Ratatouille

Ratatouille opened June 29, 2007. I just read through most of the preview/review on the New York Times. The review is positive about the movie. But I knew that from the very first time I saw the preview on Apple‘s Quicktime site. What artists and a whole bunch of other people can do on the computer is just amazing! In the New York Times article, the writer, A. O. Scott, mentions that Ratatouille conquered “a whole new realm of physical texture and sensory detail” and goes on to detail what that is:

  • the fine grain of every image
  • the matted look of wet rat fur
  • the bright scratches in the patina of well-used copper pots
  • the beads of moisture on the surface of cut vegetables
  • the sauce-stained fabric of cooks’ aprons

I hope I can find the time to watch Ratatouille in a nice digital movie theater sometime soon, projected by Sony‘s new 4K x 2K SXRD projector. The “matted look of wet rat fur” would definitely look wonderful, ironically. I wonder if there are actual installations of Sony’s 4K x 2K already…

Update…

Allow me to finish my thought on this piece: my original thought process went something like this… “I really want to see Rataouille. Just like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Cars, I’m sure it’ll be worth my money and time. I wonder what this has to do with displays?” Quickly I jotted down Sony’s 4Kx2K commercial projector because it was somewhat fresh in my mind. I attended InfoComm a couple of weeks back. It’s a conference about public displays or digital signage. There were a lot of companies display interesting technology, software, display and display-related products, one of which was Sony’s 4Kx2K projector. Sony used the 4Kx2K projector for its press event and the graphics was very sharp. The presentation was 100% text and graphics; no video was shown. I was informed there were 4Kx2K video camcorders, so 4Kx2K video should be some time in the future. How soon, I don’t know. Without diplays, whether flat panel or projection, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the great content that is out there. With my 17″ Sony LCD monitor at home with a 1280 x 1024 pixel format (1.31 megapixels), I am quite limited in how much I can see. For instance, the Canon A85 point-and-shoot that I use once in a while generates “4” megapixels, which is 2272 x 1704 (3.87 megapixels): that’s about 34% of the picture’s content that I see on my LCD monitor. The only LCD monitor that can be easily purchased (not financially!) is the 30″ variety that sports a pixel format of 2560 x 1600 and that doesn’t even provide 100% viewability of the 3.87MP picture. A 4Kx2K display would do it, but would still be limited to 8MP digital stills. I’m sure 4Kx2K video would blow my socks off! My opinion is that display technology is very much important and just as important as image capturing technology and the wonderful content. (Of course, you can’t leave out distribution, the devices themselves and the usability of each at every stage.)

iPhone: “Activation can take from 2 to 6 hours…”

I was so excited when I called up the Apple Store at Valley Fair in San Jose, CA and found out they had a ton of iPhones available. This was around 8:30pm. I got there and there was a long line but the line was moving along pretty quickly. And there were Apple employees cheering as customers who purchased iPhones came out the store. The mood was pretty festive. There were guys who came out with two little black bags. It didn’t take long before I was near the front, about 10 minutes? As I got near to the front I could see the Apple employees were letting customers in 10 at a time. Soon enough, I was in.

There was an Apple employee that came by and asked if I had any questions and asked if I wanted to play around with the iPhone. I said, “Sure, I’ll take a look.” And I proceed to take the little marvel of a phone and started to press some eye-candy buttons. First the Internet: the response was fast, but that was because the Store had WiFi. Then Google Maps. I double touched, but nothing. The guy tells me, “You have to do the opposite of pinching…” I do that and zoom in I go. I pinch, and I zoom out. Cool. I use the phone function and dial my phone. My phone vibrates. Nice.

I get to the counter and a nice Asian girl asks, “What would you like?” I say I want the 8GB version. She punches me up on her portable POS device, which was amusingly a Microsoft CE device. In no time I had a iPhone bag like all the others before me. “I need to get a case for this,” was in my head as I moved along the isles. Then I came up to the cases. There were transparent acrylic cases, leather cases, rubber cases, etc. I didn’t know what to get. I remembered when I got a rubber case for my 4G iPod. I didn’t like it. I looked for a while but couldn’t decide. So I asked an Apple employee what he would get. He said that he hadn’t decided yet but that he would prefer something like this, and hands me over some non-stick Power Support Crystal Film for the iPhone.

