All posts in “Sony”

This ultra-cute tiny PS4 controller is a great option for children and the small-handed


If you like playing console games with the younger generation, you may have come across the issue of their tiny hands being unable to perform certain combos, reach certain buttons easily, and so on. While this makes them satisfying opponents, it might be better if they had a controller more suited to their physiology. Well, good thing there is one!

This cute little controller is made by Hori but officially licensed by Sony. It’s 40 percent smaller than the original, and features “all essential controls.” If you’re curious, that means you lose the headset jack, speaker, vibration motors, motion sensor and light bar (good riddance, I have electrician’s tape over mine).

The touch bar is obviously somewhat reduced — Sony says “certain touch pad inputs can be simulated via the left or right sticks.” (Just having the buttons is enough for Bloodborne, which means enough for me.)

But on the plus side, it’s small, friendly to little hands, and uses a 10-foot cord, so your dang kids won’t take it into their room and lose it in the toybox. Some people in the comments over at Sony are worried the kids are going to strangle themselves with the cord. Really?! We managed to survive Nintendo, Genesis, Super Nintendo, N64, Playstation, and all the rest until wireless became standard a few years ago, right? I’d be more worried about them swallowing a Switch Joy-Con. (Still, keep an eye on the little dears.)

Anyway, at $30 it’s a cheap way to add a second (or third) controller to your PS4 ecosystem, either for kid purposes or for the occasional couch co-op session. They’ll be available sometime soon, but definitely before the holidays.

Why the iPhone 8 Plus is a better camera than a real camera

I never thought that it would happen. And then it did.

On a recent two-week vacation to Japan (my first time, and, yes, it was amazing if you must know), I finally ditched my “real” camera, a Sony A6300 interchangeable lens camera I bought about two years ago, a replaced it with the iPhone 8 Plus.

And my trip was infinitely better because I left the Sony in my suitcase.

Since the launch of the iPhone, smartphones have slowly murdered cameras. The point-and-shoot has all but died at the hands of the glass slabs we now hold so near and dear.

Mirrorless cameras and professional DSLRs have survived only because they still provide features that phones don’t, but their days are extremely numbered for non-professional use.

Smartphone cameras are just so excellent now and some of the accessories, like Moment’s screw-on lenses are so versatile, that they’re actually better shooting gear than dedicated cameras in many ways.

Love my Sony A6300, but damn it if it isn't heavy and slow to shoot with when you have to swap out lenses.

Love my Sony A6300, but damn it if it isn’t heavy and slow to shoot with when you have to swap out lenses.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

It seemed like a no-brainer to bring my Sony camera and extra-wide angle lens. I wanted high-resolution pictures to remember my travels. Of course, I’d take it with me. So into my suitcase the Sony went along with three spare batteries.

And that’s where it stayed for just about the entire trip. I took it out exactly once in Kyoto and regretted it after a full day.

The iPhone 8 Plus is now my favorite camera to shoot with.

Don’t get me wrong. My Sony camera is like my baby. I love it to death. It takes incredible photos and shoots excellent 4K videos. I use it for both work and personal shooting and nothing beats a robust interchangeable lens camera. I’m a camera nerd now and forever. (Fun fact: I started at Mashable reviewing cameras just because I wanted to test the latest ones.)

But it turns out the iPhone — more specifically, the iPhone 8 Plus — is more than just a “good enough” camera. 

Apple’s team of a 1,000+ working on the iPhone’s cameras have finally made a photo and video powerhouse that convinced me to leave my real camera and its superior image quality in my luggage.

By the end of the trip, I had taken about 700 distinct photos and videos with my iPhone 8 Plus over 11 days compared to the 30-or-so I did with my Sony. One thing became very clear as I soaked in Japan: The iPhone 8 Plus is now my favorite camera to shoot with.

It’s so much smaller and lighter. When you’re walking 10+ miles a day like I did because you want to see as much as you can, the last thing you want is extra weight in your backpack. The iPhone 8 Plus weighs 5.22 ounces and the Sony A6300’s body without a lens is 18.3 ounces. Needless to say, the 8 Plus was just easier to carry around. My back thanks me every day for not killing it.

Image quality finally looks great in nearly all conditions. The iPhone 8 Plus comes with a 12-megapixel sensor (the same as on the iPhone 7), but don’t be fooled. Image quality is tops. By default, the camera now shoots in HDR (High Dynamic Range) when it detects certain scenes need it (like backlit shots) and I was continuously impressed by what I ended up with.

