iPhone HD

There is little doubt Apple is working on a new iPhone (WSJ); it is dubbed the iPhone HD. Hon Hai Precision (Foxconn) will be manufacturing it, like it has all previous iPhone models. When is it coming? No one knows but it is expected to be announced on Tuesday, June 22nd. (There is also mention of a CDMA-based iPhone.)

The name iPhone HD might lead to speculations that we might see a 1280×720 pixel format on a 3.5-inch display. From a purely hardware point of view in order to properly be called HD requires the display to sport at least a 1280×720 pixel format. Unfortunately the term HD has been defined that way. In reality HD is not solely dependent on the number of pixels. Resolution as it relates to displays is a term that refers to pixel density as in PPI (Pixels Per Inch). I do not know how we got to our current situation where we equate 1920×1080 to resolution, but that is utterly incorrect and I am not even being remotely picky. When people start saying that an apple is blue someone has to become the idiot among the masses and start saying that an apple is red (or green). Hopefully over time the idiot will be proved right. So back to resolution: it is a term for pixel density, not pixel format. And resolution relates to determining whether or not our eyes perceive HD-quality more so than pixel format. (There is also the matter of distance from the viewer to the display, but we won’t get into that discussion here.)

Pixel Density: Some consider Apple’s displays to have low resolution compared to its competitors especially when it comes to notebook PCs. For instance, the high-end 13.3-inch MacBook Pro sports the same pixel format as the low-end version at 1280×800; there are no other options for the display. The corresponding pixel density, or resolution, is 113.49 PPI. (I used a nifty PPI calculator online.) Lenovo’s X300, a direct competitor to the high-end 13.3-inch and the MacBook Air has a 1440×900 pixel format with a 127.68 PPI. Here’s another example: the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro has a 1440×900 pixel format and a resolution of 110.27 PPI. Compare this to Dell’s Studio XPS 16 that has a 1920×1080 option on a 15.6-inch display resulting in a resolution of 141.21 PPI. These are big differences in resolution. But do note that Apple has been keen to keep the resolution at around 110 PPI for many of its displays. For instance, the new 27-inch iMac sports a 108.79 PPI resolution. Apple has done that to provide a consistent viewing experience across its displays. Two notable exception are the 17-inch MacBook Pro with 133.19 PPI and the 164.83-PPI iPhone/iPod touch, which brings us to the topic at hand.

iPhone HD: If in fact the next-generation iPhone sports the HD suffix that would retroactively mean that current iPhones (first gen, 3G, 3GS) do not muster enough resolution (PPI) and therefore is not HD class. So what is HD class? I do not know if there is a set definition anywhere, so let’s look at other smartphone manufacturers and find out. Although there is no HD tags associated with Motorola’s Droid, I think it might be considered the smartphone with the best HD-class display: a 3.7-inch TFT LCD with a 854×480 pixel format and a 264.77 PPI resolution. That is an incredibly high resolution! The display on HTC’s HD/HD2 smartphone is also highly regarded with a 4.3-inch LCD, a 800×480 pixel format and a 216.97 PPI resolution. These are just two examples but are examples of two of the best in terms of displays. Although the pixel format is of interest pay more attention to the PPI: they are well above 200 PPI. So it seems if Apple wants to play in the HD space it will need to equip the iPhone HD with at least a 200-PPI display.

600×400: Most likely Apple will keep the overal dimensions of the next iPhone intact. The display size will probably be unchanged at 3.5-inch. Keeping the same aspect ratio of the current iPhone at 3:2, a 3.5-inch display with a 200-PPI resolution translates to a pixel format of at least 600×400. A pixel format of 600×400 feels quite anti-climactic. I want it to be more. The company is aware of the competition and it cannot lag too far behind but Apple is concerned more about the entire system, the entire user experience. The 600×400 pixel format is simply a guess as it relates to the 200 PPI minimum requirement that seems to be at play in the HD smartphone game. Of this I am certain: the viewing experience on the iPhone HD will be thoroughly HD.

iPad Guided Tours

iPad will soon be upon us. The excitement is hard to exaggerate. I did not pre-order but I do plan to visit the local Apple Store to try it out myself. I think I will be thoroughly convinced that I need an iPad but I also need to convince my wife, a task that won’t be easy. But Apple has unveiled its iPad guided tours, a compilation of 11 videos showing how things get done on the game-changing multitouch slab. Maybe these will help.

