Sony CES show touts PS Vita sales, Netflix
Japanese electronics giant's latest handheld has surpassed half a million sold; TV and film streaming service set for portable's US launch.
LAS VEGAS--Sony Corp.'s 2011 Consumer Electronics Show offered little to get excited about for those of the video game-playing persuasion. Unless, of course, those gamers were also interested in new ways to experience the still-lukewarm 3D movement and the various devices that Sony has crafted to support it.
With Microsoft backing out of CES as of next year, it's possible that Sony will take the opportunity to play a more dominant role in the massive gadget-centric Las Vegas show. While there might be no better way to do that than to stun crowds with a first look at the PlayStation 4, current rumors are leaning more toward the game-centric Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.
CES has already played host to one bit of Sony-centric gaming news. Earlier today, AT&T confirmed pricing for the Vita's 3G SKU, with subscription-free data plans starting at $15 a month. However, it remains to be seen as to what surprises at all Sony may have left for the game-playing sect.
[4:59] Gamers may or may not have much to look forward to at Sony's CES-opening media briefing, but audiences have still arrived en masse to see what the electronics company has in store for 2012.
[4:59] Business execs in suits mingle with bloggers in jeans.
[5:00] It appears as if Sony will once again be coming heavy with 3D, as a voice tells the audience members that now is the time to remove their supplied glasses from their protective plastic sheath.
[5:00] A giant 3D screen in the front of the room lights up. Still images coming at you…in 3D!
[5:01] Uncharted is shown intercut with Avril Lavigne, PS Vita, Gran Turismo 5, tablets, cameras, and camcorders.
[5:01] Sports, Smurfs, Spider-Man…sizzle.
[5:02] Sir Howard Stringer, current CEO of Sony Corp., takes the stage.
[5:02] He's the chairman and president, too. But who's counting?
[5:02] Stringer is talking about touching people, emotionally.
[5:03] 900 million Sony devices are in the wild, apparently.
[5:04] This will be aided by the Sony Entertainment Network.
[5:04] Stringer says that Sony has a stake in every part of the digital revolution.
[5:05] From movies to games, all delivered in HD, 3D, to name just a few Ds.
[5:05] Without a software-hardware marriage, Sony would be childless?
[5:06] Sounds like Sony will have things to talk about from each of its divisions tonight.
[5:06] And there will apparently be a special guest to close out the show.
[5:07] Stringer wraps up, and Kazuo Hirai, executive deputy president of Sony Corp., comes out.
[5:08] Hirai says Sony is unique in many ways, but the way in which the company uses resources from across its divisions is what sets it apart.
[5:08] He's talking about TVs, PCs, phones, and tablets.
[5:08] Not a peep about gaming.
[5:09] Kaz Hirai, I thought I knew you.
[5:09] New User Experience seems to be the new buzz words.
[5:09] It's about Playing, Watching, Listening, and Sharing.
[5:09] Hirai offers a tour of the "new integrated world," beginning with the Sony Entertainment Network.
[5:10] It has one common ID and a digital wallet.
[5:11] Any Sony device can connect to the SEN, and Video Unlimited has many movies available a month before other services, he boasts.
[5:11] From Video Unlimited, he shifts to Music Unlimited.
[5:11] All of these services can be accessed through all of Sony's connected devices.
[5:11] Music Unlimited is now available in Scandinavia, he announces.
[5:12] Sony wheels out an intense setup of devices, all running Music Unlimited.
[5:13] There's no need to manually add new music to individual devices; it's all synced.
[5:14] How's it done? The Cloud.
[5:14] New benefits recently introduced include the artist channel option.
[5:14] This lets users create their own playlists. Very innovative, Sony.
[5:15] Kelly Clarkson's channel is chosen, and after the pop icon's song runs, it skips to a similar artist.
[5:15] Mandisa, for those wondering.
[5:15] Music Unlimited will be available for the PS Vita on day one, Hirai confirms.
[5:15] Play Memories Online is the next thing Hirai wants to talk about.
[5:16] It's a way to upload photos and videos to the cloud, on the fly. The service is launching in the spring.
[5:17] Play Memories Home lets people map their photos to a calendar and wirelessly connects smartphones and tablets to Bloggie Live.
[5:17] Play Memories Studio is a new PS3 application that makes viewing, sharing, and editing photos into almost a game.
[5:18] Sony's Reader is also going to be compatible with SEN. Tablet S and Tablet P are next up.
[5:18] Video, music, games, e-tools, they do it all, Hirai says.
[5:19] The Sony tablet is PlayStation Certified, which means it plays old PlayStation games and new games developed with the PlayStation Suite.
[5:19] 6.5 million units of all PlayStation formats were sold during the holidays worldwide.
[5:19] That's sold to users, not retailers.
[5:19] Hirai says the PS Vita has sold more than 500,000 units to consumers as of January 5.
[5:20] Oh, it looks like Netflix is coming to the PS Vita.
[5:21] Netflix is "working to have it ready" on day one. Sounds like it isn't quite a lock.
[5:21] Hirai is moving on to smartphones. The new company name of Sony Ericcson is Sony Mobile Communications.
[5:22] New smartphones are designed to show and capture everything in HD.
