Sony’s new A7s camera can shoot 4K video in the dark

Sony has come up with a full-frame mirrorless camera, dubbed the A7s, providing videographers with 4K recording capabilities. The camera features a newly developed, 12.2 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor paired with a BIONZ X image processor, allowing it to shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 409600.

According to the company, the new model is also the world’s first camera to utilize the entire width of a full-frame image sensor in 4K video acquisition, and does this without cropping or line skipping as it can read and process data from every one of the sensor’s pixels.

Neal Manowitz, director of the interchangeable lens camera business at Sony Electronics, said: “Between the alpha99, VG900, RX1, alpha7, alpha7R and now alpha7S models, we have completely revolutionized what it means to be a ‘full-frame’ camera, bringing a new level of quality and portability to enthusiast photographers and videographers.”

With the new alpha7S camera, the high-speed read out of the 35mm full-frame image sensor combined with the high-speed processing of the BIONZ X processor enables significant improvements in video quality.

The high ISO sensitivity range of the alpha7S camera is said to be extremely effective for still image shooting, especially in low-light conditions, where the camera can shoot at high shutter speeds while keeping noise as low as possible. This is particularly useful for shooting indoor, dimly lit sporting events or other situations where most cameras typically struggle.

The camera is also equipped with the same high-precision Fast Intelligent AF system as the alpha7R camera, with improved low-light AF sensitivity that can go as low as -4EV.

Sony will be announcing pricing and availability of the A7s at a future date.

Sony jumps into virtual reality with Project Morpheus for the PS4

Sony is building a virtual reality (VR) headset for the PlayStation 4 (PS4) —a prototype of which was revealed on Tuesday at a Game Developers Conference 2014 event entitled Driving the Future of Innovation. Sony is calling the VR system “Project Morpheus”.

“Nothing delivers a feeling of immersion better than VR,” The Verge quoted Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios, as saying. “VR has been a dream of many gamers since the computer was invented. Many of us at PlayStation have dreamed of VR and what it could mean to the gaming community.”

Yoshida added that Morpheus is the “culmination of our work over the last three years to realize our vision of VR for games, and to push the boundaries of play.”

Yoshida also shared that the Japanese company has been tinkering with VR prototypes ever since they began work on the Playstation Move way back in 2009.

Take a quick look at some of the specs found in the company’s current prototype:
• 1080p LCD
• 1000Hz motion detection
• Panel Size: 5 inches
• Panel Resolution: 1920×RGB×1080 (960×RGB×1080 per eye)
• Field of View: 90 degrees
• Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope
• Connection interface: HDMI + USB
• Function: 3D audio, Social Screen
• Only one headset at a time is supported
• Headset is currently connected to the PS4 by a 5-meter cable but Sony plans to bring a wireless version in future
• Positional/rotational head tracking
• Tracking is handled by the same camera that tracks PS4 Move controllers
• It works for people with glasses
• An “Open air” design prevents the lenses from fogging up.

“Morpheus enables developers to create experiences that deliver a sense of presence – where players feel as though they are physically inside the virtual world of a game,” Sony said. “Presence is like a window into another world that heightens the emotions gamers experience as they play.”

“Inertial sensors built into the head mount unit and Playstation Camera accurately track head orientation and movement so as the player’s head rotates, the image of the virtual world rotates naturally and intuitively in real-time,” Sony added.

[Image Credit: SlashGear]

Sony to bring widget functionality to Firefox OS

Sony recently submitted an enhancement which allows widget like functionality on Firefox OS. Dubbed gadget, it is supposed to allow easy interaction with applications from homescreen and lockscreen. Currently the implementation is being reviewed on bugzilla by the Mozilla team.

The gadget functionality is addition to Gaia, Firefox OS’ user interface level. It is akin to Android’s framework. The name ‘gadget’ was chosen by Sony to disambiguate from other smart phone widgets, especially the ‘widgets’ application packaging format standard proposal. Three enhancements are currently submitted by the Sony team on bugzilla. One enhancement provides the gadget framework. The other two provide hooks in homescreen and lockscreen for the gadget framework.

The gadget framework makes it possible to add a view of an app similar to Android. They can be accessed via homescreen, lockscreen or utility tray .You will be able to interact with the app through the gadget. Gadgets can be added, moved, resized and removed easily.

However, Sony has made it clear that they are not committed to continued work on Firefox OS. In fact the gadget proposal is just an ‘early review of a technical platform’.

