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To summarize IGZO is the latest LCD technology advancement vs. Hydis: its FFS succeeding IPS [core information page on this same ‘Experiencing the cloud’ site, May 11 – Oct 12, 2012] or the earlier AH-IPS technology from LG Display and True HD IPS of LG Mobile LTE superphones: Nitro HD (AT&T) and Spectrum (Verizon) [‘Experiencing the cloud’, Jan 19, 2012], or the even more earlier Plane to Line Switching (PLS) screen technology (Samsung) [‘Experiencing the cloud’, Oct 2, 2011] which is essentially the same as the well established IPS [Wikipedia] technology.
More information on Sharp: IGZO is coming [core information page on this same ‘Experiencing the cloud’ site, Jan 20, 2013]
Tech investment banking expertise to strengthen the unique value focus of growing the HTC brand and to achieve high growth again
– HTC sees revenues down sharply on-year in July [DIGITIMES, Aug 7, 2012]
HTC saw its revenues dip 16.7% on month and 44.5% on year to a five-month low of NT$25 billion (US$834.45 million) in July. For the first seven months of 2012, revenues amounted to NT$183.9 billion, decreasing 32.8% from a year earlier, according to company filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TSE).
… With HTC estimating its revenues to reach only NT$70-80 billion in the third quarter [US$2.3-2.7 billion], it is unlikely to see HTC’s revenues rebound to NT$30 billion in August and September, the Chinese-language Commercial Times said on August 7 report.
– HTC sees fall in 3Q12 sales with lower margin [DIGITIMES, Aug 3, 2012] [US$3.5 billion]
HTC reported second-quarter consolidated revenues of NT$91.04 billion (US$3.04 billion), in line with its targeted NT$91 billion, which had been cut from its original target of NT$105 billion [US$3.5 billion]. Gross margin and operating margin for the second quarter came to 27.01% and 9%, respectively.
Second-quarter sales represented a 34.3% increase, but were 26.8% lower than those posted in the second quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, gross margin and operating margin showed improvement from the prior quarter, but decreases compared to the same period of 2011.
HTC generated net profits of NT$7.4 billion, or NT$8.90 a share, in the second quarter of 2012. Profits declined more than 50% from a year earlier, but rose over 60% on quarter.
– HTC adjusts workforce [DIGITIMES, July 25, 2012]
HTC has been adjusting human resources in its production, R&D, and sales teams. Industry sources believe corporate restructuring is necessary as HTC’s sales have been declining.
Sales of the HTC One series have not been picking up due to tough competition in Europe and North America. HTC has been adjusting its global workforce by shutting down the R&D team in North Carolina, US, and offices in Brazil. Some members of the R&D team have been laid-off and there will be no renewals of contracts for 600 workers. The adjustments have impacted close to 1,000 staff.
– Nokia, RIM and HTC to see smartphone shipments continue sliding in 2H12, say sources [DIGITIMES, July 9, 2012]
Nokia, RIM and HTC are expected to see their smartphone shipments, as well as market share, continue declining in the third and fourth quarters of 2012 due to a lag in migration to new platforms and weakening competitiveness of their products, according to industry sources.
Despite efforts initiated by Nokia, RIM and HTC to fend off competition from Apple and Samsung Electronics, RIM and HTC have reported lower than expected shipments for the second quarter of 2012, while Nokia is expected to see its second-quarter smartphone shipments drop below 10 million units, said the sources.
Although HTC managed to post a sequential gain in shipments in the second quarter, its second-quarter smartphone shipments barely reached nine million units, pointed out the sources.
HTC is expected to see its shipments stay flat or drop to eight million units in the third quarter and slip further to seven million in the fourth quarter, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report.
End of updates #2
Preliminary reading: HTC: the most promising ICT brand in Taiwan [Oct 18, 2010 – July 5, 2011; then with major updates on Feb 7, 2012
Source: HTC, Investor Relations
Updates #1: The MWC introduced HTC One series unveiled (for the first time) a proprietary HTC ImageChip image signal processor (thus not relying on ISPs coming with the Tegra 3 and Qualcomm S4 SoCs) in order to be able to take a shot “in just 0.7 seconds” and to have “a new superfast 0.2-seconds autofocus, continue to take nearly unlimited continuous shots“, as well as “capture a photo and shoot video at the same time” and be “also able to capture a photo frame from a previously recorded video.” (See also a detailed description of that inside of the so called HTC ImageSense feature set.) Such a hardware based differentiation approach will even be greater with HTC’s upcoming products according to the following news:
– HTC plans to develop customized processors [DIGITIMES, April 24, 2012]
In order to have significant product differentiation, HTC plans to cooperate with Qualcomm, Nvidia and ST-Ericsson to develop and produce customized processors with specific functions for its smartphones, according to Taiwan-based handset chip designers.
HTC may develop specific functions for its smartphones and secure supply of customized processors, but it may run the risk of inventories because such processors are unlikely to be adopted by other vendors, the sources commented.
– HTC plans to develop its own processor [China Times, April 23, 2012] with Google translation of the original in Chinese , or the same with Bing translation.The essential content of that was first reported by Unwired as: HTC is developing its own CPU for lower end smartphones with ST-Ericsson
HTC is following in the footsteps of Apple and Samsung, and is now working on its own dedicated applications processor. According to China Times, the Taiwanese smartphone maker has already signed memorandum of cooperation with ST-Ericsson to co-develop the chip.
Contrary to high performance Samsung and Apple CPUs which power their flagships, the new HTC processor will run the lower end smartphones. The devices with new chip will start shipping in volume sometime in 2013.
It seems that HTC is getting increasingly unhappy with Qualcomm, which powered most of HTC devices until this year. They have signaled their unhappiness in early February, and may even consider Qualcomm one of the reasons for the sales problems of the last few months. HTC has already added NVIDIA to its application processor supplier list –quad core Tegra 3 is powering non U.S. version of the new One X flagship. But it has yet to diversify on the lower end.
Turning to ST-Ericsson and co-developing its own, cheaper CPU, may also be a way for HTC to start moving down market with lower priced devices. Up until now – HTC was mostly focused on a premium high-end smartphones, pretty much ignoring the low-end of the market. But as component prices get cheaper, and ever better quality Android devices are released at ever lower price points by Samsung, ZTE and Huawei – Taiwanese vendor has to find a way to respond.
And this move may be one of the responses.
– HTC, Facebook jointly developing smartphone, say sources [DIGITIMES, April 25, 2012]
Given that Google is expected to continue to cooperate with Samsung Electronics for the development of the next-generation Nexus smartphone, HTC reportedly has decided to move forward in its own way and is currently developing a customized smartphone in cooperation with Facebook slated to be launched in the third quarter of 2012 at the earliest, according to industry sources.
HTC had previously joined forces with Google to launch Google’s first own-brand smartphone, the Nexus One. However, Google then shifted to cooperating with Samsung as its primary production partner for the launch of its second and third own-brand smartphones.
Since Samsung has become the top vendor of Android smartphones, Google will continue to have Samsung develop its next-generation Nexus models, leveraging Samsung’s innovation ability with regard to the Android platform, and its ability to control the supply of key components, said sources.
The new Android smartphone being developed by HTC will have a platform exclusive to Facebook to enable and integrate all functions available on the social networking site, the sources indicated. Previously, HTC launched two Facebook-enabled smartphones, the Salsa and Chacha.
Facebook is expected to further expand its investments and sources of income after becoming a public company, and the launch of own-brand smartphones will be part of its development strategy, the sources commented.
End of updates #1
HTC personnel change indicates new value focus: Goldman Sachs [Focus Taiwan, Taiwan’s national news agency, April 17, 2012]
… The 45-year-old Chang, an investment banker and partner at Goldman Sachs before joining HTC, will be responsible for corporate finance and accounting, strategic acquisitions and investment, and investor relations.
“We believe the change in CFO may indicate HTC’s more aggressive attitude toward its finance department in terms of creating value other than just accounting integrity,” Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Yen wrote in a research note.
For example, he said, added value could mean enhancing “the uniqueness and competitiveness of HTC’s smartphone products and services.”
Given HTC’s many acquisitions and strategic investments in content and mobile services in the past and its decent cash position, it could be creating a different value by choosing a CFO with industry and banking background, Yen said. …
Note: According to the detailed specifications given above these phones all have SLCD screens (see: Super LCD, Explained [DisplayBlog, Nov 24, 2011]), as on quite a number of higher end HTC smartphones in the last 2 years (since HTC Desire A8181 / HTC Bravo). Otherwise they have been using “transflective TFT LCD” mostly and in very few cases Super AMOLED.
Taiwan’s HTC Corp. launched several smartphones in China priced as low as 1,999 Chinese yuan (US$317) Tuesday in a bid to tap into the emerging mobile market.
The HTC launch in Beijing includes three smartphones in its customized New Desire series, which will go on sale from mid-April through three major Chinese telecom operators, according to a company statement.
The New Desire V, running on China Unicom’s 3G WCDMA network, will start from 1,999 Chinese yuan before subsidies, while the New Desire VC will support China Telecom’s CDMA 2000 frequency, for the same price tag.
Pricing for the New Desire VT, which will run on the country’s home-grown TD-SCDMA network provided by China Mobile, was not disclosed.
“The China market has always been a critical part of HTC’s global strategy. In addition to the HTC One series, we are introducing the New Desire series targeting Chinese consumers,” said Ray Yam, president of HTC’s China division.
“We believe HTC’s future is closely connected with China and that HTC will continue to bring the best experience and the most innovative smartphones to the country as soon as possible,” he added.
All the models in the New Desire series are equipped with a 4-inch display, a 1 GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera, according to the company.
Separately, HTC said its new “One” family will also hit store shelves in China this month, with price tags ranging from 2,688 to 5,688 yuan.
The Taoyuan-based manufacturer is hoping that the streamlined models and an increased retail presence will help it boost its market share in China, which stood at only about 2 percent last year, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley.
HTC Desire VC for China Telecom (CDMA2000)
China market: HTC launches One, new Desire lineups [DIGITIMES, April 18, 2012]
… HTC currently accounts for a 10% share of smartphones sold with a price tag over CNY2,000 in China, but has not entered the mainstream sub-CNY1,000 segment, indicated the sources. …
HTC Prepares to Launch Lower-end “Kewang” Smartphones for China [IDG News, April 17, 2012]
… The HTC Kewang V, or Desire in English, will launch on April 23 through mobile operator China Unicom. … HTC’s goal with the Kewang series is to provide smartphones at a low price, but also with high-performance and strong features, said Ethan Qian, an HTC spokesman. The Kewang line is being released only in China, he added. …
HTC Desire VT for China Mobile (TD-SCDMA)
On the afternoon of April 16, China Unicom and HTC jointly held “China Unicom fertile 3G HTC new Desire V listed” conference, officially released the HTC new Desire V. It is customized by China Unicom, has 9.3mm ultra-thin body, support dual card dual standby, using clocked at 1GHz Qualcomm MSM 7227A processor [with Cortex-A5 single core, having 1.57 DMIPS/MHz performance, while Cortex-A8 has 2.0 DMIPS/MHz], 4 inches [Super LCD] screen with a resolution of 480×800 (WVGA). The phone will be powered by the Android 4.0 system, using the HTC Sense 4.0 UI, 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus, [512MB RAM] 4GB ROM, integrated Beats audio audio technology, the battery capacity of 1650 mA. Bare metal price of 1999 yuan is also a bright spot.
Note: Nokia has a superior technology for better brightness, contrast and outdoor visibility with a significant enhancement of both In-Plane Switching (IPS) type TFT and AMOLED display panels typically used. See: The leading ClearBlack display technology from Nokia [Dec 18, 2011 – Feb 2, 2012], especially for comparison with Super LCD of HTC Mozart (as well as with the Super AMOLED of Samsung Galaxy S II).
Commentary: HTC appoints new CFO, but challenges remain [DIGITIMES, April 17, 2012]
HTC has reshuffled its management team again by appointing former Goldman Sachs Group partner Chia-Lin Chang as its chief financial officer, which is part of the company’s strategy for global deployment.
The new appointment, which took effect on April 16, came after HTC announced earlier a 70% on-year decline in net profits for the first-quarter of 2012.
Perhaps, the new CFO could help the Taiwan-based smartphone vendor secure more acquisitions to strengthen its global deployment, but it remains to be seen whether HTC is able to regain its growth momentum in 2012 as it faces more challenges in integration of its corporate culture as well as increasing competition.
HTC has created or added a number of high-level positions since the second half of 2010, including the appointments of Ron Loukes as chief strategy officer and Kouji Kodera as chief product officer in July 2010, and Matthew Costello as COO in December 2010. HTC also appointed Jason Mackenzie as its president of global sales and marketing in July 2011.
HTC has also brought in Scott Croyle of One & Company and Shashi Fernando of Saffron Digital responsible for design and content, respectively, through acquisitions of the two companies.
It is also the second time in less than two years HTC has changed its CFO. The newly appointed CFO Chia-Lin Chang replaced Winston Yung, who took the post in January 2011.
If the latest management team is unable to bring back the growth momentum in 2012 that HTC enjoyed during the period from 2010-2011, HTC will no longer be able to compete with Samsung Electronics, Apple and even Huawei Device in terms of economies of scale in production.
While the hiring of talent with management and marketing expertise from abroad, and the acquisition of certain companies overseas are indeed necessary for HTC in its thrust to become a global brand, the impact resulting from the integration of corporate culture on HTC is expected to intensify along with such processes.
Given that nearly all top-rank positions with the exception of the CFO post at HTC have been filled with foreign executives, the promotion of local talent will likely become a major issue of concern in the future.
HTC replaces CFO after just one year [15 1/2 months] on the job (update) [The Verge, April 17, 2012]
HTC has issued a statement on the transition:
On Monday, HTC announced the appointment of Chia-Lin Chang as Chief Financial Officer with Winston Yung, his predecessor, transitioning to a corporate development role.
“Media speculation that ties this announcement to HTC’s partnership and investment in Beats By Dre is categorically inaccurate,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “HTC and Beats have made impressive progress in innovation and brand awareness and the integration of the Beats brand and technology in the new HTC One series is a clear indication of our commitment to this partnership.”
Amazing camera, authentic sound, iconic design. HTC One has them all. [HTC YouTube channel, Feb 27, 2012]
BARCELONA, SPAIN – Mobile World Congress – February 26, 2012 – HTC, a global designer of smartphones, today unveiled its new HTC One series of smartphones that represent its most premium mobile experience with a new level of iconic design and amazing camera and authentic sound experience. …
With HTC’s most premium experience, the HTC One series integrates Android 4.0 (ICS) with HTC Sense™ 4, the new version of HTC’s branded user experience that is introducing HTC ImageSense™, a new suite of camera and imaging features that set HTC One apart from other phones. HTC Sense 4 also includes broad enhancements to audio quality and simplifies how people listen to music on their phone.
With ImageSense HTC One rivals traditional digital cameras with improvements to every part of the camera, including the lens, the sensor, the software, and even integrating a new custom HTC ImageChip. These enhancements combine to deliver our fastest image capture, best image quality under adverse conditions and easiest interface that enables quick access to capturing stills and videos with side-by-side photo and video capture buttons.
- Superfast Capture – HTC One dramatically reduces the time it takes to capture those key moments. In just 0.7 seconds you’re able to take a shot, and with a new superfast 0.2-seconds autofocus, continue to take nearly unlimited continuous shots simply by holding the shutter button.
- Good photos in adverse conditions – HTC One delivers dramatic enhancements in image capture quality even in adverse conditions such as low light, no light or with bright backlighting. The f/2.0 lens on the HTC One X and HTC One S offers best-in-class performance, capturing 40 percent more light than the f/2.4 lenses available on other high-end phones. HTC One also includes HDR, a market-leading technology, for taking great photos even when there are varying levels of brightness.
- Video Pic (Concurrent Video/Still Capture) – With Video Pic you capture a photo and shoot video at the same time. Now, while you’re shooting HD video, all you have to do is tap the shutter button and it snaps a high-resolution still photo while the video continues to shoot. You are also able to capture a photo frame from a previously recorded video.
… Authentic Sound
With HTC One, Beats By Dr. Dre Audio™ integration is enabled for the first time across the entire experience for richer, more authentic sound whether you’re listening to your favorite music, watching a YouTube™ video or playing a game. … All this makes HTC One the one place to enjoy all your music, wherever you are, with the power of Beats By Dr. Dre Audio and HTC Car.
HTC One X
… HTC One X is blazing fast with the new NVIDIA® Tegra 3 Mobile Processor for clear graphics, faster applications and longer battery life. It includes a 1.5GHz Super 4-PLUS-1™ quad-core with an integrated fifth Battery Saver Core and a high-performance 12-Core NVIDIA® GPU. The HTC One X also has an amazing 4.7-inch, 720p HD screen crafted from contoured Corning™ Gorilla Glass. HTC One X will also be available in select 4G LTE markets with a LTE-enabled Qualcomm Snapdragon S4™ processor with up to 1.5GHz dual-core CPU’s.
HTC One S
The HTC One S is for people who want a high-end smartphone in a more compact size. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with up to 1.5GHz dual-core CPU’s. It also includes a 4.3-inch screen crafted from contoured Corning™ Gorilla Glass. …
HTC One V
Utilizing the classic, award-winning design of the HTC Legend, the HTC One V brings top-end design to a smartphone with broad appeal and a premium experience that delivers an amazing camera and authentic sound. It features a simple, iconic aluminum unibody design that exudes craftsmanship and quality.
With unprecedented excitement, the HTC One series will begin shipping in April with broad global availability available beginning in April through more than 140 mobile operators and distributors globally. For more information and to pre-register for HTC One visit www.htc.com.
HTC Rezound™, the only phone with the Beats Audio™ built in [HTC YouTube channel, Nov 3, 2011]
HTC And Beats By Dr. Dre Set To Introduce New Era In Mobile Audio [from the 2011 HTC press releases]:
Strategic HTC investment to result in Beats integrated HTC phones this Fall.
