7.85-inch iPad

via John Gruber. A.T. Faust III:

Apple will release a 7.85-inch tablet later this year. And yes, it’s going to be called the iPad mini. It may or may not have the “skinny” bezel everyone’s been talking about, but two things are crystal clear: It’ll sport a 163 PPI 1024 x 768 display, and lots of folks are going to buy it.

The 163 ppi is an interesting coincidence. But isn’t Apple moving toward Retina displays? The iPhone made the move, then the iPod touch, and now the iPad. I am unsure Apple would bring forth a new iPad with a lower resolution than all the other iOS devices. (And by resolution I am referring to its actual meaning: pixel density.)

Here’s The Macalope on the subject of a bigger iPhone, but I think the principle applies to the subject of a smaller iPad as well:

This screen size argument is just another instance of feature chasing. Saying “Other phones have it so Apple must ship one, too!” is just admitting “I have no idea how Apple designs products.”

Update 2012.04.16: Seth Weintraub, 9to5Mac:

The consensus is that Apple will use these to counter the mid-range tablet market that Amazon and others are now having some success in. The screen at 7.85 inches could hold the original iPad pixel dimensions and allow Apple to cut costs considerably.

Consensus? Consensus about a rumor? That’s funny. So with a 7.85-inch “iPad mini” Apple goes into defensive mode to counter Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Are the Kindle Touch and the Nook Tablet threats to the iPad? Possibly, but at this point sales numbers for the two ‘successful’ iPad alternatives seem toothless. If that’s the case, and I think that is the case, why would Apple add complexity to its product lineup, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, etc. for something Steve Jobs declared DOA?

Besides a 7.85-inch 4:3 1024×768 LCD would sport a 163-ppi resolution. Assuming you’d hold this “iPad mini” at a distance somewhere in between the iPhone and the iPad, at around 14 inches, the resolution falls dramatically short of Retina class. This to me doesn’t sound right.

The new “iPad mini” will have a lower resolution than the older iPad (3). I don’t think Apple does things this way. A new product will always be better than an older product. But in this case the iPad mini isn’t merely slightly worse; it does not qualify as Retina and that’s terribly worse. This would run counter to my belief that Apple is speeding toward a future where all of its displays are Retina classified.

There could be a 7.85-inch product, a product that’s something else entirely. Something that’s not an iPhone or an iPad; something that’s translucent, flexible, something completely different. But regarding a 7.85-inch iPad mini? I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Was Steve Jobs a Perfectionist?

Doug Menuez:

Terrifying, but you signed up for that… they knew if they worked with Steve it was going to be the most difficult time, and the most difficult challenge… part of his genius was getting people to work above their talents… it could be abusive sometimes… it was about trust, he had a really hard time trusting…

The biggest obstacle to attaining perfection is the friction within ourselves. Physical friction is one. We as biological creatures get tired. Mental friction is another and is intimately connected to physical friction. When these frictions generate significant amounts of stress most of us begin to question whether or not attaining perfection is worth all the trouble. Most decide it is not worth the pain. And Steve Jobs did not trust most to keep chugging along until perfection, at least in his eyes, was achieved.

LG 55-inch OLED TV in May 2012

Seung-hwan Jeong and Ha’eun Bang, Maeil Business Newspaper:

South Korea’s tech major LG Electronics is set to launch the world’s first 55-inch OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs in May this year. Prices of the OLED TVs will be set at approximately nine million won ($7,928.91), and the OLED TV will be unveiled in Cannes, France where a movie premier will be held. LG aims to take the lead in the OLED TV market by launching OLED TVs ahead of its rivals.

Rivals? As in plural? Probably not. The only rival at the moment is Samsung. The two are using vastly different OLED implementations with Samsung using a typical RGB OLED structure and LG using WOLED. US$8000 is a lot of money for a 55-inch OLED TV, but I thought it would have been more expensive.

Sharp Display Products (SDP), Foxconn, and Apple?

Sharp:

On July 1, 2009, Sharp transferred its LCD panel plant in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, to SDP. On December 29, 2009, Sony invested 10 billion yen into SDP in exchange for new shares issued by SDP to Sony (representing 7.04% of the issued shares in SDP) and, as a result, SDP became a joint venture company of Sharp and Sony.

Foxconn has invested about ¥67 billion in Sharp giving the Taiwan-based company 10% equity share. Sam Byford, The Verge:

Foxconn will also take over up to 50 percent of the LCD production at Sharp’s plant in Sakai, Osaka, potentially filling the gap left by the recent halving of output. The Sakai plant will now be owned 46.5 percent by Sharp, the same amount by Foxconn, and 7 percent by Sony.

