What Phone Specs Mean to You, Pt. 2: The Screen

Nokia color screenRemember how exciting it was when cell phones were first able to show us pictures in color? Remember when we called them cell phones instead of smartphones because all they could really do was make calls and send text messages? Oh, you don’t, huh. Well, back in early 2000s, phones were just starting to show their colors and it seemed like magic. They had something called LCD screens (just LCD, no super) and their resolution was about 640 x 200 pixels with a pixel density of about 150 ppi and a palette of just over 4000 colors. We thought it was phenomenal.

Fast forward to today. SLCD, AMOLED, Retina display. Not quite 15 years later, we’re looking at screens with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at 576 ppi (for perspective, the human eye is thought only to be able to see about 460ppi) and color counts in the millions.

But with all the advancement has also come some complication, especially for the layman who doesn’t really know what most if that stuff we just said really means. Well, sit tight, layman. We’re about to lay it out.

When you’re talking about cell phone screens, there are a few main things you’re really concerned with—size, clarity, brightness, and color. Size is pretty straightforward. It’s generally measured in inches here in U.S., from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner of the screen. If you remember a2+b2=c2 from basic geometry, we’re talking about c here. The other aspects require a bit more explanation, for which purpose we have created the following handy dandy chart.

 Specs related to your smartphone screen

Term What it refers to What it means to you
LCD
(Liquid Crystal Display)
Screen technology LCD screens have been around since the early 1970s, first in watches and calculators, then in TVs and smartphones as color was added.  LCD screens are backlit, in contrast with LED and OLED displays, which leads to greyer blacks and somewhat higher power consumption.  They tend to be less expensive and sometimes have sharper detail since they do not require the same kinds of pixel formations as LED and OLED screens.
Super LCD Screen technology Super LCD is a version of LCD technology in which an air gap between the outer glass and the display element has been eliminated, creating less glare and a “closer” feel.
IPS
(In plane switching)
Screen technology This is an upgrade on LCD technology that provides more uniform color reproduction and greater viewing angles than traditional LCD screens.
Retina display Resolution Retina display, which has nothing whatsoever to do with your actual retina, is an LCD technology that miniaturizes pixels in order to cram in more pixels into each inch of a display.  This allows for higher resolution and greater high-contrast crispness, making for better reading.
OLED
(Organic Light-Emitting Diode)
Screen technology OLED screens use organic carbon-based compounds that emit colored light when stimulated by an electric current.  They generally produce darker blacks and sharper contrast, since pixels actually turn off to create them, as well as more saturated colors, making videos and images appear clearer and more vibrant.  Also, since organic diodes emit light immediately when current is applied, OLED displays can have faster response times.  Because they do not require a backlight, they are also thought to be more energy efficient.
AMOLED
(Active-Matrix OLED)
Screen technology The important part of AMOLED, the Active-matrix, is actually a technology that is applied to most smartphone screens these days.  It means that each pixel is attached to a transistor and a capacitor that actively maintain the pixel state while other pixels are being addressed, as opposed to older passive matrix technology in which each pixel must maintain its state, well,  passively.  The take-away is higher refresh rates and lower power consumption.
Super AMOLED Screen technology Super AMOLED screens are said to be 20% brighter, 80% less reflective, and use 20% less energy than regular AMOLED.  Samsung claims that its Super AMOLED display also reproduces colors that match to more than 90% of the colors visible in nature, compared to 70% on LCD screens.  They use a two- rather than three-subpixel configuration (see subpixel below).
 Pixel
(from picture + element)
Resolution Every image on your display is made up of tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of pixels.  Each pixel on a given screen is the same size as all the others and displays a tiny part of the whole picture.  It is the smallest controllable element represented on the screen. The more pixels, the more pixels the more visual information can be displayed, resulting in greater clarity and more detail.  Measurements like 1080p and 1440p refer to standards of this measurement, 1080p indicating a resolution of 1920×1080, or “Full HD”, and 1440p indicating 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, or “Quad HD”.  Ultra HD, or 4K,  is something like 3,840 x 2,160.
Subpixels Color In digital screens, pixels are made up of red, green, and blue subpixels.  Most often, each pixel has a red, a green and a blue subpixel, but, as noted above, Samsung has recently created a screen that instead use pixels made up alternately of one red and one green or one blue and one green subpixel.  The configuration of subpixels affects primarily the range and exactness of color a screen is able to produce.
 PPI
(Pixels Per Inch)
Resolution This tells you essentially the number of pixels you could count across one inch of your screen.  If your resolution is 100 PPI (and we sincerely hope it is not), then one square inch of your screen is 100 pixels wide and 100 pixels high, or 10,000 total pixels.  For a decent picture, you want at least 300 PPI, but higher end phones these days have upwards of 500.
Gamut Color reproduction The color gamut is what one might expect if one has ever used or heard the term “run the gamut”.  It refers to the range of colors that can be represented.  The gamut of a particular device is generally compared to the gamut of colors that can be seen by the eye or to those that can be reproduced by other devices (see Samsung’s claim above).
Candela (CD) Brightness (technically, luminance) This is the unit used to indicate the light power emitted by a source in a particular direction, weighted according to a standardized model of the sensitivity of the human eye to different wavelengths.  In practical terms, it is a measure of perceived brightness, with 1 candela being equivalent to about the amount light emitted by a common wax candle.
Nit Brightness (technically, luminance) A nit is the slang and much-used term for the unit cd/m2, the measurement of light (candelas) on a surface area (1 m2).  Nits vary depending on what is displayed on the screen, so usually manufacturers provide a “maximum nits” measurement, which is what the phone gives off when the screen is all white.  LCD phones tend to be brighter by nits than OLED, measuring sometimes more than 500, but really anything more than 250-300 should give you a fine experience.
Viewing angle This refers to the maximum angle at which the variation of brightness, contrast, and color remains acceptable. A one-sided, flat screen has a maximum possible (though practically impossible) viewing angle of 180°, measured from looking flat on from one side to flat on from the opposite side.  The average smartphone has a viewing angle around 30°.  A good viewing angle is particularly important if you tend to set your phone down on the desk or table rather than holding it in your hands.
GPU
(Graphics Processing Unit)
Rendering power Though not actually a quality of the screen, a good GPU is what makes a good screen worth having.  Without it, the phone will caught up trying to actually get images up on its fancy screen, causing lag and sometimes even crashes.
Resistive touchscreen Input method Resistive touchscreens sense direct pressure applied by the user. They can be activated by your finger, a basic stylus, or a carrot stick, whatever you want to use to apply that pressure. The touch layer of these screens is usually made up of two transparent electrical layers separated by a small gap; when the layers come into contact, the contact is registered and voila.  The drawback of resistive touchscreens is that they do not have the multitouch capacity that allows things like pinch-to-zoom.
Capacitive touchscreen Input method Capacitive screens work by sensing the electrical properties of the human body rather than pressure.  Consequently, you need a specially designed stylus (like the Galaxy Note’s S-pen) that can replicate these signals if you want to be able to write on them with anything but your finger. Capacitive touchscreens often seem more sensitive than resistive screens and tend to be more durable.
Multitouch capability Input method Multi-touch is the capability some touchscreens and touchpads have that enable them to recognize two or more points of contact at once. This is what allows your smartphone or touchscreen laptop to recognize gestures like pinch-to-zoom.

