Sony Tablet P, a foldable touch screen tablet

An email from Sony just appeared in my inbox. I guess I must've subscribed at some point but I don't remember having received any emails from Sony in ages, so who knows.

The email was to promote the Sony Tablet P, a foldable touch screen tablet, which states it's top features as:

  • Dual 5.5" touch screens
  • 4G capable
  • Sony Entertainment Network with Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited and games for PS Certified devices

I decided to click on it to read a bit more. I found it's screen resolution is 1024x480 each, it has only 4GB storage (expandable to 32GB with aN SD card), "up to 7 hours" battery life, bluetooth version 2.1, by 4G they mean "HSPA+ with enhanced backhaul" and not LTE, and the operating system is Android Honeycomb instead of the current Ice Cream Sandwich.

How is this supposed to compete with the iPad?

Apple Australia offers iPad refunds

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation for those outside of Australia), reporting on Apple's response to claims of misleading statements over the new iPad:

Computer giant Apple has offered to refund people who bought its new iPad, which it admits is not compatible with Telstra's 4G network.

It does suck that the new iPad doesn't work with Australian 4G networks and probably a good reason to purchase the Wi-Fi version. I just tether my iPhone when I'm away from Wi-Fi, which doesn't happen often enough to be annoying.

Apple's response is interesting. Ben Brooks view is spot on:

It’s almost like a dare from Apple right? Kinda like them saying: we know you want the iPad, you know you want the iPad, so we call your bluff.

The new Apple TV interface design is app ready

Apple TV interface design ready for apps Shortly before Apple announced the new Apple TV, I wrote a short article in which I described what I would like the next Apple TV to be. My main point wasn't about new hardware, but about new functionality and a new interface that allowed for apps as channels.

For example, an app for each free-to-air channel is obvious, but what about an app for HBO or Showtime? It could open up to a new interface where customers could choose the shows they wanted to watch, it could include special content like behind the scenes and interviews.

How about an app for a show? If I buy the season of The Walking Dead, it could show up as an app on my Apple TV and inside have all the episodes, interviews, webisodes, info about the comic books, etc. It would be like having all the content a DVD has, but in an app accessible through Apple TV. It would also be great for independent content producers by selling direct to customers. Similar to what the Mac App Store does for software.

This obviously didn't happen with the latest version of the Apple TV.

We did get 1080p and a new interface design though. And it's this new Apple TV interface design that I find interesting. It seems to be heading in the direction I was thinking of. The main screen now has icons for things like Netflix, MLB.tv, NHL, Vimeo, and others as well as Movies, TV Shows, Music (which gives you your iTunes Match Library), and Computers (which lets you see the iTunes Libraries of other Macs in your network).

While I'm not convinced the UI is perfect yet, it does feel like a step in the right direction. The new Apple TV interface is ready for apps.

Why Apple will Crush Microsoft in the Post-PC Era | Cult of Mac

Mike Elgan at Cult of Mac explaining that Apple has transformed it's business to the point where PC's are no longer it's main source of revenue, as it once was with the Mac:

Microsoft doesn’t have this luxury. The company is in the position that no company wants to find itself in: It’s got to cannibalize it’s cash cow businesses in order to compete in the future.

In order to have a shot at dominating the post-PC future like it dominates the PC present, Microsoft would have had to do what Apple did: Aggressively build an alternative to the biggest and most important product lines.

The whole article is a good read and points out one of the key differences between Apple and Microsoft.

Apple is always thinking ahead, innovating, and not afraid to cannibalise it's own products (think what the iPhone did to the iPod, and what the iPad is arguably doing to the Mac), while Microsoft is holding on to the past trying to squeeze as much as possible from Windows and Office.

The next Apple TV and what I want it to be

There's been a lot of talk recently about what Apple might do in the television industry.

Can they disrupt it as they did to music with the iPod, mobile phones with the iPhone, and personal coputers with the iPad? Will they launch an actual television set (some call it iTV) or will it be a new Apple TV device that connects to your current TV?

Rumours have heated up again in anticipation of the event later this week. Everyone expects Apple to reveal a new iPad, but as far as Apple TV goes, nobody really knows. Although we all like to speculate.

I do think the television industry is ripe for disruption and Apple is arguably the company best positioned to do it.

Here's what I, personally, would like Apple to do:

  • A new Apple TV: As cool as an Apple television set could be, I have no need or desire to purchase a new one. I believe the potential is in the experience of watching television, not in the hardware itself.

  • Apps as channels: A new Apple TV with an iOS-like interface would be awesome. Each "app" could be an entry point to specific content. For example:

    1. Free to Air: FTA channels could be their own app. Tap on the CBS app and watch CBS as you do now, free and ad supported.
    2. Syndicated shows: For those of us that would be happy to pay for shows to avoid ads, this could be the solution. You could buy the new season of Boardwalk Empire and have it appear as an app, with all episodes there. If you buy it at the start of the season, a badge could notify you when a new episode is available. All add free and payment directly to the producers.
    3. Independent shows: Similar to video podcasts. This would've been a great way to distribute TikiBar and similar shows. It opens up the doors for small independent producers to reach large audiences.
    4. Short Films: I can imagine an app for The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.
    5. Themed Content: A series of educational videos or kids shows under a common theme.

