Cool Tech Reviews

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December 17, 2005

Sony PSP a stolid success in North America

The Sony PlayStation Portable may be the Rodney Dangerfield of handheld entertainment since it “gets no respect” compared to the iPod, but it still seems to be a solid, if stolid, hit. Lisa Baertlein at Reuters:

Sony Corp. is on track to double the number of PlayStation Portable video game players sold in North America to around 6 million at the end of its first holiday season this year.

The sharp screen on the paperback-sized video game device has won over movie fans, fortifying a solid debut though not a runaway success along the lines of Apple Computer Inc.’s iPods.

Analysts predict that the PSP’s long-term prospects are good, but where the iPod is praised for its stunning ease of use, some PSP players have told Reuters that games are slow to load on the device and that its left thumb-operated mini joystick can be awkward to master.

“Clearly there is not the intoxication or hysteria that there is with the iPod,” said Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey, who is among those betting on the PSP’s success.

The PSP was launched in N. America in March 2005 and 6 million in the first year isn’t shabby at all. I think the impression that it is merely a handheld gaming device, when in fact it is a general purpose audio and video player as well, detracts from its visibility as an iPod competitor. The retail price of approx. $250 may also be a problem according to the analysts mentioned in the article although, again, that’s in comparison with handheld game machines like the approx. $130 Nintendo DS. There are also complaints that getting your audio and video content on the system could be much easier, but Sony is happy for you to buy movies on the proprietary Universal Media Disc which is becoming more common.

Some reviews:

ZDNet/CNET says audio and video usability could be better.

CNET has minireviews of several games

PC Magazine loves the 4.3″ TFT LCD screen as does most everybody. Dislikes the proprietary Sony media formats and the lack of audio/video features.

See also The Gadgeteer and DesignTechnica.

Posted at 9:27 am. Filed under Apple, Brands, Companies, iPod, Portable Gaming, PSP, PSP, Sony

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November 21, 2005

TiVo Expands to IPods, PSPs for TV Playback

May Wong at the AP:

TiVo Inc. is expanding its video recording service so users will be able to transfer recorded television shows onto Apple Computer Inc.’s iPods or Sony Corp.’s PlayStation Portable — the latest move aimed at putting TV in people’s hands for viewing anywhere.

The enhanced TiVoToGo feature being announced Monday will also add more copy-protection measures to discourage possible copyright abuse that would anger Hollywood.

TiVo officials said shows recorded via TiVoToGo will have digital watermarks. The extra encoding will follow the copied program wherever it goes, giving TiVo the ability to trace the origin of a transferred program that might get posted freely onto the Internet.

With its introduction in January of TiVoToGo, the digital video recording pioneer gave its broadband Series2 subscribers the ability to transfer recorded shows to Windows-based PCs and laptops as well as portable media players. But the service was available only to devices compatible with Microsoft Corp.’s Portable Media Center platform, such as Creative Technology Ltd.’s Zen.

Now, by adding support for the MPEG-4 video format, TiVo hopes to capitalize on the popularity of iPods and PSPs, which are among today’s hottest handheld gadgets with video capabilities.

Not a bad plan, particularly including both the iPod and the PSP, but there is a catch.

The new service feature will be available Monday for current TiVo subscribers as a beta test and for the general public in the first quarter of next year.

Consumers would need certain video encoding software on their computers, provided by TiVo or purchased elsewhere for about $15 to $30 in stores.

The enhanced TiVoToGo also will allow users for the first time to set their TiVos to automatically load new recordings of their favorite programs to portable gadgets via their PC. The recordings would be transferred overnight, similar to how shows are downloaded to TiVo boxes overnight for those who request automatic recording of certain programs.

Don’t expect instant gratification: The transfer process from a TiVo Series2 set-top-box to a PC — a necessary step before syncing to a portable — occurs roughly in real-time. An hour-long show will take an hour to transfer to the PC, then roughly another 10 minutes or so to sync to a portable device.

I guess you’ll really have to want to watch something on the small screen.

Posted at 8:23 am. Filed under Apple, Brands, Companies, iPod, Portable Video, PSP, Sony, TiVo

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