According to a rumor going around, come April 23rd, Sony will unveil new E-mount lenses as well as a monster 8K camera at NAB 2017. The E-mount part makes sense as enthusiasts will always want more and differing lenses but an 8K camcorder seems absolutely unnecessary for any consumer or pro-consumer. This of course then leaves us with the professional broadcast market, but seeing how you can’t even find 4K content on the airwaves, it all seems too much.
One case that exists for 8K is to allow broadcasters at, say, the next World Cup, to record in the higher resolution and be able to crop anywhere they want without loss of quality. This presumably allows them to cut down on the number of cameras requires but you can bet that an 8K camera is not going to be cheap either.
One of the great things about running a site like SRN is that Sony routinely gives me free stuff like their latest 4K TV, the 75-inch monster that is the X940E. Unveiled at CES 2017, the X940E takes everything about the 2016 X940D and improves upon like adding Dolby Vision HDR, thanks to their new X1 Extreme processor.
Now, yes, I had to wait for the pre-order to go live on Best Buy, and yes, I had to pay for the TV on my own credit card. But Sony was nice enough to make sure the pre-ordering process itself was free. So see, they give me free stuff like the opportunity to buy their TVs, something that some of their other divisions don’t allow for, seeing how you can’t find them on store shelves (looking at you, Sony Mobile, h.ear headphones and speakers, etc. etc.).
All of this is basically a long winded way of saying that when I decided to drop $6K+ on the X940E, it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. So why the X940E, and why not?
In recent years, Sony has been attending SXSW where hipsters and tech lovers flock to the once-a-year event where the latest in new age art, science, and technology are on display. It’s here that Sony’s been hard at work promoting and testing Project N, their wireless headset. Having already shown off Project N two years in a row, what was Sony to do? Create a Mixed Reality Cave, of course.
Nathan Ingraham writes this for Engadget:
If you went back in time to 2015 and heard that Sony was one of the key contributors to Android O, the next iteration of mobile software from Google, would you believe it? After all, Sony has been plagued by their reputation for delivering Android updates at a snail’s pace in the past, something that has been drastically changing in the last 12 months. To that point, Sony was the first OEM to release Android 7.1.1, something that none of us would have thought possible two years ago. Now, according to Google, Sony has
contributed more than 30 feature enhancements and 250 bug fixes.
As more and more people start to watch shows via streaming services, the more important the hardware we use becomes. This notion becomes even more critical for home theater and tech geeks who are finding themselves drawn more and more to Netflix who is leading the good fight for providing 4K, HDR, and now Dolby Vision HDR content, something that physical media and traditional TV simply cannot match. Now just because Netflix offers it doesn’t mean your TV will be capable of playing it, or playing it in an optimal way. Enter the Netflix Recommended TVs guide, a list provided once a year to help consumers make a better decision when buying their next TV set.
At Netflix, we are continuously innovating to make sure using internet TV is as easy and great as possible. Improving the experience on the Smart TVs our members watch Netflix on is a big part of this process, and with our Netflix Recommended TV program, we are able to shine a light on the TVs leading this wave. This year, a handful of devices have innovated further – offering better usability, faster performance, and new features that make getting to Netflix and other internet TV services as easy as getting to live TV. Today, we’re excited to announce the first Netflix Recommended TVs of 2017.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Sony reentered the budget smartphone market with the Xperia L1 which, as you’d guess, offers tapered specs when compared against the Xperia lineup. That includes opting for a MediaTek processor over Qualcomm Snapdragon and a lower spec camera like a 13-megapixel rear shooter. Until we know the price, it will hard to tell exactly how the phone fares but here are the full Xperia L1 specs.
One of the more delightful reveals from CES 2017 was the inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR in Sony’s flagship series of TVs coming in 2017 which includes the X930/X940E series and the OLED A1E. What’s made this possible is Sony’s custom X1 Extreme processor which can be found inside both TV sets. In fact, the highly rewarded Z9D from Sony which arrived in October of 2016 is also getting Dolby Vision HDR as it utilizes the same chipset inside, allowing Sony to bring the feature via a firmware update.
