CES 2013: Samsung and LG to Debut Flexible Smartphone Screens?

Will the flexible smartphone screen change the face of mobile phone design in 2013 and mark the biggest change since the introduction of the touchscreen? Rumors suggest manufacturing rivals Samsung and LG are working on it. Speculation regarding flexible display development dates back to 2002, and in the last six years we’ve seen some interesting prototypes and low volume products at CES featuring E-ink and Electronic Paper Display technologies. To address slow response times (especially with video) and challenges with handling color, flexible OLED displays emerged. Continue reading CES 2013: Samsung and LG to Debut Flexible Smartphone Screens?

Amazon Announces Cloud Player Now on Roku, Samsung Smart TVs

Amazon’s cloud-based music storage and streaming service is now available on Roku and Samsung’s Smart TVs, allowing users to play digital music on a single device. The app “finally gives Roku a good response to Apple TV’s iTunes Match,” notes CNET. Months ago Roku announced that the Amazon Cloud Player was “coming soon.”

Like its competitor iTunes Match, Amazon Cloud Player charges $25 per year to store up to 250,000 songs. It also includes a feature that automatically identifies music files and upgrades the quality using a 256 Kbps file from the Amazon catalog. “That’s a ton of digital music, although the competing Google Play Music allows you to store up to 20,000 tracks for free and is available on Google TV devices,” explains the post.

The release was announced the same day that Amazon added its Amazon Instant Video app for the iPhone and iPod touch.

According to a related post from CNET, the Instant Video streaming app “allows for access to over 140,000 movies and television shows that can be downloaded for purchase or rental.”

Amazon offers access to its streaming library across devices including the iPad, Kindle Fire HD, PlayStation 3, PCs and Macs. The app is only available to customers who pay for the company’s $79-a-year Prime membership.

TIME Lists Top 10 Gadgets of the Year: iPhone 5 Takes Top Spot

  • Although Apple may have to cede the top spot on smartphone sales, its iPhone 5 still sits at No. 1 in terms of overall device and operation system quality, earning the coveted TIME Magazine ‘gadget of the year’ award.
  • TIME’s Harry McCracken calls the iPhone 5 ‘one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone’s ever built,’ adding that ‘when it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer,’” VentureBeat reports.
  • “Despite 5 million units sold in its opening weekend, and stellar sales results that catapulted iOS back into the mobile operating system lead in November, the iPhone 5 probably can’t catch the Samsung Galaxy S III, which launched in the summer and reached 18 million units by early November,” the article continues.
  • Apple did not, however, gain recognition from TIME for its iPads, even though the new iPad mini earned a warm welcome by many in October.
  • TIME‘s top 10 gadgets are as follows: 1) iPhone 5, 2) Nintendo Wii U, 3) Sony Cyber-shot RX100, 4) Raspberry Pi Model B, 5) Lytro, 6) Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 7) Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, 8) Samsung Galaxy Note II, 9) Nest, and 10) Simple.TV.

Tech Industry Calls on Congress to Allocate More Mobile Spectrum

  • A team of tech companies including Apple, Samsung, and Nokia has submitted a letter to Congress requesting that it allocate more spectrum for mobile data, reports The Verge.
  • The letter argues the spectrum addition “is timely and relevant” to discuss alongside fiscal cliff debates.
  • “Now is the time to ensure the incentive auctions are as robust and successful as possible at liberating spectrum,” reads the letter. “We should also turn our collective attention on ways to reap the economic benefits of underutilized federal spectrum assets.”
  • “Other signatories include Intel, RIM, Qualcomm, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Ericsson, all of which are members of the High Tech Spectrum Coalition,” notes the post. “The group believes that upcoming spectrum auctions won’t meet the demand for wireless broadband, nor will it be possible to ‘engineer our way out of this problem’ with more efficient technology.”
  • The letter asks Congress to urge spectrum holders to “become more efficient, to share with one another, to vacate, or to lease their spectrum.”
  • An earlier report this year also recommended the government consider sharing spectrum with commercial partners, since it’s “increasingly difficult to find desirable spectrum that can be vacated by federal users.”

