Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 beats iPhone 5 in display face-off

Apple and Samsung are facing off once again, with IHS iSuppli comparing the iPhone 5 touch-screen display with one of its biggest rivals, the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Despite Apple's efforts to slim down its new touch screen via in-cell technology, the iPhone 5 falls short of Samsung's flagship phone, according to IHS.

The new Apple offering sports a slimmer 1.5mm display (compared to the 2.1mm iPhone 4S) and a 72 per cent colour gamut (higher than the 4S's 50 per cent). The Galaxy S3's 1.1mm thickness and full 100 per cent colour gamut wins the match, but not necessarily the fight.

Having the first product with in-cell tech - or a touch panel combined with the main display - is a major achievement, according to Vinita Jakhanwal, director of IHS small and medium displays. Overall, the iPhone 5 is thinner than the Galaxy S3, and its display colour gamut is more than sufficient for most people, Jakhanwal said in a statement.

"Such improvements on the iPhone 5 are consistent with Apple's philosophy of selecting features designed to yield profitable products that deliver a superior customer experience, rather than providing technology for technology's sake," he said.

While the new technology allows more light to emit from the display and helps provide a more vibrant and crisper image, the iPhone 5 still doesn't meet the high colour gamut mark set by the Galaxy S3. But, it may not matter to most users, according to Jakhanwal. Some users have complained that the Samsung handset actually present oversaturated and unrealistic coloiring, he said.

In a recent DisplayMate smartphone shoot-out, the iPhone 5, iPhone 4, and Galaxy S3 were put to the display-quality test, which the new iDevice easily passed. According to DisplayMate, the iPhone 5 was a marked improvement from its former self in almost every category but brightness decrease and viewing angle.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Russia snubs Google for Android-style tablet

The Russian government has built a tablet computer using an Android-style operating system but deliberately avoids Google. The defence ministry unveiled the encrypted prototype at a Berlin electronics show this week according to a report by AFP.

Russia is wary of Google's operating system, reportedly believing that data collected and stored in Google databases could find its way into the hands of the US government. This could, Russia believes, expose some of their most sensitive communications to the Americans.

The project has been in development for five years and the project's manager has said that it is completely hack proof. He also said that many Russians have little trust in Google's security and are afraid that details could very easily be leaked through using it.

It is largely intended for state officials, although it will be on sale to the public by the end of the year at a cost of 15,000 roubles (£291). The military version will be shock-proof and waterproof and will have all the functional capabilities of an Android operating system.

The project has been run out of a military research facility but is privately funded. It was presented in Berlin to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the military's technological innovation. This is not the first time that Russia has developed technological projects driven out of fears over US systems.

It developed the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), a rival of the Global Positioning System, devised to help generals train their missiles on targets. The concept initially suffered but the system was eventually included in the software of Apple's latest iPhone.

Monday, August 13, 2012

London 2012: China assesses Olympic 'journey'

The Games saw China finish with 38 gold, 27 silver and 22 bronze medals, putting it second on the medal table behind the US. Although it bagged 51 golds in the 2008 Beijing Games, sports officials said this was the best-ever result in an Olympics not hosted by China, seemingly not greatly bothered by the fact that China was beaten by the US.

Calling the Olympics a source of inspiration, state-run China Daily newspaper said "the journey is more important than the destination". "For all athletes, as long as they have tried their best, they deserve the respect of spectators," it said.

"I think the general public was very happy with the result, with China finishing second after the US," Dong Jun, a journalist with China Radio International (CRI), told the BBC. "China's 2008 delegation was huge," David Yang, editor of the China Sports Review website, pointed out. "The delegation for London was roughly 60% the size."

"For a major sports nation like China, this was already a streamlined delegation - so their performance was splendid," Mr Yang said.
But it is clear not all Chinese people see the London Games as a happy experience. Chinese media have complained of unfair treatment meted out to Chinese athletes.

This includes questions over the record-breaking performance of female swimmer Ye Shiwen and the disqualification of two Chinese badminton players for match-throwing. Chinese players also hit out at refereeing in events such as gymnastics and track cycling.

