Category: Peripherals

Sales of PC monitors slump

IBM PCWhile 29 million PC monitors shipped worldwide in the first quarter of this year, the figures show a decrease of 12 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

IDC said the figures were 1.5 percent less than it previously forecast and it expects the decline to continue, at least in the short term.

It now expects a year on year decline of 3.4 percent in shipments for the second quarter of this year, with a total of 120 million units shipping for the full year.

LED backlight technology dominates the market, with a 98.5 percent share in the first quarter. And 21.5-inch screens have the biggest share in terms of size, for the tenth consecutive quarter. That size showed a 23.8 percent increase during the first quarter.

Dell is the number one vendor for the quarter, with a 15.8 percent market share, amounting to over 4.6 million units.

Samsung showed a big decline of 13.3 percent in the quarter, but nevertheless hung onto the number two position. Third was LG Display, and fourth was Lenovo, with a 9.1 percent share worldwide.

Samsung SSD TRIMs data

Samsung-SSD-ActivatedSamsung may have inadvertently trimmed their sales. A story on StorageServers yesterday suggests that Samsung’s SSDs “could be wiping data” due to the SSD Controller’s improper functioning of the TRIM command.

The TRIM command allows the Operating System to inform a Solid State Drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be erased. The Trim command was introduced soon after SSDs started to become an affordable alternative to traditional hard disks.

Because low-level operation of SSDs differs significantly from hard drives, the typical way in which operating systems handle operations like deletes and formats resulted in unanticipated progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs.
Trimming enables the SSD to handle garbage collection overhead, which would otherwise significantly slow down future write operations.

According to StorageServers, an engineer with Algolia claimed to have discovered the bug in the way in which the drive reallocates blocks of data. Instead of zeroing areas which contain previously deleted data as they are supposed to, the drives appear to be deleting 512 byte blocks in “random locations on the drive” resulting in corruption of large file systems and near total erasure of small files. Hope of recovering the data was reported as “a tedious task” at best.

Samsung SSD models confirmed with the problem are:

  • Samsung MZ7WD480HCGM-00003(SM843TN)
  • Samsung MZ7GE480HMHP-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung MZ7GE240HMGR-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series
  • Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB

Samsung recently issued a firmware update to fix problems with the 840 EVO SSD which exhibited slow read speeds. A new team has been assigned to look into the TRIM data erasure/corruption problem and will be issuing an update shortly.

TechEye Take

Samsung does not like stains like this and will break out the reserves to not only fix the problem but also ensure that it does not re-occur.

We are trying to find out whether any of the affected drives contain any of Samsung’s 3D NAND-Flash devices.  They are not indicated as having any part in the reported problem.

It will be interesting to see whether this will have a positive effect on their competitors ‘share price on Monday’s market open…,

4K TV panel sales go through the roof

old-school-tvUS analyst company IHS has confirmed other reports about the future of 4K TV – the technology is going through a boom period right now and into 2016.

In case you don’t get the picture, 4K ultra HD televisions can show as many as eight million pixels per screen compared to two million for 1080p Full HD.

IHS said that in 2016, one of five TVs will use 4K TV panels – that’s down to people wanting high definition images as well as better production from the companies that make the panels.

And, according to senior analyst Linda Lin, prices of the panels began to fall in 2014 and earlier this year. She said most TV brands now have 4K UHD products.

South Korean companies are now leading the race to produce panels with LG Display and Samsung the biggest manufacturers worldwide.

IHS said shipments of 4K TV panels were over three million units in April this year – that’s 14 percent of all TV panels.

Toshiba gets a Cortina button

1024px-Ford_Cortina_KTO959EToshiba is introducing a Cortina button into their keyboards as a convenient way to call up the Windows 10 virtual assistant.

Cortina is an intelligent personal assistant which is Microsoft’s answer to SIRI.  By all accounts the software is rather good and the idea of having a button to call it up could make it really useful.

Jeff Barney, the general manager and vice president in charge of Toshiba America’s PC business said that the Cortina key will be on all of Toshiba’s Windows 10 PCs—“across the board, top to bottom,” he said.

The key will be located on the upper left area of the keyboard, near the function keys, he said.

Toshiba hopes that the move will separate itself from other hardware releases made on the back of Windows 10.  It is a good idea though and other suppliers are certain to follow.


Apple launches iWatch in more countries

Apple WatchAlthough Apple has not said exactly how well its watch has done since its debut, it said today it will introduce the gadget in seven more countries on the 26th of June.

But Jeff Williams, a senior VP at Apple, said: “The response to Apple Watch has surpassed our expectations in every way.”

He said the machine will be introduced in Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan at the end of the month.

Williams said: “We’re also making great progress with the backlog of Apple Watch orders. All orders placed through May, with the sole exception of Apple Watch 42 mm Space Black Stainless Steel with Space Black Link Bracelet, will ship to customers within two weeks.”

He said that it will also begin selling some models in its Apple stores, although he did not specify exactly which models and which stores.

He said that there have already been thousands of apps created for the unit.

Wearables market continues to grow

WatchNot everyone will want to have a computer on a tie or a blood pressure monitor in their socks, but according to a report on the marketplace, wearable devices really are beginning to take off.

IDC said vendors shipped 11.4 million wearable devices in the first quarter of this year, that’s up 200 percent from the same quarter last year.

But the big question is how well the Apple iWatch is going to do. And IDC still thinks the jury is out in this case.

What’s clear, however, is there is considerable price erosion in the market with 40 percent of the devices now priced under $100. Apple’s offerings, of course, are considerably more expensive than that. Jitesh Ubrani, a senior analyst at IDC, said: “Apple’s entrance with a product priced at the high end of the spectrum will test consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for a brand or product that is the centre ofattention.”

