Sony N100: Another heavyweight enters networked media player ring

Sony have become the latest tech giants to jump into the burgeoning market of internet media players. Their new N100 Network Media box combines streaming client, Wi-Fi and BRAVIA Internet Video in one sleek little package.

Sony-n100

The player looks lovely enough, with a cool monolithic design that matches Sony’s state-of-the-art Bravia TVs. Its ultra-compact size is also a boon for minimalist fans, not least because the awkward, sticky-out bits usually featured on such players are built into the design or tucked away inside, to keep things as neat as possible.

So, all things considered, the device is definitely a winner in the style stakes, but what exactly can you do with it? Well, it’s more a case of what can’t you do?

The basis of the Network Media Player is the Bravia internet function that Sony uses on its top-edge digital TVs and has now adapted it into this standalone unit. The player makes big use of catch-up TV services, allowing easy access to BBC iPlayer and Demand Five. It also puts Hollywood blockbusters (or arty offerings, if that’s more your thing) at users’ fingertips by allowing them to order films from Lovefilm or the Qriocity-powered on-demand film service, giving instant access to an array of titles in HD or standard definition.

As for the technical stuff, the unit has 080P video output on HDMI and compatibility with the latest HD audio codecs, including dts 2.0+Digital Out and Dolby Digital Plus. It can play almost all film formats and audio tracks as well as content including DivXHD, MKV and AVCHD files locally via a front-panel USB socket. And there’s also functions allowing content to be streamed from network storage, in addition to IP Content Noise Reduction to clean up streamed video and free iPhone/iPod Touch/Android control apps.

In short, it sounds like a media-lover’s dream (and a Luddite’s worst nightmare). The unit is being touted by Sony as a simple, one-stop entertainment station that provides consumers with a full home cinema experience. With a huge array of functions and such an enticing design, it’s difficult to spot any obvious flaws with the product. The big test will be how it squares up against its rivals in such a highly competitive marketplace.

There’s no word on price yet, but the Sony N100 Network Media Player will be available to buy from October.

TWIG: Blackbox silencer headphones, SLURLs review, Sound Pillows and more

The Week In Gadgets

It’s been a busy week in technology with the demise of my favourite web app Google Wave, the unveiling of Amazon’s Kindle 3 and Apple’s “Magic Trackpad”… or as we like to call it “Trackpad”

Released 2 weeks ago, but only in my hands this week, Blackbox’s new i10 silencer headphones were also impressive. Self-powered and noise cancelling the i10s are for hardcore audio enthusiasts – especially as they only work via Apple’s unique 30 pin dock. They claim to cancel 92% of background noise using ANR technology and at £79.99 RRP are comfortably in the reach of most “high end” earphones – although the 30 pin dock connector does restrict what you can use these headphones with.

Blackbox-Headphones

We were all excited about the release of Y-Cam’s Bullet, a weatherproof network camera, which allows you to view and hear footage in real-time, from anywhere in the world. Think of the possibilities. Keep an eye out for Naomi’s review which should be out some time next week.

We had a look at a range of fantastic pillows, travel pillows and headboards from Sound Asleep that came with built-in speakers. I was then pointed in the direction of Sound Pillow, who also make an integrated pillow speaker –designed for tinnitus sufferers but popular with festival goers, travellers and students. You can check out the £27.99 pillow here.

We mentioned SLURLs a while back and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy. Initially I approached the slim volume with scepticism – how funny can a book about domain names be? Fortunately it turns out that the answer is “quite” and Chief SLURLer Andy Geldman managed to throw in some genuine laughs as well as a few interesting facts and a Nathan Barley reference along the way. SLURLs makes a great causal read or gift for anyone with even a passing interest in Internet culture. Make a nerd happy here.

Of course there were a slew of apps released. The Cineworld iPhone app caught my eye – it uses geodata to locate your nearest Cineworld, with films and screening times and compare with other Cineworlds. Best of all you can purchase tickets from the app, distinguishing it from other similar Movie apps.

Pinch recently launched a multiplatform app “Pinch – iMessenger, iContacts & iLocation Sense”. iDon’t know what this means but it appears to improve on standard SMS but including location data and social networking features. They have launched the Pinch iPad Global Contest where users can win iTunes gift cards, iPads and more prizes. Check it out for download details, support handsets and details on how to win an iPad.

And finally the fun and free iPhone and Android “Postcard” sends your holiday snaps to an FTP in Dorset and posts them the same day (there is a 4 pm cut off ) Simple yet effective. Check it out.