Link to TechCrunch » Gadgets

Sony Shares Holiday Sales Numbers For The PlayStation

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 01:10 AM PST


Sony Computer Entertainment reported some solid sales numbers for its various PlayStation systems for the past holiday season today. Sony says that they moved a total of 6.5 million PlayStation 2/3/PSP/Vita units worldwide (Sony defines “holiday season” as between November 21 and January 5 in Asia, November 21 through December 31 in America, and November 18 through December 31 in Europe).

To be more specific, the company sold:

  • 500,000 units of the PlayStation Vita (which launched in Japan on December 7 and in Hong Kong and Taiwan on December 23)
  • 3.9+ million PS3s (Sony says the system is on track to sell 15 million units in the fiscal year through March 31)
  • 1.6 million PSPs (all models combined)
  • 500,000 PS2 systems
  • 1.7 PlayStation Moves (not part of the 6.5 million total)

Sony also said that Vita owners can choose between 24 different games at the moment and that 70 additional titles are currently in development. The company’s newest video game system will hit Europe, Australia, and America on February 22, 2012.

Daily Crunch: Showtime

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 01:00 AM PST

Basis Unveils Web Interface For Sensor-Laden Fitness Band

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 10:08 PM PST


The makers of the Basis fitness band were at Pepcom’s Digital Experience event showing off their namesake accessory, but that’s not all that they wanted to reveal. They also demoed their new web interface, which is meant to take all of data the Basis can collect and it turn into a meaningful way for users to track their activity levels.

If you’re not familiar with the Basis, the first thing you notice about it is that it’s chock-full of sensors — on top of drawing data from a built-in accelerometer, the Basis also sports an optical sensor that it uses to determine your heart rate. The Basis is also capable of tracking its user’s galvanic skin response, not to mention measuring both ambient temperature and body temperature.

With all these sensors, it’s easy to imagine that the Basis could overload its users with too much fine-grained activity data. A quick look at their new web interface though alleviates those fears — CEO Jef Holove tells us that Basis has taken steps to steamline all that data into easy-to-understand metrics like calories burned and hours slept.

Users are also rewarded points based on how active they are, though it’s worth mentioning that the points don’t actually do anything. Rather, they’re meant to be a quick way for Basis users to figure out what activities are most worth repeating in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Useful as all that sounds, one of the big questions that the Basis raises is whether or not the world needs another fitness watch. Holove seems to think so — regardless of the competition they post, he wants competitive products to succeed inthe healthtech space. If nothing else, the efforts of all these companies vying for people’s attention could succeed at making people take greater interest in their health.

Eyes On: The Tagg Pet Tracker

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 08:38 PM PST


Qualcomm subsidiary Snaptracs was on hand at Pepcom’s Digital Experience event to demo their Tagg pet tracker, and really — what better way to do it than with a large stuffed dog?

See that grey doodad on Fido’s neck? That’s the Tagg tracker proper, and assuming you remembered to charge it, you’ll be able to ping the tracker at any time from your PC or smartphone in order to figure out where your dog ran off to. You can also set up specific “Tagg zones” that encompass where your animal friend likes to spend their time, and email notifications can be setup for when they wander astray. And thanks to its reliance on Verizon Wireless’s network, you probably won’t need to worry about going without your dog’s location for long.

The caveat? It’s meant for use with cats and dogs that are over ten pounds, so don’t bother trying to throw one on your chihuahua. Then again, if you’re the type of person who owns a chihuahua, there’s a very real chance that you keep it on a short leash anyway.

Interested? The master kit, which includes the tracker, charger, clip assembly, and 30 days of service will run you $99.95, with each additional month running you $7.95.

Eyes On: The Delightfully Retro Samsung DA-E75 Speaker Dock

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:57 PM PST


There’s just something about the Samsung DA-E750 that makes me want to own one immediately. Maybe it’s the fact that it plays just as well with Apple products as it does with Samsung’s own Galaxy devices, or it could have to do with the old-school wood design and its use of a vacuum tube amplifier.

We’ve covered the DA-E750 before, but actually getting the chance to see one in person here at Pepcom’s Digital Experience event only seems to have intensified that sense of gadget lust. It looks so little like anything else Samsung has trotted out today that I almost want to buy on principle — with plastic and glass and metal making up so many of the things that we use on a daily basis, it’s sort of refreshing to see a huge company like Samsung push out something like this.

