RepairLabs Blog

  • DrugFree.org and OpHERO Join Forces

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on June 3, 2013

    RepairLabs and DrugFree start a beautiful partnership

    RepairLabs & DrugFree

    In our continuing effort to save the world one repair at a time, RepairLabs has joined forces with The Partnership at DrugFree.org.  We here at RepairLabs are delighted to announce that we will begin raising money to help educate kids and parents about drug abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery, through our Operation HERO Donate-at-Checkout program.

    The Partnership at DrugFree.org is a comprehensive resource for parents, teachers, law enforcement, and communities to face and tackle issues of drug abuse.  If you’re a parent this is a must-read website with hundreds of great ideas for how to talk to your kids (at any age) about drugs. They offer strategies for preventing drug use before it ever becomes a problem.  If you are struggling with drug abuse or addiction this website is a place that you can turn to for finding help. If you just want to get involved and help your community to be a better place, this site has comprehensive resources to help you get connected with the right people and organizations that can make a difference in your community.  They also offer resources in Spanish for those who have need of them, so that they’re able to be able to serve all aspects of our communities.

    DrugFree and The Hope Share Program

    Recently DrugFree.org started a program called “The Hope Share.” This is an interactive forum where teens and parents can share their experiences that involve drug abuse.  Many people don’t seek help because of the stigma associated with drug use.   Many struggling with drug abuse face discrimination and blame.  This program provides a safe space where individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction can share their stories, seek support, and offer support to others.

    The Partnership at DrugFree.org has evolved from a late 80s advertising campaign aimed at unselling drugs to the American public to the largest public service campaign in US history.  The DrugFree.org site is an online resource center that features interactive tools and the latest scientific data regarding teen behavior, addiction, and tools.  They promote only methods of treatment and prevention that have proven scientific results, and they use everyday language that teens and parents (not just scientists) can understand to present it. They offer a toll free hotline for help for parents as well at 1-855-DRUGFREE.

    The great and good geeks at Repairlabs are honored to be able to use their techie skills and web expertise to promote this mission. All of us have known people who’ve suffered because of drugs.  Many of our friends and families have suffered in silence because of the stigma that’s associated with drug abuse.  We’ve witnessed friends and family who refuse to seek help because of the shame associated with it, and we want to help.

    We intend to promote DrugFree.org’s mission with all of our “superpowers:” we’ll blog, tweet, pin, and Facebook their mission with all of our enthusiasm and strength.   We’ll design educational infographics, create a DrugFree.org page on our site, and spread the word every way we can. Most importantly, though, we collect donations for the organization.

    Our OpHERO (Help Each Repair Overcome) Program is a donation-at-checkout program where give our customers the option to donate an amount from $1 to $100 to an organization. So with every repair we make, our customers can donate to help overcome drug addictions. And we match every donation 100%. Our mission was to provide an easy and inexpensive way for our customers to give back and to feel like a hero.

    Together with DrugFree.org and our customers, we can literally save the life of another person who may have nowhere else to go. If we can help people to know that they’re not alone, and that help is out there, even for the problems and life situations that they’re most ashamed of and afraid to talk about, we will all be superheroes together.

    To donate directly to DrugFree, please visit their donations page here.

    This post was posted in What We Do and was tagged with phone repair, the hope share program, drug, drug free, drugfree, repair labs, labs, repairlabs, Operation: HERO, Op:HERO, repair, Free

  • Xbox One - The Next Big Thing?

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on May 21, 2013

    What is the Xbox One?

    Well the Xbox launch event has come and gone. We here at RepairLabs got to admit, we were pleasantly surprised. For the past month, everybody has been throwing around rumors and speculation, and frankly, I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by the whole process. As much as I love my Xbox 360, my PlayStation 3 has received quite a bit more playtime. Not only because it has a Blu-Ray drive and a lot more quality exclusive titles, but also because it supports 7.1 HD Audio and is free to use online, plus we won't even get into the Red Ring of Death.

    When the Xbox launch started up, and Microsoft came out instantly talking about, and showcasing the console, I became extremely interested. First thing’s first, the name of the new Xbox is the Xbox One... I find it a bit confusing and even contradicting. It is, after all, the third Xbox console, but I understand what they’re going for – one console to rule them all! Anyways, from a design perspective, the new console is really going for that HTPC look, which I really dig. Nice clean lines and the look of a glossy and matte black body. Now if it’s made from aluminum, or some form of light metal, I will be completely sold on the design.

    RepairLabs - Xbox One First Look

    With no word on pricing or release date, (Coming Later This Year) the specs are really the biggest thing we have to go off of. Looking at them, I can tell that Microsoft wants to compete with Sony, and the pieces are in place to do so – I’m just not sure if going with DDR3 memory was the best course of action. If you recall, I did a piece awhile back on the differences between GDD3 and GDDR5, and why it’s a worthy investment for console developers.

    What it may lack in processing bandwidth via the memory, it will more than make up for with its eight-core CPU – twice as many as what’s in the PlayStation 4. The inclusion of a Blu-Ray Drive, HDMI Out AND In, as well voice and gesture controls made possible by the brand-new Kinect Sensor, and USB 3.0, 4K Video, and Cloud-Based support, Microsoft is really building the Xbox One with the future in mind. At this time, there aren’t many games or tech that can fully utilize eight-cores or 4K video, but when they become industry standards somewhere down the road, the Xbox One will be ready to go, instead of falling behind the times like the Xbox 360 with its measly 512mb of RAM.

     

    Xbox One Specifications

    • 8 GB of RAM DDR3
    • 8 Core CPU
    • Blu Ray Drive
    • HDMI In/Out
    • Voice and Gesture Controls
    • Kinect Included
    • 500GB HDD
    • Cloud Based For Saves And Media
    • USB 3.0 Support
    • 4k Video Support
    • 7.1 Audio Support

     

    Xbox One Specifications

    Xbox One and the Kinect

    Sadly the event lacked much in the way of gameplay for upcoming titles. It did, however give us a rather in-depth look at the new Kinect, and I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed, and that’s hard to do!

    Now I have a Kinect at home – and like most of you, I never use it. With the new Kinect offering up a sensor that completely blows its predecessor away in every way imaginable, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. Sure, I’ll probably tear it apart and see what makes it tick, but I’m sure before I do that, I’ll yell at my TV and flail my arms like a dummy for a while first.

    Seriously, the hand gestures, voice control, responsiveness, and intuitiveness of the entire system makes me excited! I think the redesign of the controller is cool, but the new functionality of the Kinect will make the controller unnecessary when utilizing the system outside of gaming. I only hope that the Kinect sensor doesn’t need to dial itself back in often like the previous iteration does to be at its best.

    If you’re like me though, the power and functionality of the system are great, but I want to know what games are going to be like on the system, I want to see Fable 4 and Halo 5 (yeah, right) in action on this baby, but alas we’re going to have to wait until E3 to get a glimpse of some in-game footage. The only true action we got was the Call of Duty: Ghosts world-first footage, which looked brilliant, but doesn’t have the same effect as seeing an Xbox-Exclusive title on the system.

    RepairLabs Xbox One -

    Image courtesy of Wired.com

    What did you think of the event? Did Microsoft hit all of the necessary highs and avoid the lows? Personally, I think the only way the event could’ve been better was if there was some Fable 4 footage shown. A few things that I think would've been nice to get more info on is if it'll be able to play used games, and if it requires being online all the time. The announcement by The Verge that it will not be backwards compatible is sad news though. Other than that, they gave us the console, controller, specs, and announced some exciting things like 15 exclusive titles in the works, with eight being entirely new franchises!