It also really helps that the 8 Plus’ A11 Bionic chip is so fast that it can process HDR photos instantly, shoot hundreds of photos in burst mode, and reduce image noise thanks to some intelligent AI.

However, it’s the camera’s low-light capabilities that really sealed the deal. I’ve been able to make do with previous iPhone cameras just fine, but low-light photography has always left something to be desired.

Bustling wards like Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Shibuya or Osaka’s Denden Town are alive in the day as they are at night and it was important that for me to experience and capture both. On so many occasions, the iPhone 8 Plus simply took such great night shots that I couldn’t believe they were shot with a phone.

It’s so much better for shooting video. Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with shooting video. In addition to 30 frames per second, iPhone 8 Plus can capture tack-sharp 4K resolution video at 24 and 60 fps, which puts it on par with my Sony.

But more important to me was shooting slow-motion and timelapses, and doing so quickly before the moment was gone. 

It’s a simple swipe to change modes on the iPhone and a complete mess of convoluted settings and on real cameras. On one particular bridge with a view of the Tokyo Skytree, I watched as several tourists fumbled around with their tripods and waited to shoot a timelapse. With the iPhone 8 Plus, I shot several timelapses and shared them to Instagram before they were even close to finishing.

Attachable lenses take your photos and videos to the next level. The 8 Plus’s second 2x telephoto lens is great and I loved toying around with Portrait mode (Portrait lighting is still in beta and the results were pretty rough so I didn’t use it very often), but I loved the ease of clipping on lenses to get even wider angles.

Moment's Photo Battery Case with attachable lens (sold separately).

Moment’s Photo Battery Case with attachable lens (sold separately).

Image: raymond wong/mashable

I brought Moment’s Battery Photo Case and a wide-angle (18mm) and fisheye (170-degree) with me and they proved to be so useful for pulling into frame Japan’s beautiful neon signage and the throngs of people the flood the streets. These tiny lenses aren’t the cheapest ones you can buy, but damn it if the image quality isn’t the best for the iPhone (Moment also makes them for Google’s Pixels). 

Wide-angle and fisheye lenses for my Sony would’ve killed my back and taken forever to swap on. But that’s not the case with the iPhone 8 Plus. I frequently clipped on the fisheye as needed and my photos and videos are better because I did.

Google Photos makes backups stupid easy. It’s easy to shoot a ridiculous amount of photos and videos, but backing them up and sorting through them all is a pain in the ass.

Thanks to the magic of Google Photos, this once-annoying task happened in the background. As soon as I got back to my Airbnb at the of the day, I’d connect to Wi-Fi and then let Google Photos back everything up overnight. It was all so effortless and the very thought of going back to downloading photos from an SD card to a computer and then uploading them into the cloud seemed downright stupid.

All my Japan photos, backed up to Google Photos, and easily shareable.

All my Japan photos, backed up to Google Photos, and easily shareable.

Image: screenshot: raymond wong/mashable

Google Photos also made sharing all my footage with friends and family easier at the end of trip. All I had to do was select the pics and videos and then toss them into an album and invite them to access the high-res files.

And a bunch of other reasons. I could go on and on in detail about all the small ways the iPhone 8 Plus is a more convenient camera — like how it fits in places regular cameras can’t, or how much better battery life is, or how great it is to be able to edit photos on the go — but I’ll spare you. I think you get the point.

Getting the shot. I would've needed a tripod for my real camera for this timelapse. But with iPhone 8 Plus, I just propped it up against the glass.

Getting the shot. I would’ve needed a tripod for my real camera for this timelapse. But with iPhone 8 Plus, I just propped it up against the glass.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Being the camera nerd that I am, I always thought that my trusty camera would be by my side wherever I traveled. I convinced myself that I could get the best photos shooting with my Sony.

But after two weeks of shooting exclusively on an iPhone 8 Plus (anyone who followed my Instagram Stories will know I was literally sharing non-stop all day long), I can tell you it’s such an incredible camera… if you know how to make it work for you.

Not only did is it more convenient because it’s connected to the internet, but its size and limitations also pushed me to think outside the box more than ever before. I spared no expense to get the shot.

Another place where my Sony camera wouldn't have fit. But my iPhone 8 Plus did... with some help.

