype, which is a waterproof headset with multiple sensors meant for runners. It provides voice coaching, music playback, as well as tools to help runners analyze their workouts and performance.

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Volkswagen Signs Up for Android Auto and CarPlay

Jan 5, 2015, 7:42 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Volkswagen today took the diplomatic route with respect to enabling smartphone connectivity in its cars. Beginning with select models later this year, Volkswagen's second generation modular infotainment platform will support Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay platforms, in addition to the platform-agnostic MirrorLink spec. The company said Android Auto will support devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony, while CarPlay will support Apple's iPhone. The services will allow smartphone owners to access their device content, apps, and services through the infotainment console of their Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Golf will be the first model to support these connectivity platforms.


Google to Let You Push Music Directly to Speakers

Jan 5, 2015, 11:07 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jan 5, 2015, 11:11 AM

Google today announced Cast for Audio, a new version of its Chromecast technology that will allow people to cast audio content from their device to properly equipped speakers, receivers, and soundbars. According to Google, compatible audio equipment from Sony, LG, and HEOS by Denon will arrive in the U.S. this spring, with others to follow. The audio equipment will have built-in radios that can receive cast content and/or access it from the web. The initial batch of apps to support Cast for Audio include Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn Radio. Google says many more are on the way. The technology competes with Apple's AirPlay.


Apple's Patent Consortium to Sell 4,000 Patents for $900M

Dec 23, 2014, 10:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Rockstar Consortium, a patent-holding company headed by Apple, has agreed to sell more than 4,000 mobile patents for about $900 million. Apple and partners Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents from Nortel four years ago in order to help protect against litigation. The companies are selling two-thirds of the patents to RPX Corp., which is another patent-focused company that protects companies from lawsuits. RPX plans to license the patent portfolio to a syndicate of 30 technology companies, including Google and Cisco, according to the Wall Street Journal. The syndicate members contributed the bulk of the $900 million in order to purchase the patents. In addition to the patent sale, Rockstar will settle patent-related lawsuits it has filed against Android device makers, including Samsung, Huawei, HTC, and LG. Terms of those settlements were not disclosed. Rockstar Consortium will hold onto about 2,000 of the old Nortel patents, which the Journal described as the "most valuable" of the bunch.


HTC One M7 and M8 Google Play Editions Earn Lollipop

Dec 5, 2014, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today began pushing Android 5.0.1 Lollipop to the HTC One M7 and M8 Google Play Editions. The update may take up to two weeks to reach most handsets over the air, but users may also download and manually install the updates if they wish. Manually installing the updates requires some coding know-how and is not recommended for casual users. Google is already pushing Lollipop to the Sony Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition. Android 5.0 offers a brand new design, revamped notifications, and many other new features. Google Play Edition handsets are sold directly by Google and use stock Android rather than the phone maker's user interface skin.


Sony Says Lollipop Headed to Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Ed.

Dec 3, 2014, 8:04 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it has begun distributing Android 5.0 Lollipop to the Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition handset. The Z Ultra GPe is sold by Google and comes with a stock build of Android, free of any UI customizations from Sony. Android 5.0 gives the Z Ultra GPe a refreshed look, new notification features, faster performance, and support for multiple accounts. Sony is pushing the system update out slowly over the days ahead. Sony also committed to updating the entire Xperia Z Series to Android 5.0 beginning in early 2015.


Sony to Reign In and Reduce Its Smartphone Business

Nov 25, 2014, 8:18 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced its intent to transform its smartphone business with a eye on making it a profitable operation. The company, in effect, admitted its goal of becoming the world's number three smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple was perhaps too ambitious. The company will reduce the number of handsets it makes moving forward, focusing cuts on entry-level and mid-range devices for select markets. Sony said it expects to layoff some employees as a result. "Our urgent task is to make the business profitable even if we face declines in sales by 20% or 30%," said Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s mobile unit. The company will further reduce its presence in China and some emerging markets, while retaining a toehold in Europe. Sony said it is still evaluating how much it will commit to the U.S. Sony sells only a few handsets in the U.S., many of which are made available directly to consumers via its web site. Right now, The Xperia Z3v and Z3 are offered by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively, but the Z3 Compact is not offered by any U.S. carriers.


