Sony's PlayStation Via game system will go on sale in Japan by the end of this year and launch in the US and Europe in early 2012. The device boasts advanced features like motion controls and touchpads on both its screen and rear side.
It'll stick to its launch price of US$250, despite recent, drastic price cuts by Nintendo to its 3DS handheld released earlier this year. Kaz Hirai who is in charge of Sony's gaming operations and consumer electronics declined to provide any shipment targets for the Vita, saying only he wanted to make sure there were a variety of quality games available for the Vita at launch. A lack of quality titles was one issue that hurt the 3DS. During Hirai's talk with reporters at Sony's headquarters in Tokyo he also addressed Sony's struggling TV business and called it his top priority.
Like other major manufacturers, Sony has struggled to make a profit in TVs, as consumers opt for cheaper models over established brands with more features. The company recently slashed its 12-month TV sales forecast from 27 million units to 22 million units, and is aiming to sell higher-profit models rather than focus on market share. Sony was third in global flat panel TV sales during the first quarter behind Samsung and LG.
Those of you hopping onto American Airlines transcontinental flights will soon be able to rent movies and tv shows and view them on your mobile device in flight. Passengers can log onto a homepage on 767 flights between New York and LA or San Francisco and order a variety of TV shows and movies right form their laptops or mobile phones. You won't have to buy in flight internet to watch and movies cost $4 and TV shows just $1. If you don't finish it in flight you have a day to continue watching your movie and 3 days to finish your tv show. American started testing the in flight video system in May and received FAA certification this month. It plans to roll out the service to all wifi enabled aircraft starting later this year.
An update to Google Chrome offers users two noteworthy upgrades: Instant Pages and print preview. Instant pages shaves a few seconds off page loading times by prerendering the top search result. Google produced their own demo where it showed that pages load faster using Instant, but in our own unscientific test we saw a very small improvement in page load speed. Print preview offers you a black and white preview of what you'll be printing. With that you can make sure everything you want to print ends up on the page. It's all available in Chrome version 13 which is available now as a free download.
An official Skype app came to Apple's iOS store this week after quickly appearing and disappearing earlier in the week. Like Apple's own FaceTime app, Skype for the iPad utilizes the front-facing camera on the iPad 2 to enable video calls. The first-generation iPad can only receive video calls. Contrary to FaceTime, Skype on the iPad lets users call and video chat with owners of non-Apple devices. Skype for the iPad sends and receives calls over either a Wi-Fi or 3G data connection, another differentiator from FaceTime, which currently allows video chat via Wi-Fi only. The app is available now and is free. For Android users, Skype 2.1 has added video support to a number of devices, including any running Android 2.2. It's also free and available now.
Samsung announced a software update for its Galaxy Tab 10.1 with a number of business features that the company hopes will push the device to corporate users. The software update for the tablet, which runs on Google's Android 3., includes security, workgroup and device management features to make the tablet relevant in business environments. IT managers can control functions on the tablet, such as access to the Android Market and removal of hardware, while also bringing videoconferencing and real-time document sharing to the device. Samsung did make it a point to say that the Tab's main target audience is consumers and that the business features are complimentary.
Nissan has developed a system that allows an electric car to feed electricity back to power a house. A prototype of the system is already running in a test-bed house next to the company's headquarters in Yokohama. The charging unit can both feed electricity into the car and take it back, converting it to the standard household supply while doing so. The lithium ion batteries in a Leaf can store up to 24 kilowatt hours of electricity, which Nissan estimates is sufficient to power an average Japanese home for about two days. If the system is used regularly, it could also help cut energy bills. By charging the car overnight, when power demand is low and electricity is cheaper, the stored energy in the battery can be released in the daytime when electricity costs are higher. Nissan plans to commercialize the system sometime before April 2012. Models for the overseas market will likely follow but will first have to be designed for local electricity supply systems. The company did not announce pricing details.
One of the latest caretaker robots from Japan is tasked with moving patients from their beds into wheelchairs. Developed by RIKEN a Japanese government run research body, the was developed because the group found that on average nursing home workers had to move patients from a bed into a wheelchair about 40 times a day. To accomplish the task, the robot has powerful motors to lift a person weighing up to 80 kilograms from ground level, wheelchairs and beds. It has sheets of a specially designed rubber sensor mesh along its arms and chest to provide feedback while carrying patients. RIBA-II will go into nursing homes next year for testing and sales are due to begin in 2015. The current target price is around 6 million yen, that's about $78,000.