Category Archives: sony

Sony launches challenge to the Kindle

sonyebookreader0309

I do like the concept of e-Books and have a Sony e-Book Reader. I also would really like to have an Amazon Kindle, but alas they’re only available in the US.

The BBC News reports on the launch of a new Sony e-Book Reader.

Sony has launched a wireless e-reader which allows users to download electronic books on the go.

Analysts said Sony’s Reader Daily Edition is a direct challenge to Amazon’s best-selling Kindle device.

The $399 (£250) touch-screen device is able to store up to 1,000 novels and can download books over a high-speed mobile network.

It also has an application that can be used to “borrow” books from local libraries for 21 days.

In a recent presentation I gave, I talked about e-Books and how I felt that the Sony e-Book Reader was a first generation device, from which new and better devices would emerge.

By adding connectivity (like the Kindle) Sony has made the e-Book more useful and allows immediate satisfaction, it’s similar to the way that Apple’s iPhone allows you to download music immediately.

Think of the impact of this on the learner, they can be in college, at home, in a coffee shop and they can immediately download to their e-Book reader their assignments, readings, handouts as and when they want or need them.

Regardless of new media, interactivity, in education we still do rely on the printed word, books, journals, handouts. By making them available on an electronic device with a long battery life, it makes it much easier for learners to access information as and when they need it.

I am however slightly disappointed and concerned when I read:

The device will be available in the US from December.

Will we ever get a connected e-Book device in the UK?

Sony enter the netbook market

Sony have entered the netbook market with their new W Series.

vaiowseries

Sony are not new to making small laptops, I had the really nice SRX41P back when I worked for the Western Colleges Consortium, and currently have been playing with the P series.

However one thing you could always say about Sony VAIO small laptops was though they were small in size, they were big in price. The SRX41P was nearly £2000, whilst current small models are nearly as expensive.

However the W series is going to be much cheaper, currently $500 in the US, UK pricing has yet to be announced, but I would guess it would be in the £400 mark.

It’s not a netbook that is going to be a real powerhouse. Running Windows XP, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB HDD it’s no different to a lot of netbooks in the market. It has a 10.1″ screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

As well as the ubiquitous Sony Memory Stick Duo slot there is also (like the P series) a SD card slot. Alas like a lot of netbooks it only has a two hour battery life.

It doesn’t look a lot different to other netbooks (well except you can get it in pink) but Sony is a brand that a lot of people trust and therefore I expect it might sell quite well to people who like Sony stuff, get the feeling that they may be disappointed.

Does make you wonder though if Apple will now take the plunge and enter the netbook market?

PSP Phone

The iPhone has dominated the thoughts of many, more so with the release of the new iPhone 3GS. I have met many e-learning professionals and lots of them use iPhones and extol the benefits of the iPhone. The same is happening across the country and elsewhere in the world

Reuters reports that

Sony Corp is considering developing a cellphone-game gear hybrid in a bid to better compete with Apple Inc’s highly popular iPod and iPhone.

The PSP is a very popular gaming console, I can’t though see the PSP Phone as an alternative to the iPhone, but more a different beast appealing to a different audience.

Sony PSP Go

So is this the new PSP?

newpsp

From the BBC

Video and photos of the PSP Go have been leaked online, revealing a smaller, more lightweight console that has dropped the failed UMD disk format.

Engadget has some leaked stats.

3.8-inch display (resolution is undisclosed)
43 percent lighter than the PSP-3000
16GB of Flash storage
Bluetooth built-in; supports handset tethering and BT headsets
No UMD drive
Memory Stick Micro slot
Full PlayStation Network support (movie and TV rentals / purchases)
Integration with PlayStation 3 (works the same as the PSP-3000 does)

From a learning perspective the 16GB of Flash storage is helpful as anyone who uses the PSP knows that the Memory Stick can sometimes go missing… generally to be found in the card reader of a PC. Alas it uses the small Memory Stick Micro format which means getting another adapter or ensuring that your current card reader can read that format.

Disappointed that there is no built in camera.

Packing

Well I have started packing for the Plymouth e-Learning Conference. Well less packing and more charging. I seem to take more and more equipment to conferences these days. Some of it will be used in my workshops, some I will use to blog and twitter, and some I will bring because I think I might use it, but generally don’t.

Apart from the workshop equipment I usually like to have the following on me at conferences (and a jacket with big pockets to carry it all).

Laptop – though I have a selection of micro-laptops or UMPCs I generally always fall back on my reliable MacBook Pro. In the main as it has a decent keyboard, partly as I have a spare battery for it and it has a built in camera.

