Dell Chromebook 11

Dan Seifert, The Verge:

Viewing angles and brightness are just okay, and can be improved, and I much prefer the Acer C720’s matte finish to Dell’s highly reflective gloss. My biggest complaint isn’t so much with the screen’s performance — it works fine for browsing the web, watching video, and looking at photos — but with the 0.75-inch thick bezel surrounding the display. It really feels like Dell could have fit a 12-inch screen in this without sacrificing anything in terms of size.

Dell’s focus was hitting a certain price point (sub-US$300) and great battery life (10 hours). With a larger, better display Dell wouldn’t have hit either.

Sony Xperia Z2: The Best Camera on a Smartphone

Kevin Carter, DxOMark:

In our industry-standard benchmarking tests, the revised Z2 impresses with its color and detail preservation, both outdoors and in more challenging lighting, and it retains the fast autofocus of the Z1 while improving its precision. Noise levels remain low with none of the objectionable chroma noise found on some rivals; only some fine-grained luminance type noise is noticeable at times.

Although the Z2 is ranked number one overall, it is in fact in joint first place with the Nokia 808 Pureview for stills image quality, ahead of the Apple iPhone 5S, Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 in the that category.

While the Xperia Z2 can’t boast the best video score it is still impressive, more so when you consider the 4K capability, coming in 3rd place in our database, just behind its predecessor and the GoPro Hero3 action-camera.

DxOMark is just one test, but it is an indicator and the result is pointing to Sony having done some solid work on its Z series smartphone camera subsystems.

A Little Prank

Don Melton:

So Steve started the rehearsal, going through slides on the “Switcher” ad campaign and then the Apple Stores.

At the end of the retail update, he was supposed to conclude with something like “1.4 million visitors in the month of December alone,” but he added, “so to all of you in the press who doubted us…”

And then clicked to reveal his special slide — poster art I’m sure everyone has seen before — a 1940’s-style rendering of a grinning man holding a big mug of coffee next to his face with this text alongside like a world balloon:

“How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up.”

And then the best part — the part we didn’t know was coming — Steve paused, turned to his V.P. of Marketing and deadpanned, “What do you think, Phil? Too much?”

Certain Death

Don Melton:

When demoing something to Steve, you had to pace yourself. If Steve said, “Stop,” you fucking stopped. Hands down and waited. And you didn’t jiggle the cursor while he was looking at the screen. Certain death.

What I find most irritating and most deserving of certain death are laser pointer jigglers.

Rumor: Amazon Smartphone

The Verge: This rumor has been going around for quite some time: Amazon is making a smartphone. Today’s rumor has a little something special: by using four front-facing cameras Amazon’s smartphone will track your eyes for hologram-like 3D visual experiences. Didn’t 3D — with the exception of some feature films at some movie theaters — die already?

Microsoft Cortana

Google has Google Now and Apple has Siri. Now Microsoft has Cortana.

If you haven’t played Halo the name Cortana wouldn’t ring a bell. Halo is a first person shooter game exclusive to the Xbox gaming platform. A lot, most?, of these fans are guys who like science fiction, anime, and virtual hot babes, and she is definitely a hot babe. To Halo fans Cortana is a big deal.

Who or what is Cortana? Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

During gameplay, Cortana provides backstory and tactical information to the player, who assumes the role of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. In the story, she is instrumental in preventing the activation of the Halo installations, which would have destroyed all sentient life in the galaxy.

Cortana’s original design was based on the Egyptian queen Nefertiti; the character’s holographic representation always takes the form of a woman.

What Microsoft is doing with Cortana is cool. Cortana is a smart, sexy AI who assists you in the virtual world of Halo, but now she is a smart, sexy AI who assists you in the real world.

Cortana reminds me of Samantha in Her. In the movie, Theodore Twombly played by Joaquin Phoenix upgrades his computer and smartphone operating systems to an artificially intelligent OS. The AI’s voice Samantha is played by Scarlett Johansson. There’s nothing artificial about Samantha’s AI and eventually Theodore falls in love her.

Tom Warren, The Verge:

Microsoft has also worked closely with Halo developer 343 Industries on the eyelike visual elements and voice actress Jen Taylor for the sound of Cortana. Taylor is the voice behind Princess Peach, Toad, and Toadette in various Mario games, but she’s best known for her role as Cortana in the Halo series. For Halo fans — and there are a lot of them — having Jen Taylor as the voice of Cortana in Windows Phone is a big deal, and for Microsoft it’s equally significant. “She’s gonna play a pretty big part in how we roll this out and how we evolve this speech technology,” explains Ash. Initially, Taylor will be used primarily for what Microsoft calls “chit chat” responses, queries where the company can use original audio. If you ask “‘What’s up with Master Chief,’” or anything related to the Covenant, then you’ll get a Taylor response. Other interactions, meanwhile, use a synthesized voice that’s similar to Taylor’s. (If you want some more Halo-related fun with Cortana, you can just set your nickname as “Master Chief” in the settings.)

Microsoft’s Cortana, more than Apple’s Siri or Google’s impersonal Google Now, is a step in the right direction. Even though Cortana is a virtual AI you can put a face to her voice, and that makes Cortana more personal than the other two. I can see some Windows 8.1 users getting attached to Cortana, and that might be what Microsoft is going after.