WOndering about what’s under all this brightness and beauty?  Check out the specs on your smartphone’s tiny (but powerful) brain.

Phone or Tablet?  What kind of user are you?

We recently came across this infographic from Rishabh Software illustrating how iPhone users compare to iPad users, from a sample of about 44,000.  We weren’t too surprised to see that small business owners tended towards iPads (handy for use at checkout) or that fitness enthusiasts were overwhelmingly inclined toward iPhones (who wants to carry  tablet on a run?), but we were left wondering a little bit what pet owners are getting up to with their iPads.  And where do pet-owning fitness enthusiasts fit in?  Alas, these are questions we must leave to science.  And to pet-owning fitness enthusiasts.

Don’t worry if you don’t find yourself on the list.  Whatever your preference, iPad or iPhone, football or poker, we’ve got a MightySkin for you.

What Phone Specs Mean to You, Pt. 1: The Tiny Computer

AMOLED, GHz, GSM, megapixels, dual core, MicroSD, LTE, LCD.  What do all these mysterious words and letters mean?  And then, what do they really mean, like, in a practical ‘which phone should I buy’ way?  To the average user, the specs used to describe cell phones these days can be at best meaningless and at times misleading.  Not to worry.  MightySkins has done some research to help you sort out what means what and what what means.

All of the terms we mentioned, and hundreds more, are used to describe really 5 basic aspects of your phone or tablet: the display screen, your connections, the battery, the camera, and the tiny computer that makes all of these things work together.  We thought we’d start with the tiny computer.  We’ve made a handy table.

Specs related to the tiny computer inside your phone

Term What it refers to What it means to you
CPU (Central Processing Unit) AKA processor This is the brain of your tiny computer Every computer has a CPU.  Some would argue that every computer is a CPU. The faster your CPU, the more readily your phone will respond to your commands.  If your CPU dies, your phone is over.  For the average user the speed of the processor is more important than its name (Snapdragon, Apple A4, etc.).
GHz (gigahertz)/ MHz (megahertz) The speed of your processor 1GHz=1000MHz.  A 1GHz processor is able to move through processes at twice the frequency of a 500MHz processor.  This does not necessarily mean that you will experience twice the speed, but it will respond noticeably faster.  The fastest phones come with 2 or more GHz these days, but most people should be fine with anything more than 1GHz.
Dual Core/ Quad Core Processor configuration Dual core sort of means that you have two processors working at once.  Quad, of course, means four.  This means easier multitasking, and more than one core to dedicate to tasks that take a lot of processing, like video rendering, making the process go much faster.  There are also Octo Core processors, but they are very expensive and unnecessary for most people.  You will want at least a Dual Core, but a Quad Core will be helpful as tasks that you can perform on your phone become more and more complex.
RAM (Random Access Memory) Data moving capacity RAM is used to temporarily store app and program information and carry out the active running of processes, like turning an MP3 file into sound, making information from the Internet appear in your web browser, or moving the little avatars from your game around.  RAM effects how fast things happen as well as how many things you can do at once. These days, anything less than 1GB of RAM will slow you down.
Internal Storage Memory (not RAM) for data storage This is where things you retrieve, like photos, MP3s, and apps are stored.  The more memory you have, the more of these things you can have on your device without having to delete things.  An 8GB iPhone 5c, for example, has very limited storage space and you will probably have to store all your pictures in the cloud and stream your music.  A 128GB iPhone 6 will let you take advantage of its fancy camera and slow-mo options without a hitch.  The average user will probably want at least 16GB of internal storage.
microSD card (the SD stands for “Secure Digital”) Additional internal storage Most phones (iPhones are the notable exception) allow you to expand the memory at fairly low cost by inserting additional memory in the form of a microSD card, available anywhere you can buy a phone.  As an example you can get a 64 GB card for $20-30 on Amazon, and chuck it into any phone that has a microSD slot.
GB (gigabyte) Volume of memory Both RAM and internal memory are measured in GB.  Make sure you know which kind of memory is being referred to in the specs.  RAM will usually be 1-3.  Internal should be at least 8.
OS (Operating System) The software that makes your phone run The OS you use is determined by your device.  Apple, Blackberry, Android, and Microsoft phones all use a different system.  This is why you can’t use apps from the iTunes store on your Blackberry and why some things that are possible with an iPhone 6 are not possible on a Galaxy S5 and vice versa.  It’s like they speak different languages and some things have been translated but other things haven’t and then some things are just cultural and don’t translate.  When choosing a device, one thing to consider is whether the apps and functions you want are available on its platform.  So far, iPhone and Android offer the best selection of apps.

The Things We BLING

Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have been making things fancier, shinier, and generally more gorgeous by covering them with gems, precious metals, and various forms of art.  From Tutankhamun’s funeral mask to Lil’ Wayne’s grilllilwaye84488-295x225, we will put what sparkles and shines on practically any surface we can find, whether in an effort to glorify our leaders or ourselves.  And since we here at Mighty Skins are in the business of fancying things up and making them say “me!”, we thought we’d check out some of the things that people have blinged throughout history.

We mentioned Tutankhamun’s funeral mask.  It’s this one→ 
No doubt you’ve seen it before.  What you may not have realized is that that mask topped a solid gold coffin, which weighed in at upwards of 240 pounds (these days, that’d run you about $4 million, if you got a good deal).  Also found in the Pharoah’s tomb were a throne wrapped in sheets of gold and silver and inlaid with semiprecious stones, faience and colored glass and numerous (and sizeable) pieces of gold jewelry, many of which adorned the Pharoah’s mummy.  These precious metals and gems may have been meant to make an impression in the next life more than this one, we’ve got to give it to King Tut.  He went out with *bling*.

  

While it took the Europeans a little longer to get in the bling swing, once they started, they went all out.

Exhibit A: The British Crown Jewels.  So blinged are the crowns of the British monarchy that some of them look like an over-privileged kid got hold of a Bedazzler and went to town with literally billions of dollars’ worth of precious gems.  But we think what really takes the cake in this collection is the royal stick.  We mean scepter.  It’s feature stone?  The second-largest cut diamond in the world, Cullinan I (that’s right, it has a name).  This diamond, also called the “Great Star of Africa”, is the largest piece of the largest gem-quality diamond ever found and weighs a little more than 530 carats.  But that’s not all.  The second-largest bit of the largest diamond ever found, Cullinan II, is also in her majesty’s collection, surrounded by 2,868 other diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies on the Imperial State Crown.  For coronation, the British Monarch holds the scepter and wears the crown, and possibly several other pieces of the original diamond, all of which have been mounted in various articles of royal jewelry.

Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014 Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014 Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Exhibit B: The Palace at Versailles.  The sheer size of this place, especially at the time it was expanded – by the Louis now known as the “Sun King”, incidentally – was a statement in itself.  And not a statement of humble modesty.  This thing took nearly 50 years and four campaigns to build.  But you know what it started out as? A hunting lodge.  The Palace at Versailles is a blinged out hunting lodge.  Albeit, a hunting lodge with 700 rooms, 1250 chimneys, gold everywhere and, um, and opera hall.

  by Myrabella via wikimedia

Compared to royalty, today’s pop stars and oil barons have nothing on the bling market.  Of course, compared to the rest of us, they have a pretty mean bling, which we will be taking a look at down the road.  Fortunately, for most of us, we’re happy to just add a little flare here and there and save our billions for space exploration and fast cars.  We can certainly help you there.  With the flare, we mean.  Not so much with space and cars.  Although…

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The Dawn of the Digital Classroom

There is no doubt we’re in the midst of a digital age.  In the U.S., nearly every aspect of our lives involves some kind of digital technology.  From shopping list apps to scheduling doctor’s appointments online, so much of what we do each day is made simpler, or at least more convenient, by a smartphone, tablet, or some other kind of mobile device.  Education is no exception.

For years, college students have used computers to help them with research, turn in assignments, schedule classes, and communicate with teachers and fellow students.  Today’s college students, though, are bringing this technology into the classroom, using smartphones, tablets, and laptops to record assignments, conduct immediate in-class research, and even to text questions to the professor.  The modern student expects a “digital classroom” that can accommodate the technology at his or her fingertips, turning more and more often to electronic textbooks (almost half of college students use eTextbooks on a  regular basis), taking notes on laptops and tablets, and using a smartphone to navigate campus and student life.

As technology in the classroom becomes increasingly important, educational institutions, government entities, research consortia, and companies providing both traditional and digital educational products and materials are keeping close tabs on the rise of the digital wave.  Some of their recent findings suggest that this wave is reaching tsunami status even sooner than we might have thought.  Check out some of the surprising statistics.  Is the traditional classroom on its way out?

The Digital Classroom Infographic

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What people love and hate about the iPhone 6 (and iOS 8)

Well, the iPhone 6es and their iOS8 have been out for about a week now, and, with more than 10 million selling in its first weekend on the market, the phones have had plenty of opportunity to collect a wealth of opinions about their strengths and failings.  Here’s the meat and potatoes of the review smorgasbord.

Most helpful reviews:

MacRumors
Engadget
re/code’s Phablet comparison chart
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus stats from GSM Arena

Features folks like:

  • Bigger screen (4.7 and 5.5 inches) and Superslim design
  • The soft edges are more comfortable in the hand
  • Batteries are reported to be lasted around 2 days with normal phone function use (calls, internet, etc. – GPS still kills the battery)
  • Camera is excellent, focuses more quickly and has some great new manual control options
  • Walt Mossberg at re/code found that the iPhone 6’s Wi-Fi speeds were roughly double those of the 5s and about 25 percent faster than those of the Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Swipe, quicktype, and third-party keyboard options in iOS8
  • “Reachability” feature: Tapping twice on the home button pulls the top of the screen down, bringing everything easily within thumb range
  • Voice messages, instant photos, instant video and current location through iMessage
  • Can finally add third party apps and app shortcuts in the “Today” pull-down screen
  • More and better options in mailboxes (mark all as read, get notifications for a particular thread, etc.)

Features that aren’t as great as they could be:

  • NFC can only be used for Apple Pay, which is not available yet
  • Apple Maps did not get better
  • “Hey Siri” only works when the phone is plugged in
  • The landscape keyboard is a bit tricky

Features that make the phone worse:

  • There have been reports of the phone bending quite easily in pockets
  • It’s still really expensive
  • The camera sticks out from the chassis - it’s designed not to get caught on pockets and things, but it makes it feel vulnerable
  • Not water or dust resistant like Galaxy phones or the Sony Xperia Z3
  • People don’t like the way the white and silver look.  They do like the space gray.  None of that really matters, though, because we’ve got skins and cases that will make it look like a million bucks.  Or a soccer ball.  Whatever you want.

 

 

 

 

iPhone 6, Apple Watch, OS8 and U2. What a morning.

Anyone who has been on the Internet or watched TV or spoken to another human being in the past month knows that today was Apple’s big reveal-a-thon.  The Internet is awash with details of the details of the event, so we thought we’d bring you the basics, with a few handy pointers to some of the more useful details.  Here’s what we’re getting from Apple this fall and winter:

 

iPhone 6
iPhone 6 Plus
OS 8
Apple Pay
Apple Watch
A new album from U2

 

Here’s the when, where, what and how much of it:

iPhone 6

When: Available for pre-order September 12, shipping September 19
Where: Globally
How much (with a typical two-year contract):

$199 16 GB
$299 64 GB
$399 128 GB

We don’t know the price without a contract yet, but it seems like it will be comparable to the price of the 5S when it was the next big thing.