    The future is looking awfully bright for game consoles, and I can't help but feel that the Xbox One may be leading the pack when it's all said and done. Sony impressed me a few months back, but Microsoft and the Xbox One just took it to a whole new level, especially with their willingness to run through the demonstrations two or three times, showing that it's fully functional, which is key to their entire design.

    The Xbox One is set to launch sometime later this year.

    This post was posted in Tech, Geek, What We Do

  • My Dog Thinks I'm a Super Hero - RepairLabs & Best Friends

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on May 10, 2013

    Operation: HERO begins work with Best Friends Animal Society

    RepairLabs & Best Friends

    Every geek needs a sidekick, and here at RepairLabs we have our own sidekicks: our pets. Just like Shaggy and Scooby, the Lone Ranger and Silver, and Dorothy and Toto, each of us has our own beloved pet, and our own unique superpower. (Okay, we wish we had our own superpowers.  It would probably be more accurate to say we’re marginally skilled at our respective jobs.)  But our critters do manage to make us at least feel like superheroes every day.  When I walk through the door at night, my dog greets me like I have just single-handedly saved the world.

    That’s why we here at RepairLabs, are delighted to announce our charitable partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal shelter and rescue mission.  RepairLabs is proud to include Best Friends in our new donation-at-checkout program: Operation HERO.

    Best Friends' Mission

    Best Friends Animal Society coordinates efforts across the country to help homeless pets.  They operate nationwide animal initiatives to bring about a future where no adoptable animals are destroyed in shelters. They are pioneers in the no-kill movement.  And they’ve had amazing success: When they began work in the 1980s, every year 17 million animals were euthanized in shelters.  Through continued and concentrated efforts that number has now dropped to 4 million. That’s 13 million animals every year who live and find loving homes, who otherwise would have been destroyed.

    13 million.

    And they aren’t stopping there.  They intend to reduce the number of destroyed animals to zero. The mission of Best Friends is to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets.  Best Friends also partners with local governments, shelters, and grassroots organizations to end the unnecessary killing of shelter pets. They feature several initiatives including positive pit bull PR programs, anti-puppy mill programs, and trap-neuter-and-return programs for free-roaming cats.  Their Utah facility has grown from a rehabilitation sanctuary to be the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the US.  It began as stepping stone for “problem” pets slated for euthanasia to be rehabbed and placed into forever homes  and has grown into a voice for animals all over the nation.

    And we are deeply honored to be able to contribute to their mission.  We have long been a pet-friendly office, with our dogs visiting during the day, and even appearing in Halloween Costumes.  “Our pets really make the office a more relaxed and fun place to be,” says CEO and ‘dad’ to German Shepherd Axis, Sean Hennessy, “They really enrich our office. We are so excited to have the opportunity to give back by working with Best Friends.”

    And the pets love to visit the office. (It’s always a fun field trip to go and help mom or dad at the office.) Most of our cats tend to prefer to stay at home, so it’s usually just the dogs who like to come along, but we’ve even had a visit from a bearded dragon! The wee beasties always inject a little humor and unconditional affection into the office.  The point is that we believe that all types of companion creatures deserve the dignity of a loving forever home. We love pet pigs, birds, horses and cats just as much as we love our dogs and lizards.  And Best Friends advocates for all of them.


    The Office Crocodile and bumblebee. Can you tell which is which? (Axis and Madison on Halloween)

    Best Friends spearheads adoption initiatives, funds educational resources, helps organizations across the country with their spray and neuter programs, and also helps individual animals to be adopted. They’ve even been known to fly an adopted pet to his new home, free of charge.  They provide grants to select organizations that make a significant impact on shelter deaths in their communities.  At the sanctuary each animal is treated with love and attention, and as an individual. Each animal receives top-of-the-line medical care as well; the animals can overcome past traumas and heal as they prepare for a new, forever home. Each animal is loved and cherished like a family pet the minute she comes through the gates.

    How To Get Involved With Best Friends

    We here at RepairLabs feel truly privileged to help raise funds for an organization that does such great work for pets across the country. You can make a donation to them at checkout if you are purchasing a repair, or you can donate directly to Best Friends here.  We’re honored that we can do something to better the lives of animals. And that really does make us feel like we have superpowers. Remember, we can all make a difference in the lives of our new Best Friends.

    This post was posted in What We Do and was tagged with repairlabs and best friends, repair labs, labs, repairlabs, animal society, best friends, best friends animal society, Operation: HERO, Op:HERO, repair

  • Are Traditional Phone Batteries Still Viable?

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on April 23, 2013

    Phone Batteries... Is It Time For Change?

    Tell me if you’ve ever been in this situation. You’re at work, right in the middle of a business call and bam your phone dies. Has this ever happened to you? Well, even if it hasn’t, it’s happening to plenty of people around the globe on a daily basis.

    As I’m sure you are well aware, there have been quite a few solid guides and how-to videos made over the past couple years that go into the general questions as to why your phone is always dead, and things you can do to help prevent the battery from draining so quickly. (Close some apps people) That’s all fine and dandy, and most definitely not the reason we are here today.

    Today RepairLabs is going to present the technical reasoning behind your phone always being dead. We’re going to cover the different types of batteries on the market today and how they compare, then we’ll have a throw down between three of the hottest phones on the market, with each one having a specific role to play in the testing of the batteries held within. Last but not least we’ll talk about the future of batteries; what’s out there, what’s the next logical step, things of that nature.

    Strap yourselves in, because you’re about to get a crash course in phone batteries!

    Lithium What?

    Most of you probably don’t know what type of battery is in your phone. Perhaps you know the mAh of it, (that’s milliamps per hour) but don’t actually know what type of battery you have. Don’t worry; it’s not relevant knowledge to a large percentage of people. But for those of you who have wondered into my little slice of Tech paradise, you’re about to get the deluxe package when it comes to batteries.

    What types of batteries are prevalent on the market today?

    There are truly only two options when it comes to batteries in your phone today. Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Polymer.

    Lithium-Ion: Li-Ion batteries are the most commonly found type of battery in phones today. They’re older technology than Li-Po batteries, but have also proven themselves to be reliable. Though they may be phased out eventually -- the fact that we’re able to stretch them up to 3,500mAh at this point in time, while still being slim enough to fit in a phone gives credence to the fact that Li-Ion isn’t going down without a fight.

    Li-Ion offers the most convenient product to cell phone manufacturers, with its average 5-10% self-[i]discharge rate a month, and components that are environmentally safe. It also doesn’t hurt that they are readily available, and lighter than equivalent batteries.

    If these batteries are so great, then why is my phone always dead is what most of you are probably thinking. This is because there are some caveats to Li-Ion batteries, mainly being that the [ii]cell capacity diminishes with use, causing the battery to hold less and less of a charge. This is made even worse when you factor in high [iii]charge levels and elevated temperatures, both of which cause hastened degradation of the battery.

    They are also flammable, which is most definitely a con for any product that you hold near your face.

    Lithium Ion Phone Batteries Charging

    http://repairlabs.com

    Key Interior Difference Between Li-Ion & Li-Po - “The primary difference is that the lithium-salt electrolyte is not held in an organic solvent but in a solid polymer composite such as polyethylene or polyacrylonitrile”  Wikipedia - Lithium-Polymer Batteries

    Lithium-Polymer: Li-Po is the younger, more advanced brother to Li-Ion batteries. In theory they are nearly identical in design, as can be seen in the diagram above, but there are some key differences between the two.

