Slow-mo Footage Reveals the Unique Way Plasma TVs Displayed a Single Frame of Video

As fun as it is to watch things go boom in slow motion, high-speed cameras are more useful as educational and research tools, revealing phenomena that are otherwise imperceptible to the naked human eye, like the weird way old plasma TVs would display a single frame of video by flashing various parts of the image in multiple passes.

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This isn’t the first time The Slow Mo Guys have pointed their high-speed cameras at a TV screen. In a video from 2018, they compared how modern LCD and OLED TVs display video—drawing images from the top of a screen to the bottom—to how old CRTs would generate each frame by drawing images line-by-line and pixel-by-pixel while relying on human persistence of vision to create a full image in our minds.

Somewhere between those technologies, we got TVs featuring plasma display panels which offered a lot of the same benefits that modern OLED screens do over LCDs. The on-screen pixels were made up of tiny cells filled with an ionized gas that self-illuminated when electricity was applied. As a result, plasma TVs didn’t need backlights nor suffer from issues like light leak, resulting in excellent contrast ratios and black levels that were darker than LCD TVs could muster. But plasma TVs actually worked a lot differently when generating images than LCDs, OLEDs, and even CRTs do, as The Slow Mo Guys discovered in their latest video that uses high-speed photography to reveal how 3D TVs functioned.

Instead of turning on every self-emissive pixel at the same time—which would be blinding—plasma display panels would instead illuminate different areas of the screen in fast pulses, up to 10 times for each frame, to quickly build up what the human brain would perceive as a single solid image. In the case of the plasma TV The Slow Mo Guys photographed, it was marketed as a 480Hz display which meant that while it actually operated at 60Hz, every frame generated was made up of eight shorter pulses.

Unlike with an LCD or OLED TV, at no point does slow-mo footage of a plasma display reveal an entire frame, but it’s the only way to see how this unique technology actually worked. As much as home theater enthusiasts loved plasma TVs, which were some of the first big-screen flat sets available, they’re a technology that’s no longer available thanks to improvements in LCD TVs, but mostly because OLED screens offer the same benefits with less power usage, slimmer profiles, and lighter sets that are much easier to hang on a wall.

Why the New iPad Pro’s MiniLED Display Is a Big Deal

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro for 2021 brings with it a major display upgrade.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro for 2021 brings with it a major display upgrade.
Image: Apple

One of the marquee features of Apple’s 12.9-inch Pad Pro for 2021 is its Liquid Retina XDR display, a screen tech that you might have previously seen mentioned in relation to the super-expensive Pro Display XDR monitor that Apple also sells. But what exactly do all these terms mean?

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Let’s start with the term Retina, which Apple uses with both the Pro Display XDR and the new iPad Pros, and which has been used on Apple products for years at this point. It’s a bit of marketing speak Apple has invented to signify a certain level of resolution and crispness on a display, and it’s been used across several different products in the Apple range since the term was introduced with the iPhone 4 in 2013.

There’s actually no fixed standard for what makes a display a Retina one, but broadly speaking, it’s supposed to be a resolution high enough that the human eye can’t distinguish between individual pixels. Obviously, that’s going to vary depending on how far your eyes are from the screen as well as how tightly packed the pixels are.

Nowadays, just about every bit of Apple hardware qualifies as Retina, which is why you’ll now see extra words like “liquid” tacked on as well—the Liquid part of Liquid Retina on the iPad Pro listings just means even more pixels per inch, and even less chance of your eyes seeing any pixelation no matter how close you bring the screen up to your face.

But what about the XDR part? This again is something Apple has cooked up itself for its own products, and you won’t find any other manufacturers using the term for their own screens. In the simplest terms, XDR is an enhanced version of HDR (High Dynamic Range) that extends its benefits.

HDR keeps the darkest parts of a screen and the lightest parts of a screen visible at all times through a range of different brightness balancing tricks. The idea is that detail is visible in the deepest shadows and the brightest highlights, even if both are shown on a display at the same time.