Another place where my Sony camera wouldn’t have fit. But my iPhone 8 Plus did… with some help.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

I found better angles. I didn’t just lazily shoot from the waist up. I literally got a deer’s face at Nara Park and the result were photos and videos that are more raw and genuinely memorable to look at now that the vacation’s over.

But maybe you’re not convinced. Perhaps, these photos and videos (all unedited) I shot might change your mind. And it gives me an excuse to post photos from my Japan trip.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Kyoto's famous Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine with over 10,000 torii gates. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine with over 10,000 torii gates. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Image: raymond wong/mashable

The trains in Japan are always on time (Shot with regular iPhone 8 Plus camera).

The trains in Japan are always on time (Shot with regular iPhone 8 Plus camera).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Akihabara sells tons of electronic parts. (Shot with regular 8 Plus lens).

Akihabara sells tons of electronic parts. (Shot with regular 8 Plus lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Shot with 8 Plus' 2x telephoto lens).

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Shot with 8 Plus’ 2x telephoto lens).

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Special Japanese Pepsi (Shot with Portrait mode).

Special Japanese Pepsi (Shot with Portrait mode).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Japan's arcade scene is still alive and well. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Japan’s arcade scene is still alive and well. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Osaka Castle (Shot with regular iPhone 8 Plus camera lens).

Osaka Castle (Shot with regular iPhone 8 Plus camera lens).

Image: raymond wong/mashable

These colors looked so cartoonish, but there was no editing done on this photo. (Shot with regular 8 Plus lens).

These colors looked so cartoonish, but there was no editing done on this photo. (Shot with regular 8 Plus lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The famous Akihabara aka otaku paradise. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

The famous Akihabara aka otaku paradise. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Osaka's Denden "electric" town is like Times Square. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Osaka’s Denden “electric” town is like Times Square. (Shot with Moment fisheye lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Salary man eating ramen at a stand-up shop in Osaka. (Shot with regular iPhone 8 lens).

Salary man eating ramen at a stand-up shop in Osaka. (Shot with regular iPhone 8 lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Some kind of sesame cracker snack from Nara. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Some kind of sesame cracker snack from Nara. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

A classic Japanese izakaya in Shibuya. (Shot with regular 8 Plus lens).

A classic Japanese izakaya in Shibuya. (Shot with regular 8 Plus lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

This guy needed a nap badly. (Shot with Portrait mode).

This guy needed a nap badly. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Look at how in-focus this cute deer in Nara Park is. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Look at how in-focus this cute deer in Nara Park is. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

I ate so much ice cream in Japan. (Shot with Portrait mode).

I ate so much ice cream in Japan. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Tsukiji Market is the world's largest fish market. Swing by to get the freshest sashimi you'll ever eat. (Shot with 8 Plus's built-in 2x telephoto lens).

Tsukiji Market is the world’s largest fish market. Swing by to get the freshest sashimi you’ll ever eat. (Shot with 8 Plus’s built-in 2x telephoto lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Shot at the mid-level of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.

Shot at the mid-level of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

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Japan's signage is beautiful in such a chaotic way. (Shot with Moment 18mm wide-angle lens).

Japan’s signage is beautiful in such a chaotic way. (Shot with Moment 18mm wide-angle lens).

Image: raymond wong/mashable

Tsukiji Market is the world's largest fish market. Swing by to get the freshest sashimi you'll ever eat. (Shot with 8 Plus's built-in 2x telephoto lens).

Tsukiji Market is the world’s largest fish market. Swing by to get the freshest sashimi you’ll ever eat. (Shot with 8 Plus’s built-in 2x telephoto lens).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Fine, you get one pic of me. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Fine, you get one pic of me. (Shot with Portrait mode).

Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

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Sony is bringing back the Aibo robot dog from our childhoods

Remember this guy?
Remember this guy?

Image: Koji Sasahara/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Remember the Aibo? It was Sony’s robot pet dog, and for years in the early 2000s, captured imaginations for being one of the most advanced robot pets on the market.

The Aibo was first released in 1999, but was sadly halted in 2006 as part of cost cutbacks by the Japanese firm.

But according to the Nikkei, the Aibo will be making a triumphant return in spring next year, with the company reinstating the original team behind the Aibo. They had been reportedly redeployed to other departments when the Aibo division was cut.

The new Aibo will come with several new tricks.

It’ll be less like a pet, and more like a smart home device.