3D Standards Required for Success at Home

Carolyn Glardina for The Hollywood Reporter in How ‘Avatar’ changed the rules of deliverables:

… since the industry began its shift into the digital and stereoscopic 3D realm, a theatrical release now amounts to a large number of film prints as well as multiple versions of digital media with various technical specifications.

100 versions of Avatar were created for the December 18 release in 102 countries. There were even three aspect ratios: 2:39:1 (Scope), 1.85:1 (flat) and 1.43:1 (IMAX). If participants in the 3D industry do not come together and forge a single standard for the home I expect success the likes of Avatar in the theater to be elusive, for quite some time.

Chimei “LED Monitors” Over 30% 2010 Revenues

On March 25, Chimei introduced its 23LH, a 23-inch LED-backlit LCD monitor. The company expects to launch more “LED monitors” in the second half of 2010. A 21.5-inch version of its high-end L series will be launched as well as three models (20, 21.5, 23.6) for its entry-level V series. More than 30% of the company’s total revenues for 2010 are expected to come from LED backlit LCD monitors.

The 23LH sports a pixel format of 1920×1080, a 5ms response time, has two HDMI ports and will go for NT$8,990 (about US$282).

According to DisplaySearch, LED backlit LCD monitors will capture 5% of the worldwide LCD monitor market in 2010 and double to 10% in 2011. I personally think the numbers will be higher. Price premiums will still be there but will be small enough for consumers to weigh in energy savings in addition to the slimmer profiles of LED backlit LCD monitors. Currently there is a shortage of LED chips but it is certain that LED chip manufacturers will increase capacity to meet demand, especially for the second half of 2010. Source: DIGITIMES

pCubee by Human Communication Technologies Lab

The Human Communication Technologies Lab at the University of British Columbia has designed pCubee, a five-LCD cube that displays 3D content you can play with. Most 3D displays are based on stereoscopy where alternating frames trick the brain into perceiving depth and most solutions require a geeky pair of 3D glasses. pCubee uses motion parallax instead. Motion parallax is “the apparent change in position of an object, depending on the distance from which you view it.” According to Sidney Fells, who leads the Lab

Our brains are wired to perceive motion parallax and interpret it as 3D. It’s one of the reasons why even if you have just one eye, you can do reasonably well with depth in the real world.

Fells and his team plan to commercialize pCubee to be used as a gaming platform, a CAD/CAM platform or be used in museums. Fells:

We imagine this as something that would be on everybody’s coffee table.

Check out the video. Source: Human Communications Laboratory via Wired

Epistar Blue LED in Shortage

According to Biing-jye Lee, chairman of Epistar, the company’s blue LED manufacturing is currently at full capacity trying to fulfill orders that are 30-40% larger. Epistar supplies to Samsung but there are rumors claiming that Samsung is lowering its LED-backlit LCD TV shipment goal for the second quarter due to a slowdown in sales in China. Samsung is without doubt a large customer but even with a reduction in orders Epistar is expected to continue manufacturing blue LEDs at maximum capacity.

Epistar’s AlGaInP LED production is only at 70% utilization but is slated to increase in the second quarter. Most of the customers for AlGaInP LEDs are Japanese. Lee stated demand from the LED lighting market will offset slowing growth in the LED-backlit LCD TV market in 2012. Source: DIGITIMES

T-Mobile HTC HD2 $99.99

HTC’s HD2 can be had for just $99.99 with a 2-year contract with T-Mobile. You don’t like to be locked in? The unlocked version can be yours for $698.99. Both at Amazon.

