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CES 2012 Day 4 Coverage
CES is the annual event where major electronics companies showcase their latest and greatest products, and Neoseeker is no stranger as a guest.

CES 2012 Day 3 Coverage
CES is the annual event where major electronics companies showcase their latest and greatest products, and Neoseeker is no stranger as a guest.

CES 2012 Day 2 Coverage
CES is the annual event where major electronics companies showcase their latest and greatest products, and Neoseeker is no stranger as a guest.

CES 2012 Day 1 Coverage
CES is the annual event where major electronics companies showcase their latest and greatest products, and Neoseeker is no stranger as a guest.

Computex 2010 (Part 2)
In our second installment of Neoseeker's trip to Computex, we take look at Fenir, Zotac, Biostar, TermTek, Tacens, Amaze, Aerocool, and... BOOTH BABES..!

Technology News

Sony's PlayStation division back in black thanks to PS4

6 comments Leo Chan - 1:37pm (PST) Like Share

Company still braces for annual loss as it focuses on games, mobile and imaging

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The PlayStation 4 launch underlined Sony's console gaming ambitions, and it looks like it was pretty darn good for business as well.  According to Sony's Q3 financial report, the PlayStation division was able to return to profitability during the three month period ended December 31st 2013.

Sony overall posted Q3 operating income of 90.3 billion yen ($860 million USD) and net income of 27 billion yen ($265 million) compared to a 10.8 billion yen ($106 million) loss during the same quarter last year, and the company has strong PS4 sales to thank for that.  The gaming segment posted revenue of 441.8 billion yen ($4.4 billion) and operating income of 18 billion yen ($172 million), both year-over-year improvements.  With global sales of 4.2 million consoles and counting, Sony looks to be on track to reaching its goal of 5 million PS4s sold by the end of March.

Outside of gaming, Sony will be selling off its long-running Vaio PC business to Japan Industrial Partners Inc. (effectively exiting the PC market) while spinning off its television business into a separate unit.  Restructuring will also continue, leading to the loss of 5,000 jobs (around 3 percent of its total global workforce).  The goal here to revive the electronics business overall amidst declining sales by focusing on its three "pillars": gaming, mobile devices and imaging products.

The company has revised its annual operating income forecast downward to 80 billion yen, less than half the 170 billion yen estimate it provided last October.  Sony's revenue forecast of 7.7 trillion yen remains unchanged.  Sony also abandons hope for profitability as it now predicts a net loss of 110 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the fiscal year ending March, its fifth loss within six years.


Sony returns to profit, but PlayStation unit isn't keeping up

11 comments Leo Chan - 11:50am (PST) Like Share

PS4 launch to improve sales for game business, but costs will offset profit

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Sony Corp. was finally back in black for the 2013 fiscal year after suffering from a four-year run of losses.  The electronics and video gaming giant scored net income of 43 billion yen ($435.7 million USD) for the twelve month period ended March 31st, a sight better than the 456.7 billion yen ($4.6 billion USD) loss the year before.

Much of this could be attributed to the significant one-time gains the company made from selling off property (including its New York headquarters), business units and stock holdings.  Having a few blockbuster film releases under their belt certainly didn't hurt.

Annual revenue rose 4.7 percent year-on-year to hit 6.8 trillion yen ($72.3 billion USD), and Sony is forecasting sales will rise and additional 10 percent over the next twelve months to hit 7.5 trillion yen.  The company additionally predicts net income for the coming fiscal year will rise 16 percent to 50 billion yen ($507 million USD), slightly below estimates from other analysts.

Unfortunately, Sony's PlayStation business wasn't exactly sitting pretty while the rest of the company returned to profitability.  Revenue from the gaming division itself fell 12.2 percent year-over-year to 707.1 billion yen ($7.2 billion USD), while operating income suffered a 94.1 percent drop to 1.7 billion yen ($17.2 million USD).

The company managed to sell a combined total of 16.5 million PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2 consoles this past fiscal year, down year-over-year compared to 164.5 million units.  PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Portable sales actually increased ever so slightly from 6.8 million to 7 million units in total.  No further breakdown of how each platform performed individually was provided.

PS3 and PS2 software sales also suffered a year-on-year drop from to 164.5 million to 153.9 million units, while PS Vita and PSP software slipped from 32.2 million to 28.8 million units.