This one is cool; according to the cover it: has a scratch-resistant hard coat, a high-transparency gloss treatment, a PET protection film, and a newly developed polymer adhesive. This adhesive is not like tape; you can take it off (not very easily) and leave no trace. So I get it: $14.95. Priceless, really. You see, this is my birthday present to me. I wanted to be nice to myself. I’ve worked really hard and wanted to treat myself to something nice and coincidentally the iPhone became available on my birthday. 🙂

I walk over to some tables in front of Nordstrom, take the iPhone out, take the Crystal Film out and cover the front. It’s ready to be activated now. After 15 minutes of driving, I get in front of my computer and start iTunes. I connect the iPhone. And… nothing happens. I have to download a new version of iTunes. Takes a few minutes and after that I see the little iPhone icon and start to begin my activation process. That was 1 hour ago.

A few minutes ago, I called up AT&T (1-877-419-4500) and asked about the activation. The lady on the other line, who happened to be in California, was extremely nice. Felt like I was talking to a really close friend. I wish I remembered her name. Anyway, she told me that activation can take from 2 to 6 hours. “I guess I should get some sleep then,” I told her. We both laughed and she wished me to enjoy my new phone. Now, I think I need to sleep. And see if activation is complete tomorrow morning. Or should I stay awake…

Update…

At around 9:30am this morning, I received an email stating that my iPhone has been activated. That took about 12 hours. Wow. I will let this slide since AT&T probably had to activate millions last night. So, since I know I had to update my iTunes, I did that first. Then I connected my iPhone. No luck: I had to update my system software. I was in the process… ah, it’s finished (the Software Update logo is jumping up and down for attention). I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update…

Ah. What a wonderful day it has been. Email, browsing the Net, literally flipping through pictures, and listening to my music (I flipped through music too!) on my iPhone. I am very satisfied with my birthday gift. I added times to Seoul and London along with weather info for the two cities and the process was quite smooth and easy. I also added a couple of stocks that I am tracking. FYI, one is doing well and the other isn’t (of course, this was yesterday’s news). The digital camera is just so-so, but I didn’t expect much more than that. The only unsatisfied portion is the slow EDGE connectivity, bumping along a slow 2-lane road with lots and lots of signals. But I am somewhat relieved to know that just $20/mo is getting me almost universal data connection (within the US that is) and all I need to find is a Starbucks to get on the Net freeway.

Update 2007.07.13…

The transition is over. After testing the iPhone (there was really no doubt I would be keeping it!) for about 2 weeks, I took the complete plunge and ported over my number from Verizon Wireless. Several of my good friends are amazed at the simplicity and usability of the iPhone. Today, I ran into my Chemistry teacher from my high school days. He was intrigued about the iPhone, so I walked through the main features. He was all smiles and wondered if there was a way to connect to an Exchange Server and took out his black Moto Q. I used to have a Moto Q, but as I looked at the interface, I felt like I was looking at a previous-generation mobile device. The main feature about the Q’s interface that, in a way, jolted me was how it unnaturally forced the user to use the device in a particular, esoteric, way and very much based on how the hardware was designed. I say esoteric because I am now very much used to using my finger for navigation, activation, etc. on the iPhone. In response to the Exchange Server question, I remembered reading something about it on Apple’s page and simply answered that there should be a team at Apple that works with corporate clients to help connect the iPhone to Exchange Servers. I don’t know if this is true, so if anyone knows of something, please leave a comment. In closing, my transition to the iPhone is almost complete. Now if I can get it to sync with iCal without hanging…

iPhone: Beneficiaries

According to DigiTimes, there will be three TFT LCD manufacturers that will greatly benefit from Apple’s iPhone. The three are Sharp, Epson and Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology (TMDisplay). Supplying the LCD to Apple for the iPhone is estimated to generate about US$160 million each for the three mentioned. The article also postulates a $45-$50 price tag on the LCD.

Let’s do some fun calculations.
Total revenue from LCDs: US$160 million x 3 = $480 million
Total iPhone unit sales: $480 million / $45 =10.67 million unit or $480 / $50 = 9.6 million

Sounds to be about right. Of course the time frame for these numbers is from June 29, 2007 to the end of 2008. So that’s revenue. I wonder what the profits are…

iPhone: Virtual Keyboard

I was reading Engadget’s post on the magnifying function of the iPhone to better position the cursor, or your finger, for better text input using the virtual keyboard. Have a look at the picture below:

Now, look at your finger. Then, look at the keyboard buttons. Does anything look wrong? Well, I think I have found the clue as to why the virtual keyboard doesn’t work as well as it should. It’s pretty simple. Your finger, when pressed on the screen, looks like a circle, from a sensor point of view. The keyboard buttons are not; they are rectangular. Just because we have squarish/rectangular physical keyboards doesn’t mean that they should be so on a virtual keyboard. That’s where Apple got it wrong, in my humble opinion. The virtual keyboard should have round keys, just like our fingers. My bet is that with round keys, it will be much easier to type with your finger.

