ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime: The Best tablet display?

Anand Lai Shimpi, AnandTech:

The resolution is a Honeycomb-standard 1280 x 752. The 16:9 panel measures 10.1-inches diagonally, giving it a larger surface area than the iPad 2’s 9.7-inch 4:3 display. The increase in resolution more than makes up for the larger screen however, ASUS delivers 145 pixels per inch compared to the iPad 2’s now quite-dated ~132 PPI.

I wasn’t aware that 1280×752 was standard for anything. And to get an aspect ratio of 16:9 with RGB square pixels you’re looking at a pixel format of 1280×720, not 1280×752. I think Shimpi might have been too eager to exaggerate a minute difference: The 13 ppi advantage in resolution will likely be felt by a very few.

It’s not all about pixel density here, the Transformer Prime has better white and black levels than anything else in its class. It also sets the new benchmark for contrast ratio at nearly 1200:1. The huge gap between the outermost glass and the IPS LCD panel has been reduced significantly, in turn reducing glare.

Not quite true. ASUS has an interesting mode called Super IPS+. In SIPS+ mode the Eee Pad Transformer Prime boasts the highest brightness (white) of 683 nits from the stock 436, but also has the disadvantage of boosting black levels from a class-leading 0.37 nits to a 0.59-nit laggard, behind every other tablet except for the BlackBerry PlayBook. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is brightest in SIPS+ mode and has the deepest blacks in regular mode.

The air gap between the LCD and the cover glass lends to trapped dust and light refraction. Both can be completely eliminated by optically laminating the two. Glare is a different issue and can only be fixed when cover glass manufacturers like Corning, Asahi, Schott, etc. develop matte versions.

Update: Engadget:

The luminosity is quite noticeable, and the contrast too, with deep darks and vibrant brights. However, color reproduction seemed a bit flat, with whites tending toward yellow and brighter hues coming up short.

Update 2: Anand Lai Shimpi:

Glare is still a big issue if you’re in a sunny environment; however, I was surprised to see that even without engaging the Prime’s Super IPS+ mode that the display was usable in many cases outdoors. I definitely preferred the experience with Super IPS+ mode enabled though. While the glossy screen picks up fingerprints and is extremely reflective, the 600+ nits the panel is able to put out in its brightest mode definitely overcome both of these concerns.

Why must we deal with glare.

Oh yes they do.

Carrier IQ (CIQ) sells persistently privileged smartphone software that cannot be uninstalled, captures everything you do, to carriers such as Sprint and Verizon. Verizon, for example, uses the following information captured by CIQ: visited website addresses, device location, usage of apps and device features. In light of CIQ, I think this email exchange between a MacRumors reader and Steve Jobs is apt:

Q: Steve,

Could you please explain the necessity of the passive location-tracking tool embedded in my iPhone? It’s kind of unnerving knowing that my exact location is being recorded at all times. Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don’t track me.

A: Oh yes they do. We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false.

Sent from my iPhone

Update: Nilay Patel, The Verge:

The Carrier IQ smartphone tracking scandal continues to grow, but we’ve just learned some interesting news from an extremely reliable source: the Google Nexus One, Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and the original Xoom tablet do not contain Carrier IQ software. Each of those devices was launched in direct partnership with Google as the flagship for a new version of Android, so it seems that the addition of Carrier IQ comes from OEMs and carriers after Google open-sources Android’s code.

With more information about Carrier IQ the closer we get to finding out the truth. And so far the privacy violators seem to be not Google, not brands like HTC or Samsung, but the carriers. Should have seen that coming with a name like Carrier IQ.

Update 2: Verizon’s Jeffrey Nelson (@VZWjeffrey) tweets:

@joshuatopolsky To be 100% clear: Carrier IQ is *not* on #Verizon Wireless #VZW phones.

Update 3: Nilay Patel, The Verge:

Carrier IQ provides information that allows Sprint, and other carriers that use it, to analyze our network performance and identify where we should be improving service. We also use the data to understand device performance so we can figure out when issues are occurring. We collect enough information to understand the customer experience with devices on our network and how to address any connection problems, but we do not and cannot look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc., using this tool. The information collected is not sold and we don’t provide a direct feed of this data to anyone outside of Sprint.

CIQ can and does capture content, every single keystroke in fact. Maybe Sprint is using a different version of CIQ.

Update 4: Fuzzy statement from RIM. RIM doesn’t itself install CIQ and doesn’t authorize carriers to install CIQ. Do carriers need authorization from brands? Not really, so what I’m thinking is there are currently BlackBerry smartphones out there with CIQ installed and running.

