Japan Display Inc. Full Active Flex Bendable LCD

Japan Display Inc. Full Active Flex Bendable LCD

Japan Display Inc. or JDI is one of the few display manufacturers who supply smartphone displays to Apple. JDI also has the world’s largest production capacity of LTPS (Low Temperature Poly-Silicon) LCDs, an important fact considering LTPS is required if multitouch performance is important.

JDI announced a 5.5-inch LCD that’s bendable. JDI is calling the technology FULL ACTIVE FLEX. Bendable displays have up until now been limited to OLED technology. OLED is still more bendable than JDI’s bendable LCD, but JDI’s LCD bends enough that it could work as the curved display in the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Bendable LCDs have the potential to be considerably more affordable than OLED because of the vast manufacturing infrastructure; the LCD industry will need to transition from glass substrates to plastic substrates for that to happen though.

Technical Specifications:

  • Display: 5.5-inch IPS-NEO LCD with Plastic Substrates
  • Pixel Format: 1920×1080 RGB
  • Resolution: 401 ppi
  • Driving Frequency: 60Hz, 30Hz, 15Hz
  • Brightness: 500 cd/m2 (typical)
  • Contrast Ratio: 1500:1 (typical)

LCD is liquid crystals sandwiched by two glass substrates. Although Corning has come out with bendable glass (Willow Glass), JDI replaced glass with plastic. Plastic bends, of course, but it is also more resistant to cracking and shattering than glass.

Apple, Samsung, and others who make smartphones use an extra layer of cover glass to protect the display underneath. The use of a cover glass like Corning’s Gorilla Glass protects the display and at times can add to a more seamless design, but it makes the smartphone thicker and more expensive. I like the idea of durable, bendable plastic LCDs not needing an extra layer of protection.

JDI plans to enter mass manufacturing in 2018.

Source: Japan Display Inc.

LG Signature OLED TV W

LG Signature OLED W7 TV

The LG Signature OLED TV W series is a 4K OLED TV with HDR, but so thin and light it attaches to the wall using magnets.

The OLED TV itself has a dimension of 67.8×38.9×0.2 inches. Yes, that’s just 0.2 inches (0.51 cm) thick. 76.7 inches worth of OLEDs only weighs 27.1 pounds (12.3 kg). The AV Box weighs more: 28.0 pounds.

Technical Specifications:

  • Display: 76.7-inch (194.8 cm) 3840×2160 OLED
  • HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
  • Sound: Dolby Atmos / DTS-HD, 4.2 Channel, 60W
  • Wireless: 802.11ac
  • Ports: 4x HDMI (HDCP 2.2), 3x USB-A, 1x RF-in, 1x Composite-in, 1x Component-in, 1x Ethernet, 1x Optical, 1x RS-323C (Mini Jack)
  • OS: webOS 3.5

I think LG should have done what Sony did: get rid of the speakers. (Perhaps that sonic technology was too thick?) What’s the use of a 0.2-inch thick OLED TV when the AV Box protrudes out 8.2 inches. For customers who want the absolute minimal, thinnest OLED TV there are plenty of in-wall speaker solutions to completely hide everything except for the display.

Source: LG

Dell UP3218K

Dell UP3218K 32-inch 8K LCD Monitor

The Dell UP3218K is a 32-inch 8K desktop monitor. 8K translated into pixels is 7680×4320; that equals to four 3840×2160 put together in a 2×2 matrix.

The UP3218K presents a professional look with thin bezels (9.7-mm) and a simple but solid stand. The stand allows you to pivot, tilt, swivel, and adjust the height.

Technical Specifications:

  • Display: 32-inch 8K 7680×4320 LCD
  • Viewing Angles: 178/178
  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz
  • Contrast Ratio: 1300:1
  • Colors: 1.07 billion, 100% AdobeRGB & sRGB
  • Ports: 2x DisplayPort 1.4, 4x USB-A 3.0

Dell will sell the UP3218K on March 23 for US$5000.

Sources: The Verge, PCWorld

Sony A1

Sony A1 / A1E OLED TV

The Sony A1 series — the series name for the US versions is A1E — is a 4K Ultra HD (UHD) OLED Smart Android TV with High Dynamic Range (HDR).

Minimal, is the perfect word to describe Sony’s A1: an OLED display panel, protected by a cover glass, encased in a metal frame. Sony’s Acoustic Surface generates sound by vibrating the screen, in lieu of traditional speakers. A stand props up the beautiful display.

Initial reports seem to suggest the Sony A1 is easily the brightest OLED on the market, and indicate LG Display as the OLED panel supplier.

Technical Specifications:

  • Display: 55, 65, 77 UHD OLED
  • HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
  • Visual Engine: X1 Extreme
  • OS: Android TV

Android. I think it would have been better to leave out an operating system. The SoC, RAM, storage, etc. will all be in need of upgrading in the next two to three years. I would not want to be forced to upgrade my TV in a couple of years just because the computer parts are getting old. Leave the OS stuff to external boxes; they are cheap and better ones come out frequently.

The OLED TV market is getting some competition and that should make OLED TVs better, more affordable, and soon.

Sources: Trusted Reviews, c|net

Symantec Norton Core

When I first heard of Norton Core, a secure wireless router from Symantec, I brushed it off: another boring router. But when I bumped into it again and saw what it looked like, I did a double take. The design caught my attention: “An anti-virus company made this?” Apparently yes.

Norton Core is a secure wireless router making use of machine learning and Symantec’s global intelligence network to defend your home WiFi and all the devices connected to it against malware, viruses, and hackers.

With 4×4 MU-MIMO and 802.11ac, Symantec claims a maximum throughput of 2.5Gbps. Range is extended by incorporating phased-array antenna design and beamforming.
Symantec Core’s security measures starts at the network level through deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention, in addition to comprehensive data encryption, and real-time software updates.

You can preorder the Core for US$200 (a discount from $280, limited to US customers), which includes a one-year complimentary subscription to Norton Core Security Plus that provides security protection for up to 20 PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets, protection for unlimited IoT devices, and comprehensive parental controls.

I think the Symantec Norton Core will have a warm welcome. Many of the new wireless routers focus on ease of use and configuration with extended ranges, but none has touted security as its number one feature like the Norton Core. And it’s gorgeous too. I just hope it’s not made of cheap plastic. Expected shipping is Summer 2017.

Source: Symantec

LG Gram 14

The LG Gram 14 blends ultra-thin design with high-end performance. Weighing in at just 2.16 pounds (980 grams) the Gram 14 keeps the lead for lightest laptop for its size class based on diagonal screen size.

But LG didn’t sacrifice battery life to get thin, the company claims 21 hours on a single charge according to The Verge. (Others are reporting a more conservative 17 hours.) Considering the prior model had poor battery life of around 5-6 hours, a claim of 21 hours is remarkable. Even if real world tests come out at 33% less we are looking at 14 hours, which is still impressive.

The Gram 14 sports a full metal body, constructed out of a nano carbon magnesium alloy, a first for a LG product. A thinner yet durable casing would have allowed LG to squeeze in a larger battery.

LG Display’s new display technology enables the IPS LCD to achieve higher brightness and resolution while reducing component weight. The small bezels around the display enable a 14-inch LCD in a typical 13.3-inch chassis. (I’m looking at you Apple, with those chubby bezels.) But there are compromises: the webcam is located on the bottom of the screen, instead of on top.

A fingerprint sensor is built into the touchpad, and the full-sized keyboard is backlit. The fingerprint sensor-integrated touchpad is the type of technology advancement that makes sense to me. Instead of developing an entire TouchBar iOS system to get TouchID working on a MacBook Pro, the more simple and seamless approach resulting in a more unified user experience would have been to do what LG did here. (Yes, there’s more to the TouchBar than TouchID, but the other buttons are just glorified touch buttons that already exist on the screen that are easily accessible with the mouse pointer.)

Technical specification:

  • Display: 14-inch 1920×1080 IPS LCD
  • CPU: Core i5-5200
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L 1600MHz
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Ports: USB-C, USB-A 3.0, HDMI

Another power-saving move might have been to keep the 14-inch display’s pixel format at 1920×1080. More pixels do have a material impact on the visual experience, but at the cost of battery life. I would have preferred a pixel-doubled retina display and given up on a few hours on battery life, but the battery life LG is claiming is quite impressive for such a thin laptop. Pricing is expected to start at US$850.

Sources: The Verge, TechRadar, Liliputing

HP Envy Curved AIO 34

HP ENVY Curved AIO 34

The HP Envy Curved AIO 34 sports a 34-inch curved IPS LCD with a 3440×1440 pixel format. Unlike previous versions of the Envy AIO and Apple’s iMac AIOs the Envy 34 puts the guts of the computer into a rectangular base, like Microsoft’s Surface Studio. This change in design makes for a neater experience without having to endure a mess of cables dangling from the monitor.

The 34-inch display sports thin bezels and is only 16.9-mm thick. There’s also a pop-up webcam. I particularly like that the webcam pops up when you need it and is hidden when you don’t. The built-in IR camera and microphone turn on and off with the camera. We live in a world where our own governments will at times for good reasons and at other times for no good reason at all turn on our webcams without letting us know and take a look.

The rectangular base looks like a soundbar, because there’s an integrated Bang & Olufsen-branded soundbar with directional audio and a built-in audio dial. I’m all for mechanical switches and dials, but with direct access to audio controls on the keyboard — which looks very nice by the way — I’m not sure how much we’ll get out of the integrated volume dial. Also integrated into the base is Qi wireless charging, which can come in quite handy and can help to keep your desk nice and tidy.

Hardware specifications:

  • Display: Curved 34-inch 21:9 3440×1440 IPS LCD, Technicolor Color Certified
  • CPU: 7th-gen Kaby Lake quad core Core i5 or i7
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 950M 4GB VRAM or AMD RX 460 4GB VRAM (optional)
  • RAM: 8GB or 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD with 1TB 7200RPM HDD
  • Ports: 4x USB-A 3.0, USB-C (USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3), HDMI in/out

Price starts at US$1730 and will be available January 11, 2017 on HP.com. The more powerful model with a Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 256GB SSD/1TB HDD will be priced at $1999 and be available in February.

Sources: PCWorld, SlashGear, TechRadar

Rumor: Apple Watch Series 3 – Battery

[ MacRumors ] Tim Hardwick:

On Tuesday, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) claimed the next iteration of the wearable device will be manufactured by Taiwan-based Quanta, which was also responsible for the production of Apple’s first and second-generation smartwatch.

Citing market watchers with knowledge of Quanta’s plans, the paper said improving battery life is the manufacturer’s “main task”, but beside general performance improvements, the device’s other hardware would not see much change.

The new Series 2 Apple Watch with WatchOS 3.1 gets up to about two days without a charge according to John Gruber. That’s a 100% improvement over the original. Another leap like that could happen with the Series 3 with improvements in battery technology, processor miniaturization, OLED display power consumption, etc.

Extending the battery life on the Apple Watch is probably priority one at Apple, and for good reason, but I’d like to see more attention given to sunlight readability of the display. Sure upping the brightness to 1000 nits helps, but there are less brute force ways to make it easier to see what’s on the Apple Watch when the sun is out. It will also help with battery life.

I’m glad Apple isn’t changing the exterior design; classic watch designs should stand the test of time.

Lenovo Smart Assistant

Lenovo Smart Assistant - Harmon Kardon

The Lenovo Smart Assistant resembles Amazon’s Echo in more than looks: it’s a tall cylindrical shaped bluetooth speaker, and is powered by Amazon’s very own Alexa. The Smart Assistant is skinnier and taller than the Echo. Lenovo priced the Smart Assistant at US$129, which is $50 lower than the $179 Amazon Echo. Lenovo also softened up the bottom a bit with textile-like visual appearance that comes in soft gray, green, and orange (more like salmon). The Smart Assistant will fit more snugly into home interiors.

The top half is all business with eight 360-degree far-field microphone with acoustic echo cancellation and noise suppression. The Smart Assistant can hear you summon it from 16 feet away. The speaker combines a 5-watt tweeter and a 10-watt woofer. But Lenovo’s offering a special version with Harmon Kardon premium audio for $50 more, in all black.

The top outer ring rotates, which is how you control the volume. And from initial reports on the net the Smart Assistant can pump out enough decibels for everyone in the room to hear, unless you live in an absurdly large mansion in which case you’ll have a real human assistant at your beck and call.

Is the Lenovo Smart Assistant going to make my life better? My life is stuffed with complications; that’s why I look for high-quality dependable devices that combine important functions. Combining a portable bluetooth speaker and digital assistant seems like a good idea, especially if you don’t have to take out your smartphone.

But do you really need one? If so, is the Lenovo Smart Assistant of high quality? Let’s tackle the first question. If you already have a modern smartphone you most likely already have a digital assistant. Have an iPhone? Go to Settings –> Siri –> Allow “Hey Siri”. Just make sure your iPhone is plugged in, a requirement Apple should get rid of. And if you’re on Android, it’s a bit more complicated but you can go to Settings –> Language and Input –> Voice Input –> Enhanced Google Services (enable and then click on the settings button to the right) –> “OK Google” Detection –> and then enable “From Google Search App”, “From Any Screen”, and “When Locked”. There, you have your own Alexa-like digital assistant right in the palm of your hand. Say “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” and ask away.

The second question. I like — no need — high-quality products. I do my research and get the highest quality product I can afford, or if there is something so much better but I can’t afford it I’ll save up for it for as long as I need to. That high-quality thing whatever it is will last a long time and will be out of the growing landfills.

I also don’t like shopping; if I had it my way I would shop for something once in my life. Take socks for instance. During the summer I wear Darn Tough socks, which come with a lifetime warranty. If these socks tear I just send them in and they’ll fix them or replace them. I don’t shop for summer socks anymore. Same goes for my backpack. I know it’s a lot tougher with high-tech gadgets, but I’m back to using my 2009 17-inch MacBook Pro as my daily go-to computer. I’ll just need to do a bit of upgrading (RAM and SSD). So is the Lenovo Smart Assistant high quality?

While I was watching some videos online I took a close look at that chrome-like outer ring on the Smart Assistant and noticed some rough spots. The chrome layer doesn’t look like a thick layer, but a thin layer covering cheap plastic. I’m fairly sure that ring isn’t going to feel anything like the ring on the Nest Thermostat. (The special Harmon Kardon edition might have better materials, and the sound should be better.) That’s just one little thing, but I think it’s the little things that count. If you can’t get the little things right then what does that tell you about the whole thing?

The Lenovo Smart Assistant at $129 looks like a bargain at first glance, but take a good look at the materials, how they feel. How does it sound? How well does it work? I recommend sticking to the digital assistant already on your smartphone. But if you really want a standalone digital assistant check out the special Harmon Kardon edition or the original: Amazon’s Echo.

Sources: Engadget, c|net, Ars Technica