LAS VEGAS--Though the PlayStation 4 probably won't be announced for some time, speculation is growing about two other gaming platforms from Sony. Sony Ericsson's "PlayStation Phone," likely to be called the Xperia Play, has been reported on for months courtesy of photo and video leaks. Then there's the PSP2, the development kits for which reportedly have been in game makers' hands since last year.
Whether either platform will be revealed at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show remains to be seen. Though games are an important part of Sony's business, they remain just a part. At CES, the company typically focuses on its other myriad electronic products, often throwing in a performance from a Sony Music artist--last year it was Taylor Swift--to add some glamour to its presentation.
What will this year's CES stage show have in store? Look for 3D video and gaming to be a big focus, as they were last year. Also expect some lip service to be given to the PlayStation Move, the motion-sensing system that launched last September. Last but not least, Sony will likely update the world on its ambitious scheme to extend the PlayStation Store's video offerings to Internet-enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray players and to PCs. As in years past, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer will host the event, with an appearance from Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai also likely.
[4:52] In what might be a CES first, Sony is starting its conference several minutes ahead of the scheduled start time of 5:00.
[4:53] First up, a 3D video selection. "Ladies and gentlemen, put on your 3D glasses."
[4:54] A tasteful montage of concentric circles floats onscreen, accompanied by ambient electronic music.
[4:54] The circles then collapse into a single dot, which explodes into a supernova of small globules, each with an image inside.
[4:56] Cue montage of 3D scenes from various nature documentaries and films, including the upcoming Green Hornet (staring Seth Rogen).
[4:56] Then it's time for 3D images of attractive multiethnic models holding Sony products, ranging from cameras to computers to the PlayStation 3.
[4:56] PlayStation Move is up next, with scenes of 3D gaming that include Gran Turismo 5 and Killzone 3.
[4:58] Now kids and their oh-so-cool parents sit down to watch a series of music videos in 3D, including selections from Shakira and Avril Lavigne.
[4:58] Clips of the upcoming movie the Green Hornet also figure heavily.
[4:58] The screen collapses back to the dot, which is the dot in Sony's slogan "make.believe."
[4:58] Now an extended 3D trailer for Green Hornet, which comes out next week.
[5:01] It stars Seth Rogen as the titular crime fighter, whose trusty assistant, Kato, does more of the butt-kicking.
[5:02] The lights come up and the Green Hornet car cruises onstage. Out steps Seth Rogen, Sir Howard Stringer, and Jay Chou, who plays Kato.
[5:03] Rogen runs down the car's features, which include machine guns and Sony GPS (naturally).
[5:04] Stringer is now singing the praises of Rogen, who has had two $100 million pictures back-to-back--Superbad and Pineapple Express.
[5:04] Stringer stands alone onstage now, still wearing his 3D glasses.
[5:05] "The past year has been a good one for Sony, and we are stronger, leaner, and more profitable."
[5:06] "By March, over 50 million TVs in the US will be Internet-enabled by Sony Internet-enabled TVs, PlayStation 3s, or Internet-enabled Blu-ray players."
[5:06] On to PlayStation Network, which has 60 million registered accounts in more than 40 countries.
[5:07] Now he is talking about Network Services, which rolled out in 2010.
[5:07] Now he is talking up 3D, saying Sony handles both the hardware and the software of the technology.
[5:07] 2011 will be the year that 3D becomes personal, he says.
[5:09] 3D handycams and Bloggies--Sony's answer to the Flip Video--are in the works.
[5:10] 3D Vaio PCs are also coming this year, with improvements to 3D Bravia TVs and Blu-ray disc players also en route.
[5:10] 3net, Sony's 3D cable network, is due out in the coming months.
[5:10] It's a joint venture with the Discovery Channel and Imax.
[5:11] Hiroshi Yoshioka is now taking the stage to talk about Sony's "total 3D solution."
[5:13] Sony controls 3D production of films, distribution via Blu-ray and the upcoming TV channels, display via projectors and televisions, and personal content creation via 3D-enabled still and video cameras.
[5:14] Next up in Sony's 3D pipeline are personal 3D displays, including small 3D display screens and 3D eye goggles.
[5:14] He is now showing off the goggles, which have two high-definition 3D displays inside--one for each eye.
[5:15] He said he loved playing Gran Turismo 5 with the goggles, since nobody could ever interrupt him--not even his wife. "That way I can get the high score."