Sony doesn't expect current-generation console hardware and software sales to get any rosier in the new fiscal year, and forecasts year-over-year reductions.  For example, the company estimates PS3 and PS2 sales will drop further still to 10 million units, while combined PS Vita and PSP sales will drop to 5 million units.

The good news is that Sony predicts its PlayStation business still stands to enjoy a significant increase in revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2014, thanks in no small part to the upcoming PlayStation 4 launch, but actual profit will likely remain flat once they factor in PS4 production and marketing costs.


NPD: Tablets to outpace notebooks this year as touch-enabled devices fuel mobile PC market

4 comments Leo Chan - 2:12pm (PST) Like Share

Notebook shipments w/o touchscreens to begin declining over the coming years

Image Source: NPD via VentureBeat

Tablet PCs and "mini-notes" continue to catch on in popularity, to the extent where they will finally start eating into notebook PC shipments this year.  A report published today by NPD subsidiary DisplaySearch forecasts mobile PC shipments will grow to 762.7 million units by 2017, fueled largely by touch-enabled devices.

The big winner in the coming years will be tablets, which DisplaySearch has included as a mobile PC for the purposes of its report.  Tablet shipments will increase by 67 percent to some 256.5 million units this year alone, eventually reaching 579.4 million units by 2017.  Notebook shipments meanwhile are expected to decline by up to 10 percent to 183.3 million units around that time, meaning tablets will have outpaced them three times over.

Helping drive adoption of tablets are "white box" manufacturers.  According to NPD, these lesser-known brands already accounted for a third of the total tablet shipments last year, a share of the market they are expected to hold as they continue to produce and distribute Android-based devices in emerging markets where notebooks haven't really taken off.

NPD expects touchscreen "ultrabooks" to become increasingly prevalent in the notebook market, forecasting shipments of such devices to grow 48 percent over the coming year for starters.  By 2017, these ultrabooks will account for 80 percent of all touchscreen notebooks distributed.

For all the fanfare surrounding its new Metro interface, NPD does not expect Microsoft's Windows 8 OS to be a major factor in driving touchscreen notebook growth due to a lack of OS applications supporting touch and of course, the higher cost of ultrabooks in general.


Unofficial "Steam Box" Xi3 Piston available for pre-order at $999, Valve not involved however

35 comments Troy Crumley - 6:39pm (PST) Like Share

Update Lots of hardware in a small cube, but Valve wants little to do with it

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Update (3/12): Going by name, one would assume the Xi3 was backed by Valve. Turns out, this isn't the case, as the developer has distanced themselves from the unofficial Steam Box. Valve's very own Doug Lombardi has said as much:

"Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs."

So there you have it, the unofficial Steam Box is most definitely unofficial.

During CES, a number of hardware prototypes were shown off by Valve. All received the "Steam Box" moniker, and one of them, the Xi3 Piston, showed the most promise namely because Xi3 already has some products available. Now, that Piston can be added to the group as Xi3 has officially priced it at $999.99 and is now taking pre-orders.

This unofficial Steam Box is designed to sit under your TV and run Steam's Big Picture mode. Xi3's Piston is small enough to fit in your hand, so it should be just barely noticeable running games in your living room. It's $999.99 starting price includes an AMD A10 quad-core processor at 3.2GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, while a 256GB SSD bumps the price to $1,399.99 and a 512GB one to $1,749.99.

Anyone who pre-orders before March 18 can knock $100 off the final price and receive the Piston during the "2013 holiday season." If you're planning to wait until Valve gets its own Steam Box out, prototypes should be ready before long. In the meantime, there's the third-party offering from Xi3.

Categories: PC Games Technology

Japan sees limited run of laptops inspired by SEGA hardware like Dreamcast, Genesis

9 comments Lydia Sung - 2:27pm (PST) Like (2) Share

So that's kind of a cute concept

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Japanese online retailer Enterbrain's got something that'll appease that old school gamer in us all. Partnering with SEGA, the company is launching a line of laptops designed after SEGA video game consoles. We're talking cosmetics, not the actual specs or anything.

The SEGA Note PC line is going to be a limited thing and only available in Japan, with four versions (above). Three are based on the Mega Drive/Genesis, Dreamcast, and Saturn, while the fourth is just a plain blue one that we imagine is just a general tribute to SEGA as a company.

According to the website, the monitors measure 15.6" with a 1080p display. The laptops come pre-loaded with a variety of wallpapers, icons, music, and Windows themes based on a number of SEGA games. Light, standard, high-spec, and premium versions will also be available, though Enterbrain will only be releasing 50 of the latter three. Prices currently range from ¥99,750 ($1,077) to ¥194,250 ($2,098), between the light and premium versions.