Microsoft needs something different from Apple and Google. I think Cortana might be it.

Philips OneSpace


OneSpace integrates LED lights with textile to create a white light ceiling that hides the source of light completely.

Finally, I can have the ceiling I’ve wanted for years.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review by Raymond Soneira

Raymond Soneira:

Based on our extensive Lab tests and measurements, the Galaxy S5 is the Best performing Smartphone display that we have ever tested. It has a long list of new records for best Smartphone display performance including: Highest Brightness, Lowest Reflectance, Highest Color Accuracy, Infinite Contrast Ratio, Highest Contrast Rating in Ambient Light, and smallest Brightness Variation with Viewing Angle. The Galaxy S5 has raised the bar for top display performance up by another notch – an impressive achievement for OLED technology!

Having low reflectance on a smartphone is important because it makes using a smartphone out in the sun a lot easier, hence the “highest contrast rating in ambient light” record.

The Galaxy S5 Cinema Mode has the most accurate colors for any Smartphone or Tablet display that we have ever measured. This is especially important when viewing photos from family and friends (because you often know exactly what they actually should look like), for some TV shows, movies, and sporting events with image content and colors that you are familiar with, and also for viewing online merchandise, so you have a good idea of exactly what colors you’re buying and are less likely to return them.

I enjoy taking photos and color accuracy is critical to me. It is hard to imagine a display that’s significantly better than what’s in the iPhone 5s; I’ll have to take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S5 with my own eyes and see if I like it or not.

I’ve often shared on DisplayBlog that the display is the smartphone or tablet. Ray does mention contrast and color saturation are slightly high, and that could be a deal breaker for me, but if what Ray is saying is true, and I have no doubt it is, Samsung has focused on what is most important on a smartphone and came out ahead of the competition with the Galaxy S5.

Samsung UD590

PetaPixel: The Samsung UD590 is a 28-inch Ultra HD monitor with 10-bit pixels, which means a billion colors.

Ultra HD or UHD. I prefer not to use jargons, but the display industry is using the name Ultra HD to mean 3840×2160. I prefer 4K; it is simpler and 4K means something. Yes the number of horizontal pixels don’t get to 4000, but it’s close enough for everyone to figure out what 4K means. UHD on the other hand offers no clue as to its meaning.

A non-dithering 10-bit monitor will need 10-bit sub-pixels and a look up table (LUT) that can handle all those bits. Most monitors use three sub-pixels in a 3×1 format: red, green, blue. 10 bit means two to the 10th degree and that in turn means there are 1024 variations, per sub-pixel. Since there are three sub-pixels (1024x1024x1024) we get 1.07 billion. That’s 1 billion variations, or colors.

The Samsung UD590 sports a resolution of 157 ppi. With a distance of 22 inches (56 cm) or father the pixels on the UD590 becomes retina, meaning for most of us we won’t be able to decipher individual pixels.

There are two ways you can make use of all these pixels. One way is to put up humongous spreadsheets, four 1920×1080 video streams, edit 1080p video using Final Cut Pro with two 1080p windows side by side and all of the controls on the bottom, etc. There’s a lot you can do with more than 8 million pixels. The other way to use them is to pixel double: 2×2 pixels become a single pixel. If you use the UD590 or any other 4K monitor this way the effective pixel format becomes 1920×1080 but the fonts, icons, and everything on the display becomes smooth, as smooth as the iPhone (4 and up) or the retina MacBook Pros. This is how I would use it.

The Samsung UD590 isn’t cheap, but it isn’t as expensive as I thought it’d be: US$700. You can pre-order the UD590 on Amazon.

Steve Jobs: No, to TV

Jay Yarow, Business Insider:

One person asked if Apple was going to release a television next. There were already rumors all over the place that it was Apple’s next conquest.

Yukari says “Jobs didn’t hesitate.” He said, “No.”

“TV is a terrible business. They don’t turn over and the margins suck,” said Jobs.

This is an excerpt of Yukari Iwatani Kane’s Haunted Empire, which hasn’t garnered a lot of fans. Here’s what Jason Snell thinks about the book:

Apple after the death of Steve Jobs would be a fascinating topic for a book. This isn’t the book. Haunted Empire can’t get out of the way of its own Apple-is-doomed narrative to tell that story.

Back to TV. In my opinion the best TV is the dumbest TV. Dumb as in not smart, like the smart TVs we have now. What the TV should be smart about is to be smart about solving this challenging problem: what should it do to portray video information on the display so human beings can enjoy the experience of viewing that video information. That’s it.

Sounds like a simple problem, but it’s extremely difficult. For instance, let’s take a LCD TV located in an environment that has these three things happening: light coming in from the outside, incandescent lights to the left and right, and the viewer is off to the side. The TV needs to know how to manipulate each red, green, and blue primary colors to compensate for the net effect of the two external light color temperatures and the fact that the viewer is looking at the TV from an off angle. Instead of adding dumb smarts to TVs, this is the kind of smarts TVs, and we, really want. (By the way, B&O solved the problem of off-axis viewing by mechanically turning the TV toward the viewer.)


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