[5:16] The small display is actually a portable 3D Blu-ray player, which requires no glasses to view.
[5:16] Sony is working on a variety of prototype televisions that require no glasses to show 3D images--three prototypes are here on the show floor for display.
[5:17] There is no release time frame for the glasses-free 3D technology.
[5:18] Stringer is back and jokes that he forgot he was wearing the 3D glasses during the whole previous segment of the presentation. "I'm that stupid," he jokes.
[5:21] Now it's on to Sony Internet TV, powered by Google TV. Stringer says nearly 180 million Americans watch video online, and 65 million Internet-enabled TVs will be shipped worldwide in 2011.
[5:22] Cue sizzle reel--in 3D, natch--of all the features of Sony Internet TV, including Facebook and Google.
[5:22] Stringer promises that more information about Sony's cloud-based video service will come courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai.
[5:23] Now Phil Molyneux, the British-born head of Sony's US electronics division.
[5:24] He says that by 2013, Sony will be the number-one electronics company in the US.
[5:24] Center to that strategy is Sony Internet TV.
[5:26] All televisions will begin to have the thin monolithic form factor and will have corning gorilla glass screens.
[5:26] There will be 27 new Bravia models this year.
[5:27] Besides Sony Internet TV, he talks up Qriocity, Sony's music and movie distribution service.
[5:28] Time Warner Cable offerings will be accessible "over a wide range of Sony products." The PS3 is not mentioned.
[5:29] EX620 TV will have built-in Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Qriocity, and will use the X-reality picture engine.
[5:30] Molyneux also talks up Sony Pictures' 3D offerings, which include the animated cartoon Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which Sony plugged last year.
[5:33] He now unveils the HX920 series of dynamic edge LED backlit HDTVs, which will also support 3D and use the X-reality picture engine.
[5:34] Now it's the debut of the BDP-S780, a 3D Blu-ray player with built-in 802.11 Wi-Fi and embedded Skype.
[5:35] Now he's showing off the 3D Vaio, which can be connected to 3D-compatible TVs and can even convert 2D to 3D video at the touch of a button.
[5:38] Next up: The world's first 3D handycam has double-image processors for the two lenses. Its 3.5-inch screen does not require glasses. He shows some video shot with the camera on the strip.
[5:38] The 3D Bloggie will come out this spring for about $250.
[5:40] Now he is showing off the Alpha line of digital SLR cameras, as well as a new Cybershot line, one of which will shoot 3D stills.
[5:41] He shows off some 3D snaps, which are being shown via the PlayStation 3.
[5:42] Now Steve Walker, head of marketing of Sony Ericsson, takes the stage.
[5:42] He says they are working on the most "entertaining smartphones" in the world.
[5:43] He shows off the first, Xperia Arc, which, like all other Sony Ericsson smartphones, runs Android.
[5:43] The phone will have a 4.2-inch display and will use the mobile version of the Bravia engine. You can connect the phone to an HDTV via an HDMI cable.
[5:44] And…that's it for Sony Ericsson? Guess no PlayStation Phone/Xperia Play announcement.
[5:44] Molyneux is back onstage and is wrapping up.
[5:45] And he introduces Kaz Hirai!
[5:46] He is talking about leveraging the power of the network, and creating a unified Sony experience through a "slick interface."
[5:47] He is talking about native 3D gaming and uses Gran Turismo 5 as an example. The game has sold more than 5.5 million copies.
[5:47] Cue Uncharted 3 trailer…in 3D!
[5:48] It's the same trailer that debuted at the VGAs last month, but now in 3D.
[5:49] Due 11/1/11 for those not in the know.
[5:50] Hirai returns to the subject of connecting devices, especially mobile devices.
[5:51] "You can expect to see very significant products and services in the near future." These include new tablets and smartphones.
[5:52] Now it's back to Qriocity, the video-on-demand service.
[5:54] Qriocity's Music Unlimited feature will be available in the US during Q1 on Bravia TVs, the PlayStation 3, and other devices.
[5:56] Out comes a Sony executive to put Music Unlimited through its paces. The service includes more than 6 million songs from all major labels, but somehow they choose the Black Eyed Peas.
[5:56] This is all being done on a PlayStation 3, by the way.
[5:58] He searches for Elvis Presley, and all the Elvis Presley songs come up. The service will learn your preferences through your playlists.
[5:59] To close out today's show comes the cast of Viva Elvis to boogie away the presentation.
[5:59] And that's it!