Transparent Samsung Big Rig

Samsung Tomorrow:

The Safety Truck consists of a wireless camera attached to the front of the truck, which is connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back of the truck. The monitors give drivers behind the truck a view of what is going on ahead, even in the dark of night.

Driving behind a slow big rig is not fun; overtaking it — especially on a single lane — is really not fun.

This Safety Truck idea by Samsung is pretty cool, but I don’t know that I would overtake it if I happened to come up to one. I might stay behind and just watch.

Forecast: In 2016 Netflix On Top, Not Broadcasters ABC, CBS, NBC, Or Fox

Todd Spangler, Variety:

If Netflix were a Nielsen-rated TV network, the No. 1 streaming service would, within a year, attain a larger 24-hour audience than each of the major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — according to a Wall Street analyst firm.

June 2016 is far into the future, and I am certain no human knows what will happen by then. But some of us try. The Wall Street analyst firm — we all know how accurate Wall Street analyst firms are when it comes to predicting the future — is FBR Capital Markets whose analysts Barton Crockett and Chase White wrote:

Netflix subscribers clearly like it more than pay TV, which we see as arguing for pricing leverage, since pay TV, on average, costs over $80 per month.

The average monthly cost for Netflix: $8.

We haven’t had pay TV for many years and don’t plan to go back. Will the U.S. be watching Netflix more than ABC or Fox in about a year? Who knows. If I had it my way, I’d pay only for the shows I watch and not bother paying a penny more for shows I don’t. For example: $10 for 10 episodes of Game of Thrones. Maybe a little less since this last season was less exciting than previous seasons. And when the show is done for the season I don’t need to keep paying a monthly subscription.

What drives Netflix and other online video streaming services are widely available access to fast and affordable broadband. Our one-year low-price deal with Comcast ended last month so we’ve been bumped down from 50mbps to 3mbps (we’re paying the same amount). So in about a month we will be saying hello to Sonic (no bump downs after a year): 20mbps for the same price with a couple nifty extras. Competition is a good thing.

Rumor: 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K Display

Mark Gurman, 9to5Mac:

Likely destined for a refreshed version of the 21.5-inch iMac, which currently does not have a Retina display, the new El Capitan beta references Mac support for a new 4096 x 2304 resolution Apple-made display panel. While the larger, more expensive 27-inch iMac is offered with a 5K display, it could make sense for the smaller screen to be upgraded to a 4K resolution.

Apple will continue to retina-ize its lineup, and the 21.5-inch iMac is ripe for the taking.

The 27-inch iMac with retina 5K display starts at US$1999, and the non-retina $1799. My guess is a 21.5-inch retina will start at $1499, which happens to be the starting price (at the moment) of the top-end 21.5-inch iMac.

A 4K 21.5-inch iMac would sport a resolution of 205 ppi. Though slightly less than the 218 ppi on the 5K 27-inch iMac it would hit a nice sweet spot in terms of price for those wanting a 4K all-in-one with a decently sized display.

Teardown: Beats Solo

Avery Louie, Prototype Engineer at Bolt:

One of the great things about the solo headphones is how substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.

Pathetic. But how about the bass?

I couldn’t tell from the product teardown but the generic drivers make it seem unlikely.

Louie estimates the COGS (cost of goods sold) without labor or shipping to be US$16.89. Beats sells the Solo for $199. You don’t buy Beats for quality, you buy Beats because it’s cool.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2015)

Amazon: About seven months ago there was a rumor that this was going to happen. The 6-inch E Ink display now sports a 300 ppi resolution. Combined with Amazon’s new-custom-default font called Bookerly — bye-bye Caecilia — it should make text more pleasant to read. But what is more important is the not-so-new news of a new layout engine. John Brownlee does a thorough job of explaining the brand new engine (and font), but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: The old typesetting engine had one thing in mind: line up words left and right, and add as many spaces as needed. The result was terrible. The new engine keeps space between words consistent, and it hyphenates! The Kindle has finally entered the 21st century.

I’ve recently had a change of mind. OLED, E Ink, IPS LCD… they are all good in their own ways, but when it comes to reading a book or a magazine I’ve decided paper provides the best experience. So no matter how good the Kindle E Ink display gets I’ll be turning to Amazon to buy a nice hardback version of the book. This means I can’t buy as many books as before since hardback books are quite a bit more expensive than e-books, but it will force me to be more selective and to read the few books I do get more thoughtfully.

Faker

Mina Kimes, ESPN The Magazine 06/22/2015, “The Unkillable Demon King”, page 54:

Over the next 12 months, SK Telecom went on an unprecedented winning streak. In Faker’s first season as a pro, the team reached the Korean semifinals. The next season, it went all the way to the world championship. In front of a sold-out crowd at LA’s Staples Center — plus 32 million online viewers — Faker and his teammates swept a Chinese squad to take the Summoner’s Cup and a $1 million prize. After returning home, they continued to steamroll the competition, winning 15 games in a row.

In Seoul, where eSports are more popular with teenagers than baseball, Faker became a household name. He starred in a commercial for SK Telecom, striding toward the camera in slow motion. The Internet birthed a hashtag, #thingsfakerdoes. Some League fans nicknamed him the Unkillable Demon King […]

The game Faker — his real name is Sang-hyeok Lee — plays is League of Legends (LoL). Some of you might be poo-pooing this as “kids’ stuff” but its serious business. Here’s a list of some first-place prize money according to ESPN The Magazine “Resistance is Futile” pp. 68-69 written by FiveThirtyEight.com’s Ben Casselman:

  • $10M: World Series of Poker champ (2014)
  • $5.1M: Super Bowl champion (2015)
  • $5M: Dota 2–the International 4 winner (2014)
  • $4.1M: NBA Finals champion (2014)
  • $3.8M: Stanley Cup champion (2014)
  • $1.3M: Smite World Championship (2015)
  • $1M: League of Legends World Championship (2014)
  • $0.4M: Call of Duty Championship (2015)

Dota (Defense of the Ancients), Smite, and Call of Duty are multiplayer online games. In 2014 15.5 million viewers tuned into the NBA Finals; for the League of Legends championship it was 27 million viewers. The Super Bowl still reigns at 112.2 million viewers, but it is impossible to deny the exploding popularity of e-sports.

Serious money, yes, and winning, just like offline games, is tough; it takes practice. A lot of it. On page 57:

Faker lives with his teammates in an apartment on the fringes of Seoul, in an area populated by half-empty office buildings. The players share bedrooms. When they wake up around noon, a cook comes in and prepares lunch. Afterward, they walk a few minutes to their training center. For the next eight hours, they practice by scrimmaging against other teams, occasionally taking breaks to study game film. Faker usually practices by himself for at least four more hours.

Our kids like to play games, sometimes a bit too much. One day I asked one of ’em if he’d like to play games professionally. I could tell his mind was racing: A life where I get to play games all the time! Awesome! Then I told him it would take 12 hours of practice every day to get good enough to earn enough money to make a living. “Oh. Then no thanks.”

Professional sports — with or without an e prefix — is a job. Unless you really love what you do and are willing to invest insane amount of hours each day to get better at it, there’s little chance you’ll make it to the top.

PS: I enjoyed reading ESPN The Magazine, the paper version, about e-sports much more than the online version. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? For now the ‘screen’ is better on the real magazine: flexible, foldable, lighter, higher resolution, feels good touching it, makes a nice sound when I flip it, and I don’t need to worry when I drop it. And one more thing: unlike the online version there are other articles to read that created a more broad and complete picture of e-sports, like the two-page infographics article by Casselman, “The Whole Game is Beast Mode” by Sam Alipour, and “The Legendary Adventures of a Fearless Girl Gamer” by Latoya Peterson.

Rec. 2020

ITU: Sounds nerdy, doesn’t it? Rec. 2020 is what display geeks say when they are referring to BT.2020, which is International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Recommendation BT.2020. That last part is a mouth full, but we like simple, so that’s why it’s just Rec. 2020. What are the good people at ITU recommending with Rec. 2020 exactly? I won’t go through everything, but here is a short list:

  • Resolution1: 3840×2160 (4K), 7680×4320 (8K)
  • Frame Rate: 120p (and lower)
  • Bit Depth Per Pixel: 10 or 12
  • Color Space: 75.8% of CIE 1931
  • Primary Color Wavelength: 630nm (red), 532nm (green), 467nm (blue)

3840×2160 (4K) and 7680×4320 (8K) are simple enough, but these pixel formats translate into an aspect ratio of 16:9. I think ITU recommended the wrong pixel format for 8K: really big displays will morph from 16:9 to 21:9. We will watch more film (movies) on massive screens and those fit better on a 21:9 screen.

