Samsung Bordeaux 720p Additions: 23″, 32″, 40″

Samsung adds three more to its Bordeaux line of LCD TVs. All three have a pixel format of 1366 x 768. Not quite 720p since the scaler chip inside of the set will need to scale the video up from 1280 x 720 to 1366 x 768. As mentioned in a number of previous posts, scaling any video image is not as good as leaving it alone. But, scaler technology has gotten so good, you’ll need a very good idea to catch the difference. The three new 720p models come in three sizes: 23″, 32″ and 40″. All two larger LCD TVs sport a contrast ratio of 8000:1 and a brightness of 550 cd/m2. The 23″ has a respectable 4000:1 contrast ratio and a slightly less bright, but still quite bright, 450 cd/m2. Prices are fairly competitive as well: the 23″ comes in at ~$600, the 32″ at ~$800 and the 40″ is ~$1400. Unless I was looking for a LCD TV for the bedroom, I wouldn’t go less than 32″. The 32″ at about $800 is a decent price, but hopefully Samsung will lower the price even more around Black Friday. I would like to see a 720p 40″ by major brands such as Samsung to hit $999 by Black Friday.

The 23″ (LN23R81B, W?) is definitely geared for a bedroom with a white enclosure and the size. It looks quite cute but for $600 is a bit on the expensive side.

The 32″ (LN32R81B) looks stylish, but I do believe the glowing blue light become a distraction when you’re trying to enjoy a nice movie at night. It is a simple design standard not to have bright dots, glows, etc. on the front of the screen, especially when the company worked so hard to give you that dark screen look with a black bezel.

The 40″ (LN40R81B) seems to have the same design as the 32″ and the same critique applies. Although upon looking a bit closer, the glowing blue light seems to be relatively less bright. It might be the way the picture was taken in addition to the 40″ being a larger TV. However, I really would like to speak to the design guys at Samsung: please, hold the glowing blue light. I don’t need to know the TV is on. I already know it’s on because I’m watching a show. In Korea, Samsung’s sub-brand for TVs are called PAVV. You can find quite a bit more information about the new 81 Series 720p LCD TVs at the Korean site.

Source: Samsung (Korean) via Engadget

[tags]Samsung, LCD, Bordeaux, 720p, 1366 x 768, 23″, 32″, 40″[/tags]

United Business: 15.4″ LCD

The international United Business cabins will have upgraded seats that include a 15.4″ LCD, a USB port, and an iPod adapter. The iPod adapter allows the lucky business-class traveler to not only charge his/her iPod but also access both music and video. The seat can recline flat (180-degrees) and allow for folks that are up 6′ 4″ tall. This would do wonders for my back. Maybe I can get enough mileage points for an upgrade later this year! I think I may have to pull some strings. The upgrades are expected to be installed in United Business class cabins this fall. United’s entire international fleet of 97 wide-body B767, B747 and B777 aircrafts will have the upgraded cabins by late 2009. This is definitely a good start. But I would rather United and others go toward a relaxing atmosphere rather than a mobile high-tech office. Boss all around the world might expect you to be 100% productive on United upgraded Business class cabins! I assume the iPod adaptor will work for the iPhone. This was a good move by Apple: not changing the connector. I hope all other CE device manufacturers learn from Apple’s iPod-iPhone example. I am not sure what to expect, but I think it will be interesting to see how stewardesses on my travel to South Korea will respond when I tell them that the iPhone is in “Airplane Mode” and that it’s okay for me to use it because the cellular radio (voice & data) as well as the WiFi connections are disabled. Do you think they will buy that?
Source: United via Engadget

[tags]United Airlines, 15.4″[/tags]

Apple iPhone: 270,000 in 30 Hours

Apple via Engadget: The third quarter for Apple ended June 30, just 30 hours after the iPhone became available to the public. And in those 30 hours 270,000 iPhones were sold. That’s fantastic! A simple calculation results in revenues ranging from $135 million to $162 million. That’s $4.5 million to $5.4 million, an hour. Due to activation problems, AT&T reported total iPhone activations at just 146,000 in the same time frame.

My guess is that Apple is on target to hit 10 million units by the end of 2008, but not because of the 9000 iPhone sales per hour in the first 30 hours, but because the iPhone will be available to a few major countries in Q4 of 2007 and to the rest of the 300+ million European market in 2008. Europe is the largest GSM market, as far as I know. I would think Japan would be getting the iPhone relatively soon too since they too have an established GSM infrastructure with NTT Docomo having the best chance of working with Apple. Though CDMA is stronger in South Korea, GSM networks are available through a couple of service providers: KT Freetel and SK Telecom. SK would be the best choice, in my opinion, in working with Apple in Korea.