The key to HDR is having a very high contrast ratio, or the difference between the blackest blacks and the whitest whites that a display can put out. With XDR, Apple has pushed that range even further. The Apple Pro Display XDR can manage 1,000 nits of full-screen, sustained brightness, and a peak of 1,600 nits, resulting in a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

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Part of the secret of managing this is having a finely tuned backlighting control system, so really bright pixels can sit next to extremely dim pixels with no bleed. On the Pro Display XDR, Apple says it does this through a combination of advanced LED technology, intelligent (and faster) image processing, and light shaping (or controlling how light is emitted). The monitor has a total of 576 LED zones behind it.

The Apple Pro Display XDR.

The Apple Pro Display XDR.
Image: Apple

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There’s also a P3 wide color gamut and 10-bit color depth (supporting 1.073 billion colors), with a resolution of 6016 x 3384 pixels (218 pixels per inch), and a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. It also uses blue LED backlighting rather than the conventional white for better control and for better thermal management.

The Retina XDR tech in the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is going for similar end results, but approaching them in a different way. Here the display technology isn’t IPS LCD, as like is on the Pro Display XDR, but rather the up-and-coming miniLED. The idea is the same: There’s super-fine control over the brightness and dimming of individual pixels, so that very dark blacks and very bright whites are possible.

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We’ve written more about miniLED display tech here, but basically it means the backlight zones behind an LCD display (like the 576 on the Pro Display XDR) can get much smaller still, for even better control and better color management. These miniature LEDs can be as little as a fifth of a size of standard LEDs, so the difference can be marked.

MiniLEDs are also seen in TVs and smartphones, and the tech being developed in an attempt to get LCD screens closer to the high bar set by OLED displays. With OLED, every pixel is its own light source, no backlighting or local dimming required, but OLED remains expensive and difficult to manufacture. Innovations such as miniLED are an attempt to get the best features of both LCD and OLED panels.

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The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the one with the XDR upgrade.

The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the one with the XDR upgrade.
Image: Apple

While Apple’s premium iPhones now use OLED, the company has gone with miniLED for the larger iPad Pro model in order to qualify for the XDR label. It hits the same 1,000 nits maximum full-screen brightness, 1,600 nits peak brightness when playing HDR content, and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio that the Pro Display XDR monitor does, but in a much more compact form.

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It’s quite a technical achievement. The Pro models in the iPhone 12 range (with their OLED screens) can manage 1,200 nits peak brightness, while the (LCD) displays on the brand new 24-inch iMac top out at a maximum of 500 nits. Considering miniLED can manage better brightness levels than OLED, with less battery drain, it might be a while before Apple makes the switch to OLED for its tablets.

There are 10,000 miniLEDs packed into the 12.9-inch iPad Pro display, offering a total of 2,596 local dimming zones—a fantastic number for such a small screen. Rounding out the specs on this larger iPad Pro, we have the P3 wide color gamut, a 2732 x 2048 pixel resolution (264 pixels per inch), and a refresh rate that can go up to 120Hz.

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The XDR label, then, is one that may well be worth spending the extra cash for when you’re choosing a new iPad—especially if you spend a lot of time working with images and video. While Netflix and Hulu will look perfectly fine on any Apple tablet, the extra brightness and contrast you get with XDR are likely to appeal to creative professionals.

Anker’s R2-D2 Mini Projector Is Adorable but Flawed

Illustration for article titled Anker’s R2-D2 Mini Projector Is Adorable but Flawed

Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

They say if you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door, but you can probably be just as successful by slapping some Star Wars graphics on it instead. That’s what Anker’s done with its Nebula Capsule II mini projector, which now looks like a legless version of R2-D2. The facelift doesn’t add much in terms of functionality aside from making a solid portable projector more appealing to Star Wars fans and X-wing pilots.

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As flat-screen TVs have become larger and lighter, they’re minimizing the need for an expensive video projector as a way to get a movie theater-sized screen inside a home. But mini projectors have remained an appealing alternative, making it easy to set up a movie theater almost anywhere, be it a backyard or a campsite. And that’s probably the biggest appeal of the Anker Nebula Capsule II: It’s small, but still manages to squeeze in everything you need to bring the movie theater experience anywhere. All you need to provide is the screen.