Taoyuan, Taiwan & Santa Monica, CA – August 11, 2011– HTC Corporation, a global designer of mobile devices, today announced a strategic partnership and investment with Beats™ Electronics LLC, the company redefining the audio market with its iconic Beats by Dr. Dre™ audio experience. The two fast-growing brands will focus on bringing high performance sound to HTC phones. …
… “Beats has found a unique way to harness popular culture in a manner that is unlike any other brand today,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “It’s an exciting brand that has been built around providing something very special, and we believe our strategic partnership will provide customers with unbeatable sound on HTC phones. We obsess over every detail of a consumer’s mobile experience and audio is a critical part of that experience.”
… Established in 2006, Beats Electronics is the brainchild of legendary artist and producer Dr. Dre and Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records Jimmy Iovine, who set out to develop a new type of headphone with the capability to reproduce the full spectrum of sound that musical artists and producers hear in professional recording studios. For more information, please visithttp://beatsbydre.com.
The history of last HTC CFOs:
HTC Appoints Hui-Ming Cheng as CFO [HTC press release, Aug 23, 2006]
… he has served as CFO and Spokesperson for the Fubon Financial Holding Co. in Taipei. From October 2003 to February 2006, Mr. Cheng was VP and CFO of Taiwan Mobile and received the honor of being named as Taiwan’s best CFO by Institutional Investor Magazine in 2003. Prior to his appointment with Taiwan Mobile, Mr. Cheng held various senior-level positions with the Finance Center, Winbond Electronics Corp., China Development Industrial Bank, Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Asia Partner Fund.
Mr. Cheng received a BS in Chemical Engineering from National Taiwan University and an MBA from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University.
HTC Announces Winston K. S. Yung as Chief Financial Officer [HTC press release, Dec 23, 2010]
… Prior to joining HTC, Yung was the Chief Financial Officer for Shin Kong Financial Holding in Taiwan where he played a key role in the company’s success, and also held key positions at McKinsey & Co in Hong Kong. Yung received a bachelor’s degree in social sciences with an economics major from University of Hong Kong and a MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.
… HM Cheng, HTC’s current chief financial officer will retire from the company and move into an advisory role to HTC’s board of directors. Cheng joined HTC in September 2006 and successfully established a complete financial system and was a key contributor to HTC’s corporate governance system and HTC’s overall financial success
HTC names Chia-Lin Chang Chief Financial Officer [from the Latest HTC press releases]
Taoyuan, Taiwan – April 16, 2012 – HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announced the appointment of Chia-Lin Chang as Chief Financial Officer and spokesperson effective April 16, 2012.
Chia-Lin Chang’s predecessor, Winston Yung, joined HTC in January 2011. Winston will focus on corporate development, helping HTC maintain its competitive edge by strengthening the organization and corporate talent.
Chia-Lin, previously an investment banker and partner at Goldman Sachs, will be responsible for corporate finance and accounting, strategic acquisition and investment, and investor relations. Chang earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his Ph.D. degree, Chang served as an engineer at Motorola in the US.
GOLDMAN SACHS ANNOUNCES NEW MANAGING DIRECTORS [Goldmann Sachs press release, Oct 24, 2007] “… it has invited 299 individuals to become Managing Directors as of December 1, 2007, the start of the firm’s fiscal year. … Chia-Lin Chang …”
From: Latest HTC press releases:
HTC releases unaudited results for 1Q 2012
Taoyuan, Taiwan – April 6, 2012 –HTC corporation (TWSE: 2498), a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announces unaudited consolidated results for 1Q 2012. For the first quarter of 2012, total revenues reached NT$67,790 million, a decrease of 34.92% year-on-year. Unaudited operating income was NT$5,099 million, net income before tax was NT$5,551 million, net income after tax was NT$4,464 million, and unaudited earnings per share after tax were NT$5.35 based on 834,256 thousand weighted average number of shares.
2012 First Quarter Unaudited Consolidated Financial Results
(Unit: NT$ million, Except Earnings Per Share)
*Calculation of the after-tax EPS for first quarter 2011 was based on 807,867 thousand weighted average number of shares.
HTC Reports Fourth-quarter And Annual 2011 Results
Taoyuan, Taiwan, February 6, 2012– HTC Corporation (“HTC”, or the “Company”, TWSE: 2498), a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today announced consolidated results of the Company and its subsidiaries for the fourth quarter of 2011 and for the year.
• After-tax profit was NT$10.94bn, EPS was NT$13.06
• Total revenues were NT$101.42bn
• Gross profit margin and operating margin were 27.12% and 12.71%, respectively
• After-tax profit was NT$61.98bn, up 56.77% year-on-year; EPS was NT$73.32
• Total revenue was NT$465.79bn, up 67.09% year-on-year
• Gross profit margin and operating margin was 28.30% and 14.77%, respectively
• ROE was 70.37% compared to 56.33% in 2010
“In 2011 we saw growth in the global strength of our brand, as well as earnings and revenue growth,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. “While short term performance may not meet the results as expected, we have gained further experience and advancement in the areas of brand management and product innovation. These fundamental strengths and the groundwork we have laid will take us into 2012 with a renewed focus and determination.”
4Q 2011 Results
HTC’s fourth quarter revenue came in-line at NT$101.42bn, resulting in after-tax earnings of NT$10.94bn and EPS of NT$13.06. Gross profit and operating margins came in at 27.12% and 12.71%, respectively. The decline in gross profit margin was mainly a result of product transition.
2011 annual revenue was NT$465.79bn, a 67.09% increase over 2010 annual revenues (NT$278.76bn), resulting in after-tax earnings of NT$61.98bn. Overall gross profits and operating margins were 28.30% and 14.77%, respectively.
In 2011, in addition to solid growth in revenues and profits, HTC’s brand gained significant momentum in the global landscape, being named one of Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands.
In 2012, HTC will focus on: growing the Company’s brand value; continuing to create competitive advantages through innovation; enhancing the efficiency of marketing campaigns; and further driving down operating costs.
To expand its brand preference and value, HTC will work at a global level to build emotional connections with consumers, putting more of its marketing resources behind fewer products and driving value in those product brands. By building a globalized marketing campaign, HTC aims to optimize its go-to-market strategy with operators, retail distributors, and end-users, and improve the efficiency of its marketing spend. In emerging markets, such as China, HTC will continue to extend its reach to customers by expanding distribution channels.
Despite temporary weakness resulting from product cycle transition, HTC believes it has the ability to create a new wave of momentum through the upcoming product cycle. It will also continue its attention on mass market consumers by driving product differentiation through design and innovation.
The Company’s outlook for the first quarter of 2012 is as follows:
• 1Q revenue expected to be around NT$65-70bn
• Gross margin expected to be around 25%
• Operating margin expected to be around 7.5%
These margins are a temporary phenomenon and will normalized when product cycle transition is over.
Updates: Reflective OutLook: Shades of Gray or Colorful? [Touch and Display-Enhancement Issue of Information Display, Sept 21, 2012]
E Ink and SiPix
Meanwhile, could color have anything do to do with E Ink’s recent announcement of its intention to acquire SiPix, whose microcup technology does show promise in that area? E Ink will certainly utilize SiPix’s color capabilities, says Sriram K. Peruvemba, Chief Marketing Officer for E Ink Holdings. Peruvemba characterizes that color as having “some of the same advantages as E Ink in that it is low power, sunlight readable, thin, light … .”
Beyond a doubt, one area of interest for E Ink is SiPix’s manufacturing capabilities. “SiPix’s factories, equipment, and infrastructure are relatively newer, which gives us greater flexibility and additional capacity as we seek new markets,” says Peruvemba. Among the markets that the potential acquisition will make more accessible, he says, are digital signage and smart cards.
When it comes to E Ink, it isn’t necessarily all about color, notes University of Cincinnati’s Jason Heikenfeld, who has served as a guest editor for Information Display (and is also a founder of e-Paper up-and-comer Gamma Dynamics, mentioned later on). “We should maintain excitement about the continued expansion of monochrome e-Paper products,” he says. “A quiet revolution continues to take place there. Color-video e-Paper will also have its day, but today we should be impressed with E Ink’s continued product growth and diversification.”
Any way you look at it, with E Ink, whose share of the e-Reader market is more than 90%, poised to acquire AUO subsidiary SiPix, further consolidation in the e-Paper market seems inevitable. At press time, E Ink had reached an agreement to acquire 82.7% of SiPix’s shares and was seeking to acquire up to a 100% stake, valued at approximately NT$1.5 billion [US$ 51.2 million]. [See: Complementary ePaper technology adds to E Ink’s portfolio of offerings [E Ink Holdings press release, Aug 3, 2012]] As DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza wrote in a recent blog, titled And Then There Was One – E Ink to Acquire SiPix, “Combined with Bridgestone’s exit [earlier this year] from the electrophoretic display (EPD) business, this means that E Ink, the first company to mass produce EPDs, will be the sole manufacturer of the technology.”
Yet, the e-Paper story isn’t all black and white. In the future, look for news from Liquavista (which Samsung acquired in January 2011) and Gamma Dynamics (a spinoff from the University of Cincinnati). Both companies have video-capable displays (Liquivista’s is based on electrowetting and Gamma Dynamics’s on electrofluidics) that are reported to show more vibrant color than previously available.
Meanwhile innovation in “color inking” is continuing as evidenced by Vivid e-ink makes ditching books a colourful choice [NewScientist, Sept 5, 2012]
… Naoki Hiji of Fuji Xerox in Kaisei, Japan, and colleagues have built a prototype system that uses tiny fluid-filled cells containing cyan, magenta, yellow and white particles to produce almost any colour.
Black-and-white e-ink displays work by having negatively charged black particles and positively charged white particles suspended in fluid inside a cell. Apply a negative electrical field to the cell, and white particles move to the top and become visible; flip the current, and black shows up.
Hiji’s display uses the same principle, but each colour particle responds to a certain intensity of electrical field, while the white particles are uncharged (see diagram). …
No problem with reading on tablets over a long period of time [Eva Siegenthaler on IFeL bloggt, Sept 20, 2012]
“Tablets are not suited for reading over an extended period of time”; this statement is widespread. For example Scott Liu, head of the American-Taiwanese company E Ink Holdings, states that reading over an extended period of time on a Liquid Crystal display leads to increased visual fatigue. “The iPad is a fascinating multifunctional device, but not intended for hour-long reading” (stern.de). In comparison, E-ink readers, with their paper similar displays, are looked at as an adequate replacement for a book.
But is it true that the tablet is an inadequate device for reading over an extended period of time? Critical statements against the tablet as a replacement for the book are widespread but there is a lack of scientific evidence for these assumptions. For that reason, a study answering this question was implemented at the Institute for Research in Open- Distance- and eLearning (IFeL).
In a laboratory study, the participants read for several hours on either E-ink (Sony PRS-600) or LCD-Tablet (Apple iPad), where different measures of reading behaviour and visual strain were regularly (after each hour) recorded. These dependent measures included subjective (visual) fatigue, a letter search task, reading speed, oculomotor behaviour, and pupillary light reflex.
The results of the study show that reading on both display types is good and very similar in terms of both subjective and objective measures. Participants did not have more visual fatigue when reading on a tablet than when reading on an E-ink device. We concluded from this study that it is not the technology itself, but rather the image quality that is crucial for reading. The study shows that compared to the visual display units of past decades, recent electronic displays allow good and comfortable reading, even for extended time periods.
A few critical remarks still need to be made though. This laboratory study was conducted under artificial light conditions. Therefore it is unclear if an experiment under daylight conditions would lead to the same results. Another interesting question is how the sleep quality is influenced by different display technologies.
But still, the result of the study is an important novelty in reading research, and is opposed to many statements from publishers and subjective user self tests, that have stated that tablets are not appropriate for reading over a long period of time.
More information on the study is available online: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-1313.2012.00928.x/abstract
Siegenthaler, E., Bochud, Y., Bergamin, P. and Wurtz, P. (2012), Reading on LCD vs e-Ink displays: effects on fatigue and visual strain. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 32: 367–374. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-1313.2012.00928.x
Beyond the Kindle: what the future holds for E Ink [TechRadar, Sept 10, 2012]
IN DEPTH Ereaders for classrooms, smart locks and dual screen smartphones on the cards
“The ereader market has been tripling in volume since 2007 but not this year,” explained Siram Peruvemba, E Ink’s chief marketing officer, to TechRadar.
“It is partly to do with tablets but the biggest reason is that the economy is off at the moment… we have also seen not as many product launches as last year and the year before.”
“We believe that E Ink will come to home appliances. We are thinking differently – we want E Ink on every surface.
“There are a lot of dumb surfaces around and by adding the E Ink technology we can transform them, by adding a display and making them smart.
“We are going to keep going in that direction, enhancing products. Whether it is animated shelf labels, USB keys… drills.”
“We create a lot of these concepts and some of them go nowhere, while some are picked up” – the company continues to create prototypes to show how versatile E Ink technology can be.
It also seems that sometimes an E Ink device created for one specific market may take on a wholly different guise when it is finally released in the wild.
“One concept that was picked up but not how we originally intended was our E Ink lock,” said Peruvemba.
“This was originally pitched as a bicycle lock, where it could tell you if your bike was locked properly or not. It’s very low powered, just an E Ink display with a hole in the middle. But it just didn’t get picked up; no one in the bicycle world wanted it.”
“And then a company called InVue decided to take it on and use it for cabinet displays, it’s virtually indestructible so no more broken keys – alleviating a problem that retailers have with their cabinets.”
This move away from ereaders doesn’t mean that E Ink is not innovating in the market it continues to dominate.
The latest kindle to be launched, the Kindle Paperwhite, shows that E Ink can compete with tablets when it comes to display.
Using E Ink’s Pearl technology and LED lighting it means you can use your Kindle in the dark, but still offer a screen that’s easier on the eyes – something tablets just can’t do.
One final place where we could see an E Ink screen is on the back of a mobile phone. Again, it’s E ink’s mantra of making a ‘dumb’ space smart. According to Peruvemba an additional screen on a mobile could be exactly what consumers need.
“Most of these mobile phones have nothing going on on the back.
“We can add another display at low cost on the back of the device and offer things like clocks, stock information.”
Peruvemba also hinted: “There are vendors looking into this technology – it is very new but typically we should see this type of concept come within the year.”
Looks like the world is going to be E Ink stained for some time to come.
E-Ink concept double-display smartphone hands-on [SlashGear, Aug 31, 2012]
… What could a twin-screen smartphone of this sort be used for? E Ink has a few ideas, though is leaving most of that to OEMs. An ereader app is the obvious choice, though you could also show a digital boarding pass for a plane (even if you had no battery life remaining on your phone to drive the regular screen), QR codes, or mapping directions. Alternatively, the panel could be used to show promotional information, such as vouchers for nearby stores, or even sponsored messages in return for free call, message and data credit. …
… In 2011 consolidated sales revenues totaled NT$ 38.43 billion [US$1.3 billion], a growth of 53% as compared to 2010. Profit after-tax totaled NT $6.53 billion [US$220.85 million] and EPS totaled NT$6.05, a growth of 59 percent as compared to 2010. … Scott Liu, the chairman of E Ink, said, “… in 2012 we expect to strengthen our competitiveness and continue development of both flexible and color ePaper technologies. Additionally, we expect a customer to launch a high-resolution product with touch technology within this year.”
As to market development, Liu said, “in addition to the eReader market, we are also actively expanding into the education and business markets. …”
Today E Ink also announced the launch of a new global website, www.einkgroup.com, which provides product, technology and operational information for all of the companies under the E Ink umbrella.
Sriram Peruvemba, chief marketing officer of E Ink Holdings, said: “As our businesses expand and products become diversified, we are keenly aware of the importance of integrating our internal resources globally. This is why we decided to launch einkgroup.com as the portal of E Ink Holdings around the globe. This website provides information of product and technology of E Ink Holdings, in which browsers can easily find the information they need.”
Visitors to the site will find a consolidated location to browse the technology, product offerings and company backgrounds for the organizations under the E Ink Holdings umbrella. The site will host the Investor Relations portal for E Ink Holdings, as well as sales and marketing information. In addition to their inclusion in the new website, product line websites, such as www.eink.com and www.hydis.com will continue to host information particular to their technologies and job offerings.
Shares of E Ink under pressure amid market uncertainty [Focus Taiwan of the CNA, Feb 23, 2011]
“Despite record high earnings for 2011, E Ink’s gross margin has been squeezed by price cuts by the Kindle series of e-paper devices of Amazon, which is the largest customer of the Taiwanese firm,” Mirae Asset Management analyst Arch Shih said.
“With market uncertainty expected to continue to impact product prices, I am afraid that E Ink’s profit margin will keep falling in the first quarter of this year,” he said.
In the fourth quarter of last year, E Ink’s gross margin fell 6.8 percentage points to 28.6 percent, while it posted NT$1.28 billion in net profit, or NT$1.19 per share, down from NT$2.08 recorded in the third quarter.
… “Amazon has tried its best to stage a price war in a bid to grasp a larger market share, and at the same time, it has cut contract production fees to its suppliers like E Ink,” Shih said. “This development has imposed a pressing threat to E Ink’s operations.”
“Share prices tend to reflect forward-looking prospects, so it was no surprise to see investors dumping the stock,” he went on.
E Ink said it has become very cautious about its earnings outlook for 2012 and that it is possible its sales and profit will see the largest challenge of the year in the first quarter due to slow-season effects.
Shih said the global EPD market is suffering a failure to expand content to attract buyers and that the problem is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.
“I doubt E Ink will have a quick turnaround after the first quarter. Its share price is expected to continue to be pressured,” Shih said.
E Ink reports 33.26% earnings decline [Taipei Times, Feb 23, 2011]
… The decline in profit was because of the higher shipments of fringe field switching (FFS) LCD panels, which offer lower margins than the company’s flagship product — e-paper — E Ink chairman Scott Liu (劉思誠) said at an investors’ conference yesterday. …
Liu said this year would be a “challenging year full of uncertainties,” mainly because of the possible fallout from the unresolved eurozone debt crisis.
“Clients are conservative and said the market visibility is low,” he said, adding that E Ink would no longer provide shipment targets or projections in a response to clients’ requests.
E Ink posts EPS of over NT$6 in 2011 [DIGITIMES, Feb 23, 2012]
EIH plans to launch its next-generation color e-paper products in the fourth quarter of 2012, but the company currently does not have plans to ramp up its capacity for color EPD products, Liu said.