17″ MacBook Pro: 1920×1200

Apple 17-inch MacBook Pro Specifications

Display Size: 17″
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Pixel Format: 1680×1050, 1920×1200
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 512MB DDR3 Dual-Link DVI
CPU: 2.5 to 2.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
HDD: 250GB SATA 5400RPM, 200GB SATA 7200RPM, 300GB SATA 4200RPM
RAM: 2 to 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Input: FireWire 400 (1), FireWire 800 (1), USB 2.0 (3), ExpressCard/34

I have been waiting for Apple to offer high PPI, that’s pixels per inch, on its notebook PCs. It has been a long time. One of the main reasons why I have a 17-inch Dell notebook is because 2 years ago, there were only a few brands that had 17-inch notebook PCs with a 1920×1200 LCD. I wanted to improve my productivity by having two windows side by side. For instance, when I am writing a report, it is very convenient to have the information source on one side and the article on the other. Excel on the left, PowerPoint on the right. I do realize that you don’t get two full screens as each is only 960×1200. The ideal would be to have each window at least 1024. You can get that with the 2560×1600 30-inch monster LCD, but cramming that many pixels on a 17-inch or even a 20-inch LCD designed for a notebook PC might be tad too much. But who knows, 1280×1600 for each window might be too tempting to overlook! Anyway, I applaud Apple for jumping into high PPI territory with the option of getting a 1920×1200 LCD for its 17-inch MacBook Pro notebooks. I am sure the fonts and icons are rendered so that they are not too small to view, which is the case in XP and still the case in Vista. I have Vista on my Dell and though there are options to change the “DPI” setting, the result is less than satisfactory. I can’t wait until I lay my hands on a 1920×1200 17-inch MacBook Pro!

Update 2008.03.09: The new faster 17-inch MacBook Pro is available from Apple. CPU speeds top at 2.6GHz and the GPU gets a bump up to nVidia’s GeForce 8600M GT with 512MB. Now, the surprising feature is in the display. The 17-inch high-resolution version gets a LED backlight! With 1920×1200 pixels, the high-res version of the 17-inch MBP was impressive enough but with the addition of LED technology, not only is there some power savings, but structure of the display subassembly becomes more simplified as you do not need an DC-AC inverter to run a CCFL-based backlight unit (BLU). With a LED backlight the DC power you get is the power you need and the DC-AC inverter disappears. I could see DYIers to go one step further and replace the HDD unit with a SDD when Samsung finally comes out with their 128GB version. Now we’re talkin’.

15.4″ MacBook Pro: LED Backlight

Apple: As all of you know already, Apple introduced an updated version of its 15.4-inch MacBook Pro. One of the main updates, from a display point of view, was the use of LEDs as the lighting technology for the LCD. The LED backlight implementation on Apple’s 15.4-inch MacBook Pro seems to be the largest for notebook PCs. Typically we see LED backlights on much smaller notebooks such as Sony’s 11.1-inch TR series.

The type of LEDs used in notebook LCDs are called white LEDs. These comprise of a blue LED chip with a yellow phosphor coating on the package. The two combine for white light. White LED prices have come down significantly but high quality ones still command a premium. White LEDs can save on power consumption as well compared to CCFLs. That’s why Apple has increased the time the 15.4″ MacBook Pro will last on the same batteries. I am sure firmware and software upgrades have helped somewhat. Another benefit of using LEDs versus CCFLs as the light source for LCD backlights is thinner LCDs. Of course, too thin means less durability without using expensive materials such as carbon fiber (Sony’s G series notebooks come to mind).

What’s ahead? It’s easier to implement LED backlights on smaller LCD screens. Apple is working on implementing LED backlights for all of its products (Steve Jobs said so in one of his monologues about the environment) and we can expect to see the smaller 13.3″ MacBooks with LED backlights sooner than the larger displays (iMac, 17-inch MacBook Pro, Cinema displays).

Samsung 225BW: 22″ Wide LCD Monitor

 

Facts:

  • 22″ wide LCD monitor
  • Pixel format: 1680 x 1050, making it a 16:10 aspect ratio
  • Brightness: 280 cd/m2
  • Contrast ratio: 700:1
  • Response time: 5ms (gray-to-gray)
  • Viewing angles: 160/160
  • Video inputs: VGA, DVI

Opinion: There seems to be a $20.00 mail-in rebate going on for Samsung‘s 225BW. The 225BW is a 22″ wide LCD monitor with a pixel format of 1680 x 1050. Now, I prefer higher pixel formats but there is a problem with them. Current operating systems are not able to take very good advantage and what that means is that fonts and icons tend to become smaller with higher resolution (display area / # of pixels). Even Windows Vista is not very good at scaling DPI. So, for those who want a fairly good-sized user interface with fonts and icons that are very readable, the 22″ wide LCD monitor with 1680 x 1050 should be welcome. Some have said that 20″ wide with 1680 x 1050 produce fonts and icons that are a tad too small. With prices around $275.00 for Samsung’s 225BW, a 22″ LCD monitor looks like a great bargain.

