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
Music Tech

Choosing a new portable digital audio player (DAP) and Lasik Surgery

As people who read my blog know, and who watch my youtube, I’m a semi-audiophile, and I’m a musician. I care alot more about audio than most people do. I don’t care that much about having super high resolutions on my displays, and I think 1080p is fine for me. I still export a lot of my youtube vids in 720p still because of the space requirements of FHD. I can’t fathom making any 4K videos. I’ve always thought the display technology (IPS, IGZO, OLED etc) was more important than the resolution.

Anyways, I’m in the market for a new digital audio player (DAP). Most people just use their phones to play music these days, but I long for the days when I had a Creative Zen Vision M and people had their iPods and stuff to play music… what happened to those days? Those players were dedicated audio players, and they have discrete DACs to play music with. I feel because I play FLACs and lossless files a lot, I am best served getting a stand alone audio player.

Note that I already have a Soundblaster E5 DAC/Amp but thats more for home use… the device is kind of bulky to carry around in my pocket.
I’ve also upgraded to a pair of Denon MM400s over my Sennheiser Momentums for home use, and Fender FXA6 over my Master&Dynamic ME03s for portable use.

I’ve been using my Sony Xperia Z3C as my audio player up until now, and that is actually better than most phones due to high res / flac capabilities, but I’m about to retire that phone soon as its getting some technical issues.

So I’ve been shopping around with DAPs as there is a lot ranging from $100 – $1k+ and I’ve been looking for one around the $500~ mark. Here’s my considerations.

Shure SHA900 – is a portable DAC/Amp, but is not a player in itself. Its probably the best portable Amp out there, but its really expensive ($1k) and I would have to carry an extra device in my pocket.
Astell&Kern – have a strong lineup of dedicated audio players which sound great and are nicely designed, but most of them have a steep price, and I prefer having an Android interface so I can access my music apps. (DAC: Wolfson WM8740)
Onkyo DAP-X1 – is pretty nice, runs Android lollipop and has dual DACs/Amps and a balanced out and 2 microSD slots, but a bit expensive considering I don’t even use balanced headphones. (DAC: 2 ESS Sabre ES9018K2M)
Sony Walkman ZX2 – is now much cheaper online due to its age, but its still a good one to think about. Sony has always been renowned for its products and I am a acknowledged Sony fan, but to nitpick a little here – the Android OS version Jellybean is kind of outdated and it lacks some features the other DAPs have like having a DAC, and for the price, there could be better.
Colorfly C4 – looks hands down the coolest DAP I’ve ever seen, complete with built in RCA inputs and switchable SRC, but is a bit bulky and the controls while very retro, don’t look the easiest to use. Runs its own OS as well. (DAC: Cirrus Logic CS4398 the exact same one as my Soundblaster E5)
Acoustic Research M2 – looks great, slim, runs Android, etc but price point is a bit high, and only available in Europe it seems. There are cheaper players with the same specs. (DAC: Burr-Brown PCM1794A)
Hifiman HM802S – having a balanced out is nice, as well as a retro clickwheel and has a modular amplifier card that can be replaced. However the bulk and lack of Android means this suffers from the same issue as the Colorfly C4. (DAC: Wolfson WM8740)
FiiO x7 – FiiO has always been a brand for good value, affordable yet good quality. And I was really drawn to this player. It’s got everything the expandable storage, good price, slimness, running Android lollipop, and swappable amp modules. (DAC: ESS Sabre ES9018S)
Pioneer XDP-100R – this is basically the Onkyo DAP with one less DAC and amp chip and no balanced out and as a result its slightly cheaper. I like this one a lot too, it runs Android lollipop, slim enough, has a speaker surprisingly, and has 2 microSD slots for expansion. (DAC: ES9018K2M)

In the end, I was deciding between the FiiO x7 and the Pioneer XDP and the Pioneer won by a hair. The speaker and 2 microSD slots made the difference. You never know, I might need to show my friend some youtube videos and the speaker comes in handy. They are both at the perfect price points since I don’t use balanced headphones.

Pioneer XDP-100

Anyways, can’t go wrong with any of these, they all have microSD for expansion, some form of DAC to make the music sound a lot better, and support for high res formats like DSD, DXD, PCM, MQA etc although I really only care about FLAC. I think MQA has a good future but it needs more support and if it was widely available I’d use that more.

And.. in other news I got Lasik Surgery in Korea!
My time in Korea is becoming short and I wanted to do surgery here since Korea is world class in experienced surgeons and most Koreans get it done more than other Asians. Maybe 90% of Korean girls wear contacts or did Lasik. Plus, its cheaper, only $1500 for me compared to $3k/$4k/$5k in USA/Canada.
I highly recommend this site Dream Eye Center the staff can speak English, its located in Gangnam, and the doctors and staff are very professional and helpful. Alot of Kpop stars did it there too so you know that have good credentials.

I was a bit nervous at first, but it was ok.. there was no pain, but it was slightly disturbing because I can see the blade come down and cut a flap in my cornea, and theres a suction cup placed on my eye and that was slightly painful for a second. That was about it… and now my vision is a bit blurry especially in my left eye, and I have to use 3 different eye drops a day. But it will get better within a week I heard. Anyways, through the miracle of technology I don’t need glasses anymore after wearing them for 10 years!

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