    For starters, the Li-Po offers a more predictable self-discharge rate, which also happens to be lower than that offered on the Li-Ion batteries in general, clocking in at 5% a month. They also are more adaptable than Li-Ion, offering up the ability to use them in a wide variety of packing and shapes. And I can’t forget to mention that they are more reliable and rugged than the Li-Ion they hope to fully phase-out.

    The downside to the Li-Po is that it holds less of a charge than that offered on your standard Li-Ion battery. This reason alone is why they haven’t fully phased out the Li-Ion. Though the technology used is newer and more advanced, it just doesn’t offer the power necessary to reliably power these crazy big devices hitting the market today in its current form.

    One of the biggest backers of Li-Po batteries is Apple, including the Li-Po in each iPhone dating back to the iPhone 4. Though the mAh (1440mAh on the iPhone 5) numbers are far below that of the competition, we still see the power necessary to competently power the device for a full day of usage. That may lead you to believe that the battery is indeed in a position to compete with the Li-Ion, but the numbers can be misleading. Though the specs on the iPhone 5 are similar to that of the competition – the biggest deciding factor in battery drain is pixel density and resolution. The pixel density and resolution on the iPhone clock in at 640x1136, giving us a pixel density of 326ppi across its 4” screen. This here is a huge difference from what you get from the Android offerings, which come in at 1280x720 or 1920x1080, stretched across 4.7”+ displays.

    Putting the Phone Batteries to the Test

    Now that you’ve heard about the types of batteries we utilize on a daily basis, let’s get into something a bit more useful to those of you who are visual learners. Below you will find a video that I put together showcasing three of the most popular phones on the market; the Verizon exclusive Droid DNA, the iPhone 5, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

    Each phone is popular for different reasons, and each one has its faults. One thing that sets them all apart though is the battery within. For the Droid DNA you have a 2020mAh Li-Ion battery, while the iPhone 5 has the previously mentioned 1440mAh Li-Po battery. Bringing up the rear of the pack is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with its massive 3100mAh Li-Ion battery.

    As you can tell, the Note 2’s battery is loaded with power, but is running on the older Li-Ion technology. Will this make a difference when going head-to-head with the iPhone 5’s newer but smaller 1440mAh Li-Po battery? Spec-wise the Droid DNA is the one most set up to fail, and that’s thanks to the design choices made by HTC. They took a beautiful 5” 1080p display, with a quad-core processor and 2 GB’s of RAM and stuck it in into a casing that houses a measly 2020mAh Li-Ion battery. Why HTC wouldn’t spend the extra $$ needed to go with either a 2020mAh Li-Po or a more powerful Li-Ion, I don’t know.

    Droid DNA

    • 1080 x 1920 pixels, 5.0 inches (~441 ppi pixel density)
    • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Krait
    • 2 GB RAM
    • Adreno 320 GPU
    • Lithium-Ion 2020mAh Battery

    iPhone 5

    • 640 x 1136 pixels, 4.0 inches (~326 ppi pixel density)
    • Dual-core 1.2 GHz
    • 1 GB RAM
    • PowerVR SGX 543MP3 (triple-core graphics)
    • Lithium-Polymer 1440mAh Battery

    Samsung Galaxy Note 2

    • 720 x 1280 pixels, 5.5 inches (~267 ppi pixel density)
    • Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9
    • 2 GB RAM
    • Mali-400MP GPU
    • Lithium-Ion 3100mAh Battery

    Without further ado, let’s get to the video showcasing each phone running the RepairLabs video on loop until they die a horrible death.. You know, by running out of battery life. The test is to simulate a full-day of usage in the span of a few minutes once sped up. Obviously to record actually utilizing the phone all day would be unfeasible, so I went with the next best thing. Will the small Li-Po be able to keep pace with the big and bigger dogs?

    Let’s find out!

    The results are exactly what I predicted they would be. Coming in at four hours, the Droid DNA finally saw itself to the afterlife. An hour later and we see the iPhone 5 finally crash out. In a position to either succeed, or crash and burn, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 was most definitely the phone hardest to predict. With that huge battery, I expected it to last the longest, but you also have to factor in the lighting needed to properly light such a large display. In the end, it didn’t matter, with the Note 2 going for a whole nine hours! Surprisingly if you watch the screens once the warning battery indicator pops up, we see that both the iPhone 5 and Droid DNA last roughly one hour before completely shutting down, while the Galaxy Note 2 goes for an additional two hours after we get the low battery warning screen.

    The test proved exactly what it is I was trying to show you guys. Even though the Li-Ion is older tech, size does indeed still matter when it comes to phone batteries, but only to a certain extent. The Li-Po showed that even though it was almost 600mAh weaker than the Li-Ion in the Droid DNA, it could outpace it. You can’t do a direct apples-to-apples comparison due to the massive screen differences, but you still get the idea here.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that these phones last four, five, and nine hours respectively – but if you used the phones daily for another year and ran this test again, you would be lucky to get even 75% of the performance you got from them when they were brand new, luckily if your battery ever gets to the point where it doesn't hold enough of a charge to get you through the day, we here at RepairLabs can swap the crummy old battery out for a shiny new battery.

    The diagram above showcases how the ions inside your battery slowly but surely lose their ability to hold a quality charge. This is why with all phone batteries, they eventually need replaced. The constant charging, discharging, and usage are what cause the breakdown inside the phone. At this point, there is no way to get around this with liquid-based batteries in the state they’re currently in.

    What Does The Future Hold?

    Alright so now that you’re a bit more comfortable with where we sit right now when it comes to batteries, let’s move into where we’re headed.

    Li-Ion and Li-Po can only carry us so far. Eventually here soon we’re going to have to mix up what it is that we use, then we’ll have to either advance the technologies that we use, or start utilizing something completely new.

    Updating Preexisting Liquid-Batteries

    This is where some of the brightest minds in the field are hard at work. Some of the most feasible ideas that have been floated around include enhancing preexisting batteries with silicone nanoparticles as well as using new types of conversion alloys – both of which could dramatically improve the viability of Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries.

    There have even been recent developments regarding Lithium-Ion batteries by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. These new batteries have the power density to charge your phone 1000x faster than standard batteries, the only issue is that what the battery offers in power density, it lacks in energy density, so until they make more progress on these inventive new Lithium-Ion batteries, I will have to hold them off the list of the most promising – for now.

    Even if we extend the life of current batteries another four or five years, we’re eventually going to need new types of batteries to further the advancement of smartphones. When it comes to future options, there are two that truly stick out in mind as being extremely strong options; Lithium Sulfide based batteries and Solid-State batteries. There are some less exciting options like Lithium-Air and Lithium-Imide batteries, but until there is better information on them, I don’t feel them relevant enough to be included in this section.

    Future Options For Batteries

    Lithium-Sulfide is one of the many options that have presented itself as a solid alternative to the Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries we use now.  Li-S not only offers a higher energy density than Li-Ion, but also has reduced production costs due to using sulfur.

    Though Li-S batteries are a definite option that we could explore sometime in the near future, like say 2014, there isn’t enough data on the capabilities of Li-S to think that it is the logical next step in batteries. As it stands right now, the engineers who are working on this are still dealing with the fact that sulfur on its own isn’t conductive, which is a massive issue in a product that relies 100% on conductivity!

    Solid-State Batteries are definitely the brightest option when it comes to future batteries. Instead of being liquid-based like the batteries on the market these days, Solid-State batteries offer us batteries that are solid inside, much like what you would find inside a solid-state drive for the PC.

