Nokia N9 Runs MeeGo

It looks like MeeGo and powering Nokia’s N9 QWERTY slider smartphone. This according to Engadget sourcing China. The N9 is expected to be released in December. Looks pretty good.

iPhone 4 Pre-Orders In South Korea Tops 10,000 Per Hour

Korea Herald: 130,000 is the number of iPhone 4 pre-orders in South Korea, according to KT the exclusive provider of the iPhone, in the first 13 hours of registration. That makes the per hour pre-order rate of 10,000. The iPhone 4 is expected to launch some time in September; the exact date has not been announced. This is huge: only 65,000 pre-ordered the iPhone 3GS in the first five days in 2009. SK Telecom, the largest mobile carrier in Korea, has been leading the smartphone market with Samsung’s Galaxy S, which has been in shortage in Korea for quite some time.

Canon S95: S90 With 720p Video

I loved my Canon S90 while I had it. The fast f2.0 lens combined with a 10MP high-sensitivity image sensor took great pictures during the day and night without having to use the flash. And now Canon has improved the compact low-light shooter with 720p video capabilities recording at 24fps in H.264 MOV format. Other improvements include: Hybrid IS, support for SDXC, High Dynamic Range (HDR) scene mode and a few stylistic tweaks.

HDR scene mode, a first in-camera for Canon:

With the use of a tripod, one push of the shutter button yields three sequential images with various exposures, and then combines them into a single optimized image within the camera.

Is a tripod absolutely necessary? Next up, Hybrid IS:

For macro-photography enthusiasts, Canon has built its Hybrid IS technology into the PowerShot S95 camera to compensate for angular and shift camera shake, making it the first PowerShot model to feature Hybrid IS technology.

I would think Hybrid IS would allow hand-held HDR photography. Available in late August for US$399.99. I’ll be getting one. Source: Canon

Samsung PN58-C680: 58-inch 1080p 3D Plasma

According to 3D-Display-info.com Samsung’s PN58-C680 is now available at Amazon for US$2069. The 58-inch plasma TV sports a pixel format of 1920×1080 and offers active shutter 3D. Other features include: 600Hz Subfield Motion Technology, ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners, Anynet+, USB, DLNA AllShare, three HDMI 1.4 ports, two component, VGA and a 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. That last spec might include a bit of marketing fluff and the active-shutter 3D glasses you’d need to watch 3D are sold separately.

I’m not completely sold on 3D at home but I like almost everyone else I was blasted away watching Avatar in 3D, which by the way is coming in Blu-ray. Sign up on Amazon to be notified when Avatar 3D Blu-ray becomes available.

Really Wide: Optrex T-55604D192J-LW-A-AAN

The model name is incredibly long but what interests me is the 16:3 aspect ratio. The T-55604D192J-LW-A-AAN by Optrex is a 19.2-inch (48.8-cm) digital signage LCD with a pixel format of 1920×360. Other specs: -30° up to +80° temperature range, 60K-hour LED backlight, 500 cd/m2 brightness, 700:1 contrast ratio and viewing angles of 160/140 degrees. Connectivity options are: Gigabit Ethernet, USB, VGA, DVI, DisplayLink. via DisplaySolution

RIP SED, Officially

Insight Media’s Ken Werner:

Yesterday, Canon’s board of directors passed a resolution to dissolve and liquidate SED Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary established to develop and commercialize flat-panel displays based on surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) display technology. According to the tentative dissolution schedule announce by the BoD, the company will be dissolved on September 30th of this year, and liquidation will be completed by late December.

Profitability, or the lack of, killed SED. Interesting tidbits: SED was Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai’s pet project; he wanted a TV with a Canon logo. And SED panel-related R&D will continue.

E Ink Samples Color & Capacitive Touch Displays

Could we see a Kindle sporting a color E Ink display with capacitive touch in the near future? Probably. E Ink Holdings has begun sampling a color version of its displays. China-based Hanvon plans to release ebook readers with color E Ink displays by the end of the year. Two touch versions are being developed: one with capacitive touch and the other requiring a digitizer.