If you've already got a laptop, Enterbrain will also offer the covers separately, so you can just order those and switch them around. The laptops can be pre-ordered right now, and you've got until March 31 before that window ends.

Thanks for the tip, DNA2251!

Categories: PC Games Technology

Valve bringing multiple custom hardware prototypes to CES, including "Piston" prototype from Xi3

29 comments Rory Young - 4:10pm (PST) Like Share

Nothing is the "Steam Box" until Valve calls it a "Steam Box"

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There's a lot of talk going around about Valve's "Steam Box" at CES right now. Most of it's bunk, because until Valve says, "This is our Steam Box," then it isn't really a "Steam Box." What's causing the confusion is actually Valve itself, along with a hardware specific hardwarer product from Xi3 named the Piston. The fact is, Valve is at CES showing and discussing a number of hardware concepts and prototypes. Whoa, right?

Valve PR demigod Doug Lombardi responded to a question from Polygon earlier today, pertaining to whether the Piston was actually the mythical "Steam Box": 

"Valve will be at CES to meet with hardware and content developers in our booth space. We are bringing multiple custom (hardware) prototypes as well as some off-the-shelf PCs to our CES meetings."

In other words, we don't really understand how deep the rabbit hole goes. Valve is not only in talks with a number of companies, but is actually funding and helping develop prototypes like Xi3's Piston. While I personally don't feel comfortable calling anything an actual "Steam Box" until it's a single product released directly from Valve, with Valve branding and licensing. Still, these early concepts and prototypes deserve recognition for likely inspiring what will eventually become the "Steam Box".

As for the Xi3 Piston, it's personal computer that fits in your hand that comes in various versions, an entry level $399.99 version and a gaming "performance level" version at $999.99. No word on what OS it will run on, though a comparable product from Xi3, the $4.99 X5A runs on Linux. Of course, the thing has a DisplayPort/HDMI port and an assortment of other knobs and buttons.

Look forward to more news into Valve's hardware shenanigans as we hear about it, or at least after a bit of time to figure out what's actually going on so we don't sensationalize the topic.

One final note, when Destructoid's Dale North referred to the Piston as a "Steam Box" the booth attendent said, "You called it that. Not me."

Categories: PC Games Technology

Google counters iPad Mini news with three Nexus sizes

6 comments Lydia Sung - 2:56pm (PST) Like Share

Introducing the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10

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Apple may have their iPad Mini, but they're going to have to compete with Google's tinier Nexus tablets too. Meet the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10, joining the existing (but improved) Nexus 7.

Google's Nexus reveal was originally meant for a media event, as these things typically are announced, but Hurricane Sandy forced the company to axe their plans. As such, the new extended Nexus family gets its spotlight today on the official Google blog.

The Nexus 4 is basically a smartphone and a collaboration with LG, undoubtedly aimed at the iPhone 5 and Samsung's popular Galaxy line. Due for North American release on November 13, the Nexus 4 will be one of the first smartphones in the U.S. to boast a quad-core processor, and features a generous 4.7 inch hi-res display.

Google is also announcing an included feature called "Photo Sphere," which lets users take "3D Panorama" photos by simply snapping them in any direction (not just up-down or side-to-side). The device can also be wirelessly charged.

The Nexus 7, which the mobile market should already be familiar with, is now available with 32GB and HSPA+ mobile, for a price of $299 ($100 more than the original). This version can operate on more than 200 GSM providers worldwide.

The Nexus 10, another new addition, is Google's first full-sized tablet, more akin to the iPad and Microsoft's new Surface tablet. This device was built in collab with Samsung, despite the Korean company's own (albeit unsuccessful) attempts to enter the tablet race with their own device. According to Google, the Nexus 10 will have a 10 inch screen with a 2560x1600 resolution at 300 pixels per inch, putting it ahead of the iPad's 2048x1536 resolution/264 pixel display.

Further stats show the Nexus 10 is also thinner and lighter than the newest iPad, at 8.9mm and 1.33 pounds versus 9.4mm and 1.49 pounds. It'll run on a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor with a rear 5 megapixel camera and a front-facing 1.9 megapixel cam. Like all other Nexus devices -- including the new Nexus 4 phone -- the Nexus 10 tablet will run Android 4.2, a "new flavor" of Jelly Bean. The expected launch day is also November 13.

