Leica T

Leica: The Leica T is a 16.5 megapixel APS-C interchangeable lens camera milled from a solid block of aluminum, which then is hand polished for 45 minutes. With a 3.7-inch 854×480 16:9 touch LCD, an iOS app that can act as a remote electronic viewfinder and shutter, the T is Leica’s entrance into the modern world of cameras. The Leica T will be available on May 26, 2014. If you are serious about acquiring a Leica price should not be a concern.

Aaron Sorkin on Writing Steve Jobs

Chris O’Falt, The Hollywood Reporter:

Later, in a discussion of how he felt his writing and sense of story had gotten better with age, Sorkin pivoted back to his Jobs script: “One of the things that really excites me about Steve Jobs is, it is one of the very few times I ended up writing what I set out to write when I began. It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling.”

“I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been.”

WSJ: That’s Tim Cook, in an interview with Daisuke Wakabayashi. Here’s more:

You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn’t really deep and, as a consequence, these things don’t do very well. We don’t do very many things so we spend a lot of time on every detail and that part of Apple isn’t changing. It’s the way we’ve operated for years and it’s the way we still operate. I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been.

I don’t want to be overly logical or cynical, but as time passes and as Apple works on new stuff, isn’t it normal, natural, obvious that new stuff is closer than ever? It feels like Tim Cook revealed something exciting, but in reality he revealed nothing.

I do like Apple taking the time to get things right. I’ve seen too many companies rush too many crappy products to the market. People buy them because they are new and cheap but eventually they end up on Craigslist, eBay, or failing a quick sale there at the Salvation Army or in the trash. I’ll patiently wait for what Apple has up its sleeve.

PS: Continue to take time to do things right Apple, but when you get it wrong hurry up and fix it. My iPhone and my iPad likes to reboot itself from time to time. Apple fixed the iPad by replacing it: fast, good. The iPad no longer self reboots; the Genius at the Apple Store told me it was a problem in the logic board. The iPhone? It doesn’t self reboot enough for me to take it to the local Apple Store, but every reboot annoys a bit more each time and eventually I will be forced to visit the Genius Bar. Here’s one big annoyance: “Touch ID requires your password when iPhone restarts. Enter the password for …”

OnePlus One

OnePlus: The One by OnePlus is impressive, especially considering it sports flagship hardware and asks just US$299 for the 16GB “Silk White” version and $349 for the 64GB “Sandstone Black” version, both of which will be available some time in Q2’14. The prices are for unlocked, contract-free units. Here are some specs:

  • Display: 5.5-inch 1920×1080 LTPS IPS LCD by Japan Display Inc. (JDI) with CABC and Display RAM (DRAM), Touch On Lens (TOL), and Gorilla Glass 3
  • Viewing Angles: 178/178
  • SoC: 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with 578MHz Adreno 330 GPU
  • RAM: 3GB 1866MHz LP-DDR3
  • Storage: 16GB (Silk White), 64GB (Sandstone Black)
  • Cellular Connectivity: LTE 1/3/4/7/17/38/40 (AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.)
  • WiFi: 2.4/5GHz 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Miracast (WiFi Display)
  • Bluetooth: 4.1
  • Camera: 13 megapixel Sony Exmor IMX214, dual LED flash, f/2.0 6-element lens, and 5 megapixel 80° viewing angle front-facing
  • Video Capture: 720p at 120fps – 4K
  • Battery: 3100 mAh LiPo

Japan Display Inc. (JDI) was formed when Sony Mobile Display, Toshiba Mobile Display, and Hitachi Displays was merged in April 2012. JDI’s focus is on small and medium sized LTPS displays and manufactures them in its two LTPS fabs in Japan.

Touch On Lens (TOL) is also known as One-Glass Solution (OGS), Sensor On Cover (SOC), Sensor On Lens (SOL), Direct Patterned Windows (DPW), and a few more. With TOL an ITO layer is deposited directly underneath the cover lens of the touch panel eliminating a sheet of glass making the overall solution thinner, lighter, and optically clearer. TOL is the alternative to embedded in-cell touch solutions, which is used in the iPhone 5s.

In addition to awesome hardware for a dirt cheap price, the One comes loaded with CyanogenMod, an aftermarket distribution based on Android OPS (Open Source Project), specifically version 11S based on Android 4.4. CyanogenMode claims performance and reliability increases over ROMs released by Google, T-Mobile, HTC, etc. Although I have not personally installed CM, I have been involved in a startup that is working toward bringing hardware-based secure communications using CM, which I have come to trust as one of the few Android distributions that take privacy seriously.

The hardware on the One looks pretty good, but I’ll need to see real life performance reviews especially for the display and the camera before I’m sold. If all goes well for the One the 64GB in Sandstone Black for $349 is a steal.

Q1’14 iPad Sales Down 16% Y/Y to 19.5M

Josh Lowensohn, The Verge:

One other closely watched metric is iPad sales, which were down 16 percent from the 19.5 million the company sold during the same quarter last year. Wall Street was expecting a modest improvement of 20 to 22 million units sold. In a call with analysts, Apple’s VP of finance Luca Maestri said the company viewed the drop in sales as closer to a 3 percent decline due to year over year channel inventory changes. Cook also chimed in, trying to put the overall sales of the iPad in comparison with the company’s other products.

“We’ve sold over 210 million, which is more than we or anyone thought was possible in that period of time,” Cook told analysts. “That’s almost twice as many iPhones as we’ve sold in a comparable amount of time… we’ve come a long way, very very quickly.”