Sony Details Latest Exmor RS Camera Sensor for Phones

Nov 17, 2014, 8:55 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Nov 17, 2014, 10:43 AM

Sony today announced the Exmor RS IMX230, a CMOS camera censor for high-end smartphones. The sensor captures 21 megapixels at f/2.4 and uses a stacked design that Sony claims keeps the footprint small and adds functionality. The IMX230 has an onboard image plane phase detection AF signal processing function that helps the sensor track and focus on moving objects much faster. It can track subjects in 192 different auto-focus points simultaneously. The sensor is also capable of capturing HDR video at resolutions up to 4K. Sony's current sensors can capture HDR video, but only at 1080p HD. The IMX230 CMOS image sensor will ship in April 2015. Sony said it will offer a 16-megapixel sensor with the same features by the end of 2015.


Sony's Xperia Z2 Snags Remote Play with System Update

Nov 4, 2014, 8:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today announced a system update for the Xperia Z2 smartphone and tablet. The upgrade includes Android 4.4.4 KitKat, as well as a number of new features and improvements from Sony. For example, the Z2 gains PS4 Remote Play, which allows Z2 owners to play their PS4 console games on their smartphone when at home. Sony also added support for high-resolution audio and a tool for optimizing the sound for specific Sony headphones. The update adds several new shooting modes to the camera, including Sound Photo, AR Fun, Multi Camera, and Face In. It also updates Stamina Mode to allow for greater efficiency gains from the battery, and the latest version of Sony's Quick Settings tool. Last, the Xperia Z2 gains the ability to automatically unlock when the Sony SmartBand or SmartWatch 3 are in close proximity to the phone. Sony said the update's arrival will vary by market.


Sony Swaps Out Mobile Executives

Oct 30, 2014, 7:30 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it will replace Kunimasa Suzuki, who leads the company's smartphone business. Effective November 16, Hiroki Totoki will be the new president of Sony Mobile Communications. Totoki already serves as Sony's corporate planning director and is a close confidant of CEO Kazuo Hirai, according to Reuters. The change is a reaction to slow sales of Sony's Xperia smartphones and tablets, which have negatively impacted the company's financial performance. Sony has already lowered sales forecasts for the year, and investors fear it will lower its outlook again when it reports earnings on Friday.


PlayStation Remote Play Now Available to Sony Xperia Z3

Oct 28, 2014, 8:02 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said the Remote Play app is now available to the Xperia Z3 family of devices. Remote Play allows PS4 owners to play theiir console games on their smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi when at home. In addition to the Z3, Sony said it will offer Remote Play to the Z2 smartphone and Z2 tablet in the coming weeks. Remote Play is one of the core functions of the Z3 touted by Sony when it was announced in September. In addition to the smartphone, Remote Play is compatible with a number of accessories, including the Dual Shock controller and a smartphone stand. Remote Play is free to use.


Android Wear Update Makes Devices More Independent

Oct 23, 2014, 11:37 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Google today pushed out an update to its Android Wear platform that adds two key features and grants wearables even more independence. First, Android Wear devices will now be able to track location via GPS without requiring a nearby smartphone. This means people will be able to leave their phone at home when they go for a jog or walk. Further, the update adds the ability to play local music files stored on the wearable itself. This means Android Wear device owners can put music on their watch, listen to it via Bluetooth headphones, and leave their phone at home. Google noted that tens of thousands of Android apps have been updated with Wear compatibility. Last, Google said the Sony Smart Watch 3 is now available for preorder through Verizon Wireless for $250. It will reach the Play Store in the weeks to come.


Sony Says Entire Z Series to Earn Android 5.0 Lollipop

Oct 16, 2014, 12:35 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today committed to updating a wide range of its smartphones and tablets to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Some of the handsets slated for Android 5.0 include the Xperia Z, ZL, Z1, Z1S, Z1 Ultra, Z1 Compact, Z2, Z3, Z3v, and Z3 Compact. Sony says its Google Play Edition devices will receive Lollipop first, followed by the Z3 and Z2 series devices in early 2015.


Sony Selling Xperia Z3 Compact Off-Contract for $530

Oct 13, 2014, 10:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony recently added the Xperia Z3 Compact to its U.S. web site and made it available for purchase. The phone, which comes in black, white, orange, or green, costs $530 and is being sold unlocked and without a carrier contract. It is compatible with the GSM networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile, though exact LTE support is unclear. The Z3 Compact has a smaller 4.6-inch 720p HD display and overall footprint when compared to the Xperia Z3, but carries over the same processor, camera, and waterproof design.


T-Mobile to Sell Sony Xperia Z3 Oct. 29

Oct 13, 2014, 8:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile today announced it will sell the Sony Xperia Z3 online and in stores beginning October 29. Customers can place preorders for the device starting at Noon on October 15. Preorders may arrive before the device reaches stores on October 29. T-Mobile is asking for $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $26.25. The Z3 smartphone has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is waterproof. It also features a 20.7-megapixel camera, compatibility with Sony PS4 Remote Play for gaming, and Sony's lifelogging service. Verizon Wireless is also selling the Z3, rebadged the Z3v, beginning October 23.


