Playstation make their Move

So, the much vaunted Playstation Move was finally unveiled this month at the GDC conference in San Francisco, and Sony are hailing it, somewhat unexpectedly, as the ‘next generation of motion gaming’.  The question is, however, is it little more than a Wii wannabe, and Sony’s attempt to muscle on the market that them bods at Nintendo have cornered so well?

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The answer, it would appear at this early juncture (its not actually released until the Autumn in America), is pretty much a yes. But then it was always going to be and, at the end of the day, why shouldn’t they?  Compatible for the PS3, and available at launch as a bundle with game and the Playstation Eye camera-more on that later- for around 100 $ it seems to offer a viable alternative for the hardcore Sony gamers who can’t bear to move to Nintendo or Microsoft (who are releasing a similar gizmo, the Natal, later this year).

The device itself is not unlike the Wii, with a controller and and a second sub-controller for navigating characters around gaming environments.  Visually the most striking aspect of the controller is the blue rubber ball that sits on the end- the lighting up of which the Playstation Eye catches, and captures the players position.  The Eye, essentially a camera that you pop on your TV, ‘detects the precise movement, angle, and absolute position in 3D space’ of the gamer, and in conjunction with the controller allows the user ‘intuitively play the game as if they themselves are within the game.’  The Eye, in certain games, will also film you, and project your image onto characters as a means of increasing the level of immersion with the games.

Reaction to the device in the notoriously harsh gaming world has been somewhat muted; from reading forums and talking to gamers who already own the PS3, there seems to be an air of cynicism about the device.  Wii lovers see it as nothing other than a copycat, trying to nab the attentions of those uninterested in the family/casual gaming ethos that Nintendo has fostered so well.  A lot of Sony devotees, who revel in the complex and made-for-adult games put out by the Japanese company, seem to view it as a sign of Sony dumbing down their product.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding and if Sony can bring out the games to appeal to this demographic then all will be swiftly forgiven.  Sony says there will be 20 games released on the platform in 2010 with deals and support in place from 36 publishers and developers, so this clearly anything but a gimmick for Sony, but a concerted attempt by them to both prolong the lifespan of the PS3, and to enter the lucrative world of motion gaming.  Roll on Autumn.

Sony Cyber-shot TX5: water, dust, shock and frost proof!

Sony have just announced their latest and greatest, the Cyber-shot TX5 and are heavily touting it as being “everything proof”. The TX5 can take on water, dust, shock, cold and just about everything else bar T1000s. According to Sony the TX5 can withstand drops of 1.5 m, although I have no desire to test this. It’s also pretty svelte, at just 17.7 mm slim.

I’ve lost a few cameras to Earth, Wind & Fire over the years, so a robust stills and video camera sounds ideal. With the ability to attach harnesses to bicycles and photograph commutes, record underwater adventures, or even just to capture the diluvian British Summer the TX5 widen the number of photographic possibilities available to the average photographer significantly.

Other than rock solid reliability the TX5 boasts a fairly standard set of features for this generation of high end point and clicks. 10.2 megapixels, 4x optical zoom with 25mm wide angle Carl Zeiss lens and 720p HD movie shooting. It is also fitted with a ·7.5cm (3”) wide Clear Photo LCD touch screen – in a similar fashion to the new Canon Ixus. This apparently works underwater and with gloves, a feature my frost bitten figures where crying out for as I scaled Zakopane in Southern Poland last month.

Intelligent Sweep Panorama a feature found on Cyber-Shots has been enhanced. By simply pressing the shutter button once and sweep the camera across the scene automatically stitches together a burst of high resolution frames to create a panoramic image, even if people are moving. Face Detection, Smile Shutter and Intelligent Auto mode for hassle free shoots in any situation are also included. Best of all, like all models in the 2010 Cyber-shot™ line-up, the TX5 frees you from the tyranny of Memory Sticks and allows you to use SD or SDHC cards.