My guess is Sharp will acquire all of Sony’s shares in SDP very soon. I initially wondered how all of this fits with Apple’s supposed investment in Sharp’s IGZO-based 9.7-inch Retina display production output for the iPad, but it is rumored those LCD panels will be manufactured in Sharp’s Kameyama-based Gen 6 fabs, which are not a part of SDP. Then I thought: With Foxconn the integrator of choice for Apple, and the Sakai plant being the largest fab in the world designed to manufacture really large LCD TVs, could there be an iTV connection here?

Flat-Panel TV Sales Flatten in U.S.

John Paczkowski, AllThingsD:

Market research firm IHS iSuppli said Tuesday that U.S.-bound shipments of flat-panel TVs will drop 5 percent in 2012, slipping to 37.1 million units from 39.1 million units in 2011. And that decline will likely continue for the next few years. By 2013, IHS figures shipments will drop to just below 35 million; by 2015, they’ll be hovering around 34.2 million.

We all agree that no one knows one whit about what’s going to happen this year, next year, or three years from now. Right? OK. Second, iSuppli isn’t known to be accurate, at all. And Paczkowski titles the post as TV sales while iSuppli is guessing TV shipments. I would think by now everyone in the universe knew the difference between sales and shipments; I guess I was wrong. And finally, a TV is not a TV is not a TV. IHS iSuppli seems to think one shipment of a 55-inch TV is the same thing as a 32-inch TV. You and I well know it’s not. So what does it really mean when IHS iSuppli says on a Tuesday that U.S. TV shipments will drop 5% in 2012 to 37.1 million units? Not a damn thing.

Samsung Ships Five Million Galaxy Notes in Just Five Months

Richard Lawler, Engadget:

So, are you convinced yet that there’s a place in the world for a device like this, or five million phablets later are you still thinking this is just a fad?

Let’s get one thing straight. Just because Samsung shipped five million Galaxy Notes does not mean five million Galaxy Notes are in the hands of users. For all I know millions could be in inventory: stuck in a box, in a warehouse, or on a container ship.

Phony LCD TV Refresh Rates

Gary Merson:

If you see the words or initials SPS, Scenes Per Second, AquoMotion, Motionflow XR, Clear Motion Rate, or CMR you now know these numbers do not reflect the actual refresh rate of an HDTV. At best, they are at least double the true number. The spec should read X Hz refresh rate.  Check and verify this important specification before purchasing your next TV.

Useless marketing terms pretending to mean something when all they do is trick potential LCD TV buyers. Sony uses Motionflow XR, Vizio uses SPS, Samsung uses CMR, Sharp uses AquoMotion, and LG uses TruMotion.

Higher refresh rates mean less motion blur, which simply means a blurring of motion on LCD TVs. And yes, “LED TVs” too since LED TV is just a LCD TV with a LED backlight. You can thank Samsung for that bit of confusion. LCD TV comes with refresh rates of 60Hz, 120Hz, and 240Hz. Anything higher than that is marketing bologna.

All the brands mentioned above want a bigger number than 240Hz on their LCD TV specifications; bigger numbers sell, unfortunate but true. But don’t you get hoodwinked. Make sure to find the real refresh rate in the specifications: 60Hz, 120Hz, or 240Hz. If you’re a sports nut and detest motion blur you might be better off buying a plasma instead. Or if you’re like me who want the very best for the very least and don’t mind thick and heavy TVs, go for an old but oh-so-dang-good 34-inch or 36-inch wide Sony XBR CRT TVs, if you can find them.

Bigger iPhone

Maeil Kyungjae → Reuters → Christina Bonnington, Wired:

On Thursday morning, Reuters reported that Apple’s next phone would come with a 4.6-inch display, significantly larger than the 3.5-inch display the phone currently sports.

Miyoung Kim, Reuters:

Apple has decided on the bigger 4.6-inch display for its next iPhone and started placing orders to its suppliers, the Maeil Business Newspaper said, quoting an unnamed industry source.

According to Dong-In Lee, Maeil Kyungjae (Daily Business) new management at Apple is following Samsung and making the display bigger on the next iPhone.

Back to Wired:

[Canalys principal analyst Pete] Cunningham said this was a “noticeable weakness” of the device. He expects the next iPhone will have a 4-inch or 4.3-inch display, rather than the 4.6-inch behemoth reported by Reuters.

And then:

At the least, says IHS iSuppli analyst Francis Sideco, Apple could maintain the current phone’s physical form factor, but push the edges of the viewable display to the limits of the phone’s chassis. “Other competitive smartphones, especially in this tier of smartphone, are definitely trending to 4 inches and above, so the current version of the iPhone is definitely smaller than that,” Sideco said.

I think a larger display that pushes right up against the edges will be a terrible iPhone experience.

Most importantly, The Macalope:

This screen size argument is just another instance of feature chasing. Saying “Other phones have it so Apple must ship one, too!” is just admitting “I have no idea how Apple designs products.”

Well said.