Sunday, August 31, 2014

NAB Conference

By George Harding

I attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas. It was very interesting and although there was a lot that was over my head, there was a lot that I was able to understand. This conference  is aimed at those companies that provide goods and services to broadcasters of every type: TV, radio, service providers, photographers, video makers, gaming and more. It attracted over 98,000 attendees! Here are some of those whose booths I visited.

Showstoppers provided a number of vendors of various types. One that was unique and was not of the broadcast type was Elio Motors. The product is a 3-wheeled car, 2 wheels in front, one in back. The list price is $6,800, which includes A/C, power windows and locks, Am/Fm radio, seats two and has a 3 year/36,000 warranty. Look at to see it.

Another interesting product was the DJI Phantom, a drone-type instrument with camera attached. It is controlled by a controller to direct the Phantom’s direction and altitude, as well as the direction and attitude of the camera. The camera has resolution up to 1080p with 30 frames per second and 14 megapixel capability. The controller has an attached screen to keep track of current flight telemetry. The video can be sent directly to your phone by Wi-Fi, with no intermediary unit involved. Price from $479. See

LaCie introduced three new Thunderbolt storage devices, designed to be used in a RAID array: the 8big, up to 48 TB; the 5big, up to 30 TB; and the 2big, up to 12 TB.

HP introduced two new Dreamcolor monitors, each with extreme resolution. The price is half that of the prior models. Each has 10-bit color, enhanced internally to 14-bit capability. Each can be calibrated directly through the monitor, without additional equipment. Each also supports 4K input. See

I was surprised to see how many ways there are to light a subject, how many ways to capture video and how many ways to display the result. The accompanying photos show some of these.

There was a Russian fighter jet on display at NAB, which had nothing to do with broadcasting, but as a pilot, I was very interested in the airplane. I had an opportunity to get into the cockpit. A fairly steep ladder led from ground to cockpit, then I had to squeeze into the narrow space. The jet was built to accommodate a 5’ 6” pilot. My 6’2” didn’t fit very well. Once in the cockpit, the panel array looked very familiar. The pilots fly to various events and perform. They are all volunteers!

One very interesting panel presentation brought together 5 of the people who worked on the unique details of the movie Gravity. Each brought some special experience to development of this ground-breaking movie.

There were a number of keynotes, some of which talked about TV success stories, others about challenges ahead. One significant challenge is the increased bandwidth that will be required due to video streaming. The dramatic increase in this method of viewing shows and events that would in the past have been presented on television sets has made several changes to be made by broadcasters and other providers.

One solution is to increase the channel capability, which has a significant price attached to it from Internet costs to required improvements in hardware/software . Another solution is to decrease the size of the video being streamed by improved compression algorithms. Compression implies loss of one sort or another, so the challenge is to decrease signal size by compression without increased signal loss.

CES2014 had many products capable of showing 4K video (aka Ultra HD), but at that time there were few sources of 4K content. Today, however, there are many such sources and, as with the change from LPs to CDs, the dramatic improvement in quality warrants the extra expense to display such content. Responding to this need, many vendors at NAB had products capable of creating 4K content, others capable of displaying it. Here’s one vendors solution: Supermicro® Real Time Computing and Visualization Solutions for Broadcast Media and UHD 4K/8K.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MSFT to Use Opera Browser

Opera Software and Microsoft have struck a deal that will replace Nokia's Xpress browser with Opera Mini on Microsoft's dying line of feature phones.

Also on Thursday, Opera announced its second-quarter earnings, saying that revenue was up 38% year-over-year, to $101 million for the period.

"The agreement with Opera will enable us to provide continuity of service as we transition from Xpress Browser to Opera Mini," Rich Bernardo, who leads the legacy phone business at Microsoft, said in a statement Thursday.

"We have signed a strategic licensing deal with Microsoft. We are basically taking over the browser building department in Nokia," Opera CEO Lars Boilsesen said during a news conference today that focused on the firm's second-quarter earnings. "This means that Opera Mini becomes the default browser for Microsoft's feature phone product lines and the Asha phones product."

The Microsoft-Opera deal covers feature phones based on the Series 30+, Series 40 and Asha platforms.

Current owners of those phones "will be encouraged to upgrade" from Xpress -- Nokia's home-grown browser that uses Mozilla's "Gecko" engine -- to Opera Mini. New phones will come with Opera Mini pre-installed as the default.