What (this is the fun part):

Outside:

  • 4.7″ wide, 6.8 mm thin
  • Retina HD display 1334 x 750  pixels
  • Comes in gold, silver, space grey
  • Soft-cornered body
  • Power button on the side instead of the top

Inside:

  • A8 64-bit chip (this chip is 13% smaller in size than the one in the 5S, but, up to 25% faster, with 50% faster graphics)
  • M8 motion processor (The phone can tell the difference between cycling and running, uphill and downhill, how far you’ve gone/ how many steps you’ve taken)
  • Barometer that uses air pressure to measure relative elevation (Nike will be updating Nike+ accordingly)
  • Battery: Sustained performance —you can use it at full power longer without it getting hot (no more sweaty face phone calls!); 10-11 hours for video and browsing using Wi-Fi, 3G or LTE; 50 hours of audio; 14 of 3G talk; 10 days on standby
  • 150 Mbps LTE, supports up to 20 LTE bands, voice over LTE
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
  • NFC antenna for Apple Pay (see below)

Features:

  • iOS 8
  • “Reachability” feature lets you use half the screen to access buttons at the top of the home screen
  • Wi-fi calling with T-mobile

Camera:

  • 8 MP camera
  • True-tone flash
  • 1.5 micron pixels
  • f/2.2 aperture (81% more light)
  • Panoramic photos up to 43 megapixels—new gyroscope makes stitching nearly seamless
  • iSight sensor: focus pixels for faster autofocus and faster face detection (more about this here)
  • Burst mode can take up to 10 photos per second then detect smiles and blinks so it can recommend the best picture—this works with the regular and front-facing camera
  • Digital image stabilization
  • Video at 1080p at 30 or 60fps with slow motion at 240fps
  • Cinematic video stabilization
  • Continuous autofocus works automatically

 

iPhone 6 Plus

When: Available for pre-order September 12, shipping September 19
Where: Globally
How much (with a typical two-year contract):

$299 16 GB
$399 64 GB
$499 128 GB

Dimensions: 5.5″ wide, 7.1 mm thin

Display: 1920 x 1080 pixels (185% more than 5S)

Inside the iPhone 6 Plus is basically the same as the iPhone 6, but with a better battery

  • Battery: 14 hours of video; 12 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi, 3G or LTE; 80 hours of audio; 24 hours of 3G talk; 16 days on stand-by

Features (plus the iPhone 6 features):

  • Two pane display on horizontal, homescreen can work horizontally
  • Touch cues similar to iPad, like a mini iPad mini
  • Cut, copy,  and paste keyboard cues
  • Optical image stabilization (the camera moves the lens around to account for hand shaking, etc.)

 

 iOS 8

When: September 17
Where: iPhone 4s, 5, 5c, 5s; iPod touch 5th gen; iPad 2, retina display, Air, mini, mini retina worldwide
What:

  • New messaging app for sending voice notes
  • Improvements to notifications
  • Activity app that measures physical activity throughout the day and makes suggestions, plus an exercise tracker, both of which will be accessible by third-party apps

 

Apple Pay

When: October
Where: 22,000 retailers in the United States
What:

  • Works with NFC antenna in top of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and the Apple Watch
  • Uses a one-time payment number and a “dynamic security code” so card numbers are not given to the merchant
  • Point your phone at a device (soon to be at cash registers nationwide) and it instantly pays
  • Can use card on file with iTunes
  • OR use camera to photograph card then take some steps to verify it and use that
  • Secure Element encrypts all related information
  • Credit information not stored in phone, so you don’t have to cancel your card if you lose your phone can suspend all payments using the Find my phone service
  • “Apple doesn’t know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you bought it for.”
  • Starting in US with Amex, MasterCard, and Visa
  • One-touch check out online without entering credit card information, billing address, etc.
  • Organized in Passbook

 

Apple Watch

When: Early 2015
Where: All over
How much: Starts at $349

Outside:

  • Sapphire display (A flexible retina display laminated to a single crystal, the hardest transparent material after diamond)
  • Dial on the side that looks like a winder for old watches, called a “Digital Crown”, used to navigate
  • Sensors on the back to collect pulse data
  • 3 lines—Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition
  • Interchangeable bands in leather, polymer, metal mesh, stainless steel, and silicon (Sport collection) with stylish magnetic closures
  • 11 face options come on the device
  • Two sizes of watch face

Inside:

  • Accelerometer
  • Heart rate sensor
  • Uses GPS and Wi-Fi from your iPhone
  • Taptic engine that vibrates to alert you of notifications
  • Magsafe wireless charging—no word yet on the battery life
  • Tiny, water-resistant computer that makes the whole thing work

Features:

  • Requires iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, or iPhone 5S (it is not entirely clear how close to your phone you need to be)
  • Syncs w/ universal time standard
  • Fitness trackers like the ones for OS8
  • Watch turns on the display when you raise your wrist
  • Voice reply to messages
  • Watches can communicate with each other
  • All sorts of widgets
  • Understands questions in messages and gives you possible answers that you can just tap to respond, or you can send emoji or dictate, no typing option
  • Siri
  • Photos that you favorite on Mac or iPhone (and probably iPad) are available in the photo app on the watch
  • In maps, vibrations indicate left or tight turns
  • A friends list lets you send drawings, emoji, or…your heartbeat (as a vibration) to other people’s watches
  • 3rd parties will be making apps for the watch using WatchKit SDK
  • Walkie talkie function
  • Controls apple TV
  • Viewfinder for iphone camera
  • Works with Apple Pay

 

U2

When: Right now until October 13
Where: iTunes
How much: Free
What (this is the fun part):  U2′s new LP, Songs of Innocence

 

 

IFA Pre-Party is fun fun fun

The IFA global trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances officially started today in Berlin, but pre-show announcements over the last couple of days have pretty much stolen the show.  

In press conferences throughout the day Wednesday and Thursday, major players unveiled their latest and greatest gadgets, and some of them are pretty great.  In order of appearance, here are some of the highlights.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Asus kicked things off on Wednesday morning (our time) with the announcement of a new super-thin ultrabook (Zenbook UX305), a laptop (EeeBook X205), the MeMO Pad 7 (ME572C), and the company’s first wearable device, a posh-looking android watch called the ZenWatch that looks like a proper watch but works like an awesome phone watch.  Here is a video of the Asus press event.

Next up, Acer announced several convertible notebooks, most with touchscreens, and three new tablets, two running Android 4.4 KitKat (Iconia One 8 and Iconia Tab 10) and the other its first Windows tablet (Aspire 8 W, around $150 coming in November).

 

Samsung was the winner of the poop-your-pants-excited contest on Wednesday (check out the press conference video), when it announced its highly-anticipated Galaxy Note 4 alongside the much-rumored Galaxy Note Edge, which, while not sporting the 3-sided display imagined by the masses over the past few months, does boast an entirely innovative curved display with a side-runner, the potential uses of which appear to be endless.  Here’s how the two new phablets compare.

As if twin Galaxy Notes weren’t enough, Samsung also revealed a pretty cool smartwatch (Gear S) and the Gear VR kit, a set of virtual reality goggles based on Oculus technology that pairs with the Galaxy Note 4.  The company also announced the Galaxy Tab Active, but no one seems that excited about it.  But remember Samsung doesn’t just make awesome gadgets.  They also spent a good chunk of its press conference talking about the smarthome of the nearer-than-we-think future.  So, maybe soon we’ll be providing you with skins for your Galaxy toaster.

Sony has a couple special things this year, particularly the Cyber-shot DSC-QX30 and the ILCE-QX1, essentially lens-shaped cameras that use your smartphone for the viewer and controls.  They also announced two Xperia Z3 android smartphones (Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact) and a tablet (Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact), all of which include PS4 Remote Play, which enables gamers to access and play PS4 games seamlessly on these devices.  But the fun’s not over.  Sony also announced a new smartwatch (cleverly named SmartWatch 3) that has interchangeable straps, a new fitness band (Smartband Talk), and a mid-range smartphone called the Xperia E3 Dual.  Here’s the video from the Sony press conference.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Compared to the Wednesday crowd, HTC’s showing on Thursday was a little underwhelming.  It was pretty much just the Desire 820 smartphone, which, with its 64-bit, octo-core Snapdragon 615 processor is pretty cool for its price range, doesn’t really carry the futuristic glamor of virtual reality goggles or lens-camera hybrid attachments.

Microsoft’s Nokia conference was not a lot more exciting than HTC’s.  They announced the Lumia 730 and 735, it’s new “selfie” phones, as the stars of it’s two-act show, with the Lumia 830, a more affordable alternative to the high-end Lumia 930, playing straight man.   Lumia phones will also be getting new software, including improvements to its Cortana talk-to-your-OS function and fixes to reportedly slow shutter times, as well as some handy new accessories like a wireless charging stand and a screen sharing device a la Chromecast, only not as slick.

If HTC and Microsoft were light on the new good stuff, Lenovo more than made up for it.  It announced a slew of new machines, from ultrabooks to towers, too many to name here.  These are the ones that seem most exciting.  The ThinkPad Helix is a 2-in-1 Ultrabook with a detachable keyboard; the Edge 15 is a new super-thin, but not ultrabook-thin, laptop; the HORIZON 2s and 2e are tabletop PCs (all-in-one PCs that can lay flat like giant tablets); the ThinkCenter Tiny-in-One (this is cool) is an all-in-one desktop that lets you change out the PC without changing the monitor.  Lenovo also announced some new machines for gaming, two new smartphones (Vibe Z2 and X2), and a Tablet (TAB S8), plus a bunch of other stuff.

