Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Dan Seifert, The Verge:

Samsung’s big selling point with the Tab S line are the new Super AMOLED displays, and well, they look pretty fantastic. The Tab S line has the largest Super AMOLED displays Samsung has ever used in a mobile device, and they are the first tablets since 2012’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 to use the technology. Samsung boasts that the 2560 x 1600 pixel AMOLED screens offer 20 percent better color range and 100 times better contrast ratio than comparable LCDs. In person, they are very bright and very vibrant, though they still exhibit the over-saturated look anyone that’s used a Galaxy S smartphone can relate to. Samsung is including some software tools to tweak colors and brightness, which help make the displays easier to look at while reading. But really, Samsung designed these for watching video, and for that they look great.

The Galaxy Tab S comes in two sizes: 8.4 and 10.5, both with 2560×1600 pixels.

Samsung Gear 2 vs. Sony SmartWatch 2

Neither smartwatch is appealing to me — the Moto 360 is, just from how it looks (mockups) but looks can be deceiving — but if you were wondering which had the better display between the two, look no further. Ray Soneira:

The OLED display on the Samsung Gear 2 performed very well across the board, almost identically to the most recent Galaxy S OLED Smartphones in almost every test measurement and viewing category. It looked and performed like a small version of a high quality OLED smartphone display – including sharpness, high pixels per inch, brightness, color depth, color gamut, viewing angle, in ambient light, and overall image and picture quality.

Take a look at the comparison table at the link and it is obvious the OLED display used in the Samsung Gear 2 is solid. On the other hand, the LCD used in the Sony SmartWatch 2 isn’t:

In particular, the coarse and heavily pixelated low resolution and low pixels per inch screen made worse with poor anti-aliasing, the very low color depth, the poor color gamut in ambient light, and also the poor viewing angle performance (because watches are not easily positioned for zero degree viewing). Using a combination Transflective LCD comes with a significant performance penalty in both the backlight transmissive mode and the reflective mode that keeps the always on image visible in moderate ambient light and in some but not all high ambient light situations. The choices and compromises made by Sony for the SmartWatch 2 display simply do not work well.

Similar to a smartphone or a tablet, I would think the importance of an excellent display on a smartwatch is obvious. I thought wrong.

Google to buy Skybox


Google Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement to buy Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash, subject to adjustments.

Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in.

Skybox is a Mountain View, Calif.-based manufacturer of private sector satellites, which record high resolution videos and photos of landscapes. Looks to be a good fit for Google Maps.

LG G3: Space Efficient

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

The most impressive thing about this screen is not its otherworldly 538ppi pixel density, but how efficient the designers have been with the space around it. 76.4 percent of the G3’s front is occupied by the display, allowing it to fit a larger panel into the same dimensions as the 5-inch HTC One and 5.2-inch Xperia Z2. LG’s phone is also significantly lighter than the others, making it feel much more streamlined.

Color accuracy, contrast, and viewing angles are all very good. The black background behind the G3’s on-screen Android keys is dark enough to seem to melt away into the phone’s black frame. Additionally, unlike Sony’s Xperia Z2, which struggles outdoors, the G3’s IPS display is bright enough to remain useful on a sunny day.

The 5.5-inch LG G3 sports a pixel format of 2560×1440, the same as a 27-inch iMac.

(When I plug in 2560×1440 and 5.5 inches I get a resolution of 534 ppi. To get 538 ppi the diagonal length needs to be 5.46 inches.)

iOS 8: Random MAC Address for WiFi Scanning

Retailers are tracking you and have been tracking you for quite some time. They know a lot more about you than you think and probably more than you know about yourself, at least in terms of external behavior. And they know this thanks to the way your phone works when it searches for WiFi signals to connect to. Stephanie Clifford and Quentin Hardy, The New York Times on July 14, 2013:

Nordstrom’s experiment is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers’ behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it.

All sorts of retailers — including national chains, like Family Dollar, Cabela’s and Mothercare, a British company, and specialty stores like Benetton and Warby Parker — are testing these technologies and using them to decide on matters like changing store layouts and offering customized coupons.

Understand you don’t have to connect to the their WiFi for these retailers to track your phone. When you have WiFi turned on your phone looks for a WiFi connection and sends out its MAC address, a unique identifier. These phone tracking systems automatically logs any WiFi-enabled phone within the WiFi’s signal range. iOS 8 will change this. Luis Abreau shared via Twitter what he found during Session 715:

In iOS 8, Wi-Fi scanning behavior has changed to use random, locally administrated MAC address [...] The MAC address used for Wi-Fi scans may not always be the device’s real (universal) address

What does this mean: iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices running iOS 8 when looking for WiFi signals to connect to will give out random MAC addresses and make tracking your iOS 8 device meaningless. That’s nice, but I’d like to have this feature on iOS 7, right now.

