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Has Anyone Heard From Sony Lately?

As a tech geek, I love killing time in electronics stores or even just the electronics department at a Target or Wal-Mart. Knowing this, my wife offered to duck into the Sony Style store at Tysons Corner Center over the weekend, as we killed time waiting for a movie. Imagine her reaction when I hesitated and then declined the offer.

In all honesty, I really couldn't think of anything that I wanted to see in the Sony Style store. Years ago, my home was filled with gadgets that carried the Sony name - TV, computer, home stereo and VCR, among other things. Going back even further, I remember when the Sony Walkman was the must-have gadget for this 1980s teenager.

But that's all changed. Sony still makes computers - but Dell, HP and Appletook control of that spotlight long ago. The Walkman - and later, the Discman - were popular gadgets but Apple's iPod dominates portable music these days. As we shopped for TV sets earlier this year, we looked at models by Pioneer, Hitachi, LG and others before deciding to buy the Samsung plasma set. Even our old Sony camcorder has been replaced by the video recording feature on our Canon digital camera.

Thanks to the PlayStation, Sony is still a recognizable name in consumer electronics. And there's generally a lot of respect for the innovation that they bring to their products. Some of the early digital video applications on a PC were found on high-end (read: expensive) VAIO computers. This week, I was pitched a Sony product called "Location Free," which basically allows you to access the TV shows on your at-home DVR over the Internet. But while reading the pitch, I couldn't help think how it sounds a lot like what SlingBox is already doing.

I had a good long run with quality Sony products over the years. But as the consumer electronics playing field grows - and consumers have more choices and which allows them to place more value on competitive prices and easy-to-use products, I can't help but wonder if Sony will be able to find the magic formula and reclaim its place as a leader in consumer electronics.

By Sam Diaz  |  July 18, 2007; 6:47 PM ET  | Category:  Sam Diaz
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Comments

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You know I find it interesting that Mr Diaz says that location free is a similar product to slingbox. I think if you do the research you would find the location free product was available for 3 years before there was a slingbox. Maybe Sony is not the best marketing company in the world but in innovation on product they are still one of the leaders.And in regards to Television even though Sony is higher priced it is still the leader in sales for that market.Also most major television stations still use sony equipment more than any other brand. Must be a reason for that.

Posted by: William Fry | July 18, 2007 9:36 PM

Uh. You make it seem like Sony was a dominant computer name. It was always a boutique name and product. They've only been in the PC game since the mid-late 90's.

Posted by: Kim | July 18, 2007 9:50 PM

Sony will the leader again..

Posted by: smoothn00dle | July 19, 2007 1:50 AM

Ummm, you dont seem to know a lot. For example they have the biggest market share (USA) in lcd televisions with their bravias.

Posted by: doh | July 19, 2007 3:32 AM

I have s Slingbox (actually, I just upgraded to the new Slingbox, so I guess technically I have two Slingboxen), which is an amazing product. But I also have a Location Free device, for one reason: It does what a Slingbox does, with the additional functionality of letting me control my TiVo through my PSP and a WiFi connection. Standing in line to get my parking sticker wasn't too painful at all when I could catch up on my stored TV via the PSP...

Posted by: Gruntled | July 19, 2007 3:44 AM

With the possible exception of TV's and computer monitors, I will not buy anything from that company, not even blank dvds.

There was the worthless Sony computer speakers I bought in the 90's, the Sony CD burners with featureless software that you could upgrade for a price, the Sony discman that had trouble playing burned CD's, and the Velvet Revolver CD that installed DRM software on my computer without telling me.

And that was followed by Sony releasing music CD's that installed rootkits on people's computers.

Posted by: VoteWithYourDollars | July 19, 2007 7:01 AM

Sony's SXRD TVs are the the best in the industry with superior black levels and picture detail etc. Far superior to any plasma or LCD. Beat anything else out there.

Posted by: vaherder | July 19, 2007 7:24 AM

Sony 10 megapixel DSLR cameras are very highly rated.

Posted by: Dan | July 19, 2007 7:33 AM

He is allowed to write stuffs like that? Look, I have a Vaio laptop for 3 years now and have the most beautiful screen I ever seen, sony products it's reliable and built with quality. It might be the most expensive brand but is worth it. I have laptop, VCR, DVD, PS3, PSP, headphones, unfortunate not a TV yet, but I'm planning in getting one. I'm sorry mr Diaz, that's your opinion and not our(custumers) opinion.

Posted by: Jocaju | July 19, 2007 9:31 AM

I used to like Sony, but they've pretty much lost my goodwill. I've had too many of their products break after a year or two, and encountered horrible customer support. I still don't trust Sony after the whole rootkit thing.

