If you’re looking to be the king of Instagram, Sony’s about to give you the ultimate smartphone weapon, judging by a leak from Xperia Blog. The site posted several purported images of the Sony ILCE-QX1, a lens camera system that’d work with interchangeable E-Mount style lenses. Sony’s niche-oriented lens camera lineup is currently fixed-lens only with the QX10 and QX100 models. The QX100, for instance, is based on Sony’s fantastic RX100 camera and priced for serious smartphone photographers at $500. Assuming the rumor pans out, the QX1 would have an even larger APS-C (26.7mm) sensor and take compatible E-Mount lenses. There are no other specs, but as before, we’d expect that your smartphone will control the QX1 and capture images from it, with a mount that adapts to a wide variety of handsets. It’ll also likely have a built-in memory card. There’s no pricing yet, but as a rule, interchangeable-lens cameras are usually more expensive than fixed-lens models. Then again, Sony tends to break that rule.
Source: Xperia Blog
To say that Sony’s Xperia devices have become a bit… “samey” would be an understatement. If the picture above is anything to go by, don’t expect that trend to change any time soon. The snaps (more at the source) show what is claimed to be the Xperia Z3 Compact. It’s worth noting that would mean the Z2 Compact got skipped altogether here in the west (we loved the Z1 Compact though, so all forgiven). Other than the fact it’s nigh on the same design, all the photos tell us is that there are some new mint and… orangey-pinky-red color schemes coming. Ausdroid (who sourced the pics) claims it was also tipped that the Z3 Compact will have a 4.6-inch screen, 2.5GHz (Snapdragon 801) processor and that now Xperia-standard 20.7-megapixel camera. So, what’s more appealing? A gentle bump in spec, or the snazzy new hues? We’ll find out for sure once we get hands on at IFA this week.
Via: Xperia Blog
Try as they might, Sony just can’t stop the device leaks from dropping. Today’s victim is the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact which is expected to be announced at IFA 2014 in just a few days. The leak comes in the form of press images which show the Z3 Compact in all its colourful glory, looking very much the evolutionary product of its predecessor, the Xperia Z1 Compact.
Accompanying the images are some specs as well – a 4.6-inch 720p display, a Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz processor, a 2,600mAh battery and that 20.7MP camera we all love. If we had to guess, we’d say the Sony Xperia Z3, also expected to be announced in the same breath as the Z3 Compact, will likely have the same specs, if not slightly better. All the same, the Z3 Compact looks to be carrying on the fine tradition Sony has started by releasing a small-form smartphone with premium performance. It’s also said to be the first Sony Xperia device to use a nano-SIM, so watch out for that too when the Sony press conference rolls by.
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Twitch was an accident. The live video streaming service, which boasts over 55 million unique users each month, began life in 2007 as “Justin.tv”: an all-hours video livestream of co-founder Justin Kan’s life. That wasn’t the whole point of the service, of course; later that year, “Justin.tv” opened up to the public, who could then “livestream” to various “channels.” At its inception, Justin.tv was a form of internet television, offering live broadcasts across a variety of topics. One such topic — gaming — took a particularly large portion of Justin.tv’s audience. So much so that, in 2011, the company spun out gaming into its own website: Twitch.tv. Three years later and Justin.tv is dead, the company is now known as “Twitch Interactive,” and Amazon just bought it for $970 million. Not too shabby for an “accident”.
WHAT IS TWITCH?
Like Justin.tv, Twitch.tv is a live video broadcasting service. Unlike Justin.tv, Twitch focuses solely on gaming. More specifically, Twitch focuses primarily on e-sports: the burgeoning world of competitive games played professionally for money.
For example! Twitch hosts a non-stop livestream of “The International,” an annual game tournament. At The International, teams compete in a Valve game named DOTA 2. Twitch broadcasts those games in real-time. This year, over 20 million people tuned in. Over 2 million people tuned in simultaneously at one point. Oh, and the winning team took home just over $5 million.
So, what are those 20 million people watching? They are literally watching live video of a video game being played by other human beings. The live video often has commentary (sometimes by the players themselves, other times by other folks), and often has a picture-in-picture view of the players face. That description can be applied to much of the content on Twitch, albeit with varying levels of production. The International (seen below) is a massive event, so its stream has very high production value.
In short, Twitch is mainly a venue for e-sports fans to watch live e-sports. But there’s another side to Twitch: participation. Within each Twitch user’s channel is an embedded chat widget, enabling the person (or people) broadcasting live video to interact directly with viewers. Interactivity expands the use of Twitch beyond simply watching e-sports being played live.
For example! Game development studio Vlambeer use their Twitch channel to broadcast a weekly stream of game development. Since their game is already available to purchase, fans can offer feedback directly on what they’ve played, see what’s currently in-development, and even influence the final product. It’s a direct pipeline from development team to player.