Note that the HD2 runs Windows Mobile 6.5. With Windows Phone 7 Series hardware coming out soon you might want to wait. I’m also holding my breath for an updated iPhone to be announced.

Second Quarter Notebook PC Shipments Flat

Notebook PC manufacturers are expecting the second quarter to be sequentially flat despite a seasonally weak quarter. One reason maybe the recent introduction of new models by brands such as Acer and Lenovo with HP expected to announce new models soon. These new models should offset some concerns regarding the build-up of notebook PC panel inventories.

Acer recently launched its TimelineX line of ultrathin notebook PCs and Lenovo its Thinkpad Edge. The TimelineX and the ThinkPad Edge lines are positioned to be bestsellers in the second quarter, the same time HP is slated to introduce new Pavilion notebook PCs. HP’s enterprise models will start shipping in late March with volume shipments to begin in the second quarter.

Acer’s TimelineX 1830T sports a 11.6-inch LCD with a 1366×768 pixel format and is the company’s first Calpella-based ultraportable notebook PCs. The Core i5-520UM runs at 1.06GHz and can be increased to 1.86GHz with Turbo Boost. Other specs include: Intel HM55 graphics, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi BGN, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (optional), 3G (optional), multi-format card reader, USB (3), and eight-hour 6-cell battery. (Photo source: Akihabara News)

Lenovo’s ThinkPad Edge line of notebooks include three sizes: 13.3-inch, 14.0-inch and 15.6-inch, all using LED backlights. Other specs include: dual-core CPUs from Intel and AMD, multitouch trackpad, spill-resistant keyboard, built-in DVD (14.0-inch, 15.6-inch), integrated or discrete graphics, EPEAT Gold rating. The 13-inch Edge with an AMD CPU starts at US$579 ($799 for Intel). Both the 14.0-inch and 15.6-inch models sport only Intel CPUs and both start at $649. (Source: Lenovo)

Quanta Computer, a major notebook PC integrator, expects a 20% sequential growth in the second quarter. The company points to the strengths of 15.6-inch and larger HP notebook PCs and 14-inch to 15-inch ultrathin notebook PCs from Acer. Wistron, another notebook PC integrator, expects to benefit from Acer and Lenovo and post a 5-10% sequential growth in unit volume. Inventec also sees 10% sequential growth thanks to HP’s enterprise notebooks. Shipments by Compal are expected to be flat or post a 5% increase. Source: DIGITIMES

iPhone: 4G Now

Sprint has just revealed an ace up its sleeve: the Overdrive, a 4G mobile hotspot. Sprint is the first in the US to offer 4G internet connectivity that is rated at 6Mbps for downloads. By combining the speedy cellular connectivity with a mobile hotspot that generates WiFi signals Sprint has up-ended the market. You can use your iPhone or any WiFi-capable smartphone or mobile device to connect anywhere at 4G speeds. Apple’s iPhone 4G better have much more than just faster speeds when it launches. And there does not seem to be any reason why you should spend more money on a 3G iPad. Of course, there is a caveat: only 25 markets are served 4G. Find out whether you’re in one of those markets or not and watch the quaint ad on YouTube.

Lenovo L2461x Wide: 23.6-inch Multitouch Monitor

Lenovo’s L2461x Wide is a 23.6-inch capacitive multitouch LCD monitor. Specs include: 300 cd/m2 brightness, 120Hz MEMC (Motion Estimation Motion Compensation) technology, four USB ports, 2.0MP webcam, built-in speakers and a mic. Pricing is around US$550.

Windows 7. Multitouch. LCD monitor. I don’t think for one second that combining these three components will yield anything more than frustration resulting from using fingers to navigate dialog boxes, menus, icons that are build for a fine point of a mouse cursor. A complete revamped GUI focused on finger-based navigation working on top of Windows 7 would be necessary to prevent a call to Lenovo for a full refund. Source: ThinkPads via TSoNeV