There are a few disappointments with the new Anker Nebula Capsule II R2-D2 edition, but the most obvious is that its Artoo facelift really doesn’t add much beyond a bit of novelty. The projector has the same cylindrical shape as the original, which just barely matches R2-D2’s shape. It would have been more fun to see Anker upgrade this version with a rounded dome top and a swivelling projector eye like Haier did back in 2015 just before we realized how awful those last three Star Wars films would be. In addition to the Artoo graphics, the projector does play a couple of droid-like “beep-bloops” every time it boots up, but that’s about as much enjoyment Star Wars fans are going to get out of it—aside from actually watching Star Wars with it.

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Anywhere you can carry a soda can or a water bottle you can carry the Nebula Capsule II.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

As mini projectors go, I’ve come to quite like the can-shaped design of the Nebula Capsule II over the boxy uninspired rectangle that most projector makers opt for. It’s easy to slip into a water bottle pocket on a backpack thanks in part to it being only just a tiny bit larger than an actual soda can or water bottle.

Even more impressive is that Anker has managed to include a solid sounding speaker in there too, with more than enough volume to fill a room with decent levels of bass. It obviously can’t compare to what you’d get from a dedicated surround-sound setup with a big woofer on the floor, and while you can connect a larger wireless Bluetooth speaker to the projector for better sound if you prefer, having decent sound built right in just adds to the convenience and portability of this thing.

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Also hidden away inside the Nebula Capsule II is a rechargeable battery that in my tests usually hit the 3-hour mark before completely dying, but you might see a little less than that depending on how loud the speaker is cranked. It’s more than enough to get through an entire movie in the backyard without having to run an extension cord from the house, and is easily the best reason to choose the Nebula Capsule II over the competition.

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The projector’s tall design occasionally makes it a little top heavy, but a tripod mount on the underside provides a secure place to easily mount it.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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The taller design of the projector does occasionally make it a little top heavy and a challenge to stand on a surface that’s not completely flat and level. But on the bottom is a standard tripod mount so if you bring along a flexible legged tripod that can stand on its own or wrap around another solid object, you’ll never have to worry about this thing ever toppling over.

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Media files can be accessed directly through a USB port, while consoles and streaming sticks can be easily connected using an HDMI port.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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On R2-D2’s butt you’ll find an AUX connector for those who only want to use the projector as a speaker, an HDMI port for connecting consoles or a streaming device like a Chromecast, a data-only USB port for connecting an external drive full of media files, and a USB-C port that’s only used for power and charging the battery.

Unlike most projectors that are dependent on an external video source, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is actually a full-on Android TV device that, when paired with a solid wifi connection, can stream content from services like Disney+, HBO, and YouTube, all on its own. After using it for a few weeks it makes you wonder why every projector doesn’t run Android TV, but there are some challenges. The projector unfortunately doesn’t meet Netflix’s stringent certification process, so you can’t install it natively from the Google Play Store. You can jump through hoops and sideload Netflix yourself, or install a special app that Anker has created that provides access to the streaming service. While it technically works, navigating the Netflix interface a bit of a challenge unless you want to also connect your smartphone and use it as a wireless mouse. It’s unfortunately far from ideal.

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If Netflix support is critical for you, you’re better off buying and connecting an HDMI streaming stick device like a $50 Chromecast, even if that does diminish the all-in-one benefits of the Nebula Capsule II.

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The included Android TV remote is basic and a little disappointing, because it lacks the convenient playback controls that the latest Nvidia Shield remote includes, but it works. On top of the projector you’ll also find most of the remote’s functionality replicated through a series of touch-sensitive buttons, which is nice should the remote itself go MIA. One thing that I found extremely frustrating was quickly accessing the projector’s auto-focus functionality. Simply holding down the ‘input’ button on the remote for a couple of seconds is supposed to be a shortcut to quickly trigger it, but it doesn’t work, as apparently a recent update broke that functionality. Manually activating autofocus has to be done by jumping back to the Android TV home screen and activating it through the settings, which is a pain, or holding down the middle button on top of the projector itself. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed through a future update.

