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Movies

Studios Push for $50 Early Home Movie Rentals (variety.com) 230

As many as five major Hollywood studios have been working with cinema owners to shrink the traditional release window and allow consumers to rent movies on-demand in as little as 17 days after they hit theaters, reports Variety. From the article: Warner Bros. and Universal have been the most aggressive in pursuing an arrangement that would see certain movies receive a premium video-on-demand release within weeks of their theatrical premieres, but now other studios are joining the discussions. Twentieth Century Fox has also begun to talk early releases with theater owners, while Sony is having its own separate talks with exhibitors and is trying to devise its own plan. Paramount, which previously did a pilot program with AMC and a few other exhibitors to release "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" and "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" on digital platforms early, has continued to seek a similar strategy. Though different studios are exploring different scenarios, the plan that has gathered the most steam would involve offering up movies for $50 a rental some 17 days after their theatrical opening. Those rentals would be available for 48 hours. The latest round of discussions began roughly 18 months ago.
Data Storage

Sony Unveils World's Fastest SD Card (amateurphotographer.co.uk) 48

At CP+2017, Sony announced the SF-G UHS-II SD card that features read and write speeds of 300MB/s and 299 MB/s, respectively, which makes it the fastest SD card in the world. Amateur Photographer reports: Available in 32GB, 64GB or 128GB from March 2017, all versions of the cards are compatible with Sony's free file rescue software, for recovering lost content. Pricing has yet to be revealed. Alongside the SF-G series, Sony has also introduced a new memory card reader, the MRW-S1, due for release in April. It features an in-built SuperSpeed USB port for cable-free PC connection, so that your files can be copied faster than by using the slower SD slot on a PC. [From the press release:] "'As the continuous shooting of higher-resolution images and adoption of 4K video with DSLR and mirrorless camera increases, the inherent need for larger, faster and more reliable cards becomes apparent. Thanks to the SF-G series, we continue to show our commitment to providing a full range of extremely high performance media devices to professional photographers and enthusiasts, maximizing their camera performances,' said Romain Rousseau, European Product Marketing Manager."
Cellphones

Sony's Latest Smartphone Camera Sensor Can Shoot At 1,000fps (theverge.com) 86

Sony has taken the wraps off of its latest smartphone camera sensor which it says can shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 1,000 frames per second. "The new 3-layer CMOS sensor -- an industry first -- can capture slow motion video about eight times faster than its competition with minimal focal pane distortion, according to Sony," reports The Verge. From their report: The sensor can also take 19.3MP images in 1/120th of a second, which Sony says is four times faster than other chips, thanks to high-capacity DRAM, and a 4-tier construction on the circuit section used to convert analog video signals to digital signals. All of that fancy camera talk basically means this sensor blows every camera currently in a smartphone out of the water. Although the iPhone 7 and the Google Pixel can shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 120fps, they are still miles behind what Sony has reached with its latest sensor. At 1,000fps it even surpasses the Sony RX 100 V, which can only shoot at 960fps.
Sony

If You Owned a PC With a DVD Drive You Might Be Able To Claim $10 (theverge.com) 99

If you owned a PC with a DVD drive more than 10 years ago, you're probably owed $10. From a report on The Verge: A class-action lawsuit is now accepting claims after Sony, NEC, Panasonic, and Hitachi-LG were accused of inflating the prices of optical drives sold to PC makers like Dell and HP. If you bought a PC with a DVD drive between April 1st 2003 and December 31st 2008, you'll be able to claim $10 for each drive as part of the class-action lawsuit. It appears you don't need to provide any proof of purchase -- the settlement administrators are simply collecting names, email addresses, and the number of drives owned at the moment. You'll need to submit a claim before July 1st, and the money won't be released until other defendants in the litigation have settled.
Android

Google Will Reportedly Remove Google Now Launcher From Play Store (androidpolice.com) 35