    Though engineers would love to have these solid-state batteries in our phones right now due to their greatly increased life cycle over legacy batteries, plus they also happen to be safer with a better energy density to that of other options. The reason that we don’t have these already is because of the massive cost of production, with the price soaring up to as high as a $1,500 for a single phone battery.

    Engineers are also still trying to work out a solution to their sensitivity to low temperatures. Recently I spoke with Professor Kevin S. Jones from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida, about this very subject; this is what he had to say.

    ”I do believe solid-state batteries have tremendous potential but there are significant research challenges that need to be addressed. Because you replace the liquid electrolyte with a solid that is much thinner you can achieve a significant weight saving, as well as being much safer. However it remains a challenge to develop an inexpensive manufacturing method that overcomes the challenges of joining solid layers together. In addition, there is a new class of materials called conversion alloys that are being explored for liquid batteries. These materials have the potential to significantly increase the capacity of liquid batteries. Research is necessary to prove if these materials will work with solid state batteries. So the potential is there to revolutionize the cell phone battery, but we have work to do before it becomes a reality.” 

    Professor Jones statement holds true to what I’ve been saying all along. There is still potential for liquid-based batteries, but the future is moving more and more towards solid-state batteries. For those of you who have not read his excellent piece on the state of solid-state batteries, I highly recommend it.

    The End to a Long Journey

    What a ride. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried. Had epiphanies, revelations and probably even a few eye-opening moments.. Ok, perhaps we didn’t quite cover that wide of a spectrum, but we did take a long look at where we’re at with batteries and where we hope to be as soon as possible.

    The Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries we use today still prove to be viable options for the time being, but as was made apparent in the time lapse, the more powerful the phone, the less amount of time you will have to enjoy it without a charger. Sure, you can carry around a charger with you, have one at your desk, house, and in your car, but that’s not the point. Phones are portable devices – attaching cables to them defeats the entire purpose of a portable phone.

    Though the near future is a bit cloudy on what we’ll do next, with there being a few interesting options floating around. None of them are ready for primetime, that much is apparent, but possibly by mid-2014 we can begin phasing out the old and start ushering in the new.

    The future begins to look much brighter 2014+ thanks to the advancements we’ll be making in solid-state technology. As soon as it becomes viable from a price-standpoint, I have no doubt all of the major phone manufacturer’s will begin to use them in their newest devices. (Can anyone say iPhone 9?)

    As it stands right now, the degradation rate on batteries is sitting at a manageable but unacceptable one to two years. (If you’re really lucky) With newer and better technologies, hopefully we can extrapolate that number into the double digits, making the need to buy new phone batteries or even phones less of necessity and more of a commodity.

    Curtis Taylor, "RepairGenius" Blogger
    Visit me here:

    [i] Discharge RateThe rate, usually expressed in amperes or time, at which electrical current is taken from the battery.

    [ii] Cell CapacityThe maximum total electrical charge, expressed in ampere-hours, which a battery can deliver to a load under a specific set of conditions...

    [iii] Charge LevelsThe percentage of power in phone batteries at any one point in time.

     

    This post was posted in Tech, Geek, What We Do, iPhone and was tagged with Li-Po, Solid-State Batteries, Li-Air, Li-S, Li-Ion, Testing Phone Batteries, Phone Batteries, Droid DNA, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, iPhone 5

  • What the $%&!!! Is GDDR5 for PlayStation 4?

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on March 1, 2013

    Artist's illustration of the difference between PS3 and PS4 GDDR5 from RepairLabs.com

    Check of the difference between the two renderings. Notice how much more detail the GDDR5 provides. Original image from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/300/images/222280/title/300-movie-publicity-still-photo

     

    As we RepairLabs geeks were snooping around and stalking the PlayStation website, we stumbled on a rather interesting tidbit of information, which may have massive consequences for the newest version of the PlayStation, the PS4.  Among many upgrades and changes since the release of the PS3, we noticed the addition of “GDDR5 8GB” in the Memory Specs.

    What is GDDR5?

    GDDR stands for Graphics Double Data Rate, a type of high performance graphics card memory. This has 32 times the amount of GDDR (graphics capacity) as the PS3, which weighs in with 256 MB GDDR3.  GDDR5 performs at 8-bit wide data buffer that will allow for 20% more processing capabilities compared to GDDR3.

    So? Let’s put this in perspective:

    Alienware Aurora  is considered one of the best computers on the market right now for gaming; many designate it as the industry standard for computing--and it only has 4GB of GDDR5. The PlayStation 4 will have double that amount. This means that the PlayStation will be able to process double the memory as the current top-notch gaming computer on the market.

    GDDR5 will be able to process such graphics like no other RAM out on the market today. If you haven’t seen the image on the PS4 of the blue balls dropping in check it out here, at 10 seconds in, to get an idea of the massive processing capacity required to animate each ball individually. Most power does come from the onboard GPU made by AMD. The GPU makes the balls, and the RAM  (or GDDR5) makes them move. So let’s put that in perspective: if one of those balls is 1MB then that means the PS4 at the same time can process 8000 Blue balls at the same time. Insane. Take a sec and think about that. In the “World of Mario” we were used to having only 1 or 2 flame balls at a time shooting at us.

    And the GDDR5 8GB is advanced. Like years ahead of its time. (Remember, the PS3 has stayed relevant and useful for 8 years now. That’s millennia in tech years.) It is safe to say that you won’t be able to go to Best Buy and buy a computer with that amount of memory for a couple of years. The reason for this is because there is no need for that amount of memory--unless you’re gonna have some crazy processes to perform, such as the games that will be released in a few years.  The PS3 has been around since 2006—and that console provided around 8 to 9 years of solid performance. This newest version has to be similarly 8-9 years advanced to provide an equivalent experience.

    So, what GDDR5 means to the 3D world?

    GDDR5 will enhance 3D appearance on games, and will enable even more complex functionalities to evolve as graphics evolve. The 3D experience right now with PS3 is very minimal and doesn’t look 3D, like movies and other 3D  interfaces out there. But now with the 8GB of GDDR5 Ps4 will have much better details, allowing for a terrific 3D experience unlike anything else yet to be seen. No games on the market right now can even come close to touching the memory capabilities of GDDR5.

    All of this indicates that we are in for gaming and technological advances beyond our wildest dreams. Anything a graphic artist can imagine can be rendered digitally, and beautifully, at a level of detail never previously imagined. The GDDR5 is just one aspect of the new PlayStation gaming console, but it could be the game changer.

    by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

    This post was posted in Tech, Geek, What We Do and was tagged with Capacity Processor, Gaming, Game, PS3, PlayStation, Graphics, RAM, Memory, PS4, GDDR5

  • The Apple iWatch: Learning Cool from The Fresh Prince?

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on February 25, 2013

     

    Apple iWatch Artist's Concept Design based on Snap Bracelet from RepairLabs.com

    The new iWatch should have a continuous wrap-around display and work like a snap bracelet.

    The Internets have been abuzz recently with chatter of a possible Apple iWatch.  Misleading pictures abound of a wristwatch-like monstrosity resembling an all-screen iPod Nano attached to a velco strap. Sometimes, for fun, artists portray this as a round traditional wristwatch with iOS apps. However, here at RepairLabs, we think Apple has something much, much cooler in store for us.

    We’re talking early 90s cool. Perhaps you’ve seen the patent filing from Apple as reported by PatentlyApple, where the iWatch will work just like a snap bracelet.  That’s right, the era that brought us Ace of Base and Right Said Fred just keeps on giving.  And Apple has adopted one of the coolest trends of the early 90s: the snap bracelet. We’ve created our own rendering of the awesome cool that, if we’re good, will descend on us like so many Pogs. (Remember those?)