The company is also developing flexible e-paper products, using plastic substrates instead of glass substrates used previously, with new products to be released in the third or fourth quarter, Liu revealed.
Amazon 6″ color Kindle will not be arriving this year [übergizmo, Feb 21, 2012]
Just yesterday we reported that according to Digitimes, Amazon is supposedly working on a 6” Kindle e-reader that will be utilizing colored e-ink. This rumor supposedly came about based on reports that E Ink Holdings had landed an order from Amazon for 6” color e-reader modules, but Nate Hoffelder over at The Digital Reader, who’s had a pretty decent track record when it comes to these rumors, doesn’t seem to think so.
According to Nate who contacted his source at E Ink, this is completely untrue. His source told him that if Amazon were indeed planning a color e-reader, they would only be able to start shipping them in a year’s time, because that would be how long it would take Amazon to set up a new production line for this rumored device.
He also revealed that while E Ink has been making the Triton screens for years, it has mainly been the 9.7” model and not one in the 6” variety like the rumors had suggested and can be found in the Ectaco Jetbook Color. For now it looks like if you had hopes for a 6” color Amazon Kindle e-reader this year, you could be out of luck but we’ll be keeping our eyes open either way.
End of updates
EPD maker E Ink Holdings (EIH) reportedly has landed orders for 6-inch color e-book reader modules from Amazon with shipments to begin in March, according to a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report.
Shipments of the touched-enabled e-book reader modules are expected to top three million units a month, the paper said.
EIH is to reveal its financial results for 2011 at an investors conference on February 22, said the paper, which added that EIH is expected to report an EPS of over NT$6 (US$0.2) for the year.
At: E Ink lands 6-inch color e-book reader module orders from Amazon, says paper [Feb 20, 2012]
So, E Ink’s business seems to expand quite well along the traditional e-book reader direction. But what is the more general business direction? In this post I am giving the answer.
Before that it is also worth to go through the previous posts: E Ink Holdings EPD prospects are good [April 30, 2011 – Jan 9, 2012], Barnes & Noble NOOK offensive [May 25, 2011], E Ink and Epson achieve world-leading ePaper resolution [May 23, 2011] and Hanvon – E-Ink strategic e-reader alliance for price/volume leadership supplementing Hanvon’s premium strategy mostly based on an alliance with Microsoft and Intel [Dec 21, 2010].
The marketing idea of E Ink as a technology for all kind of smart surfaces came up in 2008 at the E Ink Corporation when it was an organization independent of any EPD panel manufacturers:
“Fashion is a key driver in today’s world,” said Sriram Peruvemba, Vice President of Marketing, E Ink Corp. “E Ink offers a smart surface that changes the design and brings mobile phones to the fashion forefront of technology.”
See: E INK ANNOUNCES MOBILE PHONE DESIGN WINS IN JAPAN [July 22, 2008]
When in 2010 it was acquired by the leading EPD panel manufacturer (then called Prime View International, immediately renamed as E Ink Holdings) that idea was picked up by the new owner as well and even extended into a kind of a general vision:
“The E Ink name is synonymous with the ePaper industry that we pioneered and in which we enjoy a leadership position,” said Dr. Scott Liu, Chairman and CEO of E Ink Holdings Incorporated. “We are now a globally recognized brand name and aim to have our displays on every smart surface.”
See: PRIME VIEW INTERNATIONAL (PVI) IS NOW E INK HOLDINGS INCORPORATED [June 18, 2010]
And now at CES 2012 we had a full manifestation of that marketing concept:
The above note produced by the author of video, Nicolas Charbonnier, aka Charbax, is not meant to elaborate all the talk by the Chief Marketing Officer of E Ink Holdings Sriram Peruvemba (or Sri Peruvemba). Since this post is about the strategic value proposition of E Ink I had to compose a note of my own which also corresponds to the order of presentation by Sri Peruvemba on the Charbax video:
- Amazon Kindle lineup, most used in the area of leasure reading.
- The 11.5″ 300DPI eDocument reader made in collaboration with Epson, going beyond publishing into what they are calling e-document space. Their plan is to replace electronic forms that are used by different folks with their laptops replacing printed paper, pads of paper and that sort of the things. These devices will have WiFi support, pen input and ability to edit. Some applications you may imagine are in inventory logistics, in the doctor’s office, and attorneys and other office people carrying this. They can put a number of images on them which would be very suitable for this 300DPI display, e.g. circuits, graphs, charts, maps and that sort of things. This has almost twice the resolution of the most of the other displays they are shipping which have a 167 to 200DPI resolution.
- With E-Ink technology they are at the point where it is better than reading on printed paper [for B/W]. Now they have pen input available on their devices thus replacing both printed paper and pen with their products. The idea here is to allow people to highlight, annotate, write notes and use it to fill-out forms. The E-Ink display would come into play during this (not the processor is the “limiting factor”) in the B/W case the native speed can be used which is 250 msec response time for the E-Ink display.
- Color E-Ink display based on the Triton display material. ECTACO JetBook Color, an actually shipping device is shown. It is being deployed in Russian schools as replacement for textbooks. They are still in early stages of deployment with this device but see a lot of promise in the education sector. They expect the education to be one of the largest markets for E-Ink, both the monochrome and color Trident display. A devices like this ECTACO JetBook Color is not simply replacement for textbooks but in fact it is a library. You can put a thousand books or more on any one of these devices and replacing the library. Literally every student has a library of his/her own. It also increases the interaction between the student and the teacher. Tests are created and assessed almost instantenously. Another point is that the color feature in the EPD display allows to convey more information and so students have much better learning tool than they had with printed books. Also books will never be out of the stock, there will be no late fees with the library and the content is available 24×7 etc. As far as the price of the color display is concerned the color is still based on the monochrome display, they put a color filter on top. So the color filter is an additional cost but most of the additional costs on the device itself would probably be the cost of the software (from E-Ink Holdings’ customer engineering the device) that makes the additional features of a colored device possible compared to the monochrome.
- Triton color display for signage (like the large billboards put on the streets) with color so saturated that it looked like an LCD except that it was thinner than OLED, sunlight readable, uses no backlights and uses very little power. This is all the result of a significant increase of the pixel size when significantly more light is coming to each pixel. They are looking at applications at signage space where you are looking at a device not from 6″ away but to a device that is 6 feets or 60 feets awaywhere the larger pixels are perfect for that.
- Brief showing of the SURF display (used in a hand drill shown later) just to demonstrate the display materialfor that case.
- The actual E-Ink display material is extremely thin and flexible like a sheet of transparency foil. This is the direction they are going to make display without glass and conform to non-flat surfaces, getting into non-publishing applicationslike signage.
- A concept power drill with the SURF display put on the surface as a case of showing the usefullness of an EPD display for a battery powered device when otherwise you would have no idea about whether there is enough battery power left or not. This could be quite an annoyance when you climb up a ladder and in the process you discover that the battery power to work with the drill drained down too soon. They can cut the display material in a needed shape so the display can be non-rectangular. E.g. a wrist watch is shown where the display material is round shaped. E-Ink is very unique in this respectamong the display technologies.
- Eton Ruckus music player with E Ink display that was launched that week was demonstrated, it is meant for outdoor applications and considered to be virtually indestructible. It combines the solar technology with the E-Ink display, and essentially all of the solar power is used to listen to music rather than showing information. Considered to be a perfect combination for applications like that and they foresee many more deployments like that in the future.
- A couple of wristwatches. With a segmented SURF display which is curved and in a unique shape (a Phosphor device). Then a matrix display in a Seiko watch where you can have images changedon the display.
- For segmented display they can go for very low volumes because that kind of display doesn’t involve fabricating the backplane in a fab. But on the other hand the matrix displays (for which much larger order volumes are required) can be made in very large sizes since they are making their display material in rolls, seven feet wide and going a kilometer long. So a lot of new applications will come up, in areas where display technology hasn’t been used before. Then their unique selling point is the ruggedness of the E-Ink display material as well.
After that it is worth to watch the following, very recent branding/directional videos from E Ink Holdings:
- Imagine… a classroom with no paper… Build an eLearning environment
- Imagine… a schoolbag with no book… Build an eLearning environment
- Imagine… A ubiquitous home… Build an eLearning environment
- E Ink – The First Law of More – Innovation:
E Ink – More 的第一法則 [EInkSeeMore YouTube channel, Feb 17, 2012]
- states: the more you See, the more you Do
- … Evolution is a collaborative process …
- We’ve teamed up with some of the best names in the electronics business like: Epson, Freescale, Marvell Semiconductor and Texas Instruments to create an electronics ecosystem that will nurture the E Ink innovations of the future.
- We’ve joined forces with some of the most iconic brands in the world including Sony, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Samsung, Lexar and Motorola to bring an exiting new generation of consumer products to life.
- We believe more innovation brings more good into the world. As an 840 million dollar [US] company we intend to do everything we can to make a big difference.
- The Second Law of More – Growth:
E Ink – More 的第二法則 [EInkSeeMore YouTube channel, Feb 17, 2012]
- states: the more you Do, the more you Grow
- 100,000 displays in 2006 … over 10 million in 2010 …
- today almost every e-book device on the market uses E Ink enabled reflective displays
- Tomorrow we expect to lead the way in e-textbooks, providing a libray in every student’s backpack. And a few years down the road we see ourselves in signage of all shapes and sizes.
- The next generation of E Ink applications is being developed as we speak: the paperless office, electronic toll passes, sporting goods, musical score sheets, personal medical devices, and more.
- Look at the future from our vantage point. You’ll see why we are excited.
- The Third Law of More – Green:
E Ink – More 的第二法則 [EInkSeeMore YouTube channel, Feb 17, 2012]
- states: the more you Grow, the more you Care
- Care = Save In more ways than you can imagine
- E-Ink display use 97% less energy than the LCD versions
- Under normal conditions an E Ink enabled e-reader runs three weeks on a single charge. That is supposed to be a day and a half on an LCD display.
- A recent study from the University of California Berkely shows that an E Ink enabled electronic newspaper releases 32 – 140x less CO2than its paper counterpart. What’s more, e-book saved trees by drastically reducing the consumption of paper.
- This year sales of e-books are predicted to top 1 billion [US] dollars, more than 10x increase over last year. …
– ECTACO jetBook Color introduced in Russian Schools – цветная эл.книга [ECTACO YouTube channel, Dec 2, 2011]
– William (Bill) Wong, staff technology editor from Electronic Design – focusing on embedded, software, and systems otherwise – who is an ardent follower of E Ink’s progress. For more E Ink related information you can watch his two Engineering TV Videos and a few Electronic Design excerpts given below:
- Smart Surface Devices and More from E Ink – CES 2012[Engineering TV, Jan 17, 2012]
- Color Active Matrix E Ink Triton Imaging Film [Engineering TV, Jan 11, 2011]
Behind the Scenes at CES 2012 – Display Technology [William Wong, Electronic Design, Jan 25, 2012]
Eink’s electronic paper display (EPD) is popular with e-readers and it has been used on other devices such as Lexar’s JumpDrive flash that shows the amount of space used on the drive. The display uses no power when not plugged in and draws only a tiny amount when updating the display. Eink was showing off color demos and EPD prototype applications. It is a technology worth investigating for embedded applications.
Cortex-A9 Incorporates Electronic Paper Display Controller [William Wong, Electronic Design, Jan 18, 2012]
E-readers with electronic paper displays (EPDs) provide an excellent reading experience. But most of these e-readers have been underpowered compared to smart phones and tablets. E-reader manufacturers try to keep costs low, which is why processor performance has been lower.
Freescale’s i.MX 6SoloLite and i.MX 6DualLite target these low-cost products with one or two 1-GHz ARM Cortex-A9 cores. Developers will have to decide whether the i.MX 6SoloLite’s 2D graphics are sufficient or if they require the 3D graphics support of the i.MX 6DualLite. Likewise, the 6SoloLite has a 32-bit DDR3 controller, while the 6DualLite has a 64-bit DDR3 controller for a higher-performance platform. Both support LP-DDR2 memory along with a range of flash memory.
The i.MX 6DualLite has a single shader, compared to the four 3D shaders found in the higher-end i.MX 6Dual and i.MX6Quad chips. The family also addresses LCD screens, so these chips may find their way into low-end tablets and embedded display devices. The i.MX 6DualLite has HDMI, low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS), and MIPI display support along with a MIPI camera interface as well. And, this chip tops the Solo with a Gigabit Ethernet port and a PCI Express x1 link.
The i.MX 6DualLite is pin-compatible with other i.MX 6 chips like the 1-GHz i.MX 6Solo, 1.2-GHz i.MX 6Dual, and 1.2-GHz i.MX6Quad. All are software compatible. Software support includes Google Android 4.0, Windows Embedded CE, QNX, Ubuntu, Linux, Linaro, and Skype.
Qualcomm added a superior to its mirasol, but also MEMS display technology for its upcoming US$1B fab–UPDATE: Plans on Hold–UPDATE2: Sharp is involved
Suggested preliminary reading: Qualcomm mirasol display technology delivered [Nov 22, 2011]
Updates: Capital Alliance with Qualcomm, Inc. and Display Technology Development Agreement with its Subsidiary Pixtronix, Inc. [Sharp press release, Dec 4, 2012]
Sharp Corporation (hereafter “Sharp”) today announced that the Company has reached an agreement with Pixtronix Inc. (hereafter Pixtronix), asubsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (hereafter “Qualcomm”, NASDAQ: QCOM), concerning the development of Pixtronix’s MEMS*1 displays. In addition, Sharp signed the capital alliance agreement and will issue new shares by a third party allotment (hereafter “This Third Party Allotment”) with Qualcomm Incorporated, a world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies, as the allottee.
MEMS display to be developed jointly by the two companies is a display using ultrafine process technology and existing display manufacturing infrastructure with features including high color reproducibility and low-power consumption. The development for commercialization of MEMS display will be achieved by integrating Sharp’s core display technology, IGZO*2 and MEMS display technology of Pixtronix.
In addition, Sharp is planning to accept up to 9.9 billion yen*3 from Qualcomm in equity investment to pursue this joint development. This capital will be used for the development of MEMS display and necessary capital investments related thereto targeting for the achievement of the technology for commercialization.
With this agreement, the two companies will consider the possibility of further collaboration of chipsets by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated and IGZO-based display technology for lower power consumption and higher performance of mobile terminals.
With this agreement, Sharp will accelerate its strategy for growth in small- to medium- sized LCD business with IGZO-based display technology as its core, and expand its revenue and corporate value.
*1 MEMS: Micro Electro Mechanical Systems
*2 IGZO: IGZO (InGaZnO) is an oxide comprising indium (In), gallium (Ga), and zinc (Zn). A thin-film transistor using this material has been developed by Sharp in collaboration with Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co., Ltd. (a company based in Kanagawa, Japan, and led by President Shunpei Yamazaki)
*3 Equivalent to 120 million U.S. dollars calculated by exchange rate of December 3, 2012
Summary of the joint development and capital alliance
1. Development for the Commercialization of Next Generation Display
- The next generation display will be jointly developed integrating Sharp’s IGZO-based display technology and Pixtronix’s MEMS display technology. The joint development will establish facilities in the LCD panel plant in Sharp Yonago Corporation (location: Yonago city, Tottori prefecture, Japan) for development of the technology for commercialization.
- The development for next generation displays and necessary investment will begin immediately. At the point when the development of the technology for commercialization is confirmed to be feasible, we will move to the next stage by implementation of equipment targeting to achieve mass production technology.
2. This Third Party Allotment
Sharp will issue new shares by third party allotment with Qualcomm as the allottee by each stage of joint development of the technology for commercialization. The second stage is contingent upon achieving certain milestones.
<Notice Regarding the Execution of Capital/Business Alliance Agreement with Qualcomm (US Company) for the Joint Development of Next Generation MEMS Display and the Issue of New Shares by Third Party Allotment (PDF:83KB)>
(Related post: Sharp-er Hon Hai / Foxconn [March 31, 2012])
Q&A: Qualcomm’s Display Ambitions [The Wall Street Journal, 10, Dec, 2012]
The Wall Street Journal spoke with Qualcomm’s Chief Marketing Officer Anand Chandrasekher and John Stefanac, president of Qualcomm’s Southeast Asia and Pacific operations, to get an update on the company’s efforts in expanding into the display business. The following interview has been edited.
WSJ: Tell us the rationale behind investing in Sharp. How can this investment help Qualcomm make further inroads into displays?
Mr. Chandrasekher: Our unit, Pixtronix Inc., has had a joint relationship with Sharp from a development standpoint and we are just intensifying this further. Sharp has had a history of great display technologies and they still have a great portfolio. This agreement is a deepening of that relationship. In the process, we are taking an equity investment of up to $120 million broken up into two tranches of roughly equal sizes. The first tranche will happen by the end of this year and the second tranche will probably close in the second quarter of next year.
WSJ: Qualcomm announced in 2010 that it was investing in Mirasol displays by setting up a manufacturing plant in Taiwan. Are you producing these displays at the factory now?
Mr. Chandrasekher: We still have the fab in Taiwan and we are still investing in Mirasol. But it’s fair to say that we have reduced the rate at which we invest in Mirasol. Some of these technologies, if you don’t manufacture in reasonable scale, you don’t learn and you can’t prove it. So the plant is still being used in that regard. Whether it goes further, we’re not ready to talk about that. We are talking about using Mirasol as more of a licensing enabler, if you will.
WSJ: How would Mirasol be different from the MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) displays using Sharp’s IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology?
Mr. Chandrasekher: They are both MEMS-based technology. Mirasol has different characteristics and they are complementary. But they would have other applications and how they would get used in products. The Taiwan plant is being used as a pilot facility to help us to prove out the Mirasol technology. Under the partnership, we would assume Sharp will make the displays.
WSJ: Would you consider discontinuing Mirasol production?
Mr. Stefanac: We certainly aren’t stopping our investment in Mirasol. We will continue the intellectual property that we will license to others.
