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PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro ( 67

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.

More Lithium Battery Product Recalls Predicted ( 99

While "the vast majority" of lithium-ion batteries will never malfunction, lithium itself "is highly combustible and batteries made with it are subject to 'thermal runaway'," which can be triggered by damage -- or by bad design. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: Battery and electronics manufacturers take numerous steps to try to mitigate such dangers... But while the industry has tried to make lithium-ion batteries safer, 'the technology itself isn't foolproof,' said Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage research at GTM Research... And there's reason to think that the problem could get worse before it gets better. Consumer demand for devices that are ever more powerful and longer lasting has encouraged manufacturers to make batteries that can hold even more charge. To do that, they typically pack the battery cells closer and closer together...

Since June of this year, educational toy company Roylco recalled 1,400 light tables designed for kids... Razor, Swagway and some eight other manufacturers recalled a total of 500,000 hoverboards. And HP and Sony between them recalled more than 42,000 notebook computers. All for similar reasons -- lithium-ion batteries that either had caught fire or which have posed a fire hazard... Other notorious examples include the several different Tesla Model S's that have caught fire, typically after crashes compromised their battery packs, and Sony's wide-scale recall a decade ago of the batteries that powered its Vaio and other laptop computers.

In a related story, Samsung's recall of their Note 7 is now expected to cost $5.3 billion.
PlayStation (Games)

You Can Now Claim Your Cash In the PS3 'Other PS3' Settlement ( 85

If you've purchased a "fat" PlayStation 3 before April of 2010, you can now claim up to $55 as part of the settlement over the removal of the console's "Other OS" feature. PS3 owners with proof of purchase or evidence of a PSN sign-in from the system can receive $9 from the company. However, if you've used the "Other OS" feature to install Linux on your PS3, you can receive $55. The online claim form can be found here. Ars Technica reports: The opening of claims after a long legal saga that began in March of 2010, when Sony announced it would be removing the "Other OS" feature from the PS3. Sony claimed it was a security concern, but many class-action lawsuits filed in 2010 alleged the company was more worried about software piracy. While one lawsuit over the matter was dismissed by a judge in 2011, another worked its way through the courts until June, when Sony finally decided to settle. Though the company doesn't admit any wrongdoing, it puts itself on the hook for payments to up to 10 million PS3 owners. Note to those affected: "Claims are due by December 7, and payments should be sent out early next year pending final approval of the settlement."

Sony To Return Image Sensors To Full Capacity On Smartphone Pickup ( 9

Sony's image sensor production will return to full capacity in the October-March half-year due to a pickup in smartphone demand, having spent part of the past year running just under full strength, the head of its chip-making subsidiary said. From a Reuters report: "The business environment for our customers is improving," President Yasuhiro Ueda of Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp said at a news conference on Friday, at Sony's sensor factory in the Kumamoto region of southern Japan. Sony commands about 40 percent of the market for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors, a type of chip that converts light into electronic signals. The sensors were central to Sony's recovery from years of losses stemming mainly from price competition in consumer electronics. A slowdown in the global smartphone market prompted Sony to cut sensor production in the October-March half of the last business year, but demand has since picked up. Ueda said combined monthly production would rise in the second half of this business year from 70,000 wafers at present to 73,000 wafers -- full capacity at Sony's five image sensor plants. The figure excludes outsourced production.

YouTube-MP3 Ripping Site Sued By IFPI, RIAA and BPI ( 310

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube. The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from 'pirate' sites. Given today's breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence. Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world's largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights. The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures. Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3's domain name to be surrendered. "YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3's users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3's servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones," the complaint reads. "Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants," the labels add.