All of this of course begs the question – just what the hell is Dolby Vision HDR? A lot of us have been hearing about HDR for nearly two years now which typically refers to HDR10, something that Sony and Samsung both had a hand in creating. In fact, all 4K Blu-ray with HDR must support HDR10. Here is John Archer from What Hi-Fi breaking down the two formats:
Sony Mobile might be pumping out some powerful phones like the Xperia XZ in 2016 and now the Xperia XZs and Xperia XZ Premium but that doesn’t mean everything is going smooth for the company. Despite finally being profitable, which is a positive when compared to where they’ve been and their competitors like HTC and LG, Sony has seen their smartphone sales decline year-over-year since 2014 and likely won’t see them shipping many more than 15 million units for FY2016. Seeing how units sold is continuing to drop at an alarming pace, Sony might have gone back to the drawing board which could be why we now have a new budget phone from them, the Xperia L1.
Way back in November 2006, the PS3 was launched and since then, the powerful console has come to sell 80 million units as of November 2013. Now I’m not entirely sure why that number hasn’t been updated since then but perhaps not so coincidentally, that’s also when PS4 launched and with it, took all the wind out of its predecessor’s sails.
Despite being a year old, quite a few of you were happy to see the video review piece on the a6300, a fantastic mirrorless camera by all accounts. Still, there is even a better camera in my opinion that doesn’t break the bank, but offers a whole lot more – the a6500. Released nearly 6 months after the a6300, the a6500 offers subtle improvements in all categories, including design. Here is Matt Golowczynski from digitalrev:
The two models have a very similar form, with the a6500 just being a touch heavier and thicker (which appears to be at least partly down to a new image-stabilisation system, covered below).
The a6500’s grip has been restyled, while the shutter release button appears to be slightly larger too. The a6500’s command and mode dials now also share the same finish around the sides, which wasn’t previously the case.
Another change that’s not as easy to appreciate is that the eyecup on the a6500 has been redesigned to be slightly softer than the one on the a6300.
There’s also been a small shift in the physical controls on the newer a6500. The customisable C1 and C2 buttons, which on the a6300 were found on the top and rear plates respectively, are now both found on the a6500’s top plate.
Additionally, and a third C3 button is twinned with the delete button, exactly in the same place as the a6300’s C2 button.
Though perhaps all minor tweaks, for serious photographers and videographers (which I’m not), placement of buttons and how they feel can be the difference of being able to use the camera for countless hours and being continuously frustrated by it.
Imagine a world where you’re walking with your Xperia XZs Mark II Premium Plus and you’re low on charge. What’s one to do? Plug in via USB-C? Too 2016. Place said phone on a wireless charger? Not a chance. Instead in this ultra-futuristic world, Sony would have your phone borrow charge from other devices. According to a patent filed in 2016:
For all the divisions that have troubles at Sony, there’s one that seems to be doing no wrong as of the launch of PS4. Dean Takahashi writes for VentureBeat that, according to market researcher IHS Markit,
Sony dominated the game console hardware, software, and service market in 2016, capturing a total of 57 percent share, or $19.7 billion of spending by gamers.
That trend is expected to continue for 2017 with a slight rise to $20 billion. Typically raising that numbers a few years into a consoles lifespan is a difficult task as console prices tend to drop yearly but with release of PS4 Pro and PSVR, Sony’s had a stable release of new hardware at the $399 price point while the original PS4 price drops.
As for the competition like Xbox One – well, what competition?
Just a few days ago, I was forwarded an interesting review on the Sony a6300. Now we’ve all read plenty about the mirrorless camera and, I’m sure, have seen a fair share of videos as well but this video by The Wedding Filmer is a bit different and the kind of reviews that I like – from people who actually use the products day in and day out.
CES 2017 was a bit of a coming out party for Sony’s home theater endeavors. With everyone lamenting that Sony didn’t support Dolby’s latest sound and vision efforts with previous models, 2017 models point to a different story. Dolby Vision HDR is now available on the Z9D with the upcoming A1E OLED and X930/940E series also supporting the format once they’re released.
As for sound, Sony is also ready to bring Dolby Atmos to the masses with the ST5000 sound bar and DN1080 receiver which gives you more flexibility than you know what to do with. Now three months after the show, all of these products have price tags and release dates.
Year after year, Sony got dinged for not offering an OLED TV while others like LG did. After all, OLED TVs are the hot thing in home theater (that is if you don’t plan on putting your kids through college) so at CES 2017, Sony did something about it by introducing the A1E series, their first consumer OLED TVs.
You can see my Sony OLED TV preview from CES 2017 here but in a nutshell, they’re impressive TVs that will cost you, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pricing for the series is as such: