Battle of the DSLRs

Last week in Hong Kong Nikon released their new DSLR, the Nikon D90 to much fanfare. You can checkout dpReview’s Nikon D90 “preview” report for a detailed look at the camera’s functions and capabilities.

Canon did not let Nikon steal all the fanfare by “arguably” one-upping Nikon to announce the successor to its 5D, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The significant differences being:

  • Still image size: Canon’s 21 Megapixels –> Nikon’s 12.9 Megapixels
  • Video Resolution: Canon’s 1080p 30fps –> Nikon’s 720p 24fps
  • ISO Range: Canon’s ISO 100 – 6400 range (50 – 25600 expended) –> Nikon’s IS0 200-3200 range (100-6400 expanded)

Note: yes, both DSLR are capable of capturing videos like most point-and-shoot. Of course with way better quality and flexibilities.

Vincent Laforet was lucky enough to be able to obtain a prototype Canon 5D Mark II for 72 hours to test, and his results were stunning. You can download the short movie he made called, Reverie. [Update: currently hosted at Canon and the demand was too great.] from his blog. You can check out the quality of the video and the 5D Mark II’s amazing low light capabilities from clips of the making-of video hosted at Smugmug.

Again you can checkout dpReview’s Canon EOS 5D Mark II “preview” report for details of what this Canon marvel can do.

Of course the other up-and-coming big shot in the DSLR market did not stand still and let the veteran steal all the lime lights. Sony, the company who made the chip that goes inside the Nikon D3, also announced a new DSLR of their own, the Sony Alpha A900. You can read dpReview’s Sony Alpha A900 “preview” report for details and sample images.

With brand new MacBook Pros just around the corner, it is really tough being a guy. I guess it is similar to some women and Manolo Blahnik.

The Nintendo Phenomenon

Nintendo LogoUnless you live in one of the undeveloped countries you will no doubt hear of the famous Nintendo trio: “Nintendo Wii“, “Nintendo DS” and “Nintendo Game Boy“.

When the Nintendo Game Boy came out in 1989 it easily became the most successful handheld game console. It appealed to both kids and adult alike. The latter mainly because there was no other alternative until 1990 when Sega released its weak competitive console.

Nintendo then released the Nintendo DS in 2004 to counter the competition from Sony with its PSP (Play Station Portable) game console. Nintendo quickly released a revised and much improved version called, “Nintendo DS Lite” in 2006. It is this latter version that took off is masses throughout Asia, mostly the adult players; both males and females.

In Hong Kong the Nintendo DS Lite phenomenon is quickly surpassed Sony PSP in just six months after its release, with Hong Kong electronic stores receiving large quantities of old Sony PSP as trade-ins for new Nintendo DS Lite consoles.

From my unscientific observation, most of the appeal appear to be females. One can see women playing the NDS Lite while walking on street, taking the MTR (subway), on the bus, in the tram, and in Starbucks. basically everywhere you can think of. At Starbucks one will see group plays (a group of players playing the NDS Lite over WiFi connection).

The Nintendo Wii or as Nintendo officially refers it as simply “Wii”, is no exception. With its launch in the North America, UK and Japan late 2006, it had not met the overwhelming demand on the console. Even after 9 months after the official launch it is still very difficult to purchase a Wii console in North America and UK.

The would be players in the rest of the world did not stand idle by their counter parts in North America, UK and Japan. Grey Market units become available in Australia, South Korea, Europe and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong the USA version cause less than the Japanese version by about HKD700.00 and both versions can come modified to allow them to play games from both regions. It is now almost a year after the official launch in North America and Wii are still flying off shelves here in Hong Kong.

In the mean time Sony and Microsoft both suffered massive loses in their respective division for the Sony Play Station and XBox consoles.

Nintendo took a very different approach compared to Sony, Microsoft and Sega, when its console the Nintendo Gamecube and its predecessor Nintendo 64 was arguably unsuccessful. It focused on the gaming experience and more importantly the game play rather than the graphics and realism of the scenes in the games like Sony and Microsoft.

With this approach Nintendo came up with ingenious approaches to game play, demonstrated by their Wii console and the titles that had been released. Similarly they have similarly unique gaming experience with their Nintendo DS Lite titles. Both of these consoles have player interacting with the console in ways that cannot be found on Sony’s PSP, Playstation or Microsoft’s XBox 360.

The phenomenon is further validated by the number of titles available for the Nintendo DS Lite and Wii compared to the Sony Playstation 3, Sony PSP and Microsoft XBox 360. Also the sustained resell value of both the Wii and Nintendo DS Lite consoles compared to the Sony Playstation 3, Sony PSP and XBox 360. The latter is dropping even much faster now that Microsoft has officially acknowledge defects in almost 50% of the consoles sold worldwide. As a result costing Microsoft 1 billion USD for extended warrantees for the consoles.

Will Nintendo enjoy this success forever. Of course not. Both Sony and Microsoft will not stand idle by watching Nintendo chips away their respective market shares. A sign that Sony is not standing still can been seen in its Little Big Planet project. But we have yet to see any innovations from Microsoft.

Another One Under the Gun

Last year (October 2006) the Hong Kong online retail company, Lik-Sang, was forced to go out of business by Sony® with lawsuits in the UK regarding the retailer’s sales of PSP consoles before Sony officially release it in the UK.

Now the record companies in the UK and EU is complaining that the online retailer CD Wow is selling CDs and DVDs below the UK/EU SRP (suggested retail price). The UK courts agree with the major labels and fined CD Wow close to USD81 Millions. CD Wow is going to appeal the ruling.

Will this latest ruling shut down CD Wow? Or will this finally expose the high profit margins the major labels are enjoying for so long. Most of which do not go back to the artist.

May be along with this story and what is happening in online music, we can force the major labels to redefine their business models.

Sony’s LittleBigPlanet

Today (March 7th EST) Sony™ unveiled their new game, LittleBigPlanet.

You really have to see for yourself to understand why this is an incredible break through in digital game design.