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The projector can autofocus and make keystone adjustments all on its own, but occasionally the focus will soften, and manually triggering a refocus isn’t as easy as it should be.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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I haven’t dabbled with small projectors for a few years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy they are to set up now. Once fully booted the Nebula Capsule II automatically corrected for keystone issues, although its ability to do so is limited to vertical adjustments, so when setting up a makeshift movie theater you’ll want to ensure the projector is horizontally centered in front of your screen. The projector was also good at focusing itself using a reference marker it temporarily projects, but focus does tend to drift as it slowly heats up during use. Sometimes the projector will realize it and refocus itself automatically (a built-in motion sensor also detects when it’s been moved or repositioned, triggering a refocus) but more often than not you need to manually trigger an autofocus, which as I mentioned before isn’t as easy as it should be.

As for image quality? Well that’s probably the biggest drawback to the Nebula Capsule II. It only projects at 720p, so you’re definitely going to see jaggies on fine details, particularly with text and on-screen menus. And in order to max out that rechargeable battery so you can get through a whole movie on a single charge, its brightness levels top out at around just 200 ANSI lumens. In a very dark room that’s bright enough to create a 100-inch image and even larger if you really push it, but even at shorter distances the Nebula Capsule II is all but unusable in the daytime, even when it’s cloudy or overcast outside.

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The included remote has a dedicated power button, but you can’t actually completely turn off the projector using it. It can only be completely powered down using a physical button on the back, so you’ll want to make sure you never permanently mount it somewhere out of reach.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

If portability is a priority, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is one of the best options around, especially for those looking for an easy way to enjoy a backyard movie on a warm summer night or while ‘roughing it’ at a campsite. It’s easy to use, and the built-in battery and speaker mean you don’t need much else besides a makeshift screen and a reliable wireless data connection to build a temporary movie theater. But for $700 it’s a tough sell for anyone also hoping to use it to replace a big screen TV. Unless you’re only planning to watch TV at night, you could be disappointed.

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We all love R2-D2, but for $300 more, a projector like the 1080p, 1,000-lumen Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 seems like a better all around option. It lacks the portability and convenience of the Anker Nebula Capsule II, but you can use it all day long and just use your imagination to pretend it’s a loyal droid.

Hello Gamers, Aukey’s KM-G12 RGB Keyboard Is Down to $39

Illustration for article titled Hello Gamers, Aukey's KM-G12 RGB Keyboard Is Down to $39

Photo: Elizabeth Henges

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

AUKEY KM-G12 RGB Mechanical Keyboard | $39 | Amazon | Promo code GFP66GNY

Hello, gamers. For a short time, you can grab an AUKEY KM-G12 RGB Mechanical Keyboard for a low $39 with the code LML7QYBY. It’s 30% off the original list price of $55, so you’ll be saving a couple of bucks. One of our former writers, Elizabeth Henges, describes the keyboard below:

The KM-G12 keyboard itself feels like an absolute tank, too. I feel like it’d last for years and quite a few bad accidents before finally giving out. But it’s important to note that also like a tank, Aukey’s KM-G12 is LOUD. People joke about how loud mechanical keyboards are, but the secret is in the switches. My normal, non-Aukey keyboard uses Cherry MX Brown switches, which are known for being the quietest of the tactile bunch. This one here uses Aukey’s proprietary Blue switches, best compared to Cherry’s MX Blues which are both revered and reviled for their “audible click,” depending on who you ask.

And yes, it’s quite audible indeed. I used the Aukey keyboard for three days throughout my normal workflow (which, of course, involved a lot of typing), and I got used to the loud clicking faster than I thought I would. Discord’s new Noise Suppression mode also managed to cut the clicking out when I was speaking to people on voice chat, which is also good. So, provided you aren’t annoying a roommate or loved one by typing loudly five feet away from them, it’s not too bad.

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Nothing else to say, really! Grab it before it’s gone!