Of course, it’s hard not to see it for what it is — a pretty brilliant marketing ploy. The wood finish adds nothing tangible to the speaker dock, and it’s pretty much tailor-made to appeal to retro-aficionados who yearn for the days of wood-grain everything. Still, it stands in stark visual contrast to other devices in its class, and that extra bit of wow that the DA-E375 sports could definitely it help it pick up traction among wannabe audiophiles.

Kinect Comes To Windows On February 1st

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:49 PM PST


We knew that Microsoft’s hit motion-control accessory for the Xbox 360, Kinect, was coming to Windows eventually. They’ve been hinting at it, people have been hacking it, and they even released an SDK a little while back. But one of the last things Ballmer said tonight at his keynote was a definite date for when Kinect would be coming to Windows: February 1st.

That’s really all there is to it.

If you’re interested in contributing, check out the SDK, or if you just want to see what people have put together (there has really been some mind-blowing stuff over the last year), scroll through our Kinect tag.

Microsoft’s “Picture Password”: A Breath Of Fresh Air On The Lock Screen, Of All Places

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:24 PM PST


Remember that feeling you got back when Steve Jobs was unveiling the iPhone, and he did the “slide to unlock” gesture for the first time? I remember the way he said it – “You like that? Want to see it again?”

Since then I haven’t seen a lock screen interface that has made me feel that same “how obvious, how elegant!” feeling – until today at the NVIDIA press conference, and later at the Microsoft keynote here at CES. It sounds a little silly, sure, making such a big deal of such a small feature, but it’s just nice to see a genuinely natural and new way of doing something we’ve all done thousands upon thousands of times over the last few years.

Microsoft’s picture password is simple. You start up your device and lift the little “veil” common to Metro devices, and you are presented with a picture. Your password is to touch and slide along certain parts of the picture: tap your dogs in a certain order, or slide your finger along the outside of your house.

How obvious! How elegant! Windows 8 may have some design decisions I don’t agree with (mainly on the “traditional” side, not on the Metro side), but it also has some legitimately new and interesting UI ideas and this is one of them.

It’s not perfect — it doesn’t pass the “smudge hack” test, of course. And the fact that to unlock your device now takes three steps (wake button, lift veil, picture password) cuts down on the elegance factor. But it’s different, it’s interesting, it’s natural, and it works.

Not groundbreaking news by any means, but I was struck by the feature and thought it was worth giving a little recognition.

Sony Keeps Concepts Alive At CES 2012

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 05:54 PM PST


Today at Sony’s CES 2012 press conference, the company unveiled several PC concepts that are, well, just concepts. Kazuo Hirai took to the massive Sony stage deep within the Las Vegas Convention center and talked about the convergence of TV and computers. But no one cares about that marketing nonsense. It was the concepts they flashed on the screen that got everyone excited.

But don’t expect these products to hit the market. Companies are not supposed to sell concepts. They’re concepts, not products.

Up until the last decade, Sony was the design leader in consumer electronics. Sure, others had hits, but no one had decades of iconic products like Sony. Then, for whatever reason, Sony seemed to lose it soul. It lost the magic that made generations of consumers fall in love with the brand. It’s sad, really.

Companies seem afraid to show concepts now-in-days. Perhaps they’re frightened of the potential criticism. MG would no doubt crucify some of them. But these companies also lose out on the conversations and hype that they can generate. Concepts are supposed to invoke an emotional response — good or bad. You’re supposed to love it or hate it. Concepts are supposed to show where the brand is headed.

Think about concept cars: They’re a physical roadmap produced when designers are allowed to go wild. Teenage boys dream about these cars. Posters are made. They are the heart of the automotive world and can often reignite a dead brand.

Several concept gadgets made it to the market. The original Dell XPS is a fine example. The limited-run notebook was loved by many and it was Dell’s halo product for several quarters. But because it wasn’t a blockbuster, runaway success, it was quietly killed. Instead, Dell should have had a clear message that this was going to be a limited product, designed simply for Dell’s fans and those looking for a unique product.