Phones – normally two, this year three. Not for making phone calls mind you. I have my work Nokia which is what people at work will be able to call and SMS me on. I have my home T-Mobile Nokia N95 which I use for internet, either on the device or configured as a wireless router, a digital camera, a video camera and a broadcast camera using QIK. This year I will also be bringing an iPhone!

Digital Camera – despite having the 5MP Nokia N95 I do like to have a proper digital camera with a proper lense. I would love to bring my Canon DSLR, but it’s too heavy, so I have a little Sony pocket camera which does the job.

Video Camera – I have found my little Panasonic HD camera a great tool for conferences, at the ALT Conference I used it to create a little video that I then edited on my MacBook Pro (another reason to carry that around). Quick and easy to use, and records to SD cards so video clips can be easily transferred to the computer.

MP3 Recorder – I always carry this, thinking I should record some podcasts when I am at the conference and never seem to get round to it… this conference I hope will be different.

Chargers – as batteries never seem to last as long as the conference.

So what do you bring to a conference?

Sony Camcorder with GPS

hdr-tg5vI am really starting to see some of the real educational possibilities of GPS and location based learning. One of the key features of using images in location based learning is the ability to add geo-data the images and video taken by a camera.

Sony have announced a new HD Camcorder with GPS capabilities.

Perfect for travelers, this camcorder features a built-in GPS receiver that automatically adjusts your camcorder’s clock to the proper time zone and lets you view your current location on the LCD map display, as well as “tag” your shooting locations. You can view your tagged videos and pictures via the Map Index function or after you’ve downloaded them to your PC.

As with any HD camera, the technical specifications are pretty good.

Capture all the action on your next trip with this ultra-portable, titanium-bodied Handycam® camcorder. It features Full HD 1920 x 1080 video recording, 4MP still shots.

Sony have also moved to solid state media as well.

Record to 16GB embedded flash memory or choose instead to record to removable Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media

Overall an interesting camera, but does GPS add the value for what is still an expensive camera.

Engineerlingly Small

One of the nice things about my job and working on the MoLeNET programme is the fact that I can try out new pieces of equipment and wonder about their impact on our learners and learning.

I have written (and spoken) about the new breed of micro-laptops that surfaced last year starting wirth the Asus EeePC. Since then the number and type of micro-laptops have blossomed. So much so that the original 7″ Asus EeePC is now no longer available. Asus have improved upon their original concept and others have copied them. The Asus 901 for example has the same form factor as the first model, but now has a 8.9″ screen which does make a difference in how usable it is.

One micro-laptop which I did like was the HP 2133 which came with the bigger 8.9″ screen and importantly a 90% size keyboard. Though I liked the Asus EeePC the keybvoard was rather too small for me and I know others found it difficult to type large amounts of text on it. The HP 2133 was well suited to those who found the smaller micro-laptops too much of a microscopic size. However no point in recommending the HP 2133 as HP have decided to withdraw that model. Their replacement, the HP 2140 has a similar form factor to the 2133, included the nice keyboard, but now has a10.1″ screen. You have to ask is it a micro-laptop or is really no longer that form factor and more a subnotebook now?

One factor common to both of these was the linux operating system used instead of Windows. The Xandros on the Asus is very easy and simple to use, whilst the Suse Desktop OS used on the HP 2133 allowed more flexibiloity in installing software, not impossible on the Asus, just easier.

More recently I have been using a totallt different type of micro-laptop, the Sony VAIO P Series. In many ways this couldn’t be more different. It runs WIndows Vista. It has an 8″ (20.3cm) widescreen screen with a 1600×768 screen resolution. One aspect I do like about it is that it has a Apple’esque nearly full size keyboard which works for typiing for me. This blog entry for example was written on it.

Engineerlingly Small

As well as wireless and Bluetooth it also supports HDSPA. remove the battery insert your 3G SIM card and using a simple application, adjust the setrtings use the VAIO with a 3G connection without having to worry about plugging in a dongle or tethering to a phone as a modem.

It also looks like Sony have been listening to their customers and as well as a Memory Stick slot the VAIO also has a SD card slot. Considering how much use I now make of SD cards with cameras, mp3 recorders and sharing files, the SD card slot is very welcome.

The one thing which everyone comments on is the size and weight, it weighs very little and is only 24.5 by 12 cm.

Such a small device has to make compromises and the screen resolution and size means that some people may have difficulty with the Vista interface.

