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What is Nokia’s PureView ?

25 May
What Is Nokia's PureView Technology?
You’ve seen the kinds of monster photos the Nokia 808 PureView can snap, and read how it’s got a digital zoom that doesn’t turn everything into a pixelated mess. But how does it actually perform these miracles, and what the hell is Nokia doing shoving a colossal 41-megapixel sensor in a phone anyway?

It’s a new camera technology that has been under development for over 5 years…

Nokia’s been working in conjunction with the lens masters at Carl Zeiss for ages, but it set about the PureView technology project five years ago. The duo set out to revolutionise the camera phone market with “the next benchmark in imaging”. Nokia believes that rudimentary megapixel bumps aren’t worth the silicon, and that you have to at least double the resolution of the photo to actually see any convincing difference. Not to mention that 5MP images are enough for any consumer; it’s just the way you create them that needs revolutionising.

…that shoves 41 actual megapixels in a phone camera…

It took an incredible number of man-hours and research to overcome the various challenges related to upping the ante in the imaging stakes. Nokia discovered that customers wanted a 3x zoom, but the problem was that optical zooms on a camera phone are near impossible due to size, and they reduce the amount of light you can get onto the relatively small sensor anyway. So the answer was a zoom that you could do purely digitally, and that wasn’t a piece of garbage.

5MP is the ideal image size according to Nokia, so to zoom three-fold on a 5MP image you have to have a much higher resolution sensor. Doing the maths, it works out that you need a 41MP image sensor to get a 3x zoom without having to stretch and expand pixels, destroying the quality of the image in the process. What Nokia decided was the best approach was to use “oversampling”.

…and uses “oversampling” to give you all the advantage of much larger pixels…

The PureView technology takes 41-megapixels’ worth of information and condenses it down to 5MP. In essence, 7 individual pixels are collated together and combined into one “superpixel”. This process means you benefit from the same amount of light that would hit the much larger pixels of a 5MP sensor, if it fitted into the same physical footprint. You benefit from solid low-light performance and at the same time you can remove noise and digital artefacts from individual pixels through the oversampling process. It’s all done at the raw sensor information level too, but its lightning quick utilising a dedicated processor to get the job done. The result is a super crisp 5MP image that’s much sharper, with greater detail than an ordinary 5MP sensor can achieve.

Producing razor sharp images is all well and good, but having that massive sensor (as you can see above compared to regular camera phone sensors) allows lossless digital zoom too. It works by essentially zooming in on a 5MP patch on the image sensor. As you zoom the oversampling is decreased until you’re seeing actual pixels – you never go beyond real pixel information. You gradually lose oversampling, but it’s not the kind of interpolation that digital zoom is marred with. The result is quite impressive, and certainly adds to the utility of a phone camera without the extra bulk of a moving optical zoom lens assembly.

… but it’s not all about massive amounts of megapixels…

Nokia and Carl Zeiss are quick to stress that massive megapixels aren’t the be all and end all. Quality optics and intelligent image processing are just as important when you’re trying to squeeze that kind of raw power into a phone. Carl Zeiss managed to make a relatively compact lens for the size of the sensor complete with a low f/2.4 aperture. While this is on par with the likes of the iPhone 4S, compact cameras normally fall in the 3 to 5 range so it has them soundly beaten. In general, the lower the f number the more light can hit the sensor resulting in better low-light performance. It also produces a faster potential shutter speed, so your pictures are sharper, even when you’ve got a bit of the shakes.

… and isn’t limited to just bulging 41-megapixel beasts.

There’s one big draw back to the current implementation of Nokia’s PureView and that’s size. The 808 PureView is a bit of a chubster, and Nokia’s very aware that anorexic phones are the name of the game. To that end we’re going to see the PureView technology in other guises. Nokia specifically said that it wouldn’t just be restricted to 41MP sensors, and the bulk that comes with it.