People's Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial on Monday, saying athletes "faced naivety and bias from individual referees as they imposed punishments based on double standards".

And some netizens are very angry - it is not hard to find comments on China's Twitter-like weibo sites calling the London Games "a total failure". "London Olympics were the worst Olympics ever," said a Sina Weibo user in southern Guangdong province. "It has hosted the Games three times, but it was full of blunders."

"Britain, Germany, Japan and South Korea won shameless appeals, but China was always unfairly treated. I am so angry," said a Tencent Weibo user in northern Hebei province.

But there are some micro-blog comments that are positive, and China Sports Review's David Yang thinks perceived slights have been blown out of proportion. "I think it has happened at every Olympic Games in the past," said Mr Yang, who believes harsh comments are merely venting.

"All sports competitions - including the Fifa World Cup and the Uefa European Football Championships - all face the same problems. Refereeing is always a controversial issue in the media."

Friday, August 03, 2012

China Begins Construction on its First Luxury Cruise Liner

Last week marked the beginning of the construction phase of China’s first large luxury cruise liner, a project that is estimated to top $2.63 billion.

As part of a package of projects intended to boost tourism and the shipping industries at coastal cities, the Southeast China International Shipping Center package includes 10 projects led by the construction of the 100,000-ton luxury cruise liner. The package also includes building a cruise terminal and shipping business center in the city of Xiamen.

The cruise liner alone is said to cost approximately $487 million and leading international design firms are participating in the project.

According to Lin Shilin, an industry and investment official with Xiamen’s Haicang district, it could take up to 47 months to build the massive cruise liner. Once it’s complete, it will be able to carry more than 2,000 passengers and will be named, “Xiamen, China”. According to officials, the cruise liner won’t be ready to sail the waters until 2018.

Xiamen, China will be operated by a subsidiary of Beijing-based Shan Hai Shu Group, a conglomerate that already has an established partnership with US-based Royal Caribbean International.

Shan Hai Shu’s chief operational officer, Huang Ju, said, “With our own cruise liner, it will be easier to design cruise routes and develop our own tourism products.” The cruise liner is expected to further promote the city and help with economic growth in the region.

According to Xiamen’s tourism bureau, the city also plans to partner with global cruise tourism operators to build a world-class shopping and entertainment center on the cruise terminal. They hope to include the highest number of luxury stores in the world.

Locals hope that the city’s new industrial port belt, dubbed “Cruise City”, will allow “people arriving in Xiamen on cruises to have as much fun … as they do in Las Vegas.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Deep Dive: Mercedes-Benz S-Class and 2014 Audi A8

All three of the German luxury giants have new flagships coming in the next few years. We’ve already told you about the next-generation BMW 7 Series due in 2015 – and its M770ix variant – but now we have all the details on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and 2014 Audi A8. Georg Kacher details them below. –Ed

Countless S-Classes
Although the new S-Class is less than twelve months away, the outgoing model still tops its segment in China and Germany. The next big Benz will likely be offered in no fewer than seven different variations: a standard-wheelbase sedan (codenamed W222, 200.79 inches long); a long-wheelbase sedan (V222, 7.08-inch stretch); an extra-long-wheelbase sedan (X222, 13.78-inch stretch); a six-door Pullmann (25.59-inch stretch); a full-size CL-class replacement (C217, rumored to return to SLC moniker); a full-size CL convertible (A217); and a full-size four-door coupe (V217). Only Mercedes has the guts to offer a Pullmann luxury liner and a stately drop-top powered by an optional 680-hp, 811-lb-ft V-12 engine. Has it already forgotten Maybach’s failure?

From Pauper to Prince
The new modular rear-wheel drive architecture – dubbed Mercedes Rear Architecture – will stretch from a relatively humble four-cylinder mild hybrid S-Class to a quartet of ultra-luxurious Bentley and Rolls-Royce rivals. Lighter and more rigid than the current platform, MRA introduces a reengineered four-link front suspension, which separates the steering and braking forces from the spring and damper action. Unlike Audi and BMW, Mercedes-Benz keeps a relatively low carbon fiber profile, concentrating on steel, aluminum, and magnesium instead. The one notable exception is the new S63 AMG that sports a roof, trunk, hood, and doors made of carbon fiber.