That encouragement will start in October, although Opera has not said what will happen if users decline Opera Mini and want to stick with Xpress. Boilsesen said that the encouragement would come "in different ways."

Like Xpress, Opera Mini relies on an infrastructure of back-end servers that aggressively compress the data before it's sent to the browser.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Swing Copters

Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen, who pulled that mobile game from the market because he said its popularity was ruining his life, released a new game on Apple Inc. and Google Inc. (GOOG) online stores called Swing Copters.

In the new app, users tap a smartphone screen to direct a character wearing a propeller headpiece flying vertically and navigating swinging, hammer-like obstacles. The title is similar in design and feel to Flappy Bird, in which users made a bird fly horizontally through gaps in pipes to score points.

Dong Nguyen shot to fame after Flappy Bird jumped to the top of rankings charts and removed that game from stores in February, writing in a Twitter Inc. post that the title “ruins my simple life.” Ouriel Ohayon, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and co-founder of Appsfire, estimated the title had earned at least $20,000 a day and as much as $50,000.

“The challenge is to come out with an even better product,” Lam Nguyen, Ho Chi Minh City-based country director at International Data Corp., said in a phone interview today. He believes the developer, after some time out of the spotlight, is more prepared now.

Flappy Bird, without any marketing, was a global sensation, becoming the No. 1 free Apple Inc. (AAPL) iOS app download in 137 countries, according to App Annie Ltd., an analytics and marketing service. It was the top free Google Inc. Play download in 33 countries.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Pentax K-S1 dSLR

Pentax has just officially announced the new K-S1 DSLR camera: a compact yet feature-packed 20.2-megapixel body with a unique design and new user interface designed to appeal to users of modern portable electronics.  In terms of specifications, this camera is classified as a mid-range body.  Thus, it falls just below the Pentax K-3 in the current DSLR lineup and incorporates technologies from the flagship as well as the Pentax K-50.

Based on the appearance of the Pentax K-S1 we were expecting to see a basic entry-level camera, but what we have here is a clear, targeted effort to regain customers who might have abandoned their DSLRs in favor of a smartphone or high-end compact.  The K-S1's redesigned user interface abandons some of the traditional controls of a DSLR it favor of what Pentax calls a "flat field UI".  This entails the elimination of the top mode dial and front control wheel in favor of having nearly everything on the back of the camera.  In addition, the K-S1's video mode is now accessed via the power switch on the top of the camera, which promises to provide considerably quicker and easier access to video than other Pentax bodies.  All this is made possible thanks to a new PRIME M II processor.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Hasselblad Camera

With its H5D-50MS Hasselblad  says its “raised the bar yet again” for capturing “super high-quality images.”

It’s not a 200-megapixel sensor in there however: the new camera uses the company’s multi-shot technology to combine 50-megapixel captures to take “still-life studio photography to mind-blowing moirĂ©-free 200-megapixel resolution… to produce a quality that is hard to believe is possible.” (And let no one say Hasselblad can’t hyperbolize.)

Hasselblad adds that its “patented symmetrical multi-shot frame accurately positions the sensor with a sub-micron accuracy using piezo-electrical actuators, and can capture 6 shots with the sensor positioned accurately at a sequence of quadrants of the pixel…”

The medium-format 43.8 × 32.9mm sensor can take 1.5 frames per second, although long exposures can last 12 minutes. The high dynamic range is 14 stops.

Care to take a guess at the price? Nope, try doubling that. That’s closer. The H4D-200MS will cost you $45,000. And if you have a crappy old HD-50MS lying around, you can pay Hasselblad $10,000 to upgrade it for you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Smartphone Kill Switch

Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen.

The demand is the result of a new law, signed into effect on Monday, that applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state.

While its legal reach does not extend beyond the state’s borders, the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world.

The legislation requires a system that, if triggered by an authorized user, will lock a handset to essentially make it useless. The feature must be installed and activated in new smartphones, but users will be able to deactivate it if they desire, and it must be resistant to attempts to reinstall the operating system.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tablet Ownership

More than half (54 percent) of online U.S. consumers indicate they own tablets, a four percentage point increase since January, according to research released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. Consumer Outlook on Tablets (August 2014 Edition), a semi-annual report examining trend information on consumer behavior and sentiment regarding tablets, also shows tablet owners' purchase intent for all consumer electronics devices increased to 62 percent since January – a nine percentage point jump.