Reflective OutLook: Shades of Gray or Colorful? [Touch and Display-Enhancement Issue of Information Display, Sept 21, 2012]
The summer of 2012 was an eventful one for the reflective, low-power industry. Two major players made announcements that may be difficult to interpret right now, but certainly indicate changes ahead. In July, Qualcomm, maker of the mirasol low-power MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) reflective technology, announced that it would begin licensing that technology. And in August, E Ink Holdings, which makes the E Ink on which the majority of e-Readers are built, announced that it planned to acquire Sipix Technology, Inc., a developer of microcup technology-based electrophoretic displays.
For some time, mirasol has been considered a possible contender to E Ink’s ubiquitous electrophoretic technology. One of the main reasons that Qualcomm’s announcement came as a surprise was that the chipset maker has been vigorously researching, developing, and promoting mirasol for several years, and is currently building a mirasol display factory in Taiwan. A quick survey of technology bloggers shows the general consensus is that Qualcomm may be going in a different direction with mirasol, which began appearing in e-Readers in 2011. Mirasol can show color and video, but somewhat like color EPD to date, the color is not bright and crisp, but muted.
So what’s going on with mirasol? According to an article by The Verge’s Adi Robinson, who notes that Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs spoke of licensing next-gen mirasol display technology and directly commercializing certain mirasol products: “This doesn’t necessarily mean the mirasol line will be discontinued, but it’s clearly being scaled back, and it’s possible that this is effectively the end for Qualcomm’s own production.” At press time, Qualcomm representatives said they were not commenting on the announcement or plans for the factory in Taiwan.
QUALCOMM Incorporated Management Discusses Q3 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, July 18, 2012]
Paul E. Jacobs – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
With respect to QMT, we’re now focusing on licensing our next-generation mirasol display technology and will directly commercialize only certain mirasol products. We believe that this strategy will better align our updated roadmap with the addressable opportunities.
I just wanted to say also we’re obviously investing a lot in QMT. We’re looking at the opportunities to — on that business model to reduce some of the expenses that we have there. And so that could have a pretty significant impact as well [on OpEx].
Updated: Qualcomm: No Launch Date in Sight For New 4.3″ Screen (video), Factory Delayed Until 2013 [The Digital Reader, June 6, 2012]
Do you know that new factory which Qualcomm is building in Taiwan, the one which was going to produce Mirasol screens and was supposed to be up and running by now? Yeah, that one. I was told yesterday by Bruce Lidl [PR manager of QMT] that the factory is not due to start operation until sometime in 2013, and that means we won’t see consumer products using screens made there until late in 2013 at best.
Right now Qualcomm is making the Mirasol screens on a smaller production line, and from what I’ve heard it doesn’t have the capacity to make enough screens for a major partner. The last info I got from my source at Pocketbook, Qualcomm’s still unconfirmed European partner, was that Pocketbook’s Mirasol based device was on hold because they couldn’t get enough screens.
Kyobo Mirasol eReader Now on Clearance – 71% Off [The Digital Reader, July 6, 2012]
Kyobo Book Centre, South Korea’s leading bookseller, has recently put their Mirasol eReader on sale at a drastic discount. I’m still waiting for confirmation from Kyobo or Qualcomm, but it looks to me like this ereader is on the way out. That’s great; neither the software nor the screen techwere worth the original retail, which was more than $300 USD.
The price posted above is 99,000 won, or about $87 USD. That’s a considerable discount off the original 350,000 won, and it leaves little doubt that this ereader is headed for the scrapheap.
End of updates
Qualcomm buys MEMS display startup, reportedly for $175M [EE Times, Jan 25, 2012]
Communications technology company Qualcomm Inc. has bought fabless MEMS display startup Pixtronix Inc. Qualcomm (San Diego, Calif.) confirmed the purchase but did not give any details and declined to discuss the price. However, reportedly, Qualcomm has paid between $175 million and $200 million.
Pixtronix (Andover, Mass.) was founded in 2005 by Nesbitt Hagood, chief technology officer. The company has developed a low-cost display technology based on the use of MEMS shutters that it appears would make a useful complement – or better alternative – to Qualcomm’s own MEMS-based Mirasol display technology.
The Pixtronix display – called PerfectLight – is based on a MEMS-based digital micro shutter that modulates light from an RGB LED backlight. A high switching speed makes it suitable for applications ranging from full-speed video to e-reader operation and Pixtronix claimed that the display offered greater than 170 degree viewing angles, more than 3,000:1 contrast ratio and 24-bit color depth at one quarter of the power consumption of equivalent size and resolution liquid crystal displays.
The display is not in the market place yet but Pixtronix had developed a 5-inch diagonal display prototype with Chimei Innolux Corp. (CMI), a leading TFT-LCD manufacturer. Pixtronix was also developing a display for Hitachi.
Meanwhile, at about the same time Qualcomm was acquiring Pixtronix, Qualcomm subsidiary Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc. announced that a 5.7-inch Mirasol MEMS display technology is used in the Kyobe e-reader. Qualcomm acquired the Mirasol technology when it paid approximately $170 million in cash for the 86 percent of Iridigm Display Corp. that it did not already own.
The Mirasol display is reflective, which means it can save power by making use of ambient light and not requiring a backlight. However, it also means that the display is less bright and visually appealing than an emissive display.
Since its formation Pixtronix had raised more than $53 million in funding from such investors as Atlas Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DAG Ventures and GoldHill Capital. It had about 50 employees and continues to operate as a subsidiary of Qualcomm at present.
Qualcomm acquires Pixtronix, Andover company developing tech for low-power displays [The Bioston Globe, Scott Kirsner, Dec 1, 2011]
San Diego-based Qualcomm, a major developer and licensor of mobile technology, quietly scooped up Pixtronix last week. The Andover company, founded in 2005, has been working on multimedia display screens for phones, tablets, and laptops that would use just one-quarter of the power of today’s liquid crystal displays. With today’s mobile devices, the display is typically the component that uses the most power.
Pixtronix and Qualcomm had been pursuing different approaches to low-power displays, according to this 2009 New York Times piece, but both incorporated MEMS (microelectro-mechanical system) technology; in Pixtronix’s case, thousands of tiny shutters control the light emitted by LED bulbs.
Pixtronix had raised just north of $50 million in funding from investors like Atlas Venture of Cambridge and Silicon Valley based Kleiner Perkins. Neither Qualcomm nor Pixtronix would comment on the acquisition price, but sources close to the deal tell me it was in the neighborhood of $175 million to $200 million.
Pixtronix has 45 employees, and Mark Halfman, the company’s senior director of business development, says they’ll remain in Andover. “We’ll continue to focus on developing and licensing our technology,” Halfman says. The company’s technology isn’t yet in the market, Halfman says, but the company has announced joint development projects with companies like Hitachi Displays and Taiwan-based CMI. Halfman says that Pixtronix CEO Tony Zona plans to stick around. (One year is always a safe bet…)
Pixtronix CEO Anthony Zona touts low-energy display tech [Boston Business Journal, Sept 2, 2011]
… How does this technology differ from LCD?
It’s digital. So we’re moving from analog display, which is LCD, is to a digital display. … Because it’s digital, it can adapt to application needs. So in an e-reader type application it can consume extremely low power, or almost no power. That same display on the fly can change to accommodate full-motion, high-speed video.
This could have implications for the batteries of mobile devices?
You can get at least four times the current battery life — you’ll get days of use, just because the display is different. Right now the display on most smart phones consumes more than half the battery life. …
Mobile display firm Pixtronix seeking $20M round [Boston Business Journal, Aug 19, 2011]
… Pixtronix is already working with Hitachi, Samsung and Chimei Innolux, which are licensing the company’s PerfectLight Display technology for planned mobile products. The first products from the customers could include smart phones and tablets, and are expected in early 2013, Zona said.
The fourth partner for Pixtronix will also be an Asian electronics maker, and is expected to announce the partnership in the fourth quarter of this year, Zona said. “We had planned on having three partners at this point in time, and actually are adding a fourth sooner than we expected,” he said. …
Pixtronix closes $19 million equity round [Boston Business Journal, Dec 29, 2009]
… and may have brought in a major cell phone maker as a new strategic investor … The company did not disclose the names of the recent round’s investors. However … disclosed the names of four board members. … Two of those directors … represent returning investors Atlas Venture and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Beyers … A third, Gerald Fine, is a Boston University professor who holds an advisory position on the board.
Besides Atlas and Kleiner, its investors include Duff Ackerman & Goodrich Ventures, and Gold Hill Capital.
The fourth board member is Bill Byun, a new addition to Pixtronix’ board. The documents do not identify Byun beyond his name — but Bill Byun is also the name of a California-based managing director at Samsung Venture Capital, the venture investing arm of Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
… Another micro-electro-mechanical display comes from a start-up called Pixtronix. Instead of reflecting ambient light, its PerfectLight technology uses tiny shutters that open and close quickly to allow through light from a backlight composed of red, blue and green light-emitting diodes. LCD displays also use shutters, in effect, consisting of liquid-crystal elements whose polarisation can be changed to block light or let it pass. The trouble is that liquid-crystal shutters absorb over 90% of the light passing through them, even when they are open. PerfectLight’s technology allows as much as 60% of the light through. And its shutters can switch fast enough (up to 1,000 times per second) for video.
Compared to conventional thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal (TFT LCD) or active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays, a new digital micro-shutter (DMS) display from Pixtronix (Andover, MA) consumes one-quarter of the power while delivering equivalent image quality.
Using standard TFT LCD manufacturing equipment, processes, and materials, a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) shutter is built on top of an active backplane and a simple aperture plate replaces the color filter.
Essentially, the DMS technology is made of four key elements: a digital micro-shutter (laterally translating) element at the heart of each pixel that uses a patented zipping actuator; the use of field-sequential color with color-change frequencies greater than 1 kHz to avoid flicker or color breakup; an optical architecture with a light-recycling LED backlight that allows an 11.5% aperture-ratio display to transmit 60% of the light to the viewer (10 times the output of liquid-crystal displays); and a digital-backplane circuit. Pixtronix has announced partnerships with both Hitachi Displays (Japan) and Chimei Innolux (Taiwan) and has developed 2.5 in. QVGA display prototypes that can run 60 Hz videos, achieve a 135% NTSC color gamut, have a 170° viewing angle and 24 bit color, and consume less than 50 mW of backlight power.
Pixtronix and Hitachi Displays Announce Successful Joint Development [Pixtronix press release, Oct 4, 2010]
Displays built based upon Pixtronix PerfectLight MEMS display technology to be demonstrated at CEATEC
Pixtronix, Inc., an innovator in the development and licensing of low power multimedia display technologies, today announced the successful joint development with Hitachi Displays, Ltd. of its PerfectLight low power MEMS display technology for mobile multimedia applications. The two companies recently completed the development of prototype displays, which leverage the Pixtronix proprietary technology and were built by Hitachi Displays. These displays will be demonstrated by Hitachi Displays at CEATEC Japan, the cutting edge IT and electronics exhibition, October 5-9, Makuhari Messe, Tokyo, Japan.
“We are pleased to have jointly developed displays with Hitachi Displays that directly address the needs of high growth markets ranging from next generation smart phones to tablets,” said Tony Zona, CEO of Pixtronix. “Our rapid progress in delivering full speed video, ultra-low power displays built utilizing existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure demonstrates the key strengths of our PerfectLight display platform.”
About the Pixtronix PerfectLight Display Technology
The PerfectLight display is an innovative low-power multimedia display for portable devices, achieving 135% NTSC color gamut, 24-bit color depth, 170-degree viewing angles, and 100 microsecond shutter response times; all with a 75% power reduction over LCD displays. In addition, this new class of display offers Application Agility to dynamically optimize image quality and power consumption for all applications, ranging from full speed video to e-reader operation in a single device. The PerfectLight display is based upon Pixtronix’s Digital Micro Shutter MEMS technology, which is built within LCD infrastructure and eliminates liquid crystals, polarizers and color filters to enable a highly efficient, programmable, and durable display.
About Hitachi Displays, Ltd.
On October 1, 2002, the Display Group of Hitachi, Ltd. split from its parent company to form Hitachi Displays, Ltd. With a head office in Tokyo, Japan, Hitachi Displays specializes in all stages of the production of display devices, from planning to development, design, manufacturing and sales.
About Pixtronix, Inc.
Headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts and led by experts in the fields of displays, optics and MEMS, the Pixtronix mission is to develop, license and market the perfect display for today’s multimedia lifestyle. The company’s PerfectLight displays combine the best image quality at the lowest power consumption for all applications and are designed to scale from mobile devices to desktop displays through HD televisions. Pixtronix’s investors include Atlas Venture, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and DAG Ventures. For more information, visit www.pixtronix.com.
Qualcomm Acquires Pixtronix [Display Daily, Dec 7, 2011]
Qualcomm has recently acquired Pixtronix, the Boston area-designer of a MEMS-based flat panel display for low-power mobile applications. This makes the second MEMS-based display company Qualcomm has acquired. In 2004 it bought Iridigm Display Corporation’s IMod technology, now called Mirasol.
This seems to have been a stealth acquisition and neither company has issued a press release on the transaction, so details are not certain yet. I guess it is no surprise Jignesh Gandhi, Director of Product Engineering at Pixtronix, did not discuss the pending acquisition when he talked to the SID on November 10th. Instead, he talked about Pixtronix technology and the company’s three licensees, Hitachi, Samsung and Chimei Innolux (CMI). While these companies have all demonstrated the technology, none are expected to have a product on the market for at least a year.
The news appears to have been revealed in a December 1st article by Boston Globe Columnist Scott Kirsner. The price is reportedly in the $175M – $200M range, although that hasn’t been confirmed. To date, Pixtronix has been financed by venture capital, with investments from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Atlas Venture and Samsung Ventures, to the tune of about $50M. Before the acquisition, Pixtronix had been looking at another round of VC funding of about $20M. I guess those plans have been dropped.
Qualcomm is spending about $1B to construct a display manufacturing factory, which is expected to begin production next year. While this production line was, presumably, originally intended for the Mirasol technology, it should be able to manufacture the Pixtronix display as well. Gandhi had said the Pixtronix display could be made on normal direct view LCD fabs, as can the Mirasol display. So presumably if both the Mirasol and Pixtronix technologies fail to take off (not likely, in Insight Media’s opinion) the company can use the new fab to make conventional LCD for mobile applications.
Qualcomm: The Rest of the Story [Display Daily, Dec 8, 2011]
Yesterday in Display Daily my colleague Matt Brennesholtz discussed the acquisition of Pixtronix by Qualcomm. He asked why a chip-maker would want even one (much less two) MEMS display technologies and insightfully speculated, “Perhaps Qualcomm wants to be able to offer its customers vertically integrated solutions for handsets and other mobile devices.”
Here’s the rest of the story, or at least another piece of it. In late November, the Kyobo Book Centre of Korea (the country’s largest bookseller) announced the Kyobo eReader (photo), the first eReader to use Qualcomm’s mirasol color reflective MEMS display. The display appears to be the same 5.7-inch, XGA (1024 x 768) display Qualcomm MEMS Technologies (QMT) has been showing us for the last couple of years. The MSRP is the equivalent of slightly over US$300, which is solidly in tablet, not simple eReader, territory.
The Kyobo device uses a customized version of Android 2.3 and supports WiFi 802.11b/g/n. But here’s where things get interesting (and why I think Matt was so insightful yesterday). The Kyobo’s smarts come from a Qualcomm 1.0-GHz Snapdragon S2 processor. Between the mirasol display and the Snapdragon processor, Qualcomm can indeed offer the key components of a color eReader kit.
Qualcomm is still making its mirasol displays on a pilot line, so it can only support low-volume customers. Kyobo was identified as falling into that category. A high-volume plant is under construction and scheduled to ramp up in 2012.
At SID 2011, I told Qualcomm Marketing Manager Jesse Burke that the very long gestation period between the demonstration of a credible Mirasol display and the first commercial adoption was creating doubts about the technology. This was obviously not the first time Burke had to answer that question, and he had a well-prepared answer. First, he said, Qualcomm had some design wins, but before the customers could go into production, two things happened. The first was the introduction of the original iPad; the second was the continuing Great Recession. Both caused serious reconsideration of new-product introductions. In particular, many products that seemed cutting-edge before the introduction of the iPad, seemed immediately out of date afterwards.
Second, because Qualcomm only had a pilot line facility for the mirasol, the company was limited in the kind of customers it could pitch in the short term. To Burke’s credit, he told me to expect a low-volume product to appear before the end of 2011, and high-volume products to appear in 2012. With the Kyobo eReader, the first half of his prediction has come true.
Along with Matt, I don’t pretend to know how things will play out with Pixtronic and Mirasol under one roof. But I will express an opinion about relative technical merit. The Mirasol technology is devilishly clever, but it has shortcomings (such as an insufficiently saturated red that appears to be an unavoidable feature of the technology). In general, these shortcomings didn’t look all that serious two or three years ago, when the only competition was an electrophoretic technology with slow switching speed without practical color, and Mirasol’s strengths were compelling. But time moves on. To me, Pixtronix now seems to be the more compelling (and probably the more manufacturable) technology. It will be interesting to find out what Qualcomm thinks.
Really Truly New Stuff at SID 2011 [Display Daily, May 19, 2011]
… In the Samsung booth, you could see electro-wetting prototypes. Samsung bought the company that was formerly Liquavista … Next to what I still can’t help calling the Liquavista displays, were two impressive Pentile displays developed through the remarkably productive relationship between Samsung and Nouvoyance. … The other display is hard to explain briefly. Nouvoyance’s Candice Brown Elliott tried, … The result is a FSC display with no color break-up, a 130% color gamut, and sharply reduced power consumption.
Nearby was a 10.1-inch MEMS display based on Pixtronix technology. (10.1-inch is a popular size this year.) Both Samsung and Pixtronix personnel said the roadmap calls for a commercial eReader/tablet display in 2013. Hitachi is also working with the technology. Mark Halfman of Pixtronix said Hitachi is working on a cell-phone version, hopefully for late 2012 introduction.
Samsung was also showing a prototype 70-inch ultra-definition (3840×2160) 2D/3D panel oxide TFT backplane technology. …
Pixtronix Announces a Partner [Display Daily, Nov 10, 2010]
Every year at about this time, Mark Halfman emails me to arrange a meeting at Flat Panel Display International (FPDI) in Japan and, incidentally, make sure that Pixtronix hasn’t fallen off my radar screen.
