CES: Is Sony’s new Vaio a netbook?

In the old days -– say six months ago -– netbooks were easy to describe in a few short words. Cheap (less than $400), small (10-inch screen or less) and light (less than 3 pounds). Alas, things are not quite so simple anymore.

The netbook category’s parameters were already expanding as the market flooded with new offerings. Screen sizes crept up, as did retail prices.

And then along comes Sony to really confuse things with its Vaio P Series Lifestyle PC, which it unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show. It’s plenty small (8-inch screen) and light (1.4 pounds). But note that decidedly un-netbook-like price tag: $900.

Of course, the company itself is not calling it a netbook either, although plenty of others are. And the impressive array of high-performance bells and whistles Sony packed into the little laptop might well justify the hefty price tag, and succeed in separating it from its similarly small, yet more stripped-down and lower-market peers.

So call it what you want, netbook or mini notebook or something else entirely. The Vaio P is simply the latest evidence that ultra-portable computers, though they may be small, are succeeding in redefining the PC world.

Video game console obituaries premature – Microsoft

Gaming insiders who have given consoles the death sentence, get a life!

Shane Kim, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Microsoft Corp’s Interactive Entertainment Business, said it’s too soon to write off the Xbox.

“This console generation will have a long life cycle. I think it’s way premature to say there will never be another Xbox,” said Kim at the Reuters Media Summit.

Industry veterans like WildTangent Chairman Alex St. John and Sandy Duncan, who set up and ran the European Xbox business for Microsoft, believe that consoles as we know them are doomed. Duncan said they will “die out ” in the next five to 10 years, according to an interview published in

Sony offers big PS3 price cut, if you can get the credit

With Black Friday only a few days away and projections for the holiday shopping season bleak, it’s not surprising that Sony is making a price cut move on its PlayStation 3 video game console to lure cash-strapped shoppers.

Now, you can get a hearty $150 price cut on the PlayStation 3 console. The caveat: you’ve got to sign up for a shiny new PlayStation credit card first.

There’s two ways to take advantage of the deal, it just depends how badly you want the PS3.

Sony Exec: Don’t worry, buy happy

Give the “Glass is Half Full” award to Stan Glasgow, Sony’s top U.S. electronics executive, ahead of what could be the most crucial (and potential painful) “Black Friday” shopping weekend in many years. It’s normally a happy time of year, filled with family gathering, gifts, etc.

This year its different. Read the papers, or a blog. Things look pretty gloomy.

Perhaps, just perhaps, things aren’t as bad as they seem, Glasgow told a gathering of journalists on Thursday, suggesting that there are great bargains to be had on cool gadgets and big TVs, if consumers can overcome their apprehension.

Glasgow, a passionate engineer-by-trade, whose casual briefings with the tech press are usually chock full of geek-y chatter about flat screen TVs, Digital SLR Cameras and OLED displays, took on the economy, such as it is.

Another gloomy week for publishing

Another dark week for the publishing business, capped by a double-barrel blow yesterday when news emerged that the New York Times was slashing its dividend and the Associated Press was slashing its workforce.

New York Times’ decision to cut its dividend is particularly noteworthy, since it could up the pressure on the Ochs-Sulzberger family to make even more dramatic moves down the road — like maybe selling parts or all of the media company.

The family has resisted any calls to sell the famous publishing company, but cutting the dividend makes it tougher for some of the younger family members who rely on that income. Check out the recent profile of family member Dave Golden in New York magazine.

How bad is advertising? Think 1950s

Everyone seems to have accepted (like it or not) that advertising spending will be in bad shape in the fourth quarter and well into next year. But just how bad is a matter of debate — every new piece of research marks another downward revision to the advertising outlook.

Case in point is Citi’s Catriona Fallon, who issued a new report saying that U.S. advertising spending would drop by 1.8 percent in 2008 and 3.6 percent in 2009. So what? Well, consider this: that would mark the first back-to-back annual declines since at the 1950s. The 1950s! We’re talking The Cold War, Fats Domino, Gidget, Cadillac Eldorado — you get the picture.

Here’s a bit from Fallon’s research report, where she discussed the thought behind cutting the 2008 outlook from growth of 0.2 percent to a decline of 1.8 percent :

Take my savings — but not my mediocre TV shows

No doubt about it, the financial crisis has been tough on the media business. Just ask Sumner Redstone, the folks over at the Associated Press, or anyone on Madison Avenue.

Then there are some of the poorly rated television shows to consider… The Hollywood Reporter writes that thanks to the economic downturn, the broadcast networks could play it safe and order full-seasons of some low-rated programs rather than replace them with new series.

There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that it costs money to order and market a new series.

Advertising powerhouse considers advertising

google.jpgCould we soon see a flashy Google advertisement on TV? It’s possible, according to a Wall Street Journal article, which says that the search advertising powerhouse has quietly approached several ad agencies about efforts to promote some products.

The article names agencies Wieden + Kennedy and Taxi as two agencies that have had discussions with Google, which, recall, has relied far more on word of mouth advertsing than most companies its size.

But don’t hold your breath for a massive advertising campaign from Google involving TV, radio, billboards, etc etc. As the article points out:

It’s 8:00 p.m. — do you know where your TV is?

television-set.jpgThe new prime-time TV season is starting and that means all eyes are on Nielsen ratings. While that’s the case every fall, this one is a bit different — the industry is recovering from a writers’ strike that threw the 2007-08 season into disarray.

AdAge points out, for instance, that serialized dramas already appear to be having trouble getting their footing back. It says two NBC dramas, “Chuck” and “Life,” both opened the season to sharply lower viewing numbers for the 18-49 demographic than they did a year ago.

Both are indicative of how many serialized dramas lost media momentum last year due to the strike, and how hard it will be to rebuild it without the buildup of free media any new show receives

What comes around, goes around

Three men stand in front of Plasma TV screens at the Internationale Funkaustellung (IFA) consumer electronics fair in BerlinSony‘s new Sountina speaker is one of the most striking new technologies on show at IFA in Berlin, the world’s largest consumer electronics fair. Over six feet tall, it’s a thin, sealed glass tube with a single wire running its length, which vibrates to produce a sound that’s the same 360 degrees around. (A speaker to provide bass notes sits lower down the column.)

Not being an expert on hifi history, it was only when I came to Germany’s Grundig a bit later that I realised the idea – if not the implementation – wasn’t new.

Squashed 1970s-style spheres with chrome waistbands in both black and white stood on stands or hung from the ceiling. Visitors could sit on a roundabout to appreciate the Audiorama 9000′s unchanging sound as they went round in a circle. The design is a modern revamp of Grundig’s Kugelstrahler 700 speaker, which as early as 1969 offered an all round sound.