Samsung Tizen Security Holes

Tizen OS Logo

Amihai Neiderman, head of research at Israel-based Equus Technologies, discovered 40 not yet publicly disclosed vulnerabilities that could allow a remote hack of Samsung gear running its Tizen operating system: smart TVs, Gear smartwatches, and smartphones. Samsung plans to use Tizen on its washing machines and refrigerators, too. One particularly critical vulnerability called a heap-overflow vulnerability involves Samsung’s TizenStore app: Neiderman was able to hijack the app and deliver malicious code to his Samsung TV. All Tizen OS-based devices connect to the TizenStore to receive apps and app updates; a vulnerability there could mean malicious code can be easily sent to millions of devices running the Tizen operating system.

Neiderman contacted Samsung months ago regarding the vulnerabilities but received only an automated email response. Now, after publication of Neiderman’s foundings, Samsung has responded that the company will be working with the researcher to patch vulnerabilities.

Samsung Smart TV Tizen OS

Fixing Tizen will most likely take some time, so while we are waiting let’s make sure to cut internet connectivity on any Tizen-based gear we might have, just to be safe: Samsung’s TVs (4K SUHD TV, 4K UHD TV, LED TV), smartphones (Z1, Z2, Z3), wearables (Gear S, Gear 2, Gear 2 NEO, Gear S2, Gear S3), etc. TVs can easily be viewed without a direct internet connection since there are many devices such as Apple TV, ChromeCast, Roku, etc., and Gear watches can be used simply as a watch, but Tizen smartphones will realistically become useless, unless Samsung works quickly to patch all of Tizen’s vulnerabilities.

Source: Motherboard

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony claims the Xperia XZ Premium is the world’s first smartphone with a 4K HDR display. 4K on a 5.5-inch display is technically impressive, but there might be a large negative impact on battery life. HDR? True HDR requires a display with an LED-backlit BLU (the more LEDs the better), or that it be an OLED display. Does the Xperia XZ Premium have an LED-backlit display? Most likely not; the BLU like almost all other non-OLED smartphones is edge-lit. Is it OLED? No. I might be wrong, but the HDR in this case is probably software based.

The overall industrial design of the Xperia XZ Premium is to my liking: a simple but consistent rectangular shape with diamond cut chamfered edges. The only area that needs a bit of improvement is the forehead and the lip; they are too thick. On the other hand I don’t like it too thin because in order to hold it firmly our fingers need some space. I would have forgiven the thick lip if physical or capacitive back, home, and apps buttons were located there, but no they are on the display taking up valuable pixel space. Oh, there is one more niggle: although the camera bump is not as large as the ones found on recent iPhones it’s still there. A camera-bump-less design is a more beautiful design.

Source: Sony

Apple Park

The new 175-acre campus has an official name: Apple Park. More than 12,000 employees will start moving into the building in April; Apple estimates the move-in to take more than six months. The long process will eventually be worth it: employees will be surrounded by curved glass and have plenty of space — 2.8 million square feet — to work.

Apple Park Steve Jobs Theater

Today is Steve Jobs’ 62nd birthday and to honor his memory Apple will be christening the theater at Apple Park as Steve Jobs Theater (photo above). Quite fitting. Steve Jobs Theater is a 1000-seat 165-foot diameter circular auditorium surrounded by curved glass 20 feet tall. Beautiful, but with all that glass, I wonder how earthquake-resistant the buildings are. I hope quite.

Jony Ive:

We have approached the design, engineering and making of our new campus with the same enthusiasm and design principles that characterize our products.

Apple Park was designed in collaboration with Foster + Partners. Here are some tidbits:

  • 5 million square feet of asphalt & concrete was replaced with grassy fields and 9000+ drought-resistant native trees. (I am anxious for pollen-based allergy sufferers.)
  • Entirely powered by 100% renewable energy; its solar roof generates 17 megawatts of electricity. (I’m guessing there’s a bunch of large batteries somewhere, to power the giant building at night.)
  • World’s largest naturally ventilated building, projected to require no heating or air conditioning for nine months of the year. (Air filtration systems, I’m guessing, are fully operational 24/7.)

I cannot fathom the amount of natural and industrial resources required to have built this architectural marvel, but going forward I am relieved Apple Park will drastically decrease its consumption.

Although park is part of its name, Apple Park is mostly limited to Apple employees and those who visit to conduct business there, but an Apple Store and a cafe will be open to the public. I intend to go sample the coffee there as soon as possible.

Source: Apple

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