The problem is that it takes so long to develop even the most interesting new display technologies that a professional display watcher can get jaded before a technology he is tracking reaches commercialization. A diligent marketing guy like Halfman makes sure that analysts don’t forget and move on to something else.
Last year, Pixtronix showed convincing technology demonstrators at FPDI. Halfman told me then that the company had “engaged” — a wonderfully ambiguous word — with several panel makers, couldn’t reveal their identities, but hoped to have an announcement before the next FPDI; that is, the one taking place this week.
Halfman was as good as his word. On Monday, his company issued a press release announcing that Chimei Innolux (CMI) and Pixtronix had recently completed the development of prototype displays that utilize Pixtronix’ proprietary technology and were built by CMI. The displays will be demonstrated at FPDI.
“With CMI, we have achieved rapid progress in delivering prototypes that demonstrate both full-speed full-color video and ultra-low power consumption. We look forward to continued joint development with CMI, and the availability of larger displays next year,” said Pixtronix CEO Tony Zona.
Unlike some other novel display technologies, the Pixtronix display, which the company calls PerfectLight, genuinely has something to offer, especially for portable devices. An easy way to think of PerfectLight is as a field-sequential-color (FSC) LCD in which the LCD sandwich is replaced with an in-plane MEMS shutter. Like an LCD, PerfectLight makes use of a “Venetian blind” architecture to control the amount of light from the backlight that reaches the viewer. Unlike an LCD, it has no polarizers and (because of the FSC) no matrix color filter. As a result, says Halfman, 60% of the light from the backlight reaches the user, compared with 6% to 8% for LCDs. This contributes to a 75% power reduction compared to LCDs.
Also, the MEMS shutter is fast: 100 microseconds, compared to milliseconds for an LCD.
Pixtronix claims a 135% NTSC color gamut, 24-bit color depth, and 170-degree viewing angle.
In addition, many display parameters can be adjusted to balance display quality and power consumption for different applications. For instance, full-speed color is appropriate for video, while slower-speed black-and-white is fine for e-reading, while using considerably less power.
Now that Pixtronix has a manufacturing partner with deep pockets, it will be interesting to see how long it takes to develop panels that are available to system makers in quantity — and that system makers will want to buy. That, as always, is the test.
Pixtronix and Chimei Innolux to Demonstrate Latest MEMS Displays at FPD International 2011 [Pixtronix press release, Oct 25, 2011]
Pixtronix, Inc., an innovator in the development and licensing of low power multimedia display technologies, and Chimei Innolux Corp. (CMI), a leading worldwide TFT-LCD manufacturer, today announced the successful joint development of 5-inch diagonal MEMS display prototypes. These displays, which utilize the Pixtronix proprietary MEMS technology and were built by CMI, will be demonstrated at FPD International 2011, the comprehensive exhibition and convention on Flat Panel Displays, October 26-28 in Yokohama, Japan.
The two companies previously announced jointly developed 2.5-inch diagonal prototypes at FPD International 2010. Since then, Pixtronix and CMI have worked together to build a MEMS display twice that size and four times the resolution. The new 5-inch diagonal displays offer the lowest power consumption at the best image quality for all applications, achieving over 135% NTSC color gamut, greater than 170 degree view angles, more than 3,000:1 contrast ratio and 24-bit color depth, all at a 75% average power reduction versus LCD displays. These new MEMS displays will be demonstrated by both Pixtronix and CMI (Pixtronix booth 3502 and CMI booth 3602).
“We are extremely pleased in the progress we have achieved with CMI, as the 5-inch diagonal prototypes represent a leap forward in bringing Pixtronix technology to the smart phone and tablet markets,” said Tony Zona, CEO of Pixtronix. “We look forward to continued development with CMI as we improve the performance and scale of these displays on the way to commercialization.”
“MEMS display technology is a new technology bringing additional consumer benefits to the multimedia markets and in the collaboration between CMI and Pixtronix a large step is set to industrialize this technology,” said Andre Krebbers Vice-President Mobile Device BU of CMI.
About the Pixtronix PerfectLight Display Technology
The PerfectLight display is an innovative low-power multimedia display for portable devices, achieving over 135% NTSC color gamut, 24-bit color depth, and 100 microsecond shutter response times; all with a 75% power reduction versus LCD displays. In addition, this new class of display offers Application Agility to dynamically optimize image quality and power consumption for all applications, ranging from full speed video to e-reader operation in a single device. The PerfectLight display is based upon Pixtronix’s Digital Micro Shutter MEMS technology, which is built within standard LCD infrastructure and eliminates liquid crystals, polarizers and color filters to enable a highly efficient, programmable display with proven MEMS reliability.
About Chimei Innolux Corp.
CMI is one of the leading worldwide manufacturers of TFT-LCD display products, including TFT-LCD panels, and total solutions for LCD TV and monitor systems. Its one-stop shopping business model vertically integrates TFT-LCD panel manufacturing expertise with systems assembly capabilities. More information about CMI is available at www.chimei-innolux.com.
About Pixtronix, Inc.
Headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts and led by experts in the fields of displays, optics and MEMS, the Pixtronix mission is to develop, license and market the perfect display for today’s multimedia lifestyle. The company’s PerfectLight displays combine the best image quality at the lowest power consumption for all applications and are designed to scale from mobile devices to desktop displays through HD televisions. Pixtronix’s investors include Atlas Venture, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Samsung Venture Investment Corporation. For more information, visit www.pixtronix.com.
PerfectLight and mirasol Show Displays in New Light [Jan 4, 2009]
Pixtronix PerfectLight has an energy efficient prototype that uses thousands of very little LED lights controlled by microelectro-mechanical system (MEMS). PerfectLight uses one-fourth the energy of a an Liquid Crystal Display. PerfectLight prototypes consumed less than 50 milliwatts for the backlighting of a smartphone display while a LCD uses about 200 milliwatts.
The image is created with thousands of digitally controlled, MEMS, shutters that open and close over each pixel opening, allowing light from the red, green and blue LEDs to pass through.
Qualcomm’s technology uses natural light and MEMs in mirasol.The light for the pixels is provided by ambient light. To create an image, reflective optical structures in the MEMS (which they call IMOD), selectively reflect red, green or blue light to create an image.
The Interferometric Modulator (IMOD) element is a simple MEMS(micro-electro-mechanical system) device that is composed of two conductive plates. One is a thin film stack on a glass substrate, the other is a reflective membrane suspended over the substrate. There is a gap between the two that is filled with air.
The IMOD element has two stable states. When no voltage is applied, the plates are separated, and light hitting the substrate is reflected as shown above. When a small voltage is applied, the plates are pulled together by electrostatic attraction and the light is absorbed, turning the element black. This is the fundamental building block from which Qualcomm mirasol displays are made.
LCD 2.0 – Pixtronix’s PerfectLight DMS Display Technology [June 27, 2009]
Pixtronix has finished development of its new MEMS based PerfectLight DMS (Digital Micro Shutter) display technology.The display, demonstrated at this months SID Display Week 2009, delivers exactly what both consumers and manufacturers are looking for; significant energy savings (75 percent) without compromising video quality.
Pixtronix was established in 2005 and is led by experts in the fields of displays, optics and MEMS (Micro-electromechanical systems). Having completed development of a PerfectLight DMS display prototype, the company is now searching for manufacturing partners. While initially targeting smaller display sizes for portable multimedia devices, Pixtronix can scale the display sizes to suit large screen products such as HDTVs.
Pixtronix’s PerfectLight DMS (Digital Micro Shutter) display technology has been designed to combine high video quality with low power consumption for display sizes from mobile devices through to HD televisions. Performance figures include 105% (of NTSC, CIE 1931) color gamut, 24-bit color depth, 1,000:1 contrast ratio and 170 degree viewing angle with a power consumption only one quarter (25 percent) that for TFT-LCD displays.
Cleverly Pixtronix’s engineers have developed their technology based on a similar architecture to that of an LCD panel (hence LCD 2.0!) except for using micro (MEMS) shutters instead of liquid crystals. The DMS display system is based on sequentially flooding the display with red, green, and blue light from LEDs while using the MEMS shutters to modulate the light and produce a full-color image. MEMS have already established their robustness and reliability in display technology through technologies such as Texas Instrument’s DLP micro mirror chips used in projectors.
Key Elements of DMS Display Technology
- Digital MEMS micro shutter element at the heart of each pixel. It is a laterally translating (moving) element which is supported on a patented dual compliant zipping actuator. Use of micro shutters frees DMS displays from using the polarizers, filters and liquid crystals of current LCD display technologies. The polarizers can reduce light intensity by 50 percent and color filters reduce it even further.
- Field Sequential Color (FSC) use is enabled by the MEMS shutters through the rapid color change frequencies of about 1kHZ (1,000 operations per second) achieved. Pixtronix have developed some innovative algorithms for achieving deep, rich colors without image artefacts.
- Proprietary optical architecture including a light recycling backlight. Through a combination of waveguide and mirrored surfaces the light in the backlight is contained to deliver 60 percent of the light from the backlight which about 10X more output than a conventional LCD display (6 to 8 percent). This is the primary source of power consumption reduction of the DMS display technology.
- Use of energy-efficient LED lightsources
- A digital backplane circuit which decouples the functions of actuation and information exchange. This makes possible time division gray scale with color change frequencies in excess of 1 kHz while minimizing drive power.
From an engineering background, what impresses about Pixtronic’s new display technology is the cost savings promised by its having been designed with minimization of manufacturing costs in mind. Manufacturing can use existing TFT-LCD factory equipment and processes and higher yields can be achieved through the wide manufacturing tolerances applicable.
Take a look at Pixtronix’s video introduction to the PerfectLight Display’s impressive image quality and ultra-low power consumption.
If you would like to gain an idea of what MEMS is about have a look at this introductory video from the MEMS Industry Group. Is has some interesting shots of another MEMS display technology, DLP, in action.Using the MEMS accelerometer and the digital micromirror as an example, this DVD explores MEMS technology in a concise, easy to understand, 8.5-minute package. Examples of MEMS are given from all industries, including industrial, automotive, life sciences, and consumer electronics.
Using LCD Fabs for Non-LCD Displays? [Display Daily, May 23, 2007]
SID is where display ideas are demonstrated and evaluated. There are lots of these ideas as well as evolutionary and even revolutionary ideas floated at SID each year. It is where you will see the next big thing in the display industry or some company’s folly in pursuing a pipe dream. The key is to understand who is pitching which. Today, I will look at two of them I heard about in private meetings.
The two companies are Pixtronix and UniPixel. Both are early stage display companies with plenty of capital behind them to pursue a big dream. They want to use their technology to make LCDs obsolete, but use some of the LCD foundries to make these new displays.
Bold dreams yes, and after hearing the pitches, both actually show some merit. Can they pull it off? Time will tell.
It used to be that 20 years was required to bring a new display technology to a mainstream commercialization state. This time appears to be shrinking – and if you believe these companies, it may now be possible in 4-5 years. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but I am leaning toward the shorter rather than longer side.
So what are these new technologies, you ask? They are similar, but slightly different. Both eliminate the color filters, polarizers, liquid crystal, light management films and even the CCFL in a conventional LCD. What they have in common is an LED-driven backlight with light recycling components, a MEMS or MEMS-like modulator to extract the light at each pixel and an active matrix backplane.
Pixtronix has developed what it calls a Digital Micro Shutter (DMS). The idea is to extract light from the backlight by opening up a pixel gate. Think of this as a pair of pocket doors that open up to allow light to escape. It is an all-digital approach that uses pulse width modulation at each pixel to control grayscale.
These ideas are clever and elegant. When compared to the structure of an LCD, they will indeed eliminate a lot of components. And, both companies are targeting using LCD fabrication equipment to make these displays. With some minor adjustments, existing LCD fabs can transition to these new displays fairly easily. And they are scalable approaches for any sized display.
This all sounds marvelous – and it is quite exciting. But both companies have a lot of development work ahead of them to prove they can deliver the goods. There is a lot more to their stories that I can’t reveal, but suffice it to say that these are companies we will be tracking to see how they meet their milestones. SID 08 will again prove to be the place where dreams are made or companies are brought down to reality.
AH-IPS technology from LG Display and True HD IPS of LG Mobile LTE superphones: Nitro HD (AT&T) and Spectrum (Verizon)
The penetration rate of IPS (in-plane switching) and FFS (fringe-field switching) panels in the mobile PC (including notebook, netbooks and tablet PCs) segment is expected to climb from 11% in 2011 to 20% in 2014-2015, Display Search has indicated in a Chinese-language press release.
While IPS/FFS LCD panels held a 31% penetration rate in the LCD TV segment in 2011, DisplaySearch estimated that the penetration rate of IPS/FFS panels in the desktop monitor sector, in which IPS/FFS is being used for specific applications such as medical equipment, will soar to 25% in 2015 from 7% in 2011 as LG Display aims to make IPS panels a standard for desktop monitors.
LG Display (LGD) has been the top supplier for IPS/FFS panels, accounting for 80% share of IPS/FFS panels in 9.1-inch sizes and above. Panasonic LCD serves as a major supplier of IPS/FFS panels for TV applications. LGD plans to venture into the development of AH-IPS technology for display devices in the next few years, DisplaySearch noted.
While Samsung Electronics and some Taiwan-based flat panel makers will also roll out IPS panels, China-based BOE Technology has begun shipping 32-inch TV panels using FFS technology, DisplaySearch noted.
LGD is also a major vendor for small- to medium-size IPS panels, taking up a 25% share in the below 9-inch size segment, and other vendors including Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba each also hold a certain market share in the sector. However, when Japan Display will officially be set up in 2012, the company will become the largest supplier for small- to medium-size IPS/FFS panels, said DisplaySearch.
LG Display’s3.5-inch smartphone panel supports 960×640 pixel resolution at 326 PPI, delivering the most detailed images among smartphones available on the market.
What is AH-IPS?
AH-IPS technology, an advanced form of IPS, has realizes 1.5 to 2 times the resolution of typical LCD panels. This ultra high resolution becomes particularly valuable when the emphasis is on displaying highly detailed images. The technology also improves display’s color accuracy, which in turn leads to reproduce the original color precisely without color distortion. In addition, it provides greater lighttransmission which translates into lower power consumption while delivering exceptional picture quality, making it ideal for use in outdoor settings.
The AH-IPS panels deliver ultra high resolution, notable for their superiority in use for smartbooks, tablet pcs and smartphones. LGDisplay shows off a full line-up of products which deliver ultra high resolution, including 3.5- and 4.5-inch panels for smartphones, 7- and 9.7-inch panels for smartbooks, and 55- and 84- inch panels for TVs at the exhibition. In particular, by highlighting the strengths of AH-IPS, the company plans to solidify its competitive edge in the smart mobile market. The Company is already enjoying dominance in technology, supply capability, and cost competiveness based on its extended experience in mass production.
“Consumers can enjoy crisp and clean pictures in any device like smartphones and smartbooks with LG Display’s proprietary AH-IPS technology,” said President and CEO of LG Display Mr. Young Soo Kwon. “Our goal is to be the world’s No. 1 display maker that consistently delivers groundbreaking technologies like IPS to innovate the display industry.”
Resolution is generally defined by the total number of pixels whereas image crispness is measured by pixels–per-inch (PPI) which refers to pixel density per unit area. The ultra high resolution technology employed by AH-IPS adds a greater number of pixels than the PPI that can be recognized by the human eye at a typical distance. This makes it more difficult for the naked eye to distinguish each individual pixel, thus making the image sharper.
LG Display’s AH-IPS Panel Receives the World’s First Quality & Performance Mark from Intertek for Color Accuracy [LG Display press release, Aug 24, 2011]
LG Display [NYSE: LPL, KRX: 034220], a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced today that its Advanced High Performance In-Plane Switching (AH-IPS) technology received the Quality & Performance Mark from Intertek, a global product testing and certification company, for color accuracy. The 4.5-inch AH-IPS panel designed for mobile devices is the first LCD module in the world to receive the certification given to products that outperform others in the same category after rigorous independent testing.
AH-IPS was also recognized as superior to a comparable AMOLED display in terms of power consumptionin the same tests.
The two products Intertek tested, a 4.5-inch (HD, 720 x 1280, 329ppi) AH-IPS display scheduled for release in the second half of 2011 and a 4.3-inch (WVGA, 480 x 800, 217ppi) AMOLED display adopted in the Samsung Galaxy S2 handset, are regarded in the industry as the leading smartphone displays.
In tests of color accuracy, the color reproduction of LG Display’s 4.5-inch AH-IPS display was shown to be three times more accurate, receiving a color accuracy*rating of 0.012 compared with 0.037 for the 4.3-inch AMOLED display. The less accurate color gamut that AMOLED recorded can be proven to result in color distortion, based on a 2008 report by the Advanced PDP Development Center Corporation which showed that when color accuracy exceeds 0.015, colors are perceived differently by the human eye.
In terms of power consumption, the 4.5-inch AH-IPS with a brightness of 600 nits was found by Intertek to consume a constant level of power at 624mW on all color expressions compared to as much as 1,130mW for the 4.3-inch AMOLEDwhen displaying full-white colors. The result demonstrates that, despite its larger and brighter display, AH-IPS can be regarded as a more energy-efficient and environment-friendly display than AMOLED.
Considering current smartphone trends where users are increasingly browsing the Internet and accessing social networking services which heavily utilize white backgrounds, power consumption is expected to grow in importance for consumers, particularly as next-generation 4G smartphones are said to consume 1.5~2 times more power than current smartphones.
“The certification from Intertek proves that AH-IPS is more suitable for mobile displays than AMOLED,” said Sang Yeoup Rhee, Vice President of AH-IPS Marketing in LG Display. “With credible global testing demonstrating the superiority AH-IPS, LG Display plans aggressively to promote and to highlight the superior performance of AH-IPS to consumers.”
Intertek tested color accuracy through a spectrophotometer that measured color temperature against standardized display color, and power consumption under 14 different color patterns using a standardized international test for power consumption under the same conditions.
