Sinclair ZX80 and runaway success story, the Raspberry Pi might be about to get its own monitor after a Kickstarter campaign to create a low cost 9in screen for it has exceeded its $90,000 goal in a single weekend.
The HDMIPi monitor from startup Raspi.tv presently stands at $100,996 on Kickstarter, an increase of $8,000 in just the last four hours. The concept behind the monitor is to create something small and affordable but with maximum 1920×1080 resolution. Even though the project has had to scale down its ambitions to 1200×800 resolution to fit the business plan, Raspberry Pi fans have flocked to crowdfund the device.
Put in perspective, that’s higher than HD 720p resolution, or as they describe it, “slightly better resolution than the 720p HD footage on BBC iPlayer”.
Monitor cases will be available in a variety of colours, designed by none other than Paul Beech, who designed the original Raspberry Pi logo.
Although primarily designed for the Raspberry Pi, the HDMIPi is a standard HDMI monitor and can be used for other devices – Android sticks, video cameras, games consoles and beyond.
Raspi.tv has pledged to ship orders in February 2014, delays permitting, and is already working on enhancements. It has described touch functionality as something that might become available as a bolt-on at a later date, saying that “enough people have mentioned it that we are sitting up and taking notice”.
As ever with the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, everything is a bit Ryanair, and power supplies, surrounds and so on are not automatically included, though of course, in the true DIY spirit, you can always make your own.
The company will stop selling plasma TVs for consumer use and PDP-related products for commercial use, such as Interactive Plasma Displays, with the current line of TVs. It expects to stop business operations at three of its display plants — the Amagasaki P3 Factory, the Amagasaki P5 Factory and the Amagasaki P4 Factory — by the end of March 2014.
Samsung and LG continue to produce plasma display televisions, but theirs are lower-end or entry-level models; they have generally put development dollars into LCD TVs, according to Paul Gray, a research analyst with NPD DisplaySearch.
“Samsung and [LG] were at best uncommitted to PDP,” Gray said in a blog post. And as for Panasonic, Gray said its “PDP research team had to counter every move in LCD and translate it to their technology…. Inevitably, they slowly lost ground.”
Since 2000, Panasonic has been the leading PDP maker. It led the global flat-panel display market by using PDP for large displays and LCD screens for small- and medium-sized displays. Only three years ago, Panasonic claimed 40% of the plasma display market.
In 2010, plasmaaccounted for 40% of flat panel TVs; this year, PDPs are expected to represent only 5% of the flat-panel market, according to according to market research firm NPD DisplaySearch.
Over the past two years, Panasonic has lost $15 billion through investments in flat-panel TV production, according to financial reports.
Plasma displays have increasingly lost market share to LCD TVs as they moved to LED backlights that narrowed the performance gap between the two technologies.
“With the rapid development of large-screen LCDs, and facing the severe price competition in the global market brought on by the Lehman Shock in September 2008, the company consolidated production in the Amagasaki P4 Factory, made a shift towards commercial applications and worked to improve the earnings of the business,” Panasonic said in a recent statement.
Panasonic will now focus its attention on “non-TV applications” and is moving to reduce its fixed costs for production of both plasma and LCD panels.
The move away from plasma HDTVs is reminiscent of the video tape wars of the 1970s and 1980s.
Chip makers including Broadcom and Renesas Electronics are putting more focus on in-car entertainment with faster processors and networks for wireless HD movies and navigation, aiming to keep drivers informed and passengers entertained.
With PC sales slipping and the mobile device market proving highly competitive, chip makers are looking for greener pastures in other sectors like in-car entertainment and information.
From Renesas comes the R-Car M2 automotive SoC (System-on-a-Chip), which has enough power to handle simultaneous high-definition navigation, video and voice-controlled browsing.
The SoC is meant for use in mid-range systems. It features two ARM Cortex A-15 cores running at up to 1.5GHz and Renesas’ own SH-4A processor plus the PowerVR SGX544MP2 from Imagination Technologies for 3D graphics. This combination helps the M2 exceed the previous R-Car H1 with more than three times the CPU capacity and approximately six times better graphics performance.
Car makers that want to put a more advanced entertainment system in their upcoming models should go for the eight core R-Car H2 SoC, which was announced earlier this year. It is based on ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture, and uses four Cortex-A15 cores and another four Cortex-A7 cores.