The gadget world is stuck in a cycle of regurgitation and repetition. A random company produces a concept, Apple prefects it, which is then copied by nearly every other company. Concepts are a lost art. Sony is in a desperate need of finding its soul again. Sony needs concepts.

The Lenovo Yoga Twists And Turns For Some Win8 Hotness

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 05:23 PM PST

Screen Shot 2012-01-09 at 5.16.51 PM

Have you ever wanted to break your laptop in half at the hinge? Lenovo’s Yoga 13 lets you do just that – sort of. This laptop has a large touchscreen that bends over the keyboard allowing you to prop up the laptop like a tent or show the display to another person in front of you.

It’s very similar to the old-fashioned convertible laptop except the screen doesn’t quite twist. It runs Windows 8.

When the keyboard is face-down it is disabled and an on-screen keyboard appears. Why you would want to do this is beyond the scope of this post but it looks pretty cool. It will be available in the “second half of 2012″ in limited areas.

Sony Stays Committed To Google TV, Releases Two New GTV Products At CES 2012

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 05:14 PM PST


Sony released the first Google TV product back in the fun days of 2010. Since then, the smart TV platform has survived more than a year of criticism and a major overhaul. It’s still far from a industry leader, that title is head by Samsung’s SmartHub, but Google is sticking with it. And so it Sony.

Today at CES 2012 the company took the wraps off a new media streamer and Blu-ray player — both with built-in Google TV. Like the first incarnations, these models feature several Sony-centric apps. using Sony apps Media RemoteTM and TrackID® for Android and iOS mobile devices, users may achieve cross-device connectivity. TrackID, a Sony Shazam clone, comes built-in along with the goods necessary to control the GTV from an Android or iOS device.

Both models also ship with a redesigned backlit keyboard, a touchpad with support for gestures and three-axis motion control. The Blu-ray model even sports a built-in microphone for Google voice search. Because, you know, people don’t yell at the TV enough already.

The NSZ-GS7 Network Media Player and NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray Disc Player will hit retailers this summer at unannounced price points.

HP Announces Glass-Backed Envy 14 Spectre

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 05:12 PM PST


HP has upped the ultrabook ante with a glass-backed HP laptop that looks a bit like a MacBook and a lot like the future of HP trade dress. The HD screen displays 1600×900 pixels and includes HDMI out, Ethernet, USB 3.0, and mini Displayport ports.

The glass on the back of the laptop is Gorilla Glass, which means it probably won’t break if you drop it. It includes a fat 128GB SSD drive for $1,400 and an optional 256GB upgrade. It runs a Core i5 or i7 processor and ships in February.

HP has been using this design quite a bit lately, which suggests they’ve gone all in when it comes to high-design ultrabooks. This one is a very special case – the glass back is more gimmick than anything else – but it will be interesting to see how HP is able to sell this to fleet buyers.

Sony Intros Bloggie Live, Bloggie Sport Pocket Cams To Combat Camera Phones

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 05:00 PM PST


Now that most of our smartphones can take crisp images and stunning video, the digital imaging sector is having a tough time holding on to its market share. Still, a few players are up for the challenge, including Sony which has today announced the latest in its line of Bloggie pocket cams: Bloggie Live and Bloggie Sport.

Bloggie Live is all about what’s happening right now, as it’s able to shoot video and broadcast it live to another device courtesy of the Qik platform. All videos taken with Bloggie Live are in 1080p, and are uploaded in the mp4 format so you can share quickly to Facebook and YouTube. Speaking of, Bloggie Live has built-in WiFi so whenever you’re connected to a network, you’ll be able to share directly to your favorite platforms without plugging anything in. On the still images front, Bloggie Live still has your smartphone beat with a 12.8 megapixel sensor.

Bloggie Live sports a 3-inch touchscreen, along with a flip-out USB arm for charging/uploading, 8GB of memory, and an HDMI-out port. Sony’s also loaded this little guy up with some software including its PlayMemories online platform, which lets you view pictures and videos from your iOS or Android devices once you’ve downloaded the PlayMemories mobile app.

Then there’s the Bloggie Sport, Bloggie Live’s ruggedized little brother. It still shoots in 1080p and has a 4x digital zoom like the premium model, but Sony opted to offer this guy with 4GB of memory instead of 8GB, bringing its video shooting time down to two hours instead of three. Still images will be 5MP instead of 12MP, and the LCD touchscreen has been reduced from 3-inches to 2.7.

