Dolby 3D

David Pierce, The Verge:

Dolby is working with Philips to manufacture the displays, which use a sheet of undulated plastic to deflect pixels in various directions — there are 26 different viewing angles in all. Because the image is being sent in so many directions at once, the display has to be incredibly high-resolution to look good (the prototype was a quad-HD TV), which is why Dolby reps said the same impressive viewing angles are going to be harder to achieve on smaller devices like smartphones. The companies are waiting for the higher-res displays to be more mainstream, and less expensive.

Higher resolution LCD TVs are coming and their prices will fall; it’s a matter of when not if. 3D should move away from having to wear glasses, permanently.

One Sony

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

How do you fix a problem like Sony’s chronically ailing TV business? New company CEO Kaz Hirai reckons the answer lies in streamlining the number of products offered, by a full 40 percent during the fiscal 2012, and focusing on the development and introduction of new high-end displays such as OLED and Crystal LED.

40%. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? It’s not.

Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times:

The company still makes a confusing catalog of gadgets that overlap or even cannibalize one another. It has also continued to let its product lines mushroom: 10 different consumer-level camcorders and almost 30 different TVs, for instance, crowd and confuse consumers.

Sony has 30 TV models. A 40% reduction means the company is still making 18 models. Eighteen. To me that’s 15 more models than necessary. If it was up to me I’d slash everything down to three models: Sony TV – M, Sony TV – L, and Sony TV – XL. M for medium would be 40 inches, L would be 50, and XL 60—give or take a couple of inches.

“Sony makes too many models, and for none of them can they say, ‘This contains our best, most cutting-edge technology,’” Mr. Sakito said. “Apple, on the other hand, makes one amazing phone in just two colors and says, ‘This is the best.’”

Sony would fuse the very best in displays, video processing, materials, etc. into these three models. Millions would be manufactured significantly reducing component costs, improving yields, and lowering prices. All three models would be sold at incredibly competitive prices and they would also be the company’s finest. Now that would be a turnaround, like Apple.

But that’s probably not going to happen. There was but one Steve Jobs. When he returned to Apple in 1997 he went to the whiteboard, drew a 2×2 box, wrote consumer and professional on one axis and desktop and notebook on the other. I don’t know how many crappy Macs Apple was kicking out at the time, but to axe everything down to just four models is a draconian move only Steve Jobs could have pulled off. Steve Jobs Kazuo Hirai is not, but can he turn Sony around? He’d have a better chance by slashing 90%.

Seasoned Design

Matt Gemmell:

Design an experience. Make it as beautiful – and as emotionally resonant – as it can possibly be. Then adorn the core experience and content with only as much functionality as is absolutely necessary. Functionality – and software-based thinking in general – is like seasoning. A little is an enhancement; any more destroys the flavour, subsumes the artistry of the chef, and may well be bad for you.

I resonate with this: Functionality as seasoning.

The Way Every Screen Should Be

Dan Frommer:

Or maybe because the retina display just seems like the way every screen should be now. And that’s where it’s actually hard to be in Apple’s position: When your best seems like what’s natural, it can get lost. But yes, I wouldn’t trade the retina display for the old one. Reading books/documents is particularly great. I just wish my Macs had it now.

Apple II – 35th Anniversary

via John Gruber. Harry McCracken, Time:

Thirty-five years ago, on April 16 and 17, 1977, more than twelve thousand proto-geeks flooded into San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium. They were there to attend a new event called the West Coast Computer Faire, and the room brimmed with excitement over a new, futuristic gizmo known as the “personal computer.” The throngs packed the aisles, marveling at microcomputers and related gizmos from tiny startups such as Cromemco, IMSAI, Northstar, Ohio Scientific and Parasitic Engineering.

One of the tiny startups benefited from having an especially slick booth located in prime real estate near the entrance. The company was called Apple Computer, and a handful of its employees, including founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, were demoing an unreleased machine they called the Apple II.