But then again Jeff Bezos, top dog at Amazon, mentioned that color E Ink displays are “not ready for prime-time production” and expected a lot of time to pass before they became ready. According to Bezos the Kindle will be focused on serving the avid readers. He seems to be doing exactly what he’s been saying.

The new Kindle 3 that’s thinner, lighter, longer-lasting, with more storage for a lower price will be available in late August. The WiFi-only version will be $139 and the 3G+WiFi just $189 at Amazon. Down the road I expect even better non-color E Ink displays, more rugged but thinner, lighter and prices going sub-$100. Add to that the huge Amazon ebook store and I think Amazon has the right strategy.

If I were an avid book reader I would be looking at the Kindle as the only option. Like Apple, Amazon has the opportunity to completely own the ebook purchasing and reading experience, but in black and white instead of color. Source: Digitimes, The Huffington Post

Fourth Quarter LCD TV Panel Pricing

Some LCD suppliers expect fourth quarter LCD TV panel pricing to continue falling; others disagree. AU Optronics (AUO), Chimei Innolux (CMI) and LG Display (LGD) will most likely reduce utilization rates by 5-10%. By modulating supply the three LCD manufacturers will attempt to maintain further erosion of LCD panel prices. LCD suppliers expected LCD TV panel prices to rebound in August but instead kept declining. Aggressive negotiations by brands and OEM/ODMs could bring the price of LCD TV panels close to cash cost levels.

AUO and CMI are expected to reduce their utilizations rates to 90% or lower. LGD is expected to bring its utilization rates down to 95% in the third quarter. This is an interesting development as LGD has been unable to completely supply iPad IPS TFT LCD panels. My assumption is that LGD is in the process of loading iPad LCD panels on larger fabs. I also expect a new iPad to be announced next January with an improved LCD with a Retina Display-like resolution of close to 300PPI. If that happens LGD will need to figure out a way to load 9.7-inch LCD panels on larger fabs to improve production and lower manufacturing costs. That could be a perfect opportunity to reduce smaller-sized LCD TV panel manufacturing, lower inventory levels and supply what is more in demand.

Will fourth quarter demand for LCD TVs materialize? That’s anyone’s guess, but I doubt it. The next big push by TV brands has been 3D. I’m bearish on 3D since there is no industry standard. Personally, I don’t think I can get used to wearing another set of glasses to watch TV in 3D; I think it’s worth it in the theaters. Edge-lit LED-backlit LCD TVs make the chassis thinner but more expensive without providing better picture quality. Back-lit full LED backlights improve picture quality quite a bit but are quite expensive. Then you have power-sucking plasma TVs that are getting quite cheap, but I think plasma is on its way out despite being the better technology for fast-moving motion pictures. If I were in the market for a TV I’d be thoroughly confused as to what to get. And that might prevent demand for LCD TVs from materializing as well as empty wallets and bank accounts. Source: Digitimes

Barclays Capital Lowers Rating On Nippon Electric Glass (NEG)

Barclays Capital lowered its rating from “overweight” to “equalweight” on Nippon Electric Glass (NEG) due to the overall slowing down of demand in the LCD industry. Eric Lee, analyst at Barclays, wrote in a reported dated August 14th that demand for LCD TVs are moderating. Lee kept the overweight rating for NEG since January 25th and was compelled to lower the company’s rating due to excess LCD TV panel inventories in the second quarter, weak July LCD panel sales and an expected even weaker August.

Corning is the dominant supplier of LCD glass and enjoys roughly 55% market share in terms of area shipped. Corning’s market share includes its joint venture with Samsung called Samsung Corning Precision (SCP). AGC is number two but with significantly less share in the mid-twenties. NEG is number three right behind AGC capturing the rest.

According to DisplaySearch’s Tadashi Uno LCD glass suppliers have minimized investments toward new tanks and instead are focused on increasing capacity of existing tanks. Uno “doesn’t foresee any significant price reductions in the near future” as of May 12th. That was about a quarter ago and the market has changed quite a bit. I expect growing pressure to reduce prices for LCD components including LCD glass as the entire industry moves ahead toward the fourth quarter with caution. Source: Bloomberg, DisplaySearch