Top Android Releases at MWC

MWC is now behind us. OEMs showed up, showed off, and some left lasting impressions while others did not. Throughout the barrage of announcements and revelations, there are some products that we feel were more note worthy than others. Products that you, our readers might consider in the not too distant future. Products that we envision showing up in even our homes when they are released. I will now highlight a few products and announcements that stood out, but for the sake of simplicity, I will group the products by OEM rather than by category. If I failed to cover your favorite OEM, please don’t hold it against me as there was much to cover. Without further delay, why don’t we get right into it?

Samsung

We all know about the might of Samsung, and I will not dwell on it here. They were very present at MWC, and they presented quite a number of tech pieces to us. The main device presented was the all new Galaxy S5. By main I mean that it was not only Samsung’s number one device, but also the chief device of the entire MWC. As expected, it bested the S4 with a slightly bigger screen, faster processor and a better camera. Added features like a finger print scanner and the ability to check your pulse rate at the back of the phone are just the icing on the cake for me. The S5 is not expected to be released before April of this year, but based on recent reports, fans are already enlisting their names to get their paws on the next best thing, and to be honest, we can’t blame them for it.

Gear_Fit

The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit, although members of the Tizen OS, are the descendants of the Android based Galaxy Gear, and we felt like they should be included here. The Gear 2 and Neo are a lot like the original Gear in terms of the design language. One would be forgiven for mistaking one for the other. The new offerings have lost weight, the camera on the Gear 2 has been moved from the wrist band to the watch to enable swappable bands while the Neo drops the camera altogether. While these are without doubt some fine pieces of tech, the Gear Fit was the one to steal the show, and was also awarded as the ‘Best Mobile Device‘ at MWC. Like many before it, it will track your movement, workouts and help you to get in shape once you’re willing of course.

Sony

The creators of the PS4 felt like they had a point to prove, and that they did. Sony introduced the Xperia Z2 at MWC, and it’s a stunning piece of machinery. The Z2 continues with its solid build quality and not only that, but it improves on its predecessor with small upgrades. The upgrades all blend together to offer a nice package. The screen has increased from 5 to 5.2″, the memory has been bumped up to 3GB, and it comes with a Snapdragon 801 processor. The screen resolution remains the same at 1920 x 1080, but the battery is now a whopping 3200 mAH, which should be enough to get the average user, and even some power users through the day.

Sony wasn’t done with the their offerings and they also released what many consider to be the thinnest tablet of all at a mere 6.4mm thickness. The Z2 Tablet, like the phone, has a Snapdragon 801 processor in tow as well and also the 3GB of memory. Digital noise cancellation when used with a headset, and a host of accessories will be available including the now mandatory keyboard cover. Sony has been known to produce dust and water proof electronics in recent times, and they have not deviated from this winning formula with their latest phone and tablet offerings.

Muktware_Xperia_z2

LG

With the success of the Nexus 4, 5 and the G2, LG has risen to prominence and is ever aiming for Samsung’s crown on the Android throne. Shortly before MWC, LG launched the G Pro 2 in Korea and we soon learned of its awesomeness. It packs a 5.9″ screen, a 1080p resolution, a 13 megapixel camera and comes with 16 or 32GB of onboard storage, even though you can add more via the Micro SD slot. Like the Note 3, you’ll be able to shoot 4K videos and of course, Android 4,4 KitKat is on board. The G Pro 2 suprisingly features the Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.26 Ghz, 3GB of Ram and, like the Z2, contains a 3200 mAH battery. There is no mistake that this phone is a direct competitor to the Note 3 and all other phablets for that matter.

Nokia

I know that some of us may have scratched our heads at the sight of Nokia being one of the Android OEMs, but, as of MWC 2014, Nokia may be considered as such. Please note that doing so may come with some consequences depending on who your friends are. Nokia launched their ‘Nokia X’ line of Android phones at MWC this year, and the Android community has not been fully receptive of it, but, that was to be expected. The X, X+ and XL are poorly specked when compared to today’s average smartphones, and they are clearly a sign of Nokia testing the waters out before investing in any real hardware for the Android market.

Muktware_Nokia_XL

Members of the Android community have long wished for a Nokia made handset that runs Android out of the box, but few wanted it to be a forked version. Sadly, that’s exactly what we got. A forked version of Android that looks more like Windows Phone than Android itself. That said, Nokia has claimed that it will run about 70% of the Play Store apps, which, if my math is correct, is in the region of at least 700,000 applications. Like some members of the Lumia line, these phones are also geared towards the low end market but it has to be priced competitively because we now understand that the Moto G is doing pretty well right now.