Tablet Ownership
Although tablet growth has slowed in recent quarters and ownership increased just four percentage points since January, three quarters (75 percent) of online consumers expect to purchase a tablet sometime in the future. That percentage is roughly equal to January's total of 77 percent.

“While interest in tablets remains high, increased competition from large-screen smartphones is having a substantial effect on the U.S. tablet market, since consumers now have more screen size choices than ever,” said Kevin Tillmann, senior research analyst at CEA. “Tablet purchase intent remains a positive indicator that the overall market is interested in tablets. Many consumers seem to be waiting to replace their existing devices until the next wave of models arrives this holiday season, while non-owners are still debating whether to buy.”

Tablet Owners Adoption of Other Electronics
Tablet owners continue to exhibit higher ownership of key CE products than non-owners with penetration rates of smartphones at 86 percent, laptops at 85 percent, desktops at 73 percent and video game consoles at 66 percent. Among tablet owners, 41 percent also own a digital media player such as an Apple TV, Chromecast or Roku; while only 12 percent of tablet non-owners own a digital media player, showing a clear, symbiotic relationship.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Are Phablets What People Want?

What do consumers want? For instance, do consumers want bigger smartphones that look like tablets or smaller tablets that look like smartphones? Do they still want and need dedicated ereaders? These are some of the big questions for connected-device manufacturers looking to capture their share of a booming market.

The solution Samsung Electronics America,, and Barnes & Noble’s,, subsidiary NOOK Media came up with is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK. The 7-in. Android device is a tablet that combines the ereader and tablet experiences to appeal to a wide base of connected consumers.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4; it has an HD display and weighs less than 10 ounces, making it both lighter and thinner than previous color NOOK devices. It also offers customers coveted tablet features such as front and rear-facing cameras, Wi-Fi, and built-in GPS for location-based apps.

The co-branded tablet will bring the NOOK experience to Samsung Galaxy customers through Barnes & Noble’s collection of digital content. For instance, the company says its NOOK Store contains a vast collection of more than 3 million books, as well as digital newspapers and magazines, apps, and movies and TV shows through NOOK Video.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is available now in white and black 8GB models for $179 (after a $20 instant rebate). The device is ad-free and comes with $200 worth of free content from the NOOK Store.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Acer Chromebox

Taiwanese PC maker Acer is bringing Google’s Chrome operating system to desktops with a new unit that will arrive in the U.S. next month.

Acer’s Chromebox CXI, announced on Thursday (and pictured mounted on a separate Acer monitor above), puts the Chrome OS into a small enclosure measuring 0.6 liters in volume. It runs an Intel Celeron 2957U dual-core 1.4GHz processor, has a 16GB solid-state drive, and promises a boot-up time of just 8 seconds.

The device can include up to 4GB in RAM, has four USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, LAN port for wired network connection, and HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. It’s priced from $179.99, including a keyboard and mouse.

Acer’s Chromebox is just the latest attempt to package the OS in desktop form. Rival Asus has a similar product called the Chromebox, that also retails for $179, and in 2012 Samsung released its own device.

Products running Google’s Chrome OS have generally been priced low, retailing for around $200 and $300. In the U.S., so-called “Chromebooks” or notebooks loaded with the OS have found a market, and accounted for 35 percent of all U.S. commercial laptop shipments from January to May, according to research firm NPD.

As PC shipments continue to fall, vendors including Acer have increasingly turned toward Chromebooks to drive sales. On Thursday, the Taiwanese company also announced its new Chromebook 11, which will start shipping later this quarter.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Several reports from usually reliable Windows watchers say Microsoft is poised to unveil Windows 9 at the end of September. The new OS will mark the return of the Start menu, the ability to run Metro apps inside desktop windows, and other PC-friendly tweaks. The timing makes ton of sense, in spite of Windows 8's short run. Why? Because Windows 7.

Whether you love or hate Windows 8, you can't argue that Microsoft's Live Tile-infused operating system has been… divisive, to say the least. The changes Microsoft instituted to transform its desktop operating system into something more mobile focused were downright shocking to long-time Windows users.

While subsequent updates made Windows 8 play far nicer with traditional PCs, the damage was done. Witness the comments on any article talking about Windows 8, which quickly devolve into folks saying that you'll pry Windows 7 from their cold, dead hands. And it's more than just talk: Windows 7's market share continues to climb regardless of Windows 8's release, according to NetApplications.