Steam Will Let You Stream Games in 8K, but Most Graphics Cards Can’t Even Do 4K

Illustration for article titled Steam Will Let You Stream Games in 8K, but Most Graphics Cards Can't Even Do 4K

Image: KeokeN Interactive (Other)

Steam released its latest client update yesterday, which mostly included minor bug fixes and and a few new features, but one addition to Steam’s Remote Play is a bit curious. Spotted by PCWorld, Remote Play will now support up to 8K streaming—odd considering just two modern graphics cards actually have the specs to handle such a high resolution, and 8K TVs can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. This is far out of reach for the average consumer.

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If you’re not familiar with Remote Play, it’s one of Steam’s core features that lets users play any game in their library on another device (iOS, Apple TV, Android phones, etc.) from the Steam Link app as long as their PC is turned on. The stream quality is partially dependent on the hardware that’s in your rig. So if you only have an RTX 3060 or something similar in your PC and want to stream to your TV at 4K, that graphics card can’t handle streaming at 4K unless you turn the graphics setting down in the game, which sort of defeats the point of 4K streaming.

Nvidia’s RTX 3090 and AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT are the only consumer cards on the market that can handle 8K streaming, and even those GPUs can’t reach 60 frames per second in most games with the graphics setting on high. Most GPUs can’t even do 4K, at least not at 60 fps on ultra settings.

According to Steam’s most recent hardware survey, only 0.30% of Nvidia GeForce owners have an RTX 3090, and none of the new AMD Radeon 6000-series GPUs even show up on the survey. The newest AMD GPU with the most users is the RX 5700 XT at 1.02%. Close to 10% of users still have a GTX 1060 graphics card.

There’s also the issue of bandwidth and data consumption. Steam’s Remote Play works similar to cloud gaming, but instead of connecting to an Nvidia or Stadia server, you’re connecting to your own PC. That data is transferred over your home internet connection to your TV, phone, or whatever device you’re using to play your game, and the inputs you make on your device are transferred back to your PC. That’s a lot of downloading and uploading going on.

Streaming games in 4K can take up as much as 20GB an hour, according to Stadia. 8K streaming could take up twice as much, up to 40GB an hour or 25 hours of gaming for an entire month, assuming no one else is using the same data pool. That’s good news if you’re an ISP with data caps, but bad news if you’re someone who has to pay for going over that data cap. You’ll also need somewhere in the vicinity of a minimum 75-100Mbps download speed to handle that amount of data coming through the pipeline.

8K will become the de facto resolution for consumers one day, but that day won’t come any time soon, thanks to the cost and availability of 8K TVs and graphics cards. There are simply too many barriers to entry right now.

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Get Your Fingers on the WASD Keys of a New Ryzen 5000 Series HP Omen Gaming Laptop for a Modest Price

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

HP Omen Laptop 15 (Ryzen 5600H, RTX 2060) | $1,170 | HP

For gamers, a laptop equipped with the proper hardware is an absolute must. While Apple’s M1 MacBooks sound compelling for performance users in the professions that require one, an Nvidia GeForce RTX series GPU still “blows the pants off Apple’s integrated GPU,” according to Gizmodo’s Joanna Nelius. The 2021 HP Omen 2021‘s graphics outfit is no exception. Along with an RTX 3060 Max-Q chip, it’s got a Ryzen 5000H central processor—at various power levels depending on the configuration you pick. And right now, you can flip one open yourself for $1,170, complete with a 144Hz screen, an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of NVMe SSD storage.

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That may not sound like much of a discount, because truth be told it isn’t. But it’s still a good deal regardless, compared to its competitors. That includes the Razer Blade 15, which costs over $500 more for a comparable setup (albeit toting a 1oth Gen Intel Core i7 processor). The similarly specced Alienware m15 R3, on the other hand, sits at a whopping $1,800 straight from Dell. It might not flaunt the most glamorous chassis or fetching features, but in the pure numbers game, the HP Omen 2021 is a competitive frontrunner. You’d be hard-pressed to find much of anything that can hold up a fight in the value department. Just make sure to tick +$50 for double the memory.