Asus

The most noteworthy of Asus’ contributions at MWC was the Asus PW100 Nexus 7 dock. The dock features wireless charging and can be used in both landscape as well as portrait mode, although it will only charge your Nexus 7 in landscape mode. If you can get past the $90 price tag (or there about), then I have reason to believe that you will love this device. Based on reviews, the build quality is amazing —  something that we’ve come to expect from Asus, and we’ve also learned that it works with the Nexus 4, 5 and other Qi compatible devices that you may own.

Motorola

I waited patiently for Motorola’s conference, and then even more for their revelation of a new product, but it did not come. There was none. Instead, they did reveal some bits of information. For example, they will be making a smartwatch that will actually look good; something that all good watches do. A 2nd generation Moto X is also expected in August of this year and, considering the splash that the G and the X made in 2013 and even now, we have high hopes for Motorola’s next set of devices. Although no new hardware was presented at MWC from Motorola, they did let us in on their future products, and this was worthy of an honorable mention.

As we await the release dates for some of the devices that were shown at MWC; the S5, Gear Fit, Z2 and G Pro 2 were the stand out performers of the week. There’s very little to separate those at the top these days. Screens, sizes and specs are generally similar at this point, but it just means that OEMs have to try a bit harder to differentiate themselves from the pack. Tell us readers, which device got you excited? Are you going to buy any as soon as they’re released or are you waiting for that Motorola watch to be unveiled? Feel free to let us know.

Image Sources: Mashable, BGR

Sony launches Xperia Z2 tablet at MWC14

Mobile World Congress is an exciting time for all gadget freaks, you get to see new product launches every few hours. Sony’s event on the first day of MWC 2014 showcased new Xperia Z2 tablet which aims to take over Apple’s iPad Air.

Sony is trying to sell Xperia Z2 as the world’s slimmest and lightest waterproof tablet. It is taking a jab at Apple’ iPad Air with a thickness of 6.4 mm and 426g in weight, compared to 7.5mm and 469g specs of iPad Air.

Design wise Xperia Z2 tablet is similar to its predecessor Xperia Z. It has all glass design in the front with no buttons. There’s a 10.1 inch FULL HD display, backed by Sony’s proprietary ‘Triluminos’ technology, which is however lower than iPad Air’s 2048×1536 pixel resolution. The speakers are mounted in the front, which has started to become a norm introduced by HTC One’s boom sound speakers. There’s matt finish plastic at the back with small logo,keeping Sony branding to minimal. It has a 8 megapixel rear camera and 2.2 MP MP front facing camera for video calling.

Under the hood Xperia Z2 tablet has a Qualcomm’s latest top of the line Snapdragon 801 2.3Ghz quad core processor with Adreno 330 GPU, making it one of the most powerful Android tablet at the moment. Along with that it contains 3GB RAM enough for multitasking and internal memory options of 16GB or 32GB. The tablet also has support for expandable storage using microSD card upto 64GB.

On the software side too, it has the latest Android KitKat 4.4.2 running ,with Sony’s lightly customised skin loaded with PlayStation Mobile store and multimedia apps for Music and Movies.

Kunimasa Suzuki, President and CEO, Sony Mobile Communications said, “The Xperia Z2 Tablet represents the pinnacle of tablet innovation and is a true flagship in our premium line. We have evolved our cutting-edge design to create the slimmest lightweight tablet matched with Sony’s latest technologies to deliver a unique user experience. And with our new range of dedicated accessories, you can further now enhance your tablet experience whether for work or play, at home or on the go.”

Overall, Sony Xperia Z2 tablet packs in powerful hardware in a sleek form factor. It will be available in White or Black colour at the end of March with 16GB/32GB and WiFi/4G options. Expected pricing is around £400.

Sony Xperia Z2 tablet specs leaked

Wondering what the rumoured Xperia Z2 tablet from Sony will offer when it hits shelves? Well, a recent tweet by @evleaks revealed that the Xperia Z2 (codenamed Castor) will feature a 10.1-inch 1920×1200 Triluminos display.

The leak mentioned that the device will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset that has been clocked at 2.3GHz.

Tipped to measure 6.4mm thick in a waterproof body, the tablet will feature Android 4.4 Kitkat OS (it’s is expected to be skinned with Sony’s custom user interface). It will also pack a 3GB of RAM, a 6,000mAh battery, an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 2MP front-facing camera, and 16GB of onboard storage expandable via microSD card.