The H2 will be able to handle four streams of 1080p video, including Blu-Ray at 60 frames per second, according to Renesas. Mass production is scheduled for the middle of next year, while the M2 won’t arrive in larger volumes until June 2015.
Broadcom on the other hand is seeking to drive better networking on the road. The company’s latest line of wireless chipsets for in-car connectivity uses the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless standard, which offers enough bandwidth for multiple displays and screen resolution of up to 1080p. Use of the 5GHz band for video allows it to coexist with Bluetooth hands-free calls on 2.4GHz, according Broadcom.
Broadcom has also implemented Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast. Wi-Fi Direct lets products such as smartphones, cameras and in this case in-car computers connect to one another without joining a traditional hotspot network, while Miracast lets users stream videos and share photos between smartphones, tablets and displays.
The BCM89335 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart Ready combo chip and the BCM89071 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart Ready chip are now shipping in small volumes.
The screens, called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) displays for the tiny moving parts they contain, are being developed by the Japanese company in partnership with Qualcomm and were on show at the Ceatec electronics show just outside of Tokyo.
Behind each pixel in a MEMS display is a backlight that flashes red, green and blue in fast succession, and in front of it is a tiny shutter can be opened to let light through.
Synchronized to the backlight, the shutter can control the amount of each color of light allowed through. The eye perceives these flashes as the desired hue.
In contrast, today’s LCD screens create colored pixels using three filters. The filters swallow about two thirds of the brightness of the backlight before it leaves the display, said Akira Imai, deputy general manager of Sharp’s new business development center.
The MEMS display can allow all the light through, so the intensity of the backlight can be reduced using less power for the display, said Imai.
In a portable gadget, the screen often consumes more power than any other component, so reducing its demands can have a big impact on battery life.
The screens on show at Ceatec were 7-inch models with 800 pixel by 1,280 pixel resolution. The colors were bright and the screen image was sharp, although people viewing the screens did tend to see a brief flash of red, green and blue pixel each time they turned their eyes away from the display. That’s something Sharp is working on, said Imai.
Sharp also showed a version of the screen working in several low power modes.
The development work with Qualcomm began earlier this year when the U.S. company said it would invest $120 million into Sharp. The money, which was invested in two parts, was accompanied by Qualcomm’s MEMS expertise. Sharp has a long history in flat-panel display technology, especially LCD, and has recently been working on a new type of display called IGZO, on which the MEMS display is partly based.
Intel’s new SSD 530 series was detailed a while ago, but now it is finally official. Intel has formally announced the new drives in three form factors: mSATA, M.2 and 2.5-inch.
The drives will be available in a wide range of capacities, starting at 80GB, through 120GB, 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB for 2.5-inch drives. As for M.2 and mSATA drives, they will be available in 80GB, 120GB, 180GB and 360GB capacities.
Intel’s new 530 drives are based on 20nm MLC flash and the brains behind the brawn come from LSI, in the form of the SandForce SF-2281 controller. Although transfer speeds will vary depending on capacity, the fastest 530-series drives will deliver read speeds of up to 540MB/s and write at 490MB/s. As for random performance, they boast 41k IOPS in random read and 80k IOPS in random write.
Intel also says the 530-series is its most power efficient storage product to date, which is hardly surprising, but it is good news for notebook vendors who will use mSATA units.
The new drives include the Connect Wireless Flash Drive — a thumb drive — and the Connect Wireless Media Drive, a larger, but still pocket-sized storage device. The Connect Wireless Flash Drive comes in 16GB and 32GB capacities; the Connect Wireless Media Drive comes in 32GB and 64GB capacities.
The Connect Wireless Flash drive is 3.07-in. x 1.04-in. x 0.54-in. The Connect Wireless Media Drive is 2.6-in. x 2.6-in. x 0.52-in.
The Connect Wireless drive family allows users to not only store but share and stream files across multiple mobile devices. They offer up to eight simultaneous device connections and three media streams, and support separate streams of 720p video content at 2MB/sec to three or five devices concurrently (for the Flash Drive and Media Drive, respectively).
According to a SanDisk spokesman, video streaming performance isn’t affected by multiple streams because device limits are set at a point that supports the streams without degradation. Devices can connect to the drives up to 150 feet away.
