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Sony's CES announcements include new sound bars, TVs, and headphones

Sony is, of course, at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. As you'd expect it has a great many new products, ranging from new TVs to new Blu-Ray players. However, in our opinion, what is most exciting in Sony's announcements are the Chromecast built-in (or is that Google Cast?) products and the newly-unveiled Android TVs, plus some new headphones.

Sound bars and speakers

First up is a new sound bar, the catchily named HT-ST5000. This is Sony's flagship sound bar for 2017, so it has all the top-of-the-line features, such as Dolby Atmos, hi-res audio, and twelve advanced speakers. Sony says the HT-ST5000 is for home theater setups, and proves that with the number or ports and connectivity options: three HDMI ports, one HDMI ARC port, a USB input, Bluetooth and NFC, and a number of digital and analog connections.

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[Deal Alert] Pick up a 2-port Aukey car charger with QC 3.0 for just 8 bucks after coupon on Amazon ($5 off)

As a community of tech addicts, we tend to be a bit more demanding of our phone's battery life than the average user. Because of this, we need to take advantage of every opportunity available to recharge our gear. A perfect time to top off the tank of the ol' smartphone is during the daily commute. If you are fortunate enough to have a short one (you lucky devil) then you need a car charger that can provide the much-needed juice in a hurry. 

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[Deal Alert] Grab an Xperia X Compact ($279.99), Xperia XZ ($429.99), or a JBL Pulse 2 ($119.95) at B&H Photo

B&H is one of my favorite stores. It is always dependable, most of the time has very good prices, and customer service is great as well. They are running a DealZone sale on a couple of Xperia phones and a JBL Pulse 2 Bluetooth speaker, among other things. Hurry up, it's a flash sale that will expire soon.

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[Deal Alert] Get a 15% statement credit for Xperia X, XA, MicroSD cards, headphones, and other Sony products with Amazon Prime Store Card

Itching to get your hands on some great Sony gear? Hurry over to Amazon and do some shopping because you might be able to score a total of 15% back on select Sony products if you purchase them with an Amazon Store Card. Over 2,000 listings qualify for the deal in most of the major product categories, including audio equipment like headphones and speakers, Bravia televisions, Xperia smartphones, and memory cards. The offer ends at midnight (PST) tonight, so get moving on this one.

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Google, Samsung, HTC, Oculus, Sony, and Acer form the Global Virtual Reality Association, the first VR special interest group

Perhaps you haven't noticed yet, but virtual reality is kind of a big deal. Samsung has holiday-themed ads running on primetime TV and sports, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are breaking new ground in a stale gaming industry, and even Google is pushing its new Daydream platform hard. The powers that be think there's money to be made, and that means they're willing to work together (at least to some degree) in pursuit of it. Hence the creation of the Global Virtual Reality Association, announced by Samsung on its corporate blog.

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[Deal Alert] Sony MDR-XB950BT/B Bluetooth, NFC, and extra bass headphones down to $89.99 on Woot

Want a great last-minute gift for the geek, gadgeteer, gamer, office worker, or commuter, in your life? What about a gift to yourself for the holidays — nobody said we couldn't just buy something nice for us, right? Well, there's a great Woot deal on a pair of Sony headphones and it should be right up your alley.

While the MDR-XB950BT/B name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, these headphones do have features that make them very appealing. They work both over Bluetooth and a wired cable, with a 20-hour estimated battery life in wireless mode. They have NFC for easy pairing, big plush earcups, 40mm driver units, and a Bass Boost button that triggers the DSP to produce "club-like enhanced low-frequencies."

The MSRP is $199.99, but Amazon is selling them now for $128.

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[Deal Alert] The Xperia XA Ultra is just $230 ($100 off) at B&H Photo until midnight Eastern Time

Those looking for a mid-range, unlocked phone with impressive style and a big screen could do worse than the Xperia XA Ultra. Though it's using a MediaTek processor and its 6-inch screen is only 1080p, Sony's industrial design remains as sexy as ever, and it's compatible with all the standard US GSM bands. Normally the phone goes for over $300, but today only B&H Photo is selling it for just $229.99 in white, black, or pea-puke green "Lime Gold."

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[Update: Xperia XZ too] Sony begins its Nougat upgrades with the Xperia X Performance

It's been a few months since Android 7.0 hit the AOSP code repository, and this is about the time of year that owners of non-Nexus (non-Pixel, now) flagships start to ask why their upgrades are taking so long. Well if your flagship just happens to be the latest high-powered Sony smartphone, you're in luck. The Xperia X Performance is receiving its Nougat update starting today, according to XperiaBlog. For the record, that's just a little over three months of waiting for the upgrade - not bad by current Android standards.

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Sony releases PlayStation Communities, an easier way to find friends to game with

The PlayStation Network is generally pretty good, but nothing's perfect, so today Sony is releasing a brand new app that takes the Communities feature of PSN and puts it in an app for Android (and iOS). This makes it a bit easier to find friends and people who have similar interests, which I've found PSN lacks in the past. This goes hand-in-hand with the PlayStation app, which is an entirely separate thing for some reason.

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Using the app, you can join Communities and post to the other members - while a lot of stuff is "hey im online anyone want to co-op," some stuff is good, especially for league-based racing games or first person shooters.

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[Deal Alert] Sony's Xperia XZ has fallen to just $499.99 on Amazon ($150 off)

The Xperia XZ hasn't been out for long in the United States, but its prices just keep dropping. Just a few days ago, this very phone went from its MSRP of $649.99 to as low as $581.98, but now, it's gone down another $80 or so to $499.99. That's a pretty damn good price for such a new device, even if you have to flash different firmware to get the fingerprint sensor to work.

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