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Police: Google currently has two launcher apps in the Play Store; Google Now Launcher and Pixel Launcher. In a few months, there will only be one. According to an email forwarded to us by a tipster, Google has alerted GMS partners of its intention to remove Google Now Launcher from the Play Store in the coming weeks. OEMs that use GNL have options, though. The email (which you can see below) explains that the Search Launcher Services library for OEMs that has been in testing is now available. That's what Sony used to integrate the Google Now panel (now just the Google Feed) into its stock launcher a while back. That means OEMs can slap the Google Now panel on whatever launcher they want. Google plans to remove GNL from the optional GMS package on March 1st, meaning no devices with the launcher pre-installed will be approved after that. Existing devices can continue using GNL, though. It will technically still be updated via the Google app. However, the listing will go away by the end Q1 2017 (i.e. now-ish). That affects people who just installed GNL on their devices from the store. You can keep using it, but don't expect any major improvements.
Sony

Sony PlayStation 4 Is Finally Adding Support For External Hard Drive (playstation.com) 45

The Sony PlayStation 4's next system update, out now for beta testers, will allow users to connect an external USB hard drive. From company's blog post: It's easy to upgrade the HDD that came with your PS4, but if you're still looking for more storage space on the console, we've got you covered. With this update, you have the option to store content to an external HDD. Just plug a USB 3.0 HDD into your PS4, and voila, you now have more space on the console.
Piracy

2.5 Million Xbox and PlayStation Gamers' Details Have Been Leaked From Piracy Forums (thenextweb.com) 36

Xbox360ISO.com and PSPISO.com have been hacked by an unknown attacker in late 2015 and the details of the 2.5 million users affected have been leaked online. The leaked information contains email addresses, IP addresses, usernames and passwords. The Next Web reports: It seems that the operator of these sites did nothing to protect the latter, as all passwords were "protected" using the MD5 hashing system, which is trivially easy to overcome. For reference, that's the same hashing system used by LinkedIn. As the names of these sites imply, they were used to share pirated copies of games for Microsoft and Sony's gaming platforms. They also both have a thriving community where people discussed a variety of tech-related topics, including gaming news and software development. If you think you might have had an account on these sites at one point, and want to check if you were affected, you can visit Troy Hunt's Have I Been Pwned. If you have, it's worth emphasizing that anyone who gained access to that site, and anyone who has since downloaded the data dump, will be able to discern your password. If you've used it on another website or platform, you should change it.
Sony

Sony Warns It Will Take $1 Billion Writedown, Blames Slowing DVD Sales (reuters.com) 157

Sony has warned investors that it will take roughly $978m writedown on its film business, blaming a goodwill impairment charge that dates back to an acquisition of a Hollywood studio almost three decades ago. From a report on Reuters: The impairment charge came as Sony cut its outlook for profits from DVD, blu-ray discs and other home entertainment operations in line with a broader market decline, the company said in statement on Monday. Sony has been working to revive its movie business. In November, the Japanese conglomerate's chief financial officer, Kenichiro Yoshida, said a turnaround was "progressing, but it takes time for the benefit to be realized."
PlayStation (Games)

10% Of 'Resident Evil 7' Players Are Wearing VR Headsets (digitaltrends.com) 77

Released five days ago, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard already has over 800,000 players -- and 84,036 of them are using a PlayStation VR headset. An anonymous reader quotes Digital Trends: These numbers show that VR might have some real legs if compelling software is made... The numbers are also being updated live, so expect them to go up in the coming weeks. Earlier this week, numbers were in the 60-thousand range, meaning that positive buzz is driving gamers to pick up the game along with a VR headset. Unfortunately for many gamers, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a PSVR exclusive, meaning PC gamers that own an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift are unable to experience the game in VR... Luckily, patient PC gamers will be able to experience the game in VR next year, when Sony and Capcom's PSVR exclusivity deal expires.
It's the first Resident Evil game using the first-person point-of-view. Are there any Slashdot readers who have already tried gaming with a VR headset?
Android

A Lack of Alternatives To Qualcomm Is Hurting the Ecosystem (androidauthority.com) 73

