Sony Announces S1 and S2 Honeycomb Tablets

At a Tokyo press event, Sony announced a pair of Android 3.0 tablets — the S1, featuring a 9.4-inch touchscreen display, and the smaller S2, with dual-screen 5.5-inch displays that can can fold like a book. The tablets will connect to Sony’s cloud-computing library of movies and music in addition to Sony PlayStation Android-based games and digital books from Sony’s Reader store.

The S1 media tablet features front- and rear-facing cameras and what Engadget describes as “a curved wrap design that resembles a folded magazine.” The S1 also features a Tegra 2 SoC, touch panel UI, and integrated infrared for use as a remote control for Sony devices. The second tablet, the dual-screen S2 clamshell, features two 1024 x 480 pixel displays, Tegra 2 SoC, and camera. Engadget reports: “Sony takes advantage of the two screens with a custom book-style UI layout for its e-reader app, split keyboard and messaging displays for email, and split display and game controllers for PS One gaming.”

In a video report, IDG reports the S1 and S2 are PlayStation certified, WiFi and 3G/4G compatible, and will support DLNA (enabling users to buy a movie from the online Qriocity store, for example, and stream the content to a TV from the tablet via WiFi).

Sony said the devices will go on sale worldwide by September. The company has yet to announce prices, but according to Engadget: “…sources told us back in February that Sony was considering a $599 MSRP on the S1 while the S2 would likely come in at $699. Still no word on the Windows 7 slider but with the other two leaks official, it’s now only a matter of time.”

Related Huffington Post article: “Sony Shows Off S1, S2 Honeycomb Tablets With PlayStation Integration” (4/26/11)

Digital Workflow: Viewing Dailies on Tablet PCs

As part of the next step toward streamlining the film and television production workflow, Sample Digital and Technicolor have introduced apps that enable executives to view “dailies” on their iPads. According to the Los Angeles Times, the apps provide production execs around-the-clock mobile access to daily footage, scripts, visual-effects shots and trailers.

“Until a few years ago, dailies from shoots were typically stored on DVDs and then shipped to various locations, a process that became more costly as production increasingly moved out of Hollywood and projects took on multiple financing partners. More recently, dailies are delivered online and accessible on PCs and laptops, which aren’t as easy to lug around as a tablet.”

The dax|Mobile app from Sample Digital costs $249.99 on the iTunes store, while the subscription-based digital workflow system runs $1,250 to $2,000 per TV episode and up to $15,000 per movie. Encryption for the streaming video to prevent illegal copying is available for an additional fee.

Additionally, Technicolor has teamed with PureBlend Software Design Group to offer the Technicolor MovieSlate on-location production app that works for both Android and iOS systems to provide access to dailies and other content.

Pelican Imaging Touts Prototype Array Camera for Mobile Devices

Pelican Imaging announced its prototype “array camera” for mobile devices that uses multiple lenses to record a single high-quality image. The company hopes this will appeal to manufacturers who want to make a slimmer smartphone, and to users interested in leveraging computational imaging (adding features such as the ability to alter focus after an image has been captured).

The three-year old company has received $17 million in venture funding. Its technical advisory board includes Marc Levoy, who co-designed the Google book scanner and helped launch Google Street View; Shree Nayar of Columbia’s Computer Vision Laboratory; and Bedabrata Pain, who co-invented active pixel sensor technology for mobile phone cameras.

“Pelican’s technology has the potential to upset the traditional tradeoff between the sensitivity and resolution of a camera and its thickness,” Levoy said, adding “Pelican’s solution is small, fast and inexpensive — which makes it a very exciting technology.” According to Nayar, the technology is a “paradigm shift in imaging and video” likely to “bring computational imaging applications to the mass market.”

Check out this Engadget post to see a video about observing a scene with multiple cameras through synthetic aperture photography.

Related CNET article: “Pelican shows slim phone-camera prototype” (2/9/11)

For more information, visit the Pelican press release.

Tablet Trends: Interact with Favorite TV Shows via the iPad

We recently reported on a number of new features and trends regarding media consumption via tablet PCs, especially since an onslaught of new iPad apps have been making headlines. One such potential trend may involve synchronized bonus content and interactive features related to live TV shows.

In February, Fox announced the availability of its free app for the series Bones, that enables access to a series of content add-ons while viewing the program live or via Fox.com, Hulu or DVR. Features include social media integration (users can comment with other fans and try to solve cases) and the ability to purchase songs played during the show from iTunes. The Fox launch follows the release of ABC’s iPad sync app for the hit drama series Grey’s Anatomy.

