Samsung’s vice chairman arrested over charges of bribery

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Today is a twofer for Samsung news. As someone who obsessively covers and utilizes Sony and Apple hardware, you’d likely guess that I’m one of the world’s biggest fans of Samsung. So huge in fact that this news brings nothing but a smile to my face. Sure that’s a bit childish of me but as a company who clearly lacks any kind of taste or moral compass, the following news comes off the least surprising.

Sony helping Samsung with Galaxy S8 batteries

Sony_Smartphone_BatteriesWhen you can’t beat them, join them. Fun fact, despite the whole Galaxy S7 debacle which had Samsung recall the entire lineup, the South Korean giant still reported giant profits for Q4 2016. The reason? Their components division which has the likes of Apple and others buying chipsets, RAM, and flash memory by the truckload.

For Samsung, it’s a win-win. Compete with Apple in the phone space but also sell them to as well. Profits roll in either way. Now Sony is finding itself in a similar situation.

Android 7.0 Nougat once again released for Xperia Z5, Z3+ & Z4 Tablet (32.3.A.0.376)

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Just a quick heads up – due to some unforeseen issues, the previously released version of Android 7.0 Nougat for the Xperia Z4, Z3+, and Z4 Tablet was pulled as Sony worked out the kinks. Now Sony Mobile is once again releasing Nougat for the mentioned devices under build 32.3.A.0.372. So if you have one of these devices, be sure to fire it up and check for any available system updates. As always, it tends to take Sony a bit of time to push these updates in every country so if you haven’t seen it yet, keep checking.

PlayStation Now to be exclusive to PS4 & PC and it’s a hint of things to come

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Yesterday, news came from the PlayStation camp that supported devices for PlayStation Now, their game streaming service, would be severely limited going forward. For those unaware, a device with PS Now can stream PS1, PS2, and PS3 games – think Netflix for gaming. Starting on August 15th, the following devices will be cut off from PS Now:

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV
  • All 2013, 2014, 2015 Sony Bravia TV models
  • Sony Bravia TVs (April 1, 2017)
  • All Sony Blu-ray player models
  • All Samsung TV models

leaving just PS4 and the PC to have access to it. According to Brian Dunn, Senior Marketing Manager, PlayStation Now:

No Xperia flagship at MWC 2017?

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Nearly a month ago, a rumor spread that come MWC 2017, Sony Mobile would be looking to introduce a handful of new phones, including a flagship model with a 4K display. Now this ran contrary to previous leaks which pointed towards two to three mid-tier devices launching at MWC with flagship models being reserved till likely summer or fall.

Frankly launching five different phones at one event made little sense, seeing how much Sony struggles with inventory and marketing. Now, Elyse Betters from Pocket-lint is putting a lid on previous rumors and reporting that we in fact won’t be getting new flagship models until IFA, which is what the birdies I’ve spoken with indicated as well.

Confirmed: Android Wear 2.0 not coming to Sony SmartWatch 3

Sony_SmartWatch_3_Stainless_Steel_SideJust a follow up on the will Sony SmartWatch 3 get Android Wear 2.0 or will it not saga. Sony has officially weighed in on the subject and it’s the latter of the two situations. Though Sony doesn’t specify why, it’s likely due to the old hardware on SmartWatch 3 which debuted all the way back in 2014.

Facebook closing Oculus VR stations in hundreds of Best Buy stores

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What a month Facebook has been having with Oculus Rift. Just as a recap:

I wrote previously that

 This now means in addition to whatever other costs that are associated with Oculus aside, that the starting price for Facebook entering VR now sits at $3.5 billion. I’m not sure what Facebook has in store for Oculus but at this point, short of VR becoming the next great frontier, recouping that money just become a lot harder. 

As Alex Heath reports for Business Insider, things aren’t getting any better.

The Game Makers trailer

So for those who are into behind the scenes and the inside baseball of video games, you’re going to love this. Todd Spangler from Variety:

 Fifteen video-game luminaries will share their tricks of the trade in The Game Makers: Inside Story, a digital interview series funded by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences aimed at inspiring a new generation of game creators.

The original 10-part digital series will debut Feb. 15 on the AIAS YouTube channel and its website, interactive.org, one week before the org’s 20th annual D.I.C.E. Awards ceremony Feb. 23 in Las Vegas honoring the industry’s top games, individuals and development teams of the year. Each 10-15 minute episode of The Game Makers: Inside Story explores the creative process of crafting narratives for notable games and their iconic characters. 

As to the game makers featured, the list is extensive and star studded, including many alumni from Sony like Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann and Hideo Kojima.

Sony SmartWatch 3 not getting Android Wear 2.0 after all?