[5:22] "The HD experience is vital."
[5:23] The new Xperia ION is powered by the same tech that powers Bravia TVs.
[5:23] It sports a 12 megapixel camera, which is the highest resolution available on a phone in the US. It also allows for fast picture taking.
[5:24] AT&T is getting it exclusively, and it's coming this spring. Xperia S is coming in March. Like the Xperia Play, both phones will be PlayStation Certified.
[5:24] Hirai is moving on to Bravia TVs.
[5:24] He says TVs are becoming a gateway to the Internet.
[5:25] He's talking about Sony Internet TV, which will be integrated with Google TV.
[5:26] Hirai says Bravias provide X-reality Pro, which sharpens grainy videos online.
[5:26] Super-light Active 3D glasses are also coming.
[5:27] Made out of titanium, they are half the weight of Sony's previous model.
[5:27] It's time for Vaio. He's talking about a slate-design PC, and he's saying that they're all powered by Bravia technology.
[5:28] Hirai said that he's created a group within Sony to continue creating a better user experience.
[5:28] Hirai brings out Phil Molyneux, the president and COO of Sony Electronics.
[5:29] Phil is a dashing version of Peter. For those wondering.
[5:29] Molyneux shows a wireless keyboard that integrates with a Bravia TV.
[5:29] Sony Tablet S and Xperia Phones have a media remote function.
[5:31] Moving to camcorders, Molyneux touts Balanced Optical Steady Shot. He says the feature cancels handshake blur 13 times more effectively, and it'll be found in top-of-the-line cameras.
[5:31] He's talking about Sony's HD camcorder that had a built-in projector, and this year's model enhances its functionality.
[5:32] Up to 100 inches is the maximum screen size projected onto a wall.
[5:33] The Bloggie pocket camera is getting an update. The Bloggie Live is the first full HD camera capable of live video streaming with built-in Wi-Fi.
[5:34] The camera lets users upload their videos and photos instantly.
[5:34] Sony Tablet S has been well received, Molyneux says. And this has been augmented by Sony Tablet P.
[5:34] Its main draw is its folding design.
[5:35] To audio! He says that this year, they are introducing SS-AR2 speakers.
[5:35] They deliver "the purest playback," he says.
[5:35] Yeah, Sony's still making Walkmans. This includes the Walkman Z series, which is Android based and Wi-Fi enabled.
[5:36] It can access Music Unlimited and connects to the Android market.
[5:38] Molyneux is talking about Sony's partnership with Ford, saying that it is providing audio setups in cars.
[5:38] Molyneux talks about Sony's green initiatives, saying that the company's products continue to use less and less power.
[5:39] It's now time to talk about future tech. Namely, 4K resolution.
[5:39] 4K resolution is more than four times the resolution of HD.
[5:39] It has nearly 9 million pixels, compared to HD's 2 million.
[5:40] This technology is being used in movie theaters.
[5:40] A 4K Home Theater Projector is also part of this strategy.
[5:41] Sony is continuing to work on 4K TVs and is showing 4K-upscaling Blu-ray players.
[5:41] He's now talking about 3D, which was the focus of last year's show.
[5:42] He's talking about numbers to silence the haters.
[5:42] 3D theatrical releases have earned $6 billion in revenue worldwide.
[5:43] And with that, he cues up a trailer for the new Men in Black film.
[5:44] The movie's coming out is Memorial Day.
[5:45] Stringer then introduces Will Smith and Barry Sonnenfeld. Smith coughs as he stumbles out, saying that was a nice strong Sony strobe.
[5:47] Barry says something literally nonsensical.
[5:47] Smith is pimping the film now, saying "It was a lot of fun to make this movie."
[5:48] He says Sonnenfeld did a great job directing, and he also says to Stringer, "You did a great job paying for it."
[5:48] Good job not sounding too much like a shill, Stringer retorts.
[5:48] And Smith and Sonnenfeld are out.
[5:49] Stringer is talking about the other films coming from Sony Pictures, including new Spider-Man, Underworld, and Ghost Rider.
[5:50] He then cues a sizzle reel for 3D pro sports.
[5:51] The Sony Open golf tournament will be shot in live 3D, for those interested.
[5:51] 3D head-mounted display, anyone?
[5:52] 3D Tech Centers are designed to train professionals on how to best implement 3D.
[5:52] These centers are in the US, UK, and India.
[5:53] Stringer says on Wednesday, they'll be live broadcasting SportsNation in 3D, in conjunction with ESPN.
[5:53] There are over 100 million connected Sony TVs, he says.
[5:54] Sony is developing a new display technology; it's a Crystal LED display.
[5:54] It delivers super contrast and super-wide color gamut.
[5:55] Stringer appears to be wrapping up, summarizing the past 55 minutes.
[5:55] Will we get a big finish?
[5:55] One more guest is coming out, and it is...Kelly Clarkson.
[5:56] Clarkson, of course, is a winner of American Idol.
[5:57] She's singing "Mr. Know It All."
[5:58] Looks like Clarkson will be closing out the show.
[5:59] Stick around for GameSpot's live blog from Microsoft's CES keynote address, which is scheduled to kick off in half an hour.