For one, it’ll operate less like a “pet,” and more like a smart home device, equipped with AI and internet connectivity, similar to the smart speakers coming out of the likes of Amazon and Google.

Sony also plans to base the new Aibo on an open operating system, that’ll allow third party developers to add features to the little dog.

The development of AI now coming on by leaps and bounds could mean a fresh start for Aibo — as well as Sony, which will next year have abandoned its robot business for 12 years.

In recent years, however, Sony has worked to reverse that course. Last year, it invested in AI software developer Cogitai.

The company has also admitted that its efforts have “lagged behind” other tech giants that have invested in AI, but added that there were still “unexplored areas.”

“We have a number of products in the physical world,” Sony executive Hiroaki Kitano had told ZDNet. “We make hardware. That’s our strength.”

The Aibo sold for a whopping $2,500 when it was first released, making it far less accessible to the average household. There is no word yet on how much the new version will cost.

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Sony and reMarkable’s dueling e-paper tablets are strange but impressive beasts

Poor paper. It’s in that ironic category where those who love it the most are the ones trying their hardest to replace it.

Case in point: Sony and reMarkable, a pair of companies as unlike as you’re likely to find, yet with the shared mission of making a device that adequately serves the same purpose a few sheets of paper do. They have mixed success, each working and failing in different ways; but these devices left me optimistic about future possibilities — while at the same time clinging tenaciously to my notebook and pen.

Both tablets rely on e-paper displays, most commonly seen in Amazon’s Kindle devices but which have found niche uses outside the e-reader world as they have improved in contrast and response time.

Both support a stylus and fingertip for input; both have an unlit monochrome screen; both are refreshingly thin and light (350 grams, 6-7mm thick); both have their own dedicated app; and both aspire to replace printed documents and scrolling through PDFs on your laptop. (Both are also rather expensive.)

Yet there are clear differences between the two: Sony’s Digital Paper Tablet DPT-RP1 (I’ll call it the DPT) is the size of an A4 sheet of paper, which combined with its lightness makes it somehow alarming. It’s hard to believe it’s an actual device. The reMarkable, on the other hand, is smaller (about 10×7″) and a triplet of buttons on its lower bezel invite interaction. It’s equally light, but doesn’t give off that “how’d they make this thing” vibe. At least, not yet.

The short version of each device’s story:

Sony DPT-RP1

  • 13.3″ 1650×2200 screen
  • 16GB internal storage, PDF support
  • $700

This handsome devil is the sequel to one I remember handling at CES years ago, and it has been given a significant, if not radical, upgrade. The latest version got a much-improved screen, plenty of internal storage (16 GB doesn’t fill up too fast when you’re mostly looking at documents), and better handwriting and note-taking capability.

It’s specifically aimed at people who have to handle lots of wordy documents and are tired of doing so on a laptop screen, LCD-based tablet, or small e-reader. Think scientists reviewing studies, lawyers going over case files, and so on.

reMarkable

  • 10.3″ 1872×1404 screen
  • 8GB internal storage, PDF/ePub support
  • $600

The reMarkable (and yes, they do the camel caps thing) is the sort of crowdsourcing success I like to see. An original and ambitious idea accomplished with hard work and ingenuity, and at the end of it all, a viable product.

The team was simply enamored of the idea that an e-reader type device should be more interactive, allowing you to sketch, annotate documents, and share them live. To that end they worked for years, eventually even consulting with E-Ink, which makes the displays in question, to produce a screen that not only looks like a printed piece of paper, but feels like it when you write on it.

And now to judge the two devices on the three R’s: reading, writing, and interaction. What? Only one of the other three R’s starts with an R.

Reading

As far as providing a superior platform on which to read through documents that are mostly monochrome — studies, lawsuits, books — both devices succeed admirably. Neither has as good a screen as a Kindle Oasis or Kobo Aura One, but they’re more than good enough — and anyway, it would be excruciating reading an academic paper on a kindle.

If I had to give the edge to one of the devices strictly in display quality, it would have to be the DPT. Slightly whiter whites and better contrast give it the edge, even though technically the reMarkable has a higher DPI (226 vs 206). A grid on the screen is just visible when you look close, but rarely bothered me when reading from a normal distance. Text is rendered slightly better on the Sony to my eye, though it’s hardly a blowout.

