It’s not very often you would see Sony show off its future concept ideas for their VAIO line up, however this time they made an exception and brought 2 models to tease us. In our opinion however those two models seemed more of a pre-production type products rather than concept per say that usually may stay in R&D lab and never see the light on a shelf of a store.
Sony often has interesting exhibits and displays during large trade shows, and during CES 2011 the real gem was a stunning Monolithic Design exhibit. From the primary booth entrance, a row of droolworthy 55″ HX929 series BRAVIA TVs led to the origin of Sony’s TV design inspiration. Amusingly, the sheer size and open layout of Sony’s booth may have left this artistic vision overlooked by many attendees. The large, monolithic black screen was surrounded by thin slate and was something truly reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Viva ELVIS, a harmonious fusion of dance, acrobatics and live music, is a tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley. Nostalgia, modernity and raw emotion provide the backdrop for his immortal voice and the undeniable energy of his music. Cirque de Soleil Viva ELVIS had a special short dance performance with a chair-stacking spectacle at the end of Sony’s CES 2011 press conference, which we have available to view in a video below.
Created in the image of The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – powerful, sexy, whimsical, truly unique and larger than life – the show highlights an American icon who transformed popular music and whose image embodies the freedom, excitement and turbulence of his era.
Significant moments in his life – intimate, playful and grandiose – blend with the timeless songs that remain as relevant today as when they first hit the top of the charts. Viva ELVIS focuses on the essential humanity of the one superstar whose name will forever be linked with the history of Las Vegas and the entire world of entertainment: Elvis Presley.
Believe or not, but many 2011 Sony BRAVIA devices (TVs, Blu-ray players, etc) have a built-in web browser accessible through the updated XMB interface. This was not officially announced at CES 2011, but as you can see in our exclusive hands-on video that the browser was most certainly functional. According to our sources, the browser is HTML5/Java compliant, and is powered by a MIPS processor. We heard that one day it might be upgradeable to support flash, but no time table was given. Tabbed browsing is supported, and you can also utilize the TrackID service to identify which song is playing in the browser.
In our video of the BRAVIA Internet Browser, you can see that the test page loaded rather slowly. This is mostly due to the horrendous Internet speeds available in Las Vegas during CES 2011. Regardless, even on a diamond connection it wouldn’t be the fastest browsing experience because of the slow hardware, but this is still a nice option.
BRAVIA Internet Browser should be available on products such as the HX929, HX820, NX720, HX729 televisions. We are still working to confirm compatibility on the EX series TVs and the various BDP-S series Blu-ray players.
The Sony α55 is a midrange-level camera, released in August 2010. It is a breakthrough in camera design due to its being the first digital single-lens translucent camera, (along with the Sony α33). As an SLT, it features phase detection auto focus in live view along with an electronic viewfinder, due to usage of a half-mirror instead of a standard, solid mirror. Because its translucent mirror does not have to flip up to take a shot, the camera is able to take up to 10 frames per second while continuously focusing – a feat that is a first in its class. It’s also one of the first four Sony Alpha reflex cameras with video mode included, capable of 1080i. It is also the first DSLR camera capable of using phase-detection autofocus during video recording. The A55 has body-integrated image stabilization, and a 16.2 MPx APS-C CMOS sensor.
Did you know that the Sony Alpha A55 is one of the company’s greenest products yet? During CES 2011, Sony revealed waste plastic from optical disc manufacturing are converted into recycled plastic for use in Alpha cameras. A total of 21 different exterior parts of the Sony A55 series uses recycled plastics.
Sony uses over 15,000 tons of this material annually in various products, including TVs, PCs and cameras.
Sony debuted a new product in their line of direct disc burning devices at CES 2011. The new burner on the block is set for release this March for $300 and is named VBD-MA1. Its primary use is to save videos and photos onto a Blu-ray or DVD disc without a PC. It is compatible with Handycam, Cyber-shot, alpha, many non-Sony camcorders, and nearly all video tape devices (VHS, miniDV and Hi8). There are five quality modes that you can record in, allowing up to 19 hours and 20 minutes of HD video on one 50GB double layer BD disc.
It record on just about anything, with support for BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-R LTH, BD-RE, BD-RE DL, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R, and DVD-RW. There’s also a 2.7 inch color LCD screen which allows you to watch video or look at 6 photos at a time. You can even connect it to a PC via USB2.0 and use it as an external Blu-ray writer.
Sony boasts that titling, menus and chapters are easy to create. There is four preset menu designs, and the ability to program automatic chaptering every 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
Recording features include 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio support, Dolby Digital 2 channel, and the ability to record from a USB DV/Analog sources. There are also composite video, L/R audio, and 4-pin i.LINK connection (IEEE1394) inputs.
Memory card support is pretty standard on this burner, including the MemoryStick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo series and SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
There are several exceptions to this device worth nothing though, such as:
“AVCHD video cannot be previewed on the LCD. You cannot record High Definition and Standard Definition video onto the same disc. The USB connection not supported for non-Sony cameras and camcorders.”
Here are some additional angles of the VBD-MA1 and its settings menus:
At CES 2011, Sony was showing off a new $399 external display for DSLR’s or any other camera with a HDMI (mini) output, which includes many Sony models. The CLM-V55 is a 5″ External LCD Viewing Monitor for live view video and stills, and a perfect compliment to a tripod setup and many other situations.
Other key features include:
The LCD has a 16:9 aspect ratio, but can display 4:3. Overall resolution is pegged at 800×460. It is powered by a M Type Sony battery, which could differ from your DSLR’s battery meaning you’ll need two chargers. Here is some photos of the CLM-V55 that we took at the show, including the peak view:
There is an incredible gallery of the CLM-V55 in action at DC Watch.
Sony had many interesting demonstrations of upcoming/concept glasses-free 3D technology at CES 2011. An interesting character in that group was the little “Glasses-free 3D Portable Blu-ray Player,” which allows you to spin 3D movies anywhere, without glasses.
The specifications are pretty straightforward for its small size, as it sports a normal 10.1″ LCD at 1366×768, which can play HD at that resolution. The 3D effect is not as bad as you would think. After spending several minutes watching the various demo footage I was slightly impressed. There was dimensionality around objects, but it wasn’t anything mind blowing. When the character (in the photos below) was walking around the forest I could feel the layers of scene around her, and the trees seemed authentic at certain points. At other points it was lackluster. I think it will still be a really unique device that could appeal to those who have Blu-ray 3D movies.
Could it also be a product that entices someone to get into Blu-ray 3D? Hard to tell. If I had the money to throw around I might get it for the family. Maybe if I traveled a lot.
Would you buy a product like this?
The styling on top of this Blu-ray player was radical and embossed with a high gloss, carbon-fiber ribbon top with a lush shade of subdued neon blue. It, like many other products for Sony at CES 2011, represented even bolder style experimentation than previous generations. There is no doubt this device would attract attention. And fingerprints.
One great new feature added to 2011 BRAVIA devices (TV, Blu-ray players, etc) is the embedded Skype application.
The camera (CMU-BR100) used for Skype isn’t built into the television, and is sold separately. You can video call anyone with Skype, even on mobile devices, or make voice calls while watching TV.
It’s been puzzling as to why it took Sony so long to launch video chat for their TVs, as Samsung and other manufacturers launched Skype for their sets back at CES 2010.
We spent some time with Skype for BRAVIA at CES 2011, and our impressions are mixed. The version we saw was still in prototype form, but seemed very close to the final product.
The CMU-BR100 camera module itself is very small, and the shape somewhat reminds me of the Microsoft Kinect. It is definitely far smaller and lighter than the Kinect, though. Video quality maxes out at 720p resolution, which is on par with the competition. The camera has an array of four microphones as well. There is a flap at the bottom that is also made out of rubber, which I assume helps prevent the camera from slipping off smooth surfaces.
The actual video quality of Skype for BRAVIA was mediocre, and didn’t even feel like 720p. There was problems with sharpness and also jagged blocks were evident during movement. To be fair, though, I must remind you the demo I witnessed was a prototype. There’s also the fact that in Las Vegas during CES, and nearly all Internet connections are completely overloaded so that also had a significant impact on quality. I assume the final version, on a good broadband connection, will look and feel like 720p quality.
We will be following up with Sony to see what the price of the CMU-BR100 will be and if the camera is backwards compatible with 2010 BRAVIA devices.
We shot many pictures of the service in action, including: contact list, profile view, on-screen call notification, video call interface, tools menu, and several settings menus.
After spending a considerable amount of time at Sony’s CES 2011 booth, it has become increasingly obvious what product is the true star of the show. We tip our hat towards those futuristic concept 3D head mounted glasses.
These aren’t glasses for watching 3D on your television, but rather 3D directly displayed within. Think of it as your own personal theater.
Now bear with us for a moment if owning a product like this seems silly to you. We don’t blame you for thinking that way. In reality, there’s a couple of considerations that make this product seem completely impractical, such as comfort, price, and so on.
According to Sony, these glasses are a 3D “cinematic experience” with integrated surround sound. But what does that really mean? Well, with a built in OLED screen and a 1280×720 resolution, it means these concept glasses ooze quality. Sure, it’s not 1080p, but these glasses are just an early concept and the potential is certainly there. The color reproduction is very high, thanks in part to OLED’s 24-bit RGB spectrum.
The aesthetics of the glasses is something straight out of Tron. The design is a reminder of Sony style and innovation from years ago when the company experimented. The glossy shell exterior is truly stunning, and is complimented by soft blue LED lighting on the front and near the built-in headphones with an illuminated logo on each side.
When I first picked up the glasses, it wasn’t as heavy as I expected. The internal design still looked like a prototype, but overall not too far different than a final product. Putting them on was relatively easy, but unfortunately you had to hold these in place and were not self supported. If and when these glasses come to market I assume that won’t be an issue.
I’ve been a moderate critic of 3D. I think that it was launched too early, but it does offer something different and compelling in selected media experiences, such as live sports, gaming, and so forth. My only gripe has been cross talk, which is that issue where motion doesn’t appear fluid. Cross talk occurs largely because of the high millisecond (ms) response time found in most LCD panels, which only grows worse during 3D playback.
OLED (and Plasma) do not suffer from cross talk issues because the response time is far less than a millisecond. This means that motion appears very fluid, eliminating a common source of headache and eyestrain that people usually associate with 3D. When I put the glasses on, it only reassured me OLED was the ultimate display for 3D consumption. The colors in the demonstration video were vivid, and the brightness was excellent in a demo nature scene with a woman walking through a forest. The 3D effect finally felt natural, especially since its most noticeable issues were gone. An added bonus was the fact that the enclosure of the glasses blocked out nearly all ambient light, which made the experience feel like I was in a theater. Sound quality was difficult to judge.
I spoke to a representative and he noted the glasses would most likely utilize a HDMI connection, meaning it could work with a variety of content sources, including 3D Blu-ray players, PS3, PC, and so forth. The glasses also defeat a major problem the company faces with OLED, as large screen OLED displays are difficult to sell at reasonable prices because of the high manufacturing cost.
There is no timetable for the release of the 3D head mounted glasses, but with a concept as advanced as this I can’t imagine it would take longer than a year or two. Then again Sony has teased concepts at CES numerous times, many of which never came to market.