Another Twitter account, namely @gadgetleaks, has also shared some press photos of the device. Given these images don’t contradict the one revealed by @evleaks, they look genuine as well. The account also mentions a few details of its own.

The Japanese hardware maker will hold its press conference on 24 February–the first day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show, and it is expected to use the platform to announce the Xperia Z2 tablet.

Sony announced the Xperia Tablet Z back in 2013. With its decent hardware specs, the device made its use a pretty good one. Let’s wait and watch if its successor will live up to the expectations of customers too.

Xperia Z Ultra now available as a Wi-Fi-only ‘tablet’

Sony has officially announced the Xperia Z Ultra, WiFi only version. The new model of the device will be available in Japan this week for ¥52,000 (approx. $499).

The WiFi-only model does not differ much from the original Xperia Z Ultra, except that it lacks a baseband radio processor that allows cellular calls.

In the official press release, Sony refers to its morphed-Xperia Z Ultra smartphone as a ‘tablet’. Though its massive 6.4-inch 1080p display can be put to use for some great things, users might not find it convenient to carry it in their pocket every day.

It features the same 6.5mm-thick waterproof casing, 8-megapixel camera, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS, Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 2GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery as found on the regular Xperia Z Ultra.

There’s no official word on whether this model will be heading to the rest of the world. But if you are in the US, you can currently buy an Xperia Z Ultra with LTE. The device is available from both Sony (with a price tag of $649.99), and Amazon, along with Google Play for the Google Play Edition version.

Are you willing to pay 52,000 yen for the new Xperia Z Ultra tablet? Well, Sony at least expects you will.

Sirius — Sony’s rumoured flagship to feature 5.2″ screen, 3GB of RAM and launch with KitKat

It’s flagship time, and many OEMs are eager to get a jump on their competitors in 2014. Sony is one such OEM, and recent rumours have pointed towards their upcoming flagship which is codenamed, ‘Sirius’. A recent post by XperiaBlog suggests that Sirius will sport a 5.2″ screen, 3GB of memory and the Qualcomm MSM8974AB processor. A little digging reveals that this processor is the Snapdragon 800. Though not the newest in Qualcomm’s line, the 800 is no slouch, and a 2.3Ghz clockspeed with Adreno 330 Graphics should serve Sony well for the next year or so.

Although the firmware build on the leaked images point to Android 4.3, it is thought to be an old build, and Android 4.4 KitKat is expected at launch. The Android space has been a race about specs for the past three or four years, and it shows no sign of slowing down, despite the best efforts of some manufacturers to use optimization over increased specs. The Moto X and G are examples of this, and they offer great experiences without throwing unimaginable specs at the devices.

Sony seems to be caught in the midst of this with the Sirius. 3GB of memory is rumoured despite Android KitKat only needing 512MB to run well. They also seem to have increased the screen size to 5.2″ despite many claiming 5″ to be a sweet spot and no complaints about the size of the Z1. On the contrary, they find 1080p panels to be sufficient and have opted to stay away from the rumoured 2K displays that are about to hit. Alas, the life of an OEM is quite a difficult one, and they must do what they deem fit for their survival. The Android space needs more top devices to balance the playing field, and with this in mind, I hope for great success for Sony’s new flagship.

For screenshots and eye candy of the rumoured Sirius, head over to Xperiablog. By the way, did anyone ever figure out how Motorola got the Moto G to last two days on charge with only a 2070 mAh battery? I sure would love to know.

Upcoming Top Android Phones in 2014

With Consumer Electronics Show (CES) going on and Mobile World Congress (MWC) just around the corner there is lot of anticipation building up regarding upcoming smartphones from different manufacturer camps. Here we will take a look at the most awaited smartphones of 2014.

Samsung
The Korean electronics giant is currently leading the Android smartphone race and they have lot of devices in their arsenal to take on other players in the fierce battle.

Samsung Galaxy F: Samsung is looking to go metal with this new flagship device which rumoured to debut alongside Galaxy S5 and will take the top spot in Samsung’s premium smartphone line up. If it has to go above the Galaxy S line it should contain the top of the line internal specs as well. The word is that it will be powered by Cortex A57/A53 octa core Exynos processor, and will have a display with QHD 2K resolution at 2560×1600 pixels, could even be a true flexible one. Other than that it will probably also have 16 MP camera module that Samsung has been working on, along with Optical Image stabilisation which has been missing from Samsung smartphones. There is not much information available about this mystery device yet.