It's almost like they've done a reversal with Samsung; I used to remember them being pretty low quality, but have been very happy with any Samsung product I've gotten int he last few years. The one time I had a problem with a Samsung tv (bad wiring in my house blew out some pixels), I instantly got a human on thr customer service line and a repairman was out the next day to fix it for free. They've gained my allegiance.

Posted by: Adam | July 19, 2007 10:33 AM

I love Sony's products, but they do come at a premium. Right now, the PlayStation brand is their cash cow so naturally you'll hear more about that product line than anything else. Although, I have to admit that their Bravia's are nice. I plan on upgrading from my current Samsung flat panel HDTV to a Bravia HDTV sometime this year.

Posted by: AB | July 19, 2007 12:24 PM

William Fry hits the nail on the head. Sony;s problem is marketing. I can't remember the last time I saw a Sony commercial on TV. The Location Free product is an excellent example. Sony had the idea, Slingbox did a "me too" product and did a better (though still not very good) marketing job. The best HDTV I've seen while researching for my new set was a Sony set I'd never heard of.

Posted by: Justin Fisher | July 19, 2007 1:17 PM

William Fry hits the nail on the head. Sony's problem is marketing. I can't remember the last time I saw a Sony commercial on TV. The Location Free product is an excellent example. Sony had the idea, Slingbox did a "me too" product and did a better (though still not very good) marketing job. The best HDTV I've seen while researching for my new set was a Sony set I'd never heard of.

Posted by: Justin Fisher | July 19, 2007 1:17 PM

I can agree with that, Justin. Sony ran a series of "Like no other" commercials for some of their newer products a while back. However, those ads have gone MIA. It's been a while since I've seen them market a product that doesn't have PlayStation in it.

Posted by: AB | July 19, 2007 3:12 PM

For me... Sony blew it with Memory sticks... They cost more than the competition's SD memory, and then, I had to upgrade to Duo sticks because the old ones were designed poorly? Give me a break.

Secondly... Not having MP3 support on their ATRAC players for years was bad, but when you add on that you had to use their Sonic Stage software??? Its a horrible system!

I love their gadgets, and I feel they are good quality, but I am sick and tired of being pushed towards their proprietary systems and tools... Its not worth it anymore!

Eric

Posted by: Eric in Pekin | July 19, 2007 10:53 PM

For me... Sony blew it with Memory sticks... They cost more than the competition's SD memory, and then, I had to upgrade to Duo sticks because the old ones were designed poorly? Give me a break.

Secondly... Not having MP3 support on their ATRAC players for years was bad, but when you add on that you had to use their Sonic Stage software??? Its a horrible system!

I love their gadgets, and I feel they are good quality, but I am sick and tired of being pushed towards their proprietary systems and tools... Its not worth it anymore!

Eric

Posted by: Eric in Pekin | July 19, 2007 10:54 PM

Umm, Sony; the brand that figured out how to sell an inferior Mexican manufactured Television with superior Japanese engineering.

Those Sony execs of the 1980's so had it coming. Their heads swelled so big, it's a wonder they fit on the island with the rest of their countrymen and women.

I'm glad to see Sony got what they deserved and also the Yuppies who gloated over their ownership.

Brand names are so yester-decade. If you have no idea about the guts of your product, don't presume you are getting what you paid for.. it might just be an over-priced, branded version of that cheap Chinese product selling for half the price right next the branded one on the shelf.

Posted by: Glenn | July 20, 2007 12:36 PM

Sony is high quality at a high price - a marketing strategy that seems to be working well for them. Corporations looking for high quality laptops invariably go to Vaios (both my laptop and my desktop are Vaio brand).

They don't need to change a thing - and they definitely don't need to worry about advertising more. Quality products don't rely on advertising (When was the last time you saw a Jaguar ad) - they rely on good editorial reviews (which Sony gets in an almost continual stream) and customer word of mouth.

Posted by: MC | July 23, 2007 11:19 AM

Sony has been zooming downhill for several years, but for me the pivotal "jump off the cliff" moment for the company came with the Sony Extended Copy Protection fiasco, moving from "company that's seems to have forgotten how to innovate" to "company that I just don't trust anymore."

Posted by: John | July 23, 2007 10:58 PM

Sony's products especially TV's are overpriced and overrated. I would take a 1080P DLP from Samsung or Mitsubishi over Sony bravia,XBR etc. Sony was also the company to screw customers of the first betamax. Sony invented the Trinitron tube in 1969, but since then never created a truly revolutionary product you say walkman? it was just a glorified transistor radio.

Posted by: daemon_wizard | July 25, 2007 4:09 PM

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