Apple Unibody White MacBook

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Wishy Washy: That’s what seems to be happening with the FireWire port on the white MacBook. The latest unibody white MacBook has lost the FireWire port. Again. And again it will annoy a lot of potential customers of the most affordable MacBook, starting at just US$999. The FireWire port allows for the MacBook to act simply as an external FireWire drive and makes troubleshooting significantly easier. Do you have a camcorder with FireWire and want to record directly into the MacBook? You’re out of luck. The audio-out port has been eliminated too in favor of an integrated port with audio-out and mic-in. Not such a terrible idea since you can use the iPhone earphone/mic for communicating via Skype. Of course, if you’re a musician and require both audio-out and mic-in, you might have to get one of those USB microphones. Oh, and no SD slot.

Unibody The unibody design certainly reduces complexity and helps to increase rigidity. It also means that the battery is integrated and no longer easily replaceable. But you do get more battery life: Apple rates it at 7 hours. Engadget took delivery of the new MacBook and found the unibody design led to a much more solid feel: “there’s zero flex when you pick it up by a corner, and the keyboard is nicely rigid.” The white bezel is still there–no edge-to-edge cover glass for the white MacBook. The LED backlit LCD is still the glossy kind with a 1280 x 800 resolution. According to Engadget, the LCD is brighter than the prior version. iFixit confirmed that the display looks really nice (more below). The glass trackpad swallows the buttons and the entire surface can be used as a button, just like the new MacBook Pro‘s trackpad. CPU power has been slightly increased from 2.13GHz to 2.26GHz. Other features include:

  • RAM: 2GB DDR3 1066MHz (4GB max)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
  • Hard Disk: 250GB 5400RPM SATA with Sudden Motion Sensor
  • Optical: Superdrive (8x DL DVD+/-RW, CD-RW)
  • Connectivity: mini-DisplayPort, WiFi N, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 (2)
  • Other: iSight
  • Battery: 60Whr Lithium Polymer
  • Weight: 4.7-pounds (0.3 less than the previous version)

The base of the MacBook makes use of a soft-touch, non-slip surface treatment so it doesn’t slide around. There are no rubber feet. Another interesting omission is the lack of an IR port: the remote won’t work with this MacBook. Battery indicator? Nope. Teardown after the jump. Continue reading →

ViewSonic ViewBook Pro: 13.3-inch Notebook PC

Decent Design ViewSonic‘s ViewBook Pro is a 13.3-inch CULV notebook PC that looks pretty good for a ViewSonic. It seems more than just a coincidence that most new notebook designs have some similarities to Apple’s unibody MacBook Pros. The ViewBook Pro has an aluminum finish, multitouch capable trackpad (with two buttons and a fingerprint reader). Even the name ViewBook has a familiar ring to it. In the video above the ViewBook Pro does seem to be a bit thicker and the LCD sits slightly higher than the 13.3-inch MacBook. The keyboard looks to be the ordinary kind and not the fashionable chiclet type. Other specs include:

  • CPU: 1.3GHz Intel CULV Core 2 Duo SU7300
  • RAM: 2GB DDR3 (4GB max)
  • Battery: 8 hours (12 hours with a secondary battery)
  • Colors: Black, Silver
  • Availability: November 2009
  • Price: Starting US$999 (Black: Pro B), US$1099 (Silver: Pro S)

12 Hours One of the unique features of the ViewBook Pro is an interchangeable optical drive / second battery. With the Pro B (Black) version you can remove the optical drive and replace it with a second battery for an additional 4 hours for a total of 12. Tweaktown mentions that the Pro B is cheaper because it lacks an optical drive but in the video it certainly has one. I’m a bit confused. Anyone want to help clarify?

Source:

  • “Viewsonic debuts new range of ViewBooks, ViewBook Pros” – Engadget
  • “Hands-on with the Viewsonic ViewBook Pro in Taipei (video)” – TweakTown

Acer Aspire 5738DG: 15.6-inch 3D Notebook PC

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3D Notebook Acer‘s Aspire 5738DG is a 15.6-inch notebook PC with a cool feature: 3D. The resolution is 1366 x 768 on the TriDef 3D LCD. Graphics is powered by ATI’s Radeon HD 4570 with 512MB video memory. Other specs include:

  • CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Hard Disk: 320GB
  • Connectivity: WiFi BGN
  • Optical: DVD Playback
  • Battery: 6-cell 4400mAh Lithium-Ion
  • Price: US$779.99

Average You’ll need to wear the included 3D glasses. PC Magazine took it for a spin and found the 3D effects cool but gaming and video converted to 3D were not as cool. For consumers, I would think that those two things (watching movies and playing games) are the two most important activities that can be enhanced by 3D. I think we have a ways to go to perfect 3D on our computers.

I’ve tested a few 3D displays and after a while I do end up getting a headache and my eyes are pleading me to look somewhere else. The 5738DG without the 3D glasses didn’t create any negative effects according to PC Magazine.

Source:

  • “Hands On with Acer’s 3D Laptop” – PC Magazine
  • “Acer gets official with Aspire 5738DG 3D notebook” – Slash Gear

AU Optronics Announce 6-inch Flexible ePaper

AUO_Flexible_ePaper_Electronic_Paper_Display_EPDUnbreakable Using Sipix Microcup technology, AU Optronics (AUO) developed a 6-inch electronic paper display (EPD) that is flexible and unbreakable. The 6-inch epaper can display 16 levels of grayscale, even when it is bent. Contrast ratio is 9:1 and has a 33% reflectance. Sounds good, but what is it for?

Future eBook Reader Maybe we can look forward to an ebook reader that has actual ‘pages’ or epages. With a flexible and thin EPD the possibility of having multiple epages in an ebook reader is quite high. On one page we could be reading the newspaper and on another a magazine and yet another we can be reading our favorite book. Spiral-bounded ebook readers could make flipping epages convenient. The fact that this particular imaginary ebook reader is indestructible sounds pretty good too.

Source: “AUO flexible e-paper and 20-inch E Ink panel announced” – Slash Gear

HP Compaq L2105tm: Multitouch 21.5-inch 1080p LCD Monitor

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The HP Compaq L2105tm is quite unique. The 21.5-inch 1080p LCD monitor offers multitouch! The L2105tm is Microsoft Windows 7 certified and that means it will work right out of the box and connected to a Windows 7 computer. HP is touting that its L2105tm is the first Windows 7 certified monitor. The multitouch monitor is geared toward consumers and the SOHO markets.

The LCD was specified to run 24/7 and has a rated 50,000 hours to half-brightness. The backlight is of the CCFL variety. I had the pleasure of talking to Darryl Valdes, Worldwide Product Marketing Manager for the Displays Commercial Business Segment, and he noted that HP is investigating transitioning toward a LED backlight solution in the future. With a monitor that can run all the time, target markets include: retail POS, vending solution, retail information & interactive, wayfinder applications, etc.

The multitouch technology implemented in the L2105tm is an optical touch solution and includes two cameras, an infrared light and sensor combined with a reflective film to create a light field. When a finger or almost any object creates a shadow as it approaches the display the sensor detects it and relays the information via USB to provide a multitouch experience. The advantage of this type of touch technology is that it is very rugged and you can use a variety of input methods including a gloved finger. Another benefit is good brightness. According to Valdes, the L2105tm has a rated brightness of 250 cd/m2. He also noted that HP is being somewhat conservative with the rating and the actual brightness can reach a typical 270 cd/m2.

Other specs include: 5ms response time, 170/160 viewing angles, 72% NTSC color gamut, 1000:1 contrast ratio, TCO 5.0 Displays compliance, VGA, DVI-D with HDCP connections. A stylus is included.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook: Dual Screen eBook Reader

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Barnes & Noble is claiming its Nook ebook reader is the planet’s “most advanced e-book reader”. The dimensions of the Nook are 7.7×4.9×0.5 inches and it weighs just 11.2 ounces. The unique feature about the Nook is the 6-inch 16-level E Ink Vizplex electronic paper display (EPD) on top and a 3.5-inch capacitive touch LCD on the bottom. The OS running the touch LCD? Android. Genius.

The Nook is expected to last for up to 10 days without wireless connectivity, which include WiFi BG and AT&T’s 3G. There is 2GB of internal storage and other features include: microSD, MP3 player, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB and a built-in speaker. Supported formats include EPUB, PDF, MP3. Here’s the really intriguing part: just like how we currently experience Barnes & Noble, Nook owners can walk into a real store, connect via WiFi and browse complete ebooks. For free.

There is a ‘LendMe’ feature that allows lending of books for a day at a time to other ebook readers, mobile phones and computers. Barnes & Noble also has ereader apps for the iPhone and BlackBerry. The Nook is available for preorder for US$259. Initial shipments are expected to commence at the end of November.

There’s a really well-made video that goes through most of the important features at Barnes & Noble.

Source:

  • “Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader leaks a bit early: $259, pre-orders are live (video)” – Engadget
  • “Barnes & Noble Nook dual-screen reader officially announced… for real” – Engadget
  • “Barnes & Noble Nook’s first close-up (now with video!)” – Engadget

Sharp Starts 10G Production, 21 x 9 TVs On the Way?

Gen 10 Sharp has begun production at its 10G fab in Sakai City, Osaka, Japan. The glass size is 2880 x 3130mm and it will initially have a monthly capacity of 36,000 substrates. The enhanced productivity of the 10G glass vs. 8G is shown in Table 1 (below). As indicated, for panel sizes 32-inch and larger it offers much higher panels per substrate. Even at 52- to 55-inch where the panelization increases by 33%, it will still result in lower costs as the jump to 10G will not boost fab costs by 33%. They would certainly like to focus on sizes which offer the largest productivity benefits as those sizes will translate into the largest cost advantages and highest margins vs. their competitors. At 40-, 60- and 65-inch, they can generate at least twice as many panels per substrate as at 8G. 60-inch is not yet in the market, but it would make sense for them to introduce this product based on their new glass size and the large gap that exists in the market today between 55-inch and 65-inch.