    Based on the patent filing, here’s what we think the new iWatch will feature.

    • The device will have a bi-stable spring, meaning just like the snap bracelet, it will live in two states: rigid flat, and curved (to fit a wrist). It will bend and flex just like a snap bracelet. It will utilize flexible glass to make this work.
    • The screen will be a continuous display, circular. (This is trickier than it seems at first glance. How will Apple know the size of an individual’s wrist? We think the device will have a male and female end with a sensor that detects the amount of overlap.)

     

    Here’s a list of our best guesses for the features of the iWatch:

    • The iWatch won’t charge the traditional way. It just doesn’t make sense for the device to have something as unwieldy as a charging port with all of the recent technological advances. The watch could charge from kinetic energy (your own motion), or may have the new solar touch panel charge that Apple has recently received a patent on.  Or it could charge remotely with a plate or mat that could be put anywhere around your house.
    • The LCD screen will have the touch feature.
    • The device will likely will have no buttons, but would be awakened by the onboard gyrometer. The gyrometer will also be able to tell witch way your hand is facing so it will always show a correct display – even at weird angles.
    • The iWatch will connect to your iPhone iPod or iPad via Bluetooth. It will feature two-way transmission.

     

    The 90s gave us lots of cultural and technological gifts (the Internet itself, anybody? The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?) It’s fitting we should borrow from those awesome concepts to create more awesome. So until the iWatch finally comes out, we’ll be digging out our old snap bracelets and pretending that they’re touch screen wonders of a future day. And slapping them on unsuspecting coworkers.

     

    Apple iWatch Diagram Artist's Concept from RepairLabs.com.

    Based on patent filings, this is how we assume the sizing mechanism and continuous screen will work.

    by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

    This post was posted in Opinion, Tech, iPhone Rumors, iPhone and was tagged with snap bracelet, bracelet, touchscreen, Artist's rendition, Fresh Prince, ninties, 90s, concept, iWatch

  • The Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 that WILL Change your 2013

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on December 31, 2012

     The top ten (10) tech events of 2012 that WILL change your 2013 from RepairLabs.com.

    Here at RepairLabs, we like to lean back and take stock of everything that we do throughout the year and our analysis of tech innovations has abounded.. We thought there would be no better time than the last day of the year to remember the most influential tech events of the year, and to think about what they may mean for us next year. Here is the list of our top 10 favorite  tech events of the year.

     

     

    10.) Apple Breaks the Mold with the iPhone 5: Tech Innovation.

     

    iPhone 5 sizing change, vs iPhone 4. Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

    Apple abandons their near-religious devotion to the 4-inch iPhone screen format in favor of a 5-inch screen. Apple chose to go with totally expanded device (pictured on the right) rather than just expanding the screen.  Ahhhhhh real –estate.

     

    What this means for 2013: With Apple finally willing to innovate again, rather than rigidly sticking to a (now) arbitrary design, we can expect great changes to come: NFC chips, wireless charging, waterproofing, and better cameras could all be in the works.

    9.) The Second Screen Experience Emerges, Read: the Will U. Tech changes again.

     

    Wii U: Second Screen Interaction. Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

     

    The way that we interact with technology is changing, now we’re more likely than ever to be multi-tasking and using multiple screens.  We’ll watch TV and surf the web, or play a game on our smartphone and keep one eye on social media on a tablet as well. Enter new devices such as the Wii U, a tablet/remote control to augment what’s happening on our screens. This  screen device can be used as a controller or as a supplementary piece, think DVD on TV, except all the extra info is on your Will U.

    What this means for 2013: Your tablet is gonna become the supplementary device to your TV.  Conan’s doing it already with Team Coco for the iPhone, and there are just going to be more and more shows, movies and games jumping on the bandwagon. Expect a mild case of information overload around June.

     

    8.) Lytro Camera Innovation, Will Change the Way your Mobile Takes Photos

     

    Lytro Camera Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

     

    So what is a light field camera? Lytro is.  And? It lets you focus anywhere, even after the picture has been taken. It’s essentially a camera that focuses on everything.  Word is that Toshiba is now developing a lens with this capacity that’s approaching being able to fit into the slim profile of the iPhone. So between Toshiba and Apple, Lytro may be able to put this technology into your smartphone.  Though the technology is not perfect just yet, it has endless potential to change the way we photograph with our phones.

    What this means for 2013: Expect the camera phone competition to get HOT. Really really hot. And the democratization of photography: everybody will be able to take beautiful photos, with just your phone.

     

    7.) Square Makes It Possible for Anyone to Accept Credit Card Payments.

     

    Square Credit Card Reader, Top10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

     

    How about a nifty little attachment for your iPhone or iPad that allows you to accept credit cards? How about doing business anywhere you can get a WiFi signal or cellular connection? Though introduced in 2010, the Square card reader has grown in 2012 and allowed businesses to take their credit card payments anywhere. And it’s not just for craft fairs any more. Think food trucks and mobile diagnostic centers, just to name a couple.  Square brings payments to the common folk with a 2.75% charge per swipe with no additional fees or prohibitive overhead in costs or setup.  Business owners can simply sign up and the Square Reader is free.

    What this means for 2013: Maybe your barber will come to you, or you can have your Thin Mints the second the Girl Scouts come around, if their Scout Mom happens to have a Square reader on her phone.  Square giftcards are also up and coming in the future, along with Square Wallet,  an app which purports to replace and upgrade your traditional physical wallet, cash, and credit card system.

    6.)Microsoft Debuts the Surface—the Next Game Changer?

     

    Microsoft Surface Tablet Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

    The Microsoft Surface was what the world was waiting for: a PC/ Windows compatible tablet. It also fused the purposes of the laptop computer (mostly work) and the touch tablet (mostly play) into one neat, clicky, keyboardy, kickstandy little package.   Offering  a competitive price point, size, weight, portability, hard drives, keyboard AND touch screens,  and Wifi connectivity, it seems to beautifully marry purposes of the ultrabook and the tablet.

    What this means for 2013:  Though the Surface’s OS, Windows 8, has debuted to much criticism, expect this device to only grow in popularty as it will feature full Office functionality.  Business travelers, rejoice!

    5.) Instagram and Facebook Decide to Drive off the Cliff—Together.

     

    Facebook plus Instragram Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

    image from http://www.techzek.com/facebook-acquires-instagram-for-1b-cash-stocks/

     

    Just like Thelma and Louise.  We guess they’ve never heard the expression “Dance with the one one that brought you,” because both organizations seem to be forgetting the root cause of their success: their users.  Both have disregarded the needs and wants of their users in favor of seemingly endless tweaks and policy changes designed to enhance profitability. We have no beef with making a profit (we all aspire to be profitable) – but not at the expense of the users.  Every little tweak seems to a little piece of the joy out of using the thing and adds to the complexity of life. Take FB’s IPO and Timeline updates, and Instagram’s disasterously bad (in the PR world at least) acquisition by Facebook: neither designed to enhance user experience.

    What to expect in 2013: Users are a fickle bunch, who won’t fail to punish hubris in companies.  We wouldn’t be surprised if the new MySpace experienced a resurgence, along with social aggregator services that blend all of your profiles into one feed.  Also Facebook might just shock us all and revolutionize web advertising and develop its own  Pandora-like add free subscription option.  What we hope this means: social will pivot back to focusing on the users and take a tip or two from Twitter, who manages not to ruin the user experience with ads, and still runs promoted stories.

     

    4.) SOPA and PIPA are stopped.

