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Saturday, January 14, 2012, 09:04 pm PT (12:04 am ET)

Reacting to Apple at CES 2012, part three: Sony, Motorola, RIM, Nokia

As noted in the previous two segments, Apple's success with the MacBook Air and iPad have changed the course of Intel and its Ultrabook PC makers and Samsung and its mobility products. Here's a look at how the rest of the industry has chased (or flirted with) Apple at this year's CES.

Reacting to Apple at CES 2012, part one: Intel's Ultrabooks
Reacting to Apple at CES 2012, part two: Samsung's Galaxy Note
Reacting to Apple at CES 2012, part three: Sony, Motorola, RIM, Nokia

Sony: AirPlay, Reader, Personal 3D

Near Samsung's sprawling booth, Sony had erected its own temple of technologies. One that jumped out was "Simple Wireless Connection," a new feature that would enable wireless content sharing for Sony devices just like Apple's AirPlay from 2010, as well as wireless screen mirroring for Sony devices, an apparent doppelgänger of the AirPlay Mirroring feature Steve Jobs demonstrated a year ago on iPad 2 (and which also works on iPhone 4S).

When asked how these differ from Apple's projects, the presenter acknowledged that Sony's versions are only technology demonstrations and won't be immediately shipping.



Remember when Sony was leading the ebook reader category? Apparently the company still makes Reader products. Without going to CES, one might not have known that.



At a trade show sea of 3D products, ranging from the vertigo inducing "glasses free" type to various passive and active HDTV systems requiring glasses, Sony was presenting a novel approach to delivering immersive TV and gameplay: glasses sporting dual 720p OLED displays and "virtual 5.1" surround sound. The novel part was that they were actually usable and desirable.

While the $800 Personal 3D glasses only look a tiny bit sillier than regular 3D glasses, they deliver a distraction free image that moves with your head, allowing you to enter a 3D world without having to buy and hang a huge display in a suitable room. The system also presents regular 2D images. Weighing less than a pound, the system is also quite portable.



The glasses hook up to a small box that accepts any standard HDMI input (the presenter was kind enough to unlock the cabinet to show the unit, below), and present an image roughly equivalent to "a 750 inch screen that's 65 feet away" according to the company, or alternatively, a 150 inch screen 12 feet away. That's larger than the 92 inch 3D screen Mitsubishi had on display around the corner.



Thanks to OLED technology, the unit presents high contrast images with less motion blur than typical LCD screens, along with true black reproduction (as OLED doesn't use backlighting).

The unit can pass through its HDMI signal to an external display, allowing a user to enjoy the glasses when alone, watch HDTV without recabling anything, or display the game one is immersed in on a secondary display while playing it inside the Personal 3D glasses. Interestingly, Sony specifically includes Apple TV among the devices that can drive its standard HDMI Personal 3D system. Of course, you could also hook up your MacBook.



An alternative to Sony's wearable immersive video was on display by Steel Space and its partner Modern Work Environment Labs, although the "scorpion-like" Emperor Chair they demonstrated was really just a fancy way to sit at a PC with multiple monitors hung overhead.

The system was also demonstrated in white for Mac users. The art project was actually a demonstration of the company's transforming shipping container, which the "computer office in a chair" systems were placed on, so Sony doesn't have a lot to worry about.



On page 2 of 4: CES motorcade of distraction: Motorola, NVIDIA