Inside, the sixth-generation S-Class gets a completely redesigned dashboard with two large-format monitors, programmable instruments, extended voice and gesture control, head-up display, and knee and belt-integrated airbags. The long list of innovative driver aids includes dynamic LED headlights, the so-called Magic Carpet Ride chassis featuring a camera-based damper adjustment system, an ever-more-intelligent brake assist with cross traffic recognition, and a new active cruise control that can even execute lane changes and passing maneuvers.

From 2016 onwards (about a year after the car’s debut), Mercedes will start introducing the new in-line six-cylinder engines codenamed M256 (gas) and OM656 (diesel). The European S-Class launches with the familiar 2.1-, 3.0-, and 3.5-liter V-6 units, but it will switch to the more efficient straight sixes at the model-year changeover for 2017. The initial engine line-up should span from the 224-hp diesel installed in the S250 CDI to the mighty V-12 fitted to the S600 and the S65 AMG. The final metamorphosis of the outgoing V-6 is a 3.0-liter good for 333 hp. On the hybrid front, customers will be able to choose from three options: mild with a 41-hp electric motor, or one of two plug-in models with motors rated at either 68 hp or 109 hp. Even the least economical hybrid drivetrain returns a super-frugal 75mpg – but only because current European regulations ignore the energy used to charge the batteries.

2014 Audi A8: An Extensive Facelift
The facelifted 2014 Audi A8 looks like a new car. Major changes include completely restyled front and rear ends with less aggressive lights, a prettier grille, and more elegant bumpers. While the current A8 (pictured here) is doing really well in China, Ingolstadt’s halo car has been overtaken in Germany by underdogs like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Porsche Panamera. Enginewise, the high-end Audi will receive a more powerful 3.0-liter V-6 TFSI (310 hp instead of 290 hp), an improved 3.0-liter V-6 TDI (258 hp instead of 250 hp), and a brawnier 4.2-liter V-8 TDI (360 hp instead of 350 hp). Of those revised engines, only the V-6 options are expected to make it to U.S. cars. We fully expect the gasoline V-8 and W-12 engines to remain on offer with no major changes expected. Other upgrades include an MMI update, enhanced smartphone and infotainment connectivity, and additional driver assistance systems.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Apple's next iPhone to feature 'slimmer screen'

HONG KONG — Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone later this year with a slimmer screen thanks to updated touch-screen technology, a report said Tuesday.The next generation iPhone, referred to by fans as the "iPhone 5", is being manufactured by Asian component makers, Dow Jones Newswires quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Its panels will use "in-cell technology" integrating touch sensors into the LCD, it said.That makes a separate touch-screen layer unnecessary and reduces the screen thickness by about half a millimetre, Dow Jones quoted DisplaySearch analyst Hiroshi Hayase as saying.

The new technology will also boost displayed image quality, and help Apple cut costs as it would no longer have to buy touch panels and LCDs from separate suppliers, the report added.It said Japanese liquid crystal display makers Sharp and Japan Display Inc as well as South Korea's LG Display Co were currently mass producing panels for the next iPhone.

Apple is widely expected to launch the device in the third quarter of this year, around 12 months after the release of its hugely popular iPhone 4S -- the firm's first new product following the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the report or the next iPhone's release date when contacted by AFP.

The report came amid heated competition from rivals such as Samsung, whose flagship smartphone the Galaxy S III uses a 4.8-inch (12.2 centimetre) screen that is thinner than the current iPhone.Apple posted a $11.6 billion profit in the first three months this year, led by record sales of iPad tablet computers and iPhones -- the latter surging 88 percent year-on-year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Apple fights websites selling access to iOS6 beta code

Apple is cracking down on websites that sell access to pre-release, beta versions of its iOS6 iPhone and iPad software. Beta software is incomplete, and Apple only makes it available to software developers for testing purposes.

The websites charge about $10 (£6.45) to register an individual device so that it can run iOS6 beta software. Apple has sent legal notices to web-hosting companies requesting that they disable the websites.