*Color accuracy is measured numerically by △u’v’. A lower value indicates a smaller gap between the original color and reproduced color
About LG Display
LG Display Co., Ltd. [NYSE: LPL, KRX: 034220] is a leading manufacturer and supplier of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, OLEDs and flexible displays. The company provides TFT-LCD panels in a wide range of sizes and specifications for use in TVs, monitors, notebook PCs, mobile products and other various applications. LG Display currently operates eight fabrication facilities and six back-end assembly facilities in Korea, China and Poland. The company has a total of 50,000 employees operating worldwide. Please visit http://www.lgdisplay.com for more information.
LG Nitro HD Launch Event In True HD [Dec 5, 2011]
LG NITRO HD DELIVERS FIRST TRUE HIGH-DEFINITION EXPERIENCE FOR AT&T CUSTOMERS [LG press release, Nov 28, 2011]
Exclusive to AT&T Customers, Android-Powered LG Nitro™ HDProvides High-Definition Display, Lightning-Fast Processing Speeds and AT&T 4G LTE Capabilities
• LG Nitro™ HD, the first smartphone in the AT&T* portfolio with a true high definition screen becomes the third 4G LTE smartphone for AT&T customers.
• Available in AT&T stores and online Dec. 4 for $249.99 with a two-year commitment.
[No Commitment Pricing $550]
• Dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and access to AT&T’s 4G LTE makes Nitro HD the ultimate high-performance superphone.
• AT&T 4G LTE recently expanded to 15 markets. AT&T plans to reach 70 million Americans with 4G LTE by year-end 2011.
LG Nitro HD
The LG Nitro™ HD, featuring a 4.5-inch True HD AH-IPS display, will be available exclusively to AT&T customers beginning Dec. 4 in company owned stores and online. Setting a new standard for a mobile device, LG Nitro HD comes equipped with a stunning true high-definition touchscreen display, a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and access to AT&T’s 4G LTE where available, making it the ultimate high-performance superphone. Not only is LG Nitro HD powerful and incredibly fast, it also features multitasking abilities and offers the latest evolution in mobile device display technology for higher image resolutions and text readability.
Taking advantage of LG’s new proprietary True HD technology, LG Nitro HD’s 4.5-inch AH-IPS (Advanced High-Performance In-Plane Switching) display supports resolutions up to 1280 X 720 pixels and offers unrivaled color accuracy, brightness, battery efficiency and performance. LG Nitro HD’s 500 nit display luminance allows for clear viewing in direct sunlight and RGB stripe pixels deliver incredibly accurate true-to-life color rendering.
LG Nitro HD offers incredibly quick speed, power and efficiency in a slim design (5.27” X 2.67” X 0.41”) making it easy to view, create and share in HD. LG Nitro HD multitasks seamlessly and with AT&T 4G LTE and HSPA+ where available, it easily browses even the most content-heavy websites and runs HD games with ease, including HD gaming from the Gameloft HD game store and Zynga Poker HD.
An 8-megapixel HD camera and 20 GB of total memory (4 GB on-board plus 16 GB via In-box microSD) allows users to capture and view crystal-clear True HD images and video. Wi-Fi Direct™ technology and DLNA® features offer wireless HD content streaming options, making it easier and faster than ever to share HD content with the people and networks that matter the most.
AT&T is the only U.S. carrier providing 4G using both HSPA+ and LTE technologies. HSPA+, when combined with enhanced backhaul, provides customers with compatible devices 4G speeds, meaning customers get a faster and more consistent 4G experience, even when outside of an AT&T 4G LTE area.
Pricing and Availability
Be one of the first to experience the phenomenon of LG Nitro HD on Dec. 4, available exclusively in AT&T company owned stores and online for just $249.99 after a two-year contract.
“With the LG Nitro HD as one of our last smartphones to arrive in 2011, we’re closing out the year with a bang,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “We’ve seen others get close to a true HD experience on Android superphones this year, but Nitro HD is the one that does it right.”
“LG continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on mobile devices today,” said Tim O’Brien, vice president of marketing for LG Mobile. “LG Nitro HD will be the first smartphone available for AT&T to feature True HD AH-IPS capabilities, and the advantages of a crystal clear display are immediately evident after seeing the device first hand. In addition to sporting the clearest and crispest display on the market, LG Nitro HD will be one of the fastest and most powerful smartphones available.”
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
Limited 4G LTE availability in select markets. 4G speeds delivered by LTE or HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul, where available. Deployment ongoing. Compatible device and data plan required. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. Learn more at att.com/network.
Limited-time offer]. LG Nitro HD with new 2-yr wireless agrmt of $39.99 or higher and min $15/mo data plan is $249.99. Wireless Service: Subject to Wireless Customer Agrmt. Coverage and svcs not avail everywhere. Credit approval req’d. Activ. Fee up to $36/line. Geographic, usage, and other terms, conditions and restrictions apply, and may result in svc termination. See store or visit att.com for complete details and coverage maps. Data: Min $15/mo, 200MB, data plan required. If you exceed your initial 200MB allowance, you will automatically be charged an average of $15 for each additional 200MB provided. All data allowances and overages must be used in the billing period provided or they will be forfeited – details att.com/dataplans. Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge up to $1.25/mo. is chrg’d to help comply with gov’t obligations and chrgs; it is not a tax or gov’t req’d chrg. Early Termination Fee (ETF): After 30 days, ETF up to $325 based on device (details att.com/equipmentETF). Restocking fee up to $35. Taxes and other charges apply.
VERIZON WIRELESS AND LG MOBILE CONTINUE LEGACY OF INNOVATION BY OFFERING A TRUE HD MOBILE EXPERIENCE WITH SPECTRUM™ BY LG [LG press release, Jan 9, 2012]
Latest LG Smartphone Boasts True HD IPS Display, Verizon Wireless 4G LTE, Dual-Core Processor and ESPN ScoreCenter App with Exclusive HD Feed
LAS VEGAS – From the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Verizon Wireless and LG Mobile today announced Spectrum™ by LG smartphone, exclusively for Verizon Wireless. Spectrum is the first smartphone for Verizon Wireless to feature a 4.5-inch True HD In-Plane Switching (IPS) display, the same display technology used in premium LG HD televisions. Intensifying its HD capabilities, Spectrum by LG will give customers exclusive HD access to the ESPN™ ScoreCenter application. Spectrum will be in the Verizon booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Booth #30259) and LG booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, Central Hall, Booth #8204).
ESPN’s ScoreCenter app is supported by an exclusive HD video feed, giving customers the exclusive access to ScoreCenter stats, images and videos in 720p HD. Scoreboards and live game details include in-game stats, news and video. Personalization features allow fans to customize their ScoreCenter experience by highlighting their favorite teams and leagues from around the world, all in crystal clear high-definition.
Showcasing LG’s True HD technology, Spectrum by LG supports 1280 x 720 resolution and offers one of the brightest and sharpest displays available on a mobile device. Spectrum’s 500-nit display luminance and Real-Stripe RGB pixels offer users clear viewing in direct sunlight and accurate true-to-life color rendering.
Spectrum also features a Qualcomm® 1.5 GHz dual-core processor combined with 4G LTE connectivity for robust power, multitasking and download speeds. Verizon Wireless leads the way in 4G with the fastest and most reliable 4G network in the United States, covering more than 200 million people in 190 markets.
• 4.5-inch True HD IPS display provides natural colors and brilliant, undistorted HD images in 16:9 aspect ratio. Pictures and texts are incredibly sharp with 329 pixels per inch (PPI) screen density.
• Protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass, the True HD IPS display uses Real Stripe subpixel arrangement so images never get blurred.
• Android™ 2.3 Gingerbread (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade available the first half of 2012); support for Google™ Mobile Services including Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Talk™, Google Search™, Google Maps™ and access to more than 300,000 apps available to download from Android Market™.
• Preloaded Netflix app allows Netflix subscribers to stream the latest movies in high-definition quality.
• Qualcomm 1.5 GHz dual-core processor makes multitasking seamless. Customers can surf the Web, check email and update social networks effortlessly.
• ESPN’s ScoreCenter app offers the most comprehensive sports coverage available on an Android device whether you follow the NFL or Premier League, ICC Champions League or MLB™, NASCAR or Formula One™. Customers can follow teams from more than 500 leagues around the world with an exclusive 720p high-definition feed for Spectrum by LG while connected to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network or Wi-Fi.
• Spectrum supports Dolby® Digital Plus, which allows users to maximize their HD multimedia experience. Dolby Digital Plus can stream up to 7.1 channels of surround sound through home entertainment systems.
• 8-megapixel rear-facing autofocus camera with LED flash to snap beautiful pictures and 1080p video capture
• Front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat
• SmartMovie HD app—create and edit HD videos right on the Spectrum by LG
• Mobile Hotspot capability—share 4G LTE connection with up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices
• Bluetooth® Version 3.0
• 16 GB microSD™ card pre-installed with support for up to 32 GB microSD card
• SmartShare—share media wirelessly to DLNA®-enabled devices
• HDMI mirroring capable via MHL
Pricing and availability:
• Spectrum by LG will be available on Jan. 19 in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at http://www.verizonwireless.com for $199.99with a new two-year customer agreement.
• Customers who purchase a Spectrum by LG will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan beginning at $39.99 monthly access and a smartphone data package starting at $30 monthly access for 2 GB of data.
Customers Can Score the Game Winner
LG and ESPN are teaming up to give fans the chance to score an unbelievable sports weekend, including two tickets to ESPN The Magazine’s NEXT Event and a trip to the big game in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 5. Customers can visit http://www.SpectrumbyLg.com or http://www.verizonwireless.com/spectrum for official rules, details and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of sports history.
For more information and product images, please visit LG’s online press kit at http://www.LGnewsroom.com/ces2012.
True HD is now mobile [LG data sheet, Jan 9, 2012]
Spectrum by LG sharpens the vision of what’s truly superior in mobile technology. Beneath its exceptionally large 4.5″ True HD IPS display is a mighty combination of power and speed.
A Qualcomm® 1.5 GHz dual-core processor compliments Verizon 4G LTE connectivity, generating an astoundingly fast overall experience. You’ve never seen this before—expect to be blown away.
Perfecting the Pixel – The True HD IPS display utilizes Real Stripe subpixel arrangement, which is denser and 1.4 times sharper than PenTile™ subpixel arrangement on typical Super AMOLED display
Take It All In
The 1280 x 720 pixel resolution provides additional screen space for more visible page content when compared to a typical smartphone screen.
Down to the Details
The 4.5″ True HD IPS display provides brilliant, undistorted HD images at a 16:9 aspect ratio. With 329 pixels per inch screen density, pictures and texts are sharp even at the smallest details.
Record videos at 1080p and snap beautiful pictures with the 8 MP camera/camcorder.
Super Powered Multitasking – By utilizing the dual-core processor plus the 4G LTE connectivity, multitasking is seamless on Spectrum. It zooms its way through web surfing, emails, and social networks effortlessly
• Android™ 2.3 Platform (Gingerbread)
• Android Market
• Google Maps™ Navigation
• Preloaded Apps: Alarm/Clock, Browser, Calculator, Camera, Contacts, Email, Gallery, Gmail,™ Google Search, Latitude,™ Maps, Market, Messaging, Music, Phone, Places,™ Polaris Office, Richnote, Smart Movie HD, Video Player, Voice Dialer, Voice Recorder, Voice Search, Voicemail, YouTube™
• Verizon 4G LTE Network1
• 4G Mobile Hotspot – share a data connection with up to 10 other devices (or 5 devices on a 3G network2)†
• Bluetooth® Version: 3.0
• Save Up to 100 Bluetooth Pairings3
• Supported Bluetooth Profiles: headset, hands-free, serial port, advanced audio distribution (stereo), messaging access profile, audio/video remote control, object push, file transfer, phone book access, audio/visual distribution, audio/visual control transport protocol
• Wi-Fi® Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n
• Wi-Fi Direct™ – connect directly to another Wi-Fi Direct device without having to join a wireless network
• S-GPS Support for Location Accuracy
1Verizon’s 4G LTE Network not available everywhere.
2Depends on device memory and network availability.
3Depends on available memory
†Verizon Wireless service required. Features based on carrier program availability.
• True HD IPS Solution – 16:9 aspect ratio, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 329 ppi provides more visible page content and sharper details
• 1080p HD recording1
• Smart Movie HD – make and edit HD videos
• SmartShare – share media wirelessly to DLNA®-enabled devices
• HDMI® mirroring via MHL2
• Video Player with Touch Lock, Dolby® Sound Effect, Next/Previous Button, More Menu Options and Resume Play Function; supports DivX,® WMV, MP4, 3GP, and 3G2 Formats
• Music Player for MP3, AAC, AAC+, M4A, WMA, AMR, MIDI, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV Formats
• Convenient Music Controls – access music playing controls from the Notifications panel
• Preloaded Verizon Apps: Backup Assistant, Guided Tours, My Verizon Mobile, V CASTSM Media Manager, V CAST Tones, Verizon Video, VZ Navigator®
• TuneWiki – discover new music via recommendations from friends and fellow users; play music, radio, and video with synchronized lyrics
• Accelerometer – switch portrait/landscape view; control games by turning/tilting phone3
• USB Mass Storage4
1Content must be shared on larger HD display for 1080p playback.
2MHL Adapter required (sold separately).
3Only available on certain interactions with the touch screen.
4USB cable and microSD™ card required (both included).
• 8 Megapixel Rear-Facing Autofocus Camera and Camcorder with LED Flash
• 1.3 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera for Self-Portraits and Video Chat
• Rear-Facing Camera Resolutions: 3264 x 2448 (default), 3264 x 1836, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 2304 x 1296, 1280 x 960, 1536 x 864 pixels
• Front-Facing Camera Resolutions: 1280 x 960 (default), 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 pixels
• Image Editor – zoom, crop, and rotate
• Face Tracking – automatically finds and focuses on faces
• Tag Location – add geographic data to images
• Customizable Brightness,1 Scene Mode, ISO, White Balance,1 Color Effect,1Timer, and Shot Mode
• Camera and Video Zoom: up to 4x
• Full HD Video Recording – record video in 1080p HD for sharing or playing on a larger display2
• Video Resolutions: 1920 x 1088 (default),31280 x 720, 720 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 176 x 144 pixels
• Audio Recording – record video with or without sound (mute)
1Available in both camera and video modes.
2Content must be shared on larger HD display for 1080p playback.
3Depends on available memory.
• Simultaneous Voice and 4G Data – browse the web or send email while on a voice call
• Connect to Social Networks
• Enhanced HTML Web Browser
• Text, Picture, Video, Group (send a message to a group of contacts who can see and reply to the group), and Location Messaging†
• Mobile Instant Messaging
• Email – mobile personal & corporate email
• One-Touch Speakerphone1
• Speaker-Independent Voice Commands
• MP3 Music Ringer Support (song clips)†
• 31 Unique Ringtones + Vibrate & Silent Modes
• TTY/TDD Support
• Contacts – unlimited fields2 for numbers, email addresses, a group, physical addresses, organization names, IM screen names, web addresses, events, notes, nickname, and picture ID3
• Speed Dial – 98 entries + 1 voicemail default
• Proximity Sensor – locks touch screen and buttons while talking on phone
• Touch Vibration for Tactile Feedback4
• Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, French, German, or Italian
• FOTA – upgrade firmware over the air†
1Only available during a call.
2Depends on available memory.
3Depends on photos stored in your gallery.
4Only available on certain interactions with the touch screen
• Technology: CDMA 1x, EVDO Rev. A, LTE
• Frequencies: 1.9 GHz CDMA PCS, 800 MHz CDMA DCN, 700 MHz LTE
• Data Transmission: LTE, EVDO Rev. A, 1xRTT
• Processor: 1.5 GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S3
• Weight: 4.99 oz.
• Display: 4.5″ True HD AH-IPS, 16:9 display ratio, 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 329 ppi, 16.7M Color, LCD Capacitive Touch Screen
• USB: 2.0 High Speed
• Standard Battery: 1830 mAh
• Usage Time: up to 498 minutes1
• Standby Time: up to 348 hours1
• Micro USB Charging Port2
• Memory: 4 GB onboard + 16 GB pre-installed microSD card (slot is expandable up to 32 GB)3; 1 GB RAM
1Certain features may use more power and cause actual time to vary.
2USB Cable included.
31.81 GB for apps; 16 GB microSD card included. Additional memory cards sold separately
• Standard Battery*
• Travel Adapter and USB Cable*
• 16 GB microSD Memory Card*
• Extended Battery (3,040 mAh)
• Wireless Charging Pad (WCP-700)
• Wireless Charging Battery Door
• Media Charging Dock
• Vehicle Mount
• Vehicle Power Charger
• Bluetooth Headsets (HBM-235, HBM-570, HBM-905)
• Bluetooth Headset with Charging Cradle (HBM-585)
• Bluetooth Headset with Speakerphone and Solar Charging Cradle (HBM-810)
• LG TONE™ (Bluetooth Stereo Headset HBS-700)
*Included with phone
“In addition we have got many design wins what is the next crop of tablets and other mobile devices coming out this year. We will see how those will do against Apple and so forth.” Then: “A small fab can produce one million panels a day. … A couple of million dollars are needed to adjust the process for Pixel Qi. … A committed order of at least half million is needed to start. … We have 1st tier design wins now. We will see what will come out of that.”
Mary Lou Jepsen in the very last video from Charbax (see embedded in the end)
Pixel Qi sunlight readable displays at CES 2012 [Jan 11, 2012]
from the accompanying Liliputing article:
The company has been showing off its display technology for the past few years, but few consumer products have shipped with Pixel Qi screens. The Notion Ink Adam tablet was available with an optional 10 inch, 1024 x 600 Pixel Qi screen, and the OLPC XO 3.0 tablet will also be available with a Pixel Qi display. But the display company has also had success with more specific markets where outdoor readable displays are a necessityrather than an option.
For instance, military tablets with GPS have been used by paratroopers who need to land on the ground and situate themselves immediately without first looking for shade. Pixel Qi has also been talking to companies interested in using sunlight readable displays in cars, trucks, tractors, and other motor vehicles.
