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Berlin, Germany — If at first you don't succeed... Well, you know how it goes. After Sony's initial lettered tablets and Xperia smartphone were met with nonchalance in the market a year ago, Sony here at the IFA electronics show bowed a newly-named Xperia Tablet S, three new Xperia smartphones (the T, V and J), a convertible laptop/tablet dubbed the VAIO Duo 11, and several other new AV and PC gadgets.
 
Berlin, Germany — Long expected, Samsung unveiled its update to its oversized Note smartphone/tablet (or "phablet"), the Note II, here at the annual IFA electronics show. Note II's screen now measures 5.5-inches — a .3-inch growth spurt — but somehow Samsung made it not at awkward to hold as the original.
 
It's been widely reported by a variety of reliable sources that Apple will announce the new iPhone 5 on September 12, and it will go on sale eight days later. As much as we can know for sure sans Apple's official imprimatur, the new iPhone will connect via 4G LTE and feature a 4-inch screen. These are the headline upgrades; there are more, which I'll get to after the jump. As per usual, I'll be on the physical line at an Apple store or pre-order an iPhone 5 to be delivered to my door so I can pass judgment in print as quickly as possible — and pass my 4S to my anxious wife. But strangely I am not tingling with geek excitement as I have with past major iPhone upgrades (which is a place, sadly, I've been before).
 
Who among you have been lucky enough to have won the Verizon FiOS lottery? Okay, perhaps the metaphor isn't quite precise since one cannot choose to win the lottery while one can choose FiOS over a local cable monopoly or satellite TV service. But unlike cable or satellite, FiOS isn't available everywhere, only to around 15 to 18 million homes — and mine isn't one of them. That makes those of you who can choose FiOS the aforementioned lucky lottery winners (now you see the accuracy of the metaphor), and the estimated 4.4 million of you who have chosen FiOS for your TV service and 5 million for broadband connectivity smart lottery winners. And not being a FiOS lottery winner makes me angrier than, well, someone who plays the same numbers in the lottery every week — except the week that number actually comes in. And my anger — and perhaps that of all non-FiOS lottery winners — is unlikely to be sated given the recent Verizon/FiOS news.
 
While watching The Daily Show the other night, I saw a commercial (I hadn't had a chance to DVR past it) for the impending release of the Denzel Washington starrer Safe House in a Blu-ray combo pack. According to the ad, the combo-pack gives you three ways to watch, anytime, anywhere: a Blu-ray disc, a DVD and a digital copy "PLUS all-new UltraViolet." Uh, wouldn't that be FOUR ways to watch anytime, anywhere? While Universal's viewing arithmetic may be faulty, what may be even more off is the fourth billing given UltraViolet. What's UltraViolet? Possibly the future of all home video — if the powers-that-be can smooth out some start-up kinks.

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