iPad Air 2: Review by Raymond Soneira


Raymond Soneira:

A major innovation for the iPad Air 2 (that is not fully appreciated) is an anti-reflection coating on the cover glass that reduces ambient light reflections by about 3:1 over most other Tablets and Smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). We measured a 62 percent decrease in reflected light glare compared to the previous iPads (Apple claims 56 percent) and agree with Apple’s claim that the iPad Air 2 is “the least reflective display of any Tablet in the world” – both are in fact understatements. While everyone has been in situations where it is difficult or even impossible to see the screen in very bright ambient lighting, where this obviously helps, it turns out that even in moderate indoor lighting the image contrast and colors are being noticeably washed out from reflections as well. For example, the Color Gamut is typically reduced by 20 percent even at only 500 lux indoor lighting. To visually compare the difference for yourself, hold two Tablets or Smartphones side-by-side and turn off the displays so you just see the reflections. The iPad Air 2 is dramatically darker than any other existing Tablet or Smartphone. Those reflections are still there when you turn them on, and the brighter the ambient light the brighter the reflections. It’s a major innovation and a big deal with visually obvious benefits!!

Some iPad Air 2 reviews have mentioned not experiencing a noticeable difference in ambient light reflections. Maybe reflections were so bad in the previous model a 56 to 62 percent decrease is still not very good. I look forward to the day when the experience of using smartphones and tablets outside in direct sunlight will be similar to using devices with E Ink displays.

The iPad Air 2 is the first iPad with an optically bonded cover glass – all previous iPad models had high reflectance air gaps under the cover glass – but they are simply catching up because almost all other leading Tablets have had a bonded cover glass without an air gap for years. One minor but noticeable issue is that the screen Reflectance spectrum is heavily weighted towards blue, which is may be noticeable for dark images or in bright ambient light.

This took a while.

However, other than the new anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass, the display on the iPad Air 2 is essentially unchanged and identical in performance to the iPad 4 introduced in 2012, and is actually slightly lower in performance than the original iPad Air (for example 8% lower Brightness and 16% lower display Power Efficiency) – most likely the result of an obsession with producing a thinner Tablet forcing compromises in the LCD backlight.

Much more significant is that the iPad Air 2 does Not have the same high performance display technology enhancements that we measured for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which we rated the best performing Smartphone LCD Display that we have ever tested. While the iPad Air 2 has an all around Very Good Top Tier display, and most buyers will be happy with its performance, the displays on the Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung Tablets that we have tested (see below) have better display performance in Absolute Color Accuracy, Brightness, Contrast Ratio, Viewing Angle, and Power Efficiency. However, the iPad Air 2 matches or breaks new records in Tablet (and Smartphone) display performance for: the most accurate (pure logarithmic power-law) Intensity Scale and Gamma, most accurate Image Contrast, (by far) the Lowest Screen Reflectance, and the Highest Contrast Rating for Ambient Light.

Apple is actively encouraging taking photos with iPads. One of the biggest knock on smartphones using OLED displays have been, not anymore, blown out over-saturated colors. Put it another way, we want and appreciate accurate colors on our photographs. I can understand the iPad Air 2 not being equal to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when it comes to color accuracy, since iPhones are used far more for taking photos than iPads, but for the iPad Air 2 to be less accurate than tablets from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung is disappointing.





Samsung Galaxy Note Edge To Be Mass Produced


MK News (Korean): Samsung will be launching its Galaxy Note Edge smartphone on October 28 on SK Telecom, and on KT and LG U+ starting November. The number of Galaxy Note Edge production will equal that of the Galaxy Note 4. As to whether the Galaxy Note Edge will be made outside of South Korea is unknown.





Gus, A Boy With Autism, Has Siri As His Sidekick


Judith Newman, The New York Times:

She is also wonderful for someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues: Siri’s responses are not entirely predictable, but they are predictably kind — even when Gus is brusque. I heard him talking to Siri about music, and Siri offered some suggestions. “I don’t like that kind of music,” Gus snapped. Siri replied, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Siri’s politeness reminded Gus what he owed Siri. “Thank you for that music, though,” Gus said. Siri replied, “You don’t need to thank me.” “Oh, yes,” Gus added emphatically, “I do.”

This is a beautiful story about her 13-year-old autistic son’s relationship with Siri.





Eric Schmidt: Tim Cook Is Wrong About Google


Logan Whiteside, CNN:

“But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy,” Cook said on Apple’s newly updated privacy website.

Schmidt fired back against Cook, saying Google works extremely hard to protect its users’ information from other companies, the government, and hackers. He also noted customers have the option to change their settings and share less.

“Someone didn’t brief him correctly on Google’s policies,” Schmidt said. “It’s unfortunate for him.”

Google, of course, needs to work incredibly hard to protect its users’ information because the company has an enormous amount of sensitive user information to protect. And Google customers cannot change settings so we share nothing with Google, just less. Apple, on the other hand, is not in the business of collecting user information. Cook was explaining that Apple and Google have different business models. Schmidt responded by explaining Google works hard to protect customer information the company collects.

