Archive for Sony

Sony And Nokia Kick Out New Phones At MWC… Why?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 27, 2017 by itnerd

Mobile World Congress is in full swing and I have two more releases that you might want pay attention to. If only to see if they succeed or fail. The first is from Sony and it’s called the XZ Premium according to The Verge:

The XZ Premium has the world’s first 4K HDR (2,160 x 3,840, High Dynamic Range) display in a smartphone. Sony has the latest and best Qualcomm chip while others are still offering the Snapdragon 820 and 821, but the Xperia XZ Premium won’t be out until late spring or just ahead of the summer. Hell, the demo units shown off ahead of MWC weren’t running anywhere close to final software — so Sony is pre-announcing its new flagship device by a long margin. Other notable features include water resistance, rated to IP65 and IP68, a thinner profile at 7.9mm, and MicroSD storage expandability. The phone’s battery is a reasonable 3,230mAh, and there’s a fingerprint sensor integrated into the side-mounted power button as usual.

A 4K HDR screen on a smartphone? Well, that’s either going to look spectacular, or nobody will care because other than Netflix and some sporting events in Canada, there isn’t a whole lot of 4K content to be had. Even if there was, 4K makes sense on a 50″ TV. But a smartphone? Hmmm….

The other release is from a company who is quite literally back from the dead. So is the smartphone that they’re bringing out. That company is Nokia and the smartphone is the 3310. Remember those? Nokia is clearly hoping that those of a certain age do as those phones used to be very popular. Here’s the details from Wired:

The 3310 is still very much a feature phone. It has a web browser, but only barely — it’s a dumbed-down version of Opera, basically there for emergency tweeting. It exists for you to make phone calls, send texts the way you did a decade ago (T9 FTW!), and play Snake. The 3310 weighs less than three ounces, and its battery lasts an absurd 31 days in standby time, or up to 22 hours of talk time. The new 3310 has a camera, for one thing, a 2-megapixel shooter. It also has a 2.4-inch, 240×320 screen, which is hilariously small and low-res but still a huge improvement over the original.

Okay, this is another release that will be a spectacular success or a #fail. I can’t see someone who uses an iPhone or a Samsung product buying this. But the filpside to that is that baby boomers and maybe Gen X’ers might be the target market for this. We’ll see when it ships.

 

Review: Sony Xperia X Performance

Posted in Products with tags on July 25, 2016 by itnerd

Sony hasn’t exactly been a name in the smartphone game in a while. But when I reviewed Sony’s past efforts, I’ve always found them to be pretty good phones with great camera optics. Now Sony is back and I am looking at their flagship, the Sony Xperia X Performance.

At a high level, you get more processing power into the Performance, along with speedier LTE 4G connectivity and a slightly bigger battery. Plus you get a 5-inch full HD screen and a the 23-megapixel camera on the rear. I found it to be very easy to hold and easy to use with one hand, which is something that I really appreciate. It is water and dust proof. It’s rated IP65/68, which means you can not only splash the thing, you could leave it under a metre of water for 30 minutes. Not that I tested that as this isn’t my phone. It also looks very sleek and elegant. I got a white one for testing, but it comes in black. Both of them don’t retain fingerprints on the body, and fingerprints on the screen don’t really affect the clarity of the screen. In bright light, the screen is difficult to see. However it is sharp and clear in every other lighting condition.

Under the hood, here’s what you get:

  • A Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
  • 23 megapixel rear camera with predictive hybrid autofocus
  • 13 megapiel front-facing camera
  • 5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Micro SD slot
  • Android 6.0
  • LTE, Bluetooth and WiFi 802.11ac

The phone feels exceptionally slick and fast. Apps open rapidly and navigating is smooth as silk. This is handy as you can use it with your PS4 to do remote play sessions. This speed even transfers over to the fingerprint sensor. Built into the power button like previous Xperia models, this is the most reliable and quick biometric security I’ve ever used on a phone. Using a Fido SIM card, I got an average 45.78 Mbps downstream and 5.65 Mbps upstream on LTE.

Now one big selling feature of the Xperia X Performance is the camera. It quite simply is impressive based my testing at Toronto’s Pearson Airport as well as having used the camera to do videos for a overview of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as snapping all the pictures of my recent review of the Mazda CX-9. First, here’s the still photos:

DSC_0041DSC_0043DSC_0046

When it comes to the pictures of the planes that were landing, there was no way I could take a bad photo. Autofocus and image stabilization worked perfectly. You’ll also note that these photos were taken as the sun was setting, but they still look great.

Now, here’s the videos. Set them to full screen and 1080P to see them as they were shot:

These videos are very good as they are clear and sharp with great sound quality.