Save $53 on LG’s 27″ UaGear Monitor And Get Some UaGaming Done, Am I Right?

Best Gaming DealsBest Gaming DealsThe best deals on games, consoles, and gaming accessories from around the web, updated daily.

27″ UltraGear Monitor | $347 | BuyDig

‘Tis the season to upgrade your home gaming setup. With tech deals going left and right, you’ll find no shortage of options when it comes to things like monitors. Here’s another one to add on to your list of possible purchases. A pair of 27″ LG UltraGear gaming monitors are on sale at Best Buy. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’re getting with this: a 2560 x 1440 display, 144Hz refresh rate, 1 ms of response time, and G-Sync technology to help cut down on screen tear. For gamers who don’t care too much about pushing their games to the ends of the Earth with ungodly resolutions ad refresh rates, the UltraGear is a great balance of the two. making for a solid gaming option.

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This story was originally published by Giovanni Colantonio on 11/29/2020 and updated with new information on 03/11/2021.


Researchers Created a High-Contrast Transparent Screen That Might Make You Want to Wear Smart Glasses

Gif: Jilin University

Researchers at Jilin University in Changchun, China, have come up with a method for making transparent displays that look as good as the screens on our mobile devices, with color reproduction and contrast levels that could soon have us permanently ditching smartphones and tablets for smart glasses.

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Transparent displays are far from a new idea. Science fiction has been presenting us with see-through smartphones and vibrant mixed-reality headsets for years. It’s hard not to lust after the mobile devices Tony Stark gets to play with, but while the technology exists in real life, it’s mostly used for novelty or advertising purposes. Companies like LG sell transparent OLED displays for use as signage, but not as a replacement for your living room TV. Non-emissive see-through screens don’t generate their own light, but instead rely on ambient light passing through or bouncing off the display, and don’t have the same contrast levels, viewing angles, and color reproduction capabilities as LCDs or OLEDs.

Anyone who had a chance to use Google Glass while it was available to consumers knows the limitations of transparent displays, but while image quality lacks, the technology is crucial for creating smart glasses, which many assume will one day supplant smartphones.

There’s little doubt that deep in the R&D labs of giant corporations like LG and Samsung, researchers are trying to find ways to improve transparent OLEDs, but the Chinese researchers at Jilin University may have beaten them to the punch. In a paper published in the journal Chem today, the team details a new approach to electrochromic displays that change color and opacity by manipulating the properties of light when a voltage is applied.

A prototype was created by essentially building a glass sandwich with a pair of clear panels that were injected with a material made from “metal salts, dyes, electrolytes, and solvent” in addition to electrodes, with the whole thing held together using an adhesive that doubled as a spacer. When a voltage is applied, the metal ions and molecules in the filler form new bonds and structures that essentially cause the dyes to switch on and off. As different dyes are activated and mixed, the researchers found that colors including cyan, magenta, yellow, red, green, pink, purple, and gray could be produced. The display could easily shift from fully transparent to black with a high contrast ratio, which is crucial for displaying legible text.

The new non-emissive screen technology is also relatively low-cost and easy to manufacture, further increasing its chances of replacing LCDs and OLEDs in applications like smart glasses, but first the researchers are hoping to optimize its performance. It can shift from transparent to displaying text or imagery in less than a second, but that’s not quite fast enough to match the performance of screens used on smartphones or wearables. It’s going to need to be able to switch states at at least 30 times every second before the technology is practical enough to replace what we’re using now. No one’s going to want a pair of smart glasses if they can’t secretly watch YouTube videos while they look like they’re paying attention to a meeting or class.

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There’s Finally a Good Color E Ink Tablet For Comic Books

Illustration for article titled There's Finally a Good Color E Ink Tablet For Comic Books

Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

Just six months after the first e-readers featuring E Ink’s color electronic paper technology arrived, the next generation of devices is already here with upgraded color screens. The improvements E Ink has made are minor, but the new PocketBook InkPad Color has a larger screen that offers a much improved reading experience over the original PocketBook Color.

