Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE: 4.65-inch 1280×720 HD Super AMOLED

Samsung (Korean): The Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE* is the first to sport the company’s HD Super AMOLED technology, which packs 1280×720 pixels into the 4.65-inch display for a resolution of 316 ppi. For comparison the 3.5-inch 960×640 Retina Display on the iPhone 4 has a resolution of 326 ppi. Though the Galaxy S II HD LTE comes up a bit short, both can be classified as displays beyond our retinal capabilities when about twelve inches away.

The big question I have regarding the HD Super AMOLED display is whether it sports the Nouvoyance PenTile Matrix sub-pixel structure or the standard RGB-stripe. I was under the impression it was very difficult if not impossible to cram RGB-stripe 1280×720 pixels into a 4.x-inch display. The state-of-the-art for LCD is the 4.5-inch 1280×720 AH-IPS LCD manufactured by LG Display used in the upcoming LG LU6200 Optimus LTE, which packs a resolution of 329 ppi.

According to Samsung the HD Super AMOLED features a 110% color gamut, 180/180-degree viewing angles, and refers to the Galaxy S II HD LTE as, “an HD theater in your hand”. An itty bitty HD theater, sure. But I am really excited that the display industry is marching ahead toward high pixel count smartphone displays. 1280×720 is perfect for those who are 720p HD video aficionados. A lot of digital cameras capture 720p and the unscaled 1:1 pixel mapped videos will go a long way in providing a superb 720p HD watching experience.

The 110% color gamut means that colors will pop, but without proper color control those poppin’ colors will also be far from accurate. OLED displays have been known to sport wayward colors.

Other specs include: 8 megapixel camera, 1080p HD video playback, TV-out via a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) adapter, NFC, WiFi ABGN, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, 9.5-mm thickness, Adobe Flash support. Adobe Flash. Good luck with that. The Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE will be available on KT, LG U+, and SK Telecom in South Korea.

* That’s four suffixes: this could be a world record for the largest number of suffixes on an electronic device!

HP: Large Affordable Flexible OLED Displays

HP (PDF) via OLED-Info.com:

In summary, a novel method has been demonstrated to fabricate flexible AMOLED displays by integrating a flexible AM backplane with a μOLED based frontplane using an alignment-free direct lamination method. The AM backplane is fabricated using R2R SAIL processing on a flexible polyimide substrate with a thickness of 50 μm. The bonding process has been developed and shows great compatibility with both the frontplane and the backplane. Although our first AMOLED demonstrator built with such a method requires further optimization, the feasibility to fabricate low-cost AMOLED displays in a simple way has been proven.

This process by HP solves the problem of aligning large flexible OLED displays unto large flexible substrates. A μOLED frontplane made of polyethylene erephthalate (PET) is directly laminated unto an active matrix flexible backplane made of polyimide. If this process can be easily and cheaply applied to current mass manufacturing techniques we can look forward to affordable and large flexible OLED displays.

iPhone 4S: Bigger Lens

Jonathan Geller at BGR:

If Apple is introducing a so-called “iPhone 4S” — an iPhone 4 in practically the same case with upgraded internals and a better camera mobile[sic] — then the camera sensor will be larger than the existing one on the current iPhone 4 model.

The lens opening is huge. I’d say at least 4x the size, on the Otterbox Defender and Speck Candy Shell cases designed for the next iPhone. This is exciting.

A bigger lens means more light gets passed through, and that’s a really good thing. I just hope Apple upgraded the size on the supposed 8 MP image sensor.

And then…

After I finished writing this up, I went through the comments. It seems the Speck Candy Shell with the huge lens opening has been at AT&T and Verizon stores for a couple of months already. The small lens opening was interfering with the flash was the reason the case was redesigned with a bigger opening. Shucks.

I shouldn’t be too disappointed though. A big opening like that would have made the iPhone 4S look a bit weird. And I can trust Apple to continue improving the camera without having to make the lens bigger. Case in point is the iPhone 4. As far as I can tell the lens is the same size as the previous iPhones. But the iPhone 4 takes significantly better photos and videos than the 3G/3GS.

