Saturday, February 23, 2013

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

How the HTC One's Camera Bucks the Trend in Smartphone Imaging

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 01:08 PM PST

Now that we’ve seen the HTC One camera announcement, I think it’s worth going over why this is something very exciting from an imaging standpoint, and also a huge risk for properly messaging to consumers.

With the One, HTC has chosen to go against the prevailing trend for this upcoming generation of devices by going to a 1/3.0" CMOS with 2.0 micron pixels, for a resulting 4 MP (2688 × 1520) 16:9 native image size. That’s right, the HTC One is 16:9 natively, not 4:3. In addition the HTC One includes optical image stabilization on two axes, with +/- 1 degree of accommodation and a sampling/correction rate of 2 kHz on the onboard gyro. Just like the previous HTC cameras, the One has an impressively fast F/2.0 aperture and 5P (5 plastic element) optical system. From what I can tell, this is roughly the same 3.82 mm (~28mm in 35mm effective) focal length, slightly different from the 3.63 mm of the previous One camera. HTC also has included a new generation of ImageChip 2 ISP, though this is of course still used in conjunction with the ISP onboard the SoC, and HTC claims it’s able to do full lens shading correction for vignetting and color, in addition to even better noise reduction, and realtime HDR video. Autofocus is around 200ms for a full scan, I was always impressed with AF speed the previous cameras had, this is even faster. When it comes to video HTC apparently has taken some feedback to heart and finally maxed out the encoder capabilities for the APQ8064/8064Pro/8960 SoC, which is 20 Mbps H.264 high profile.

HTC One Camera Specifications
Device HTC One
Sensor Size and Type 1/3" BSI CMOS
Resolution 4.0 MP 16:9 Aspect Ratio (2688 x 1520)
Focal Length 3.82mm
F/# F/2.0
Optical System 5P
OIS 2-axis +/- 1 degree, 2 kHz sampling
Max Capture Rate 8 FPS continual full res capture
Video Capture 1080p30, 720p60, 720p30, 1080p28 HDR, 768x432 96FPS
H.264 High Profile, 20 Mbps

The previous generation of high end smartphones shipped 1.4 micron pixels and a CMOS size of generally 1/3.2“ for 8 MP effective resolution. This year it seems as though most OEMs will go to 1.1 micron pixels on the same 1/3.2” size CMOS and thus get 13 MP of resolution, or choose to stay at 8 MP and absorb the difference with a smaller 1/4" CMOS and thinner optical system. This would give HTC an even bigger difference (1.1 micron vs 2.0 micron) in pixel size and thus sensitivity. It remains to be seen whether other major OEMs will also include OIS or faster optical systems this generation, I suspect we’ll see faster (lower F/#) systems from Samsung this time, some rumored images showed EXIF data of F/2.2 but nothing else insightful. Of course, Nokia is the other major OEM pushing camera, but even they haven’t quite gone backwards in pixel size yet, but they’ve effectively been in a different category for a while. We’ve already seen some handset makers go to binning (combining a 2x2 grid of pixels into one effective larger pixel) but this really only helps increase SNR and average out some noise rather than fundamentally increase sensitivity.

The side by sides that I took with the HTC One alongside a One X so far have been impressive, even without final tuning for the HTC One. I don’t have any sample images I can share, but what I have seen has gotten me excited about the HTC One in a way that only a few other devices (PureView 808, N8, HTC One X) have so far. Both the preview and captured image were visibly brighter and had more dynamic range in the highlights and shadows. So far adding HDR to smartphones has focused not so much on making images very HDR-ey but rather as a mitigation to recover some dynamic range and make smartphone images look more like what you’d expect from a higher end camera. Moreover, not having to use flash in low light situations is a real positive, something which currently adds a false color cast if you’re using a device with an LED.

Understanding Camera Optics & Smartphone Camera Trends, A Presentation by Brian Klug

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 01:04 PM PST

Recently I was asked to give a presentation about smartphone imaging and optics at a small industry event, and given my background I was more than willing to comply. At the time, there was no particular product or announcement that I crafted this presentation for, but I thought it worth sharing beyond just the event itself, especially in the recent context of the HTC One. The high level idea of the presentation was to provide a high level primer for both a discussion about camera optics and general smartphone imaging trends and catalyze some discussion.

For readers here I think this is a great primer for what the state of things looks like if you’re not paying super close attention to smartphone cameras, and also the imaging chain at a high level on a mobile device.

Read on for the full presentation!