When E Ink announced the next-generation Kaleido 2 color electronic paper displays just months after the first version of the product became available to consumers, we weren’t expecting it to solve all of the issues we had with color E Ink devices like the original PocketBook Color—and it doesn’t.

E Ink has improved the color filter array, which is an extra layer that sits atop the company’s black-and-white Carta HD displays to produce color images. Kaleido 2 promises better color saturation with screen-lighting, but color mode still offers just a third of the resolution of black-andwhite mode—300 PPI compared to 100 PPI, which is even lower resolution than what entry-level Kindles offer. That limitation will continue to make color E Ink devices like this a tough sell, particularly as they grow in size and become more expensive than tablets.

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E Ink still manages to outperform display technologies like LCD and OLED when devices are used outside in bright sunlight, and that’s once again where color electronic paper really looks its best.

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E Ink’s color electronic paper screens still look their best in bright sunlight, but version two does fare better under the InkPad Color’s LED sidelighting.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

Colors on the Kaleido 2 display appear beautifully saturated with the sun’s rays bouncing off the InkPad Color’s reflective screen, and contrast levels mean that if you’re headed to the beach, these are still the types of devices you’ll want to bring with you for reading. Indoors, however, even if you’re seated directly beneath a light source, you’ll be relying on the InkPad Color’s 24 LED sidelights to adequately see its screen.

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You have to really look close to see the differences in color performance between the original E Ink Kaleido color screen (right) and the new version (left), but it’s there.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

The extra layers needed to make the current implementation of color E Ink possible necessitate the use of a front-lit screen. E Ink now acknowledges that with improvements made to Kaleido 2 to specifically address that use case, but the improvements aren’t night and day. Sitting side-by-side with the original PocketBook (with screen lighting turned all the way up on both devices), colors on the the InkPad Color do look slightly more saturated and accurate (or as accurate as they can with just 4,096 colors), but you really have to be looking for a difference.

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Viewing angles with the Kaleido 2 E Ink screen (foreground PocketBook) are much improved over the first generation (background PocketBook).
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

Looking directly at each device on its own, I probably couldn’t tell which one was using the original Kaleido screen, and which the newer one. But the difference gets more obvious when viewing each screen from the side. The viewing angles on the Kaleido 2 color e-paper are vastly improved, with colors staying mostly accurate even as you rotate the device from side to side. It’s a baby step, but a baby step in the right direction.

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The biggest drawback to color E Ink screens is the extra color display layer that darkens the whole screen in the process, making it look less like it’s simulating actual printed paper, even in black-and-white mode.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

But there remains one big downside to E Ink’s Kaleido color screens that will be especially obvious to those using black and white-only e-readers like the Kindle and Kobo. While the InkPad Color’s black and white Carta HD panel displays plain text at 300 PPI (1872 x 1404 pixels at 7.8-inches) so it looks crisp and sharp, the color filter array darkens the background quite a bit and reduces contrast, making it hard to read regular ebooks without a bright light over your shoulder or the screen’s lighting turned on.

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By comparison, the Carta HD panel on its own in the Kindle and Kobo looks considerably brighter and closer to the appearance of printed text on a page. I’m not necessarily against turning on the InkPad Color’s screen lighting—the battery life can still lasts a few weeks with it on—but it does make the device appear more like it’s using an LCD than a screen technology that was originally developed to simulate the appearance of printed paper so it’s easier on the eyes. That, and the fact that the lighting used with color E Ink screens doesn’t allow for color temperature adjustments late at night when cooler shades can keep you awake, are some of the bigger trade-offs of E Ink going color.

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That being said, the bump in size from the six-inch PocketBook Color to the 7.8-inch PocketBook InkPad Color really does make a big difference in usability and the types of media you can read on it.

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The Kaleido 2 color e-paper screen still being limited to just 100 PPI is disappointing, but the larger screen size means you no longer have to zoom graphic novels to read the text.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

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Even with a reduced screen resolution in color mode, the text in most graphic novels is now easy to read without any zooming required, which is still a stuttery process on a device running a dual-core 1 GHz processor, just 1GB of RAM, and a screen with a slow refresh rate. Magazines, on the other hand, which often feature finer print than comic books, are still a challenge to read in color mode on the InkPad Color. If that’s what you tend to read the most, you might want to wait for the even larger 10.3-inch color e-paper screens that E Ink has promised are arriving later this year.

