A Letter From Tim Cook On Maps

Apple:

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

I’ve been lucky with Maps in iOS 6. Despite the frustratingly complex freeway system in Dallas, the new Maps app did a fine job of giving turn-by-turn directions to and from the hotel, downtown, and DFW.

Sharp Improves iPhone 5 LCD Yields

Reuters → Yahoo:

Sharp Corp is making “adequate volumes” of displays it is known to supply for Apple Inc’s new iPhone5, a company executive said, indicating that a possible bottleneck in supplies of screens may have eased.

The 4-inch LTPS in-cell touch IPS LCD is probably a difficult product to manufacture with high yields, but LG Display (LGD) and Japan Display Inc. (JDI) seem to have figured out how months before Apple launched the iPhone 5. In other news, Sharp secures enough money to stay in business through June 2013.

Sony DSC-RX1

Richard Butler, DPReview:

We were surprised (and delighted) when Sony decided to create the RX100 – its first compact camera for serious photographers, but that’s nothing compared to our surprise when we were told about the RX1. This isn’t just Sony’s most serious compact camera, but arguably the most serious compact camera we’ve ever seen. It features a full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm F2 lens, making it a real heavyweight in terms of lightweight photography. Sony has said it is targeting professional photographers and we see no reason to question that.

Sony posted RX1 sample images on Flickr. So tempting.

iPhone 5: The New Camera

Jeremy Horwitz, iLounge:

In sum, the iPhone 5’s cameras are considerably better than the iPhone 4S’s, having made tangible improvements in situations that both amateur and professional photographers will appreciate. While the iPhone 5 still lacks for an optical zoom lens, it’s not a stretch to say that it’s otherwise such a competent camera that the days of standalone digital cameras and camcorders appear to be numbered.

Camcorders, absolutely. Standalone digital cameras? Looking at the pocketable Sony RX100 point-and-shoot, I’m not so sure.

Update 2012.10.03: Barney Britton and Kelcey Smith, DPReview:

The iPhone 5 is a fine mobile device, with an excellent camera. In qualititative terms it’s not the best camera out there, and nor is it the best camera on a smartphone (the Nokia 808 has that honor, for now) but it offers satisfying image quality, some neat functions like auto panorama and HDR mode, and – crucially – it is supremely easy to use. It isn’t much better than the iPhone 4S, as far as its photographic performance is concerned, but it isn’t any worse (notwithstanding a somewhat more noticeable propensity towards lens flare). When manufacturers employ pixel-binning to achieve higher ISO settings we don’t normally celebrate the fact, but in the case of the iPhone 5, it gives you greater flexibility in poor light (i.e., you might actually get a picture now, where you just wouldn’t with the iPhone 4S) and the drop in quality is unnoticeable when the images are used for sharing/web display.

I didn’t know the iPhone 5 pixel-binned.

Products That Look Like Apple

Watts Martin, Coyote Tracks:

You can look at a computer or a tablet or a phone being used in a coffee shop and you can immediately tell Apple or not Apple even if you can’t see the logo. And this is virtually unique in their industry: you’ll usually need the logo to know exactly what the not Apple product is.

Toshiba Satellite U845W

Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica:

The 21:9 1792×768 screen is marketed as being ideal for two things: watching movies in their native aspect ratio, and placing two windows next to each other. The screen’s diagonal size is 14.4″, but the extreme aspect ratio actually makes the U845W nearer the height of an 11″ notebook while still retaining the width of a 14″ or 15″ model.

Two windows next to each other would each have a pixel format of 896×768. That wouldn’t be wide enough for a lot of work, including updating this blog. The ideal width for the Toshiba Satellite U845W would have been 2048×768, making each of the two windows 1024×768. But that would make it a little wider than 21:9. So the U845W is good, and better than almost all other notebooks, for just one thing: watching 21:9 film.

Rumor: HannStar Supplies iPad LCDs to Apple

DIGITIMES:

The rumors claimed that since Apple has been decreasing its orders to Samsung Electronics for panels used in the iPad due to disputes between the two companies, the US vendor has begun shifting some of the orders to HannStar.

Take anything coming out of DIGITIMES with a grain of salt. The dispute between Apple and Samsung is with Samsung Electronics. Apple procures LCDs from what is now a separate spinned off Samsung Display Co. Still I can understand if Apple wants to move away from sourcing components from any Samsung company, but HannStar is an interesting choice since it is one of the weaker LCD suppliers in Taiwan, after Chimei Innolux and AU Optronics.

Barnes & Noble Nook HD & Nook HD+

David Pierce, The Verge:

Comparisons to Google and Amazon’s devices abounded — the Nook HD’s 1440 x 900 display is higher-resolution than either, and Barnes & Noble claims the display is better laminated to the glass as well. The HD+ bumps the resolution up to 1920 x 1080 on its 9-inch screen — reps brought an iPad along for comparison — and also looks fantastic.

The 7-inch Barnes & Noble Nook HD sports a 1440×900 pixel format resulting in a resolution of 242.6 ppi. That’s higher than the Google Nexus 7’s and Amazon Kindle Fire HD’s 215.6 ppi. The 9-inch Nook HD+ packs a 1920×1080 pixel format, good for a 244.8 ppi, slightly less than the 254.4-ppi 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD. But the Nook HD+ is priced at US$269, $30 less than the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, and without ads. There is a difference in specs though: The $199 Nook HD comes with 8GB while the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD comes with 16GB. The 16GB Nook HD costs $229. Barnes & Noble has put up a convenient comparison page for: Nook HD vs. Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD+ vs. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. There’s even a Nook HD+ vs. iPad page. The one big knock on the iPad, in terms of the display, is the lack of a fully laminated display.

Barnes & Noble is boasting a “highly advanced” laminated IPS LCD on the Nook HD and HD+ tablets with no air gap, low glare, and wide viewing angles. Technical specifications aside I think the biggest thing going for the new Nooks is in-store support. If Barnes & Noble can pull off the customer experience found at Apple Stores, a big if, I think the new Nooks have a good chance at grabbing market share from Amazon for folks who value the convenience of going to a local store and face-to-face interactions.

Update 2012.10.30: David Pierce, The Verge:

The 243ppi pixel density means you won’t see any individual pixels (unless you look REALLY hard), and since it’s laminated to the glass it almost feels like things on the screen are popping out at you. What impresses me most, though, is the color reproduction. Blacks are deep to the point that they appear to be not lit at all, making dark scenes in Sherlock Holmes all the more ominous. From skin tones to vivid colors, everything is accurate, crisp, and clean – that’s great for reading black text on white backgrounds, and it’s great for watching movies. It’s just a fantastic display.

Deep blacks, accurate colors, and the high resolution all work together for a visual treat. I like that. But we’ll have to wait for a definitive comparison by Raymond Soneira to see how the display stacks up against the competition.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7 inch)



Joshua Topolsky, The Verge:

The 7-inch, 1280 x 800 display on the Fire HD is fantastic. The IPS, LCD screen looks better than probably any other tablet display I’ve seen, save for the new iPad. While the pixel density is the same for both the Nexus 7 and the Fire HD (216 compared to the iPad’s 264), the Fire blows away the Nexus in terms of color richness, black levels, and general brightness. It definitely looks more like an Apple-quality display, and it’s clear the company put a lot of effort into making an impression here. Though Amazon has touted the anti-glare coating of the screen, it can still be plenty shiny when viewing content in a decently lit room.

1280×800. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD has a 16:10 aspect ratio. I wonder why it’s not 1280×720. What’s the extra 80 pixels for? Why not make it a clean 16:9 aspect ratio that’s perfect for viewing 720p HD video? Even Apple contorted the pixels into a weird 1136×640 to make it 16:9 on the iPhone 5.

I think it’s time glare got the boot, but Amazon picked LG Display’s 7-inch LD070WX3-SL01 LCD and it looks like it was a brilliant choice.