Categories
Tech

What’s the most underrated tech brand?

The most underrated tech brand is Sony.

Many people have this image of Sony as being a company that was once innovative, but has since fallen from grace and is now mostly known for gaming (Playstation), Music (Sony Music) and Movies (Columbia Pictures), the latter two not particularly related to tech.

Let me explain why Sony is still innovative in fact, at a higher level than Apple or Samsung or most other tech companies right now.

Firstly, Sony has been one of the most innovative tech companies of all time. The list of their accomplishments cannot be understated:

Trinitron – Wikipedia televisions, whose superior design ( the single-gun three-cathode picture tube, and the vertically aligned aperture grill) made it reign supreme as one of the best color televisions on the market for over 20 years

-the Betamax – Wikipedia video format in the 1970s

-the first portable music player, the Walkman – Wikipedia in the late 70s

-SDDS format, a competitor to the Dolby surround sound format

S/PDIF – Wikipedia interface (the S stands for Sony)

-the Super Audio CD – Wikipedia (Super Audio CD), still used today in some high end audiophile systems

-Sony and Philips also jointly developed the Compact disc – Wikipedia

-Sony introduced the 3.5″ floppy disk, which lasted for a good 2 decades after their introduction

-the Blu-ray – Wikipedia format, was primarily spearheaded by Sony and still used today

-Other more forgotten physical media formats (all proprietary to Sony): UMD, Memory stick, PS Vita memory etc

-the first popular CD based video game console, the Playstation (yes the Sega CD and Turbographx CD came before, but it was the PSOne that popularized the format for video games)

-the best selling video game console of all time (and most people’s first DVD player), the PlayStation 2 – Wikipedia

-the Vaio – Wikipedia line of laptops which amongst other innovations introduced the first LED backlit displays (became standard on all laptops after that), chiclet style keyboards (way before Apple and others did), thin and light designs (years before the MacBook Air), and switchable graphics (now standard on entry level gaming laptops)

-the first consumer OLED TV (the Sony XEL-1 – Wikipedia)

-the first popular robotic companions (AIBO – Wikipedia) and oddities such as the Sony Rolly – Wikipedia

-the first truly immersive head mounted displays (Sony Glasstron, HMZ-T1 – Wikipedia, T2, and T3) – its designs are still being used today by smaller companies in the HMD niche

-The first handheld gaming console to use exclusively digital games and no physical releases (PSP Go – way ahead of its time)

-The first handheld gaming console with an OLED display (PlayStation Vita – Wikipedia)

-the LDAC (codec) – Wikipedia high res wireless audio codec

That’s a heck of a lot of innovations for any tech company. But most people think Sony’s innovations have come and gone, and just like post Steve Jobs Apple, their products have languished since – and they couldn’t be more wrong! Sony is still innovating, they just have been very low key in marketing their more cooler products.

Let’s take a look at Sony’s current tech portfolio now, shall we? Some things may surprise you

-Sony’s most well known product right now is the PlayStation 4 – Wikipedia, and its the best selling console of its generation

-Sony’s Mirrorless Sony α – Wikipedia Cameras have completely upended the DSLR market and as a result forced Canon and Nikon and other camera makers to move to mirrorless as well

-Sony’s OLED TVs (like the A9F and A9G) have the speaker built into the display itself; no other television maker has done this

-Sony’s Sony Xperia – Wikipedia phones are perennially underrated; they were one of the first smartphones to have water resistance (IP67+) and support high res audio and currently are the only smartphones on the market with a 21:9 cinema aspect ratio display.

-Sony’s high end Walkmans and Headphones (like the WM1Z and Z1R) compete with the best of the best from other high end audio, each costing over $2k+ – as a high end audio brand, Sony is as respected as any other company which is impressive for a company who dabbles in basically every price range. Sony SA-Z1 Hi-Res Near Field Powered Speaker System Signature Series their latest speaker, an unheard of design that projects near-field sound to the listener, retails for over $6k.

-Sony’s action cameras (AS300, X3000 etc) were the first on the market with optical image stabilization (OIS) – its competitors like GoPro were still using EIS (Electronic image stabilization)

-They have a line of very successful noise cancelling wireless headphones (WH-1000XM3) as well as the first ever noise cancelling wireless earbuds (WF-1000X) as well. The fact that they caught up to Bose in noise cancellation technology is astonishing considering that Bose specialized in that technology for years while Sony has their hands in every industry.