That doesn’t mean Nokia will skimp on imaging prowess though – any PureView-packing phone will supposedly be the “best possible camera phone” in its class. That should give hope to anyone with skinny jeans looking for the next step in the camera phone revolution. Nokia’s not done optimising the current 41MP form from the 808 either – the next implementation should be smaller, although Carl Zeiss admits that there are physical limits to how small you can make a lens to fit the size of sensor due to the pure physics of optics.

At any rate you should be excited to see what Nokia’s PureView technology is going to bring to the Lumia range. If it’s able to replicate the kind of impressive picture quality and detail the 808 PureView is capable of, in a smaller, slimmer package, the next Lumia might be something truly lust worthy. I can’t wait to see what it’s got up its sleeve.

[Gizmodo]

Intel releases native x86 Android 4.0 emulator for faster app debugging

24 May
via cdn.androidcentral.com
Android developers have gotten a nice surprise today: an Android 4.0 x86 image has been released for the platform’s software development kit. For the vast majority of people developing on computers that use x86 processors, the update will let the emulator run at native speeds and with fewer bugs, since it will be running native x86 code rather than code from the ARM platform.

Developers can install it by refreshing the SDK Manager, then selecting the x86 image under Android 4.0.3. Downloading the image may take some time due to high demand, though. For developers, this means a better system for building and testing apps. Intel’s x86 architecture is ubiquitous, and this upgrade will complement the native x86 support that was added to the emulator back in March.

[Verge]

Beautify Google Chrome in Seconds with My Chrome Theme

27 Mar
Beautify Google Chrome in Seconds with My Chrome Theme

Although there are tons of awesome Chrome themes available in the Chrome Web Store, perhaps you want a more personalized look for your browser. My Chrome Theme is one of the simplest tools to customize Chrome’s appearance, such as the background image and tab colors.

The tool, provided by Google, basically guides you through the 3-step process of creating your own theme. In the first step, you can upload a background image for the new tab page or use your webcam. In the second step, select from a color palette colors for the new tab, background tab, frame, and browser background. In the final step, install the theme right away and share it if you want with others via the provided URL.

My Chrome Theme | Chrome Web Store via gHacks

Galaxy Nexus Wins “Smoked by Windows Phone” Challenge

26 Mar

Since CES, Microsoft has been running a campaign to raise awareness for their Windows Phone lineup called “Smoked by Windows Phone.” It is a challenge of sorts that asks you to enter your Android or other phone into a battle with a Windows Phone to see if it can beat it at simple every day tasks. Tasks could be to find directions to a near by 4-star restaurant or snap a picture and upload it to Facebook. Fun, right? Not so much for the owner of a Galaxy Nexus who stopped by his local Microsoft store this weekend to take the challenge.

Within the last week, Microsoft upped the bounty for their “Smoked” challenge, offering up a $1000 special edition laptop to those that could beat Windows Phone or the opportunity to trade in your current phone for a Windows Phone should you lose. The owner of Skattertech took his G-Nex in and won, according to his standards, but not so much according to the Microsoft store’s standards.

What was his test? Once he got to the front of the line of people taking the challenge, he was asked to power down his phone and then back up again to kill off background tasks. Then the task itself was for him to display weather on his phone from 2 different cities faster than the Windows Phone. Since he had disabled his lockscreen and had two widgets on his home screen showing weather in 2 different cities, all it took was the press of a button and he was done. The Windows Phone user on the other hand had to swipe away a lock screen, causing her to be a split second later than our friend with the Nexus.

So he won? Nope. He was told that he lost because the Windows Phone “displays the weather right there,” which I’m not even sure is an actual reason. A manager came over after a handful of questions from our Android friend and was told that he lost because he needed to display weather from 2 different cities in 2 different states, something that he claims was not made clear up front. He was never given his prize.