     

    Stop SOPA Stop PIPA, Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

    image from (http://pocketfullofapps.com/2012/01/18/sopa-and-pocketfullofapps.html)

     

    By angry kids with internet connections, and Vendetta masks.  And hundreds of legit site owners who took their sites dark in protest.   SOPA,  Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA, Protect IP Act, would have served to censor the internet, under vague pretenses of preventing intellectual theft.

    The public spoke out, and refused to allow media companies to use legislation to cudgel their way out of what really amounts to a business model problem, that can be addressed through innovations like Spotify and Netflix. Though hardly innocuous, Anonymous does use their network to preserve online freedom, and the bills are stopped, for now.

    What this means for 2013: With acts such as these being stopped, and innovations like the $40 Aakash tablet, information becomes more free. Affordable tablets being air- dropped over no-no zones like North Korea and Kenya in much the same way as the  Allied Berlin chocolate bar drop. Education expands exponentially, people solve their own problems, and the world becomes a better place. Censorship is dying. Also: You can’t beat the Geeks. Ever.

     

    3.) 7-inch Tablets Take Over.

     

     

    7 inch tablets, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, iPad Mini; Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

     

    Steve Jobs (the apotheosis of geek and ultimate arbiter of things tech, in the eyes of many) was wrong.  He believed that the 7-inch tablet size was the red-headed step child of the tablet market, too small to be really useful, and too large to be really portable. However with the advent of the Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7, and now, in the absence of Jobs, the iPad mini, this sizing format has experienced a remarkable boom.  Portability plus phenomenal pixel displays plus affordability make these the personal devices to have.

    What this means for 2013: Everybody and their grandma is going to have one of these cute little tablets, in a pocket, a purse, or on the plane, and companies will find more and more uses for them.  Expect to be able to use tablets for anything you can dream up.

     

     

     

    2.) 3D Printers Become a Real Thing.

    Gone are the days of Star Trek Replicators (“Tea, Earl Grey, hot”) being sheer science fiction. Though a 3D printer can’t make you a cup of tea from thin air (YET), they can carve objects from Styrofoam and plastics.  The products are usually smaller than a breadbox, but they’re only limited by your imagination and by your 3D computer modeling skills.  Commonly printed items now include jewelry, sculpture and even working  guns (though they tend to only be good for a few shots, dangerous and inaccurate.)  Heck, now you can even build your own 3D printer out of Leggos.

    What this means for 2013: your imagination is the only limit. Do-it-yourselfers will reign supreme, and will be making startups, innovations, and all the money, IF they can keep the lawyers out of their hair.

     

    1.)    NASA Lands the Rover on Mars.

     

    Mars Rover Curiosity Landing Top 10 Tech Events of 2012 from RepairLabs.com

     

    On August 5, 2012 NASA did the impossible and safely landed an exploration vehicle, the Curiosity, on Mars to cheers of triumph at Mission Control.  Despite budget slashes, and Space Shuttle retirements, NASA still managed to triumph over adversity and innovate a one-in-a-million safe landing on a planet millions of miles away from our own.  It would have taken a person over a year to get to the Red Planet, and once there, ostensibly, he would have no way to return.  But our virtual presence there has already even uncovered evidence of organic matter.

    What this means for 2013: things are going to start happening virtually. Patients will be able to make a virtual visit to their doctor’s office, Skyping with the doc, or IMing him photos of that spider bite.  Unmanned vehicles and even tiny drones will be taking care of our recon for us.  We’ll send image-transmitting submarines into heretofore unknown depths of the oceans! We may finally get that elusive photo of Bigfoot!  More people will work from home!  The possibilities are endless.

     

     

    So what have we garnered from all of these events combined for 2012? The internet, and the way we use it is changing. The more personally we can use our devices, the more we can connect with others, and the more we can learn.  The more we share and learn, the greater the trend of democratization around the globe.  We can reach heights never before imagined, through collaboration, as we did with Rover. Then we can tweet about it sarcastically!  2012 was one heckuva year for tech events and innovations, and 2013 is likely to send our heads spinning even more.

    Also. Higgs boson was pretty cool.

     

     

     

    by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

    This post was posted in Opinion, Tablets, Tech, What We Do, iPhone, iPad, Uncategorized and was tagged with Curiosity, Rover, Mars, NASA, legos, 3D printers, Kindle Fire, 7-inch tablets, PIPA, SOPA, facebook, instagram, surface, credit card, card reader, square, lytro camera, lytro, second screen, Wii U, 2013, change, 2012, events, Nexus 7, Apple, iPad mini, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Tech, iPhone 5

  • The Best Tech Gifts for Cyber Monday 2012

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on November 23, 2012

    The Top Tech Gifts for Every Type

     

    Ultimate Tech Gift Guide for 2012

    There are great tech gifts out there for every type of person you can imagine.  Here at RepairLabs.com, we thought we’d make out a list of our favorites for your approval just in time for Cyber Monday. If you're sick of the same old gift ideas, you've come to the right place. Everybody knows an iPad mini or a Nexus 7 tablet would be an awesome gift. But sometimes that's just not the right gift, the perfect gift, the magical rainbow unicorn of gifts.  Actually a tablet is a pretty personal choice. Instead give them a tech gift that they're certain to love, no matter what type of person they are. Here's where you can get your creative juices revving:  you’ll find gifts from $8.00 - $800, and something that certain to tickle the techie fancy of someone you love. We’re sure you’ll find an idea that you love.

    Dad:

    inflatable universal car rack from RepairLabs.com Tech Gifts Guide 2012

    • If the car doesn’t have luggage racks, this is an ingenious solution. Inflatables! Now dad can haul nearly anything up top.  Universal roof rack $89.99. Buy it here.
    golf swing analysis tool  from RepairLabs.com Tech Gifts Guide 2012

    Mom

    kalediscope  from RepairLabs.com Tech Gifts Guide 2012

    EyeVac Crumb vac from RepairLabs.com Tech Gifts Guide 2012
    • Eye Vac, just sweep the crumbs in its direction and it sucks them right up.  $99 Buy it here.
    Towel warmer  from RepairLabs.com Tech Gifts Guide 2012
    • Towel warmer for her spa day, or to warm the kids’ hats, mittens and gloves:  $89.99

    Boyfriend:

    Tankbot smartphone cubicle toys from RepairLabs.com Tech Gifts Guide 2012

    • Smartphone controlled tankbot for his cubicle; he’ll entertain his office buddies for hours.  Buy it here  for  $24.99

     

    Girlfriend

    Teen

    Portable Bluetooth Speaker from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

     

    Kid

    Bike Wheel Lights from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Bike wheel lights, graphics synthesizer, generates thousands of changing colors and patterns. Kids will ADORE this gizmo. And extra safety and visibility for parents’ peace of mind. A perfect tech gift! $50

    New Parents

    Self-folding Origami Stroller  from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • This stroller folds itself. FOLDS ITSELF. It also is lighted and charges your iPhone. Is there a tech gift new parents could love any more?  Oragami Stroller http://www.4moms.com/origami  $849.99

    Baby

    HTML for Babies Book from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    Gentleman

    Gentleman's Travel Charger Kit from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    Geek

    Ultimate Charging Stationfrom RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Get them the ultimate recharge station, the Kaynex Sydnee Smart Charging Station $149. It holds everything.

    Potterhead

    Team Don't Read Crappy Books Sweatshirt from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    Hipster

    Instant Digital Polaroid from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • It’s instant! It’s digital! It’s awwwesome!  $159. Your own personal hipster WILL want this instant digital camera.