Rumour: Sony to launch motion controller wand?

Sony’s inevitable contribution to the world of gesture control finally has some concrete details to go along with it. The ‘Motion Controller’ – a working title, Sony assure us – has only seen light of day at trade events thus far, but expect that to change now that the peripheral has a release date of Autumn 2010. That would put the device in direct competition with Microsoft’s Natal motion controller so expect the hype machine to hit overdrive just in time for Christmas.

The controller, resembling a microphone in shape, comes equipped with two motion sensors, three axes gyroscope and three axes accelerometer that can detect the controller’s angle and movement while held in the user’s hand. Sony promises that this technology, when combined with the PlayStation Eye camera, will accurately track the absolute position of the controller for an accurate, adaptable experience.

The sphere placed on the top of the controller is not only used to track position but can also give visual feedback to users by changing the colours or the illuminating patterns onto the sphere. Physical feedback meanwhile is provided via similar rumble technology as currently employed in DualShock 2 pads.

‘We have decided to release the Motion Controller in fall 2010 when we will be able to offer an exciting and varied line-up of software titles that will deliver the new entertainment experience to PS3 users,’ said Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

All big words from the Sony chief but so far the confirmed catalogue of games is a little on the thin side, a new Ape Escape game being the most illustrious of Sony’s launch date offerings. That said it seems the device will be compatible with already released games, titles such as Flower, PAIN and Eyepet all set to receive patches that will incorporate motion controller functionality.

There is no doubt that the success of the Nintendo Wii has paved the way for gesture control on home consoles, but a key part of that success has been down to the Wii’s competitive pricing and catalogue of so called ‘casual games’ so appealing to traditional non-gamers. Whether the public will be willing to invest substantially more for the promise of the PS3’s tighter motion control and high definition visuals remains to be seen.

Sony announce PM5, PM5K and CM5 Bloggies

We all know that the new blogging is now vlogging and for those of you that perhaps are out of the ‘vlogosphere’, the process involves blogging your life via the means of video. Keeping up with the action, Sony has launched three new high definition pocket camcorders, each one aptly named the Sony Bloggie.

Colourful and lightweight, the new Bloggie models are fun and simple to use. At the switch of one button you can shoot crisp, clear 5 megapixel still photos, whilst the switch of another will allow you to capture your special and spontaneous moments in clear Full HD MP4 video. The PM5, PM5K and CM5 Bloggies can record both super-smooth 1280×720/60p video and high resolution Full HD 1920×1080/30p clips. SteadyShot image stabilisation also eliminates the annoying camera shake when you’re shooting whist on the move, and Face Detection fine tuning allows for clear and precise images.

Perhaps a competitor for the Flip Video camcorder, the new Bloggie is predicted to be the camera of choice on which to record your next potential YouTube phenomenon and is designed to be taken out and about with minimal effort so you can record all those day to day moments on a quick, easy and high quality recording device.

For more creative filming, the PM5 and PM5K also feature a rotating lens that swivels 270 degrees which allows you to film from any angle – the bright, high resolution 6.0cm LCD screen also shows camera settings in the bottom half of the display while you’re shooting. The PM5K even includes a special 360 Video lens adaptor that lets you experience incredible panoramic videos – something that really places this gadget a step beyond the Flip.

The Sony Bloggie also features an in-built USB adapter to connect directly to a PC or Mac and is available in a choice of four vibrant colours.

The embedded PMB Portable software launches automatically when the Bloggie is connected to your PC or Mac, allowing you view, select and upload clips to video or social network sites including YouTube and Twitter. The added advantage is that you don’t need to install any editing or file transfer software on the computer, making bloggie ideal for use on-the-go. The camera’s battery is also automatically charged while it’s connected to your computer via USB.

Fun, simple to use and minimal uploading effort! The Bloggie definitely sounds like another winning product by Sony!

The Sony Bloggie pocket camcorders are available from February from Sony and prices range from – £169.99 – £209.98.