The Connect Wireless drives work with all iOS and Android devices, and Kindle Fire tablets, as well as PC and Mac computers. The drives are compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Mac OS 10.6 or higher
Movies, music, photos and documents can be loaded onto the wireless drives by simply dragging and dropping the files, which can then be accessed via the SanDisk Connect apps. Those apps are available for download from the App Store, Google Play Store and the Amazon Appstore for Android.
The drives contain an internal router, so no external router or Internet connection is needed to stream media. In order to use the drives, mobile device users simply download SanDisk’s Connect App.
The drives run on lithium-ion batteries. A single charge provides up to four hours of wireless streaming, with streaming data protected by Wi-Fi Password Protection (WPA2).
“With the new SanDisk Connect product line, we’re raising the bar on what consumers can expect from personal storage,” said Dinesh Bahal, vice president for product marketing for SanDisk.
The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive is available in 16GB or 32GB capacities for $49.99 and $59.99, respectively. In the U.S., it is available for preorder on Amazon.com, Newegg.com and Micro Center, with availability at Best Buy starting in August. It will also be available for preorder on Amazon.com in Germany and UK.
The SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive has a retail price of $79.99 for 32GB or $99.99 for 64GB storage capacity. It is available for preorder in the U.S. on Amazon.com, with availability in Germany and UK in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Broadcom’s BCM7445 silicon platform, announced just hours before the show opened on Tuesday morning, will be able to process incoming video from cable, carrier and satellite services that has four times the resolution of typical 1080p video offered today, according to the company.
Like the eye-catching but expensive TVs on the show floor in Las Vegas, the BCM7445 is just one of the first of many steps to consumers watching UltraHD shows at home. New content, displays and delivery technologies will all be required for the new resolution, which is also known as 4K.
Broadcom expects its chip to be in volume production by the middle of next year, in time for mainstream UltraHD TVs that will probably hit the market for the late 2014 holiday season, said Joe Del Rio, associate product line manager at Broadcom. However, service providers, which will probably be the distributors of most of the gateways built with the BCM7445, may take longer to start sending UltraHD video to their subscribers, Del Rio said.
Raspberry Pi Foundation has opened a store to enable users to easily download applications that run on the credit-card sized computer.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation said it partnered with Indiecity and Velocix to create a store for applications that run on the Raspberry Pi computer. The Foundation said that the store itself is an application that runs under its Raspbian Linux distribution and at launch has 23 applications available for download.
The Raspberry Pi Store contains games such as Freeciv alongside applications such as Libreoffice and Asterisk. The Raspberry Pi Foundation said its store accepts compiled binaries, Python code, images, audio and video.
The Raspberry Pi Store will allow developers to charge for applications, with the Foundation saying that it hopes to see a mix of hobbyist and commercial software. The Foundation also asked users that download applications to review them in order to improve the results put out by its recommendations system.
While the Raspberry Pi was initially intended to help teach people how to program, the device has gained wider popularity due to the fact that its hardware can run many typical PC desktop applications. The Foundation’s Raspberry Pi Store will make it easier for users to find and install applications on the device, which can only be a good thing for the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Linux adoption.
They already sells phones and tablets, provides a wealth of online services and has been laying high-speed fiber to people’s homes. Now Google is apparently weighing the possibility of a wireless network service as well.
Google has been in talks with satellite TV provider Dish Network over a possible partnership to build out a wireless service that would rival those from carriers such as AT&T and Sprint, the Wall Street Journal reported late last week.
The talks are at an early stage and could amount to nothing, and Google is just one of many companies Dish is talking to, according to the Journal, which cited anonymous sources. But it raises the prospect that Google might expand its business in a new direction.
Dish has been buying spectrum that could support a wireless service, although it still needs regulatory approval to set one up. In an interview with the Journal Thursday, CEO Charlie Ergen said the partners Dish is talking to include companies that don’t currently have a wireless business.
Google declined to comment on the report, the newspaper said.
Samsung is apparently rethinking its decision not to bring Android 4 to the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab.
Earlier the company stated that neither device could be updated due to the size of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. The news created a bit of an issue with users sharpening scythes, pitchforks and lighting torches to go on a lynching. Now word on the street is that the company is considering backing down on its decision due to “strong customer demand.”