However, there is some added functionality there, including the ability to take this thing 16 feet under water (with full touchscreen control). Bloggie Sport is also shock resistant. It’s got a rubberized finish, and has special locks to prevent any seepage on that flip-out USB arm. Like the Bloggie Live, you’ll also find an LED light on the back to help with low-light shots.

Bloggie Live will hit shelves today and has an MSRP of $249, while the Bloggie Sport won’t be available until mid- to late February for $179.

Sony’s Z1000 Android-Powered Walkman Takes Aim At Apple And Samsung

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 05:00 PM PST

Screen shot 2012-01-09 at 5.08.44 PM

Sony’s really looking to give their Walkman line of mp3 players a shot in the arm with their newest addition to the lineup. Dubbed the Walkman Z1000, it’s Sony’s first Android-powered music player and it’s gunning to give Apple and Samsung a run for their money.

The Z1000 originally debuted in Japan this past September, but Sony’s execs have apparently deigned it nifty enough to transplant to the U.S. market. With its 4.3-inch display, it’s a fair bit larger than an iPod Touch or the original Samsung Galaxy Player but it makes up for the added size with some extra functionality.

On top of the usual features like the ability to download apps from the Android Market, the Z1000 series features DLNA support so users can sling media onto their compatible TVs. It also sports a microHDMI port if the television in question isn’t quite up to snuff, and Sony’s S-Master MX amplifier, which should come in handy when it comes to pumping out the jams.

The new Walkman also sports an interesting design, if I may say so. It’s hard to tell from the press image, but there are two humps that bound the top and bottom of the Walkman’s rear. Whether or not you’ll dig how it feels jammed into your pocket is something else entirely, but one thing’s for sure — you’d be hard-pressed to mistake it for one of its rivals.

Hopefully Sony has learned their lesson from devices like the PRS-T1 ereader, a remarkably handsome device that was plagued by a sadly chintzy feel.

If the thought of a Gingerbread-powered Walkman has you just plain tickled, you won’t have to wait too long to snag one — units are expected to hit shelves in spring 2012. Expect to see 8, 16, and 32GB variants retailing for $249, $279, and $329 respectively.

NVIDIA And Asus Announce $249 7″ Tablet With Transformer Prime Guts, Ice Cream Sandwich

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 04:58 PM PST


At NVIDIA’s press conference today, NVIDIA had a couple little surprises. Little being the word, there — they announced a diminutive 7″ tablet to compete with the likes of the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire. The price, $249, is certainly competitive. But the tablet itself, the hardware anyway, blows them out of the water.

Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA’s CEO, described it as being very nearly as powerful as the Transformer Prime, which despite some marketing and naming mishaps, is still a hell of a tablet. To put that amount of power in a smaller package and reduce the price to that level is a nice little achievement.

Like its elder brother, the smaller tablet (which was not named), runs a Tegra 3 chip inside, which is quad-core (not counting the fifth “ninja core” that does random tasks), and will ship with the newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.

It has a great camera, or so they say, but they didn’t have to convince me that the screen was nice — at 1280×800 and 7″, it’s going to have really nice pixel density, good for reading. Naturally it can’t compete with the Nook and Kindle ecosystems just with specs, but it’s nice to see a power gadget at the budget price.

No dates were mentioned that we noticed, but we’ll keep you posted over the next few months.

Huang also made a surprise announcement that Ice Cream Sandwich would be coming to the Transformer Prime today, as opposed to later this week. Not the biggest announcement of all time, but Prime owners will appreciate it.

PlayStation-Certified Sony Xperia S Breaks Cover

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 04:55 PM PST


Not content to pull back the curtains on just one handset today, news of Sony’s new Xperia S handset has started to make round ahead of Sony’s big Las Vegas press conference.

Gone is the “Ericsson” moniker, but the Sony handset is nothing to sneeze at. The Xperia S packs a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor (what is it with 1.5GHz processors today?), a 12-megapixel camera capable of recording in 1080p, and an NFC chip. It’s slated to be available in both black and silver when it launches, and while I’m a fan of bright orange, I imagine most people won’t have an issue with the color scheme.