But Windows 7 PCs will  say buh-bye at the end of October.

Now Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for Windows 7 until 2020. You just won't be able to buy new Windows 7 PCs anymore, unless you're willing to plop down big bucks for a pricey business machine running Windows 7 Professional. The end-of-sales date for PCs running the consumer-focused versions of Windows 7 is October 31. And while you can still find boxed copies of Windows 7 at some online retailers, official software sales of the OS ended last October.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

iFruit company Sales

Apple, unlike most of its competitors, is remarkably transparent about its sales. In its quarterly and annual earnings reports, it routinely discloses both unit sales and revenue for each of its operating segments.

In recent years, most attention has been focused on the eye-popping numbers associated with the iPhone and iPad lines, which sold 150 million and 71 million units, respectively, in Apple’s 2013 fiscal year.

Compared to those stratospheric sales volumes, the Mac division appears downright anemic, selling a total of only 16.3 million units in the company’s 2013 fiscal year, the last full year to be reported. Macs similarly represent only a tiny percentage of the global PC market, with less than 6 percent of the 300 million PCs sold last year having an Apple logo on them.

But those numbers are deceiving. Macs are still enormously profitable, and their high average selling price makes this division a formidable cash cow. In addition, Apple’s product planners have shrewdly targeted the most important segment of the market, the only segment that’s growing and the one that is by far the most profitable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

5 Things That Android Phones Can Do That iPhones Can't

  1. VoLTE: T-Mobile is rapidly deploying Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) and HD voice sounds awesome on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8). Apple tends to lag a generation behind in wireless technologies so if you want the latest and greatest that your carrier offers, then Android is probably the best platform for you.
  2. Infrared for remote control: As a regular traveler, having IR on my Android phones is both convenient and safer than using hotel remotes. I also love controlling my home TVs since my phone is always with me while remotes tend to get lost.
  3. MicroSD expansion card slot: Android and Windows Phone manufacturers now have microSD expansion card slots in many flagship devices and adding storage at very low prices is consumer-friendly and convenient. I don't expect Apple to add microSD, but it would at least be nice to see them reduce the high premium cost of additional storage and start all models at 32GB.
  4. Long-life battery: Android manufacturers have finally bumped up the capacities and improved the OS so that most flagships will last heavy users a full day. I have yet to be satisfied with an iPhone battery while Mophie and many other vendors probably hope for continued average battery life on the iPhone. Some rumors have the larger 5.5-inch iPhone with a massive battery so if that ends up being true then I may have to go with the larger iPhone.
  5. NFC: NFC is another great convenience I use for pairing gear, paying for items with Google Wallet, and tapping tags to quickly manage wireless radios and settings. I think Apple could bring a

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pokemon iPad App

Nintendo Co.’s shares rose 4% Monday after it unveiled a Pokemon trading-card game for Apple Inc.’s iPad, a move some investors interpreted as a break with the company’s longstanding hesitation about putting its games on other companies’ devices.

Nintendo shares rose as high as ¥12,125, the highest level since July 30, during Monday trading in Tokyo.

The new iPad app is similar to a version of the Pokemon Trading Card Game that is already available on Windows and Mac computers. It was introduced at the Pokemon World Championship, a tournament held over the weekend in Washington, D.C., said a spokeswoman for the Pokemon Co., an affiliate of Nintendo.

“Investors took the reports as a sign of a change in Nintendo’s stance of avoiding developing full games for smartphones and tablets,” said Yusuke Sakai, a senior trader at T&D Asset Management.

A Nintendo representative in Japan confirmed the new app on Monday but declined to discuss its implications for Nintendo’s business strategy. The Pokemon spokeswoman said the app’s release date hasn’t been decided. She said the company wasn’t preparing a version for the iPhone or for Android smartphones.

Nintendo has kept a cautious stance toward smartphones, although game players are spending more time on mobile devices these days.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sales of Chromebooks

Sales of Chromebooks -- mostly portable devices running Google's Chrome OS -- are expected to reach 5.2 million units in 2014, according to Gartner. That represents a 79% increase from 2013. By 2017, the research firm predicts, Chromebook sales will reach 14.4 million, nearly triple the current unit sales. That's about 2 million less than the number of Mac computers that Apple sold in all of 2013.