Here is a rundown of pricing and storage capacity:

  • Nexus 4: 8GB for $299; 16GB for $349; available 11/13
  • Nexus 7: 16GB for $199 and 32GB for $249
  • Nexus 7 with 32GB and mobile data: $299 and unlocked
  • Nexus 10: 16GB for $399; 32GB for $499; available 11/13

Today's Nexus announcement comes just one week after Apple announced the new (and pricey) iPad Mini, along with a new iPad 4.


iPad Mini coming in November, features 7.9 inch screen and 10 hour battery life

29 comments Lydia Sung - 4:42pm (PST) Like Share

4th generation iPad also revealed, Apple taking pre-orders soon

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Last week, Apple teased the reveal of their iPad Mini, which was official unveiled today following months of rumors. So what can Apple fans and mobile gamers expect from this new, sleeker iPad? Well, it's smaller, for one thing, weighing at just 0.68 lbs, making it 53 percent lighter than its predecessor. It's also 23 percent thinner, at 7.2 mm in width.

The screen is still sizable, however, measuring in at 7.9" with at 1024 x 768 resolution. The smaller iPad will also be running a dual-core A5 chip. Yeah, we know what you're thinking: it's just a smaller iPad 2. There are some improvements, however.

One major claim is that the new iPad Mini will boast a hefty 10-hour battery life, which puts it slightly ahead of Google's Nexus 7 and under Amazon's Fire HD. Like its two competitors, the Mini comes with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Some models will include LTE connectivity, but these will be more expensive. Both the Nexus 7 and regular Fire HD have only Wi-Fi (the Fire HD 8.9" features LTE).

A FaceTime HD camera is also something the iPad Mini has that the iPad 2 lacks. It'll be comparable to the Nexus 7, which also has a 1.2 megapixel cam. The back will have an iSight camera.

The Wi-Fi model is expected to ship on November 2, 2012, with the cellular versions following soon after; first in the US, then elsewhere across the globe. Like all of Apple's tablets, this miniature version will come in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB varieties. Just be ready to open your wallets, wide.

The basic models will be marked at a base price of $329, meaning Wi-Fi only and a minimum 16GB storage. The 32GB and 64GB versions will be $429 and $529, respectively. LTE models will be $130 extra.

Regarding the Mini's larger siblings, the iPad 2 will stay at $399, while the iPad 3 will be replaced by the upcoming 4th generation model at $499. Again, these are just the starting prices.

Pre-orders will begin on October 26, the same day Microsoft launches Windows 8 with the first wave of Surface tablets, which are currently available for pre-order.


New smart car prototype utilizes Kinect technology to recognize driver

17 comments Lydia Sung - 4:30pm (PST) Like Share

Car can recognize driver's face and body shape

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Say what you will about Kinect games, but the Kinect remains an impressive piece of affordable technology. Case in point, Toyota included the tech in their latest Smart Insect prototype, an adorable yet technologically advanced vehicle being shown off at this year's CEATEC in Japan.

The vehicle boasts gull-wing doors and motion detection utilizing Microsoft's Kinect. On-board motion sensors can actually recognize the car's owner based on face and body shape, and can actually predict his/her behavior by analyzing movement -- and determine when to open the car door, for instance. Voice recognition has also been applied to basic functions like opening doors and the like, with a speaker on the hood of the vehicle and a "dialogue monitor" on the front and back dash.

Being a prototype and all, it's very unlikely we'll actually see this car on the road, but hey, it's fun to see regardless.


Job listing at Valve suggests hardware development underway

4 comments Troy Crumley - 7:02pm (PST) Like Share

Description points to number of possibilities

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It looks like the rumors of Valve entering the hardware business are true, as a new job listing at the studio openly discusses computer hardware.

The Industrial Designer position at Valve is looking for someone with at least six years experience in "shipping world-class, high-tech hardware products." The person must be capable with 2D and 3D design software, as well as possessing a knowledge of design principles. If that doesn't say Valve is entering the hardware business, then nothing will.

Part of the Industrial Designer position states:

Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.

Those are some pretty bold words from Valve, but then again the studio and its boss, Gabe Newell, have never been one to keep quiet. Exactly what the company is planning is anyone's guess, but the keyboard and mouse mention could mean a new input device is on the horizon. We have already seen Valve experiment with the Razer Hydra motion tracking controller, so perhaps there will be an expansion on that or something else entirely. We just have to wait and see what happens.

Categories: Technology
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