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Even with advantages like low-power usage and excellent visibility in sunlight, the Kaleido 2 color e-paper screens still don’t even come close to the color reproduction capabilities of an LCD or OLED display.
Photo: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo

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Even with a larger and upgraded color e-paper display, the PocketBook InkPad Color still feels like it’s a few upgrades away from really giving tablets some a run for their money. The newest $399 iPad Mini, which now supports the original Apple Pencil for note-taking, is just $70 more than the InkPad Color. The iPad Mini runs more apps, can access more media, and features a user interface that rarely has you tapping and waiting for something to happen. And then there’s the screen. Sitting side by side, a backlit LCD screen that can display 16 million+ colors makes a side-lit screen that can muster just 4,096 look like an antique, not a next-generation product.

If you’re really excited to try out a color e-reader, or are just an early adopter in general, the PocketBook InkPad Color is now the best device using the latest and greatest version of E Ink’s color electronic paper. It’s more expensive than the original PocketBook Color by about $100, but the larger screen size is better suited for color documents like graphic novels or illustrated children’s books. But if you can wait, E Ink’s already got newer versions of its color e-paper technology en route that will further address the problems with the new display technology. There’s a reason the company is iterating so quickly, and hopefully it won’t take long for it to resolve all these problematic trade-offs.

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This $400,000 Folding 165-Inch MicroLED TV Disappears Into Your Floor

For Netflix binge-watchers who may be concerned that a giant TV would overwhelm their living room’s vibe, fear not: The 165-inch C SEED M1 is a massive folding display that completely disappears into the floor when not in use. Unfortunately, installation looks like a giant pain—and that’s assuming you survive the sticker shock.

Unlike companies like LG, which have used flexible OLED screen technology to deliver giant TVs that can discreetly disappear into an unassuming box when not in use, C SEED instead uses microLEDs. MicroLEDs, which many consider to be the future of screen technology, combine the best features of the current leading screen technologies with self-illuminated RGB pixels that don’t require a backlight, and without the degrading organic compounds that are used to manufacture OLED displays. The new screen tech is also more energy efficient, allows for slimmer screens, and can produce whites and blacks that rival the best TVs currently on the market.

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The only downside is that microLED displays can’t fold like OLEDs can—at least yet. So to make a 165-inch TV disappear into the floor, C SEED has instead designed the M1 to first separate into five separate panels that fold into each other like a giant fan. That’s the other advantage of microLED screen technology: It allows much larger TVs to be assembled from smaller panels while perfectly hiding all the seams, so the final result looks like one giant uniform display.

Illustration for article titled This $400,000 Folding 165-Inch MicroLED TV Disappears Into Your Floor

Illustration: C SEED

We’ve all seen “jumbotron” screens criss-crossed with black lines where smaller panels didn’t quite align perfectly, but C SEED promises that’s not an issue with the M1 thanks to a feature called Adaptive Gap Calibration, which senses when panels have slight offsets and automatically adjusts the brightness of edge pixels to hide any shadows that create those unsightly seam lines.

The C SEED M1, available in gold, black, or titanium finishes, can be yours for $400,000, but that doesn’t include the renovations needed to make a room ready for its installation. If you want the full effect of a giant TV screen that disappears into your floor, you’re going to have to get a contractor to ensure that it’s even possible for a room—and then there’s the room below it to consider if you live in a multi-floor home. If you live in an apartment or a condo in a tower, you’ll have to instead settle for other installation options, which include a giant box sitting on the floor for the M1 to collapse into, or matching decorative furniture for it to hide inside.

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That sounds like a lot of work just to disguise a TV, but watching the C SEED M1 slowly rise up out of the floor and then unfold like the solar panels of a satellite that’s just reached orbit is mesmerizing. It almost makes having to wait a couple of minutes before you can actually watch TV seem not as inconvenient as it really is. Getting there is half the fun with the M1.