And, just for Motorola, Friday, 5 September 2014

Perhaps the only announcement more anticipated than the Galaxy Note on Wednesday was Motorola’s Moto X  smartphone and Moto 360 so-hot smartwatch announcements today.  Motorola also introduced the more budget-friendly Moto G smartphone, but no one was looking because they were still cleaning up their 360 drool.

No doubt, more cool stuff will be forthcoming now that the trade show has actually begun.  And amidst all this hullabaloo, Apple will be making a certain highly anticipated announcement from its own exclusive venue, streaming live for the world to see September 9 at 10 a.m. PDT.  So we will have much to discuss in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.

 

Weekly Round-up

Well, coming off the high of Gamescom, it was hard to get back into the regular rumor mill that inhabits the pages of tech blogs and e-magazines the world over.  But, with the rapid approach of the IFA tradeshow, opening September 5, rumors are starting to gain a little more substance, and we managed to find a few promising tidbits to share with you.  Since last week was all about gaming, this week, we’re all about phones.

First, real Apple news: OS X Yosemite Public Beta 2 and new iTunes 12 build now available.

And now, your weekly iPhone 6 rumors:
128 GB of storage?
5.5-inch chassis?
If you still want more, Gizmodo has put together an excellent summary of everything we think we know about this enigmatic device.

If you’re already thinking about how to bling your new iPhone 6, it is available for pre-order in 24 karat gold from Brikk.  Of course, if the cool $5,000 starting price is a little rich for your budget, we’ll have skins starting in the low dollars.  Like, less than $10.

If the phone mentioned above is, in fact, not a little rich for you, you may soon be able to use it to start your Tesla, according to 9to5 Mac.

Not the leave out the iPhone’s faithful cousin, word on the street is that the next generation of iPad Air may have 2GB of RAM.

The iPhone 6, and possibly the new iPad Air, is likely to debut on September 9, when Apple has scheduled a “media event”.  That’s for real, not just a rumor.  Probably.


With the Galaxy Note 4 one of the most hotly anticipated new devices expected this year, Samsung is going to have a big job living up to speculations.  Here are a few of them:
Galaxy Note 4 Camera Features and more Galaxy Note 4 camera details.
And, of course, the fabled three-sided screen, straight from the U.S. Patent Office’s mouth.
Bonus! Here is an exciting preview of some of its stylus-related capabilities from Samsung’s Chinese site.

Also from Samsung (with Barnes & Noble), the Galaxy 4 Nook.
And, just for fun, Samsung Galaxy Mega stops bullet, saves man’s life.

 

LG has announced two new handsets will be revealed at IFA this year, the L Fino and L Bello.  More on that from AndroidPit and Ausdroid.

 

According to TK Tech News‘s apparently inside source, Motorola is planning 8 new devices in time for the winter gifting season.  Many of these will likely be announced at the special Motorola event in Chicago, planned for September 4.

 

Finally, Android Authority recommends android smartwatches, bluetooth speakers and headphones, and other fun and useful stuff for going back to school, keeping the student’s limited budget in mind.

Androids on skateboards courtesy of wikimedia.

Mighty Skins Round-Up: Gamescom Edition

It’s only natural that we here at Mighty Skins follow with fervor all things gadget, game, and mobile.  This past week, all things gaming were going down at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, where one of the biggest gaming expos in the world took place from Wednesday through Sunday.
Here are the highlights:

Prize Winners

Best of GamescomEvolve 

Best Action Game: Evolve

Best Console Game Microsoft Xbox: Evolve

Best PC Game: Evolve

Best Online Multiplayer Game: Evolve

Seeing a pattern here?  It may seem like it, but  Evolve didn’t win everything.

Best Console Game Sony PlayStationThe Evil Within

Best Console Game Nintendo WiiSplatoon 

Best Role Playing GameRisen 3 

Best Simulation GameTheatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call

Best Sports GamePro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2015

Best Family GameLittleBigPlanet 3

Best Mobile GameSuper Smash Bros. 

Best Social / Casual / Online Game: LittleBigPlanet 3

Best Hardware: Oculus Rift DK2

Announcements

Playstation

Sony confirmed an October 14 US release date for the Playstation TV it revealed a couple months ago at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles.   The micro-console will allow users to stream PlayStation 4 games from one console in their home to a second television via Remote Play.  Like others of its kind, it will also provide access to selected entertainment content through the PlayStation Network, including the PlayStation Now streaming service, Sony’s new rental service for Playstation games.

This fall, the PS4 system update 2.0 will bring make it possible to share games online with friends who may not own the game.  It will also support YouTube and some other features.