    It Girl

    Subtle Sparkle iPhone Decoration oid from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • For the girl who has everything? Give her something no one else has. Custom Cemented iPhone Jewels in Subtle Sparkle.  $103 US dollars, but she’s gotta send in her phone across the pond, for this perfect tech gift. http://www.crystalskins.co.uk/atelier.html

    Motorhead

    Slime Flat Tire Emergency Repair Kit from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • The easy answer  when your favorite gearhead and motor-er gets a flat: Slime Safety Spair:$38 this special sealant will get them safely to somewhere they can replace a flat tire, in only 7 minutes!

    Caffeine Junkie

    8 Bit Heart Mug from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    Prepper/outdoorsman/Camper:

    Kinetic Power Charger for Devices from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Whether he’s getting ready for the zombie apocalypse, or just likes to keep his device with him out in the wild, this kinetic device charger: http://www.npowerpeg.com/ is the perfect find. $199.95

    Health Nut :

    My Blend Bottle Blenders  from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • They need to blend up their smoothie on the run? This blender actually attaches to the bottle, so they can grab and go.  My Blend Bottle Blender.  http://www.oster.com/myblend/  $29.99

    Foodie

    Digital Measuring Spoon from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Save time and energy measuring and weighing with this little doodad. Digital Spoon Measure - the  link to buy is  at the bottom - $25.85

    Pet

    Sensor Pet Water Fountain  from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Let your lil sweetie get a cool drink whenever he wants with a Doggie water fountain: $79.50. It senses when your pet comes up to it, so he can always have fresh water. Really great for labs who love to drink from the hose!

    Jock

    • Jawbone UP activity tracking wristband. Works with your smartphone to track sleep cycles and activity levels and goals 129.99 https://jawbone.com/up

    Belieber

    Heart Headphone Splitter from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Heart iPhone earbud splitter. Because where there’s one Belieber there is always another.  And they need to be able to share the beats too. $18

    Designer/Artist

    Inkling digital sketch pen from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    Gamer

    iPhone Joystick from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • For all of the retro joy of 8bit games! A guaranteed hit.  iPhone Joystick  $13.49

    Mr./Miss OCD

    Neatdesk description from RepairLabs.com 2012 Tech Gifts Guide

    • Neatdesk  $349.88 Scans business cards, receipts and full sized sheets of paper, and then instantly organizes them! SWEET.

     

    *All prices are accurate at the time of publishing, but we can’t guarantee that they won’t change. Good Luck, and Happy Shopping for great tech gifts that they will LOVE!

    by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

    This post was posted in Opinion, Tablets, Gifts, Tech, Blog Candy, Geek, What We Do, iPhone, iPad, Uncategorized and was tagged with every, person, type, gizmos, gadgets, Cyber Monday, gift, tech gifts, guide, Gifts

  • The Proof is in the Pixels--Displays: iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on November 7, 2012

    Pixels under Microscope: Nexus 7 vs  Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini from www.repairlabs.com

    The elite scientific RepairLabs team had so much fun testing tablet displays under the microscope that they decided to test some non-Apple (Android) devices for pixel density as well: the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7. Our last excursion under the microscope was such a hit we thought we’d check out a couple more devices.

    Though in our last post we didn’t find the iPad mini’s display to be terribly offensive in comparison with the Retina Display of the 4th generation iPad, it has been a major disappointment to some. And when the Android devices of the same size are available at much better prices, with far superior display specs, the average consumer faces a problem.   John Brownlee sums up the problem in his review of the iPad mini for Cult of Mac,

    “It’s maddening. Why did Apple release the iPad mini with a screen this terrible, especially when it’s competing with devices like the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kindle Fire 7 and the Galaxy 7 that aren’t just much cheaper but have displays that are so much superior for reading text?”

    In his article, Brownlee also calls out “optical fatigue” and text display as the major problems plaguing the iPad mini’s display. Granted, the display is less impressive, with iPad mini’s pixels roughly 1/3 larger than those of the iPad 4th generation.  But is it enough to be a deal-breaker when you’re deciding which 7-inch tablet you should buy? We put the three little tablets under the microscope to find out for ourselves whether there was really a difference.

     Nexus 7 vs. iPad mini 

     

    Pixels under Microscope: Nexus 7 vs iPad Mini from www.repairlabs.com

    The pixels of the Nexus 7 are noticeably smaller

    Let’s talk pixels per inch (ppi). The iPad mini has 163 pixels per inch, while the Nexus 7 clocks at 216. There’s a marked difference between the two, though the screen sizes are very similar, in that magic 7-inch range. And it bears out under the microscope. The two contrast starkly.

     

    Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini

     

    Pixels under Microscope: Kindle Fire HD vs iPad Mini from www.repairlabs.com

    A similar result to the Nexus 7...but could it be better?

     

    Another 7 inch tablet facing down the iPad mini. The Kindle Fire HD far outperforms the iPad mini’s display in terms of pixel density.  This time the Kindle Fire HD has 254ppi, and of course the mini’s resolution remains the same at 163ppi, and the story’s the same as with the Nexus 7 under the microscope.

     

     

    Kindle Fire HD v Nexus 7

     

    Pixels under Microscope: Kindle Fire HD vs Nexus 7 from www.repairlabs.com

    These 2 look mighty similar, but look close, the Fire's pixels are a teeny bit smaller.

    Testing the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 side by side under the microscope shows that they’re nearly identical. The Kindle Fire HD is indeed technically larger at 254 ppi, and the Nexus 7 has 216 ppi, or pixels per inch.  Under the microscope, though, they look pretty identical.

     

     

    BONUS: Kindle Fire HD v iPad 4th Generation with Retina Display Pixel Comparison

     

    Pixels under Microscope: Kindle fire HD v iPad 4 with Retina Display from www.repairlabs.com

    Surprisingly similar: Kindle Fire HD at 254ppi and the Retina Display at 264ppi

     

    Here’s the real kicker. Our blue ribbon winner for pixel size and density is the Kindle Fire HD. If you were paying attention to ppi from above, with 254 pixels per inch, it’s barely distinguishable from the drool-worthy iPad Retina Display of the 3rd and 4th gen iPads. That’s right, kids. Kindle Fire HD has a WAY better display and is $130 cheaper than then iPad mini.  However, the Nexus 7 isn’t far behind at 216ppi.

     

     

    Conclusion

    Granted, there are loads of other factors to consider in addition to simple pixel density to determine just how good a screen is. You must take into account viewing angle, color saturation, screen reflectance, color gamut, contrast and the depth at which the images seem to land on the glass of the displays. Some of these are intangibles are not easy to quantify or measure. But out of sheer pixel density and viewed up close, we can see a clear winner: for 7-inch tablets Kindle Fire HD is the best in display and price.

     

    Pixels under Microscope: Nexus 7 vs iPad Mini vs Kindle Fire HD from www.repairlabs.com

    And for those of you who like to see a side by side comparison.

     

    Additional Sources

    http://www.cultofmac.com/199749/the-ipad-minis-display-doesnt-stack-up-well-against-the-competition-but-theres-still-hope/

    http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/28/nexus-7-review/

    http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/pc-mac/tablets/amazon-kindle-fire-hd-7-1095316/review/2#articleContent

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2409367,00.asp

     

    by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

    This post was posted in Opinion, Tablets, Tech, What We Do, iPhone, iPad Accessories, iPad Tips, iPad, Uncategorized and was tagged with 7-inch tablet, screen resolution, screen, Nexus 7, pixel density, Kindle Fire HD, display, pixel, microscope, Retina Display, pixels, iPad mini

  • Retina Display Test: Under the Microscope

    Curtis Taylor Curtis Taylor
    Posted on November 2, 2012

     

    Here at RepairLabs.com, we thought we’d have some fun with the new iPad, iPad mini, and the microscope. With the long-awaited iPad mini going on sale today and with some of the rumors and hearsay flying about regarding its screen resolution, we thought we’d put all of the iPad generations under the microscope to see what’s really going on with the different display resolutions.  People are worried that once they have the Retina Display on other devices they’ll be spoiled and be unhappy with the iPad mini. And they may have a point. Anecdotes abound  of people giving up their lightweight and portable notebook computers in favor of the beautiful Retina display:

    “In short, I have become a pompous pixel ass. Thanks to Apple,” says Brooke Crothers @mbrookec, in his article describing the joys of Retina Display.