'Corporate Troll' Wins $3 Million Verdict Against Apple For Ring-Silencing Patent ( 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A non-practicing entity called MobileMedia Ideas LLC won a patent lawsuit against Apple today, with a Delaware federal jury finding that Apple should pay $3 million for infringing MobileMedia's patent RE39,231, which relates to ring-silencing features on mobile phones. MobileMedia is an unusual example of the kind of pure patent-licensing entity often derided as a "patent troll." It is majority-owned by MPEG-LA, a patent pool that licenses common digital video technologies like H-264, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. Minority stakes in MobileMedia are owned by Sony and Nokia, which both contributed the patents owned by the company. MobileMedia also has the same CEO as MPEG-LA, Larry Horn. The battle ended up being a long one, as MobileMedia first filed the case in 2010. It went to trial in 2012, and the jury found that Apple infringed three patents. After reviewing post-trial motions, the judge knocked out some, but not all, of the infringed patent claims. Then came an appeal in which a panel of Federal Circuit judges upheld (PDF) some of the lower court's judges and overturned others. A $3 million verdict is hardly going to make an impact on Apple, and it doesn't represent a huge win for MobileMedia, which was reportedly seeking $18 million in royalties from the trial. Still, getting a verdict in its favor does represent some validation of MobileMedia's business model, which was a striking example of technology corporations using the "patent troll" business model as a kind of proxy war. Nokia and Sony were able to use MobileMedia and the licensing talent at MPEG-LA to wage a patent attack on Apple without engaging directly in court. In all, after years of back-and-forth, the ring-silencing patent was the one that MobileMedia had left. While Apple didn't win the case against one of the first "corporate trolls," it was able to severely pare down the scale of the attack and show that it's willing to fight a long legal war of attrition to make its point.

Microsoft and Sony Are Debating Over Whose Console Really Offers 'True 4K' ( 147

Sony's PlayStation 4, which will go on sales in two months, comes loaded with rendering pipeline and some proprietary upscaling techniques that can improve lower resolution base signals to take fuller advantage of a 4K display. Microsoft is seemingly upset with how Sony is marketing this, and it is not shying from telling people that no amount of upscaling can fill in those missing 4K pixels and the hardware inefficiency to produce native and "true 4K" images that the Project Scorpio, its gaming console that is coming next year can. Microsoft has also said that any game that it will launch during the Scorpio timeframe will "natively render at 4K." But the debate is anything from over because Microsoft keeps reminding everyone that the processor and GPU in its upcoming console is more powerful. As ArsTechnica explains: With Scorpio, Microsoft seems to be arguing that every first-party game at launch will be able to generate and render nearly 8.3 million pixels (four times as many as a 1080p game) at an acceptable frame rate (i.e., at least 30 times a second). That would be quite an achievement. As we noted back at E3, it currently takes pricey, high-end PC graphics cards like the Nvidia GTX 1080 or the AMD R9 Fury X -- cards that run $300 or much higher -- to "barely scrape by" with a native 4K, 30fps game. And those PC cards seem to have significantly more raw power than what is being claimed by Microsoft -- 9 and 8.4 teraflops, respectively, vs. a claimed 6 teraflops for Scorpio (and 4.2 teraflops for the PS4 Pro).Microsoft's head of Xbox planning, Albert Penello said, "I know that 4.2 teraflops is not enough to do true 4K." In an interview with Eurogamer, Penello adds:I think there are a lot of caveats they're giving customers right now around 4K. They're talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that. There are just a lot of asterisks in their marketing around 4K, which is interesting because when we thought about what spec we wanted for Scorpio, we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K. That was why we picked the number, that's why we have the memory bandwidth we have, that's why we have the teraflops we have, because it's what we heard from game developers was required to achieve native 4K.

Hacker George Hotz Unveils $999 Self-Driving Add-On ( 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Hacker George Hotz is gearing up to launch his automotive AI start-up's first official product. In December, the 26-year-old -- known for infiltrating Apple's iPhone and Sony's PlayStation 3J -- moved on to bigger things: turning a 2016 Acura ILX into an autonomous vehicle. According to Bloomberg, Hotz outfitted the car with a laser-based radar (lidar) system, a camera, a 21.5-inch screen, a "tangle of electronics," and a joystick attached to a wooden board. Nine months later, the famed hacker this week unveiled the Comma One. As described by TechCrunch, the $999 add-on comes with a $24 monthly subscription fee for software that can pilot a car for miles without a driver touching the wheel, brake, or gas. But unlike systems currently under development by Google, Tesla, and nearly every major vehicle manufacturer,'s "shippable" Comma One does not require users to buy a new car. "It's fully functional. It's about on par with Tesla Autopilot," Hotz said during this week's TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
PlayStation (Games)