Google said in July that schools had purchased more than a million Chromebooks during the second quarter of 2014. That same month, Dell said its Chromebook 11, targeted at schools, was unavailable due to strong demand. The device remains out of stock on the company's website.

But Chromebooks appear to be ready to move beyond the education sector. Gartner says that more than half of Chromebook sales in 2014 will be to consumers. Chromebooks accounted for 35% of all US commercial laptop sales during the first six months of 2014, according to the research firm NPD.

On Monday, Acer launched its Chromebook 13 model, which ranges in price from $280 to $380, in a bid to appeal to consumers.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Zorin OS 9 Lite is Released

Zorin OS has announced the release of Zorin OS 9 Lite and Educational Lite.

These releases are the latest evolution of the Zorin OS Lite series of operating systems, designed specifically for Linux newcomers utilizing old or low-powered hardware. This release is based on Lubuntu 14.04 and uses the LXDE desktop environment to provide one of the fastest and most feature-packed interfaces for low-spec machines. This new release includes newly updated software as well as new software inclusions for the best lightweight desktop experience.

The Educational Lite edition adds educational software to the desktop, making it the ideal choice for students, teachers and schools with low-powered hardware.

All Zorin OS 9 editions are Long Term Support (LTS) releases which means that you’ll continue to get software updates and security fixes until 2019, making it the ideal choice for large-scale deployments.

You can get Zorin OS 9 Lite and Educational Lite here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Does MSFT Want to Get Out of the OS Business?

Microsoft will not, contrary to some expectations, put a name to its next Windows 8.1 update, a decision that not only reflects a scaling back of ambition for the reputation-plagued OS but also indicates a different approach to all Windows' releases, analysts said today.

On Tuesday, Microsoft said that future feature updates, whether new tools or improvements to existing parts of Windows 8.1, would be parceled out in smaller chunks.

"Rather than waiting for months and bundling together a bunch of improvements into a larger update as we did for the Windows 8.1 Update, customers can expect that we'll use our already existing monthly update process to deliver more frequent improvements," said Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesman who regularly posts to the company's Windows blogs.

Windows 8.1 Update 1, which shipped in April, was a minor upgrade from Windows 8.1 of October 2013; together, the pair were designed to make the original Windows 8 more palatable to traditional desktop and laptop owners who control their desktops with a mouse and keyboard.
But Windows 8.1 Update 1 will not be followed by an Update 2, as many had thought until recently. "Despite rumors and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 'Update 2,'" LeBlanc confirmed.

From now on, Microsoft will not even dignify its Windows 8.1 updates with a name, but simply toss them into the Windows Update machinery long used to serve up vulnerability patches on the second Tuesday of each month. Microsoft prefers the less-negative label of "Update Tuesday" for that day, but the rest of the world refers to it as "Patch Tuesday."

Sunday, August 10, 2014


We would like to alert all of our faithful readers that our office will be closed and we will be on a “light” blog posting schedule for the next week. If important news comes to our attention we will be sure to pass it on as soon as we can but don’t expect our usual in-depth blogging.

We’ll get back to our normal schedule after our batteries get recharged!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Timex Smartwatch

While the budding smartwatch industry has been dominated by tech names, at least one big-name watch company wants in on the action.

Timex this week is announcing the cellular-connected GPS One+, a $399 watch that will go on sale this fall. Built in collaboration with AT&T and Qualcomm, the device uses the former’s network and the latter company’s Mirasol display. Mirasol offers a color display, but with the low battery consumption typically offered only on E-Ink devices, meaning the device’s screen can remain on.

Although it has its own wireless connection, a Dick Tracy watch this is not. It doesn’t make phone calls, instead using the cellphone network to transmit location data to friends and exchange email-based messages. The device also allows runners to upload their data to social networks and has 4GB of storage for playing music via Bluetooth headphones. An SOS feature allows watch owners to send precise location information to a predefined list of contacts.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Zorin OS Business

Zorin has  announced the release of Zorin OS 9 Business.

Zorin OS 9 Business pairs the latest and greatest software with powerful and extensive tools to help you run your business. Updated software and bug fixes ensure that your computer runs better than ever while improved hardware support and entirely new software ensures that you’re getting the best experience, no matter which computer you’re using.

All Zorin OS 9 editions are Long Term Support (LTS) releases which means that you’ll continue to get software updates and security fixes until 2019, making it the ideal choice for large-scale deployments. More information about Zorin OS 9 changes can be found here.