That’s the past, and the past looks pretty rosy for the iPad. A 16% Y/Y unit sales decline isn’t though. Do you know what I think is happening? Large smartphones like the HTC One series, Samsung Galaxy S series, Galaxy Tab series, LG G series, Samsung Xperia Z series, etc. are happening. They question the need for a tablet, especially the smaller 7.x-inch ones. The rumored LG G3 will have a pixel format of 2560×1440 (3.68 megapixels), which is considerably more than the retina iPads (2048×1536, 3.14 megapixels) have. Resolution, or pixel density, is not even close: 534 ppi vs. 326 ppi for the retina iPad mini. With these large smartphones you get some of the size, almost all of the pixels, and a lot more portability.

I am starting to dislike the complexity of having to manage two devices (iPhone and iPad) and would rather have one device in the middle. That’s exactly what these large smartphones offer. Now if a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 were to be an option…

LG UltraWide 34UM95

LG: The LG UltraWide 34UM95. The high tech industry seems to love attaching the word ‘ultra’ in front of everything: Ultra HD, UltraWide, Ultrabook. (Don’t forget Ultraman!) UltraWide is LG’s marketing-speak for 21:9, which is the aspect ratio a lot of feature films use. Have you noticed black bars on the top and bottom when you watch movies on your 16:9 smartphone? That’s because feature films are ultra wide.

A typical high end 16:9 monitor sports 2560×1440. Stretch it out to 21:9 and you get 3440×1440, and that’s what the 34UM95 has. The 21:9 aspect ratio will undoubtedly be great for watching 21:9 feature films and games, but I think ultra wide monitors can be a great replacement for multiple monitor setups too. Instead of having three 1280×1024 monitors you can have almost the same display area with three 1146×1440 windows on the 34UM95. Or instead of having two 1600×1200 monitors you can have two 1720×1440 windows. Having a single large monitor also means no thick bezels in between monitors, less power cables, less DVI/VGA/HDMI cables, less visual clutter, and less power consumption.

Other specifications include a terrific viewing angle (178/178 left-right/up-down degrees) thanks to it being an IPS LCD, 8-bit pixels for 16 million colors, and the surface is treated with anti-glare and a 3H hard coating. The last bit of good is the color gamut of 99% of sRGB. sRGB is the color space most cameras use, what’s generally used for printing, and most of what you see on the Internet. The 2009 17-inch MacBook Pro, which was touted as having 60% more color space than the previous generation, is what I’m using to type this post; it sports 72% NTSC or about 100% sRGB. Just because a display supports 100% Adobe RGB, a much larger color space, does not mean the graphics on the Internet, your smartphone, your point-and-shoot, your printouts at CostCo, Target or Walgreens will.

LG also claims the 34UM95 can display 1 billion colors. That’s partially true. The sub-pixels are not 10 bit; they are 8 bit: 256 (2^8) levels of gray multiplied by itself three times for each of the three sub-pixels equals about 16 million colors. LG uses FRC or Frame Rate Control to dither the grays to make each sub-pixel act like it is 10 bit, for a grand total of over 1 billion levels of gray (2^10 is 1024 and then to get all the grayscale combinations: 1024x1024x1024). Add in a color filter on top of those gray levels and you get color.

The LG UltraWide 34UM95 is a fantastic monitor for watching feature films, gaming, and work, if you can afford it. The 34UM95 will be released on April 30, 2014 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for US$1484.65. (Amazon affiliate link.)

PS: This 34-inch display is marketed as a monitor, which sounds crazy to me because the largest display we have in our home is a 34-inch Sony XBR CRT TV. Yes, it is ancient technology and millions throughout the world are kicking their CRT TVs to the curb and replacing them with LCDs, but I must tell you: there is not much out there that can compete with the picture quality of a Sony XBR CRT TV. I digress. The reason why a 34-inch display can be marketed as a monitor is because our visual system looks for height to figure out if it is big or not. A 21:9 34-inch monitor doesn’t look any bigger than a 27-inch 16:9 to us because both the 34-inch and 27-inch is about 13 inches tall. Big, but not really.

Project Ara: Make Your Own Best Smartphone

Project Ara is Google’s attempt to upend the smartphone industry by making smartphones modular. Want your smartphone to take better photos in low light environments? If Project Ara is successful you might be able to choose from several companies. How about the most important component in a smartphone, the display? Imagine getting to pick the size and pixel format you want: a 5.5-inch 1920×1080 OLED display module by Samsung or an equivalent IPS LCD module by LG Display. Tough call. And when these companies upgrade their displays you won’t be forced to spend several hundred dollars buying a new smartphone just to get the better display.

If only I could combine the rumored 5.5-inch 2560×1440 LCD on the LG G3 with the camera from the Sony Xperia Z2 that DxOMark tested best on a smartphone. That’d be fantastic.

LG G3

Stuff: The LG G3 will sport a 5.5-inch LCD with a pixel format of 2560×1440 or in display industry jargon Quad HD or QHD, for a resolution of 534 ppi. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 with 1920×1080 pixels, if true, will look outdated as soon as it comes out.

Some might wonder what the point of a 534 ppi display is if we can’t even see the difference. Well, there is research out there that suggests a much higher threshold: roughly 600 ppi. If the LG G3 comes with a great camera and the battery lasts for a day, I will be tempted.

Update 2014.04.30

LG sent invitations — set in what looks like dark brushed aluminum with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be simple is to be Great” — for a May 27 (San Francisco, New York, London) and May 28 (Seoul, Singapore, Instanbul) event.