CES 2013: Samsung to Possibly Unveil 4.99-inch 1080p Touchscreen

Samsung may unveil its own smartphone-sized 1080p display during January’s CES in Las Vegas, on the heels of HTC’s Droid DNA. “Full high definition displays are all set to be next year’s must-have new smartphone feature, although their size will see them used on hardware that tips over into smartphone/tablet hybrid territory,” reports Digital Trends. Continue reading CES 2013: Samsung to Possibly Unveil 4.99-inch 1080p Touchscreen

CES 2013: Samsung Plans to Demo 85-inch UHD TV in Las Vegas

Samsung has announced that it will showcase an 85-inch Ultra High Definition TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The set will be unveiled during a CES press conference on January 7 and then displayed at the Samsung booth (LVCC, Central Hall – 12004, 12527). The news comes after the TV was awarded a CES 2013 Best of Innovation award.

“Samsung’s 85-inch UHD TV, the world’s largest commercialized UHD LED TV, boasts lifelike picture quality in ultra HD resolution with over 8 million pixels, four times the resolution of Full HD displays,” according to the company.

“Samsung’s UHD TV uses an innovative enhanced dimming technology and a very high contrast ratio to deliver deep, real blacks and pure whites for greater detail and unmatched picture clarity. This new, cutting-edge TV also offers a powerful and dynamic range of sounds.”

The company has also been honored with a Best of Innovation award for its Smart TV Camera. “It adds Smart Interaction services, such as facial recognition and gesture control, to the company’s Smart TV sets that don’t come with a built-in camera,” reports Pocket-lint.

Stay tuned: The ETCentric reporting team will provide additional details on Samsung’s products live from CES.

Is Carrier IQ, Samsung and HTC Violating the Federal Wiretap Act?

  • After an Android security researcher discovered that CarrierIQ was capable of collecting personal information from SMS, emails, photos, keystrokes and URLs, the company has been the target of severe criticism.
  • Now, CarrierIQ faces a class action lawsuit — as do Samsung and HTC — for violating the Federal Wiretap Act.
  • Plaintiffs are demanding millions of dollars in penalties paid to users with the logging software on their devices.
  • The company vehemently denies the charges, restating that the software is used solely to help wireless operators provide optimal service by logging information concerning dropped calls and failed messages.
  • TechCrunch notes that no carriers face charges as of yet, but are likely to in the near future.

Safe Internet Coalition Established in Europe Aimed at Protecting Children

  • Apple, Google, LG, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Facebook are among 28 tech and media companies that are joining forces to “deliver a better Internet for our children,” reports TheNextWeb.
  • “The group was put together by the European Commission (EC) and the priority actions set out include making it easier to report harmful content, ensuring privacy settings are age-appropriate, and offering wider options for parental control,” according to TNW.
  • “This new coalition should provide both children and parents with transparent and consistent protection tools to make the most of the online world”, says Neelie Kroes, vice president of the EC. “The founding coalition members are already leaders in children’s safety online. Working together we will be setting the pace for the whole industry and have a great basis for fully empowering children online.”
  • The coalition has created a statement of purpose covering five key areas: create effective reporting with simple, robust tools; enable age-appropriate privacy settings; develop age-rating through widespread content classification; extend parental control; and effectively remove child abuse material through improved cooperation with law enforcement.

If Consumers Do Not Care about 3D, Why are 3D TV Sales on the Rise?

  • According to the DisplaySearch unit of The NPD Group, 6.6 million 3D TV sets were shipped in the third quarter of 2011, up 27 percent from the previous quarter.
  • The research firm expects shipments to increase 30 percent this quarter, for a total of 21.5 million units in 2011.
  • However, DisplaySearch suggests a “lack of 3D content and services” means buyers are mostly watching 2D video.
  • Additionally, Nielsen released a study last year suggesting consumers were reluctant to wear 3D glasses and nearly 90 percent said that viewing 3D TV would get in the way of checking e-mail or Web surfing while watching television.
  • The article suggests that marketing and aggressive pricing has made the difference. “Television vendors have been pushing 3D sets on customers all year,” reports CNET. “In fact, companies such as Samsung, Vizio, and Panasonic, among others, have made 3D a key component in a large number of their televisions, making it harder and harder to find sets that don’t come with 3D support.”

Rumor Update: Apple to Partner with Sharp, not Samsung, on 2012 iTV

  • Add the following news to the growing collection of Apple rumors we’ve heard in the last month…
  • Mashable reports: “Apple’s relationship with Samsung has deteriorated, and the Cupertino giant may be working with Sharp on the next generation displays for upcoming devices such as the iPad 3, iPhone 5 and a little something called iTV, claims Jefferies analyst Peter Misek.”
  • According to Misek, the mythical Apple smart TV, which has been a popular subject of recent speculation, is not just a rumor. “Sharp is working on modified amorphous TFT LCD panels for the device,” indicates the post.
  • Misek places commercial production as early as February with a mid-2012 release date. The new HDTV will reportedly feature some use of Siri, Apple’s voice-activation feature.
  • While Apple has not made an official announcement yet, competitors are scrambling to prepare for another player in the market, suggests a related BGR post.