120p just means 120 frames per second, progressively scanned. No more interlaced scanning. Good riddance. 120p sounds like a great idea, but we might not like it. My client flew in for SID DisplayWeek (thankfully it was held in San Jose this year) and we hopped on over to Magnolia to check out the displays there. What we saw was that movies in 24p looked great. Movies at higher frame rates looked terrible. This was the same issue with Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. There are three versions of the movie: 3D HFR, standard 3D, and 2D. HFR stands for High Frame Rate, and in the case of The Hobbit it is 48fps, twice the normal rate of 24fps. I went to see it and I didn’t like it. Vincent Laforet didn’t like it either:

I had absolutely NO CONNECTION with the story. I didn’t identify with the characters at all. I didn’t care about them. I didn’t listen as carefully to they were saying or how they felt. And more importantly I didn’t feel ANYTHING.

But it’s not just me or Laforet, there’s a bunch of others who didn’t like the HFR version of The Hobbit. So imagine what 120p might be like.

75.8% of the CIE 1931 color space. That sounds small, but Rec. 709 (an older recommendation) only covers 35.9% of CIE 1931. 3M and Nanosys showcased a monitor with 93.7% Rec. 2020 color space at SID DisplayWeek. Nanosys makes quantum dots; the best thing about quantum dots is the narrow spectrum of primary colors that make them more pure. Red is more red, and blue is more blue. The colors were quite vivid, but display geeks will need to make sure colors look accurate to our finicky human visual system.

The good people at ITU want a great viewing experience, and it shows with what they have recommended in Rec. 2020. But let’s make sure we go beyond merely meeting Rec. 2020 on a software and hardware level and work toward achieving a higher goal of digitally recreating our world as best as we can so our visual experience is that much truer and richer.

  1. Resolution. We take words and put meaning into them all the time. But sometimes we put the wrong meaning into them; resolution is one of them. Resolution is a measure of density. Let me give you an example. Let’s say there are 100 pixels in a square inch. The resolution would be 100 pixels per square inch. But the display geeks (or was it the display marketing people?) injected the wrong meaning into resolution. When someone asks “What is the resolution of that TV?” A display geek would answer “1920×1080.” That’s wrong. A display geek should know better, and say “The diagonal size is 50 inches. The aspect ratio is 16:9. Which means the area is about 1068 square inches. There’s a total of about 2 million pixels, so the resolution should be roughly 44 pixels per square inch.” 44 ppi is the answer. Then what is 1920×1080? It’s a pixel format.

Red by Virgin America

Virgin America: Red is the brand name for Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment system. And Red is pretty cool. Virgin America already has WiFi on all of its planes and every seat has a power outlet. Why other airlines make us treasure hunt for seats with power outlets I don’t know. On-demand food ordering? Virgin’s got it. Push a button, wait a few minutes, and someone with a smile comes to you with the food you ordered. Flying with Virgin sounds better than being at a restaurant! OK, so what else is so special about Red? Here’s a list:

  • Panasonic EcoV2 capacitive touch screens you can pinch and swipe. Airlines are catching up to the rest of the world: they are 720p HD capable.
  • Enough storage for full seasons of popular shows — like the first two seasons of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards — for when you’re on a really long flight.
  • More games, like Asteroids and Pac-Man. I know someone who would be really happy about this!
  • Listen to surround sound with your headphones. 3D surround sound is encoded by Dysonics. You can watch Insurgent, Run All Night and Game of Thrones (episodes one and two of season 5) in surround sound.

Red is in Beta; Virgin Atlantic will equip 18 planes with Red by the end of 2015. In 2016 the entire Virgin fleet will be upgraded to Red.

Virgin Atlantic sounds like a company doing all the right things to make the experience of flying better. Now if we could just dock our smartphones and tablets, tap an updated Virgin Atlantic app that gives us access to all of this, and stream it to our virtual reality headsets…

Mark Newson, on Luxury

John Arlidge, London Evening Standard:

What about the suggestion that an object you replace after a year or two because it’s outdated cannot be a premium product because true luxury stands the test of time? Long silence. ‘The way I see it, it’s evolution, progress,’ Newson recovers. ‘And we are doing wonderful things. In one of the versions of the watch, the box it comes in acts as a charging device that you can use for other models. So it becomes a useful object and not something that will just sit in the top drawer of your cupboard for the rest of eternity.’

True luxury stands the test of time. A Leica M9 with a Summicron lens will. An iPhone will not; it starts to fade from day one.

An Apple Watch, even the US$15,000 gold version, will last about a year. A fifteen year old Rolex Air-King will continue as luxury.

When the Apple Watch 2, or whatever it will be called, comes out in 2016 owners of the one year old Apple Watch will carefully place it in the useful box and put it in a drawer. There it will remain, forever. And forgotten.

That’s just how it is with gadgets racing toward progress.