Update:  Microsoft is doing the right thing now. Ben Rudolph, who runs the challenge in the video below, announced on Twitter that they will indeed award Skattertech with the $1000 laptop and a Windows Phone.

mj-MMBtvW4E

[skattertech]

XBMC 11.0 ‘Eden’ officially released with AirPlay support and Addon Rollbacks

25 Mar
XBMC 11.0 screenshot

The beta tag has been lifted off the latest iteration of XBMC with the official release of version 11.0 “Eden.” The updated home media software includes a slate of additions, including AirPlay support, improvements to the default UI skin, a new integrated weather service, and the ability to revert to previous versions of Addons — the software’s take on plug-ins — built right into the system itself. Available for Windows, OS X, and Linux, 11.0 is also the first XBMC version to have stable iOS and second-generation Apple TV versions ready for simultaneous launch as well. For those in need of a dedicated turnkey solution, XBMCbuntu — a version of the software that contains an embedded operating system — is also available. The full list of feature additions and tweaks are available in the changelog, but if you’d like to get started right away, you can download the new version now.

[Verge]

Mobile World Congress 2012: Smartphone Roundup

2 Mar

Mobile World Congress is a dignified affair held yearly in Barcelona that companies take very seriously. For example, unlike CES, there are lots and lots of suits — after all, this is a congress. Here, some of the most unique and desirable handsets meet the eyes of press, analysts and buyers for the very first time. Accordingly, anxieties were high among company leaders as they put their best foot forward and held their breath for the first round of impressions. This year’s show has been a wild ride, and we’ve seen many devices stretch the boundaries of our imagination. There were more than a few stunners, and as the dust settles, companies such as HTC, Nokia, LG, Huawei and Asus can all hold their heads high. Join us after the break as we reminisce the most notable smartphones from Mobile World Congress.

HTC One X

This past year, many smartphones from HTC fell just short of being ideal. The One X is proof that the company has listened to the critiques, and oh, how times have changed. This incredibly slim handset features an understated yet elegant design, yet inside it packs a Tegra 3 SoC with a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU (or a Snapdragon S4 with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor in AT&T’s variant), a beautiful 4.7-inch 720p Super LCD display, 32GB of internal storage and an oh-so-desirable f/2.0, 8 megapixel camera that effortlessly captures beautiful imagery at a rapid pace. It features Ice Cream Sandwich with a Sense 4.0 overlay that’s much less obtrusive than previous versions, and our interactions with the phone were buttery smooth. Put simply, the HTC One X stole the show at Mobile World Congress. So long as battery life is up to par, it’ll set the pace for every smartphone to follow in its wake.

HTC One S

The HTC One S is positioned as the company’s mid-range device, but in all seriousness, it could very well be an ideal smartphone for anyone that finds the One X’s 4.7-inch display a bit excessive. It shares many of the same design cues as its larger sibling, and HTC’s attention to detail is very apparent — for example, when swiping across the screen, your finger will effortlessly cascade off the glass. It features a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4, a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display, a similar 16GB of storage and the same 8MP camera that’s found in the One X.

Nokia PureView 808

The PureView 808 from Nokia won the official Best of Show award here at Mobile World Congress, and while the device has undoubtedly moved the cameraphone to a new echelon, we’ve no doubt there was a bit of Euro bias in the vote. Put simply, the PureView 808 is a middling (and slightly clumsy) device with an amazing 41-megapixel camera. It features a 1.3GHz CPU, a 4-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display at 640 x 360, and packs quadband GSM and pentaband 3G connectivity — all in a device that runs Symbian Belle. That said, yeah, we want one.

Huawei Ascend D Quad

Could you have ever dreamed that one of the standout smartphones of Mobile World Congress would be from Huawei? We’ve known for a while now that the scrappy competitor had ambitions to join the top-tier ranks of smartphone manufacturers, but it wasn’t until we laid our hands on the device that we realized just how serious (and capable) the company was. Paling only in comparison to the HTC One lineup, the Huawei Ascend D Quad boasts some of the finest aesthetics that we’ve seen at the show. It features a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, a 4.5-inch IPS display with 720p resolution, an 8MP camera, quadband GSM, pentaband WCDMA and, wouldn’t you know it, a big bite of Ice Cream Sandwich.