    We, as a screen consuming culture, thanks to Retina display, have come to recognize jaggies: those little jagged edges that the human eye can perceive on fonts and pictures where the individual pixels are visible, even if only just slightly, or if you have your nose to the screen.  And the real kicker is that once you start seeing pixels and jaggies, you can't stop. I’m seeing them now, typing.

    To illustrate the pixel difference though, presents a bit of a problem. Most of us still use screens that aren’t Retina Display, so showing you a picture from a Retina screen versus one from a standard screen will give you the same results. Jaggies.  So how can we illustrate and test the actual difference that you will see? We zoom in as close as we can go. In fact we’ve zoomed in to the actual pixels of each of the iPad screens to give you an idea of what you’ll be looking at.

    Under our 150 times zoom microscope, you’ll see each block of Red, Blue, and Green (a square of RGB, 3 blocks). Each of these three block are equal to one pixel.  The difference in displays is due in part to how many of each of these tiny blocks Apple can squeeze into one inch, or pixels per inch (ppi). (The other part are some very tricky and clever innovations on Apple’s part of how the screen actually functions.)  We’ve compared the Retina Display with each of the previous iterations of the iPad along with the new mini in order to give you an idea of what the difference between them is.

     

    iPad 1st Gen vs iPad with Retina Display (4th Gen)

     

    iPad 2nd Gen vs. 4th Gen with Retina Display under a microscope www.RepairLabs.com

    It looks like Pac Man vs Tron! Left: iPad 1. Right: iPad 4th Gen with Retina Display

    Here is our most dramatic example. You can see that the pixels of the  iPad 1st Gen are nearly double the size of the 4th with Retina Display. For every one grouping of the RGB block on the 1st Gen, you can see that 6 blocks of color (2 RGB groupings) fit into the same space. What does this add up to? Pixel density. The Retina Display packs more pixels in every punch.

     

    iPad 2nd Gen vs iPad with Retina Display (4th Gen)

     

    iPad 2nd Gen vs. iPad 4th Gen with Retina Display, pixels under a microscope www.RepairLabs.com

    Just check out the difference in pixel size!

    Again in this instance we can see that the iPad with Retina far out preforms the iPad 2nd Gen.  The displays on this device and the iPad 1st Gen are basically the same:  132 ppi.  On the iPad with Retina Display (4th Gen)  the pixels per inch are again 264. It’s literally double the amount of pixels than the earlier versions.

     

    iPad (3rd Gen) with Retina and iPad (4th Gen) with Retina.

     

    iPad 3 Gen vs. 4th Gen with Retina Display under a microscope www.RepairLabs.com

    Same size. Surprise.

    The much-maligned and befuddling 3rd Gen stopgap iPad is not all bad. Hated due to its inferior power and how quickly it became obsolete in in the wake of the 4th Gen announcement, it’s no slouch when it comes to display. In fact the displays of the two are identical, with identical resolutions of 2048 x 1536.  (The difference you see between these two pictured is that the 3rd Gen screen is displayed upside-down. Just to keep you on your toes.) At exactly the same magnification, the displays are identical.

     

    iPad mini vs 4th Gen.

     

    iPad 1st Gen vs. 4th Gen with Retina Display under a microscope www.RepairLabs.com

    At this point it looks like a major, deal-breaking difference, but wait...!

    The iPad mini is where things get interesting. Its smaller size necessitates a few sacrifices, and the Retina Display (at this point) simply cannot be made to fit the new small chassis, so to speak.  But lo! The difference between the iPad 4th Gen and the iPad mini is not that huge when examined under the microscope.  In fact, the pixels of the Retina Display are only 2/3 the size of the iPad mini. In the older iterations, the pixels of the 4th Gen are ½ the size of the older versions, or .50. Here, they’re a full 16% (.16, since the 4th Gen’s pixels are 1/3 or .66 of the size of the mini) larger in comparison. This means the difference between the two, is less noticeable. In fact, to the naked eye, it’s negligible. Why is this? Since it’s a smaller screen, the pixels are packed much more densely.

     

    iPad mini vs. 4th Gen with Retina Display under a microscope www.RepairLabs.com

    iPad mini pixel size breakdown, compared with Retina Display

     

    BONUS:  iPad mini vs. 2nd Gen

     

     

    iPad mini vs. iPad 2 (no Retina display on either) under a microscope www.RepairLabs.com

    A surprising difference here! Left: iPad mini. Right iPad 2nd Gen.

    But if you buy and iPad mini, are you going to be sad that you don’t have the glorious Retina display?

    So the question remains. Which device is the best to purchase, based solely on displays?  If price point is your major consideration, you’ll be choosing between the iPad mini, which costs $329, and the iPad 2nd Generation, a larger size for $399,  but without Retina Display. In theory, these displays should be basically equivalent.

    But when viewed under the microscope, you can see that the pixels of the mini are much smaller, it looks a little over half the size of the 2nd Gen (it measures in 81% of the 2nd Gen’s 132 ppi, to be exact).  The mini boasts 163 ppi, more than the 1st and 2nd generation iPads.  The pixels are packed much more densely into a smaller screen.

    “No, this isn't Retina, but maintaining the same resolution as a 10-inch display shrunken down to 7.9 means a necessary boost in pixel density: 163ppi,”

     

    says Tim Stevens of Engadget in his  review of the iPad mini.

     

    In Conclusion:

    We must keep in mind that, as Gary Marshall (@garymarshall) points out  in his definitive article on Retina Display:

    “When Apple talks about a Retina display it's not referring to a worldwide standard or a set of specifications. It's actually just a marketing term, and it simply means that the screen has sufficient pixel density, so that when you look at it normally, you can't make out all the individual pixels.”

     

    We must remember that viewing distance is always a factor, and what looks pixelated at 2 inches from your nose won’t look pixelated 15 inches away. So between all these devices it’s generally agreed that Apple has mastered the art of creating a beautiful screen.  What’s the difference between devices? Much smaller pixels, packed much more densely into an area. That’s basically what you’re getting when you’re paying for Retina Display. And many will swear up and down that it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT.  After all, Retina Display boasts as many as 3.1 million pixels, better than an HDTV.

     

     

     

    Additional Sources:

     

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/11/1/3585082/13-inch-macbook-pro-with-retina-display-review

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/14/2870533/ipad-review

    http://www.apple.com/ipad/design/

     

    UPDATE: Sorry for the confusion, folks. I managed to "dyslexic" my right and left on that last image there. I've updated it, so that now it is correct.  Thanks, astute readers!

    by , Tech Expert, Freelance Writer.

    Retina Display Test: Under the Microscope

    This post was posted in Opinion, Tablets, Tech, What We Do, iPhone, iPad Rumors, iPad, Uncategorized and was tagged with display, Retina, Apple, pixel, density, microscope, Retina Display, pixels, iPad mini, LCD, tablet, iPad

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