Verizon to Sell Sony's Xperia Z3v

Oct 9, 2014, 1:11 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Oct 9, 2014, 3:53 PM

Sony today announced that Verizon Wireless will sell the Xperia Z3 as the Xperia Z3v. Verizon said the two companies plan to work more together, not just with smartphones, but with other products. For example, Verizon already sells the Sony Z2 tablet. The Z3 smartphone, which Sony debuted last month, has a 5.2-inch full HD screen and is waterproof. It also features a 20.7-megapixel camera, compatibility with Sony PS4 Remote Play for gaming, and Sony's lifelogging service. The Verizon variant of the Z3 differs from the global model in that it features Qi-based wireless charging, while the global model does not. It also has minor exterior color variances. The Z3v will go on sale October 23 at most Verizon outlets. For a limited time, customers will receive a $200 discount if they purchase the Z3v handset and Z2 tablet together. Further, Verizon will sell the Sony Smart Watch 3 later this year. Pricing and exact availability of the Smart Watch 3 will be revealed later.


Sony Hopes PlayStation Can Bolster Phone Business

Sep 18, 2014, 3:45 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony has hatched an ambitious plan to use its booming PlayStation and gaming business unit to support its other, money-losing efforts such as mobile devices. The company this week warned it would report steep loses in its handset division, which is struggling to sell devices. Sony's new plan is to use PlayStation as a hub for entertainment that it can stream to smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Andrew House, chief executive of the game unit, told The Wall Street Journal that it will likely offer its streaming service to non-Sony devices. "A streaming-based approach needs to have a very wide funnel of devices, and that inherently means a broad- and manufacturer-agnostic approach," said House. Sony recently unveiled a lineup of new smartphones, including the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact. Both of these devices will be certified to interact with the PlayStation 4, Sony's current gaming console. Sony said it will launch this streaming service in the U.S. before the end of the year.


Hands-On: Sony Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, and E3

Sep 3, 2014, 12:23 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 10, 2014, 11:48 AM

Sony revealed a new line of Xperia Z-class devices today, including the Z3 flagship and its close cousin the Z3 Compact. Here are our first impressions of these two winsome handsets, in addition to the mid-range E3.

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Sony Shows Off Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Z3 Tablet

Sep 3, 2014, 9:46 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 3, 2014, 12:32 PM

Sony today announced its next-generation flagship smartphones at an event in Berlin. The Xperia Z3 family includes three devices: the Z3, Z3 Compact, and Z3 Tablet Compact. All three devices share nearly identical software features and many hardware features. The Z3 family are all water- and dust-proof and rely on Sony's Omnibalance design language. Some common traits of the Z3 and Z3 Compact include 20.7-megapixel Exmor cameras with a G Lens, 25mm wide-angle viewfinder, and the ability to ramp ISO up to 12,800 for improved low-light capture. The camera includes steady shot for image stabilization, and digital noise cancellation for superior audio capture. The displays use Sony's TriLuminos and Mobile Bravia technology. Both devices are certified with PlayStation 4 compatibility. They both have 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processors, as well as a whole array of wireless radios and sensors, such as LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

  • Z3: The larger of the two phones has a 5.2-inch full HD screen with slimmer bezel and smaller overall handprint. It has a curved aluminum frame and boasts two full days of battery life.
  • Z3 Compact: This smaller device steps the display down to 4.5 inches and 720p resolution, but keeps most other features of the Z3.
According to Sony, T-Mobile will sell the Z3 will be sold in the U.S. None of the U.S. carriers have voiced support yet for the Z3 Compact. Both devices go on sale later this year.

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Xperia E3 Fills in Sony's Mid-Range Roster

Sep 3, 2014, 9:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Alongside the Z3 family of devices, Sony today also announced the E3, a more modest handset for the budget-conscious buyer. The E3 uses the Omnibalance design language common to Sony's high-end phones, but dials down the materials. It uses a plastic frame, for example, rather than aluminum. The E3 has a 4.5-inch scratch-resistant display, 5-megapixel camera, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with Adreno 305 graphics. It includes 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage, with support for microSD cards. The front camera captures VGA images and video. The E3 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with Sony's branded apps, and comes in several colors. It will go on sale later this year.