Every PlayStation 4 Gets HDR This Week With System Update 4.00 ( 41

Sony announced today it is rolling out a new system updated -- dubbed Shingen -- to all the PlayStation 4 to bring High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. The new update, in addition, also brings Spotify integration, LAN data migration transfer, and tweaks to interface. From a CNET report: Other refinements to the system's interface include a redesigned content info screen -- the thing you see when pressing down after highlighting a game on your home screen. Similarly, the What's New screen has been updated with a new layout. 4.00 also adds support for HDR to all play PS4s, something Sony announced last week. This will be an option located in the Video Output Settings menu for existing PS4s and the new slim PS4, as well as the PS4 Pro. Those who get a Pro when it launches in November will also find support for several new features added in this update. As we learned recently, the system features 1080p streaming for Share Play and Remote Play (but only to PC/Mac and Xperia devices, not Vita), as well as 1080p/30 FPS streaming to Twitch and 1080p 30/60 FPS streaming to YouTube.

Sony Announces Two New Versions of PlayStation 4: One Slimmer, Other More Powerful ( 82

Sony isn't done with the PlayStation 4. The company today revealed the PS4 Slim, a thinner version of its latest console that's been lurking around the rumor mill for months now. The Slim lands on September 15th for $300. The PS4 Slim features all the guts of a standard PS4 plus a few cosmetic and convenience upgrades, including a lightbar at the top, more space between the front-facing USB ports and the removal of the optical port, Engadget reports. From the report:The console is about 30 percent smaller than the standard PS4, which came out in 2013, and it plays all existing PS4 games.
The company also launched a more powerful version of the PlayStation 4: the PS4 Pro, which offers support for 4K. It is priced at $399, and goes on sale November 10. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro can output 4K and HDR video, which is powered by an upgraded GPU. Sony also boosted the clock rate for the new PS4 Pro. It will also come with a 1TB hard drive. "PS4 Pro is not intended to blur the line between console generations," Mark Cerny, the chief architect for the PS4, said on stage. "Instead, the vision is to take the PS4 experience to extraordinary new levels."

Sony Wins Battle Over Preinstalled Windows in Europe's Top Court ( 238

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: The sale of a computer equipped with pre-installed software isn't an unfair commercial practice because most customers prefer to buy a laptop they can use straight away, Europe's top court has ruled in a victory for Sony. "Failure to indicate the price of each item of pre-installed software" isn't misleading, the Court of Justice of the European Union added in its ruling on Wednesday. The CJEU was asked to intervene after French citizen Vincent Deroo-Blanquart took Sony to court for failing to reimburse the cost of pre-installed software -- Windows Vista Home Premium operating system -- that he did not wish to use on a laptop. Sony refused and instead offered to cancel the sale altogether.

Sony's Signature Walkman and Headphones Are $5,500 of Ridiculous ( 99

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge: Like a grand old dinosaur that's being left behind by the evolution of the tech industry, Sony is in desperate recovery mode here at IFA. The company has new phones, a rather nice pair of noise-canceling headphones, the imminent PS VR, and... a truly outlandish combo of music player and headphones that costs a mighty $5,499.98. I guess there had to be some outlet for Sony's classic wild-eyed grandeur. Sony's new Signature audio series consists of the gold-plated NW-WM1Z Walkman, which weighs in at 455g (1lb) and $3,200, the $2,300 MDR-Z1R closed-back headphones, and a desktop headphone amp whose price I haven't even dared to look up. First impressions? The portable media player barely qualifies to be called portable. This new 256GB Walkman glints beautifully under IFA's bright lights, and its hefty case is machined to a perfect finish, but its weight is overwhelming. I simultaneously love it for its looks and hate it for its impracticality. Typical Sony, then!