Battery life is pretty good and you can purchase an extended battery which will last twice as long. I am currently getting about 2 hours out of the standard battery.

So why wouldn’t everyone get one?

Well the price of course!

The VAIO UX1XN UMPC which came out in 2007 cost nerly £2000. The TX series of micro-laptops from Sony cost about £1400.

The P series is about £850 though you can spend more and get the model with the SSD drive. So for the price of one P series you could get three Auss EeePCs.

Sony eBook Reader – First Impressions

Though I would have preferred a Kindle, in the end (as the Kindle is not available in the UK) we ordered some Sony eBook readers for assesment and evaluation at the college to see if they would be of any use for our learners. We got the Sony PRS 505 eBook Reader model.

Sony eBook Reader - First Impressions

So what are my first impressions then?

I did like the size and weight and the fact that it came with a leather case. It felt right and looked good.

Then I was initially disappointed that there was no native Mac support. Sony eBook Library is not officially supported on Mac OS X or Linux based systems, although when the device is connected it grants access to its internal flash memory as though it were a USB Mass Storage device allowing the user to transfer files directly. There are some third party applications and I have found (but not yet tried) Docudesk PRS Browser for the Mac.

So once I had access to a Windows PC, I installed the software, though I had to charge the device first. The device is charged by USB, though it has a 5V charging socket, it does not come with a charger (but the PSP one fits and works fine, not sure if I should recommend that).

After configuring I installed the “free” hundred classic books which come with the device and at this point not worry about buying any eBooks. I have been recommended to use WHSmith over Waterstones as WHSmith is “cheaper”.

The process of reading a book is quite simple and the screen is easy to read. I haven’t had a chance to read a whole book, but initial impressions was that the screen was not going to be too hard on the eyes. The controls are relatively simple, but there is no touchscreen (and as I am use to PDAs and the iPod touch) it was difficult not to touch or swipe the screen.

The Sony Reader can also show pictures (admittedly in greyscale) and play audio files.

So why would you want to use an eBook reader?

Well though you can use eBooks on a regular computer or laptop, the battery life on eBook readers is a lot longer and therefore will probably last the week unlike a laptop which would probably only last the morning.

It should also be possible (with SD Card and Memory Stick slots) to “give” students all their learning materials, assignments, etc as eBooks so there would be no need to download stuff from the institutional VLE.

Why would you use this over a laptop?

Personally I wouldn’t. I would more likely use it in conjunction with a laptop, using the Reader to read source material and the laptop to write it. I also think this would stop or deter the learner from potentially plagiarising a source by copying and pasting.

Overall my first impressions are very positive and I think it is a great device. Whether I will use it and use it extensively has yet to be seen.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #014: Half-Term Meanderings

James, Ron and Lilian just chat about a range of different stuff, basically they meander…

This is the fourteenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Half-Term Meanderings.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Half-Term Meanderings

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by Lilian Soon and Ron Mitchell.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #014: Half-Term Meanderings

Shownotes

  • Geoff Minshull runs DirectLearn and uses WebEx for running online conferences. At the last JISC Conference they also used Elluminate for live presentations.
  • Gabbly can be used to discuss a website.
  • Feedburner from Google allows you to create a better RSS feed.
  • Feeder allows you a lot more control over your RSS Feed.

So no PSP Phone then?

After the success of the iPhone as a gaming platform, to me it made perfect sense that the PSP be given a phone capability. Sony’s PSP has been reasonably successful as a gaming platform, but add a phone into the mix, add the Sony PlayStation branding and we might have seen an interesting phone.

Mobile Magazine reports that due to internal disagreements, it is looking like that there will now not be a Sony PSP phone.

Sony Ericsson was planning a PSP phone but has been refused the brand

Sony is understood to have refused to allow Sony Ericsson the use of its PlayStation brand, after the handset manufacturer presented a pitch to the board late last year.

Sony Ericsson was planning to develop a PSP phone to capitalise on the growing success of the gaming sector, and after the success of Cyber-shot and Walkman handsets.

Sources said the refusal to sanction the brand on the handsets in December has prompted a fallout between Sony and the mobile phone joint venture.

A PSP with phone capabilities would have been a device I think many of our younger learners would have purchased and used.

The PSP has certainly been working for us as a mobile device for learning especially when using the camera. We are thinking of getting the GPS module for them and hopefully we can find a roughened case for the device so we can use it in the field (literally in a field up a mountain).

So no PSP Phone then?

As a footnote, nice to see Wired reporting on the Mobile Magazine story using my photograph of the PSP.