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Sony Uses Android Wear in SmartWatch 3

Sep 3, 2014, 9:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 3, 2014, 10:01 AM

Sony today revealed its first smart watch to run Google's Android Wear platform. The SmartWatch 3, Sony's third-generation device, ditches its home-grown platform in favor of Google's platform for wearables. Sony says the SmartWatch 3 offers a wider range of stand-alone features when compared to other Android Wear devices. Some include a media player and built-in accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and GPS for fitness tracking. The screen measures 1.6 inches across the diagonal and includes 320 x 320 pixels set in a stainless steel frame. The SmartWatch 3 is waterproof and dust resistant. It will be sold in several colors in the months ahead. Sony also announced the SmartBand Talk, a wearable that uses a 1.4-inch e-paper display for always-on functionality. The device has a built-in microphone and speaker and can be used as a Bluetooth phone accessory for making/taking calls. It is also waterproof and dust resistant. Both devices are compatible with Sony's Lifelogging platform for tracking fitness activity and sharing via social networks.

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Spint, SoftBank to Sell Sony Xperia Phone

Aug 29, 2014, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sprint and SoftBank will for the first time sell a flagship smartphone from Sony, according to Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. Sony is prepared to announce new devices at the IFA trade show in Berlin on September 4. One of the new devices is expected to be a flagship model that will succeed the Xperia Z2. Sprint and SoftBank will sell this as-yet-unnamed device in the U.S. and Japan, respectively. Sony has struggled in the U.S. market for years, and often fails to win distribution agreements with U.S. carriers. It regularly sells devices directly to consumers (at full price) through its own web site. Scoring a distribution agreement with Sprint would be a major win for the company. Neither Sprint nor Sony commented on the reports.


OmniVision Receives Buyout Offer from Chinese Investors

Aug 14, 2014, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

OmniVision today indicated it has received an acquisition offer from China-based venture capitalists. Hua Capital Management offered $29 per share for OmniVision, which values the company at about $1.67 billion. OmniVision makes camera sensors for smartphones and tablets. Its chips are found in devices such as the Apple iPhone. OmniVision's products compete with those from Sony, Samsung, and others. OmniVision, which is based in California, said it is evaluating the offer.


Sony Cuts PlayStation Mobile for Android

Aug 6, 2014, 7:36 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony today said it won't support PlayStation Mobile for Android moving forward. PlayStation Mobile gave select Sony Android handsets access to old PSOne titles in addition to those developed specifically for PS Mobile. According to Sony, PlayStation Certified devices running Android 4.4.2 and below will continue to be able to access the service. Devices running Android 4.4.3 and up will be able to access it, but may run into compatibility and performance issues. Devices running Android Release L (which is not yet available) won't be able to access PlayStation Mobile at all. Sony said it won't grant PlayStation Certified status to any more devices. Separately, Sony also announced plans to exit the e-reader market. It cited its inability to compete with devices such as the Amazon Kindle as playing a role in the decision.


Sony to Boost Smartphone Camera Sensor Production

Jul 23, 2014, 1:02 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony plans to make a large investment its in imaging business and will increase production of CMOS sensors for mobile devices. The company will spend as much as $345 million to improve the capacity of its sensor-making facilities. Sony has already purchased several new manufacturing plants. The company currently makes about 60,000 sensors a month. It will improve those yields to 68,000 by August 2015 and eventually 75,000 by the end of 2015. Sony makes CMOS sensors for its own smartphones and tablets, but also for other manufacturers, such as Apple.


Sony Lists Xperia Z2 for Sale On US Web Site

Jul 21, 2014, 7:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Sony recently made the Xperia Z2 available to U.S. buyers via its web store. The Z2, which was announced in January, costs $699 and is being sold unlocked. The Z2 has a 5.2-inch full HD display, 20.7-megapixel camera with 4K video capture, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 3GB of RAM, and various sensors/radios. It is also water and dust resistant. The Z2 is compatible with the LTE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile. Sony typically offers its smartphones through its web store when they aren't sold by wireless network operators.


Verizon To Test Spectrum Sharing in Military Radar Band

Jul 14, 2014, 9:32 AM   by Rich Brome   updated Jul 14, 2014, 11:56 AM

Verizon, Ericsson, and Qualcomm recently announced plans to test spectrum-sharing technology in the 3.5 GHz band. The band is used for military radar systems, but the FCC believes the band can be shared with commercial uses in some situations. This new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band is being considered for various licensed and unlicensed shared uses by the FCC. Verizon wants to use the band to add download capacity to its LTE network in high-demand areas like stadiums, college campuses, or airports. The band is currently 3550-3650 MHz, although the FCC is also considering stretching it to 3700 MHz.


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