Android Companies Keep Pretending That Android Doesn't Exist ( 168

Europe's biggest tech show IFA is underway in Berlin currently. Companies from around the world are showcasing their new smartphones at the event, chearleading the advancements they have made on the hardware side. Pretty much all these devices are running Android, but the way they are presented, you wouldn't be able to tell if that really is the case. The Verge's Vlad Savov writes: Sony would have us believe that buying an Xperia phone grants us a pass into the exclusive Xperia experience. The stuff actually differentiating the Xperia brand is junk and bloatware: the Xperia assistance software is a mobile version of Microsoft's Clippy. Huawei is even worse in its Android omerta, deathly afraid to utter the green giant's name. I understand that hardware companies want to spend more time talking about their hardware, but all these launches feel lobotomized without a proper discussion of the software driving their devices. Tell me about your implementation of Android. Tell me why you think it's okay to launch a phone without the latest software. Reassure me that I won't be left behind the way that many 2014 Android flagships already have been, and explain to your users why they don't need smarter multitasking, improved notifications, and baked-in VR support. Yes, those are harder issues to discuss, but dodging them is what makes customers untrusting of Android manufacturers.

Sony To Boost Smartphone Batteries Because People Aren't Replacing Phones ( 210

Not too long ago, people would replace their phone every 18 months. But that isn't the case with most people now. According to new estimates, more people are now changing their phones after at least three years. The problem with this is that by the end of two-three years, the battery on the phone reaches a stage where it gets really annoying. Sony has a solution, or so it says. From The Guardian:Sony is trying to fix that, but not by fixing the battery. That's because the lithium ion cells within smartphones don't exactly need fixing -- they will continue to work for years -- but their ability to hold their original amount of charge rapidly diminishes with repeated recharging cycles. Everyone who finds themselves with a chunky battery pack for their new smartphone or desperately searching for a charger by mid-afternoon knows battery capacity is a never-ending headache that only gets worse as a smartphone, and its battery ages. Rather than fixing the battery, Sony wants to do something about the recharging. Jun Makino, Sony mobile's senior product marketing manager, said; "We've started learning your charging cycles so that our new Xperia X smartphones only complete charging to 100% when they estimate you're about to start using them, so that the damage caused by maintaining a battery at 100% is negated. This is important, a battery that's usually kept at a charge between 20% and 80% of its capacity is much healthier -- it's going to the extremes that wears it out at a faster rate. This is important, a battery that's usually kept at a charge between 20% and 80% of its capacity is much healthier - it's going to the extremes that wears it out at a faster rate. The Japanese electronics firm has partnered with Californian adaptive charging company Qnovo to put technology into its Xperia smartphones. This includes the new top-end Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact, which Sony reckons will double the life of the battery to around four years.
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation Now Streaming Service Available On Windows PCs ( 54

Earlier this month, Sony announced PlayStation 3 games would be coming to Windows. Specifically, the company would be bringing its PlayStation Now game-streaming program to Windows PCs. Today, the service has officially launched and is available on Windows PCs. TechCrunch reports: "A 12-month subscription to PlayStation Now will run you $99.99 as part of a limited-time promotion to celebrate the PC launch. Normally, a PS Now subscription will run you more than double that. What does PlayStation Now actually provide? Access to a library of over 50 'Greatest Hits' games, which include popular titles like Mafia II, Tom Raider: GOTY edition, Borderlands and Heavy Rain. There's also over 100 console exclusives available to PC users for the first time, and a total library north of 400 games." If you're interested, you can download the app here. A USB adapter is set to go on sale September 6 that will allow you to use a DualShock 4 wireless controller with your PC.

Players Seek 'No Man's Sky' Refunds, Sony's Content Director Calls Them Thieves ( 467

thegarbz writes: As was covered previously on Slashdot the very hyped up game No Man's Sky was released to a lot of negative reviews about game-crashing bugs and poor interface choices. Now that players have had more time to play the game it has become clear that many of the features hyped by developers are not present in the game, and users quickly started describing the game as "boring".