Nokia made a strong and clear statement unequivocally denying the use of CIQ:

CarrierIQ does not ship products for any Nokia devices.

If CIQ can’t be installed on Nokia devices, there’s probably zero chance that Nokia is using CIQ. But Apple isn’t quite dirt-free:

We stopped supporting CarrierIQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so.

That means iPhones and iPads (iPods?) running previous versions of iOS as well as some running iOS 5 are infested with CarrierIQ. Apple better get going with that future software update. I have not once agreed to ‘help’ companies by sending my usage information. I’m glad I haven’t.

Update 5: AT&T has admitted it uses CIQ. HTC points the finger squarely at U.S. carriers:

Carrier IQ is required on devices by a number of U.S carriers so if consumers or media have any questions about the practices relating to, or data collected by, Carrier IQ we’d advise them to contact their carrier.

Update 6: Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica:

But we were a bit curious about what “most of our products” means in that context. In response to our question, Apple tells us there is only one device running iOS 5 that still runs Carrier IQ, and it’s the iPhone 4.

If you own the iPhone 4, like I do, make sure to turn Settings → Location Services → System Services → Diagnostics & Usage off. I went ahead and turned off Location-Based iAds too. Let’s hope Apple issues a quick iOS 5 software update for the iPhone 4 that completely eliminates CIQ.

Update 7: CIQ speaks via John Paczkowski:

Carrier IQ acts as an agent for the Operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers — the mobile Operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices.

Two things. One, CIQ is attempting to clear its name by stating that it does only what it is told by the carriers to do. Two, the carrier tied to Trevor Eckhart’s HTC must have asked CIQ to gather everything.

Update 8: Terrence O’Brien, Engadget:

Well, Massachusetts congressman Edward Markey has even less patience than his esteemed colleague and has already asked the FTC to open an investigation into Carrier IQ. Markey wants the Federal Trade Commission to look into whether or not the rootkit and its creators have violated the privacy of millions of cellphone users and federal wiretap laws — an accusation the company vehemently denies.

Update 9: Andrew Coward, VP of Marketing at Carrier IQ, in an interview with Dan Goodin, The Register:

The other thing to think about is that while you potentially jump through all these hoops, the operators themselves are going to have all this information one way or another. The operators themselves will comply with law enforcement. They will have a huge amount of information even without our technology.

The carriers themselves have CIQ-like capability built into the phones?

Update 10: Sean Hollister, The Verge:

It might also surprise you to know that Carrier IQ may be installed on more devices than have already been uncovered. The company actually has two different models for collecting data: the first is built directly into the operating system, while the second is more of an aftermarket solution that can be installed by the OEM or carrier. It’s only the latter that has seen widespread investigation, but Carrier IQ has been around for six years and has been installed on over 141 million devices in that time.

If CIQ is part of the OS then it’s not surprising that it will be nearly impossible to kill the process. So it must be that carriers have their own CIQ-injected versions of Android, which is installed on smartphones manufactured by the likes of HTC.

TmoNews: T-Mobile uses CIQ and here are the infected smartphones:

  • HTC Amaze 4G
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Exhibit II 4G
  • T-Mobile myTouch by LG
  • T-Mobile myTouch Q by LG
  • LG DoublePlay
  • Blackberry 9900
  • Blackberry 9360
  • Blackberry 9810

Mikael Ricknäs, PCWorld:

Organizations and regulators across Europe, including Germany, have started looking into the use of Carrier IQ’s tracking software, to ensure that mobile phone vendors and operators are not violating users’ privacy.

Update 11: via Reuters. Eric Schmidt:

Android is an open platform, so it’s possible for people to build software that’s actually not very good for you, and this appears to be one. It’s a key-logger, and it actually does keep your keystrokes, and we certainly don’t work with them and we certainly don’t support it.

Update 12: FBI states Carrier IQ may be used with law enforcement proceedings. Michael Morisy, Muckrock:

A recent FOIA request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for "manuals, documents or other written guidance used to access or analyze data gathered by programs developed or deployed by Carrier IQ" was met with a telling denial. In it, the FBI stated it did have responsive documents – but they were exempt under a provision that covers materials that, if disclosed, might reasonably interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Hmm. Carrier IQ might be part of something much bigger than just tapping smartphones for carriers.

