Samsung Patent Adds Depth-of-Field to Point-and-Clicks

  • Samsung’s recent patent application illustrates how it is possible to add shallow depth-of-field to a point-and-shoot or smartphone camera.
  • The approach makes use of a dual-lens setup (similar to what we’ve seen with 3D cameras lately), where one lens captures full resolution of the target image while the other calculates and records relative distances.
  • The camera then merges the data with the primary image in order to create a depth map. A graduated blur is applied, based on this depth map, adding simulated depth-of-field.
  • The concept is not found in any product; however, Engadget is optimistic: “No word on whether this neat trick will make its way to consumers’ hands — but with 3D still the reigning buzz, we’d upgrade that possibility to a very likely.”
  • The Photography Bay post includes a link to the patent application.

Smart TV Platform Flingo Merges Television and the Web

  • Flingo has created a development platform to integrate the Web and TV.
  • The company’s video demo shows how you can “fling” a YouTube video from your PC to your TV.
  • Their technology is already available in over half the TVs being sold including those from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Western Digital.
  • It is currently available on 5.7 million TVs in 117 countries. You can also buy Flingo-enabled Blu-ray players and Roku boxes.
  • The goal is to merge TV and the Web, allowing media partners like Fox, Showtime and others to build apps that integrate both.
  • Flingo was founded in 2008 by former BitTorrent employees Ashwin Navin and David Harrison.

Yahoo! Connected TV Claims 8 Million Devices and 140 Apps

  • Yahoo! Connected TV has over 140 apps and will be introducing the Y! Connected TV Store to sell apps on a 70/30 percent revenue sharing model.
  • Yahoo! made a widget development kit available that provides publishers the opportunity to build new apps.
  • The company is rolling out broadcast interactivity that tailors ads based on viewer interests.
  • Device control technology allows television interactivity with smartphones and tablets.
  • Watch in 2012 for the platform to appear in new TVs by Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, LG and Vizio.

New App from Samsung Offers Streaming 3D Content

  • Samsung announced that the Explore 3D app on its SmartHub-connected TV interface is now offering free streaming 3D content.
  • The app is streaming 3D movie trailers, music videos, educational content and full programs from Wealth TV.
  • The company says Explore 3D will provide access to paid 3D content later this year, including feature films, shorts, and documentaries.
  • The app is powered by Rovi and includes its Cloud-based metadata and RoxioNow platform.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Takes on the Apple iPad 2

  • International Business Times provides an interesting side-by-side comparison of tablet market leader Apple iPad 2 and the newly available Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
  • For the Galaxy Tab: higher display resolution (1280×800 vs. iPad’s 1024×768); more RAM; 9 ounces lighter and 0.01 inch thinner than the iPad; Adobe Flash playback capability; features new Plane to Line Switching (PLS) panel technology that enhances brightness, clarity and viewing angles; higher megapixel cameras and 1080p video capability.
  • However, Galaxy Tab’s thinness was achieved by excluding USB, HDMI and SD card slot.
  • For the iPad 2: better battery life than the Galaxy Tab (10 hours vs. 6 hours under similar conditions); better speaker sound, particularly at a higher volume; and perhaps most importantly, more than double the number of available apps (425,000 and growing).
  • The Galaxy Tab is powered by Honeycomb 3.1 OS: “And, no matter whichever way you look at it – slice it or dice it – Honeycomb lacks the finesse and elegance of iOS.”
  • Conclusion: “Galaxy Tab is the best Android tablet to be ever released. No doubt about that. But if you’ve made up your mind about getting iPad 2, don’t give it a second thought. The UI of iOS will not make you want to regret your decision.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: the iPad 2 of Honeycomb Tablets

CNET offers a “first look” video review of the new 32GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, a Honeycomb tablet recently demonstrated at the annual Google I/O event (the full production unit will be available June 8). The video notes that the “10.1” in the device’s name refers to the screen size and the UI is the same as that of the Motorola Xoom running Android. However, the review also notes that the Galaxy Tab has more in common with the iPad 2 than the Xoom.

