The advent of touch screens – as seen before in PDAs and now with tablets and smartphones – has made one thing apparent. It’s cool to write on these devices and it really has the potential to bring about the paperless environment some tech visionaries have been talking about. [Read more…]
Televisions of the Future
The CES show was host to some rather amazing gadgets and gizmos this year – in fact arguably one of the best years for some time. Things really seem to be getter better – but not only that, they seem to be getting bigger as well. What I mean by that is of course that televisions are the next (and current) big thing!
As a first at CES, the world’s first laser television was displayed. This was debuted by Mitsubishi who state that it is a ‘new category’ of display to offer alongside the likes of LCD and plasma technology. The reason for the development of this type of screen is that it offers (apparently) more of the colour spectrum that the eye can see, which is reportedly limited in current technology.
The laser set comes in at a particularly impressive 65 inches and has three lasers in the standard colours of red, green and blue. These are projected from the rear of the television (in a similar manner of DLP) but offers amazingly crisp, vivid and colourful images. Prices haven’t been revealed but the tv will be shipped later in the year.
Samsung has expressed interest in laser technology, but it didn’t show any at CES. Instead, it decided to display a 3D plasma screen – interesting from a company that does some of the best plasma sets in the world. Apparently, the 42 and 50 inch screens will be available in 2008 and rely on a PC connected to the set and polarised glasses to create the 3D image.
Samsung have also shown their OLED (organic light emitting diode) displays, known for being brighter than LCD and much thinner. More importantly, they also use less power to create the image – something which will no doubt seem to be important to consumers being fed the green message at the moment.
The reason for the brighter image is that the OLED does not require a backlight for the display as the organic material is naturally lit when an electric current runs through it. Different materials produce difference colours and this provides screens that are brighter and have a better contrast ratio.
I can vouch that OLED does look excellent as my Creative Zen V is supplied with just this technology – however, unfortunately for television creation it is extremely expensive, meaning that this will be for premium sets only in the future.
Perhaps one of the most amazing developments at CES was the display by Panasonic, noted for their Viera and V-Real technology on their current plasma display systems. Their offering was in fact the world’s largest LCD display – taking up a whole wall and featuring Advanced High Definition.
Whilst of course, a 150inch tv is always going to look amazing (unless you’re standing too close and can see the rather large pixels), the really amazing technology behind it was the ‘interactive wall’ that featured facial recognition and customised displays.
The technology is expected to take up the whole wall (no doubt of some millionaire’s mansion) and is able to detect the distance of the viewer from the screen and optimise the size of the image to suit. Rather impressive I’m sure you agree.
Other items of note were the super-thin LCD (at only 3mm deep) and deep-black screens. So, whilst most of it was interesting, it’s perhaps the ‘taste of things to come’ that really offers up a glimpse of the future. I for one can’t wait.
Microsoft Surface: Cafe/Bar/Resto Computing of the Future?
While everyone was still reeling from the iPhone’s release, Microsoft had unveiled a project that is up to, or above Steve Jobs’ caliber in terms of innovativeness. Announcing, Microsoft Surface.
In Defence of HD
Fairly recently there’s been a huge boom in the television market. In particular, this has been in relation to flat screen technology such as DLP, Plasma and LCD. This boom has been driven by a consumer need for technology that offers better clarity, sound and image quality. The rise of DVD’s has also fuelled the purchase of home cinema systems. So where does HD fit in?
Well according to Sky UK I will be “wowed by the difference” when watching HD. Well, is this in fact the truth? Lets put this in some sort of personal perspective. About a year and a half ago I saw Monsters Inc running on one of the first HD screens in the UK that was commercially available. The quality was unparalleled. So why are people indifferent to HD when the quality is so noticeable?
The first point is that people may have not bought an HD enabled set when lat screens first became available. They may have paid a lot (as my folks did) for a TV that was new at the time, but obsolete in a couple of years due to not having the capacity for HD. Naturally, if you’d just paid £1,000 (or more likely more) on a television you’re not going to just nip out and buy another.
Another restriction to HD take-up is the amount of channels that are offering it at the moment. The BBC broadcast signal will go digital only, though this won’t have much of an impact on the quality of the picture overall, and there’s been difficulties rolling this out. HD seems to be faster yet still not widespread. Nonetheless, a growing number of channels are sending out the HD signal.
Finally there’s just so much technology about (with so much jargon, slang and corporate buzzwords) that it can be incredibly hard to make any sort of sensible choice. Quimby covered this very well in his recent article, and I’m in total agreement. Now we have HD, DVD, SA-CD, CD, VCD, HD-DVD, BLU-RAY and more I’m sure besides. This is not to mention ‘alternative’ kit such as Tivo. My oh my.
I genuinely think that there’s a market for new business in the form of a ‘Technologist’. Essentially you tell him what you need – whether it’s a TV, computer or toaster – and you give him a budget, and he tries to find you the best kit or advises you on the reason to hold back a month or two. Obviously he’d get a cut of the sale, say 10 percent or something. Then he could deal with all those acronyms and leave the rest of us to do the watching. Then again, being at the forefront of tech, I wouldn’t complain if I had that job…
Buying an HDTV: My Crazy Adventure & What I Learned
So my wife and I promised each other not to go out on Black Friday. We didn’t.
But we did go out Black Saturday (errr… the day after Black Friday). Lately, I’ve been compulsive about getting a big screen TV. Actually, what I’ve been really compulsive about is getting a Wii. But since I couldn’t find a damned Wii anywhere, I opted for the big screen HDTV that I’d eventually play my Wii on.
So, on Saturday morning, we got our morning Ads (where we live, the newspaper delivers ads separate from the paper…wierd, I know). Those ads told me that I could finance my big screen TV at 0% interest for 18 months. That sounded tasty. Uh? Sounded tasty? You get the point.
Back when I first started my HDTV pursuit, I was committed to getting a 50 incher or better. This, in turn, convinced me that I would be getting a DLP. But to be honest, I just haven’t been very impressed with the DLP picture. Looks too grainy to me, even on the 1080p models. Plus, quick motion (the sort of motion I expect my Wii to have), didn’t look to hot.
Next, I got stuck on LCD because of a beautiful 40 inch Samsung 1080p I saw at BestBuy. Just absolutely shocking. Stunning. Aesthetic perfection. It was with this model in mind that we went out to compare prices around the various big box retailers. Suffice it to say, they were all sold out. December 5th the earliest delivery date.
But that didn’t work. You see, my wife and I had spent the last 3 hours carefully picking our favorite, most cost effective TV. We were ready to spend the cash. But no. We were supposed to go home empty?
Not us! My wife and I are fairly compulsive buyers. And we were determined to come home with an HDTV. So next, we decided on a 42 inch Samsung Plasma. Plasmas really do have the best picture and they are the best for video games. But they are also ultra sensitive and ultra heavy. We didn’t know that. So when we went to check out, they asked us if we wanted to pay the $85 delivery charge. Of course not. We wanted to go straight home and watch this sucker.
Well, then they told us that Plasmas can’t lay down on their sides. Too bad, because the 42 inch model wouldn’t fit into our SUV standing upright.
Blah! This really sucked. We were getting depressed and were about to call it quits, when we decided, once again, to go the LCD route. Well, we opted for a downgrade from the 40 inch 1080p Samsung to a 40 inch 720p Samsung. This time it was in stock. So we bought it.
Here are some things I learned in this crazy process: