Sony is Committed to ‘Kando’

Kaz Hirai, president of Sony, kicked off the Sony press event. After the usual corporate ‘gush’, he talked about the concept of ‘kando’ – or ‘Wow experiences’. Looking back to Hirai’s keynote at CES this year, Hirai admitted, “Maybe I got a bit carried away” – a video tallied his use of the word, totalling 23 times!

Hirai began the ‘meat’ of the conference by discussing the importance of digital imaging in professional and consumer products, before moving on to smartphones and tablets. Gaming is also one of the company’s most important core ranges: at Gamescom, it was announced that the Playstation 4 had reached 10 million cumulative unit sales (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 32) – a figure that Sony plans to push even further (obviously!). More than half of those consoles are registered on the Playstation Network, which now has a total of 53 million users. Hirai added that a cloud-based TV service will be introduced for Playstation users in the USA this year.

Turning to Europe, Masaru Tamagawa, president of Sony Europe, said that he wants to increase the kando experience for consumers. Sony has seen good growth in many segments over the last year, and has won many plaudits for its TVs.

In October, Sony will introduce two new UltraHD models: the S90B-65 and S90B-75. They are 65″ and 75″ models. However, very little time was spent on them; Tamagawa quickly moved on to content creation. Sony has a strong history in this area, having worked with FIFA this year to film parts of the World Cup in UltraHD, as well as the War Horse stage production in London. There will be a new marketing campaign this year, which we saw previewed: ‘When you see more, you feel more’.

Consumers love to watch high-quality content, but they are equally passionate about recording their lives. Last year, Sony introduced its Alpha-series mirrorless cameras and the ‘lens-style’ smartphone cameras. At IFA 2014, it will show news lens-style models: the ILCE-QX1 and DSC-QX30. The QX1 uses the Sony Alpha interchangeable lenses, while the QX30 has a 30x optical zoom!

High-resolution audio is a way to revitalise the audio industry; there are now more than 300,000 tracks available using this format. Sony is introducing a high-resolution audio walkman (NWZ-A15) at a lower cost this year.

Kunimasa Suzuki, president and CEO of Sony Mobile, appeared to talk about Sony’s new mobile products (obviously). The Lifelog app introduced at CES will be opened up to developers later this year. Sony is also introducing the Smartband Talk, which has an ePaper display and can replace a smartphone on runs; users can load their own music on to it and use it to make calls. It features a three day battery life.

Another wearable is the Smartwatch 3, developed with Google and using Android Wear. It can also be used without a phone connection, and battery life is up to two days. Both wearables are waterproof, respond to voice commands and will be launched in the autumn.

A new smartglasses prototype will be shown at IFA – see our booth tour report below for more details.

Moving on to smartphones, Suzuki introduced Sony’s new flagship: the Xperia Z3. It has a 5.2″ display, sub-2mm bezel and is 7.3mm thick. Because battery life is a significant concern for users, Sony made it a focus; the Z3 will last for up to two days on one charge. It is also – being a Z-series model – waterproof.

As well as Triluminos technology, the Z3 uses Sony’s X-Reality for Mobile video processing. The feature has been upgraded and now dynamically adjusts brightness and contrast, pixel-by-pixel. Suzuki also claimed that the Z3 has “The world’s best camera in a smartphone”: a 25mm wide-angle G Lens, with an ISO sensitivity of 12,800. High-resolution audio and digital noise cancelling are also supported.

Sony didn’t only introduce one flagship mobile product, though: it introduced three. The Z3 will be joined by the Z3 Compact, a 4.6″ smartphone with similar specs and an 8″ tablet called the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact. The Z3 smartphones will be joined by an affordable version, the Xperia E3. All products will be available in the autumn.

All three of the Z3 devices support Playstation 4 Remote Play. They can be plugged in to the wireless controller, using a special connector, and act as the screen if you have to abandon the TV for whatever reason.

Hirai returned to the stage for two more announcements. The first was a launch date for the Life Space UX UltraHD ultra-short throw projector (Display Monitor Vol 21 No 3): it will reach the USA in September and Europe by the end of next summer. He also briefly touched on another UltraHD model, which can throw 23″ images and is designed for use around the home. This, we later heard, is the VPL-VW300ES, ‘the most effective cost-effective native 4k projector to date’.

Using SXRD panel technology, the VW300ES reaches DCI-4k resolution. An HDMI source can send UltraHD content which will be shown at 60fps (4:2:0 subsampling). The projector uses Triluminos technology for rich colour reproduction and has 1,500 lumens of brightness. Motionflow picture technology is used for a blur-free image. A low latency mode, for gaming and sport content, is also an option.

Sony has built in a front air exhaust cooling system and 2x zoom lens for installation flexibility. The projector will be available in Europe at the end of October for