[tags]Samsung, Wide LCD Monitor, LCD Monitor, 22″, 1680 x 1050[/tags]

A little different: Bang & Olufsen Audio for Audi R8

Note: This post has nothing to do with displays, but since I am very interested in automobiles, the B&O and Audi R8 combination, I just couldn’t resist. So, here is the original post that I drafted a while back. The Audi R8 continues to be a mysterious sports car that I have yet seen in real life. But what a car it is! 

Audi’s R8 will be the first sports car with an option for a Bang & Olufsen audio system. B&O already has developed audio systems for Audi’s A8 and S8 sedans. The B&O audio system was custom tailored for the R8 and is composed of 12 speakers, 10 discrete amplified channels, and digital signal processing producing 465 watts of power. The system uses machines and anodised aluminum. Under acceleration, the B&O audio system compensates for the R8’s engine sound.

The 12 speaker system is composed of:(1) 130mm Subwoofer
(2) 200mm Front Door Woofer
(1) 35×70mm Center Speaker
(2) 80mm Front Midrange Speaker
(2) 25mm Front Tweeter
(2) 25mm Rear Tweeter
(2) 168mm Rear Midrange Woofer

The fusion of audio and the automobile’s mechanical cabin design and engine sound is a wonderful start toward a more full driving experience. Wonderful.

More information at Fourtitude.

[tags]Bang and Olufsen, B&O, Audi R8[/tags]

CMO 52″ LCD TV Panel in First Quarter 2007

Note: It is already the second quarter of 2007 and towards the end of it. So this blog post is from a long long time ago… I’m more interested in the iPhone than anything else as of now, especially because it debuts on my birthday! Anyone feeling the need to give? Let me know! Anyway, here is the post on CMO’s 52″. We all know that 52″ is the next big size after 40″/42″ and 46″/47″. 

Chi Mei Optoelectronic’s (CMO) 52″ LCD TV will sport a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080, a brightness of 500 cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 1500:1, and a 6ms response time. The 52″ monster will be built on CMO’s G5.5 LCD fab that can cut two 52″ panels at a time. A G5.5 is more optimized for larger LCD monitors such as the newly introduced 19″ wide and 22″ wide monitors. With a monthly capacity of its G5.5 plant at 120,000 glass substrate input going up to 180,000 by December, you can bet CMO will be churning out a lot of 52″ LCD TVs to make a lot of profits. If you want to have a look at the 52″ LCD TV from CMO, hop on over to FPD International 2006 that will be held from October 18 – 20 in Yokohama, Japan.

But let’s not get too excited here: We’ve already seen a 100″ LCD prototype (and I really mean prototype) from LG.Philips LCD (LPL) at SID 2006 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco this year. Also, Sharp is already shipping a 65″ LCD TV, which I saw at a Magnolia store in Palo Alto, California. And don’t forget Samsung’s 82″ prototype.

Source: DigiTimes

[tags]Chi Mei Optoelectronics, CMO, 52″, LCD TV, 82″, 65″, LCD TV, Sharp, LG Display, LPL, 1080p, Full HD, 1920 x 1080, Display Manufacturer[/tags]

Asus AiGuru S1: Wireless Music Skype Phone

Note: The original draft of this post about the Asus AiGuru S1 wireless music Skype phone was from a long time go, when dinosaurs roamed… well not that long ago. Here is the post, for those of you who are still interested. I for one, am very interested in Skype. I hope they can make a Skype/cellular phone that automatically connects to WiFi networks if available resulting in more anytime minutes when  you really need them. 

Asustek Computer’s AiGuru S1 supports Skype and has WiFi built-in and features a wireless music player function and remote control. WiFi is the 802.11b/g type and uses the wireless connection to make Skype calls without the need of being tethered to a PC. The music is played through a built-in speaker and you can access and stream songs stored in the PC via WiFi. You can also use the AiGuru S1 as a remote control for Microsoft’s Media Player.

aiguru.jpg

The display seems to be a monochrome type with a blue background, which is quite low-tech compared to Netgear’s SPH101, which has a nice color display.

Source: Phonemag, Gizmodo

[tags]Asus, Skype, Wireless Phone[/tags]