LG Optimus Vu

The Optimus Vu has literally met the boundaries for how wide a smartphone can be. It’s a short and broad device that’s undoubtedly LG’s answer to the Galaxy Note from Samsung. It features an excellent 5-inch IPS display with a rather unique 4:3 aspect ratio. While it may appear a bit clumsy, we found its width to be quite ideal for text input on the virtual keyboard. Naturally, it also features stylus input, though we still prefer the Galaxy Note in this arena. Internally, there’s a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, an 8 megapixel camera and a 2,080mAh battery. At just 8.5mm, it’s an incredibly thin device, through you’ll certainly want to test drive this one in your pants pocket before making the commitment.

ASUS Padfone

The ASUS Padfone is certainly one of the more unique handsets to rear its head at MWC. While we question its mass-market appeal, it has a coolness factor that can’t be ignored. The phone is designed to be slipped into an accompanying 10-inch tablet, and naturally, any work done on the slate remains available once the handset is on its own. The tablet accessory is also capable of charging the Padfone and, get this, the tablet’s keyboard accessory also holds a battery that’ll charge both the tablet and phone. Yep, it gets complicated rather quickly, but there’s also a certain amount of elegance to the setup that makes us smile. The Padfone itself features a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4, a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED qHD display and its internal storage will vary between 16GB and 64GB.

Acer CloudMobile

It’ll be interesting to see how the Acer CloudMobile stacks up against the competition once it hits the market in Q3 of this year, but for the moment, it holds the potential to be a strong contender in the mid-tier. It’s not the most refined device we’ve ever come across, but we’re incredibly fond of its pixel-dense 4.3-inch 720p display and its top-notch viewing angles. The phone includes a Snapdragon S4 SoC with a dual-core 1.5GHz CPU, along with an 8 megapixel camera that’s said — but not confirmed — to feature zero shutter lag with continuous shot-to-shot performance.

LG Optimus 4X HD

The sequel to the Optimus 2X is here, and it asks to be called the Optimus 4X HD. As the name implies, it now packs a Tegra 3 SoC with a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU and a large 4.7-inch IPS display with 720p resolution, along with an 8 megapixel primary camera. While there’s no doubt plenty of power with this handset, LG’s software struck us as rather slow and cumbersome — which is, sadly, all too reminiscent of the Optimus 2X. Nonetheless, we were rather fond of the device’s build quality and its display, but further software optimization will be necessary to get this one off the ground.

Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G

It’s no game-changer, but there’s still plenty to love about the Galaxy S Blaze 4G. It takes many of the design cues of the original Galaxy S lineup and crams Galaxy S II innards into the handset. It features a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3, a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a 5 megapixel camera and will support T-Mobile’s 42Mbps HSPA+ network. Once T-Mobile lowers the $150 price to a more palatable level, it promises to be a very strong mid-tier contender.

Nokia Lumia 610

It’s difficult to stir our passions with a low-end device, and just to be clear, value-conscious consumers will likely find better options elsewhere, but Nokia has proven that it’s ready to take Windows Phone down to a level that’s accessible to a larger audience. That on its own makes the Lumia 610 worth a humble mention. It features an 800MHz CPU, 3.7-inch WVGA TFT display, a 5MP camera and quadband GSM / EDGE / WCDMA.

Xolo X900

What discussion of potential game-changers from Mobile World Congress would be fully complete without Intel and its new lineup of Medfield chips for smartphones? We happened to grab some time with the Xolo X900, a slab that’s based on the 1.6GHz Z2560. While the device is currently destined for India, it offers some worthwhile insights to what we might expect from handsets that’ll land closer to home. We found performance to be plenty responsive on the stock Gingerbread phone, but we’re most intrigued by the battery life claims — for example, the phone’s relatively meager 1,460mAh cell is said to last up to 14 days on standby and offer up to eight hours of talk time, all thanks to the chip’s advanced power management features. The Xolo X900 itself features a 4-inch, 1024 x 600 LCD screen, an 8 megapixel camera and is said to ship in Q2.