Figure 1. Philips Cinema 21:9

21:9 Sharp has also been promoting 21 x 9 panels from this fab. 21 x 9 panels are closer to the 2.35:1 cinema aspect ratio that is quite popular for DVD and Blu-ray titles. Thus, a 21 x 9 TV would likely have fewer black bars and less scaling for movies, but would require more scaling for broadcast content. The benefits from Sharp’s standpoint are quite significant. As indicated, while they could only produce 55-inch 16 x 9, 8-up on their new fab, they can produce 56-inch 21 x 9, 10-up, generating 25% more output per substrate. Furthermore, the history of the LCD industry indicates that they should be able to sell 56-inch 21 x 9 panels for more than 55-inch 16 x 9 panels making it a double win. Philips has already announced a TV using this panel as shown in Figure 1. I would certainly expect Sharp to launch its own branded 56-inch 21 x 9 TV in the near future. Continue reading →

DisplayBlog Joins New Consulting Consortium

Consulting Consortium On October 1, 2009, Young Market Research (YMR) announced participation in a new consulting consortium composed of BizWitz, Veritas et Visus and yours truly DisplayBlog. BizWitz was founded by David Barnes who is uniquely qualified to offer insights regarding financial aspects of the display industry including IPOs, joint ventures, and M&As. David also has expertise in due diligence, scenario planning exercises and project valuations.

Experts Veritas et Visus was founded by Mark Fihn, who is dedicated to providing a tremendous amount of information regarding the flat panel industry and focusing on 3D, touch, flexible displays and high resolution displays. YMR was founded by Ross and Barry Young, who also founded DisplaySearch and the OLED Association. I do not think any additional introductions are necessary as DisplaySearch has been the leading market research company for displays.

Topics The new consulting consortium offers a combined expertise and joint consulting in the flat panel display and related markets. Here are some potential topics and questions:

  • The impact of the evolution of the display industry from a hardware model to a subsidized content model, not just in wireless devices but in wired devices as well such as digital signage and TVs.
  • The supply/demand outlook for LEDs.
  • The impact of China’s growing presence and strength in the display industry on the stocks of materials suppliers.
  • Which touchscreen companies are best positioned for success?
  • How are TV retail margins evolving and what is likely to happen this holiday season?
  • How will the e-book market evolve and will electrophoretic displays end up on top?
  • What display advances are occurring in Europe?

Contact To receive a quote on consulting from the principals of BizWitz, DisplayBlog, Veritas et Visus or YMR, please contact any of the following people:

Source: YMR

Plastic Logic QUE: proReader for Business Professionals

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Business Plastic Logic announced on October 19, 2009 that it will unveil its QUE proReader designed for business professionals on January 7, 2010 at the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center Booth #11840 during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Plastic Logic is expanding the ebook reader category by targeting business professionals and connecting them via 3G (AT&T) and WiFi to business and professional newspapers, books, magazines, etc. The QUE supports business document formats such as PDF, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Rugged The QUE has an 8.5 x 11-inch dimension, the same as a letter-sized piece of paper. The proReader is extremely thin at just 1/3-inch. Plastic Logic touts the QUE as featuring the largest touchscreen in the ebook reader market. The E Ink Vizplex-based display will probably be very durable: it is  shatterproof and is made of plastic.

Amazon Has Competition Plastic Logic claims that its QUE store will offer the largest collection of business-related reading materials. The store will be powered by Barnes & Noble.

Source: QUE

Apple 27-inch iMac: 2560 x 1440, IPS, LED Backlight, i7

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Resolution Ah, finally. Apple‘s got the resolution bug. And I’m glad. Apple introduced a bunch of gear today including two new iMacs. The new iMacs come in two sizes: 21.5-inch and 27-inch. I’ll concentrate on the larger 27-inch iMac because that’s where I think Apple put a bit more energy into updating one of the most brilliant all-in-one computers to date.

IPS LED 2560 x 1440 The 27-inch LCD is of the IPS variety and that means superb color and viewing angles (178/178). Add to that the huge 27-inch LCD sports LED backlight technology and that means more durability, less power consumption and instant on (for the LCD, not the system). The resolution is a class-leading 2560 x 1440. Finally, I can put up any two windows side by side with plenty of space left over. You can do that with 1920 x 1080 but a lot of websites are designed with a width of 1024 that requires horizontal scrolling, which I don’t like at all. I am not 100% happy that Apple has decided to go 16:9 but I’ll have to face reality: the iMac is a consumer-oriented product and so 16:9 was inevitable. You can watch a 1080p Blu-ray title in full window mode within a window! That’s how many pixels there are on the 27-inch. The LCD is also class-leading and very bright at 375 cd/m2. Continue reading →