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Sony to begin testing Internet-based TV service

From Beacon Journal wire services

LAS VEGAS: Sony said Tuesday it will begin testing an Internet-based television service this year, challenging traditional cable and satellite providers.

The product will combine live programs with an on-demand library of films and TV shows, said Andrew House, chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment. He was speaking at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Tokyo company will also test a video-game streaming service for its PlayStation 4 console, smartphones and TVs.

The cloud-based efforts highlight Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai’s bid to remake Sony for a new generation of consumers. Sony’s products must embody the Japanese spirit of “kando,” to inspire or capture users emotionally, Hirai said on stage at CES.

At another show event, Transformers director Michael Bay said he was embarrassed that he walked off the stage during a presentation of Samsung’s new curved ultra-high-definition television.

Video of the cringe-worthy incident at the show circulated on social media sites late Monday and early Tuesday. In a statement posted online and confirmed by Bay’s production company, Bay says: “I guess live shows aren’t my thing.”

The video shows Bay start to speak, then stop when the presenter speaks. Bay resumes speaking, then stops again, saying the teleprompter isn’t working correctly.

Bay and the presenter then attempt to talk off-the-cuff about the 105-inch TV, but the flustered director apologizes and abruptly left the stage.

Bay directed the first three Transformers movies, with Transformers 4 due in theaters in June.

In other news at the show:

AT&T Inc., the country’s second-largest wireless carrier, announced it’s setting up a “1-800” service for wireless data. Websites that pay for the service will be toll-free for AT&T’s wireless customers, meaning the traffic won’t count against a surfer’s monthly allotment of data.

It’s the first major cellphone company to create a comprehensive service for sponsored wireless access in the U.S. The service is likely to face considerable opposition from public-interest groups that fear it could discourage consumers from exploring new sites that can’t afford to pay carriers for traffic.

AT&T is trying to forestall critics by announcing that one of the first customers for the service is a startup: Aquto, which has an app that rewards users with extra data if they watch ads or download specific apps.

Dolby technology

Dolby, long known for pristine sound, is now trying to improve what you see.

The company unveiled Dolby Vision, a technology that increases the brightness and contrast of TV sets. Prototype models are on display from TV manufacturers such as Sharp and TCL.

Standard TV sets emit about 100 nits — a unit of brightness roughly equivalent to one candle per square meter. As a reference, a 100-watt lightbulb emits 18,000 nits. Dolby says its prototype monitor can put out 4,000 nits.

New Dish recorder

Dish Network is unveiling a new recorder system that can record eight TV shows at once, as long as four of them are from the broadcast networks ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. The system involves a new Hopper digital video recorder unit and a Joey add-on box for separate rooms.

Dish also unveiled partnerships with LG and Sony so that Hopper users can view shows on a DVR in another room without having a Joey box. It would involve an app on a smart TV or PlayStation.


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