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The Surface: Microsoft Table-Sized Tablet to Ship by Early 2012

  • The Surface 2.0 SDK, demonstrated at last year’s CES, will be released sometime early next year. Pre-orders can be placed with Samsung resellers in 23 countries (including the United States).
  • The $8,400 table-sized tablet, also wall-mountable, is four inches thick and recognizes hands, fingers and objects placed on the screen. It is currently known as the “Surface” or “Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface.”
  • “Running Windows 7 and Surface 2.0 software, SUR40 has a 40-inch screen measured diagonally, 1,920×1,080 resolution, a contrast ratio of 2,000:1, an AMD GPU along with 2.9GHz Athlon X2 dual-core processors, 320GB of storage, and 4GB of memory,” reports Ars Technica. “Ports include Ethernet, HDMI, and 4 USB 2.0 ports.”
  • Microsoft targets the Surface for professional use and envisions it being used in a number of industries including automotive, education, finance, healthcare, hospitality and retail.
  • The original Surface is already in use by the Hard Rock Cafes, Microsoft retail stores, MSNBC, Disney, Sheraton hotels and others.

Will LG Electronics Debut a New Google TV at CES?

  • LG may debut a television set with Google software at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, according to “two people with knowledge of the project.”
  • The move would be a boon for Google in the field against entrants such as Apple and Microsoft.
  • Google is working to build support for its Google TV software, despite disappointing sales from its Logitech partnership. The company introduced a redesigned version last month after the earlier release failed to meet expectations.
  • “The revamped version of Google TV service has a simpler interface,” reports Bloomberg. “The upgrade was designed to show the YouTube video- sharing service better and opens up the platform for Android developers to build applications for TV. Android is Google’s software platform for mobile devices.”
  • LG rival Samsung has also been in discussions to develop a Google TV product.

Standards Effort: Companies Team Up for Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative

  • Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and X6D Limited (XPAND 3D) are collaborating in an effort to standardize 3D glasses. The companies have launched the “Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative” licensing program and will open a test center later this month.
  • “Currently, we have wholly incompatible active-shutter models based on different technologies, which the consortium wants to replace with a unified standard that will let you use the same pair of spectacles on any display or at any theater that uses the XPAND 3D standard,” reports Engadget.
  • According to the press release: “Infrared and Bluetooth enabled radio frequency system 3D active glasses technologies are licensed within the licensing program. All information including licensing fees and process requirements to become a licensee, are available on the Initiative’s official website.”

All Eyes on Apple: iPhone, iPad Beat Android Devices in Eye-Tracking Study

  • A recent study by EyeTrackshop showed that Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPad 2 “drew more glances and held people’s attention longer than Google Android devices from Amazon, HTC, Motorola and Samsung,” reports Forbes.
  • The study showed participants a picture of six smartphones and five tablets. EyeTrackshop’s software tracked where subjects’ eyes went, in what order and how long, using webcams.
  • “EyeTrackshop said the results equate to respondents dwelling on the iPhone 4S 42 percent longer than the other phones and on the iPad 138 percent longer than the other tablets.”
  • Additionally, a follow-up survey indicated that 40 percent found the iPhone most visually appealing; for tablets, 35 percent for the iPad; and disregarding price, 47 percent said they would buy the iPhone and 48 percent preferred the iPad to other tablets.

Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba Join Forces for Planned LCD Venture

  • Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi announced they plan to merge their small screen divisions into one liquid crystal behemoth, to be known as Japan Display.
  • “The deal could create the world’s biggest maker of LCDs for mobile phones and cameras,” reports the New York Times, “with 22 percent of the market for small and midsize screens, according to DisplaySearch, an industry research firm.”
  • “By integrating each partner company’s wealth of display expertise and know-how, I am confident the new company will become a driving force for technological innovation and new growth in the rapidly expanding market,” says Howard Stringer, Sony’s chief executive.
  • The Japanese government has reportedly encouraged its nation’s manufacturers to consolidate as a means of competing with rivals such as South Korea’s Samsung, which is presently more profitable than any Japanese electronics manufacturer.
  • The venture must gain approval from antitrust regulators in Japan in order to move forward.

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