Sony XPERIA XZ Review: A second try at a proper flagship smartphone

Welcome back Sony. After previous XPERIA X phones left us underwhelmed, does this new slab satisfy? Here’s our full review of the XPERIA XZ!

Xperia X Performance Real Camera Review https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV9zV…

Sony Removes Fingerprint Scanner From USA Bound Z5 Smartphones

Why Sony? Why do this?

Our on-going saga of scattered support and terrible relationships between Sony, USA carriers, and customers continues. Their new line of Z5 smartphones was announced back in September of 2015. We’re only a couple weeks away from Mobile World Congress, where it’s likely we’ll start hearing about new Samsungs and LGs, but we’re only just now getting word from Sony about them selling their phones unlocked here in the United States.

The Z5 and the Z5 Compact will be shipping unlocked to retailers like Amazon and B&H starting February 7th. The flagship Z5 will sell for $599 and the smaller Z5 Compact will sell for $499. There’s no word about selling the Z5 Premium, which is the first phone to feature a 4K display.

04. Z5_white_groupThe phones are sleek devices, and feature very good cameras. Lifestyle features like waterproofing are certainly appreciated, but they’re saddled with 2015 tech like Qualcomm’s 810 processor, which has a nasty reputation for running hot and draining battery life. We’re only weeks away from phone announcements featuring a new 820 processor which is performing well enough to get Samsung back on board Qualcomm’s CPU for their next batch of phones. Samsung opted to use their own Exynos processors last year due to performance concerns.

To add insult to injury, we now have confirmation from Sony that because of a “business decision”, USA bound Z5s will not have fingerprint scanners built into the power button like international versions of the phone currently include. This is a terrible feature to remove, as more consumers are starting to embrace biometric security solutions not only for locking their phones, but also for utilizing banking and payment services.

This really isn’t a great strategy for building a fan base here in the USA. Months late to market, denying us the high end 4K version, and withholding features that consumers are starting to embrace. But if you do still decide a Sony is the right fit for you, at least Sony has the decency to charge you full “new phone” price for the privilege.

Sony Showcases 4K screen, Cameras, and Waterproofing on Family of Xperia Z5 Smartphones

Announced today. Sony took the wraps off their newest flagship phones. The Z5, Z5 Premium, and Z5 Compact.

04. Z5_white_groupSony is first to market with a 4K display on a phone. The Z5 Premium will sport the Qualcomm 810 with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of built in storage, and the ability to add more via Micro SD card. Quite a feat shrinking that resolution down to a 5.5″ screen.

The bread and butter Z5 shrinks down to a 5.2″ display and reduces the resolution to 1080p, but retains largely the same overall experience.

The 4.6″ screened Compact also returns, continuing Sony’s track record of producing a smaller form factor phone which matches most of the specs found in their larger flagships. Always happy to see a smaller premium phone rather than gimped “mini” budget phones.

12. Z5_Z50c_WhiteWhite_Group 2For all three, Sony’s hard edge rectangular design retains the Xperia feel we all understand. Water resistance seems to be improves ala Samsung, where ports no longer require awkward flaps.

Sony produces most of the top tier camera sensors found in competing phones, so it makes sense they would save “the good stuff” for themselves. Their newest sensor is a half inch 23MP beast with an f2 lens aperture, and they’re touting the world’s fastest smartphone auto focus. Combined with OIS, it should make for a solid competitor to the current crop of flagship phones.

Lastly, the side mounted power button gets upgraded to include a fingerprint sensor, a fairly ingenious design, providing one action for turning the phone on and unlocking, without resorting to a hardware Home button or rear mounted scanner.

The family of Xperia Z5 phones should be shipping in October, with country and pricing info to follow. You can catch Sony’s full press release below.

Continue reading “Sony Showcases 4K screen, Cameras, and Waterproofing on Family of Xperia Z5 Smartphones”

PS4 User Account Hacked, Sony Refuses to Refund $600 in Fraudulent Charges

sony ps4I really want to jump into a pages-long, old-man tirade about what video gaming was like when I was a kid. When the “bits” of a console were single digit. When playing a game meant punching in a cartridge and pressing the power button. Where instead of waiting for updates to download, the worst “tech support” we’d need to perform was blowing out some dust from the tray. But I digress…

Redditor Kadjar posted yesterday about an infuriating aspect of modern day gaming, the fact that we don’t own our games in quite the same way we used to with cartridges and discs. Instead we have an account, and our games are attached to that account. Kadjar’s Playstation Network account was compromised, and he woke up to $600 in fraudulent charges and the discovery that his PS4 was no longer attached to his account. Someone else had all his stuff and racked up some huge bills.

Worse, upon discovering the hijack, and contacting Sony, he got some bad news. Sony would only reverse $150 of the charges. If he used his credit card company’s ability to dispute the charges, Sony would ban his account and wipe out any and all record of any game attached to his account, even those not in dispute and purchased legally. Continue reading “PS4 User Account Hacked, Sony Refuses to Refund $600 in Fraudulent Charges”

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Crushes “Mini” Smartphone Competition

06_Xperia_Z3_Compact_White_GroupI try not to editorialize TOO much while covering press releases, but I am bothered by the “bigger is better” trend in smartphones. Flagships are starting to blur the boundaries between “regular” sized and “phablet”. Mini phones are almost always hamstrung versions of their larger stablemates. In Android land, there is exactly one mini phone which still retains higher-end specs, and Sony just gave it a refresh.