Samsung Galaxy S5: The next show stopper for Samsung from the legendary Galaxy S line is also up for release soon. Even if there are rumours that Galaxy F will take the high end crown from Galaxy S5, the ‘S’ line still is the face of premium smartphone range from Samsung. Rumours surrounding Galaxy S5 suggest that it will also come with 2k display like the Galaxy F. It will be powered by 64-bit Exynos or Snapdragon chipset, contain 3GB of RAM, 16 MP camera, 4000mAh battery and run Android 4.4 KitKat. The most exciting rumour is about inclusion of iris scanner which is set to put iPhone 5S’ fingerprint scanner to shame. The Galaxy S5 is set to debut at MWC 2014 and could be followed by the Galaxy F.

HTC
Even though HTC is having a hard time keeping up with the competition, it is not giving up so easily and is working on their sequel to the HTC One which has seen some critical and commercial success.

HTC M8: The successor to HTC One is in the news since a long time, codenamed M8. Recent leaks by @evleaks suggest that the device will be running Snapdragon 800 processor, 3Gb of RAM and display around 5.2 inches with 1080p resolution. It will inherit the same UltraPixel camera from HTC One but bump in megapixels might be on the cards. It is expected to run Android 4.4 with Sense 6.0 on top of it We are really worried how HTC plans to name the device. HTC One 2? We are expecting the device to launch during the first quarter of 2014, probably during MWC 2014.

HTC Butteryfly 2: The sequel to HTC Butterfly, is said to ahev a 5.2 inch Full HD display, and run on Snapdragon 800 chipset. The device is also expected to have UltraPixel camera and BoomSound speakers. The phone will have two-tone colour scheme and come in white, black and blue. Taking inspiration from Sony, HTC is also trying to get the Butterfly 2 waterproof IPX7 certified.

LG
The Korean electronics maker LG is neck and neck with its hometown rival Samsung. LG is also making their own 64 bit octa core processors and has already showcase their flexible display technology.

LG G3: The flagship phone from LG and successor to LG G2 is set to come armed with a QHD 2560×1440 resolution screen with 5.5 screen size. The camera is going to be a 16 MP shooter. LG’s homegrown 64 bit octa core ‘Odin’ processor based on ARM Cortex A50 is expected to power the device. LG might not be able to debut the device during MWC and push the launch to somewhere around 2nd half of 2014.

LG G Flex 2: We don’t even have Lg G Flex available worldwide, so it’s a long shot to think about it’s successor yet. LG showcased their flexible display capability in LG G Flex, which was bendable to some degree. The second iteration, LG G Flex 2 is set have a bendability up to 90 degrees. The chassis is supposed to be made up of rubber to allow the flex. We have neither have information about the internal specs that will power the device, nor its release date, not even a hint.

Sony
The last two years have seen Sony reveal their flagship device in January so, we might be pretty near to seeing Sony’s 2014 flagship smartphone, which is expected to set the feature and design standards for rest of the devices that will follow.

Xperia Z2: The Sony brought the ‘waterproof’ and ‘dustproof’ feature on board and saw huge success. The next version, Sony Xperia Z2 is also expected to bring some innovative features if Sony wants to stay in the game. We have not seen any news about flexible displays and homegrown 64 bit processors, Sony might be planning to stay away from gimmicky stuff. The rumours suggest that Xperia Z2 codenamed ‘Avatar’ will feature a 5.2 inch IGZO Triluminos 1080p display, 4K video recording, 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 20.7 MP camera, 3GB of RAM and 3200mAh battery. Advance wireless charging and and fast charging within one hour are some features that are being speculated.

Sony Honami Mini Codenamed Ray 3 details leaked

We knew this was going to happen. All latest flagship devices have their ‘Mini’ sibling, so why should Sony’s Honami not have a ‘Mini’ version? It started with Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 Mini, followed by HTC One Mini, then came along Motorola Droid Mini and already hinted Moto X Mini, now we have leaked information about Sony Honami Mini codenamed Ray 3.

The Sony Honami has not been launched yet, we are expecting Sony to unveil the mysterious device next month. We might as well see the ‘Mini’ version debut with the original Honami. Till now the news is that Honami Mini will feature a Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 4.3 inch 720p Display, 2GB of RAM, 20 megapixel Sony G Lens rear camera, 16GB of internal memory and 2400mAh battery.

Unlike other Mini devices, Sony Honami Mini seems to not compromise on power under the hood and basically packs all the internals of Honami in a smaller package. This is good news for people who want the latest specs but do not like the phablet sized flagship devices – current market trend.

There is no official word available on this and it is speculated that the Sony Honami might be launched on September 4 at IFA Berlin.