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Android Authority: Smartphone enthusiasts are probably eagerly awaiting the arrival of Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 835 SoC, which was unveiled back at the beginning of January. However, recent revelations suggest that consumers could be in for an unexpected wait, and we're unlikely to see an alternative manufacturer step in to fill the void given the current market conditions. The report claiming that LG G6 won't ship with the latest Snapdragon 835 flagship SoC is looking like bad luck for LG and a blow to consumers looking to spend their cash on the latest mobile technology. If true, this is also likely to have an impact on sales, as consumers hold out for better technology released in just a few months time. It's not only LG facing this prospect though, HTC, Sony, and all the other manufacturers that typically make announcements early in the year look to be facing a situation where they will be using the same processor as last year for early 2017 models. This scenario is unprecedented in modern Android history. The past few years have seen manufacturers kick start the year with flagship releases packing new processing technology. Unfortunately for these OEMs, there aren't any competing processors to use as a direct alternative to the delayed Snapdragon 835. The choice is then either to launch with an older technology or delay their product until the 835 is ready. While many will focus on performance stagnation, using the same chip also means that handsets are bound by the same feature sets, and so camera, video, virtual reality, and other capabilities won't be moving on either. Samsung's Exynos and HiSilicon's Kirin series are the closest SoCs to the 821 and 835 in terms of performance and features, but these are primarily reserved for their maker's own flagships and aren't rolled off the production line in anything close to enough numbers to meet global demand. This situation is a bit of a catch-22, with manufacturers unlikely to buy up expensive foundry lines without a strong indication that OEMs will use their products, while a lack of availability means major releases can't pick up these chips.
Sony

Sony Is Weighing a Sale of Film, TV Business (nypost.com) 37

Sony could be exploring the sale of its film and television unit just a week after announcing the departure of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. From a report: Tokyo's Sony Corp. is listening to bank pitches about a potential sale of its film and TV operations, several sources told The Post. "Every bank is pushing pitches," said one person familiar with the process. Another confirmed that banks have paid a flurry of visits to Tokyo to advise on a sale of Sony's film and TV business. The Post was first to report that the Japanese owners were ready to listen to bid proposals if they had the right number attached. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has long signaled interest in acquiring the asset, though several Chinese bidders could be in the wings. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has denied any intent to sell the firm during the five years he's been in the top slot at the company. Still, he has not appointed a successor to Lynton, despite knowing of his intention to depart for some time. That has sparked speculation that there may be no position to fill.
Television

3D TV Is Dead (cnet.com) 399

While Samsung dropped 3D support in 2016, LG and Sony -- the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs -- will stop doing so in 2017. None of their TVs, including the high-end OLED TV models, will be able to show 3D movies and TV shows. As a result, 3D TV is dead. The question is no longer when (or even why) 3D TVs will become obsolete, it's will 3D TVs ever rise again? CNET reports: The 3D feature has been offered on select televisions since 2010, when the theatrical success of "Avatar" in 3D helped encourage renewed interest in the technology. In addition to a 3D-capable TV, it requires specialized glasses for each viewer and the 3D version of a TV show or movie -- although some TVs also offer a simulated 3D effect mode. Despite enthusiasm at the box office and years of 3D TVs being available at affordable prices, the technology never really caught on at home. DirecTV canceled its 24/7 3D channel in 2012 and ESPN followed suit a year later. There are plenty of 3D Blu-ray discs still being released, such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," but if you want to watch them at home you'll need a TV from 2016 or earlier -- or a home theater projector. Those market trends are clear: Sales of 3D home video gear have declined every year since 2012. According to data from the NPD Group, 3D TV represents just 8 percent of total TV sales dollars for the full year of 2016, down from 16 percent in 2015 and 23 percent in 2012. Native 3D-capable Blu-ray players fell to just 11 percent of the market in 2016, compared to 25 percent in 2015 and 40 percent in 2012. As for whether or not 3D TVs will ever become popular again, David Katzmaier writes via CNET, based on his own "anecdotal experience as a TV reviewer": Over the years, the one thing most people told me about the 3D feature on their televisions was that they never used it. Sure, some people occasionally enjoyed a 3D movie on Blu-ray, but the majority of people I talked to tried it once or twice, maybe, then never picked up the glasses again. I don't think most viewers will miss 3D. I have never awarded points in my reviews for the feature, and 3D performance (which I stopped testing in 2016) has never figured into my ratings. I've had a 3D TV at home since 2011 and I've only used the feature a couple of times, mainly in brief demos to friends and family. Over the 2016 holiday break I offered my family the choice to watch "The Force Awakens" in 2D or 3D, and (after I reminded everyone they had to wear the glasses) 2D was the unanimous choice. But some viewers will be sad to see the feature go. There's even a change.org petition for LG to bring back the feature, which currently stands at 3,981 supporters. Of course 3D TV could come back to life, but I'd be surprised if it happened before TV makers perfect a way to watch it without glasses.
PlayStation (Games)