But these two examples are exceptions to the rule. They represent the “premium” end of Twitch’s content — the “whales” (especially high viewer numbers). Anyone can broadcast games on Twitch — even Engadget! — and, beyond using the web interface on a computer, it’s built into both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There’s even a new Android tablet with Twitch broadcasting capability built in. That accessibility means that the vast majority of video content broadcast on Twitch is, well, “just some person playing a game.” Some channels attract millions of viewers. Some attract single digits.
WHO’S USING TWITCH? AND WHY?
Twitch’s full user base is enormous: over 55 million “unique viewers” use Twitch annually, and over one million people use Twitch to broadcast each month.
Not these guys
The heavy-hitters — that is, the channels with the most views — tend to be “partners.” Twitch describes its “partner” program as such: “an exclusive group of the world’s most popular video game broadcasters, personalities, leagues, teams and tournaments.” That includes everything from The International to live broadcasts of press conferences; at this year’s big gaming trade show, E3, Twitch carried live broadcasts of every console maker’s press conference.
That said, the people broadcasting on Twitch vary dramatically. Though e-sports dominates the most-viewed list, Twitch is home to some incredible — and incredibly bizarre — user-generated content. Take, for instance, “Twitch Plays Pokémon.” Using Twitch, a programmer in Australia created an interactive game for Twitch viewers. He combined an emulation of GameBoy classic Pokémon Red with a bot that took text from chat. If a viewer entered “up” in chat, the character in Pokémon Red would move up. Simple enough! It becomes far less simple when hundreds of thousands of people are entering commands all at once. The result is what you see below.
Unbelievably, the game was eventually completed solely based on community commands. The system actually defeated a whole mess of Pokémon games. And now, fish are getting in on the action. Really!
Yet another use of Twitch: the phenomenon known as “speedrunning.” The term literally means to complete a game as quickly as possible. Sound lame? Watch this incredible video of Nintendo classic Mario 64 being defeated in under 10 minutes.
One particularly interesting subcommunity is helmed by the group “Games Done Quick” (GDQ). Each year, the group holds two marathons of non-stop live speedruns in an effort to raise money for charity (this summer’s event already happened, and they raised over $700K for Doctors Without Borders). In total, the group’s raised just shy of $3 million for charity by playing games as fast as humanly possible while live broadcasting the whole thing.
As for the general public, live broadcasting became far more mainstream when it entered the living room. With Xbox One and PlayStation 4, living rooms were suddenly thrust online in full view of the world. In the case of PlayStation 4 tech showcase The Playroom, Twitch was forced to outright ban the game; it enabled users to directly broadcast a full screen video feed of their living room. As you can imagine, that led to some occasionally lurid content.
Of course, that’s also the exception — many are simply using Twitch, and game broadcasting in general, as a social platform. Their friends are online, and they can participate remotely in each other’s games, follow the same people, and broadcast or watch together. It fosters community, and it’s instantly relatable to a generation that’s grown up with fast internet and computer ubiquity. As Ben Davis wrote in a recent New York Magazine piece, “So much of social life has migrated online already; why wouldn’t it be the entertainment that was live and social and digital that feels most vital?”
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Perhaps you like money? With Twitch’s huge user base, there’s plenty of opportunity to jump in and get broadcasting. Between running ads on your content through Twitch’s partner program and charging a subscription price to your channel (which gives viewers an ad-free experience), you could make it a full-time gig. Of course, you’re one of millions. But that never stopped anyone before, right?
Okay, okay — let’s appeal to your more reasonable senses. This whole e-sports and live broadcasting thing is quickly becoming a pretty big deal. Maybe you dig traditional sports? E-sports might be your thing. The same rivalries transpire, and it’s full of the same human emotion. All the words they’re saying might sound like jargon at first, but that disappears after a few intense matches pique your interest.
Though e-sports gained prominence with the mass popularity of competitive first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and Halo, the game dominating Twitch’s charts now are of the “MOBA” genre (multiplayer online battle arena). Of this genre, millions are playing League of Legends and DOTA 2. Though from different developers and made independently of each other, both games are nigh identical in the way they play. Like sports, there is only one “arena” where players compete. Teams battle for control of the other’s side, carefully organizing tactics and strategies to win. In so many words, it’s a hell of a lot like traditional sports.
Loaded as the term “e-sports” may sound, Twitch offers a great (and free) opportunity to give them a shot. At very least, the fantasy sports players among you will feel right at home.
WANT EVEN MORE?
Despite Twitch’s relative newness as a company and service, there’s been quite a bit of words spilled in that time. From New York Magazine‘s excellent recent breakdown of the company’s purchase by Amazon, to our sister site Joystiq‘s coverage of Twitch Plays Pokémon, to The Next Web‘s interview with Twitch when the company spun out its video game arm, there’s quite a bit of material out there. Oh, and there’s the BBC‘s recent take on defining the service’s importance to the uninitiated (seen above) and this recent piece from the New York Times which digs in on e-sports.