Windows 8 registry shows nine separate flavors to choose from

2 Mar
Windows 8 registry confirms Professional Plus version, nine retail flavors to choose from

With each subsequent release of Windows we’re left bracing for what will surely be another overwhelming assortment of retail packaging options. With Windows 7 there was a dizzying 6 SKUs to choose from, and we’re sorry to say that, at least for now, there are even more coming with Windows 8. As noted by windows 8 beta the registry contains the keys for all current versions of the OS and, with a quick trip to Regedit we were able to verify with the screenshot above. That boils down to the following list:

  • Windows 8 Starter
  • Windows 8 Home Basic
  • Windows 8 Home Premium
  • Windows 8 Professional
  • Windows 8 Professional Plus
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows 8 Enterprise Eval
  • Windows 8 Ultimate
  • Windows 8 ARM edition

We will of course point out that this is from the Consumer Preview, so not necessarily a final tally, and the Enterprise Eval version is of course just for trials, but it’s interesting to note the addition of Professional Plus. Office 2010 Pro Plus adds in extra integration with Sharepoint and Office Communications Server, leaving us to wonder if this flavor of Windows 8 won’t offer some similar collaborative tools. And then there’s just that one, lonely ARM edition, which could leave non-x86 hardware buyers out of the cross-shopping fun altogether.

[Engadget]

Apple Could Force Motorola to Destroy Devices

2 Mar
 
 

Oh patent wars, is there any mellow you can’t harsh? A German court just ruled in Apple’s favor on a patent that could, theoretically, force Moto to destroy a bunch of its devices. My crystal ball says that won’t happen.

The court found that Motorola Mobility infringed upon EU Patent No. EP2059868, which is the way that photos kinda bounce back when you’re zoomed in on them and you over-scroll. FOSS Patents says that that the ruling could force Moto to throw tons of phones onto a pyre and set them ablaze:

If Apple enforces the ruling, it can even require Motorola to destroy any infringing products in its possession in Germany and recall, at MMI’s expense, any infringing products from German retailers in order to have them destroyed as well.

 

[Gizmodo]

Digital Music Sales Beat Physical Music Sales for the First Time

6 Jan

Digital Music Sales Beat Physical Music Sales for the First Time

 

It took longer than I thought it would (because physical music sales still makes the monies) but digital music sales has finally topped physical music sales. According to Nielsen and Billboard, digital music sales accounted for 50.3% of total music sales, more than half the pie. What took so long?

 

Well, even though physical music sales has been trending downwards (5% down in 2011) compared to digital music sales (8.4% up), physical album sales still outsell digital album sales (sorta makes sense, people still like buying albums). The difference has been that the growth of digital singles has finally grown big enough to overcome the album gap. After all, it makes a heck of a lot more sense to buy a single mp3 over a single CD or cassette or vinyl or 8track, right?

 

[BusinessWire via CNN, Image Credit:demarcomedia/Shutterstock]


Only 0.6-Percent of Android Devices Have Ice Cream Sandwich Installed

5 Jan

Only 0.6-Percent of Android Devices Have Ice Cream Sandwich Installed

It’s been over two months since Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) launched and the adoption rate is nothing short of pitiful. It’s sort of a disaster.
The numbers, posted on Android’s developer site, paint a pretty sad picture of adoption rates. The data was gathered during a 14-day survey of Android devices that had accessed the Android Market. 55.5-percent of the devices were running Gingerbread (2.3). The tablet OS, Honeycomb (3.0), only accounted for 3.3-percent of devices to access the site during the time period and Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) posted 0.6-percent. Froyo, (2.2) which has been out for 20 months, is still chugging along at 30.4-percent.

Because it’s up to OEMs to update the software for their devices and push it consumers, it could be a while before those Ice Cream Sandwich numbers start creeping up.

[Android Developer via parislemon, 9to5 Google]