Report: PS4 Is Selling Twice As Well As Xbox One (arstechnica.com) 136

The latest numbers released by analysts suggest that the Sony PlayStation 4 is selling twice as many units worldwide as the Xbox One since both systems launched in late 2013. The data comes from a new SuperData report on the Nintendo Switch, which is backed up by Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad. SuperData mentions an installed base of 26 million Xbox One units and 55 million PS4 units. Ars Technica reports: Ahmad's chart suggests that Microsoft may have sold slightly more than half of the 53.4 million PS4 units that Sony recently announced it had sold through January 1. Specific numbers aside, though, it's clear Microsoft has done little to close its console sales gap with Sony over the past year -- and may have actually lost ground in that time. The last time we did our own estimate of worldwide console sales, through the end of 2015, we showed the Xbox One with about 57 percent as many systems sold as the PS4 (21.49 million vs. 37.7 million). That lines up broadly with numbers leaked by EA at the time, which suggest the Xbox One had sold about 52.9 percent as well as the PS4 (19 million vs. 35.9 million). One year later, that ratio has dipped to just above or even a bit below 50 percent, according to these reports. The relative sales performance of the Xbox One and PS4 doesn't say anything direct about the health or quality of those platforms, of course. Microsoft doesn't seem to be in any danger of abandoning the Xbox One platform any time soon and has, in fact, recently committed to upgrading it via Project Scorpio later this year. The gap between PS4 and Xbox One sales becomes important only if it becomes so big that publishers start to consider the Xbox One market as a minor afterthought that can be safely ignored for everything but niche games.
Businesses

Head of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton, To Step Down (deadline.com) 9

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton has told his employees that he is stepping down from the company. He will however be staying with the company for six months to help in the transition. Lynton's note to the staff reads: Dear Colleagues,

Today I will be announcing my resignation from Sony to focus on my position as Chairman of the Board of Snap Inc. This was not an easy decision for me, and one that I arrived at after long and careful consideration. Sony Corp will be issuing an internal note from Kaz to all Sony global employees as well as a press release describing the details and timing of my transition, which I have included below.

As some of you are already aware, I have been involved with Snapchat since its early days. Given Snapchat's growth -- and my growing role and responsibilities in it -- I recently determined that the time was right to make a change.

I leave Sony with great pride in all we have accomplished together -- from our greatest victories to overcoming our biggest challenges. Together we: Produced terrific films such as American Hustle, Captain Phillips, The Social Network, Spider-man, Skyfall and Spectre; and hit TV shows like Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs, The Crown and Kevin Can Wait; Grew our worldwide networks business to 178 countries, including India with our ownership of the IPL cricket rights the Ten Sports Network; Completed the Lot's most significant capital improvement projects in decades including the Jack and Harry Cohn buildings, Calley Park and the beautiful new 8-story Akio Morita building, which brought Sony Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing employees onto the Lot for the first time; Completed the $750 million acquisition of the Michael Jackson Estate's stake in Sony/ATV, making us 100% owners; And triumphed over the most devastating and disruptive cyber-attack in corporate history, keeping studio operations running and not missing a single day of production.

IBM

IBM Is First Company To Get 8,000 US Patents In One Year, Breaking Record (silicon.co.uk) 94

Reader Mickeycaskill writes: For the 24th year in a row, IBM received the most patents of any company in the US. But for the first time it got more than 8,000 -- the first firm in any industry to do so. In total, its inventors were granted 8,088 patents in 2016, covering areas as diverse as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud, health and cyber security.
That's equal to more than 22 patents a day generated by its researchers, engineers and designers, with more than a third of the patents relating to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing alone. IBM is betting big on cloud and other services, having spun off its hardware units like servers and PCs to Lenovo. The other nine companies in the top ten list of 2016 US patent recipients consist of: Samsung electronics (with 5,518 patents), Canon (3,665), Qualcomm (2,897), Google (2,835), Intel (2,784), LG Electronics (2,428), Microsoft (2,398), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2,288) and Sony (2,181).