[Image credit: Twitch (ESL TV), BBC Newsnight ("What is Twitch?"), Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic (The International DOTA 2 Championships, 2014), Vlambeer (Nuclear Throne devstream), Shutterstock ("Gamers"), Twitch Plays Pokémon (via Joystiq), Twitch (Fish Plays Pokémon), Sony Computer Entertainment/Reddit (The Playroom), YouTube]
Sony’s Cyber-shot RX10 is a pretty capable camera, but it still has weaknesses: it doesn’t shoot super high-quality XAVC-S video, and that steep $1,300 price is bound to steer some people toward DSLRs and mirrorless cams. Well, consider both of those problems licked. Sony has just put out new firmware (installable through Macs and Windows PCs) that lets it record in XAVC-S and preserve more detail in your movies. At the same time, the RX10′s price has dropped to $1,000; that’s still a lot of money to shell out for a camera with a non-replaceable lens, but it’s definitely more accessible. If you’ve been holding out for a few more reasons to try this superzoom, you may want to take another look.
Teasing its forthcoming appearance at the Tokyo Game Show later this month, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan revealed a new demo for its prototype VR hardware — with assistance from the creative forces behind the Tekken fighter series. You should probably put all ideas of a first-person punch-em-up aside though, this is very different. Summer Lesson puts the user inside a typical Japanese schoolgirl’s room, where it looks like you just seem to.. chill, interact and hang around, which sounds innocent enough, although there’s certainly a creepy element there just by the premise. The teaser didn’t explain much else, although the Tekken team’s Harada-san was happy to praise the interactivity element of the demo, and the preview video also added some comments about how it felt like someone was really there. We’re expecting to feel suitably embarrassed and awkward when we get to test it out at TGS 2014 in a few weeks — but we’re also hoping to get a better grasp of why the team decided to go with something that could easily be so misconstrued for a very conspicuous, very early Project Morpheus showcase. Take a look for yourself: we’ve posted the entire SCEJ PlayStation press event after the break, and even thoughtfully skipped to the Summer Lesson part, because we’re nice like that.
If you’re a fan of Playstation 4 game livestreaming, Sony’s about to have a PS Vita app for that. At a prelude to the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), it announced updates that will let you view live PS4 game action directly from a PS Vita. There are also themes coming to the PS Vita around the same time — Sony showed off one that centered around the popular (and insane) Dangan Ronpa shooter. It also revealed a pink-backed PS Vita with a white front arriving in Japan on November 13th for 18,980 yen (around $182). There’s no specific dates for the new themes and the PS4 game streaming app, but Joystiq pointed out a translated tweet saying it’ll arrive sometime in October.
This one’s a doozy. After hearing assertions a few weeks ago that Sony‘s latest wearable would not be running the Android Wear operating system, we’re today hearing that the Sony SmartWatch 3 will run Android Wear. This rumour comes to us via 9to5Google, who also revealed some specs about the device, including a 1.68-inch display and IP58 rating. The rumour also talks about a device named the “SmartBand Talk“, allegedly the successor to the SmartBand SWR10.
We’re finding this news more than a little surprising since it was Sony itself that said it would be wasted resources not to continue developing their own Android smartwatch operating system, particularly as it has already seen two iterations. However, while it is surprising, we can’t say it would be out of the realm of possibility. We’ve seen manufacturers go back on their word before, and an opportunity to invest effort into what looks like the wearable operating system of the future is probably a better use of Sony’s time. Then again, with the watch rumoured to be making an appearance at IFA 2014, perhaps we will find out then what kind of watch it is.
What do you think about this information? Do you think the SmartWatch 3 will really run Android Wear? Let us know your thoughts.
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Pigs might just fly and hell just might freeze over. At least in respects to a Sony device coming to Sprints network. Apparently people are talking and sources are legitimate. We aren’t talking about a vendor in Hong Kong talking to some forum site in Indonesia either. No, instead they are talking to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. That alone gets us a little excited.
We know that Sony should be making an announcement for the next flagship Xperia Z3 at IFA next week, and with a little luck, that is the device that Sprint customers can expect to see. If the reports pan out, they are said to have the device in stock and for sale in time for the holiday season. That puts it around November-ish. Just my guess anyways. This would put a Sony device on US soil through a carrier much quicker than T-Mobile ever did. Which is sad, cause I love my Xperia Z and Z1s.
The whole thing is a joint effort between SoftBank, Sprints parent company, and Sony in attempts to help keep Sprint moving forward. It certainly will be nice to see another Sony device hit the states officially, but if Sony is really trying to push themselves in the states Sprint and T-Mobile aren’t the carriers they should be targeting. While I am not a fan of Verizon, it would be a much better move. Of course that doesn’t benefit SoftBank at all and they are the ones that have a good relationship with Sony already.
Hopefully an official announcement about a device heading to Sprint will be made at the same time the device is put out for all to drool over.
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Whether you’re a budding photojournalist or just want to document the semester with something better than a smartphone camera, we’ve got some great picks for you. Our most affordable recommendation will set you back less than $200, while you’ll find an SLR kit that almost tops $3,000 at the other end of the spectrum. Head to the gallery below to see them all, and don’t forget to peruse the rest of our guide!