If there’s one element of the Xperia X Performance that didn’t impress me, it’s the battery life. Scoring on average just over a day during my tests. I really wished that it was longer as that’s what one expects from a flagship phone. But in fairness, it does have the ability to stretch the battery life if you do use that functionality. I didn’t and that likely affected the battery life that I got as I tend to be a constant user of whatever phone I have at the moment. Thus your mileage may vary on that front. The price point however is a win. Rogers and Bell both have the Sony Xperia X Performance is $199.99 on a 2-year contract, or $699.99 no-term.

The bottom line? The camera on the Sony Xperia X Performance impresses. So does the speed in pretty much every area. The battery life may be its only weakness depending on whom you are. But even with that, it’s clear that Sony is back in the smartphone game and you should take a look at them if you’re in the market for a flagship phone.

Infographic: The Smartphone Photo Habits Report

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 8, 2016 by itnerd

image003.jpg

Source: Sony Mobile

FBI Stands By Accusation That North Korea Is Behind Sony Pictures Hack

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 8, 2015 by itnerd

Despite evidence to the contrary, FBI Director James Comey is still pointing the finger towards North Korea as the responsible party behind the epic Sony Pictures hack. Via ARS Technica, here’s what he cites as evidence:

While the Sony attackers had largely concealed their identity by using proxy servers, Comey said that on several occasions they “got sloppy” and connected directly, revealing their own IP address. It was those slip-ups, he said, that provided evidence linking North Korea to the attack on Sony’s network. Comey also said that analysts at the FBI found the patterns of writing and other identifying data from the attack matched previous attacks attributed to North Korea. Additionally, there was other evidence, Comey said, that he could not share publicly.

Still missing from the equation is how the attackers penetrated Sony’s network. Comey said that FBI was still investigating how the attackers got in, but noted that the company had been targeted by  “spear phishing” campaigns—including one that occurred in September.

Here’s where some of this starts to fall apart. It’s not that hard to fake or “spoof” an Internet address. So if I were a hacker not affiliated to North Korea and I wanted to sell that it was North Korea that was behind the hack, I’d leave a few clues behind to point towards the North Koreans. For all we know, that’s what these hackers did. Also, patterns of writing can be copied. So that doesn’t prove anything either. Then there’s this fact that I wrote about in this article:

A government who is behind a hack of this sort would not want to do any of that because it draws way too much attention to their covert hacking activities. Thus, that really casts doubt on North Korea being responsible.

So unless there is evidence beyond the circumstantial stuff presented thus far, I am still dubious of North Korea being responsible for this hack.

 

 

Sony Announces New Walkman At CES…. It Can Be Yours For $1200

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 7, 2015 by itnerd

When I was growing up, we didn’t have MP3 players. So if we wanted to listen to music, we used Sony Walkmans that took cassette tapes. And you had to go to a store to buy those tapes as there was no Internet and iTunes to buy music from.

Ah yes. Those were the days.

Well, it seems that the Walkman is back as Sony has announced a new Walkman at CES. Dubbed the Walkman ZX2, it sports these specs:

  • 128GB of storage with a MicroSD slot for expansion.
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean…. Which was state of the art two years ago.
  • Music formats supported include DSD, WAV, AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless, and more.
  • Bluetooth with high fidelity streaming and NFC for one-touch connection to speakers and headphones. WiFi for remote playback via DLNA.
  • Up to 60 hours of playback from the battery.

The price tag? $1200 a copy when it hits stores this spring. It’s aimed at audiophiles, but I seriously can’t think of anyone who would pay that kind of money for this device. But who knows. Maybe it will be a home run for Sony.

Sony Pictures Resorts To BlackBerries Among Other Contingencies During Epic Hack

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 1, 2015 by itnerd

Sony Pictures gets hacked and needs a way to keep key execs in the loop securely. And failure isn’t an option. So they resort to BlackBerries to get the job done. According to the New York Times, they dug up a bunch of BlackBerry devices in the basement and handed them out to key execs. Clearly they felt that BlackBerry’s rep with security was what they needed at that moment. If you read the rest of the article, you’ll see the lengths that Sony Pictures went to get some degree of business done. All of this is eye opening for anyone who plays in this space. But back to BlackBerry for a moment. it didn’t take them long to use this news to their advantage:

Consider this a major feather in their cap.

Cybersecurity Firm Tells FBI Disgruntled Ex-Sony Employee Is Behind Epic Hack

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 30, 2014 by itnerd

My gut feeling on the Sony hack was always that North Korea was not responsible for it. In fact, I said this at the time:

So, who could be responsible? It could be hackers who are using “The Interview” and the North Korean connection as cover. After all, Sony is a company that hackers have targeted for years. So quite literally, anybody could be responsible for this. Alternately it could be a disgruntled ex-employee, though they would need the skills to pull this off. A deskside support guy isn’t going to have those skills. But maybe a network admin who has some friends with the required skill could pull this off as long as they know enough about the Sony Pictures infrastructure to make this a viable attack. What makes the latter plausible is the fact that there were significant layoffs at Sony Pictures recently. It isn’t too much of a stretch to think that someone who got separated from their job was looking for a bit of revenge. 