The CNET review describes the new device: “As thin as the iPad 2 and even lighter, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the sexiest Honeycomb tablet we’ve seen. Also, it has an 8-megapixel back camera and a 2-megapixel front camera, and powerful dual speakers.” On the negative side, the review points out that lack of ports may be problematic to some users — and that from a design perspective, the plastic back of the limited edition version feels less solid and looks like “cheap kitchen wallpaper” (the release this summer may not have this problem).

The CNET evaluation goes on to praise the clean design, screen size, 1280×800 resolution and overall performance.

The bottom line: “Apple still has superior support for games, apps, music, and movies. While Honeycomb 3.1 seeks to offer more features, it’s still not here yet. So, if it’s down to these two tablets, we still recommend the iPad 2; however, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 would be the Android tablet of choice.”

Related Xconomy article: “The iPad Finally Has a Worthy Rival: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1” (5/13/11)

Related Engadget post and video: “Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition (white) hands-on from Google I/O!” (5/10/11)

Related PC Magazine post and slideshow: “Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1” (5/10/11)

Google Unveils Its New Chrome OS Netbooks

Anxious to promote its new Web-based Chrome operating system introduced this week at Google I/O in San Francisco, Google announced its plans to begin selling netbooks based on the Chrome OS starting June 15. The devices, aimed primarily at enterprise customers, will use Web-based applications rather than storing software.

The new Chromebooks will initially take the form of Wi-Fi- and 3G-based laptops from Acer and Samsung that will start at $350 (available from retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy). Verizon will offer 3-year 3G contracts priced at $28/month for up to 100MB of wireless data usage.

Google also announced a new feature to the Chrome Web Store that will enable developers to configure one-touch in-app purchases. Google will reportedly take only 5 percent of the purchase price (comparatively, Apple takes 30 percent).

According to InformationWeek: “The pricing of Google’s subscription plan is modest: For $28 per user per month, businesses will receive Chromebooks, Web-based administration controls, enterprise-level support, a warranty, and hardware replacement upon subscription renewal. Schools and governments have access to the subscription package for $20 per user per month. Access to Google Apps for Business is not included; it will continue to be offered for $50 per user per year.”

Related CNN Money article: “Google makes push for the Enterprise with Chrome” (5/12/11)

Related PC Magazine article: “Hands On: Samsung Series 5 Chromebook” (5/12/11)

Samsung: Consumers Embrace 3D TV, Need More 3D Content

IPTV News interviews Vassilis Seferidis, director of business development at Samsung Electronics, in this interesting article regarding the direction of 3D TV. Based on recent market growth and the update of 3D TV channel subscriptions, Seferidis believes consumers have no hesitation in enthusiastically adopting 3D TV. He adds that the fundamental obstacle in moving forward at this point is the availability of 3D content.

In terms of technological progress at Samsung, Seferidis comments, “For our 2011 TV line-up we have introduced a series of 3D TV innovations including: new lightweight active 3D glasses with better shutter synchronization for better separation of the two stereo channels; wireless (induction-based) re-charging station for 3D glasses; the ability to add prescription inserts to your 3D glasses (similar to those used in diving goggles); and improved processing of the 3D video signal on the TV panel for a better separation and presentation of each stereo channel.”

Seferidis is slated to deliver a presentation in mid-May at the 3DTV World Forum in London’s Thistle Marble Arch Hotel.

Samsung Plans Retina Display for Future Tablet PCs

Engadget reports that Samsung Semiconductor has revealed plans to drastically increase the pixel density of the company’s tablets. Samsung projects that it will have tablet PC displays with 300 to 400 pixel-per-inch (ppi) resolutions as early as 2015.

Samsung’s current Galaxy Tab has a seven-inch, 1024 x 600 panel (about 170ppi), but the company suggests that similarly sized tablets may go beyond 1080p as pixel density increases (while still maintaining 8-10 hours of battery life). Samsung also said it would consider a glasses-free tablet display, based on consumer adoption of stereoscopic 3D.

The iPad 2 was originally expected to come with a Retina Display like the iPhone 4 screen from LG, but it didn’t happen. Rumors have already begun circulating about a Retina Display for the iPad 3 if the cost remains competitive.

As tablets go well beyond 1080p resolution, what will that mean for content producers?

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