Apple Discontinues The Thunderbolt Display

[ Apple ] The 27-inch Thunderbolt Display sports a pixel format of 2560×1440 for US$999. That’s expensive. If you’re a color professional looking for a 27-inch IPS monitor there are better (color bit depth, color gamut, color accuracy, etc.) more affordable options, like the $800 Dell UP2716D UltraSharp 27-inch monitor.

[ iMore ] Rene Ritchie:

Apple is discontinuing the Thunderbolt Display, the standard resolution, external IPS monitor the company has been selling since 2011. An Apple spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

“We’re discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display,” Apple told iMore. “It will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

The 5K iMac makes it clear Apple is moving away from 2560×1440 and toward 5120×2880 at 27 inches. Will Apple come out with a standalone 27-inch 5K monitor? My bet is on yes. The reason is the Mac Pro, and to a lesser extent the MacBook Pro. The Mac Pro doesn’t come with a monitor, and a good monitor makes a big difference in our computing experience, especially when it comes to processing videos and photographs.

I believe Apple is serious about user experience so I think Apple will come out with an excellent 27-inch 5K 5120×2880 monitor to pair with a Mac Pro or a MacBook Pro. The macOS user experience depends on it.

Tesla’s Model 3 is a Tipping Point

Tesla Model 3

Before Tesla, electric cars had some deficiencies:

  • There were slow.
  • They weren’t pretty.
  • Their range was severely limited.
  • They took a long time to recharge.

After Tesla’s Roadster, Model S and Model X, electric cars were no longer slow. In fact the Model S P90D, the performance model with dual electric motors, can get to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds with a “Ludicrous Speed Upgrade”. Only supercars like these are faster (0-60 mph times in seconds):

  • 2010 Pagani Zonda R: 2.6
  • 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari: 2.6
  • 2013 Nissang GT-R NISMO: 2.7
  • 2014 McLaren P1: 2.7
  • 2012 Koenigsegg Agera R: 2.7
  • 2006 Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4: 2.7
  • 2016 Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV: 2.7

There are no ‘normal’ cars that can beat the Model S P90D from 0 to 60 mph. I think we can clearly cross off that electric cars are slow.

There were slow.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes, but I think most would agree the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model X are prettier than the average car. Most other EVs are still on the ugly side of the spectrum.

There weren’t pretty.

Many electric cars still have limited ranges. Here are some examples, in miles (Source: Plugin Cars):

  • BMW i3: 81
  • Chevrolet Spark EV: 82
  • Fiat 500e: 84
  • Ford Focus Electric: 76
  • Kia Soul EV: 93
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 62
  • Nissan LEAF: 107
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive: 68
  • Volkswagen E-Golf: 83

With ranges like these this list of electric cars can only be used sparingly and most likely for local commuting. On colder days the range will decrease quite a bit. But on the list are three three electric cars that have enough range to go from San Jose to San Francisco to Berkeley and back to San Jose, with some battery left over:

  • Chevrolet Bolt: 200
  • Tesla Model S: 265
  • Tesla Model X: 250

Yes, the range can be better — you’ll want a regular gas-powered car to go on long trips without having to stop every 200 miles to refuel — but I think a lot of us can live our daily lives with a 200-mile range car. I think it’s safe to delete the severely limited range deficiency:

Their range was severely limited.

Electric cars took a long time to recharge their batteries. Let’s go back to the list. I’ll put two recharge time: one at 110/120V and the other at 220/240V, both in hours. Most homes in the U.S. have 110/120V, but you can install special 220/240V outlets to charge your electric car.

  • BMW i3 (22 kWh): 18, 3
  • Chevrolet Bolt (60): ??, 9
  • Chevrolet Spark EV (19): 20, 7
  • Fiat 500e (24): 24, 4
  • Ford Focus Electric (23): 20, 3.5
  • Kia Soul EV (27): 24, 5
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV (16): 22, 6
  • Nissan LEAF (24-30): 21-26, 4-6
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive (17.6): 12, 8
  • Volkswagen E-Golf (28): 20, 3.7

Don’t even think about charging your EV with a 110/120V outlet. Install a 220/240V outlet and you’ll save thousands of hours of charge time.

Tesla’s EVs come with a variety of battery capacities. With the 85-kwh battery — a battery much larger than all of the aforementioned EVs — a 220/240V outlet will charge it in about 10 hours. Tesla’s Supercharger can charge it in just one hour. It takes some planning to get to a Supercharger station right when you want to eat lunch or dinner, but 3+ hours of charging time down to just one is a lot of improvement. But if you’re not on a road trip the charging happens while you’re sleeping and by the time you’re ready to head off to work the next morning your EV will be fully charged, assuming you installed a 220/240V outlet. Of course, charging time still takes too long if you compare it to about the 5 minutes it takes to refuel a car with gasoline. Recharge time gets crossed off with a note*: Supercharger or when you’re charging at 220/240V while you sleep.

They took a long time to recharge.*

Fast, pretty, with a long range, and a short charge time. Only Tesla’s Model S and the Model X have all these features. The Chevrolet Bolt has a long range, but fast and pretty it is not. The upcoming Model 3 though is all of that: Tesla announced 0-60 mph times at less than 6 seconds for the base Model 3 model. Not ludicrous fast, but pretty fast for a base model. I’m certain if there was a P90D version of the Model 3 that it would be one of if not the fastest $35,000 car you can buy. The Model 3 is also one more: The Model 3 is affordable at US$35,000. Yes there are affordable EVs on the list, but none that has it all.