For more of Sony’s Gamescom announcements, check out this post from CNET on the scene: Here’s everything Sony just announced at Gamescom.  IGN also did a nice job compiling Sony’s biggest Playstation reveals.

X-Box

The highly anticipated white Xbox One was finally revealed.  It will be available as part of the Sunset Overdrive bundle system, which also includes a wireless controller and a digital copy of Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive with some extra bells and whistles.  How sweet will that look with this chevron skin?

Two other bundles are also coming: The Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle, launching on November 3, includes a custom console and controller, a 1TB hard drive and a Limited Edition exoskeleton,along with a digital copy of  Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Day Zero Edition.

Also, a FIFA 15 bundle  with console, wireless controller, 14-day Xbox Live Trial, HDMI Cable, chat headset, and a digital token for FIFA 15 with Ultimate Team Legends Gold Pack will launch next month.  This one doesn’t look as cool out of the box, but we can fix that for you.

Gamespot does a pretty good job covering some of Microsoft’s other announcements in this article: All The Biggest Microsoft Xbox News From Gamescom 2014

Who else was there and what did they bring?

Well, everyone. But here’s a list of the major (and medium-weight) players and some of the games they’re debuting.  Also, CVG has a comprehensive catalog of the videos released in connection with the conference, including trailers, demos, and press conference video.

  • 2K Games (Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Evolve, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, NBA 2K15, WWE 2K15)
  • Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Ultimate Evil Edition), Skylanders: Trap Team, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor)
  • Atari (RollerCoaster Tycoon World)
  • Bandai Namco (Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, Rise of Incarnates)
  • Bohemia Interactive (DayZ Standalone)
  • Bethesda Softworks (The Evil Within)
  • CD Projekt RED (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
  • Capybara Games (Super Time Force Ultra)
  • Crytek (Arena of Fate, Ryse: Son of Rome)
  • Daedalic Entertainment (Blackguards 2)
  • Deep Silver (3 new Dead Island games, Emergency 5, Metro Redux, Risen 3: Titan Lords, Sacred 3)
  • Devolver Digital (Not a Hero, Titan Souls, The Talos Principle)
  • Electronic Arts (Battlefield: Hardline, Dawngate, Dragon Age: Inquisition, FIFA 15, NHL 15, Shadow Realms, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Galactic Strongholds, The Sims 4, Titanfall: IMC)
  • Focus Home Interactive (Act of Aggression)
  • Frontier Developments (Elite: Dangerous)
  • Grey Box (Grey Goo)
  • Konami (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Pro Evolution Soccer, Silent Hills)
  • Kalypso Media (Grand Ages: Medieval)
  • Microïds (Syberia 3)
  • Microsoft (Below, Forza Horizon 2, Forza Motorsport 5, Fable Legends, Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Killer Instinct, Nero, Ori and the Blind Forest, Quantum Break, Screamride, Smite, Space Engineers, Sunset Overdrive, Superhot, The Escapist)
  • Nintendo (WiiU: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros., Yoshi’s Woolly World; 3DS: Disney Magical World, Fantasy Life, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, Super Smash Bros.)
  • Nordic Games (Aquanox – Deep Descent, MX vs. ATV: Supercross, SpellForce 3, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, The Guild 3, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter)
  • Paradox Interactive (Cities: Skylines, Hearts of Iron IV, Hollowpoint, Magicka 2, Pillars of Eternity, Runemaster)
  • Phoenix Online Studios (Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Ann. Ed)
  • Riot Games (League of Legends)
  • Sega (Alien: Isolation, Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (WiiU), Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal)
  • Sierra Entertainment (Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions, King’s Quest)
  • Slightly Mad Studios (Project CARS, World of Speed)
  • Sony Computer Entertainment (Alienation, Big Fest, Bloodborne, Driveclub, Final Horizon, Flame Over, Freedom Wars, Futuridium, Hellblade, Helldivers, Hohokum, Hustle Kings, Invizimals: Das Bündnis , Journey, LittleBigPlanet 3, Murasaki Baby, Pix the Cat, Rime, Soul Sacrifice Delta, Super Exploding Zoo, Tearaway Unfolded, The Order: 1886, The Tomorrow Children, The Unfinished Swan, Until Dawn, Volume, Wild)
  • Square Enix (Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Life is Strange, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Nosgoth, Rise of the Tomb Raider (X-Box Exclusive), Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call)
  • Starbreeze Studios (The Walking Dead)
  • Techland (Hellraid)
  • Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed Rogue, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, Just Dance 2015, Just Dance Now, Might & Magic Heroes VII, Shape Up, The Crew, Toy Soldiers: War Chest, The Settlers: Kingdom of Anteria, Tom Clancy’s The Division)
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Batman: Arkham Knight, Dying Light, Gauntlet, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Lego Ninjago Nindroids, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Mortal Kombat X)
  • Wargaming (World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, World of Warplanes, World of Warships)