Retina iPad Mini

John Gruber:

The iPhone went retina in the fourth generation; the full-size iPad in the third. Seems like too much to ask for the Mini to do so in its second.

I’m not so sure generations is something Apple waits on to bring about innovation. The iPhone went retina when it became viable for LCD suppliers to manufacture 3.5-inch LCDs with a pixel format of 960×640 at certain quantities and at certain prices. The same logic applies to the iPad. I imagine Apple’s display group pushing LG Display, Samsung, Sharp, etc. toward mass manufacturing the 9.7-inch 2048×1536 LCD. The iPad went retina when they were able to make the retina 9.7. Apple’s products go retina when it is feasible, technically and economically.

Same goes for the iPad mini. When a 7.85-inch 2048×1536 LCD can be manufactured at the quantities Apple needs for the price Apple wants is when Apple will start building retina iPad minis. A retina iPad mini would be perfect and I expect Apple to announce one next year. The competition is already ahead when it comes to the display. Just look at the 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle HD: it sports a pixel format of 1920×1200 and a resolution of 254 ppi. Not that Apple cares what the competition is up to, but to imagine Apple not announcing a retina iPad mini in 2013 seems almost an impossibility.

HTC Droid DNA

Engadget: The HTC Droid DNA sports a 5-inch 1920×1080 Super LCD 3 good for a resolution of 440 ppi. This is state of the art. I believe 440 ppi is highest in the world among shipping products, shared only by the HTC J Butterfuly. The rear camera features a 28mm f/2.0 lens mated to an 8 megapixel BSI image sensor.

Cramming 1920×1080 pixels into a 5-inch diagonal LCD is one thing, but to make sure that content looks fantastic is something else. Let’s hope HTC did the right thing by incorporating in-cell touch, optically laminating the LCD to the cover glass, used a combination of color filters and matching LEDs for a 100% sRGB color gamut, and tuned those colors for accuracy. Of course viewing angles, color/brightness shifts, contrast, reflectance, reflections, etc. all should be top notch as well.

The HTC Droid DNA, running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, will run on Verizon’s LTE network, and launch on November 21 for a reasonable US$199 with a two-year contract.

Update 2012.11.16: Dan Seifert, The Verge:

[…] I’m not a fan of the placement of the button on the One X — but the location of the Droid DNA’s is a new low. Or a new high, if you will, since it’s located in the middle of the top edge of the phone, which might be the most awkward place it could be on a phone of this size. There is no easy way to press the button without shifting the phone in your hand and assuming a ridiculous claw grip with your index finger on top of the device. Somebody really needs to tell HTC’s designers that power buttons work best on the side when phones have 4.3-inch or larger displays.

I’m not a fan of the placement of the power button on the iPhone, all iPhones. Why is it placed to the right? To me it seems Apple designers designed the location of the power button for right-handed folks. Right-handed folks—I’m one of them—hold the iPhone with the left hand and do all the poking and pinching with the right. Well I don’t care for this type of design, and laud HTC for putting the power button where it belongs: in the middle. Whether you’re right-handed or left-handed the experience of pushing the power button is the same, and that’s a good thing. You can’t do that with everything (well, you can actually) but at least HTC figured out you can with the power button.

A ridiculous claw grip? Well, I’m scratching my head as to how Seifert presses the power button on the iPhone. Let me tell you how I do it: I assume a ridiculous claw grip with my pointy finger on top of the device. And so do millions of others. This is a non-issue. HTC designers did a great job of placing the power button in the middle. The same logic applies to the camera.

I mentioned you can’t design everything so it provides the same experience for left- and right-handed folks. Well, that’s not true; you can. The volume buttons don’t need to be off to one side. The + can be on one side and the – can be on the other. A right-handed person like me while gripping the phone with my left hand will usually press the left side of the phone with the thumb and assume something will go up. In this case + button on the left side of the phone can be set to increase, and vice versa for the – button on the right. For left-handed folks the settings can be reversed.

Instead of just leaving the bottom-located Micro USB port open and accessible, HTC decided to put an infernal protective flap over the jack, making it far more difficult to access whenever you need to charge your phone. The silly little flap is fiddly to remove and fiddly to put back in place when you remove the USB cable, and its frustrating every time you use it. This idea wasn’t good on the Palm Pre back in 2009, and it’s not good on the DNA in 2012.

Take a macro lens to the inside of the 30-pin connector and you’ll be greeted with filth, and a lot of it. I prefer there to be some sort of protective flap. We have the phone with us most of the time and generally don’t need access to the micro USB port and certainly don’t have a habit of staring at the bottom of the phone. Only when we need to charge it do we need to access the micro USB port. That’s usually once per day; unfortunately for the HTC Droid DNA that could be twice per day. So no, I don’t think having a protective flap over the micro USB port was a bad design decision. HTC could have made it less flimsy though.

Color reproduction and viewing angles are easily best in class, and the DNA has no problems outdoors in bright sunlight. Like the One X’s SLCD 2 display, the air gap between the glass and the LCD on the DNA is so small that it almost looks like images are floating on the screen.

I don’t know how you can eyeball things like color reproduction and viewing angles and declare them to be best in class. One of the best maybe, but best in class? Let’s wait and see what Raymond Soneira says to declare the HTC Droid DNA the best when it comes to color accuracy and viewing angles. I was hoping the cover glass was optically laminated to the LCD, but if what Seifert wrote is true then there is an air gap. No matter how small the existence of an air gap between the cover glass and the LCD it is simply not excusable. Let’s hope Seifert is wrong and HTC optically bonded the cover glass to the LCD. Fingers crossed.

For low-light photos, the DNA has a f/2.0 lens to let in a lot of light, but it doesn’t have a fancy optical stabilization system as found on the Nokia Lumia 920. Pictures taken in low light are good, but they aren’t quite as good as those offered by the iPhone 5 or the Lumia 920.

Does this mean the HTC Droid DNA is #3 next only to the Nokia Lumia 920 and the iPhone 5 in terms of the quality of photos you get in low-light environments? I’ll take that. The camera seems to be top notch. The display is without equal in terms of resolution and I like the overall understated design. The position of the power button as well as the micro USB cover is a plus in my book, but there is a serious problem. The biggest drawback with the HTC Droid DNA seems to be battery life: a smartphone absolutely needs to last at least a full day. Oh, and one more thing: That ghastly Verizon logo on the front needs to go.

Ortus Technology 9.6-inch 4K LCD

Ortus Technology: The LED-backlit 9.6-inch LCD sports a pixel format of 3840×2160 good for a resolution of 458 ppi. Incredible. Other specs: 160/160 viewing angles, 72% NTSC color gamut, 400 nits, and 800:1 contrast ratio.

The Ortus 9.6-inch 4K LCD makes use of HAST or Hyper Amorphous Silicon TFT. HAST features: a larger aperture ratio than conventional a-Si TFT, low-resistance fine wiring technology, and super-narrow pitch COG bonding technology. Low-resistance wiring likely means faster electron mobility, which is required for high-ppi LCDs like this one. I’m thinkin’ a 4K iPad…

The Real iPad?

via John Gruber. Dan Frommer:

My take after spending a bunch of the weekend with the iPad mini: This is the real iPad. With the exception of screen sharpness, everything about it is better than the bigger, “classic” iPad — and screen sharpness won’t be a deal breaker for the vast majority of people.

I thought Apple was focusing its marketing efforts on screen sharpness: the new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, the 15.4-inch version, the iPad (3) and the iPad (4), the iPhone 4/4S and 5, and the iPod touch (4th and 5th generations). So with the exception of what I think is Apple’s most important focus the iPad mini is the real iPad? Absurd.

By the way the display falls short of sharpness, of course, but in a few other areas as well. Check out Raymond Soneira’s “iPad mini Display Technology Shoot-Out” that compares it to the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 7. Spoiler alert: The iPad mini doesn’t come out ahead.

New York Magazine Cover 2012.11.05

Photographed by Iwan Baan for New York Magazine.

Update 2012.11.05: Caitlin Johnston, Poynter:

Imagine crouching inside a vibrating helicopter, clutching a handheld camera and peering down at the devastated landscape of a city just ravaged by a storm that’s claimed more than 100 lives. Now imagine what it feels like to have no door between you and that wide expanse of nothing, just 46-degree air ripping around the sky. And somehow managing, despite the darkness, to capture such a vivid, emotional snapshot.

Baan used a Canon 1D X: new 24-70mm lens, 25000 ISO, 1/40 shutter speed.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

United:

The cockpit features a dual head up displays (HUDs), a small transparent screen that drops down in front of the pilots in order to improve visibility during difficult flying conditions while providing essential flight information.

17-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Apple: 3840×2400. 266 ppi. IPS LCD. Hardened top polarizer extended to fill bezel and without an additional cover glass. I hope I don’t have to wait too long to update this post with a source link back to Apple.

iPad (4)

Ars Technica: The iPad (4) is basically the same as the iPad (3) on the outside, except for the Lightning connector. But on the inside Apple changed out the brain for a better one. The iPad (4) is powered by a new A6X CPU. Samsung manufactures the 30% larger A6X using a 32nm process. Four GPU cores much larger than the cores in the A6 (SGX543MP4) take up almost all of the increased space. And those monster GPU cores make a big difference. Anand Lai Shimpi, AnandTech:

Ultimately it looks like the A6X is the SoC that the iPad needed to really deliver good gaming performance at its native resolution. I would not be surprised to see more game developers default to 2048 x 1536 on the new iPad rather than picking a lower resolution and enabling anti-aliasing. The bar has been set for this generation and we’ve seen what ARM’s latest GPU can do […]

When it comes to graphics intensive apps taking advantage of all 2048×1536 pixels the iPad (4) is roughly twice as fast as the iPad (3). That’s good, but if you have accumulated a lot of peripherals for your iPad ask yourself this question: Is twice the graphics performance worth the hassle and cost of having to replace all my 30-pin peripherals with Lightning ones? Me? I only have a seldom used Apple Bluetooth keyboard, but nah, I’m quite happy with my iPad (3). And it’s too soon.

PS: Forgot one thing. The front camera (640×480) has been upgraded to FaceTime HD (720p).