But one also has to consider that the Sony’s screen is gigantic. The reMarkable and its bezel fit comfortably within the screen area of the DPT. Not everyone actually wants to read on such an enormous device, and documents not intended for that size can blow up to comical proportions. E-books as well end up looking like either children’s stories if you bump the text size up, or impenetrable walls of text with frequent carriage returns if you don’t.

This objection applies to the reMarkable as well, but less so. (Sony does address this problem with the ability to show two portrait mode pages at once while the device itself is in landscape mode.)

If I had to choose between one size and the other, I would go with the reMarkable in a second. It fits in more bags, doesn’t feel so awkward, and it’s not so much smaller that a full-page PDF looks crammed onto it; you hardly notice after a while.

As for build quality, both devices are extremely well made, and in particular reMarkable touts the near indestructibility of their device. The Sony doesn’t feel flimsy at all, but as I mentioned before its great size does make it feel like a liability, like a passing biker will clip the corner while you’re reading it in the park. I do however approve of its extra-minimal design, while the reMarkable’s silver back and multiple buttons make it rather the more gadgety of the two.

One other place where the DPT schools the reMarkable is in on/off quickness. One of the great things about e-paper devices is you can switch them on and a second or two later you are back in your book or article. The DPT is no exception to that, and it will maintain a charge for weeks and still turn on in a snap.

The reMarkable will do that when it’s in sleep mode, but it goes from sleep mode to fully off after some relatively short amount of time that you can’t modify. From being off, it takes 15-20 seconds or more to turn on — an eternity these days! No doubt this is to improve the battery life, but it’s annoying as hell. This is something that can and likely will be adjusted (or hopefully made adjustable) in a software update, but for now it’s a pain.

Writing

Here at least we have a solid winner. Writing on the reMarkable is a pleasure, and while it’s still not quite like pen on paper, it’s a hell of a lot better than active stylus on glass.

The near-instant response time of the reMarkable’s e-paper screen (it’s around 50 milliseconds) makes writing feel natural, not like a device catching up to something you did half a second ago. This is absolutely critical, since the feedback of what you see affects how you write — when you stop crossing that T or dragging out the descender of that y. The team was obsessive in getting the latency down, and succeeded to a greater extent than, honestly, I expected was possible on this kind of display. E-Ink itself, they told me, was incredibly impressed.

Above, the reMarkable; below, the DPT.

But not only does the line follow the tip of your stylus with a quickness, there is a world of expressiveness available should you choose it. The tablet doesn’t just track the tip, but also the pressure and orientation of the stylus. So with the pencil tool, you can make a thin, light line by holding the stylus nearly perpendicular to the screen and barely touching it, or make wide brushlike strokes by angling it down and pressing harder. This isn’t always useful, and it takes some time to get used to, but it really is amazing that it’s possible on an e-paper device, and I can see it being adopted by plenty of sketchers and note takers.

Furthermore, the tablet ships with a number of templates — grids, lines, etc — and supports multiple layers, which you can export as Photoshop files.

Certainly it impressed the TechCrunch crew. I had it with me for note-taking (and showing off) purposes at Disrupt SF, and everyone who touched it and wrote on it fell in love, asking how they could get one. These are people who see state of the art tech all day, every day.

I didn’t have the DPT with me, but I think it would have elicited a more polarized response. It’s so big — but once you get over that, you start thinking how nice it would be to run through SEC filings or Pew studies with this instead of on a laptop.

You can write on the screen of the DPT as well, but despite Sony’s best efforts it’s not nearly as responsive as the reMarkable. It’s close, sure, and way better than the devices I’ve seen before, but as they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. In this case, it’s close enough that I wouldn’t mind doing a few annotations of a long document, but I can’t picture taking notes with it or drawing anything but the simplest shapes. The lag and resulting feel that things are slightly off what you intended is just enough that you notice it.

Unfortunately neither supports handwriting recognition now, though it’s on the horizon.

Interaction

Here we have what is really the Achilles’ Heel of both devices. The fact is that at present, they’re just too limited in the content you can put on them, how you can edit and annotate it, and how you navigate it.

The DPT has the benefit of simplicity. It’s very straightforward: load items (probably PDFs) on it via the associated desktop app, and they appear in a list on the tablet. Open it up and you have the now-familiar touchscreen controls: swipe left or right to change page, or tap the edges of the screen; tap the center to open view options, change the pen style, etc. You can also quickly zoom in on an area, though considering the size of the thing I never felt the need to do this. A single button at the top opens a small, straightforward menu with recent documents and the option to return home.

