Tech news from around the web:

Panasonic is to launch a smartphone in Europe next year, according to Reuters. The move comes six years after the Japanese company abandoned overseas sales of its feature phones. Read more

Sony gave us the hard facts on the launch of its first tablets at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Wednesday, naming the two models and giving details of pricing and availability.
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How well do you look after your laptop? Never dropped it or spilt coffee on it? Keep it safe in a neoprene sleeve?

The Panasonic Toughbook F9 might not be for you then,  but this ruggedised laptop reviewed in the Personal Technology column of the FT’s Business Life section is also exceptionally light considering its wide screen and has excellent battery life. Read more

Sony and Spain have their eyes on the prize of world domination in 3D and soccer respectively, with the former treating media to a viewing of the latter’s World Cup semi-final victory on Wednesday on two 60-inch Sony Bravia 3D TVs.

But executives still faced questions about whether competitors were more on the ball, with Sony tackling them later and pricing 3D higher. Read more

Two weeks before soccer’s World Cup kicks off a 3D content extravaganza, the TV players have been updating their industry on how they are eyeing the prize of winning consumers over to the new technology.

Sony and Panasonic were in ebullient mood at the Society for Information Display’s conference (SID 2010) here in Seattle on Monday, while analysts from the co-organisers DisplaySearch acted as referees, suggesting they calm it down a bit. Read more

Panasonic's C1 convertible tablet

Despite the best efforts of Microsoft and its hardware partners over the past decade, pen-operated tablet PCs – particularly slate-style devices – never really took off outside niche verticals like health and insurance.

Even convertible tablets – laptops with touch screens that fold down on top of the keyboard to turn the devices into a slate-style PCs – never really made much headway though I personally used a convertible X- Series ThinkPad for several years. Read more

copyrightIt is another change of tactics in a war that has been going on for 50 years. This week, consumer electronics companies led by Apple, HP, Sony, Panasonic and Research In Motion, broke off the latest round of talks to reform the Europe’s convoluted system of private copy levies.

The copy levies are surcharges placed on devices such as MP3 players and printers by 22 European countries, to compensate writers, artists, and musicians for small amounts of personal copying of their material. It is not to be confused with illegal filesharing; the copy levies are intended to cover handfuls of copies in the private sphere, which many countries allow. Read more