Sony Business Partners Conference

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This week saw Sony open their arms to their business partners, inviting those from the industry to spend some time with the heads of Sony South Africa, as well as a few international dignitaries. On Friday, 18th May 2012, Sony again opened their arms, this time inviting journalists and media to view Sony’s line up and detailed plans for the year ahead. Although we’re well into 2012 as it is, the conference still provided a good insight to what we should expect from Sony in 2012 and near future.

The event itself was advertised as a breakfast, although not the formal sit-down-around-a-table event. Being a techy at heart, I spent the few minutes allocated to finger-breakfast anticipating what would be unveiled in later proceedings, a thought made stronger after a chat with one of the represented revealed the new VAIO series. Before those events started, however, it was necessary to receive a few words from heads of Sony. The presentation that followed highlighted Sony’s strong position in South Africa, heading the markets in all competing market sectors except for that of Television, in which they are at the number 2 ranking. Also stressed in the introduction was Sony’s dedication to quality products, as opposed to market-driven “cheaper” products. There’s no doubt that Sony isn’t the most affordable product for their respective markets, but you can always associate the brand with quality. Presentations aside, it was time to view the product.

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With an overabundance of devices on display, it seemed impossible to spend sufficient time on all. A selection of tablets, notebooks, speakers, headphones and earphones, television sets, Hi-Fi systems, home entertainment systems, car audio (speakers and players), portable audio (mp3 players, boom boxers, etc), and an absurd variety of cameras, lenses and video cameras were all on show. It’s not an exaggeration to say that if a single person had to review all the products on display, it would take them at least one year to complete. Here are just a few of the devices that were showcased at the conference.

The 2 biggest unveils at the conference were undoubtedly Sony’s version of the Ultrabook, and the [eagerly awaited] Sony Google TV set top box. The Ultrabook, Sony’s VAIO T Series, will be available in South Africa from June in 11.6” and 13.3” versions. The higher spec 13.3” packs Intel’s i7 Core CPU, SSD drive, with VGA, LAN, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HDMI ports. The device was shipped in a few hours before being unveiled to the few journalists in attendance. Once released, I’ll provide further detail and full specifications.

The show stopper, or at least in my opinion, was the Sony NSZ-GS7, as it’s known. Simply put, it’s a set-top box with Google TV functionality, running on Android OS. The device connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or LAN cable, and transforms your TV into an online media centre. With a collection of apps connecting to Television Networks across, there’s more than enough variety to choose from for even the hardened viewers. One the questions that remains is whether South Africa will be offering separate networks to choose from, or simply piggy-back off what’s already available in the US and European markets. Although the device will compete directly with the likes of DStv, the biggest question is the pricing. With the ability to choose movies, series and video clips on demand, or subscribe to a particular network, you will have to select what best suits your needs. Additionally, Sony will also produce the NSZ-GS9, which is very similar to the NSZ-GS7, with the addition of a Blu-ray player. Although this wasn’t on display, quick research shows that this is a project Sony has been working on along with the NSZ-GS7. You will also notice in the images below that there is a trackpad-enabled remote that comes standard with the device. The remote also has a full QWERTY keyboard (as you can see in the reflection on the NSZ-GS7) on the back for when you’re required to enter credit card details when signing up for a new bouquet. I can imagine that the device should also offer email capabilities, since it is an Android device with fully functional browser. The NSZ-GS7 is expected to launch in South Africa in about 7-8 months, hopefully in time for your Christmas shopping.

It’s been a busy week for Sony and their representatives, so much so that a few of the product specialists had already lost their voices, most likely due to the excitement of products due for release within the next few months.

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