The Z3 Compact steps down to a 4.6″ display with a 720p resolution, it loses 1GB of RAM (down to 2GB), and it packs a smaller battery at 2600 mAh versus its big brother’s 3100 mAh. Besides those, it retains almost all of the hardware from the larger Z3. You’ll find the same Qualcomm 801 Quad-Core processor. Both have stereo speakers, and water submerge-able builds.

30_Xperia_Z3_Compact_White_BackThe Compact has the same 1/2.3″ camera sensor packing 20MP, 4K video, and optical image stabilization. Plus Sony will be bringing PS4 remote play to both the Z3 and the Compact for you console gamers out there.

It’s a largely premier specs sheet. At a time when even Apple will be moving up in screen size, and with the mid-range market getting hammered, Sony is providing a shot in the arm to a segment of the smartphone market which is often ignored. Pricing and availability will follow soon, and you can read Sony’s full PR below.


Continue reading “Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Crushes “Mini” Smartphone Competition”

Playstation 4 Price Rising to $449 in Canada Starting Today

sony ps4In an odd response to “changing market conditions” Sony is bumping up the price of the PS4 console, Playstation Camera, and the Dualshock 4 controller.

Starting today, the PS4 will jump $50, from $399 to $449, the Dualshock and Camera now retail for $64.99, and games will also increase in price by about $10 over USA prices.

This move makes sense to a degree as the current exchange rate puts the Canadian dollar at around 90 American cents, which would bring the price difference pretty close to that rate adjustment, as $399 USA is about $443 Canadian at the time of this posting.

As a platform strategy however, the timing on this increase is tricky. Sony still enjoys a sales lead, but rival Microsoft has been chipping away at that, and currently has no plans to raise the price of the XBox One which remains at $499 in Canada. Sony’s bump here brings the stock PS4 (without a camera) to within $50 of the XBox which includes the Kinect camera and tracking system.

Consoles exist to move software however, and Microsoft is only adding a $5 premium to their games up north, largely eroding the cost advantage Sony enjoyed when you factor in a console, and additional controller, and actually buying a game to play on that new system.

NPD sales data for February showed Microsoft selling just over 90% of what Sony moved over the same time period, and we’re about to see the impact of Titanfall, which has all the buzz and momentum of being the first true “Next Gen” hit. It’s impossible to declare any kind of “winner” this early into the console life cycle, but thankfully the competition is about to get a lot more interesting.

Sony unveils Waterproof Xperia Z2 Smartphone & Tablet

A pair of exciting announcements from Sony out of Barcelona. Following in the wake of selling off their PC division, Sony is doubling down on their Xperia line up with the Z2 phone and Z2 Tablet, and happily both of these multimedia powerhouses will survive a swim.

Xperia_Z2Xperia Z2 Phone

It’s a power packed combo including all of Sony’s best gear.  A 5.2″ HD screen is powered by a Qualcomm 801 quad-core, 3GB of RAM and a phablet-sized 3200mAh battery.

For Android photogs, Sony is packing a 20.7 megapixel 1/2.3″ sensor with optical image stabilization. That puts it firmly in Nokia Icon territory for light sensitivity and achieving shallower depth of field in photos and videos. It will also be capable of shooting 4K video, making it one of the more formidable combinations of optics and tech in the Android ecosystem.

Xperia Z2 Tablet

Xperia_Z2_Tablet_BlackPushing forward with slates, the Z2 Tablet features a 10.1″ “Full HD” Live Colour LED display, also powered by a Qualcomm 801 quad-core and a 6000mAh battery. Two models will be available, WiFi only and LTE.

Sony pushing gaming and multimedia, hopefully as a tease for future Playstation Now compatibility, are bragging on DUALSHOCK3 wireless controller game play. For work, they’ll have a custom Bluetooth keyboard cover and stand available for purchase.

Both the Z2 Tablet and Phone are waterproof, feature integrated noise reduction when using Sony ear buds, and they’ll also both be eligible for a special entertainment package including six Sony Pictures films, one of which is ‘Captain Philips’, and a 30 day free trial for Music Unlimited.

Both Z2’s will launch globally this March. Full press releases are below.

Continue reading “Sony unveils Waterproof Xperia Z2 Smartphone & Tablet”

It’s a Cloud Services World. We just pretend it’s about the hardware…

server rack front panelsWe all like to speculate about what’s coming down the pipe, what “THE FUTURE” will look like. One thing is becoming abundantly clear however, a good chunk of what’s coming is going to be delivered via networked, over the air, services. AKA The Cloud.

I know, shocking revelation. I’m sure none of you saw that coming, which is why it’s a good thing you read this blog, as I’m pretty terrific at delivering the obvious. All joking aside, we’re seeing some pretty exciting trends, and a few concerning ones.

Storage & File Delivery
This was essentially a proof of concept that basic data intensive services could work online. Putting larger files onto a server for easier delivery than email or “sneaker-net” style solutions. From YouSendIt to DropBox and everything else in between, we’ve flirted with the cloud primarily to sync and share information. It’s only been recently that data networks have gotten robust enough to offer…

Media Services
We’ve had Youtube for about nine years now. It’s made such a profound impact that it’s difficult to remember the internet without it. Of course, the push for HD video, and then competing services like Netflix and Hulu, really took hold over the last couple years. Online streaming radio is hot right now, and improved sharing and creation tools have lead to…

Collaborative Services
It’s not enough that we can upload a document. Multiple people can now work on it at the same time instead of emailing revisions back and forth. It’s not enough that I can vlog in front of a webcam, I can now broadcast to a live audience with multiple participants and have that automatically added to my Youtube channel.

So What Comes Next? Continue reading “It’s a Cloud Services World. We just pretend it’s about the hardware…”