Nexus 7

Nathan Ingraham, The Verge:

As we heard before, this tablet appears to be an Asus product — specs include a 1280 x 800, 7-inch display, 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 12-core GeForce GPU. It’s also reportedly priced very aggressively — the 8GB version will come in at $199, with a 16GB version available for $249.

Priced aggressively? Google better, with a 7-inch 1280×800 display.

Update 2012.06.27: According to The Verge, at least it’s IPS.

Update 2012.06.28: Sean Hollister, The Verge:

The truth is that the Nexus 7 is the Asus ME370T, an Android tablet whose destiny has repeatedly changed.

Update 2012.07.03: According to iFixit the 7-inch LCD is manufactured by Hydis with a model number HV070WX2. Gorilla Glass (version 2 or not is unsure) is fused to the LCD.

Update 2012.07.05: David Pogue:

Wow, does it work. Google’s tablet is now Applesque in its fluid touch response. All other makers of touch-screen gadgets should take note.

Update 2012.07.18: XDA-Developers ForumPhandroidThe Verge: Screen separation problem on the Nexus 7 and how you can fix it.

Update 2012.07.23: The first commercial for the Nexus 7 titled “Camping” is a success: made me want to get one and go camping.

Update 2012.07.23: Raymond Soneira:

The Intensity Scale (often called the Gray Scale) is way off. The display’s Brightness fails to increase sufficiently for bright image content, causing bright image detail to be compressed and lost. See the Figure at left for the Nexus 7 and this Figure to see what the Intensity Scale should look like. The Nexus 7 Display Stumbles and Falls Short both figuratively and literally… There is about a 25 percent compression of bright image content, which is quite substantial. This holds for both the Gallery Viewer and the Chrome Browser. On some cheap displays this is done intentionally by the manufacturer because the compression actually makes them appear artificially bright. Here I think it’s probably just incompetence by the manufacturer, which is too bad because they messed up a really nice display.

Update 2012.07.26: AnandTech measured the display on the Nexus 7 and here are the simplified results:

  • Brightness (white): 312 nits. The Nexus 7 is in last place among the tablets measured by AnandTech. For comparison the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 has a white brightness of 492 nits and the iPad (3) sports 394.
  • Brightness (black): 0.37 nits. Black is black on the Nexus 7 and trails behind only the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (0.35 nits) on AnandTech’s list of tablets. The iPad 3 leaks a bit more light with black brightness at 0.45 nits.
  • Contrast: 852. The Nexus 7 is in the middle of the pack. The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity leads with 1318 and the iPad (3) is slightly better at 877.
  • Resolution (ppi): 213. This is quite high and can be retina-class depending on how far you hold it. The iPad (3) leads with 264 ppi.
  • Color Gamut (sRGB): 59.6%. This falls short of the iPad’s (3) 94.4% and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1’s 67.5%.

There is something going on with white brightness levels. No doubt ASUS and Google decided to use a high quality LCD in the Nexus 7, but brightness at 312 nits is considerably lower than the competition. Even the higher ppi iPad (3) has a brighter display.

In the previous update Soneira mentioned an image compression issue where bright image content is compressed about 25% making it appear artificially bright. Google and ASUS might have done this intentionally to compensate for the dim LCD.

Constructive Failure

Sir James Dyson:

We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually.

Global LCD TV Shipments Fall for the First Time Ever in Q1’12

NPD DisplaySearch:

Worldwide TV shipments fell almost 8% Y/Y in Q1’12, the steepest rate of decline since Q2’09. Total TV shipments for the quarter were 51M units […] The biggest contributor to this decline was a slowdown in shipments of LCD TVs, which fell year-on-year for the first time in the history of the category, declining just over 3%, to 43M units.

What a title. Note the 43 million. That number represents shipments, shipments by LCD TV brands into the channel, not units sold to customers. It can’t be since no one knows that number.

And you have to suspend your disbelief and assume LCD TV brands have a clue as to what TV customers want. 3D TVs with glasses? Smart TVs with keyboards? LCD TV brands shipped 3% less in Q1’12 compared to Q1’11. Which means? Not much.

Despite the weak results on a unit basis, demand for larger sizes continues to grow. The market share for 40” and larger TVs increased from just under 31% a year ago to more than 37% in Q1’12 with total unit shipments for 40”+ rising 12% Y/Y.

How do you get from TV brands reporting shipments into the channel to commenting about demand? Would not a report on how many TVs were sold to customers on a worldwide basis need to come first to have an intelligent discussion about demand?

Retina, or Bust

Marco Arment:

My core theory: Apple believes that Retina displays are the only way to go from this point forward, and they’re waiting to update each family until it can be Retina-equipped.

The iPhone, then the iPad, and now the MacBook Pro. A trend, perhaps?

Built Not to Last?

Khoi Vinh:

To me, the most disappointing thing about this is that, as beautiful as objects in this mode can be, over time they inevitably begin to look worse than they did on the day they were purchased. Some objects look better when you use them more, but not Apple stuff.

I don’t know, I find this aged iPhone quite beautiful:

Unfortunately the touch display stopped working after only three years for this particular example. So maybe there is something to this not built to last theory, but I still use my iPhone purchased on June 29, 2007. I don’t use it as a smartphone, but as just a phone it’s probably the best there is. Another oldie is my mid-2009 17-inch MacBook Pro I use everyday as my main computer. The thing is a beauty to behold, still. Contrary to Vinh, I believe Apple has built beautiful products with designs that will last the test of time. Another great example of an enduring design is the original iPod.

Sharp AQUOS LC-90LE745U

The unremarkably named LC-90LE745U is the world’s largest LCD TV with a LED backlight at 90 inches. Unfortunately the pixel format is 1920×1080, which translates to a measly 24 ppi resolution. US$10999.99.

Microsoft Surface

Dan Frommer:

Sure, Microsoft may now alienate some of its Windows partners by competing with them. But as those partners have gone into the mobile industry, they’ve already strayed from Windows to Android, anyway. […] Plus, competition or not, as long as Dell wants to make PCs, it’s not like it has any real OS alternatives to Windows.

Microsoft is embarking on a slippery-sloped journey. Building its own hardware is the right way to build a great experience for the customer, but hardware partners like Dell might not be happy. Unfortunately for Dell et al. Frommer is right: Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. have no real alternatives to Windows 8. There is that small possibility of large hardware companies without in-house operating systems embracing Linux, but that’s microscopic.

Who really cares about the happiness of large bureaucratic hardware companies? What really matters is whether or not the customer is happy. And it is only when the customer is happy that companies get to make money. Kudos to Microsoft for having the balls to attempt at making customers happy.

The Surface hardware as depicted by the video looks tempting. VaporMG casing? Sounds fancy. Unfortunately the 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display sounds like it will be limited to 1366×768 on the Windows RT version, but fortunately the Windows 8 Pro version will sport 1920×1080. Sure hope they’re IPS.

Update 2012.06.22: Oliver Ahrens, Acer’s senior VP and president for Europe, Middle East, and Africa:

I don’t think it will be successful because you cannot be a hardware player with two products.

Microsoft wants to be a total experience player in the tablet market. And who says you can’t be successful with two tablet products? It just so happens Apple is widely successful and has exactly two tablet products: the iPad 2 and the new iPad (3). But just because Apple has been successful doesn’t mean Microsoft will be, but it also does not mean more than two tablets are required to be successful.

Will Microsoft succeed? From what I’ve seen with Windows Phone I have my doubts. Despite the remarkable effort that has gone into the Nokia Lumia 800 and 900 Windows Phone smartphones, arguably the best Windows Phone smartphones on the market today, success has been elusive. Even if the experience of using Surface and Windows 8 is superb success is far from guaranteed for Microsoft.

Update 2012.06.24: I was just thinking, “Microsoft, a predominantly software company, has developed hardware that seems to be significantly better than those from Motorola or Samsung, who are predominantly hardware companies.”

Update 2012.07.03: via Business Insider. Bill Gates on why Microsoft had to punch its PC partners in the balls:

I actually believe you can have the best of both worlds. You can have a rich eco-system of manufacturers and you can have a few signature devices that show off, wow, what’s the difference between a tablet and a PC? […] You can get everything you like about a tablet, everything you like about a PC, all in one device. That should change the way people look at things.

Everything?

Update 2012.07.10: Steve Ballmer:

But Surface is just a design point. It will have a distinct place in what’s a broad Windows ecosystem. And the importance of the thousands of partners that we have that design and produce Windows computers will not diminish. We have a mutual goal with our OEM partners to bring a diversity of solutions, Windows PCs, phones, tablets, servers, to market. And what we seek to have is a spectrum of stunning devices, stunning Windows devices. So, every consumer, every business customer can say, “I have the perfect PC for me.”

And we’re excited about the work from our OEMs. We may sell a few million, I don’t know how many, of the 375 million, but we need partners to have that diversity of devices.

Yes Surface is a reference design, but an intriguing one that competes head on with Microsoft’s OEM partners. Ballmer expects to sell a few million Surface tablets in the next twelve months. Any doubt Microsoft is in the tablet hardware business should be put to rest.

SID 2012: 55-inch OLED TV, LG vs. Samsung

Ray Soneira on the LG 55-inch OLED TV at SID 2012:

The LG 3D OLED TV with its running demo was absolutely stunning – visually it was the most impressive TV I have ever seen.

On the Samsung 55-inch OLED TV:

The Samsung 3D OLED TV with its running demo was very nice but definitely not in the stunning category like the LG 3D OLED TV in my opinion. The running demo was mediocre and that might be the source of the problem.

LG uses an IGZO backplane while Samsung uses LTPS.

CSYS by Jake Dyson

Mark Wilson, Co.Design:

Whereas most of the market has leveraged lousy design to turn LEDs into a disposable product, Dyson wanted to elevate the LED to a post-disposable electronic treasure, an heirloom light that could be passed from one generation to another. And it was theoretically possible, he knew, if only he could deal with the pesky heat issue.

Heat pipes. 160,000 hours of sustained light. US$900.

Smart TV Surges in Popularity Worldwide

NPD DisplaySearch:

Approximately 27% of TV sets shipped worldwide had internet connectivity, led by Japan, where 46% of sets had networking capability, and Western Europe with 36%.

Here we go again: shipped v. sold. TV brands increase their profit margins by pushing smart or 3D. So in Q1’12 TV brands shipped a whole bunch of TVs with internet connectivity. Does that mean smart TVs are now popular?