Apple offers the latest finished versions of its iOS mobile operating system free, but charges registered developers $99 (£65) to access beta versions.

This payment entitles developers to "activate" the Unique Device IDentifier (UDID) numbers of up to one hundred iOS devices with Apple so that they can run iOS 6 beta software. iOS6 is expected to be released later this year.

Activation websites register developer accounts and pay Apple for a hundred device activations, and then sell these off individually at a profit.

"We have paid the fees and done all the work. All you have to do is register your iOS device on our account. Once you register, you'll be able to download the beta firmware and install it on your device," promises one activation site.

Within the last month Apple has issued DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices to Fused, a Seattle-based web-hosting company, in relation to activation websites it hosts, according to Fused chief executive David McKendrick.

A DMCA takedown notice is a formal way for a copyright holder or their agent to demand removal of allegedly infringing content from the Internet.

The sites in question had been active for three months, Mr McKendrick said, and Apple claimed in the notices that they breached its developer agreement or facilitated copyright infringement.

"This is definitely a new move on Apple's part," he said. Apple prohibits developers from providing pre-release software to anyone other than their employees and contractors who have a "demonstrable" need to use it to develop and test applications on their behalf.

But Mr McKendrick added that Apple's action was unlikely to be effective, because many of the sites in question were in the process of moving their sites to hosting firms based outside the US.

"Apple is definitely fighting a losing battle on this one. Unless they go directly after the developer accounts abusing the process, they have little chance scrubbing these sites off the web," he said.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Apple Preps for New Tablet

Apple Inc.'s AAPL +1.15% component suppliers in Asia are preparing for mass production in September of a tablet computer with a smaller screen than the iPad, people familiar with the situation said, suggesting a launch for the device is near.

Two of the people said that the tablet's screen will likely be smaller than eight inches. The iPad's screen measures 9.7 inches, unchanged since the first model was released in 2010.

Officials at the component suppliers, who declined to be named, said this week that Apple has told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Apple was testing such a device but hadn't yet decided whether to proceed with production.

One person said the screen makers Apple is working with include LG Display Co. LPL +4.44% of South Korea and Taiwan-based AU Optronics Co. AUO +1.24%

An Apple spokeswoman in California declined to comment.

Analysts said a smaller tablet could help Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple maintain its dominance in a market that keeps getting more crowded. Competitors include Samsung Electronics Co. 005930.SE +1.36% and Inc., AMZN +0.09% while Microsoft Corp. MSFT +0.65% and Google Inc. GOOG +1.27% recently unveiled tablet devices.

Last year, the iPad held a 62% share of the world-wide tablet market, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli, which expects overall tablet sales this year to surge 85% to 126.6 million units..

As the market continues to expand, consumers' choices—in size, technical specifications and price—are growing more varied. Last week, Google started taking orders for the Nexus 7, a tablet device with a seven-inch screen that will sell for $199. That matches the price of Amazon's Kindle Fire, which came out last year and also has a seven-inch screen.

Microsoft's Surface tablet, expected to debut this fall, has a 10.6-inch display, larger than the iPad. Microsoft's Windows Chief Steve Sinofsky said that it will be "priced like comparable tablets."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Google tablet 'Nexus 7'

Google announced its first tablet computer this week. Significantly undercutting Apple's pounds 499 iPad, the pounds 159 "Nexus 7" aims to popularise these new devices in the same way that Amazon's Kindle made e-readers mass-market. But the company's ambition is wider than that - it sees inexpensive computers running the living room and the lives of millions of users. And it wants to be the company that makes the software used on all of them.

The 7in device, which will launch this summer, is not a direct competitor for the iPad, however. It aims to take a different, cheaper route, leaving the very premium end of the market available for manufacturers such as Samsung, who use Google's Android software, to compete with Apple's all-conquering, innovative device. Google has added TV, magazines and movie purchasing to the Play Store, its rival to iTunes, so that it can challenge Apple effectively. Indeed, Google described its new tablet as "built for Google Play".

Underlying the firm's ambitions to dominate the future of computing is Android. This time last year, there were already 100 million devices running Android. Today there are 400 million, with 1 million new ones added each day. That may be 12 per second, but Google knows that not many of those are tablets.