Update 13: Carrier IQ vice president of marketing Andrew Coward:

As we went and did a deep dive into our technology to prove to consumers that there is nothing untoward in it, we found a bug. We found that if an SMS was sent simultaneously while a user is on the phone, the SMS would be captured by our software. Obviously, this is something that doesn’t happen very often, but we discovered that it could happen, and we caught it. Now, that information was never used. It wasn’t decoded. It sat on a server in encoded format, and no one could really get to it.

Update 14: John Paczkowski:

Responding to a Washington Post report claiming it’s the subject of an official FTC investigation, Carrier IQ said this is not the case. While it is meeting with federal regulators, the company says it is doing so proactively. It wasn’t summoned to Washington as part of a formal inquiry.

HP Needs Two OSes

Matt Burns, TechCrunch:

Interestingly enough, during the same interview, Whitman talked a bit about the future of webOS. She stated that a decision would be made in the next two weeks as there are currently 600 employees in "limbo." The only hint about its future is that Whitman stated that HP needs two OSes (could Android be the other option?).

The Readable Future

Brent Simmons:

Readers are smart, and they love to read, and they’ll go where they can read, and they have more and more options.

Some of those options where they can read: Flipboard, Instapaper, Readability, the Reader button in Safari, RSS readers, etc. These tools and services do one main thing: They strip distractions out so you can focus on reading. The following example of obese pages on TheNextWeb is but one example why readers have been seeking the options aforementioned.

Joshua Cody’s tweet:

Need a warning when @gruber links to @thenextweb – 452 HTTP requests, 3.12MB, 1 minute to load, repeated Badgeville (what?!) errors.

John Gruber responds to Cody’s tweet in the excellently titled "Regarding TheNextWeb’s Shit-Ass Website":

One article at TheNextWeb weighed in at over 6 MB and required 342 HTTP requests. 73 different JavaScript scripts alone. Absurd.

The folks at TNW must have tweaked something because I loaded that "one article" and got 51 requests and 234KB transferred. But it still took 1.7 minutes for that one page to completely load. A random post on Daring Fireball required 14 requests, 12.36KB, and 785ms. That’s more like it. I was of course curious as to how my site performs. Random post: 2 requests, 3.58KB, and 285ms. Not too shabby, but not too surprising since DisplayBlog is the result of a singular focus on eliminating everything unnecessary so readers experience distraction-free reading.

Gruber:

How long it takes to load the page is part of the reading experience. Bandwidth is not free, and not universally fast.

Strip down unnecessary crap and let readers read without distraction. Save readers time by reducing the time to load pages. And save readers money by reducing bandwidth.

Android: #1 Smartphone OS, Apple: #1 Smartphone Brand

Nielsen:

According to Nielsen’s latest data, 44 percent of all U.S. mobile subscribers now have smartphones. Among those who purchased a new mobile phone in the last three months, 56 percent chose smartphones. Android remains the leading smartphone operating system while Apple is the leading smartphone manufacturer.

In terms of U.S. mobile subscribers in Q3’11:

  1. Android (42.7%)
  2. Apple (28.3%)
  3. RIM Blackberry (17.8%)

The top three Android smartphone manufacturers are: HTC (15.0%), Samsung (10.1%), and Motorola (10.4%). With the rest making up the difference of 7.2%.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Teardown

iFixit:

Just like the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus features a Contour Display. The curved glass conforms to the side of your face and makes talking on the phone more comfortable.

Only the front cover glass is curved.

The glass is fused to both the display and the display frame. So don’t crack the glass unless you’re good with a heat gun, or you’re fond of replacing the glass, display, and frame together ($$$).

Although fused parts make for difficult and expensive repair the result is tighter integration and in this case better front screen performance. Optically laminating the front cover to the display is important as it eliminates the air gap (where dust can settle), light refraction, and reduces thickness.

LG Nitro HD

AT&T:

Taking advantage of LG’s new proprietary True HD technology, LG Nitro HD’s 4.5-inch AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching) display supports resolutions up to 1280 X 720 pixels and offers unrivaled color accuracy, brightness, battery efficiency and performance. LG Nitro HD’s 500 nit display luminance allows for clear viewing in direct sunlight and RGB stripe pixels deliver incredibly accurate true-to-life color rendering.

The pixel format on the LG Nitro HD is not “up to” but set at 1280×720. A 4.5-inch IPS with RGB stripe 1280×720. Should look absolutely stunning. Available December 4 for US$249.99 with a two-year agreement.

Update: Joseph Volpe, Engadget (hands-on):

Of course, the real standout here is the 4.5-inch screen, boasting a resolution of 1280 x 720 and a Retina display-like 329ppi. Colors on the IPS panel pop and images, fonts and icons appears crisp. Viewing angles were similarly excellent, giving way to no instances of wash out.