Sadly, for a phone that’s supposedly launching in Q1 2012, it only runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, though we know Sony is already working on Ice Cream Sandwich updates for most of their more modern handsets.

The gamers among you will be interested to know that the Xperia S is also PlayStation-certified, so it’s fully compatible with the PlayStation Suite and all of the nifty games that it affords access to. Users will have to be pretty judicious with which games they install though — it will only come with 16 or 32 GB of storage depending on the model they choose.

Watch Sony’s CES 2012 Press Conference

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 04:50 PM PST


You wish you were here.

You pretend that you don’t want to be here because, granted, we’ve been on our feet since the crack of dawn, have been fighting MiFi and WiFi connections like we’re getting paid for it, and haven’t eaten the best food thus far. But none of those tedious little annoyances matter in a moment like this: Sony’s press conference is just seconds away. It kicks off at 5:00pm PST and should last an hour. Tune in. Sony knows how to put on a show.

Watch Nvidia’s CES Press Conference Live (Update)

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 04:01 PM PST


Sometimes it’s easy to forget companies that aren’t Apple and Samsung and Sony. But chipmakers deserve your love too, which is why you should sit back and relax while you check out this webcast of Nvidia’s live press conference at the CES 2012 International show in Las Vegas.

We have no idea what we’ll see here but chances are it’ll make a big difference in the way we use our gadgetry over the next year. I’ve got my fingers crossed for more efficient processing (read: longer battery life), since we’ve already seen Nvidia’s quad-core chip, the Tegra 3.

Update: Webcast no longer live.

AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 Is Official: 4.3-Inch AMOLED, LTE, 8MP Camera

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 03:45 PM PST


It’s not exactly a surprise at this point, but Nokia has just officially revealed the long-awaited Nokia Lumia 900.

Formerly known as the Ace, the Mango-powered 900 packs pretty much everything we expected it would — a 1.4 GHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and the same sort of 8-megapixel sensor as seen on its little brother the Lumia 800. Despite having the same camera, the 900 definitely beats its little brother when it comes to displays as the 900′s 4.3-inch AMOLED display is a solid step above the Lumia 800′s 3.7-inch LCD.

Of course, there’s a front-facing camera too, and users can get their video chat on thanks to the inclusion of the Tango app.

All of those goodies go inside the same sort of polycarbonate shell as seen on the Lumia 800, and Windows Phones fans will be able to pick up one in either black or a fetching cyan.

As Nokia CEO Stephen Elop hinted at this morning at AT&T’s Developer Summit, the 900 is also the company’s first LTE-based Windows Phone (though not the first LTE Windows Phone we’ve heard about today).

Many people were disappointed to see that the low-end Lumia 710 would be the first Nokia Windows Phone to hit the United States, but I daresay the 900 was worth the extra time. Sadly, the wait stretches on even longer — there’s no word yet on pricing or availability.


Samsung Debuts Series 9 Ultrabook: A 15-Inch Display On A 14-Inch Body

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 03:20 PM PST


Here at the CES 2012 International conference, we promised you’d be seeing ultrabooks galore. Well, Samsung isn’t going to let you down, today announcing the Samsung Series 9 ultrabook. The Series 9 sports a 15-inch display on a compact 14-inch body.

This is the second generation of Samsung’s Series 9 notebooks, and the company calls it as thin as some of the original tablets we saw hit the market a couple years back. Yep, even when it’s closed.

The Series 9 weights 2.5lbs, and measures in at just half an inch thick. In fact, it’s 30 percent smaller than the first-gen model. It took 30,000 hours to design, and features all the same requirements we’re seeing out of ultrabooks.

As far as InstantOn goes, this thing boots up in 9.8 seconds, wakes in just 1.4, and should last up to 10 hours.

Samsung Announces The U.S.-Bound Galaxy Note With LTE

Posted: 09 Jan 2012 02:44 PM PST


It’s official, folks.

Here at the CES 2012 show in Las Vegas, Samsung has officially announced the LTE-equipped Galaxy Note. AT&T will be hooking up the phablet with its brand new 4G LTE service.

The giant phone and/or tiny tablet sports a 5.3-inch 800×1280 Super AMOLED Plus display, an S-pen, which is basically a fancy Stylus, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

We knew this day would come eventually, and it looks like today’s the day.

No word on when shipping begins.