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Android Wear 2.0 not coming to Sony SmartWatch 3 technically isn’t news in of itself. We’ve known for some time that Sony’s smartwatch, which came to market in 2014, was one of the older Android Wear devices and it likely wouldn’t meet the requirements set by Google.

However last month, a user on XDA forums claimed during an email exchange with Sony, the SmartWatch 3 makers confirmed that Android Wear 2.0 would in fact be coming to the now three year old watch.

Sony X800 4K Blu-ray player with Dolby Atmos priced

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We’ve been getting a lot of pricing from Sony in the past week: for their 4K OLED TV, the A1E and their consumer flagship 4K HDR sets, the X930E and X940E. Now you can add to that list the X800 4K Blu-ray player, which was also announced at CES 2017.

New insight into why PlayStation Vue lost Viacom (Comedy Central, Spike and MTV)

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A great many of you were deservedly upset when news came out that PlayStation Vue was parting ways with Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, Spike, and MTV. Back then, I wrote:

 Since the news broke yesterday, I’ve been talking to a few little birdies and they’ve all conveyed the same thing – that Viacom was asking for an exorbitant amount of money for the given channels which put Sony in a corner.

On one hand, they could eat the cost which would set the precedence for other networks to raise their prices and, in the end, could drive the service to unprofitability. Or, they could pass the costs on to users, something that they were also adamantly against. In the end, Sony likely picked the best option available for themselves and PS Vue users. 

That still stands but new details might reveal the next phase of Viacom’s plans in that they likely knew services like Vue wouldn’t renew with their new prices and that’s because they didn’t want them to renew.

Pricing revealed for 2017 Sony X930E and X940E

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Earlier today, I talked about a piece by Forbes which laid out pricing for Sony’s 4K HDR OLED TV, the A1E. Though the 77-inch has yet to get a price tag associated with it, everything else fell in line with industry pricing, indicating an aggressive stance towards the OLED market by Sony. As for their consumer flagship series, the X930E (55- and 65-inch) and X940E (75-inch), pricing is once again in line with current 2016 models which have received price cuts throughout the last year. Once again John Archer from Forbes:

 This isn’t really a series, as there’s only one model: the 75-inch 75X94E. This follows the 75-inch single model trend established by X94 models for the past couple of Sony TV generations.

These TVs use direct LED lighting and local dimming, and have impressed in their 2015 and 2016 incarnations, so I’m hoping for great things from the 75X94E too. Especially as it benefits from Sony’s new X1 Extreme processing system.

I do find it a bit mystifying/frustrating, though, that Sony still refuses to add at least a 65-inch model to its X94 range. 

As many regular readers might know, I’ve been eying the X940 series, seeing how it’s likely to be my replacement for our current projector setup and from what I saw at CES 2017, the price tag feels right for what you’re getting, though who doesn’t want it to be cheaper, right?

2017 Sony OLED TV (A1E) pricing revealed

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Thanks to our tipster for pointing me towards this article by Forbes writer John Archer where he talks about the droolworthy 4K HDR Sony OLED TV, the A1E.

 Sony’s decision to introduce include OLED TVs in its 2017 range initially seemed surprising. The more I’ve seen of the A1E’s in action, though, the more sense they make. For as well as enabling Sony to ‘show off’ with the A1E’s lovely frameless/standless design and an innovative sound system that uses the screen as the speakers, the inclusion of OLED TVs in its 2017 range gives Sony a high-end alternative to its Z9D models for AV fans more interested in black level and viewing angles than brightness and color volume. 

As for pricing Sony OLED TVs:

Sony captured 1% of smartphone industry profits in Q4 2016

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The title pretty much says it all. Patrick Seitz from Investors:

 Apple accounted for 18% of smartphone unit sales in the fourth quarter, but it captured a whopping 92% of industry profits, Canaccord Genuity reported Tuesday.

Apple has a long history of taking the vast majority of smartphone industry profits. In some quarters, it accounts for more than 100% of smartphone profits because other vendors lost money, according to Canaccord Genuity.

Among six major vendors surveyed, four were profitable in smartphone sales in Q4, Canaccord analyst Michael Walkley said in the report. They were Apple, BlackBerry, Samsung and Sony. 

So where does that put Samsung and Sony?

Android 7.0 Nougat available for Sony Xperia X Performance in Canada

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Just a quick heads up: Sony Mobile has now released Android 7.0 Nougat for the Xperia X Performance in Canada, joining the

  • Xperia XZ
  • Xperia X Compact
  • Xperia XA Ultra
  • Xperia XA
  • Xperia X
  • Xperia Z5
  • Xperia Z5 Compact
  • Xperia Z5 Premium
  • Xperia Z4 Tablet
  • Xperia Z3+