    Because these are apps, they don't have to be just a video. They can be interactive and feature additional content. For example, the app for a show could feature interviews, behind the scenes videos, promotions for accompanying iPad and iPhone apps, links to books in the iBookstore, merchandise, trailers, etc.

  • Open to everyone: Like podcasts in iTunes and apps in the App Stores, everyone can publish their content. We, as customers, will get the best of both worlds. Content from the big guys alongside content from indie producers.

As with the App Store model, Apple takes care of the infrastructure and provides access to millions of potential customers in exchange for their 30% cut.

The possibilities are endless.

I'm sure the bright minds at Apple will come up with something infinitely better than what I'm imagining here for their Apple TV strategy. What is almost certain is that the TV industry is about to go through a phase of rapid change where some will win and some will loose. In the end, I believe customers will win.

How to calibrate a monitor - The Dell 2408WFP Ultrasharp 24" Display v2

For most of us, understanding how to colour calibrate a monitor is no easy task. There are so many variables to consider that many tend to just give up on calibrating their displays or choose to ignore it and hope for the best.

But photography enthusiasts do, and should, care. Spending countless hours working on your photographs only to see them look very different in print, or in somebody else's monitor, is extremely frustrating. Even if you rarely print your photographs, if your monitor's colours are way off, they'll look weird (or at least different than you intended) on other displays.

Before I get into the details of how to calibrate your monitor, specifically the Dell 2408WFP Ultrasharp 24" Display, let me start with some background.

Why I got into colour calibrating my monitors

calibrate-monitor-dell-2408WFP-ultrasharp.jpg

For years, I've always used Apple Cinema Displays and never really bothered to calibrate them. They were always close enough that it wasn't a problem. I got used to the slight colour shift and could easily work with it. Several years ago I moved to a different country and couldn't take the monitor with me, so I sold my beloved Apple display.

A few years ago, when the time came to buy a new monitor, Apple had just released the new ones that used the then new Mini Display port. My MacBook Pro was incompatible with it, so I ended up buying the Dell 2408WFP Ultrasharp 24" Display. It was horrible out of the box. It was extremely bright and the colours were not only wrong, but super saturated. As it was, it was useless for photography.

So, for the first time, I found myself having to learn how to calibrate a monitor.

Colour calibrating my first monitor

I quickly realised that calibrating a monitor is way harder than I expected. Visually calibrating using the built in tools in Mac OS X is next to impossible. I ended up having to buy a hardware calibration tool. I settled for the i1Display2 by X-rite. While it worked well at the time, X-rite never updated the software past the PowerPC era, so it always relied on Rosetta. Even after 10 years of Apple moving on from the PowerPC chips, X-rite didn't seem to care. WIth Lion it's now useless.

Anyway, as I explained back then, calibrating that Dell monitor wasn't easy and it took a lot of trial and error, but I finally managed to get it close enough. I found the colour shifted slightly as time went by and recalibrating every couple of months or so was enough.

Then Snow Leopard came out and I refused to install Rosetta. I emailed X-rite asking if they planned on updating the software. They said no.

Right about that time I bought a new MacBook Pro that came with the new display port, so I also got an Apple Cinema Display. As before, the colour was beautiful and I didn't need to calibrate the monitor. It does have a slight pinkish hue, but it's close enough that it doesn't bother me.

The Dell display was used as a second monitor and sat uncalibrated for a long time. Then I moved into a single monitor setup and the Dell went into storage. But a few weeks ago I pulled it out and hooked it to an old MacBook Pro running Leopard (with Rosetta) and I decided to see if I could calibrate it and compare it to the Apple Cinema Display.

Colour calibrating the Dell. Again

As before, it required some tweaking, but I got it close enough. The first tries with the i1Display2 gave me terrible results. The screen was just too bright and the colours way over saturated. So contrary to the instructions, I reduced the brightness by reducing the RGB colours and that did it. Here's a step by step of how I calibrated the Dell monitor:

  1. In Preset Modes > Custom (RGB) lower the RGB colours individually to half. In the case of the Dell, bring them all down to 50
  2. In the same menu, select Color Setting Mode - Graphics
  3. In the same menu, select Gamma - Mac (if you're using a Mac)
  4. In Brightness & Contrast lower brightness to 50
  5. Run the hardware monitor calibration tool (the i1Display2 in my case)

That should get you close. If you have this monitor but no hardware calibration tool, try these settings:

  • Contrast: 100
  • Brightness: 52
  • Red: 55
  • Green: 49
  • Blue: 51

Those are the numbers I get and should at least get you in the ballpark. Of course, every monitor is different so it's always best to use a dedicated calibration tool, but given Dell monitors come radioactive bright and saturated out of the box, this should help. Then maybe run the software calibration to visually get it closer.