As content providers, perhaps we should be looking beyond complementary content for tablets, and consider what additional video approaches might leverage this growing platform. According to paidContent: “It’s interesting that so far the TV industry is treating tablets more as a sidecar for original programming on TV than a source of original content in its own right, as News Corp.‘s new The Daily is trying to do. Or perhaps sometime soon we’ll see a video-centric company try to evolve its product on the iPad the way News Corp. wants to do same for the news business.”

The paidContent article includes an interesting video promo for the free Grey’s Anatomy iPad app that features interactive components such as polls, quizzes, bonus content, and more.

The Battle Heats Up over Alpha Android

The battle for control of Google’s phone/tablet OS continues to heat up. In this Bloomberg Businessweek article, developers complain about Google’s increasing demands for control over how its supposedly “open source” Android platform is deployed. One protester says he just cut a deal with Microsoft because he feels Windows Phone 7 offers more opportunity to innovate (he is, at this point, in the minority, as well as a former MS employee, but it pays to keep an eye on the outliers).

Bloomberg reports that Google has recently reached out to carriers and manufacturers that want to implement its mobile operating system with a message: “There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software. No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview. From now on, companies hoping to receive early access to Google’s most up-to-date software will need approval of their plans. And they will seek that approval from Andy Rubin, the head of Google’s Android group.”

Perhaps the most telling bit of information in this story is that Android’s share of the smartphone market grew, “from 9 percent in 2009 to an industry-leading 31 percent worldwide.”

“I don’t think we’ve seen anything like Android in terms of gaining share,” explained Bill Gurley, general partner at venture capital firm Benchmark Capital.

Although there are grumblings from various tech companies, and rumors of complaints to the Justice Department, Bloomberg explains that the Android OS is still open — “it’s just getting more heavily policed.”

Luci Live Enables Live Broadcasting from Mobile Devices

Netherlands-based Technica del Arte, maker of the LUCI series of broadcast software apps, recently announced that its popular Luci Live software is now available for Mac OSX Snow Leopard or higher (MSRP $450).

Luci Live turns mobile devices into portable recording studios, ideal for journalists who want to quickly record and edit video and audio content for HD streaming and live broadcasts. Macworld reports that TV and radio field reporters are using phones and laptops to cover events in locations such as Egypt, Japan, and Libya where traditional broadcasting techniques have recently been impacted by technical limitations.

As long as reporters have an Internet connection, Luci Live (also available in iPhone and Windows versions) is a viable solution.

Click here for more details regarding the $400 iPhone/iPad app.

Walt Mossberg on the New Apple iPad 2

In this video interview from San Francisco, Wall Street Journal “Personal Technology” columnist Walt Mossberg provides his first impressions of the new thinner and lighter Apple iPad 2, premiered by Steve Jobs at an invitation-only event on March 2.

New features worth noting include front and rear-view cameras, a thinner form factor than the iPhone, faster graphics, and dual core processors. It seems that Apple addressed the shortcomings recently targeted in advertising by its competitors. Mossberg comments that Apple did enough to stay ahead, but suggests they’re not going to claim 90 percent of the market share like they did last year due to the sheer volume of competing tablets this time around.

Mossberg comments on Apple’s focus on content creation, as opposed to content consumption, which the company hopes will change the way some consumers see the device. He also suggests it is a big deal that Apple has been able to maintain its $499 price tag for the new version. (The Wi-Fi versions start at $499 for a 16GB model and $699 for a 64GB configuration, while the 3G iPads are priced from $629 to $829.)

NCAA March Madness via Online, Tablets and Mobile Devices

According to a press release from Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA, this year’s 68-team NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament will feature newly enhanced March Madness on Demand (MMOD) live products. The services (produced by Turner Sports Interactive) will be available across multiple platforms, including online, and as an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and for the first time, the iPad. Features available over Wi-Fi and 3G include live viewing with larger format streams, a personalized channel lineup, live in-game stats, social companion views, and more.

Live streaming of every game broadcast by CBS Sports and Turner Sports will start with the First Four on March 15, and run through the Men’s Final Four semifinals and national championship game on April 2 and April 4.

Beginning March 10, free mobile apps will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad from the iTunes Apps store.

For a complete list of features, check out the press release included in the Engadget post.

Discovery Channel HD Offers Free iPad App

Fans of Discovery Channel HD programming may be interested in the free Discovery app for the iPad (released March 2, 2011). Three days after the app’s release, its developer Bottle Rocket Apps announced that Discovery Channel HD was “the top free iPad app on the entire iTunes App Store.”

Features of the new app include chat sessions with show hosts and fans, images (including production stills), daily video clips, scheduling information, tune-in reminder alerts, science news, social interaction via Facebook and Twitter, and more.

The app is available at iTunes: Discovery Channel HD by Discovery Communications

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