At CES, Pixel Qi is showing off the same three screen sizes and resolutions as last year:
- 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel
- 10 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel
- 10 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel
But the company has improved viewing angles and reflection. The screens still don’t have the best viewing angles around. If you look at the display from too sharp an angle, colors will wash out — but that’s not a problem that’s unique to Pixel Qi. While some high-quality devices with IPS displays can be viewed from nearly 180 angles without any loss of clarity, many other cheaper displays offer poorer viewing angles.
Coming 2012! SOL’s 7″ Android-Windows Tablet [SOL Computer, Jan 13, 2012]
Sol Computer introduced a 10 inch Windows netbook and 10 inch Windows tablet with Pixel Qi sunlight viewable displays last year. Now the company is adding two new 7 inch modelsto its lineup, one with Google Android, and another with Windows.
Pixel Qi screens are dual-mode LCD displays which work as full-color screens when the backlight is on, or high-contrast, nearly black-and white displays with the screen off. What makes them special is that you can still see the screens even when the backlight is off, using nothing but ambient light.
Sol founder Chris Swanner says the tablets and netbooks have been popular with pilots and other professionals that work outdoors and in bright, sunlit environments where you really don’t want to have to deal with glare — and where a Windows device that can run highly specialized applications is a must.
This is a niche product though, and it costs a lot to add the Pixel Qi screens to a small number of devices. The Windows tablet has an Intel Atom processor, a capactive touchscreen, and a $1099 price tag — and Swanner says he’s not making a lot of profit at that level. But he’s selling around 20 to 30 devices a month. If volume were to go up, pricing could conceivably go down.
The two new tablets will have 7 inch, 1024 x 600 Pixel Qi displays. A prototype of the Android tablet was on-hand at the Consumer Electronics Show, but I was told that the hardware hasn’t been finalized — the plastic case may be sturdier on the final unit.
Sol Computer 7 inch Android tablet with Pixel Qi display [Jan 10, 2012]
from the accompanying Liliputing article:
Sol doesn’t have a working prototype of the new 7 inch Windows tablet yet, but Cynovo, the Chinese company Sol works with to build its tablets had a similar model with a standard 7 inch LCD display to show.
Pricing hasn’t yet been set for the new 7 inch tablets, but they’re expected to cost less than the 10 inch, $1099 model.
The New Sol Tablet PC Featuring A 10″ Sunlight Readable Display [SOL Computer, Aug 12, 2011]
Here is the latest sunlight readable Tablet PC offered by Sol Computer.com. We named it the Sol Tablet PC because it will add “some SOL to your life”. Take this Tablet PC anywhere and you will always be able to see the no glare screen display in brilliant high resolution. We have incorporated the latest Pixel Qi transflective back light technology built into our PC Tablet which provides a unique AntiGlare LED Display. Our Sol Tablet PC can be viewed perfectly in direct sunlight – no other tabletPC or IPad can make such a claim. Also, because the Sol Tablet PC has this antiglare technology built into it’s LED no glare screen, battery consumption is reduced significantly. In fact, this Win 7 Tablet PC, when viewed in full sunlight (reflective mode), LED power consumption is cut by up to 80%. This increases battery life to more than 10 hours!
Checkout our Newest Product – DryCASE Tablet™ a flexible, crystal clear waterproof case that allows complete use of your tablet or e-reader while keeping it dry and clean. The vacuum seal takes all the air out of the case so there is no way that water can enter. There can be no exchange of gas (air) for liquid (water). The vacuum seal also allows full use of your touch screen because it seal flush on the face of the tablet.
“Only one tablet has been successful in the last year” [in the next video from Charbax Mary Lou Jepsen names as “the tablet from Cupertino everyone is familiar with”, i.e. Apple iPad, saying that “unfortunately we are not in that tablet”] – CFO John Ryan – from the video embedded into the article below:
Pixel Qi is well known for developing a new breed of screens that deliver an unparalleled experience in direct sunlight and draw very low power. The company has seen their technology showcased in the early One Laptop per Child program in Africa, which initially drew industry wide attention to the company. In the last year their screens were featured in various ZTE Tablets in China and recently in the Notion Ink Adam. In the last six months 3M invested heavily in the future of Pixel Qi and has influenced the direction of the company away from consumer electronics to more specialized industries, such as the military.
We have spoken with both the CFO and CEO over the years at various industry events and their decision to gravitate away from the fickle nature of e-readers and tablets was a wise decision. The company instead plans to focus their attention on specialized market segments that would benefit more from their technology and lead to more long-term contracts.
One of the first ways they will deploy their Pixel Qi technology is within the military and give soldiers a new way to receive mission data. If you look at your average paratrooper or ranger they are constantly receiving revised mission parameters and in harsh conditions like a dessert. Being in very bright environments or dark make no different with Pixel Qi, whose very essence is low-power no-glare technology which would make lives easier. Most military operations worldwide still employ maps and written communications, to receive updates to their mission requires many steps and circumstances change many times. The plan is for soldiers to have heavily versatile tablets that last for weeks and are wired into mission control to receive new updates on the fly. Another way their technology will be employed is with the hydro electric community where operators are frequently in high elevations in direct sunlight.
3M’s investment in Pixel Qi is allowing the company to deal with multiple fabs in Taiwan where the company is based and diversify their portfolio. Obviously when you receive a huge investment from a mega-corporation whose reach is all-encompassing you will receive a ton of connections within very specialized niches. 3M is found everywhere from cars, phones, hospitals, and tape. This will turn the company around and we were told in the near future their technology will be everywhere, but in products we will never see. Obviously Pixel Qi is not stepping totally away from the end user experience and they are currently dealing with a number of existing clients in future product launches. Check out our whole interview where CFO John Ryan talks to us in detail about the new direction of the company and demonstrating two new screens they brought with them to CES 2012.We spoke with CFO John Ryan of Pixel Qi at CES 2012 where he talked about the new direction of the company, the influence of their new investor (3M) and where the company is going for the rest of the year. This is a great interview and gives you an unique prospective you can’t find anywhere but Goodereader.com
Marvell® ARMADA® PXA168 based XO laptops and tablets from OLPC with $185 and target $100 list prices respectively
CES: One Laptop Per Child – The New XO v3.0 [Jan 11, 2012]
The new OLPC XO v3.0 laptop is unveiled at CES 2012. Demoing at the Marvell booth (the company that developed the processor found on board the XO) Giulia D’Amico, Director of Business Development [at One Laptop per Child], talks about some of the features found on the new device.
Related information: Marvell’s SMILE Plug for the “Classroom 3.0” initiative [Feb 1, 2012]
One Laptop Per Child XO-3 [Yves Behar’s fuseproject news blog, Jan 9, 2012]
6 years of design development with Nicholas Negroponte and the non-profit organization he founded, One Laptop Per Child, has led to the next generation XO-3 tablet. More than 2.4 million children in 25 countries received the original XO Laptop, and these kids have been our inspiration to create the next generation of this educational tool.
One Laptop Per Child is a technology story about how to provide low-cost educational tools to millions of children. For those children, and for us, it is also a creative story about how to design specifically for young students. Every decision made by the OLPC engineering team and the design team at fuseproject has been about adapting technology to children’s needs at a cost that makes the tablet affordable for developing countries.
The first impression of the XO-3 is its extreme simplicity. The focus is on the screen, while the surrounding green rubber border provides a safe tactile grip for children’s hands. The back surface has a bumpy texture and integrates a rear-facing camera. The connectors, power switch and speakers are arranged on the bottom edge, facing the user. Our approach has been to minimize complexity, while delivering a high quality, and a heightened touch feel. There is playfulness in the way one can adapt the cover to different needs, while each design detail and material is chosen to deliver maximum value.
Fuseproject Unwraps The Third-Gen One Laptop Per Child: A $100 Tablet [Fastcompany’s Co.Design blog, Jan 10, 2012]
With the XO-3, OLPC unveils a design that will allow it to be customized for myriad markets.
Let’s get this out of the way. The OLPC XO-3, the $100 tablet addition to the One Laptop Per Child family, newly launched at CES 2012, is much thicker than the concept tablet, which they showed in 2009. Plus, it’s missing the ring!
See the earlier information on this blog here: Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [Nov 4, 2010 – July 20, 2011]
“They’re still the ultimate goal,” says Yves Béhar, founder of fuseproject and OLPC Chief Designer. The key component that enables the thinness of the concept tablet is flexible color e-paper, and that has been slow to come to market. When it does, the OLPC team anticipates that the robustness and low power consumption will make for an ideal very thin and lightweight tablet.
Testing and getting back reports of usage on the ground is a core part of the OLPC design process. From their previous experience, they knew localization would be key for this product. For instance, one of the benefits of a tablet form factor is that keyboards and other interfaces are entirely done in software, so it’s easy to swap them out for different languages and milieus. Easier than doing it in hardware, anyway.
There is localization in the hardware as well. This is localization not for language but for the infrastructural conditions of the places where the tablets will be used. Every XO-3 comes with a removable cover. “The cover is the multiple personality side of the tablet,” says Béhar. They can be simple passive protection, but depending on the needs of a particular locale, other capabilities can be built in.
For example, one version of the cover comes with a solar panel on the inside along with a thin battery. When you are in school, using the machine, you can leave the cover out in the sun to power the battery. When you put the cover back over the tablet, the battery connects and recharges the machine. Béhar says they are also working on a version of the cover with antenna that will enable the tablet to communicate with satellites. There are more accessories to come. “We learned a lot with the original OLPC XO,” says Béhar.
Marvell and One Laptop per Child Unveil the XO 3.0 Tablet at CES
Also: The first Marvell ARMADA powered XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping in March to school children in Uruguay and Nicaragua [Marvell press release, Jan 8, 2012]
Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL), a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, and One Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help every child in the world gain access to a modern education, demonstrated a fully functional version of the much-anticipated XO 3.0 – a low-cost, low-power, rugged tablet computer designed for classrooms around the globe – at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.
“We’re proud to introduce the XO 3.0 tablet, showcasing the design, durability and performance features that make it a natural successor for our current laptops, which have been distributed to more than 2.4 million children in 42 countries and in 25 languages,” said Edward McNierney, Chief Technology Officer of One Laptop per Child. “The XO 3.0 builds on many of the technology breakthroughs we made with the XO 1.75, including the use of the Marvell® ARMADA® PXA618 processor, resulting in a significant decrease in power consumption–a critical issue for students in the developing world.”
“Marvell is committed to improving education–and the human condition–around the world through innovative technology for Smartphones, tablets and a myriad of new cloud-delivered services. Partnering with One Laptop Per Child is one way we can deliver a revolution where it matters most–to benefit children in some of the poorest places on the planet,” said Tom Hayes, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. and a member of the OLPC advisory board. “Marvell has been with One Laptop per Child from the start and we’re doing whatever it takes to help the organization realize its mission of providing meaningful educational opportunities to the 500 million school-aged children around the world.”
Marvell and One Laptop per Child also announced today that the XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping to customers in March 2012. Over 75,000 units of the XO 1.75 have already been ordered by OLPC projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua. The XO 1.75 uses the Marvell ARM-based ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor, which compared to the earlier XO 1.5, maintains performance while using only half the power. The XO 1.75 features a sunlight-readable screen and all the other features and design characteristics of the two previous versions of the XO laptop.
- Unique charging circuitry; the XO 3.0 is the only tablet that can be charged directly by solar panels [see that above as built into the internal side of the protecting cover], hand cranks and other alternative power sources
- Standard or [a somewhat more expensive] Pixel Qi sunlight-readable display
- Android and Linux operating system support
A Look At OLPC’s XO 3.0 Tablet’s Solar And Kinetic Chargers [Forbes, Jan 8, 2012]
Due to the simplicity of the model, McNierney expects to see a lot of interest in the solar cover. Since the panel produces 4 watts of energy and the tablet uses 2 watts, one hour of solar charging should enable 2 hours of tablet run-time.
The hand crank charger is more experimental. Like the solar cover, it is separate from the core tablet but connects via a port. It also hearkens back to the first concept designs for OLPC which had built-in hand cranks on their sides. That feature was eventually dropped for structural weakness reasons.
That history may make OLPC customers leery of the new hand cranks. McNierney acknowledged that most customers may bypass the hand cranks but he insisted they are usable. (Six minutes of hand-cranking should produce an hour of run-time.) To test the feature, the organization took out the tablet batteries to see whether the devices could run just by hand crank. The test worked, said McNierney. “If something can generate DC power, we can use it,” he added.
OLPC isn’t specifying which energy source customers need to use. McNierney pointed out that different countries will have their own preferences, based on culture, climate or other factors.
This effort goes back quite a time: Marvell ARMADA with sun readable and unbreakable Pixel Qi screen, and target [mass] manufacturing cost of $75 [a collection of information on this blog, Nov 4, 2010 – July 20, 2011]
One Laptop Gets $5.6M Grant From Marvell to Develop Next Generation Tablet Computer [Xconomy, Oct 4, 2010] [see that as built into the internal side of the protecting cover]
The One Laptop per Child Foundation and Santa Clara, CA-based semiconductor maker Marvell have cemented a partnership announced last spring, with Marvell agreeing to provide OLPC with $5.6 million to fund development of its next generation tablet computer, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte tells me. Negroponte says the deal, signed in the past week or so but not previously announced, runs through 2011.
“Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip,” he says. “They’re going to put the whole system on a chip.”
– One Laptop per Child and Marvell Join Forces to Redefine Tablet Computing for Students Around the World [Marvell press release, May 27, 2010]
– Marvell Joins ‘One Laptop Per Child’ Initiative [Marvell press release, May 8, 2006]
OLPC XO-1.75 Costs $185 and Starts Shipping in March [OLPC News, Jan 7, 2012]
With regard to the price I confirmed with OLPC Association’s CFO Bob Hacker that the XO-1.75’s list price will be $185. As with the XO-1 and XO-1.5 the exact price depends on a number of variables such as the specific hardware configuration (RAM and NAND flash for mass storage) and other details.
An interesting detail here is that it seems like Uruguay decided to go for 8GB of NAND flash for mass storage while Nicaragua opted for 4GB.
The XO-1.75 looks identical to the XO-1 and XO-1.5 from the outside yet its hardware guts are quite different as OLPC switched from an x86 architecture to an ARM platform. I had previously expressed doubts whether this move would really led to a much improved battery life. However reading an e-mail that Richard Smith (OLPC Foundation’s Director of Embedded Engineering) sent out in November it seems like my guesstimates where quite off as he mentions feeling…
“…safe in saying that regardless of what you do on the 1.75 you are going to get 3.5 hours of battery life. Period.”
Additionally he wrote:
An interesting data point is that the 1.75 is the first laptop of the XO series that has ran 100% from a solar panel for an extended period. During my solar testing I often swap in different batteries. The 1.75 can consistently survive battery removal under moderate solar conditions when connected to the OLPC 10W solar panel.
Aside of these promising power characteristics the XO-1.75 also includes a three-axis accelerometer which people like Bert Freudenberg and Saadia Husain Baloch have already used for some cool things such as this little eToys project or an “etch-a-sketch” program in Turtle Art.
XO-1.75 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 12, 2011]
The XO-1.75 laptop is a refresh of the XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. In our continued effort to maintain a low price point, OLPC is again refreshing the hardware to take advantage of the latest component technologies. This design, while separate from the XO-3 tablet effort, uses the same very low power electrical design. It continues to use the same industrial design and batteries as XO-1. The design goal is to provide an overall update of the system within the same industrial design and external appearance. Overall, the target was to greatly improve the power consumption while reducing the purchase cost.
XO 1.75 C1 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 5, 2011]
XO-1.75 Laptop C test model 1, also known as C1.
These are the first XO-1.75 laptops marked as such. XO-1 laptops have a smooth hinge cover, and XO-1.5 laptops have three small raised dots inline on each side of the hinge cover. XO-1.75 laptops have seven small raised dots on the hinge cover, arranged in two rows.
While three version of C1 were built (SKUs 200, 201, and 202), testing out various alternate component suppliers, from a software and functionality point of view all versions should be identical. Unlike the B1 prototypes, all C1 laptops provide SDRAM for the DCON.
If you disassemble the laptop (instructions), you will see:
If you are heading to CES, you can stop by and see it yourself! Ping Giulia to set up an appointment, or drop by the Marvell booth. Charbax of olpc.tvwill be on site as always, recording some video and interviews.
The XO-3 will sport a 1024×768 Pixel Qi screen, half-gig of RAM, and a Marvell Armada PXA618 chip. Some of the soft cover designs proposed so far include a built-in solar panel. More updates coming over the next week; for now, here is our CES press release.
The XO-3 is still planned to enter production at the end of this year.
Building on its success with laptops designed for developing countries, the One Laptop Per Child project is set to unveil a long-awaited tablet at CES next week. Here’s what you get for $100.
The OLPC has been kicking around the idea of a super-affordable tablet for over a year. Originally known as the XO-3, but now dubbed the XO 3.0, the tablet will feature an 8-inch 1024×768 screen with some models also offering a PixelQi 3qi display that mimics E-paper. A Marvell Armada PXA618 chip and 512MB of RAM reside in the tablet’s ruggedized shell and will run either Linux Sugar or Android OS.
With a bare-bones feature set, the OLPC tablet should cost about $100 per unit—up from the original estimated price of $75, but still way cheaper than virtually any other tablet on the market.
The coolest feature that the XO 3.0 can be powered by hand-cranking—to the tune of 10 minutes of run time for every minute of work. Why isn’t this available on, well, everything? I’d gladly spin a handle for a few minutes if it meant I wouldn’t have to beg for outlet time at coffee shops, carry spare chargers, and constantly dread the “low battery” notification. [Electronista]
XO 3 A1 [wiki page on laptop.org, Dec 12, 2011]
XO-3 Tablet Alpha test model, also known as A-test or A1.
The A1 was the first prototype of the XO-3built. The bring up happened in early December 2011.
The number of boards obtained was small, and distribution was limited to demonstrations, hardware testing, and UI development. Much of the software development is being done on XO-1.75 laptops, due to the similarities.