Sony VGP-D24WD1: 24″ LCD Monitor

Bland but simple. Sony and expensive. $1060 expensive, according to Akihabara via Engadget. You can get the Samsung SyncMaster 245BW 24″ LCD monitor for about half that price at Dell.com or opt for Dell’s 27″ offering for about the same price. So what’s so special about Sony’s VGP-D24WD1? The 1000:1 contrast ratio, 1920 x 1200 pixel format, 400 cd/m2 brightness, 6ms response time and two HDCP-DVI ports are all fairly within the realm of normal. You could say that having two HDCP-DVI ports is somewhat special, but still they’re DVI, not HDMI or DisplayPort. In my opinion, the only thing special about Sony’s really expensive 24″ LCD monitor is the 92% NTSC color gamut that is the result of wide color gamut CCFLs (WCG-CCFLs). The only problem of having a wide color gamut is that it messes up folks (for a few minutes) that work extensively with color: the color on the screen versus what you expect to get via printer will look a little different than before, but in a good way since whatever is displayed on the monitor will actually look a bit closer to what you’ll get printed out. I’m not one of those folks that work extensively with color and this is purely “theoretically speaking”. Although I am a fan of Sony’s industrial design, sometimes I wonder whether the premium price is worth it: in this case double the price of a very good Samsung? I try to maximize bang for my hard-earned buck, and this one makes me pause.

[tags]Sony, Wide LCD Monitor, LCD Monitor, 24″, 1920 x 1200, Wide Color Gamut, WCG-CCFL[/tags]

Vizio 52″ LCD TV: US$2,200

According to DigiTimes, Vizio will be introducing a 52″ 1080p LCD TV in North America with a very aggressive price point of $2,200 in August. As with most of Vizio’s LCDs, this 52″ will have a IPS panel from LG.Philips LCD (LPL). The 52″ 1080p Vizio will be available at Costco.

Amtran Technology, a Taiwan-based integrator, builds many Vizio LCD TVs. Amtran is also the second largest shareholder (~24%) of Vizio. Foxconn also builds for Vizio, the company’s 26″ offering. Amtran leaked info that Vizio is planning to introduce a 40″ 1080p LCD TV by year’s end using S-LCD’s PVA panel. S-LCD is a joint venture between Sony and Samsung Electronics.

Is $2,200 for a 52″ 1080p really the best price you can get? Well, for a LCD TV with an IPS panel, yes. If you don’t mind a Sharp brand, have a look at the AQUOS LC-52D62U. This is also a 52″ 1080p LCD TV and goes for about $2,150 using PriceGrabber. If this is the case, I would like to see a much more aggressive price point of around $1,999 for Vizio’s 52″ 1080p offering. Of course, I prefer IPS over ASV (Advanced Super View, based on VA technology).

Update 2008.05.16 10:44PM PST
$2200 might have been big news less than a year ago, but it isn’t any more. Just checking my favorite online store, Amazon.com, shows me that $2200 has dropped to $1500, a decrease of $700 or 32% in just about 9 months!

[tags]Vizio, 52″, 1920 x 1080, Full HD, 1080p, LCD TV[/tags]

Sony Alpha Reader

This is a first in a infinite series (or until the aReader breaks down) of my experiences with Sony‘s aReader. I have been given an opportunity to test the aReader by a good friend and I have started this blog post to record my experiences. First of all, I have had the aReader for about a month now.

I’ll start with what I experienced today. When I opened the aReader, the battery was at 50%. I was a bit confused as I didn’t touch it after I recharged it completely. I thought the E Ink display didn’t consume any power when information was not updated. A bi-stable nematic display really should not consume any power if no information is being updated. Maybe it is not the case with the entire subsystem in the aReader. So, I connected the aReader to my 17″ Dell notebook via USB. I did read or hear somewhere that I could trickle charge the aReader via USB but only if there is some battery power left. Now once I did connect the USB, I could do nothing else on the aReader. This must be changed. I do not know of any other devices that I have that do not allow me to use it while being charged, via USB or directly plugged in.

Prior to plugging the aReader to my 17″ Dell Vista notebook, I tried to read a page or two on it. It was 7:45pm PST with only a little bit of light coming in through the window. It was quite readable and my wife agreed. This is quite remarkable as it required little to no power for the display that allowed me to read without much ambient light. The bright display on my Dell was quite a bit more readable but it was drawing considerably more power.

I will continue to update this blog as I experience the aReader more and as I remember what I liked and disliked from the prior month.

Update…

After fully recharging the aReader using the power adapter, I checked to see that it was 100% charged and read a few sentences from the Bible that I downloaded. I put it down and started to read the book Crunchy Cons (borrowed from the public library) and after 10 minutes checked the aReader again and I was a bit surprised. You see, there are four bars indicating power: all four bars in black means that it is fully charged. Well, after just 10 minutes of the aReader showing a page (without changing of information on the screen), the battery came down by one bar already (three left). I think there is something wrong with the power consumption.

Update (2007.07.20)…

I think my aReader may have died. It does not want to “boot”, even after recharging it over night.

Update (2007.07.23)…

A list of fixes that I would like to see (there’s a lot to be written here):

  • The cover. The cover is affixed to the aReader via a big, ummm, clasp-like-thing similar to a DVD case (?). It requires that you push in a bit by pressing on the screen itself. This is not a good design. You need to take the unit out of the case to reset it with a pin and in my case I had to do this several times. Although the screen does not give much at all, I don’t think pressure on the screen every time I put the case back on is a good thing. I would propose a slide-in case.
  • Directional button. When the cover is closed, this directional button can be pushed by the slightest pressure on the cover. Although this doesn’t do anything when the aReader is turned off, it’s just not a good design. The button should be recessed lower than the case of the aReader so that it cannot be accidentally pushed.