Currently, the top five vendors in the first quarter are Fitbit, Xiaomi, Garmin, Samsung and Jawbone. Most of these are health related apart from Samsung’s Gear watch.

Here are IDC’s figures for the top five.

Sandisk steps into the external storage market

Sandisk extreme SSDsMemory company Sandisk said it has introduced a family of high performance flash drives including portable solid state drives (SSDs).

The families are called the Extreme 900 and the Extreme 500 portable SSDs – the latter being pocket sized rugged drives.

Sandisk claims the Extreme 900 will perform nine times faster than a portable hard drive while the Extreme 500 is up to four times faster.

The company is aiming the drives at photographers, film makers, and techn enthusiasts. The drives use USB 3.0. The 900 can deliver speeds of up to 850MB/s, it is claimed.

The Extreme 900s come in capacities of up to 1.92 terabytes (TB) which Sandisk said gives people an edge when they’re working with big multimedia files.

The Xtreme 500 comes in sizes of up to 480GB and can shunt data around at a claimed 415MB/s.

Pricing? The 500s at capacities of 120GB, 240GB and 480GB cost $100, $150 and $240 respectively.

The grown up 900s at capacities of 480GB, 960GB and 1.92TB cost $400, $600, and $1,000 respectively.

All drives carry a three year warranty.

Flexible OLED panels still too expensive

SamsungRigid LCD screens won’t be a thing of the past unless the makers of flexible panels get more price competitive.

The manufacturers of organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels are looking to make more flexible active matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) panels, according to a report from research company IHS.

We don’t have to spell out all the words in AMOLED again, but the leaders in manufacturing these flexible panels are Korean giants Samsung and LG Display.

Those two manufacturers are ramping up production of flexible panels this year and IHS thinks flexible shipments are set to grow exponentially.

The reason why flexible panels seem to be the order of the day is because IHS believes wearable and other form factors need them.

But the snag is that smartphone makers – presumably other than Samsung and LG – find AMOLED panels to be a little too expensive for their purposes.

Principal analyst Jerry Kang at IHS, said: “Smartphone makers were unhappy with the price of AMOLED panels, because higher priced performance AMOLED displays had lower sharpness than LTPS LCD displays with the same resolution. As the wide colour gamut of AMOLED displays has not been a major differentiation factor in the smartphone panel market, current AMOLED panels will eventually lose their appeal, unless prices decline further.”

Hardcopy sales take a dip

Hans GutenbergIn 1975 pundits were telling us we’d all soon be working in a paperless office but 40 years on that just isn’t the case.

And although the worldwide hardcopy market fell slightly in the first quarter of this year, the industry still managed to ship 25.8 million units, a decline of 2.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

IDC said inkjet still rules the roost compared to laser printers, but it’s in some laser segments that vendors are seeing growth.

Here are the top vendors in the quarter.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 11.37.47
Colour laser printers increased by two percent in the quarter while monochrome lasers fell by 3.1 percent. The best segment in that category is the 11 to 20 pages per minute (PPM) market and HP sold loads of Laserjet Pro M476 MFP (multifunction printers) in the quarter.

The next IDC chart shows how the printer versus MFP sectors compared in the quarter.


Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 11.37.12

Here comes a smarter watch than Apple’s

iType SmartwatchThe iType Smartwatch has an intelligent, extremely fast keyboard interface in a wrist-worn device. With iType, you not only receive messages, but most importantly, can type a response and run any Android app directly from your wrist. Kickstarter and Pepcom’s Mobile Focus served as its launching platforms with Ryan Ghassabian showing off the working product, writes Darleen Hartley.

Historically, the developing company, SnapKeys, invented state-of-the-art keyboards with a unique approach only to discover that QWERTY ruled the typing world. Through its subsidiary, Type Time, SnapKeys is taking its avant garde techniques to the mobile arena using that QWERTY design. It should prove disruptive.

Consider what one reviewer said of competitor Apple’s move into the smartwatch field: “The Apple Watch was a first generation product with bugs, quirks and confusions.” Look out Siri, there’s a better way. Even a whispered message isn’t as private as one that can be typed. No longer do you have to depend on voice recognition that doesn’t always recognise what you want to say. iType displays your developing message clearly on the watch face before you transmit it.

Six large buttons represent the three key rows of the familiar right and left hand QWERTY board. A few taps on the intuitive watch face quickly develops sentences ready for transmission. Other easy operations will make this strapped on device a must have. Simply pressing a button brings up a camera immediately ready to capture any unexpected, transient image.

Time counts and the fast, predictive app that drives the keyboard is a technique to be reckoned with, all on an Android device. If Apple wants to go head to head with iType’s keying capabilities, the industry headlines may be filled with court cases yet again, since all SnapKeys’ technologies are protected by a significant number of globally filed patents.

IType operates with both Wi-Fi and SIM cards. It lets you choose from all the apps available on Google Play. Surf the net, check your health stats, use GPS to find that new restaurant, mark a special date on your calendar, answer phone calls, and even listen to music via the device on your wrist. You can leave those other cumbersome devices at home.

Technology is inclusive: a dual core A7 processor, Android 4.4, a high-resolution 240 x 240 color display, 1G RAM, 8G ROM, Wi-Fi, GSM and WCDMA phone, camera, mic and speaker, Bluetooth, water resistant, all delivered in seven principal languages. Put that smartphone back in your pocket or purse. Conveniently carry the only, always at hand … uh, wrist … device you need.

Want one? Until June 11 on Kickstarter, the early bird price is only $184 USD. Once the $100,000 project is fully funded, the price will be $235, one hundred clams less than the cheapest version of Apple Watch.

Check iType out on Kickstarter.