- Bare circuit board, no case or display
- Rev. A motherboard
Please understand that this motherboard is still in the process of slimming down, and despite being less than half the area of an XO-1.75 motherboard, will continue to get smaller in coming months. We also intend to restore an internal SD slot, allowing for storage expansion and repair of motherboards with failed eMMC devices. –wad
Marvell ARMADA 618 Application Processor
1GHz, 1080p Encode/Decode, 16MP ISP, 45 MTPS 3D, Security Enabled
[Marvell product brief, May 3, 2010]
The ARMADA™ 618 processor is Marvell®’s latest application processor targeted for next generation, high-definition (HD)-capable smartphones. Featuring a gigahertz-class CPU, integrated full HD 1080p encode and decode, an integrated ISP capable of 16MP image capture, an integrated audio processing engine for extremely low power audio playback and exceptional high quality sound and advanced 3D graphics, the ARMADA 618 consumes extremely low power, while maintaining high processing performance at attractive price points. This allows manufacturers to deliver high-performing features in lightweight form factors, with the extended battery life that consumers look for in their smartphones.
The ARMADA 618 is based on a 1GHz Marvell-designed ARM v7-compatible CPU offering best-in-class performance. An integrated 3D engine renders 45M triangles-per-second for an immersive gameplay experience, via a complete floating point pipeline and unified vertex and fragment/pixel shading, to generate contrast-rich scenes in high definition resolution and color, ensuring complete compatibility with the most hotly anticipated mobile game titles.
With respect to video, the ARMADA 618 features Marvell’s award-winning Qdeo™ technology with an integrated video accelerator that can seamlessly encode and decode h.264 High Profile 1080p video at 30fps. In addition, the ARMADA 618 incorporates a complete Image Signal Processor which can capture high resolution color pictures as well as stream 1080p video at 30fps. This enables smartphones to access the latest HD content from the web, record and playback HD videos and capture high quality images previously only seen in SLR-class cameras.
The ARMADA 618 offers support for high performance LPDDR memory, a highly flexible display controller capable of four simultaneous displays at up to 2K x 2K resolution and a highly robust security subsystem that includes a secure execution processor. The ARMADA 618 also features support for the next generation of peripheral interfaces, through support for MIPI DSI display, MIPI CSI camera, MIPI HSI and MIPI SLIMbus. Additional peripheral interfaces supported include USB 2.0 HSIC, SD/SDIO/MMC, eMMC, HDMI w/PHY and a standard set of lower bandwidth peripherals. Legacy peripherals such as Parallel LCD and Parallel Camera interfaces are also supported. The ARMADA 618 offers optimized OS support for Linux, Android™, Windows Mobile and Flash® 10, as well as industry standard APIs. Available in both a 12x12mm POP and a 12x12mm Discrete package, ARMADA 618 customers will have one of the broadest, most flexible choices of platform in the industry to create truly innovative and marketable products.
The Marvell ARMADA 618 platform offers customers a development platform for creating ARMADA 618 based smartphones. The platform incorporates the ARMADA 618 processor, the Marvell Avastar™ 88W8787 for 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and FM tuner support as well as a Marvell 3G baseband for high speed cellular data and voice access. The platform demonstrates the full suite of Marvell technologies for smartphone applications in a compact form factor that is easy for developers to use with powerful expansion options for adding more platform capabilities.
Social Good Summit : Day 1 : Nicholas Negroponte [Sept 28, 2011]
Declared dead just two years ago, the plan to provide every child in the developing world with a computer shows signs of life.
The New York Times called it, “The Laptop That Will Save the World,” while the renowned Computer Graphics Laboratoryat Stanford University referred to it as “a monumental feat of engineering and design.”
Dressed up like a toy in a Kermit-the-Frog green and white plastic shell, this durable little computer was the progeny of the nonprofit organization, One Laptop Per Child.
When the laptops went into mass production in November 2007, OLPC’s ambitious plan aimed to place a free computer into the hands of the world’s 1 billion impoverished children. Education is the exit ramp off the endless road of poverty, the organization argues, and because young people naturally take to computers, the idea is to use them as a way to bridge the so-called “digital gap” between the haves and the have-nots. The little laptop is seen as both a virtual classroom and teacher, with playful software designed for self-learning and an Internet connection to the Internet Archive, which has a dedicated OLPC gateway to its 1.6 million book library.
But in 2009, Scrooge came knocking on the organization’s door, accompanied by One Laptop’s own three ghosts: rough economic times, soaring costs, and technical glitches. Tumbling financial markets crippled donations, while its skittish supporters, chiefly philanthropies and foundations, abandoned it for greener pastures. Desperate to stay afloat, it fired half its staff, and cut pay to the 32 who remained.
These days, the company has been reorganizing, rehiring, reinventing, and aggressively making its way into the developing world. As many as 3 million of the nonprofit’s laptops are now in the hands of children and educators in 46 countries spanning 25 different languages. The company has staffed back up to 53 employees, although some are temporary software writers.
And in early 2012, a new super-low cost tablet, the XO-3, will debut, with a promised price-point of $75 for the nonprofit. Significantly, the XO-3 will be available outside OLPC. One Laptop hopes to prod the big manufacturers into using their distribution channels for their own branded versions of the tablet.
This is a big change for OLPC, an acknowledgement that they aren’t the only kid on the cheap-computer block. While iPads, Kindles, and other low-cost computers and tablets are sweeping the market, none of them are designed specifically as educational devices for primary and secondary school students. Intel’s Learning Series does make the Classmate netbook, but even discounted it goes for $505.
How does a computer designed for education differ from one used for education? “A child can do anything to this software and never break it,” explains Walter Bender, a co-founder of OLPC and a former director of the MIT Media Lab that created Sugar, the XO’s user interface. “Why? When you make mistakes you’re learning. When you don’t, you’re being incremental. Yet if penalty is high for making mistakes, you stop taking risks, you stop learning. We try to give kids a safe place to do trial and error, to go out there and do it in a way they can’t screw up.”
OLPC turnaround has reignited its bravado and swagger, stunts included.
Next week, the company plans to drop XO-3 from a helicopter — Santa has gone high tech — into the hands of some the poorest 5-to-8-year-olds in the remotest regions of the world. (Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Liberia are likely candidates ) In a recent interview appearing in New Scientist, the father of OLPC Nicholas Negroponte explained that the idea is to discover how much a child working on his own can learn from a computer with just “modest” intervention. In turn, OLPC will learn from the kids. After two years, trained researchers will return to the site to evaluate its effects.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Negroponte is recognized as one of the forefathers of the digital revolution. As chairman of MIT’s renown Media Lab, Negroponte announced the birth of the One Laptop Per Child project in January 2005 at the World Economic Forum. He carried around a prototype of a $100 laptop to meetings, and by the time he had packed his bags to fly home, he had collected letters of intent from several national leaders to buy as many as 9 million. That was very good news because the resulting economies of scale lowered costs to OLPC.
Negroponte soon sadly discovered that a letter of intent was a long way from a hard-boiled contract. Manufacturers who saw the original numbers and leapt on board to churn out laptops for $100 reversed themselves when actual orders came in for fewer than 800,000 machines, and their prices doubled.
The price hike hurt Negroponte’s grand design and also scuffed his reputation. He failed to deliver on his out-sized promises. At a well-attended technology conference in 2006, he told his audience his year-old operation — which had yet to begin mass production — would not launch without five to 10 million units in the first run. Further, he predicted that by 2008, OLPC would have 100 million to 200 million computers in place around the world.
Negroponte was both boastful and crotchety, a formula for making enemies. He was rude, too, scoffing at the idea of offering test runs to prospective countries. Speaking before a large audience, he said, “When people say we’d like to do three or four thousand [OLPC laptops] in our country to see how it works. [We say,] ‘Screw you. Go to the back of the line. …’”
And it wasn’t just Negroponte’s attitude that didn’t sit well with partners. A $100 computer selling for more than $200 looked to them like a raw deal. Some donors thought that the high cost of the laptop was eating up money better spent immunizing children from measles and providing mosquito netting to fight off malaria.
Even Miller-McCune piled on with a widely quoted story by Timothy Ogden titled “Computer Error,”which suggested that the downfall OLPC might be a blessing in disguise. Ogden argued that, “If the goal is improving education for children in the developing world, there are plenty of better, and cheaper, alternatives.”
In the world of foundations and philanthropies, charities with donations under seven-figures, view organizations like OLPC as a zero-sum game. A dollar spent here is a dollar unavailable to spend there, a large part of Ogden’s thesis. Holden Karnofsky, co-executive director of GiveWell, which evaluates charities says, “If someone only has $100,000 to donate, they’re not going to buy computers. They’re going to give to a proven global health program.”
Large foundations, however, don’t see giving as a zero-sum game. “They look for programs that work,” says Rob Reich, at the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. “To use a phrase from a different realm, they want to maximize their return on investment.”
And that’s exactly what Negroponte was trying to do as he pulled OLPC out of its 2009 tailspin. That September, he split OLPC into two nonprofits. One was a cutting-edge research foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which he chaired. The other was an association based in Miami and run by Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby, a longtime Negroponte associate and former classmate at MIT.
The business end of OLPC was left to Arboleda, whose mantra is, “OLPC is a mission and not a market.” OLPC has ever been out to make money. The association doesn’t talk about sales; it talks about “deployments.” A high-powered entrepreneur and former trustee of Save the Children, Arboleda made two significant changes to OLPC. First, he focused the association’s energies where it had its earliest and greatest successes: Eighty-percent of OLPC’s first million sales came from Latin America.
Arboleda also looked to Latin America to restaff. He hired Roberto Interiano, a former vice minister of foreign relations for El Salvador, to manage overseas operations. Dr. Antonio Battro, an Argentinian researcher in the field of “neuroeducation”became the association’s chief education officer. It was a good fit; OLPC already used his research, while Battro says, “We believe the computer gives the child access to higher levels of logical thinking.”
Arboleda’s second big move was to take OLPC off life support. “Our original financial model was devoted to donations,” he says. “You can’t go with hat in hand begging.” The association is now a contract-driven enterprise, working chiefly through governments.
And one more thing: the new tablet being introduced early next year aims square at Africa’s sweet spot. Rwanda has already deployed 110,000 OLPC laptops as part of an effort to create an industrial/service-based economyby 2020. Ten years into the program, its Ministry of Education claims nearly universal school enrollment and a dropout rate falling from 47 percent to 25 percent. Arboleda says he is thinking about dubbing 2012 the Year of Africa.
Matt Keller, OLPC’s “global advocate,” and his family will be moving to Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, where he plans to make the Horn of Africa his base in the next nine months. “What we’re asking ourselves,” says the former legislative director of Common Cause and senior program officer for the U.N.’s World Food Program, “is whether children in non-literate communities with no access to schools can teach themselves to read by using the XO-3.”
A hundred million African children have no access to schools, let alone electric power. The back of the XO-3 tablet is a solar panel used for re-charging.
“The XO-3 is a world in a box that can be accessed by any child anywhere. My chief aim is to reach kids off the grid in remote sub-Saharan Africa,” he says of the project also being backed being backed by the artificial intelligence unit at MIT. “We want kids to be connected to other kids everywhere.
“It’s not a choice between mosquito netting, health and education,” he insists. “It’s not a zero-sum game. When kids are educated, good things happen. A generation of children who learn to think critically, analytically and rationally will change the status quo.”
As we prepare for 2012, here is a quick look back at the past year of OLPC. We distributed our two millionth laptop (now 2.5M), and our largest programs in Latin America (Peru) and Africa (Rwanda) grew steadily. Austria’s Julieta Rudich and Journeyman Pictures produced a fine documentary about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay (the world’s first complete olpcprogram), and Peru provided XOs and compatible robotics kits to all of their urban schools.
In East Africa, we expanded our work with African nations and donors to improve education for children across the continent. We were invited by both the African Union and the UN to open an OLPC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is a major hub for African diplomacy, and the support there for our mission has been stunning. We have become a full partner of the East African Community in Tanzania, and our recent country report on Rwandahas driven further interest in the region.
A Rwandan student workshop in Kigali
In the Middle East, we continued working with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to provide thousands of Palestinian children with XO laptops, integrating them into schools. It took ten months to work the laptops through customs in Gaza. But at a forum in Ramallah in June, teachers from Bethlehem and Gaza showed how OLPC was helping to end isolation and to excite learning for their children. Third grade girls in refugee camps are teaching others and writing computer programs. The testimony of these women to the power of persistence was extraordinary.
In Afghanistan, we founded a regional OLPC Afghanistan office, and briefed General Petraeus on the project. We believe that one laptop per child and connectivity, across the country, will transform this generation and their communities. Today we are working with the Education Ministry to support four thousand children in 10 schools, and are looking into expanding in Herat Province.
On the technical side, we focused on driving down laptop power needs by switching over to ARM chips in the XO-1.75 and upcoming XO-3 tablet. The tablet should be chargable by a solar panel that could serve as its carrying-case. We are studying new waysto help children learn to read, including where there are no schools at all.
In society, the idea that every child should have access to their own computer and to the Web – as a basic part of learning, whatever their family income – continued to spread. In addition to ongoing national programs in Argentina, Portugal, and Venezuela (for secondary students), two full-saturation laptop programs for older students are developing in India – an inexpensive tablet is being distributed to university students, and in Tamil Nadudual-boot laptops from six different manufacturers are being provided to secondary students.
Reaching the least-developed countries in the world remains our goal and our most difficult challenge. While our largest deployments are funded directly by implementing governments, rural successes may be driven by foundations, NGOs, and individual donations. OLPC Rwanda, today one of the largest educational technology projects in Africa and part of a ten-year government plan, was seeded with ten thousand laptops given by Give One, Get Onedonors.
So to our supporters: thank youfor your development, contributions, and collaboration, your feedback from the field, and your encouragement! This is all possible thanks to you.
Happy New Year to all — may 2012 bring you inspiration and discovery. We have some excellent surprises planned for the new year. And we would love to hear your reflections as well — please share stories from your own school projects in 2011.
One Laptop Per Child’s XO-3 tablet is ready to ship after years in the making, and working units will be shown next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, OLPC founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte said.
The tablet has an 8-inch screen and will be priced at less than US$100 as originally planned, Negroponte said via e-mail. Like OLPC’s XO-1 laptop, the XO-3 will be offered as an educational tool for children in developing countries. Negroponte declined to say if it will also be sold at retail.
The XO-3 was first announced in late 2009 with availability targeted for early 2012. At the time, skeptics questioned OLPC’s mission, accusing it of losing its educational focusin favor of designing hardware at unachievable price points.
The XO-3’s on-time release will help erase unpleasant memories of the XO-1 project, for which the laptop shipped late and at double the promised $100 price tag.
The XO-3 uses a Marvell chip with an ARM-based CPU running at 1GHz and will run Linux-based software such as Google’s Android or Chrome operating systems. It will be offered with optional technologies, such as a power-saving Pixel Qi screen and a solar charger for the battery.
“[The XO-3] price will be $100 or lower. But this time there are options, so we cannot guarantee the final price,” Negroponte said
The tablet provides about eight to 10 hours of battery life, though some audiences may choose a smaller battery capacity to reduce the purchase price, said Ed McNierney, chief technology officer at OLPC.
The internal batteries can be charged by “just about anything that produces DC power,” he said. The charging options include solar panels or hand cranks, and a study is under way to see if the battery can be detached and the tablet powered directly through a solar cell.
“Our ability to accept erratic, variable, noisy power inputs is extremely important to us, and something no other tablet has even attempted,” McNierney said.
The tablet is also available with a traditional LCD screen. But the optional Pixel Qi display absorbs ambient light to brighten the screen, reducing power consumption and extending battery life.
Eight inches is the right size for the display, McNierney said, because a 9.7-inch display is too big for children to handle, and 7 inches “seems too small to be usable.”
Microsoft’s Windows will not run on the device, only Linux-based OSes, Negroponte said. The nonprofit has abandoned its pursuit of Windows for tablets, even though Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 will work on ARM processors. Negroponte has said the tablet on display at CES will run Google’s Android OS.
OLPC didn’t share further specifics, but the tablet may include a camera and USB ports, according to some design details shared with IDG News Service in July, .
The XO-3 ultimately will replace the XO-1.75 laptops that are currently shipping, Negroponte said.
OLPC is not dependent on a specific manufacturer for the tabletand will work with “whomsoever wants to roll-out the tablet, for whatsoever purpose, at a very large scale,” Negroponte said, adding the objective is to see prices plummet.
As part of a two-year project to study educational development among young children in developing countries, researchers will collect data from XO-3 tablets used by three-to-eight-year-olds in India, Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Software on the tablets will record audio and video and adapt a reading platform to the needs of the children without human intervention. The project will study how children interact with the tablet and will aid in the study of tools for self-learning and critical thinking among children. One goal is to provide basic comprehension and reading, which is important in countries where teacher training is inadequate.
“In the reading experiment, where we ask can a child learn to read on his or her own, we imagine many hours of use per day, as many as six or eight. Frankly, the reading experiment may be the most important thing I have ever done….if it works,” Negroponte said.
The study will be run out of the MIT Media Lab and be conducted in partnership with Tufts University, Newcastle University, and OLPC.
Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop Per Child said that the XO-3 tablet computer will debut sometime in February 2011, about 45 days later than originally planned.
Negroponte said that he wants the screen to be flexible so that it is more resistant to breaking, but that it doesn’t need to roll up.
“The issue has been really finding an unbreakable material, which may not be plastic, it may be glass or some flavor of glass,” he said during a video interview at MIT.
At first the XO-3 won’t be branded OLPC, rather made by Marvell, with the actual XO-3 to follow.
The tablet will eventually cost US$75 and during a May 2010 interview, Negroponte said hitting that mark wouldn’t be a problem.
Sitting in his sparse office in the MIT Media Lab, which he founded 25 years ago, Negroponte said that the job of the XO-3 is “pushing where normal market forces wouldn’t otherwise.”
“We’re going to push down on price, we’re going to push on non-breakable, we’re going to push particularly on power because we want to hand crank these things,” he said. “Our characteristics are ones that the market wouldn’t do normally, but that we will bring sooner or prove that can be done.”
Once the XO-3 tablet does debut, it will co-exist “for some time” along with the original laptop.
“It is unclear to us now both in the labs and imagining the future if the haptic version of the tablet keyboard is going to be sufficient to allow you to use it as a general purpose computer,” Negroponte said.