We're not even through February yet, but already we're looking at a time where there are three major product unveilings in a single week! If anyone was wondering whether 2013 would see the private event trend continue, rest assured that we'll be jetting all over the damned place even more this year than we did the last. Not that we're complaining, mind you, especially when the events are prefaced by the kind of excitement that Sony built up ahead of its PlayStation 4 unveiling in New York City on Wednesday night.
As an unapologetic console gaming fiend, I was certainly looking forward to what Sony had to show. While I can't say that when the lights came up I was totally fulfilled -- the event was something of a big tease -- I did leave feeling generally enthused that Sony is actually making gaming a priority. I had serious concerns the PS4 would be more of a holistic media consumption device, gaming existing as just one of many, many facets. Indeed that may yet prove to be true, but for now the story was all about game developers and the cool stuff they're doing with the system. For that I am thankful.
Sony didn't actually unveil the PlayStation 4, taking the old Nintendo route of showing off the controller first.
And what of the system? Well, Sony didn't actually show the thing to us, but it did take the old Nintendo route of showing us the controller first. It's a controller that looks like a slightly more bulbous, wider DualShock 3. In fact it's the DualShock 4, augmented over its predecessor with a touchpad in the middle, a light bar that enables it to work like a Move controller (in concert with a new stereo camera) and a new Share button that lets you immediately post video replays of your games online for others to peruse -- and to insult.
Thankfully we know more about what's inside the thing than on the outside, including 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, an AMD CPU and GPU, 802.11n WiFi, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 2.1 and, yes, a Blu-ray player. This one clocks in at 6x, which will hopefully reduce load times for games. We didn't hear much about physical distribution beyond confirmation that it's happening, but we did hear a lot about a system that will figure you out so comprehensively that it'll download games you'll want to buy even before you know you want them. Presumably the PS5 will just go ahead and play them for you. Think of the timesavings!
So, we didn't see a box and we didn't get a price -- but, hopefully the largely off-the-shelf hardware of the thing means it won't demand the premium the PS3 did back in the day. It's coming sometime this holiday and we're pretty sure we'll be learning a lot more at E3 in a few months time.
HTC is dropping the alphabetic add-ons and just going with One for it's latest best-ever phone.
HTC, thankfully, had no qualms showing and telling us all about its new superphone, the HTC One. Yes, the company is dropping the alphabetic add-ons and just going with One for it's latest best-ever phone. It is indeed looking quite good, a 4.7 incher with a 1080p display, quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor and either 32 or 64GB of storage -- though sadly no microSD expansion.
Two things are particularly interesting about this phone. One is the software. Yes, it's running Android (4.1.2 to be exact) but you'd hardly know it. While Samsung and Motorola and others seem to be stepping away from heavy Android customizations, HTC has gone running in the other direction. Sense 5 basically does away with the traditional Android look and feel, baking a very Flipboard-like news and content aggregation service into the OS to the point where it takes over. Many have compared it to the Windows Phone Live Tile format, and aesthetically it is rather similar.
The other curiosity is the camera, which measures just four megapixels. Yes, four -- the sort of stat we haven't seen in a proper smartphone in ages. HTC, though, calls these "UltraPixels" that are said to be three times larger than your average smartphone pixel. Those, plus an f/2.0 lens, should mean excellent low-light performance.
We're looking forward to testing that out, and indeed we can't wait to see how Sense 5 is to live with, but we can't help but be left wondering if, by employing such heavy customizations, HTC isn't shunning hardcore Android users -- the ones who might otherwise like to own such a nice looking, and feeling, phone.
Will consumers really pay $1,299 for a laptop running an operating system with such limited functionality?
And, right after we went to print (meaning you won't see this paragraph in Distro), Google threw the oft-rumored Chromebook Pixel on our laps. The 13-inch laptop is far and away the highest-grade Chromebook to date, packing a 1.8GHz Intel processor and a stunning 2,560 x 1,700 resolution -- the same as the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, coincidentally. It looks like an amazing piece of kit, but at $1,299 for the base model and $1,449 for the LTE-equipped model, it certainly features an amazing price. Will consumers really pay that much for a laptop running an operating system with such limited functionality? We'll be reviewing one shortly, so stay tuned.
Finally, and briefly, Google also gave us the most comprehensive look at its Project Glass yet. In an incredibly moving video posted to YouTube, Google took us up in a hot air balloon and then back again skydiving. Best of all, Google is asking for more folks to step up and be part of the pilot program later this year by posting applications using #ifihadglass on Google+. Winners will, sadly, still have to pony up the $1,500.
In this week's Distro we have Mat Smith's review of another hugely important product for Sony, the Xperia Z. Dana Wollman falls in love with the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and Jon Fingas asks how much is too much when it comes to smartphone screen size. We have hands-on with the HTC One and notes on the DA14 asteroid that whizzed by. It's all in here, and I promise I won't tease you any more than that.
Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.