Comparing the Dell to the Apple Cinema Display is interesting. The colours look almost the same but there is a slight difference in hue. But the Apple Cinema Display renders the darks beautifully, while the Dell tends to pixelate them. This is especially noticeable in gradients. For example, a photograph of an afternoon sky that goes from very dark blue at the top to light blue at the bottom looks great on the Apple, but the Dell can't cope with the gradient very well and shows awful banding.

Here's to Apple not killing the iPod classic

As always, the rumour mill is heating up as the next Apple event approaches. This time, one rumour that seems to be everywhere (here, here, here, here) is that Apple may discontinue the iPod shuffle and the iPod classic.

I'm not sure about the shuffle. It makes sense to me except for the price. At US$49 it's US$100 less than the nano, which is the next model up. The shuffle can almost be an impulse buy for many and a good choice to fill a christmas stocking. Unless Apple drops the price of the iPod nano I don't think they should discontinue the shuffle. But then, what do I know? There may be better reasons for them to do it.

The iPod classic on the other hand, makes almost perfect sense. It's old technology, can't run apps, and it uses a spinning hard drive. And it's 10 years old this month.

But the one thing it has going for it is the huge storage space. At 160GB it's almost 100GB more than the 64GB iPod touch for US$150 less.

For those of us who already have an iPhone, there's no need for the touch. In fact, there's very little need for an iPod unless you either need (or want) a huge hard drive, or like me, have a specific use for one.

A few months ago I wrote an article titled "Is the iPod classic not a good choice anymore?" in which I explained why I resurrected my iPod classic and now love it… again.

Color Management: Calibrating a Dell 2408WFP Ultrasharp 24" Display

UPDATE (November 2011): Although the information here is still useful, I wrote this a while ago. I stopped using this monitor for several months an only recently pulled it out of storage to give it new life. I wrote a new post on how to calibrate a Dell 2408WFT monitor with new information. I suggest you read both.

I have to start by saying that calibrating this monitor was really hard, but doable. I’m quite happy with it now after using it for a bit over a week, and having printed several photographs I can testify that this monitor does calibrate well and it’s really nice for photography.

However, out of the box it is absolutely horrible.

It’s so bright that it hurts just looking at it up close. If you’re like me (and I would think most photographers are in this regard) you like looking at your screen very closely when you’re editing, and having a ridiculously bright screen is no fun.

The colors are also super saturated, especially the reds, so skin tones look terrible. I searched all over the web for tips on how to get this monitor to calibrate and found a lot of conflicting information. As with everything on the web, everybody has an opinion but it seems many of them come from people that don’t even own the monitor. So, I decided to write this with the hopes of helping anyone that gets this monitor.

I spent several hours going through every possible option until I got what I wanted. If you bought this display I recommend you do a few searches to see why it’s so hard to calibrate (ie. wide gamut) just so you understand what’s happening. Also, note that I did my calibration with an eyeone Display2 (i1Display2) color calibrator.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I lowered the RGB colors to 50 to bring the saturation and brightness down. Do this from the monitors menu by going to Preset Modes > Custom (R, G, B)
  2. In the same Preset Modes menu, I selected Gamma - Mac (I’m obviously using a Mac) and Color Setting Mode - Graphics.
  3. Lowered Brightness to 50 from the Brightness & Contrast menu.
  4. Then ran the i1Display2 in Advanced mode with the following settings:
  • White Point: 6500k
  • Gamma: 2.2
  • Luminance: 120

By doing this, I ended up:

  • Increasing Contrast to 100
  • Decreasing Brightness to 50
  • Increasing Red to 51
  • Lowering Green to 47
  • Lowering Blue to 49

The result was as close to my prints as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m very happy!

If you're struggling with calibrating this screen, have a go at doing what I did and maybe it'll work for you. But remember to calibrate YOUR own screen with a calibrator, don't just copy my settings as every monitor is different.

UPDATE (May 2010): I've been resisting posting this update since Snow Leopard came out, but it's been long enough and I don't think things will change.

Unfortunately, X-rite's i1Display2 doesn't support Mac OS X and requires you to install Rosetta to run it. Which in itself is just disgraceful is you ask me. It's been 9 years since Mac OS X was launched and today I don't use any applications that require Rosetta except for iMatch, the software required to calibrate your monitor using the i1Display2. Rosetta is there only to run obsolete software that's no longer supported.

Anyway, Snow Leopard is the first Mac OS that doesn't install Rosetta by default. I see this as a clear sign that, after 9 years, it's time to move on. Sadly, I couldn't because of the i1Display2. After complaining way too many times about this and being told by X-rite customer service that they won't release a version of their software that runs natively in Mac OS X, I gave in and installed Rosetta.

Haven't been able to calibrate my Dell since.

I've been using it as a secondary monitor, but it's time to get it back into production. I'm now on the market for a new calibration solution and I sure won't buy from X-rite ever again.