So Google has identified two ways to tackle Apple - the first is to improve how all Android devices run by offering a software upgrade called Jelly Bean for phones and tablets. The aim is that people who use an Android phone will enjoy the experience so much that they will want to complete the "ecosystem" with an Android tablet. Google has tried, under the codename Project Butter, to make the software smoother and, to borrow a word from Apple, consistently "delightful". It's an apparently subtle change that should make a big difference to how people feel their phone or tablet works. The brain, Google points out, can detect a lag of even 10 milliseconds in how a touchscreen works.

The second strand is more conspicuous: a new product called Q (for America only so far) offers media streaming, while elsewhere there are new features for phones and tablets. These improve the way the voice search or the camera works, predict the next word you want to type, or allow you to dictate to your phone.

Other features automate existing features - for example, phones are able to learn when you commute and will automatically suggest a better route or tell you when your next bus leaves. If you've searched the internet for a flight, you can now be kept updated on its status, and if you're travelling Google can make translation more accessible.

All of this points towards Google putting its set of products together in a cleverer way - but they still need the army of software developers that has so far congregated around Apple.

At the San Francisco conference, Google made it clear they know that: "There's never been a better time to be a developer - now you can take an idea and build businesses."

If that convinces people, then Google will be able to do for the mass market what Apple has already done for the elite of iPad and iPhone users.

Google's Nexus 7 tablet feels like the device that might just usurp the Kindle. It does everything that Amazon's device has done so successfully since it launched in 2007, but with Google you can now also watch videos, browse beautifully rendered magazines and the web, and of course check your email.

A Kindle costs from just pounds 89, but those extra functions are likely to persuade a huge number of people to part with pounds 159.

Indeed, it's the design of the product that makes Google's mass-market ambitions clear. Just as the iPad is not worried by Kindle sales, so it is unlikely to be worried by the Nexus 7. This is a device that feels coolly utilitarian, rather than luxurious.

But Google is not the web search engine for a minority of users; it has always aimed to be ubiquitous. And with Nexus 7, it wants to make the ubiquitous tablet. The 7in screen does everything it needs to with a resolution of 1280px x 700px, and at 340g it weighs enough to feel substantial without being burdensome.

There are nudges toward the future, however: press the button to get to a standard Google search page and, rather than a blank screen you get details about flights or films you've recently searched for. That ties web search in with everyday life, and it makes the web increasingly central to a wider range of functions.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GDSX Launches New Technology for Travel Management

Travel technology provider GDSX, Ltd. reports the introduction of TripLink, a first of a kind product to capture travel data and managing real-time customer-service processes for trips purchased outside of a corporation’s standard booking channels.

The GDSX solution enables Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and Corporate Travel Departments to actively support the traveler during a trip with itinerary changes and on-the-road problems. It will ensure the integrity of a corporation's duty-of-care programs to locate travelers in case of emergency, GDSX says.
"We seek to strengthen and expand the current managed-travel model for Corporate Travel Departments, TMCs and Global Distribution Systems (GDSs). By bringing rail, hotel, limo and other data into the managed-travel model, with its efficient workflows and automated Quality Controls, the entire trip process can be managed in support of the traveler and employer," stated GDSX Chief Executive Officer Cindy Allen.

"We want to distance GDSX, and the TripLink solution and our customers from the controversy over travel distribution. It is not about an agenda of any kind on any front, but rather an effort to deliver a solution intended to protect our industry’s key stakeholders -, the managed travel community, - in this time of change, innovation and evolution, " Allen said.

Corporate Travel Manager and GDSX customer, Jennifer Steinke of US Foods said corporate buyers and TMC’s need the flexibility to manage bookings for travelers regardless of where they originate. TripLink can import those bookings and put them into formats that can be managed and reported together with other reservations.

TripLink can also import data that hasn’t been collected, combined, and managed in the past, GDSX says. New data will allow TMC‘s to look not just at travel spending - and compare booked vs. actual spending - but also to analyze spending by trips and by destinations. Armed with that knowledge, TMC’s can project future travel costs more accurately.