Note: I am working on a review of BenQ’s PD3200U and started to dig into AHVA, which is the wide viewing angle display technology used in the 32-inch UHD IPS LCD panel. Instead of adding this portion to the review I’ve decide it would better serve DISPLAYBLOG readers to have a separate article detailing AHVA.

AHVA stands for Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle and is developed by AU Optronics (AUO). The ‘VA’ portion of the name is not connected to Vertical Alignment, therefore AHVA does not exhibit color and gamma shifts at wide viewing angles. There are many varieties of IPS technologies such as e-IPS, H-IPS, P-IPS, S-IPS, etc. And there are other IPS-like liquid crystal orientation and manipulation technologies such as Super PLS (Plane to Line Switching) developed by Samsung.

AUO began investing in the company’s own IPS-type wide viewing angle LCD technology in 2012. Performance and specifications are similar to LG Display’s IPS and Samsung’s PLS technologies. Starting around 2015 or so brands equipped their smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors, and TVs with IPS LCDs to show potential customers their devices featured the best in display technology. For those who need color accuracy there is no better LCD technology than IPS — AUO as well as all of the major LCD manufacturers knew that — and AUO’s AHVA is the company’s IPS offering.

This is a slight tangent, but targeting the rapidly growing gaming market AUO was first to offer 144 Hz AHVA LCD panels in September 2014. The model number was M270DAN02.3 and you can find technical specifications at Hexus and Panelook. Here’s a partial list of the earliest monitors to have incorporated AUO’s 144 Hz AHVA LCD (source: PC Hardware Help): Acer XB270HU (27-inch, 2560×1440, NVIDIA G-Sync), Acer XF270HU (27-inch, 2560×1440, AMD FreeSync), Acer XR341CK (34-inch, 3440×1440, NVIDIA G-Sync), ASUS PG279Q (27-inch, 2560×1440, ULMB1, NVIDIA G-Sync), Enzo Foris FS2735 (27-inch, 2560×1440, AMD FreeSync), and Nixeus EDG 27 (27-inch, 2560×1440, AMD FreeSync).

AUO is based in Taiwan and was originally Acer Display Technology, founded in August 1996. In September 2001 Acer Display Technology and Unipac Optoelectronics Corporation merged and renamed the merged company as AU Optronics. Later, in October 2006, Quanta Display was acquired (source: Wikipedia).


  1. ULMB stands for Ultra Low Motion Blur. NVIDIA designed and developed ULMB to reduce motion blur by using strobing, similar to how a CRT display operates. ULMB’s benefits of reduced motion blur is most noticeable in fast-paced FPS (first-person shooter) games. Unfortunately ULMB cannot be used at the same time as G-Sync. (Only NVIDIA G-Sync enabled monitors allow ULMB mode.) A negative is a decrease in picture quality and brightness in ULMB mode. One possible additional negative of ULMB is that some people who are extra sensitive to flickering might notice flicker on the monitor (source: BlizzGC).

Google Pixel 2 XL: Display Problems

Google’s Pixel 2 XL is built by LG. The plastic OLED, or POLED, display is supplied by LG Display. Here is a list of display-related problems some Pixel 2 XL users are reporting:

  • Muddy color
  • Grainy texture in low light
  • Burn in

The burn in issue is particularly troublesome since it is most likely a hardware issue. The muddy color and grainy texture problems can potentially be fixed with a software update, but not burn in.

This is how to check to see if your Pixel 2 XL has burn in: change your background wallpaper to a file with a solid light gray and pay attention to the area where the navigation buttons are on the bottom. Bring up the navigation buttons and then hide them. If you see remnants of the navigation buttons but they don’t disappear within a few seconds there’s a good chance your display is experiencing some level of burn in with the likelihood that it will get worse as you use it more.

According to Android Authority, LG Display’s POLED uses a polyamide plastic substrate, a plastic material that is more suitable for the high manufacturing temperatures. This is not the first time LG Display has manufactured OLED displays — remember the G Flex? — but the display size was 6 inches, its pixel format 1280×720 in landscape orientation, with a resolution of 245 ppi. The current OLED display featured in the Pixel 2 XL is also 6 inches, but the number of pixels have increased dramatically with a pixel format of 2880×1440 (landscape) for a resolution of about 538 ppi. Manufacturing OLED displays with that many pixels with high yields is extremely difficult and that’s why it has taken Samsung several years to perfect its smartphone OLED display manufacturing methods.

Pushing the bleeding edge of display manufacturing technology can and usually results in bumps along the way and it isn’t surprising to see what seems to be a display hardware defect like the one on the Pixel 2 XL. Like Samsung it might take LG Display a few more tries to perfect the science and art of smartphone OLED manufacturing with plastic substrates.

