Here's a buzzword to remember: Autostereoscopic. What is it? Put simply, it's a type of display that allows for 3D content without having to wear any funny looking glasses, and several major manufacturers are jumping on board. Toshiba is one of the first out of the gates with an autostereoscopic high-definition display, which measures 21 inches and supports a 1280x800 pixel resolution (WXGA).
"To date most 3D products have used special glasses to separate a picture into two images: one for the left eye and the other for the right eye," Toshiba explains. "But the market has strongly desired a more versatile and glasses-free approach that could be used anywhere. This new product employs an integral imaging system (a “light field” display) to reproduce a real object as a 3D image that can be viewed without glasses over a wide range of viewing angles. Therefore, the display is suitable for 3D monitors used for advertisements and entertainment appliances."
Toshiba says its new 21-inch display adopts a lens sheet to control reduction in surface luminance intensity so that it's every bit as bright as a standard 2D display. When it will ship and for how much remains to be seen, but Toshiba isn't alone here. Both Sharp and Hitachi are working on autosterescopic 3D displays of their own, though on a smaller scale. Word on the Web is that one or both of these manufacturers will provide the 3D panel for Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld.
Citing unnamed sources in the component industry, DigiTimes claims Apple has already stared developing its second generation iPad. As the report goes, the Cupertino company plans to outfit the followup device with an OLED panel and is shooting for a 2011 launch.
That's probably wishful thinking, even as panel makers put more resources into OLED production. The technology's high cost has prevented it from marching into the mainstream, and even for a $500 to $900 tablet, it seems unlikely that a pricey OLED panel would be part of the package.
Nevertheless, the sources insist that OLED prices are falling and will drop significantly enough that Apple could use them on the next gen iPad. We remain highly skeptical. According to Mingchi Kuo, a senior analyst with DigiTimes Research, the current price of the 9.7-inch LCD panel for the iPad runs about $60-$70. By comparison, an OLED panel of the same size would cost about $500. It's tough envisioning that kind of price gap narrowing significantly by 2011.
BenQ this week announced the release of its GL series LED monitors, all of which feature a "truly prodigious" 12,000,000:1 contrast ratio. That number's dynamic, however, so take it with a healthy dose of salt.
The new displays include the GL930 (18.5 inches), GL931 (19 inches), GL2030 (20 inches), GL2230 (21.5 inches), and GL2231 (22 inches). BenQ says all GL models come in four different models with different connectors. These include:
GL (D-Sub; DVI-D)
GL/M (D-Sub; DVI-D; Line-In; Headphone Jack)
GL/AM (D-Sub; Line-In; Headphone Jack)
The GL/M and GL/AM models also come equipped with a pair of 1W speakers built-in, while all models sport a 5ms response time and BenQ's proprietary Senseye Human Vision Technology, which is an image enhancement engine that mimics the human eye by adjusting the color, clarity, and contrast of video, while also smoothing out quick images through motion optimization, BenQ says.
Look for these to ship next week. No word yet on pricing.
Maybe one day we'll look back and remember 3D in the homestead as just a passing fad, but in the here now, and short term future, be prepared to have 3D devices shoved down your throat. Toshiba will be among those force feeding 3D tech to households this summer when the company releases its "3D Regza" LCD TV line.
"Based on the concept of high-quality 3D images, we will release products that are different from other companies," Toshiba said.
Toshiba was referring to its "2D-3D" conversion technology. As is often the case, the hardware is preceding the content, so while you wait for more 3D programming to hit the airwaves, Toshiba's upcoming displays will be able to convert normal images into 3D.
Europe will be the first to receive these upcoming displays, though Japan looks to figure prominently in Toshiba's 3D plans. The company said it plans to increase the ratio of 3D TVs among its TVs larger than 46 inches in Japan to 20 percent by the end of the year.
Asus, perphaps best known for its line of motherboards and Eee PC family, is getting serious about its LCD business too. Already a player in the display market, Asus expects to ship between 4.5 million to 5 million LCD monitors around the globe in 2010. That's a jump of 29-43 percent from the 3.5 million displays Asus shipped in 2009.
A big part of that push will come from LED-backlit monitors with screen sizes ranging from 15.6 inches to 27 inches. By the end of the year, Asus sees LED-backlit displays accounting for 10-15 percent of its total shipments.
Many of these will also end up in Taiwan. Asus ranked as the Taiwan's top LCD vendor in 2009 with 400,000 units, enough to claim 25 percent of the market. Both Acer and Chimei were somewhat of a distant second with 250,000 units shipped each.