The reMarkable, on the other hand, throws all kinds of things at you from the beginning. You still add your documents from a desktop app — and here I may as well mention that you need to set up a free, simple account on the site to do so, and to enable web-based syncing of documents (it was quick and seems harmless). Once they’re on the device, you navigate via a busy home screen that lists all docs, or just PDFs, or just e-books, or your notebooks, of which you can create as many as you like: one for sketches, another for work notes, another for to-dos, etc.

Inside documents, you’ll use the three buttons at the bottom of the device to go forward, back, or return home. Disappointingly, you can’t swipe or tap to go to next or previous pages. I much preferred the DPT’s simplified controls; buttons may be useful on a dedicated e-reader, where page turning is by far the most frequent action, but the reMarkable is meant to be like a piece of paper and the buttons seem at odds with that idea.

The real issue I have, however, is one I have with both. You’re very limited in what you can do with the documents. Reading them is great. But neither device is good at exporting the actions you take off the device. For example, if you find a portion of a document you want to remember, what can you do?

On the DPT, you can highlight it, but then what? On the reMarkable, you use the highlighter pen to mark it, but then what? The DPT has a clever system where you can put a star or other symbols on certain pages, then easily re-find those points later — but then what? The reMarkable lets you add annotations to any page in a trice — but then what?

All these actions end up staying on the device or facing some convoluted export process. Why can’t I select some text on the reMarkable and have it be copied to a clipboard in the app? Why can’t I drag out a rectangle and have it save a screenshot? Why can’t I have the starred paragraphs of the PDF on the DPT automatically highlight in the original document?

Ultimately you mostly interact with content by drawing on a transparent layer on top of it. That’s great for some stuff, but not particularly flexible. You can build a workflow around either one of these, but it won’t be pretty.

Furthermore, the content I can access is extremely limited. No time-shifting services like Pocket or Evernote are supported even in a limited fashion. Only PDFs and epub files can be read, or certain archives. Both devices have wi-fi, but neither one has even a rudimentary or text-only web browser. I would love to have any of these things, but for now the use cases for these devices are limited to “reading files you already have, and making a few limited changes to them.”

Long live specialty devices

Compared to something like the Surface or an iPad Pro, the DPT and reMarkable may seem somewhat limited. But that’s kind of the point.

You’re not supposed to be able to write a novel on your DPT, or play some complex 3D game. These are devices designed with a few very specific purposes, and they fulfill those purposes — pretty well, as you have seen. They’re light, they’re durable, they’re pleasant and quite simple to use.

The fact is that this is a pretty new product category, or at least a long-neglected one (RIP Kindle DX) and I think it’s fantastic that companies big and small are interested in doing something different.

On the other hand, they’re still figuring out exactly what these products should be capable of. Sony has a firm idea and is making its play for the scientific and legal markets where long documents are common and a handful of markup tools are sufficient. reMarkable has a broader vision and a technical solution for achieving it: more and faster interaction, better integration with existing services.

While I can say that the Sony has achieved its purpose, that purpose is intentionally limited and as such makes it attractive to a rather narrow slice of people. The reMarkable is potentially attractive to far more people — orders of magnitude more, I think — but it has yet to achieve its vision.

Fortunately reMarkable is aware of this and mainly just wanted to ship a working product. The roadmap for the next year has lots of interesting features on it, ones that will make the device more versatile and reliable.

That reMarkable has sold tens of thousands of its extremely niche device, and that Sony hasn’t given up on the DPT while letting its other e-readers die is promising. There’s a place for devices like these in my house and, increasingly I hope, many more.

IFA 2017’s biggest announcements

The September time frame positions the Berlin show perfectly as a launch pad for holiday products. As such, some of tech’s biggest names, including Samsung, Sony, LG and Lenovo, use it to debut some of their biggest products of the year. It’s also proven a solid showcase for some of the wackier startups that have historically had a tough time getting noticed at larger shows. CES.

The event is also a great bellwether for some of the industry’s biggest names, nearly half a year ahead of CES. The show officially kicked off on Friday, but companies have been launching products for most of the week, and the trends have started to emerge. Unsurprisingly, smart assistants are everywhere, as more third-parties push to integrate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Fitness-focused wearables, wireless earbuds and new smartphone camera tech have also made a splash at the event.

What follows is a list of the best that this year’s IFA has to offer.