You can get Zorin OS 9 Business here.
We hope that you will enjoy using it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Plextor Wins Another Award

Plextor, a leading developer of digital storage technology, is pleased to announce that their Plextor M6e PCIe SSD has won Best of Show for most Innovative Flash Memory Technology at the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California. The FMS Best of Show Awards is a premier venue for industry recognition of innovative products.

The tiny but powerful M6e PCIe fits into a PC motherboard's M.2 slot without need of a power or data cable. Most notably, this Solid State Drive brings small form factors—or NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor)—into the performance picture while at the same time providing greater bandwidth and incredible speed. PCI express handily bypasses the SATA speed bottleneck to significantly improve performance for extreme users and elite gamers.  Impressive numbers tell the story: maximum sequential read/write speeds of 770/625 MB/s and random read/write speeds of 105/100K IOPS.

The M6e PCIe combines a multi-core Marvell PCIe 9183 controller and Toshiba toggle NAND flash with firmware developed by Plextor's in-house team. Plextor's acclaimed True Speed technology guarantees that the M6e PCIe will sustain long-term high performance.

The SSD also supports both UEFI and legacy BIOS booting making it compatible with a wide range of systems and allowing the system to initiate all storage devices simultaneously, which improves efficiency and cuts boot times by half. Also, driver-free AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) compatibility eliminates the need for additional drivers.

It is Plextor's working premise that all products featuring new technology and outstanding speed have equally outstanding reliability. True to form, the M6e PCIe is a product of Plextor’s new ultra-strict, enterprise-grade, zero error testing. Taking place at the company’s own state-of-the-art testing facility, 400 units were subjected to 500 hours of extreme tests without error or failure. Also, Plextor SSDs typically have a MTBF (mean time between failures) of 2.4 million hours, which is the highest reliability ranking in the industry, matched by a full 5-year Plextor warranty and an extensive technical support system.

"We're honored by this award and also very proud of our Plextor team that designed and developed such a balanced product in all areas—including speed, convenience, compatibility, and stability. The M6e has what it takes to set some new standards in terms of real-world performance. We're really looking forward to putting the Flash Memory Summit Best of Show logo on the M6e," said Darlo Perez, Managing Director.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

China's "Little Rice" Has Gotten Big

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker with the diminutive name, became the leading smartphone vendor in China in the second quarter, with its shipments exceeding Samsung’s for the first time, according to figures from market research firm Canalys.

Xiaomi led China’s second-quarter smartphone shipment rankings with 14% market share, followed by Samsung, Lenovo and Yulong each with 12%. It’s quite a jump from the first quarter, when Xiaomi’s 10.7% market share trailed Samsung’s 18.3% and Lenovo’s 11%. And an even bigger leap from a year ago, when Xiaomi only held 5%.

Canalys Shanghai-based analyst Jingwen Wang said in a telephone interview that the popularity of devices in Xiaomi’s budget Redmi series – including the Redmi, Redmi 1S and Redmi Note – helped account for the second-quarter boost.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Pentax Q Series Camera

Ricoh Imaging (Pentax) has just officially announced the Pentax Q-S1, the latest addition to Pentax's lineup of ultra-compact interchangeable lens cameras.

The Q-S1 is a cosmetic refresh of the Pentax Q7, much like the Pentax Q10 was an externally-redesigned Pentax Q.  While small software tweaks have been made, in terms of hardware specifications, the Q-S1 does not differ at all from the Q7 (more details on the minor tweaks can be found later in this post).

Pentax Q-S1 key specifications:
  • Sensor: 12.4-megapixel 1/1.7" CMOS (4000x3000px resolution)
  • Stabilization: Sensor-shift Shake Reduction
  • Video recording: 1080p/720p/VGA at up to 30FPS
  • Monitor: 3" LCD, 460k dots, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Viewfinder: N/A
  • Lens mount: Pentax Q-mount (accepts virtually any lens via adapter)
  • Weight: 203g
  • Dimensions: 105 x 58 x 34mm (4.13 x 2.28 x 1.34")

Based on the press release, it's evident that Pentax is placing an emphasis on the fashionable appearance and small size of the Q-S1.  Rather than being made of plastic (like the Q7/Q10) or magnesium alloy (like the Q), the Q-S1 features aluminum panels and synthetic leather in the front.