-Just other generally cool stuff that other companies do not care to try; Sony Glass Sound Speaker a glass speaker that doubles as a lamp? Sure.
A projector that can project touch surfaces onto any area? Xperia Touch Official Website – Sony Mobile (Global English) this is astonishing technology, and I can just imagine if Apple made something like this it would grab headlines everywhere. But Sony as usual, keeps their cool stuff low key.

-And lets not forget, they are still making aibo robots as well (again, which other company is doing this???).

Sony should be getting much more appreciation for their innovation. They are still one of the most innovative companies on the market yet people always forget about them. It’s very rare that a company does so many things so well, and for so long. That’s why Sony tends to charge a premium for their devices.

Categories
General

Why is the Nintendo Switch successful but the Sony Vita failed? In many ways the Vita was really good on graphics, quality of hardware and battery life.

Nintendo is king when it comes to portables

Sony is king when it comes to home consoles

Looking at the track record, Nintendo’s Game Boy wiped Sega’s Game Gear off the map. The Game Boy Advance did the same to the Bandai Wonderswan. The Nintendo DS did the same to the PSP, and the 3DS did the same to the Vita.

On the other hand, Sony’s Playstation consoles (PS1, PS2, PS4) were the best selling consoles of their generation while the PS3 tied with the Xbox 360 for second place. Sony has a pretty good track record at home.

So Nintendo already has a good grasp on what makes handheld portables succeed. But on top of that, Sony basically shot themselves in the foot with the Vita as well because they made several mistakes:

  1. Sony is terrible at marketing. It seems that for everything outside of the PS4, it sucks at it. Sony’s headphones? Way better than Bose and Beats. Sony’s AIBO robot? really cool. Sony’s Xperia phones? Really nice devices. Sony’s alpha cameras? blows away Nikon and Canon. Sony’s OLED TVs? much better than LGs. Sony’s Walkman DAPs? Competes with audiophile companies. Their Blu-Ray players? Class leading. But Sony sucks at marketing all their devices. They need to take some tips from Samsung. They have great stylish devices but high premiums and don’t market well. Consumers look at them, scoff at their prices, and move on.
  2. The PS Vita memory cards were proprietary. Big problem. A 64GB Vita card costs $100. Do you know how much a 64GB microSD card costs? $10. a TENTH of the price.
  3. Sony stopped supporting the Vita game library sometime after 2012. The Vita was mostly propped up by Japanese RPG makers + indie developers. Once the Switch came on the market, they all moved to the Switch. The Vita was basically on life support already because the first party (Sony) abandoned them 2 years after release. After the Switch, the Vita’s days were numbered. Nintendo on the other hand? STILL releasing first party games for the 3DS (2 years after Switch was released)
Categories
Tech

Yakuza / Sleeping Dogs Review

A year ago, I posted this article, which talks about the lack of Asian representation in todays media. In there, I talked how cool it would be to have an Asian style GTA, like Grand Theft Auto: Shanghai. While GTA V is NOT going to be set in Asia (It’s going to be LA, yet again, bah), I did find two other open world games set in Asia that follow GTA’s style: Yakuza 4 and Sleeping Dogs.

Yakuza 4
Yakuza 4

Yakuza 4 is a Japanese video game that follows four protagonists as they unravel a mystery involving the Tokyo Police and Yakuza. The game follows an open world setting in Tokyo, with a unique combat system.
The best thing about this game is the story. Incredible. You get to play as four completely different people (a loan shark, a former yakuza chairman, a police cop and an escaped convict) and each of their stories revolve around this mysterious woman and entwine together at the end, revealing many betrayals and conspiracies. It’s better than the majority of the movies out there.
The gameplay is also quite good. Every character has a different combat system. There are many different activities to do, some unique to the Asian setting. Massage parlors, Hostess Clubs, Mahjong, Blackjack, Pachinko, Arcades, Bowling, Karaoke, are many things that make the game more Japanese, and more interesting. Overall, a pretty cool game. I beat this game, and that says alot because I often get too uninterested in games to beat them.

Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is the Chinese version of GTA I’ve been asking for. Set in Hong Kong, the protagonist is a Chinese-American (from San Francisco!) undercover cop infiltrating the Triads and knows Kung Fu. This game does everything GTA does, and better. Great combat system, great driving system, great storyline, parkour style movements, and lots of cool activities like cock-fighting, kung fu training and karaoke. Its like GTA meets Assassins Creed meets Uncharted meets Just Cause 2. I haven’t beat it yet, but so far it looks like what I’ve been asking for.

Props to Sega and Square Enix for making these great games with Asian protagonists!!