Now, likely due to misleading advertising, Steam has begun allowing refunds for No Man's Sky regardless of playtime, and there are reports of players getting refunds on the Play Station Network as well despite Sony's strict no refund policy.
Besides Sony, Amazon is also issuing refunds, according to game sites. In response, Sony's former Strategic Content Director, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, wrote on Twitter, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He later added "Here's the good news: Most players are not thieves. Most players are decent, honest people without whose support there could be no industry."

In a follow-up he acknowledged it was fair to consider a few hours lost to game-breaking crashes, adding "Each case should be considered on its own merits and perhaps I shouldn't be so unequivocal."

PSA: PlayStation Network Gets Two-Step Verification ( 42

Consider this a public service announcement: Sony has (finally) added two-factor authentication to PlayStation Network accounts. If you're a PlayStation user and are reading this right now, you really should go set it up so that someone doesn't try to take over your account and steal your password. Ars Technica details how you can set up the new security features: "Turn on your PS4 and go to Settings -> PlayStation Network Account Management -> Account Information -> Security -> 2-Step Verification. You can also set it up through the web by logging into your PSN account on the web and going through the Security tab under the Account header. From there, on-screen instructions will walk you through the process of using a text message to confirm your mobile device as a secondary layer of security for your PSN account. Two-factor support is not available when logging on to older PlayStation systems, so Sony recommends you generate a 'device setup password' to help protect the PS3, Vita, or PSP." Two-factor authentication comes five years after hackers breached PSN's security and stole 77 million accounts.
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Tries To Remove News Articles About PlayStation 4 Slim Leak From The Internet ( 85

Sony is expected to announce two new PlayStation 4 consoles at a scheduled event on September 7th in New York City, but as that date nears more leaks of the consoles have emerged. The most recent leak appears to show the upcoming PlayStation 4 Slim, which Sony is trying to remove from the internet by taking down news articles from social media accounts about the leak. Erik Kain via @erikkain on Twitter tweeted (Tweet no longer exists): "Sony issued a takedown and had this post removed from my Facebook page: (Warning: may be paywalled)." Techdirt reports: "[The Forbes post] references the work Eurogamer did in visiting the leaker of the image to confirm the console is for real (it is), as well as generating its own image and even video of the console working for its story on the leak. But if you go today to the Eurogamer post about the leak, the video has been replaced by the following update. UPDATE, 7.30pm: Upon taking legal advice, we have removed the video previously referenced in this article. Left unsaid is whether or not any contact had been made by Sony with Eurogamer, thus prompting this 'legal advice,' but one can imagine that being the case, particularly given Sony's threats to social media users sharing images and reporting of Sony leaks and, more to the point, threats against any media that might report on those leaks."
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation 3 Games Are Coming To PC ( 125

PlayStation 3 games are coming to Windows. Sony said Tuesday that it is bringing its PlayStation Now game-streaming program to Windows PCs. The service broadcasts PlayStation 3 games over the internet similar to the way Netflix beams movies to devices like Roku. CNET reports: This fall, you'll be able to play previously exclusive games like Uncharted 3 and Shadow of the Colossus on a Windows laptop. The catch: you'll be playing those games over the internet with Sony's streaming game service, PlayStation Now. Think Netflix. PlayStation Now has already been around for a couple of years on the PS4, PS3, PS Vita handheld, plus a handful of Blu-ray players and smart TVs. For $20 a month or $45 for three, the service gives players unlimited access to a long list of over 400 PlayStation 3 games. Like Netflix or any other streaming service, the quality can vary wildly depending on your internet connection -- Sony requires a solid 5Mbps connection at all times, and that doesn't change today. What changes is the size of Sony's audience. With a Windows laptop or tablet, you aren't tethered to a big-screen TV. You could theoretically take these PlayStation games anywhere -- and wherever you go, your save games stream with you.

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