Apple increased the number of pixels from three megapixels to five, but what usually happens is more pixels are crammed into the same-sized image sensor. This leads to smaller pixels on the sensor and smaller pixels generally mean less light gathering capability. And that in turn means lower quality photographs and videos. That’s not what happened with the iPhone 4 though.

Apple kept the size of each pixel on the image sensor the same and made the image sensor bigger and employed backside illumination (BSI) technology.

BSI puts the light-blocking transistors on the back to improve light transmission to the sensors. So same lens size, same pixel size, but more pixels that can absorb more light, and much better photos and videos.

Will Apple do something like this with the iPhone 4S as it moves from five megapixels to eight? I’m betting on it.

HP Pre3

Darren Murph at Engadget:

[…] the 3.6-inch WVGA touchpanel is the best display yet on a Pre. Colors pop from edge to edge, viewing angles are on par with any Super AMOLED Plus display we’ve seen and sharpness is superb. Granted, cramming an 800 x 480 pixel matrix onto a display this diminutive amps up the pixel density, but still — there’s no bad-mouthin’ this guy.

I believe the 3.58-inch 8-bit LCD sports IPS technology. The resolution at 260.6 ppi would have been higher than any other smartphone on the market except for the iPhone 4*. Only the rumored LG LU6200 Optimus LTE matches the Retina Display in terms of resolution, but with a larger 4.5-inch AH-IPS LCD and a 1280×720 pixel format.

Update: The HTC Touch Pro with a 2.8-inch display with a pixel format of 640×480 was good for a resolution of 285.7 ppi. Thanks Eric!

* Let me know if you know of any smartphones with a higher resolution.

Carrier-Dominated Industry v. Handset-Dominated Industry

Verizon clearly favors the former. John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

Verizon’s interests are better served in a carrier-dominated industry, rather than a handset-dominated industry, and Apple is heading toward a dominant position.

Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents details implications for Verizon taking sides with Samsung:

This attempt by Verizon to interfere with Apple’s enforcement of intellectual property rights against Android in general and Samsung in particular is a declaration of war that may have far-reaching consequences in the U.S. market.

Verizon filed a request for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in support of Samsung. What is an amicus curiae brief?

An amicus curiae brief is a way for third parties with an interest in the outcome of a lawsuit to present their views to the court. The judge will now have to decide whether Verizon is admitted as an amicus curiae, which literally means “friend of the court”. Verizon has already filed its proposed brief, and most likely the judge won’t deny the carrier’s request to intervene. However, it remains to be seen whether the judge will believe that the market-leading carrier represents the public interest […]

And that’s where Gruber’s insight becomes crucial. Verizon isn’t a neutral third party representing the public’s interest. The largest wireless carrier in the U.S. is without any doubt interested in curtailing Apple’s dominance. In a broader sense Verizon is speaking on behalf of all wireless carriers in their desire to regain their once dominant position. And this goes against the public interest. I don’t want Verizon logos on my phone. I don’t want undeletable Verizon-branded crapware on my phone. I don’t want Verizon in a position to dictate how a phone should look or function. Remember the days when the carriers in effect determined what phones we could get? I don’t want to return to those days. I want a future where more companies like Apple make those decisions.

“Do customers really need a new iPad each year?”

That’s one of ten reasons Don Reisinger at eWeek raised as to why Apple’s iPad 3 might face trouble at launch. The Macalope responds:

Does everyone buy a new Mac every year? No. Do Macs still sell well every year? Yes. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!

That was number four. Reisinger’s number six:

Consumers Are Looking for Bigger Displays

He’s referring to the bigger 10.1-inch displays. What sayeth The Macalope?

The screen on the iPad is 9.7 inches. The Macalope defies Don to find a meaningful collection of consumers who would buy an Android tablet over an iPad because of a 0.4-inch difference in the screen size.

There’s eight more where that came from; be sure to check it out.

“Never let the baby see you sweat.”

Trent Walton:

I noticed something interesting the day I was confined to just 13” of screen space. Even though I couldn’t see everything I needed to operate and reference at once, I became more focused. Only seeing one window at a time enabled me to mentally hunker down on the task at hand. My actions felt purposeful; my decisions, deliberate. Surprisingly, my productivity didn’t suffer. I did slow down, but also experienced a calm efficiency—similar to that which is required when fastening the innumerable rows of snaps on a screaming baby’s pajamas. If you rush, you’re going to mess up; if you miss snaps, it’s going to take longer. And rushing makes you sweat. Never let the baby see you sweat.

Walton usually does his design work on a 27-inch iMac but it broke down for a day. Going from a 27-inch LCD with 2560×1440 pixels down to a 13-inch with much less could be limiting. And that’s exactly what happened: he was forced to limit his focus on the task at hand one task at a time. In his post he shares more secrets to his unitasking success.

Apple iPhone: 89% Retention Rate

Neil Hughes at AppleInsider:

A whopping 89 percent of iPhone owners have indicated they will stick with Apple for their next handset, dwarfing all other hardware makers, according to a new survey.

The survey was conducted by UBS Investment Research. I’m part of that 89%, but with a twist. When I complete my two year sentence with AT&T I will stick with the iPhone but move to a different carrier. Most likely Sprint. Hopefully the unlimited data plan will survive until around this time next year. #2 HTC had a 39% retention rate.

iPad: A Superior And Unified User Experience

Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi:

We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014. This is because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal. Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen. This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options.

Gartner projects iPad shipments to go from 14,685,000 in 2010 to 46,697,000. Android will grow too: 2,512,00 to 11,020,000.

The Problem With Dual Displays

Ben Brooks at The Brooks Review:

The problem with dual displays is that they are pretty lame to use, your options for positioning are either to position them so that when you look straight ahead you see the seam between the two monitors, not ideal.

A seamless experience would be better, of course. But couldn’t we consider the seam as a visual barrier between content and source? For instance, we could keep the list of emails and the email we’re replying to on the left, and have the email we are composing on the right. The seam could act to distinguish consumption from creation.

Since that time I have held the opinion that one, large, monitor is the best action to take in the name of productivity.

Generally speaking a larger monitor means more pixels, but we know there are many exceptions. There are cheap 27-inch monitors with 1920×1080. And then there’s the 13-inch Sony Z with the same pixel format. Productivity will depend on what you’re trying to get done. Sometimes having more than one display can improve your productivity, despite the seam.

So as I stare at this 24″ Apple LED Cinema Display as I am typing this post, I can’t help but wonder: what if I ditched it for just my MacBook Air screen?

It depends on what you’re trying to do. If you’re writing original content without needing references to source materials, then you wouldn’t need a display with 1920×1200 pixels. That would be a waste. A MacBook Air would be more than sufficient. Actually a MacBook Air would be overkill. An old 12-inch PowerBook might be a better fit for many reasons.

I find it more comfortable writing on paper or typing on a display in portrait mode. I guess I’m just more used to it. The old PowerBook is cheap, but good enough. You can probably pick up for $200 on Craigslist. The G4 processor is powerful enough to run TextEdit, TextWrangler, or any number of text editors without a fuss. And the 12-inch LCD sports a 4:3 aspect ratio, like what you see on the iPad. It’s more squarish than the new MacBooks and that makes for better writing in my opinion. The 1024×768 pixels would be more than enough and your productivity wouldn’t suffer one bit.

On the other hand, if you need visual access to source material while typing away those 1920×1200 pixels on the 24-inch would come in real handy. By putting up two 960×1200 windows you can have the source to your left and the article you’re working on on the right. You can switch that around, or course. The extra pixels that allow you to put up two windows will really help you in your productivity. If this is what you needed to do and decided to try it on a MacBook Air I guarantee you’ll lose productivity.

So, I am going to give it a go. For at least the next week my largest computing screen will be thirteen inches. My goal isn’t that I will instantly be more meticulous, my goal is that I will be instantly less distracted.

Dual displays are pretty lame if you don’t need them. They are a waste of precious desktop space, a waste of your money, and a waste of resources (they suck a lot of power). But when you need those extra pixels to put up information you need to get work done, and I don’t mean a FaceBook window or a Twitter window, multiple monitor setups can be a boon to productivity.

The abundance of pixels doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be more distracted. That’s really up to you. You can use those pixels for mindless social networking or for invaluable information you need to get work done.

If you’re a writer who writes original content, then just go for the cheapest Mac you can get your hands on. Heck, I might even suggest you check out some of those adorable Macintosh Classics. You’d have to work really hard to find ways to distract yourself with one of those.