[tags]Sony, Electronic Paper Display, Ebook Reader, E Ink[/tags]

Sony Low Price Strategy in Taiwan

Sony’s KLV-32U300A, a 32″ LCD TV, will hit a NT$29,900 (about US$900) price starting in August according to Sony Taiwan. In comparison, Sony’s KDL-32SL130, also a 32″ LCD TV, is $1149.99 at Costco.com as of July 16, 2007. Definitely, the models are different, but the $250 difference is fairly significant. More significant is the brand premium that Sony has over other brands. For instance, a Sharp LCC3242U 32″ LCD TV goes for just $799.99. And then there is the Envision L32W698, another 32″ LCD TV, going for just $499.99 at Costco. The Sony is $700 more expensive than the Envision. That’s big. And maybe that’s why Sony is lowering prices. Maybe not. Panasonic’s 32″ LCD TV offering in Taiwan is also NT$29,900, the same as Sony’s KLV-32U300A. LG Electronics (LGE) has its 32″ at an even higher price point at NT$32,900. What is going on? There’s more: Samsung’s 32″? The highest at NT$34,900. I don’t know the relative brand strengths of LG vs. Samsung vs. Sony in Taiwan, but if Sony’s TV is cheaper or even at the same price with similar features, I’d definitely get the Sony.

Source: DigiTimes/Witsview

[tags]Sony, Sharp, Samsung, LG, LGE, LG Electronics, 32″, LCD TV[/tags]

Forhouse Degussa JV Opens PMMA Molding Compound Plant

On July 12, Taiwan-based Forhouse and German-based Degussa AG held an opening ceremony for their joint venture to manufacture optical-grade polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) molding compounds for light guide panels and diffuser films used in backlight units (BLUs). Degussa hols 51% and Forhouse holds the rest. The PMMA plant will have a 40,000-ton annual capacity. Forhouse alone would require 80,000 tons per year requiring the plant to expand in the future. Forhouse has a 2.5 million BLU per month capacity with plants in China and Taiwan. The company’s Xiamen plant located in China has a monthly capacity of 400,000 BLUs.

Source: DigiTimes/Witsview

[tags]Forhouse Degussa, PMMA, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Backlight, Backlight Unit, BLU[/tags]

Opel GTC Concept Car: OSRAM LEDs

OSRAM: Opel’s GTC Concept Car uses LEDs from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors for external lighting, namely parking lights, daylight running lights, and fog lights. OSRAM used thin-film technology that substantially increases brightness that allow the reduction of the number LEDs needed for external lighting on automobiles to just a few.

OSRAM’s Golden Dragon LEDs illuminate the GTC’s parking lights and daytime running lights while just two OSTAR LEDs are used for the headlight’s dipped beam. Four OSTAR LEDs are used for the GTC’s high beam while just one is used for each fog light.

LEDs have a stated lifetime (rated as time to half-brightness) of 50,000 hours. If you drove 5 hours a day for 365 days a year for 10 years, it would amount to just 18,250 hours. Of course turning the LEDs on and off in addition to vibration and shock will reduce the lifetime but even if lifetimes are reduced by half to just 25,000 hours, we can assume the LEDs will outlast the majority of cars or more accurately the patience of the car owners. Red TOPLEDs are also used to inside the GTC to generate a reddish glow on the four classic instruments on the dashboard.

Dell 15.4″ Notebooks: LED Backlights

According to DigiTimes referring to its source The Chinese-language Economic Daily, Dell will introduce 15.4″ notebook PCs with LED backlights at the end of 2007. Forward Electronics, a Taiwan-based integrator, will be putting Dell’s notebook PC together using LED-backlit LCD panels manufactured by Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT). Both Forward Electronics and CPT are subsidiaries of the Tatung Group, as reported by SSL Net.

It is a trend, but a noteworthy one. Apple does something cool and the rest of the industry follows. I do recognize it is a gross exaggeration, but bear with me. Just a couple of weeks ago, Apple introduced an updated version of its 15.4″ MacBook Pro that incorporated a LED backlight instead of the usual CCFL backlight. Although we use the term backlight, on a notebook PC LCD panel, the “backlight” is actually located on the bottom of the panel with a single strip of LEDs or a single CCFL tube. The benefits of a LED backlight versus a CCFL backlight are few, but very important. One is the absence of poisonous materials such as mercury in LEDs. The other is the lower power consumption of LEDs. Mercury is carcinogenic, meaning it causes cancer. With hundreds of millions of LCD panels produced every year for notebook PCs, LCD monitors and LCD TVs, and without proper disposal of these items, it is not surprising to see an increase in mercury levels in us and fish. Lower power consumption means one of two things: you can work for more hours on the same capacity battery OR you can work for the same number of hours on a smaller capacity (less weight) battery. Less important but still a nice feature to have is the slimmer profile of LCD panels with LED backlights.

[tags]Dell, Notebook PC, LED Backlight, 15.4″[/tags]