They were too expensive.

I believe Tesla’s Model 3 is/will be a tipping point.

Lytro Cinema

[ TechCrunch ] Lucas Matney:

Today, the company introduced Lytro Cinema, which is the company’s effort to woo those in the television and film industries with cool camera technology that makes their jobs easier.

The Lytro Cinema camera gathers a truly staggering amount of information on the world around it. The 755 RAW megapixel 40K resolution, 300 FPS camera takes in as much as 400 gigabytes per second of data.

Lytro is a company in the business of capturing light fields. What’s a light field? According to Wikipedia:

The light field is a vector function that describes the amount of light flowing in every direction through every point in space. The direction of each ray is given by the 5D plenoptic function, and the magnitude of each ray is given by the radiance.

What that means to me is a light field is light plus the direction the light is going. Capturing a light field means capturing depth information in addition to all the information a normal image sensor captures. Another way for me to understand capturing light fields is that with the Lytro Cinema 3D VR spaces are being captured.

Lytro is pivoting from consumer electronics to professional with the Lytro Cinema, which gives filmmakers flexibility not available before and allows for changing shutter speeds, the dynamic range, focus position, depth of field, etc. after footage has been captured. Amazing.

The Largest Analysis of Film Dialogue by Gender, Ever

[ Polygraph ] Amazing research, intensely detailed with data beautifully animated and visualized by Hanah Anderson and Matt Daniels:

But it’s all rhetoric and no data, which gets us nowhere in terms of having an informed discussion. How many movies are actually about men? What changes by genre, era, or box-office revenue? What circumstances generate more diversity?

To begin answering these questions, we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.

Every element represents something meaningful; nothing went to waste. I think Edward Tufte would be proud of this work.

9.7-inch iPad Pro Review by Ars Technica

[ Ars Technica ] Andrew Cunningham:

For instance, the screen’s DCI P3 color gamut (a feature originally implemented in the most recent 4K and 5K iMacs) means it can display deeper and more accurate shades of green and red, but it’s not nearly as impactful as the switch from a non-Retina display to a Retina one or even the switch from the original iPad Air’s non-laminated display to the Air 2’s laminated one. The screen’s brightness goes up to about 500 nits, a nice increase from the 400-or-so nits of the big iPad Pro and the Air 2. However, if you’re not outside or in harsh light, you won’t need the screen to be quite that bright.

The True Tone feature is subtle but easier to appreciate. The screen has “four-channel ambient light sensors” that detect not just the brightness of ambient light, but also the color of that light. This subtly changes the display’s white point, making it more orangey in warm light and more bluish under cool light. This feature makes the iPad’s screen more accurately resemble a sheet of paper.

Okay, let’s summarize what the 9.7-inch iPad Pro brings to the table:

  • DCI P3 Color Gamut means colors are more accurate. If you’re a photographer or a designer who needs color to be accurate, well the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is your best bet when it comes to tablets.
  • 500 nits: We’re sometimes in bright environments when we need to use our iPads, and the added brightness of the new smaller iPad Pro will help. Even more than the increased brightness is the 40% reduction of reflectance. Less reflection helps you see the screen better.
  • True Tone: Now, this is cool. The screen changes colors based on the colors of your environment. It behaves like paper.

Even without the ability to use Apple Pencil, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s screen has enough improvements to be enticing to those who need a portable color-accurate screen.

Foxconn Takes Control of Sharp for US$3.5 Billion

[ Bloomberg ] Pavel Alpeyev, Takashi Amano, and Shigeru Sato:

The parent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is paying 389 billion yen ($3.5 billion) for a controlling stake in Sharp, a drop of 100 billion yen from an agreement forged a month ago. As a result, Foxconn and its affiliates will get 66 percent of the Japanese company for 88 yen per share, both companies said in statements on Wednesday.

Foxconn at the moment is a giant contract manufacturer of electronics products; Apple’s iPhones for example are built by Foxconn. Is Foxconn becoming a vertically integrated consumer electronics brand? That would be interesting.

The world’s CE brands outsource their manufacturing to companies like Foxconn. But what would happen if one of the largest contract manufacturers start to compete with the same CE brands they manufacture for? At half the price? Bloodshed.

Foxconn knows how to make things and make them well; think iPhone-level quality manufacturing, at half the price.

Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter Charges iPad Pro to 80% in 1.5 hours, 12W Adapter Takes 3.5 Hours

[ MacStories ] Federico Viticci:

The 29W USB-C power adapter with fast charging on the iPad Pro isn’t only capable of quickly charging an iPad Pro while its screen is turned off – most notably, it can both sustain and power the device considerably while it’s working hard used at full brightness. The 29W adapter is remarkably consistent in battery gains in a variety of conditions and it dramatically reduces the amount of time required to charge the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro takes a long time to charge: 3.5 hours to 80% using the included 12W power adapter. But use the MacBook’s 29W USB-C power adapter, with a USB-C to Lightning cable, and you get to 80% in just 1.5 hours. You save 2 hours every time for $74 ($25 Apple’s 1-meter USB-C to Lightning Cable + $49 Apple’s 29W USB-C Power Adapter). I think it’s worth the investment, especially if you depend on your iPad Pro all day long.