Schmidt’s response reminds me of an old Chinese saying: 東問西答, which literally means ask east, answer west. Figuratively it means, “What?!?





Apple: Roller Coaster September 2014


Forbes: There were ups: iPhone 6 & 6 Plus sales, and iOS 8 penetration. And downs:

One more down. I wrote in iOS 8: iPhone 4s:

Yesterday I updated my iPhone 4s to iOS 8, and yes there is a negative impact to performance. Not surprising. But what is surprising is that my iPhone 4s is more than usable.

The iPhone 4s with iOS 8 is usable, yes. But the performance impact is significant enough that perhaps sticking with iOS 7 might be a good idea for those of us who do not need or want the iOS 8 bells and whistles. If you have an iPhone 4s in all likelihood you are not someone who is into the latest and greatest tech stuff. The security feature where the passcode encrypts the data on your iPhones is in my opinion one of the most important in iOS 8. If that is important to you, I would recommend upgrading to the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s is quite a bit more affordable than the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and runs iOS 8 without any performance hits at all.





Consumer Reports: Smartphone Bend Test


Consumer Reports: At what force do smartphones deform? Here are the answers (in pounds):

In his interview with Charlie Rose, Tim Cook boasted, “It’s never been about just making a larger phone… it’s been about making a better phone in every single way.” I realize heads of companies exaggerate, bend the truth a little, in the name of marketing. I also realize I am being a bit picky, but the Consumer Reports bend test shows the iPhone 5 — I assume the iPhone 5s will have similar results — can withstand up to almost twice as much force than the iPhone 6 before it deforms. I do not think anyone would consider that better.

Read The Blind Pursuit Of Thinness for more of my thoughts on why it was a mistake to make the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus so thin.





Samsung Galaxy Alpha: The Blue-Green Horror Returns


Vlad Savov, The Verge:

The contraction to a 4.7-inch screen size is a total boon for the Galaxy Alpha’s usability, but its display isn’t all good news. I’m not worried about the 720p resolution, which is perfectly adequate at this size. The viewing angles are also not a problem, as you’d expect from an AMOLED display, plus the Galaxy Alpha is among the most readable phones I’ve used outdoors. It outdoes both the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact in those performance measurements, but it collapses when it comes to color accuracy. That old familiar blue-green tinge that was the bane of earlier AMOLED displays has returned, and even though the Alpha’s screen uses the same Diamond Pentile subpixel arrangement as on its more senior Galaxy Note and Galaxy S brethren, it’s noticeably worse. The background of the Twitter Android app is supposed to be white instead of baby blue, right?

[...] Samsung offers a variety of screen color modes, but none of them neutralize the bluish shift in tone. It’s not an absolute tragedy, and it’s something I didn’t immediately notice in my first time using the Galaxy Alpha, but this kind of improper color reproduction starts to wear on you over time. Particularly if there’s someone nearby with a true high-quality display on their phone. It’s disappointing to see Samsung trip up on the display front, which is at least as important, if not more, as the physical design of the handset.

Weird; perhaps a different team was responsible for this particular OLED display used in the Galaxy Alpha? The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 was just awarded the best smartphone display by Raymond Soneira.





Australia: National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014


The Sydney Morning Herald: The Senate in Australia voted 44 to 12 on September 25 and passed the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill. Here are some factoids:

I am guessing the NSA will be quite happy with the results.





iPhone 6: Torture Test


What is the worst case scenario for torturing an iPhone 6 Plus? Josh Lowensohn, The Verge:

There’s a test for when people sit on a soft surface, when the iPhone is sat on, as well as what Apple considers the “worst-case scenario,” which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface – at an angle.

And that is what some of us do. Accidents happen, and it is a normal part of life. If you have bent your iPhone 6 Plus Phil Schiller recommends you go to the Genius Bar.





FBI Director James Comey: Thoughts on Encryption


Igor Bobic and Ryan J. Reilly, The Huffington Post:

“I am a huge believer in the rule of law, but I am also a believer that no one in this country is beyond the law,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington. “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves above the law.”

Last week Apple announced your passcode in iOS 8 encrypts data on your iOS device, and Apple has no way to comply to government requests for personal data on your iOS device. I do not want to make blanket statements about the FBI — the FBI employs a couple of my friends — but it seems Comey believes making it difficult to gain access to personal information on your mobile device is somehow above the law. I am not aware of any laws that make it illegal to encrypt your personal data on your phone.

The only way to access personal data on an iOS device is to acquire the iOS device and figure out the passcode on it. That figuring out the passcode part is what the FBI needs to work on. Fortunately for the FBI as more and more people use their fingerprints as passcodes, it will not be too difficult to unlock TouchID-locked iOS devices. Most suspects are fingerprinted, right? Of course shrewd villains will turn off their iOS devices, which will require the passcode to be typed in upon reboot.

I do not envy the difficult job of protecting the United States and her citizens from threats.





   



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