There have been a ton of 3D movies released to theaters in recent times, and it's pretty easy to see why. Consumers are buying into it, plain and simple. According to a study released by The International 3D Society (I3DS), 3D flicks generated 33 percent of total domestic box office revenue since the release of Avatar on December 18.
Naturally Avatar claimed the lion's share of 3D revenue, but it's not the only movie cashing in providing viewers about 2 hours of three dimensional fun. Clash of the Titans, How to Train Your Dragon, and Alice in Wonderland have all contributed to the surprising revenue numbers, and when combined with Avatar, these four flicks alone have generated $1.2 billion in US ticket sales.
"This is truly remarkable performance in that out of 127 general market films released, just four 3D movies captured 33 percent of the total dollars so far this year," said I3DS President Jim Chabin.
What's more, 3D movies have been No. 1 at the box office 10 out of 14 weeks so far in 2010, or over 70 percent of the time.
With Tiger Woods making his comeback, it would be hard for another headline to steal the thunder from this year's Master Tournament, but Comcast is trying to do just that. The cable company has begun airing portions of the tournament in 3D.
"The 3D experience gives viewers a player's perspective of Augusta National, like they're looking through a window onto one of the most beautiful and scenic venues in the world," Comcast senior VP Derek Harrar said in a press statement. "We can't imagine a better setting than the Masters Tournament to give a glimpse of the future of 3D television."
The remaining 3D schedule breaks down like this:
April 8 and 9: (4-6PM ET) - Holes 14, 16, and 18 with rotating coverage of holes 10 through 13 and 17
April 10 and 11: (5-7PM ET) - Holes 14, 16, and 18 with rotating coverage of holes 10 through 13 and 17
Viewers must own a 3D-capable television and glasses, and will need to find out if their cable provider carries a separate 3D channel. Alternately, Comcast is also making available a live stream for 3D capable computers.
A new report by Gartner suggests that by the year 2015, your kids are going to make you feel old. Really old. The reason? They're going to look at you funny when you talk about growing up on PCs without touchscreens, which they'll find more horrific than when your folks used to talk about trekking to and from school 5 miles in a blizzard, uphill, both ways.
"What we're going to see is the younger generation beginning to use touchscreen computers ahead of enterprises," said Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner. "By 2015, we expect more than 50 percent of PCs purchased for users under the age of 15 will have touchscreens, up from fewer than 2 percent in 2009. On the other hand, we are predicting that fewer than 10 percent of PCs sold to enterprises in 2015 for mainstream knowledge workers will have touchscreens."
The reason enterprises will be outpaced by 15-year-olds in adopting touchscreens is because of the heavy requirements for typing and text input, Gartner says. And as prices come down, schools will emerge as a major market to touch and pen-enabled devices, exposing kids to touchscreen computing at a younger age than ever before.
"Consensus among the Gartner client U.S. school districts is that over half, and possibly as many as 75 percent, will be specifying touch and/or pen input within the next five years," said Ms. Fiering. "Consider this as the precursor to a major upcoming generational shift in how users relate to their computing devices."
Samsung is pretty confident that this whole 3D craze is much more than just a temporary phase. So much so that the electronics maker is absolutely certain it will reach its goal of selling two million 3D LCD TVs around the world in 2010, and probably more, according to Samsung Taiwan president Smile Kim.
Kim says his company is planning to launch 46-inch and 55-inch 3D LED-backlit models in the Taiwan market next month for about $4,100 and $5,950, respectively. Both models will include two pairs of of 3D glasses and free 3D movies, though Kim didn't say how many.
Kim also talked up the overall specifications of Samsung's 3D LED TVs, including high contrast ratios, energy savings up to 50 percent, Internet access, and connectivity options to other electronics, such as handsets, notebooks, and more.
Those of you waiting for prices to come down will have to be patient. Kim added that Samsung typically drops prices of its products no more than twice, and that the company's LED-backlit TVs won't see much change in 2010.
Type "screensaver" into a Web search box - go ahead, I dare you. What you'll come across is a number of scamming, ad-filled, useless sites that care more about lining their own pockets with revenue than actually delivering you the goodies you want for sprucing up the look of your system's display. I can't help you much there. The appeal of a particular screensaver is, after all, in the eyes of its beholder. You might like flying toasters; I might like ports of OSX screensavers. There's little point in me trying to push my tastes on you via some freeware roundup.
That said, there are a number of interesting applications that can help you better manage your display. Regardless of whichever screensaver you choose to use--including none--the freeware tools listed below will let you best manipulate your screen to your liking. Enhance your daily computer use with increased energy-savings or prevent annoying interruptions to your media-watching, amongst other tricks. And, yes, you'll even be able to turn your screensaver on and off at a whim...