It appears that I’m being proven right on that front according to Bloomberg:

At least one former employee of Sony Corp. (6758) may have helped hackers orchestrate the cyber-attack on the company’s film and TV unit, according to security researcher Norse Corp.

The company narrowed the list of suspects to a group of six people, including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, said Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse. The company used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors, he said.

Norse said the findings cast doubt on the U.S. government’s claim that the attack was aimed at stopping the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The FBI said Dec. 19 it had enough evidence to link the attack to the communist regime, prompting President Barack Obama to vow a response to the cyber-assault.

None of this comes as a shock and I do trust Norse as they are one of the “go to” companies when it comes to this sort of thing. They have the means to prove that someone is behind a hack as well as the means to disprove someone’s involvement as well. Plus they monitor this sort of stuff in real time. Thus if they say that this was an inside job and North Korea wasn’t responsible, you can take that to the bank. By the way, Norse turned this info over to the FBI on Monday.

My only question is if the US Government going to backtrack on their claims of North Korean involvement? I don’t see them apologizing, but they do have some explaining to do. Starting with how they came to the (apparently) mistaken conclusion that North Korea was involved.

Sony & Microsoft Gets “Pwned” As Playstation Network & Xbox Live Suffer DDoS Attacks

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on December 28, 2014 by itnerd

If you got a brand new Playstation or Xbox for Christmas, you’re likely wondering what was the point as both the Playstation Network and Xbox Live are under a distributed denial of service attack which is allegedly being carried out by a group called The Lizard Squad for the purposes of highlighting lax computer security by “brand name companies.” It’s attracted enough attention that the FBI is now involved:

The FBI is investigating a cyberattack that saw both Microsoft and Sony’s multiplayer gaming services knocked offline Christmas Day, people familiar with the matter told the Daily Dot. The FBI and the agent assigned to the case, however, declined to comment.

Now services on both networks are coming back online, if not already largely online, but I suspect that it will be a day or two before full services are restored. In the meantime, you might want take this advice:

And this advice:

Meanwhile, I have the members of Lizard Squad have good lawyers. One of them has been identified, and it likely won’t take too much effort to identify the rest.

 

 

The Interview Now Available In Canada Via iTunes As It Nets $15 Million Online

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 28, 2014 by itnerd

With the announcement of the controversial film “The Interview” online and in select theaters just before Christmas, some online players were absent. Notably, Netflix, Hulu and Apple. Now Apple has jumped onto the bandwagon by making “The Interview” available on iTunes. The company made a really brief statement about this to re/code:

“we’re pleased to offer ‘The Interview’ for rental or purchase on the iTunes store”

That’s it. Seriously. That’s all they said. It’s available in the US and Canada for $6 to rent and $15 to own. Very curious. I guess Apple wanted to get a piece of the pie seeing as the movie has netted about $15 million in online sales and rentals:

That handily beats the estimated $2.8 million the film earned over the same time period in theaters. However, only a relatively small sampling of independent theaters carried the film — had the major theater chains been willing to show The Interview, these numbers would likely be very different.

Sources tell The Verge that the vast majority of the film’s sales came through YouTube and Google Play Movies. The film was also available on Xbox Video and a dedicated Sony website, and as of this afternoon, Apple’s iTunes Store. The figures reported by Sony today only include sales through Saturday, so the final weekend count will be a bit larger.

Seeing as Sony is making back the $44 million the film reportedly cost via online and limited theater release, one has to wonder if other studios might try the same thing?

The Interview To Be Streamed On Various Platforms [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 24, 2014 by itnerd

Sony Pictures has announced that The Interview will be on Google Play,YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and its own website http://www.seetheinterview.com for $5.99. It should be available by the time you read this. Google also came out on their blog saying among other things this:

“we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be).”

To recap, here’s how you can see The Interview:

Google Play: You can go to play.google.com to buy or rent it. Or you can watch it in the Play Movies & TV app on Android and iOS phones or tablets, or streamed via Chromecast, Roku or the Nexus Player.

YouTube: Surf to youtube.com/movies or use the YouTube app, Chromecast, Apple TV, PlayStation and Xbox.

Microsoft’s Xbox Video: Buy or rent the movie using the Xbox Video app on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and XboxVideo.com.

SeetheInterview.com: If none of that is an option, it is available http://www.seetheinterview.com, which is sponsored by Sony Pictures and powered by Kernel and with payments through Stripe, a secure payment platform.

You can also see it in select theaters tomorrow.

I guess it is clear now that those hackers known as “The Guardians Of Peace” did an outstanding job of shutting this movie down. Now more people than ever will see this film.

UPDATE: This appears to be US only. At least for the time being. Ditto for seeing The Interview in Canadian movie theaters.