Update 2: Engadget’s Joseph Volpe in his full-blown review:

LG’s chosen to outfit the Nitro HD with a 1280 x 720 AH-IPS panel boasting 329ppi that bests Apple’s Retina display… and it shows. The screen is simply gorgeous, rendering fonts and icons with a smooth distinction you’ll likely take for granted. Colors are vibrant and accurate, sidestepping the over-saturated pizazz typical of rival Super AMOLED tech for a more restrained performance. True, the blacks aren’t as deep as what you’d find on a Galaxy S device and you will have to pump up the brightness considerably for readability out in bright sunlight, but make no mistake, this is a top-notch screen with excellent viewing angles. The only glaring flaw is the hit or miss touch sensitivity. In certain instances, it took us more than a few hard taps to jolt the screen into responsiveness.

326 v. 329. In a heated battle for #1 the minuscule 3 ppi makes the difference between the winner and the loser, but in the grand scheme of things both the LG Nitro HD and the iPhone 4/4S are winners when it comes to incredible smartphone resolution. The hit or miss touch sensitivity sounds more like an Android problem than anything.

Update 3: David Pierce, The Verge:

The Nitro has a 4.5-inch, 1280 x 720 IPS display, and it’s certainly something to brag about: it’s beautiful, crystal clear, and has super-accurate colors. The Galaxy S II’s Super AMOLED display has a tendency to oversaturate colors, giving them a too-warm temperature, but the Nitro never does that — what you see is really what you get. The glass is also slightly curved, so it moves cleanly and nicely into the bezel without any sharp edges or obvious seams; it also makes it friendlier to sideways swipes. Its viewing angles are excellent, with very little discoloration as you get off-center (Samsung’s AMOLED displays start to glow blue as soon as you move to the side).

Corning: Fourth Quarter Forecast

Corning Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller Tony Tipeny:

We disclosed in our third-quarter earnings call that we expected to regain lost market share in Korea in the fourth quarter. We significantly reduced LCD glass pricing during the quarter to compress our pricing premium, in light of the current state of glass over-supply in the industry. We believed these actions would result in the return of share at a major customer in Korea, in line with the terms stated in our long-term supply contract with them. However, following initial positive reactions, including higher shipments in October and early November, this customer recently informed us that they do not expect to honor the contract for the remainder of the quarter. As a result, Samsung Corning Precision Materials Co., Ltd. is not expected to reach its volume targets in Korea.

This “major customer in Korea” is likely to be LG Display. Tipeny expects more significant price declines in the fourth quarter.

While we expect worldwide glass demand to increase sequentially this quarter, we still believe there will be excess glass capacity. As a result, it is prudent for us to reduce capacity at both our wholly owned business and SCP. At our wholly owned business these actions will include delaying the start up of new glass melting tanks, as well as postponing the relighting of tanks that are down for repair. There will be no special charges in the fourth quarter as a result of these actions.

SCP will undergo similar capacity reductions in addition to shutting down several glass melting tanks. Corning’s worldwide LCD glass substrate production capacity will be reduced by approximately 25% by the end of the fourth quarter.

LCD TV: Low Cost Direct Type LED Backlights

NPD DisplaySearch:

LED backlight penetration in LCD TV panel shipments reached 39% in Q3’11. Penetration is forecast to surpass 50% in Q2’12 and reach 53% in Q3’12. The main drivers for LED backlight penetration include lower power consumption, slimmer form factors, and environmental friendliness (no mercury). Many panel makers are developing low-cost direct type LED backlights, trading off panel thickness for cost, but still gaining the advantages of LEDs. Some panel makers are using direct type LED backlights in new sizes such as 39” and 50” in order to provide value models in developing markets.

Direct type LED backlights are currently associated with higher performance. With hundreds and sometimes thousands of LEDs in direct type LED backlights black levels were deepened and contrast ratio was enhanced through various local dimming technologies.

Update: DIGITIMES:

However, the employment of direct-type LED-backlit technology has brought down LED TV prices, said the sources, adding that the price differences between the mainstream 32-, 40- and 42-inch CCFL and direct-type LED TVs have narrowed to 5%-7% recently. Besides, the CCFL and direct-type LED TVs are now comparable in thickness.

I think TV marketers will emphasize that these LED-backlit LCD TVs are direct type and try to hoodwink potential customers into thinking that they are better than edge type when they are not. The only type of LED-backlit LCD TV worth purchasing is one that has hundreds or thousands of LEDs with local dimming capability that significantly improves contrast.