Source: The Verge, Android Central


Several days ago my daughter and I went to Palo Alto, California on a daddy-daughter outing. First we stopped by Blue Bottle Coffee. I ordered an Americano and she got a hot chocolate. “Too sweet,” was the verdict. The Americano was a little over-extracted  and had more bitterness than what I would have preferred. Expensive and less-than-perfect. While we were waiting, a tall thirty-something man walked by and I noticed his AirPods.

Both left and right ones were in, and both were sticking out — not down like you normally see them in ears — but sticking out about 30 degrees. This otherwise good-looking man looked downright idiotic to me with those goofy-looking things sticking out of his ears. That’s what I thought anyway. But what I really wanted to know was what my daughter thought of the look. I spoke quietly into her ear, “Hey, there are these white wireless earplugs some people wear to listen to music and make phone calls. If you see someone with them on, let me know what you think of them.” She scanned the area and spotted someone wearing his AirPods. These weren’t sticking out.

“They’re weird looking.”

Apple & Music

1000 songs in your pocket. That was the promise Steve Jobs delivered with the original iPod. Apple focused on quantity because when it was announce in 2001 we wanted all of our music, nicely ripped into mp3 format, with us wherever we went. Other mp3 players used flash storage; the original iPod used a small hard disk called Microdrive by IBM that enabled every music lover to take all their music with them wherever they went.

Of course the iPod had a headphone jack, because people who love listening to music know you get higher quality with an actual connection.

Fast foward to 2016. The iPod is no more. The iPhone subsumed the iPod, all versions of it, except the iPod touch. And Apple has decided the headphone jack needs to go in the then new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. For those who have headphones and prefer to have a physical connection to the iPhone, Apple included a dongle. Apple threw in a dongle for all you music lovers.

From a company who catered to people who love music and up-ended the portable music player market we now have an iPhone — that almost completely eliminated the need for an iPod — without a headphone jack. Apple seems to be having problems remembering its heritage and solving problems no one seems to have. Are there any music lovers out there who wanted Apple to get rid of the headphone jack in the iPhone?

Apple seems to be less interested in people who love music and more interested in people who turn on music in the background.

PS: Several months ago Tim Cook did a video interview on Bloomberg and claimed that Apple deeply cares about music. He was talking about the HomePod as something that will bring a great music experience in the home. In light of the decision Apple has made to get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhones I find it a little paradoxical to hear Tim Cook say that Apple cares deeply about music. Compared to other smart portable speakers the HomePod likely will have better audio quality, but is that saying much?


Marques Brownlee has a great commentary on smartphone DxOMark ratings (it’s a YouTube video). The MKBHD video explains how these ratings are calculated (it’s kind of a black box), and what you should look for to find the right smartphone for you based on what type of photos you like to take.

The highest DxOMark-rated Pixel 2 might not be the best smartphone for you, depending on what camera feature you think is most important. If you’re into portraits the best smartphone according Brownlee, based on zoom and bokeh sub-ratings on DxOMark, is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Definitely check out the video; you’ll learn a lot about DxOMark. I know I did.

Low-Margin Hardware

Low-margin hardware brands can’t sustain their business by only selling you low-margin hardware. They need to find other ways to generate profits, and one way is to collect your data and sell it to the highest bidder.

OnePlus runs OxygenOS, which records data:

  • when you lock or unlock the screen
  • when you open, use, close apps
  • which WiFi networks you connect to

And some more:

  • your phone’s IMEI
  • your phone number
  • your mobile carrier

Security researcher Chris Moore says with the last three data points it’s not hard to identify you. But OnePlus doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem and points out you can easily turn off the data collection (the first set of three data points), but not the second set of three data points.

Most smartphone manufacturers hardly make any money selling smartphones. With Apple capturing 80%? or more of smartphone industry profits and the rest going to Samsung, the rest are either breaking even or losing money. So how do they then make money selling smartphones?

By collecting your data and selling your data.

According to AndroidPolice, that cute smart speaker that Google came out with? Home Mini. It got caught recording everything. A defect, affecting only a small number of units, says Google. What if no one had found out? Does Google make enough money selling you a Home Mini for $50 to keep going? Probably not. The Home Mini is a cute, cheap conduit that serves up your data to its search-based increasingly AI-based ad-selling money-making machine.

Source: The Verge


What comes after user-friendly design?

I was going through my RSS feed and came across an article titled “What Comes After User-Friendly Design?” The thought that popped into my mind was, “Are we even good at user-friendly design?”

Are cars user-friendly? Are smartphones user-friendly? Are computers user-friendly? Are vacuum cleaners user-friendly? Are homes user-friendly? Are dishwashers user friendly?

In my world the answers to these questions are no, no, no, no, no, and no. Look around and you’ll see that almost everything is very much user-unfriendly. What do you mean what comes after user-friendly design? We’re not even close to designing user-friendly stuff.


An irregular notch with slimmer bezels. Or a straight line with thicker bezels. I think I’ll go with the straight line.

I like straight.

All of those sensors to make Face ID work need to be put somewhere around that area where the front-facing camera is located. Apple decided to make the transition to a more secure authentication method, from Touch ID to Face ID, hence the notch. Although I don’t think it was necessarily an either-or decision. Apple could have kept Touch ID and added Face ID.

Imagine thinner but straight bezels on top and on the bottom with both the familiar home button (Touch ID) and the new Face ID. I’d think with the two combined it would be an exponentially more secure authentication method.

But that would have gotten in the way of the slimmer bezel design. I have issues with really slim bezels (read: iPhone 7s) but Apple, along with Samsung, LG, and a bunch of other smartphone brands, seem to think we all want slimmer bezels. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t like thick bezels (read: Sony Xperia XZ Premium). But I don’t want super-thin bezels either, especially on top and on the bottom. What I want are thick-enough bezels to securely and comfortably hold my phone. I think LG and Samsung did the right thing: slightly thicker bezels for the forehead and the chin.

The screens on the V30, the S8, and Note 8 are nice and straight, too. No weird-looking notch. And just because many of us might some day get used to a weird-looking notch doesn’t make the notch not weird looking.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look good, but man, no headphone jack though.

Privacy, Security, and Apple

[ TechCrunch / Matthew Panzarino ] Apple is the only company I trust to keep my privacy and security as high a priority as building a great product. That’s because to Apple it’s the same thing. At least that’s how I think about Apple. Is Apple perfect? No. I would have preferred a more secure authentication method: an iPhone 7s with Face ID and Touch ID. But there’s no turning back time; Apple has built the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. So let’s get on with figuring out what we can about Face ID.

Matthew Panzarino asks questions about Face ID and Craig Federighi answers them:

When it comes to customers — users — Apple gathers absolutely nothing itself. Federighi was very explicit on this point.

“We do not gather customer data when you enroll in Face ID, it stays on your device, we do not send it to the cloud for training data,” he notes.

There is an adaptive feature of Face ID that allows it to continue to recognize your changing face as you change hair styles, grow a beard or have plastic surgery. This adaptation is done completely on device by applying re-training and deep learning in the redesigned Secure Enclave. None of that training or re-training is done in Apple’s cloud. And Apple has stated that it will not give access to that data to anyone, for any price.

Apple couldn’t, even if it was forced to by law enforcement. Your Face ID data is never in Apple’s hands. Face ID data is a mathematical model stored in the Secure Enclave. Your face cannot be reverse-engineered even if Apple or anyone else accessed that mathematical model, not that Apple or anyone else can. The only place where your Face ID exists and will continue to exist is the Secure Enclave in your iPhone X. Until you reset your phone, of course.

What if law enforcement whether at the airport, border crossing, or when you’re taking photos demands you turn over your iPhone? Squeeze. Federighi explains all you have to do is press the volume button — either one — and the power button at the same time. This squeeze disables Face ID and forces you to use your passcode to unlock your iPhone X. As far as US law is concerned law enforcement can force you to unlock your iPhone using your fingerprint and most likely your face, but not your passcode.

Face ID will most likely become the de facto authentication standard for all Apple products. I expect to see most of Apple’s product lines that have an embedded display — iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad — to shift toward Face ID. (I think it might be a while for Apple Watch to get it though.) I also have a sneaky suspicion the notch design will be tagging along in all future iPhones and iPads. Thankfully MacBooks and iMacs have big enough top bezels to fit all the sensors required to make Face ID work.

iPhone 7s

Here’s what I would have liked.

Apple announces the iPhone 7s and the iPhone 7s Plus. Almost everything looks the same as the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, but almost everything has been improved.

Let’s start with the inside. A11 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, M11 motion coprocessor, better f/1.8 12MP camera, etc. — basically all the new innards of the iPhone 8. But with the new TrueDepth camera from the iPhone X; there’s enough room in the fat forehead for all those sensors.

The entire front glass will be black, to hide the TrueDepth camera. Face ID in conjunction with Touch ID would have made the iPhone 7s the most secure, even more secure than the iPhone X. Put your finger on the Touch ID sensor while looking at your iPhone 7s to unlock. This has to happen simultaneously. Touch ID is something millions of us are used to, so building on what we are familiar with by adding Face ID would have been a much smoother UX transition as well as a more secure one.

The display itself would be the same — 4.7-inch Retina HD display for the non-Plus version and the 5.5-inch display for the Plus version — except that it would not be LCD but OLED: Super Retina HD. The displays would be True Tone and HDR would be fully supported.

The back would have been glass, like the iPhone 8 and X, to enable magnetic charging.

This iPhone 7s would have been great.