From the 1979 ad above:

You don’t want to settle for a black and white display. You’ll want a computer, like Apple, that can turn any color tv into a dazzling array of color graphics.

It’s interesting Steve Jobs worked so hard, demanded so much from those around him, and settled with a black and white display on the first Macintosh.

Elevated Pixels on the new iPad

Apple:

When you squeeze four times the pixels into the same space, signals can get crossed, colors become distorted and images get fuzzy. To solve this we had to elevate the pixels onto a different plane and separate them from the signals.

Charles Annis, DisplaySearch:

If you didn’t catch what Apple means by that, they are referring to SHA (Super High Aperture) pixel designs. SHA is a method of increasing aperture ratio by applying approximately a 3 µm thick photo-definable acrylic resin layer to planarize the device and increase the vertical gap between the ITO pixel electrodes and signal lines. As we explained in our TFT LCD Process Roadmap Report, this reduces unwanted capacitive coupling and enables the electrode to be extended over the gate and data lines without causing cross talk or affecting image quality—thus increasing aperture area.

Outdoors, Polarized Sunglasses, and a Blacked-Out LCD

DisplayMate president Raymond Soneira emailed me about an interesting topic. Got polarized sunglasses? Your iPad’s beautiful LCD will look black. Soneira:

All LCDs and some OLEDs have issues with polarized sunglasses – smartphones, tablets, e-readers, laptops, computer monitors, and even HDTVs. More and more people have them and they can significantly interfere with the seeing the display – the screen can become invisible. Of course all of this should only matter outdoors, although movie stars and other people also wear sunglasses indoors, so be careful.

With polarized sunglasses all iPads go black in portrait mode. Other LCD displays go black in landscape mode. Much better is for the manufacturer to set the extinction at 45 degrees so the display looks good in both portrait and landscape modes. The Motorola Xoom behaves this way as do many smartphones, laptops and even computer monitors. Best of all, with compensating films this effect can be made to go away almost entirely by converting to circular polarization. The iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 do that and have no extinction at any angle (just a small color shift). This extinction effect should only apply to LCDs because they use polarized light internally. LCD TVs, not surprisingly, have their extinction set for portrait mode, so you will only notice it if you are watching TV lying down with polarized sunglasses.

I took out my decade-old, but still like-new Nike progressive sunglasses and took a look at my iPad. The LCD doesn’t go completely black in portrait mode, but it gets dark enough to make it almost impossible to work with let alone read an ebook on. Brightness recuperated as I slowly rotated the iPad to landscape mode.

I wonder why the display engineers at Apple didn’t apply a circular polarizer on the iPad like they did on the iPhone. Did they think we would never don polarized sunglasses and use the iPad in portrait mode? I’m a bit disappointed.

eReaders are primarily used in portrait mode, so they should not extinguish in portrait, but, for example, both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet do. Since both are IPS displays they should switch to landscape extinction or add circular polarization.

I wouldn’t categorize the Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet as e-readers; they’re more like the iPad. Nonetheless Amazon and Barnes & Noble should also have applied a circular polarizer.

OLEDs should not show any extinction effect because they don’t use polarized light like LCDs. The Nokia Lumia 900 behaves this way, which is very nice, but the Samsung Galaxy S has a surprising 45 degree extinction – this effect is due to using an external linear polarizer in a quarter wave plate to reduce the screen reflectance.

Samsung stopped midway. Nokia also uses a linear polarizer but adds an extra circular polarizer retardation layer to reduce refections.

Some additional technical details – IPS LCDs can only be set for either landscape or portrait extinction. All other LCD technologies can have any extinction angle desired, of which 45 degrees is the best for mobile displays. The best solution of all is a compensating film (technically a quarter wave plate) that turns the linearly polarized light from the LCD into circularly polarized light. That is what the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 have to eliminate the effect.

Circular polarizers everyone.

The Brain on Love

Diane Ackerman, The New York Times:

A relatively new field, called interpersonal neurobiology, draws its vigor from one of the great discoveries of our era: that the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you.