The Tablet PC in 2014

via John Gruber. Timothy B. Lee, Vox:

Tablets aren’t PCs. Indeed, iPads and Android-based tablets have succeeded precisely because they ditched the complexity of traditional PCs. Microsoft’s determination to make “tablet PCs” is a sign that the company doesn’t understand the economic forces behind the mobile computing revolution.

Tablets can be PCs. To me, a tablet is just a form factor: a piece of glass with the guts behind it. The Surface Pro 3 is a good example: imagine it running Windows 7.

The economic forces behind the mobile computing revolution? I don’t think there’s a mobile computing revolution in the classic sense of the word computing. Post-PC devices like the iPad are mostly used for triaging emails and responding to some of them, browsing the internet, playing casual games, etc. And yes there are some who use it as a serious productivity tool, but the iPad is mostly a non-computing device in the traditional sense of the word computing; the Surface Pro 3 on the other hand is. You work on that 12-inch tablet PC.

You wouldn’t want to read a book on it. Nor would you want to play Candy Crush on it. You certainly don’t want to use it as a camera to take photos and share them on Instagram. What you do on the Surface Pro 3 is compute: word processing, creating/modifying Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. (Again, yes you can do these things on the iPad, but it actually takes more work and effort than on the Surface Pro 3 with a keyboard and trackpad.)

Smartphones and tablets are a good example of what business guru Clay Christensen called a disruptive innovation: a technology that’s simpler and cheaper than the technology it replaces.

I don’t think smartphones and tablets (like the iPad) are replacing personal computer like the Mac. There are fringe usage scenarios where the iPad can and does replace a Mac, but most everyone I know who has an iPhone and/or an iPad also have a personal computer. Easy tasks such as text-only emailing is an example where an iPad can be used instead of a personal computer. Creating a complicated newsletter on the other hand is more easily done on a personal computer. The iPad can be used to make one, but it isn’t as easy or productive.

In short, the iPad was a hit because it didn’t have all the features of a full-blown MacBook.

Again, I don’t know of anyone — maybe I just know the wrong people — who bought an iPad and said, “Time to ditch the Mac.” For quite some time I think we’ll own and use three broad categories of digital devices: personal computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Microsoft’s Surface tablets have a funny shape and muddled user interface that make them a poor alternative to a full-fledged PC.

A funny shape? Looks like the shape of an iPad to me. I agree the user interface can be much better: I would recommend Windows 7, which would reveal the fact that the Surface Pro 3 is in fact a real full-fledged PC.

And they’re too complex and expensive to be a serious alternative to an iPad or Android tablet.

The 64GB Surface Pro 3 starts at US$799. The 128GB WiFi iPad Air goes for $799. I don’t think the hardware specifications can be apples-to-apples compared, but to call the Surface Pro 3 too expensive? Consider how expensive a hypothetical 64GB 12-inch iPad would be.

Desktop operating systems have been too complex for quite some time. OS X doesn’t have to be; Windows was designed to be. There really is a need for a simpler experience on personal computers, but that need isn’t limited to just the Surface Pro 3. But why does a personal computer running a desktop operating system need to be a serious alternative to an iPad or an Android tablet? It doesn’t.

Watch tennis from Roger Rederer’s perspective with Google Glass

via The Verge. I much prefer watching from the third party perspective: the video quality is significantly better, and I can see what is actually happening. The view from Federer’s perspective is fidgety, devoid of much perspective, and not very interesting.

Samsung Simband

Josh Lowensohn, The Verge:

In the meantime, what Samsung referred to as an “investigational device” called the Simband, will be ground zero for tracking that information. The wrist-mounted band has a modular array of sensors on the bottom. Those sensors monitor various body activities like heart rate and oxygen levels, but could be expanded with extra hardware to track other things. In a live demo, the Simband hardware was able to show Fish’s live heart rate and other vitals on a device that looked a lot like the existing Samsung Gear smartwatch

A good idea. But I don’t have to see all those graphs on my wrist. And older folks with less than perfect vision will be hard pressed to see such tiny fonts and data.

Focus on sensing and notifying, and let the larger IPS LCD or OLED displays on smartphones and tablets do the heavy lifting when it comes to showing the captured data and the results of what the servers in the cloud analyzed.

Semiautonomous Truck Convoy

Kelsey D. Atherton, Popular Science:

The technology, developed by Peloton Tech, uses radar and a wireless link so that the following trucks travel at the same speed, braking simultaneously for safety, and doing so on an automated system that doesn’t have the delays of human reaction time.

More safe.

Peloton says the “technology saves more than 7% [of fuel] at 65mph – 10% for the rear truck and 4.5% for the lead truck,” which is tremendous because “Long-haul fleets spend 40% of operating expenses on fuel, accounting collectively for over 10% of U.S. oil use and related carbon emissions.” These savings come primarily from reduced aerodynamic drag.

More efficient.

New Android Logo?

From the LG G Watch bootanimation. Simple, nice, and the typographic animation at the end reminds me of lollipops.


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