Television

Ask Slashdot: Why Did 3D TVs and Stereoscopic 3D Television Broadcasting Fail? 435

dryriver writes: Just a few years ago the future seemed bright for 3D TVs. The 3D film Avatar smashed all box office records. Every Hollywood studio wanted to make big 3D films. The major TV set manufacturers from LG to Phillips to Panasonic all wanted in on the 3D TV action. A 3D disc format called Blu-ray 3D was agreed on. Sony went as far as putting free 3D TVs in popular pubs in London to show Brits how cool watching football ("Soccer" in the U.S.) in Stereo 3D is. Tens of millions of dollars of 3D TV related ads ran on TV stations across the world. 3D Televisions and 3D content was, simply put, the biggest show in town for a while as far as consumer electronics goes. Then the whole circus gradually collapsed -- 3D TVs failed to sell well and create the multi-billion dollar profits anticipated. 3D at home failed to catch on with consumers. Shooting genuine stereo 3D films (not "post conversions") proved to be expensive and technically challenging. Blu-ray 3D was only modestly successful. Even Nvidia's stereo 3D solutions for PC gamers failed. What, in your opinion, went wrong? Were early 3D TV sets too highly priced? Were there too few 3D films and 3D TV stations available to watch (aka "The Content Problem")? Did people hate wearing active/passive plastic 3D glasses in the living room? Was the price of Blu-ray 3D films and Blu-ray 3D players set too high? Was there something wrong with the stereo 3D effect the industry tried to popularize? Did too many people suffer 3D viewing related "headaches," "dizzyness," "eyesight problems," and similar? Was the then -- still quite new -- 1080p HD 2D television simply "good enough" for the average TV viewer? Another related question: If things went so wrong with 3D TVs, what guarantee is there that the new 3D VR/AR trend won't collapse along similar lines as well?
Security

Android Ransomware Infects LG Smart TV, Company 'Refuses' To Help (bleepingcomputer.com) 295

Security firms have been warning us for more than a year about the possibility of Android malware jumping from phones and tablets to other Android-powered devices, such smart TVs. The latest incident involving ransomware on a smart TV involves software engineer Darren Cauthon, who revealed that the LG smart TV of one of his family members was infected with ransomware right on Christmas day. What's worse? He claims LG wouldn't help him with perform factory reset of the device. From a report: Based on a screenshot Cauthon posted online, the smart TV appears to be infected with a version of the Cyber. Police ransomware, also known as FLocker, Frantic Locker, or Dogspectus. The infected TV is one of the last generations of LG smart TVs that ran Google TV, a smart TV platform developed by Google together with Intel, Sony, and Logitech. Google TV launched in 2010, but Google discontinued the project in June 2014. In the meantime, LG has moved on from Google TV, and the company's TVs now run WebOS. Cauthon says he tried to reset the TV to factory settings, but the reset procedure available online didn't work. When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centers, where one of its employees could reset his TV.
Privacy

Sony Music Apologises To Britney Spears, Fans After Fake RIP Tweet Sent (abc.net.au) 52

Sony Music Entertainment has apologised to Britney Spears fans after its Twitter account was hacked and fake statements saying that the pop music icon had died were posted online. From a report: Sony Music, a unit of Sony Corp, said in a short statement that its social media account was "compromised" but that the situation "has been rectified." The company said it "apologises to Britney Spears and her fans for any confusion." Funnily enough, after Sony Music Entertainment Twitter account was hacked and started tweeting about the death of Spears, another hacker group called OurMine hacked Sony's account to note that Spears is not dead.
United States

Samsung Note 7 User Base Still Larger Than LG V20, OnePlus 3T Combined (indianexpress.com) 29

Even after two months of an official global recall for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, 10 percent of the units sold are still in use. From a report: Research firm Apteligent reports that the number of Galaxy Note 7 phones in use outnumbers LG V20 and OnePlus 3T combined. According to 9to5Mac, which has shared details from Apteligent's research, while the Moto Z beats the Galaxy Note 7 in terms of usage, the margin is quite low. The report also adds that flagship smartphones such as Google Pixel, Pixel XL and Sony Xperia XZ which were announced around the same time as Note 7's recall have managed to outnumber its user base.

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