It’s a big day for consumer electronics fans and the companies that supply their content: Samsung and Sony separately unveiled an array of new products that could drive the holiday season consumer electronics market — and, importantly, that precede an Apple event next week where it’s expected to showcase a new, larger-screen iPhone, an iWatch, a mobile payments service, and possibly a wearable device that tracks users’ health. Apple shares are off 4.2% in mid-day trading.
The most intriguing, and eagerly anticipated, new product is Samsung’s virtual reality headset, the Gear VR Innovator Edition, built with Facebook-owned Oculus. It works as an accessory to Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 large-screen smartphone and will be available this year. The headset is supposed to make it possible for viewers to “fully immerse themselves in a cinematic virtual reality environment,” including 3D, the company says. Companies providing content include Disney’s Marvel (with a look at Tony Stark’s Lab, from Iron Man), IMAX, Dreamworks Animation, Legendary, Cirque du Soleil Media, M-Go, and Vevo.
In addition to the 5.7-inch screen Galaxy Note 4, the company will offer the Galaxy Note Edge — a similar device but with a curved touchscreen display that spills images over to the right hand side. The idea is that people can use the side edge display to quickly ditch phone calls, play games, or to serve as a ticker for stock or sports info. The gadgets, plus the Galaxy S5 phone, will have heart monitors.
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said at the company’s presentation at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin that the cloud-based television service it announced in January will be up by year end. But the company mostly focused on its new Xperia Z3 phones and tablets — which will be able to handle WiFi-streamed PlayStation 4 games. Gaming is “one of the most important core businesses at Sony,” Hirai says.
On video, Sony unveiled a 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector, a portable device that can beam a 23-inch 4K image on a wall. It’s due this month.
Sony displayed a prototype of its planned line of smart glasses, a variation on Google Glass. The company also showed its Sony Smartwatch 3 developed with Google, as well as a wrist fitness tracker that also can handle phone calls.