Samsung's TV Discovery Service Enables TV to Smartphone/Tablet Streaming

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 12:17 PM PST


I'm not entirely sure I understand the point of MWC this year if everyone is going to pre-empt the show with announcements of their own (or in the case of the Galaxy S 4, wait until after the show to announce). Samsung does join the list of companies that are unveiling announcements prior to the show with the disclosure of its TV Discovery service. 
Samsung is in a very unique position in that it is not only a SoC, NAND, display and DRAM maker, but also a significant player in the smartphone, tablet and TV space. If any company is well positioned to understand the needs of the market, it's Samsung.
With its fingers in many pots, Samsung quickly recognized a strong relationship between smartphone/tablet usage in conjunction with simply watching TV. This lead to Samsung outfitting many of its devices with an IR emitter, like with the Galaxy Note 10.1. If your tablet is out while you're watching TV, you might as well use your tablet to control your TV as well.
To increase available synergies between smartphone/tablet and TV, Samsung launched its TV Discovery service. Samsung's TV Discovery is a combination of software and hardware that simply lets you get a good feel for what content you have available to watch on TV as well as aggregated from online streaming sources such as Netflix and Blockbuster. Like many other attempts at TV/PC or TV/gadget convergence, TV Discovery attempts to solve the problem of having tons of content spread across many services by presenting it all in a single app on your smartphone or tablet. 
TV Discovery will also have a personalization component as well, to suggest content for you to watch based on your preferences.
The software side isn't anything super unique, as we've seen many attempts at this before.  I don't know that another software aggregation service is going to dramatically change anything, but before we reach perfection there are always many iterations of attempts that we have to live through.
Devices equipped with an IR emitter will be able to serve as universal remote controls, just as before. 
What is most unique about Samsung's TV Discovery service however is the integration with Samsung TVs. With all 2013 SMART TVs, Samsung is promising the ability to stream content from your TV Discovery enabled smartphone/tablet to your TV and vice versa. Getting content from your smartphone or tablet onto your TV is nothing new, but we haven't had a good way of getting TV content onto your mobile device. Obviously you'll need a Samsung TV for this to work, as well as the Samsung smartphone/tablet, but it's an intriguing leverage of Samsung's broad device ecosystem.
You can expect to see the TV Discovery app ship on 2013 Samsung mobile devices as well as 2013 Samsung SMART TVs.

GeForce Titan Pre-Order Available

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 09:31 AM PST

This week saw the launch of NVIDIA's latest and greatest single GPU consumer graphics card, the GeForce Titan. Priced at a cool grand ($1000), the Titan isn't the sort of video card that every hobbyist and gamer can buy on a whim. Instead, NVIDIA is positioning it as an entry-level compute card (e.g. it's about one third the price of a Tesla K20), or an ultra-high-end gaming card for those who simply must have the best. We expect to see quite a few boutiques selling systems equipped with Titan, and indeed we've seen press releases from all the usual suspects.

This is as good a place as any to list those, so here's a short list, with estimated pricing based on a custom configured PC at each vendor. (I'm sure there are other vendors selling Titan as well; this is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list.)

  • AVADirect includes Titan as an option in many of their custom desktop systems, with a price of $1067 per GPU.
  • Falcon Northwest has Titan available in their SFF Tiki that Anand previewed this week, as well as their full desktop Talon and Mach V desktops. Titan adds $1095 per GPU to the cost of a FNW system.
  • iBUYPOWER currently has the Titan in their Revolt SFF, which Dustin recently reviewed. Pricing is $1111 per GPU, because that's such a cool number I guess. Titan is also available in their custom configured desktops
  • Maingear has a variety of desktop systems now available for configuration with Titan, with the GPUs adding $1090 each to the cost of the system.
  • OriginPC has both Genesis and Chronos systems with Titan; Ryan previewed the Genesis earlier this week while the Chronos goes after the SFF market. They appear to be charging $1156 per Titan GPU, but they're also one of the first (if not the only) vendor with liquid-cooled Titan availabe.

Obviously that's a higher cost per GPU at every one of the above vendors, and if you've already got a fast system you probably aren't looking to upgrade to a completely new PC. For those looking to buy a Titan GPU on it's own, Newegg is now listing a pre-order of the ASUS Titan at the $999 MSRP. The current release date is listed as February 28, so next Thursday. We expect EVGA and some other GPU vendors to also show up some time in the next week, and we'll update this list as appropriate.

The AnandTech Podcast: Episode 17

Posted: 22 Feb 2013 05:42 AM PST

We managed to get in one more Podcast before Brian and I leave for MWC 2013 today. With the number of major announcements that happened in the past week, we pretty  much had to find a way to make this happen. On the list for discussion today are the new HTC One, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX Titan, Tegra 4i and of course the Sony PlayStation 4. Enjoy!

The AnandTech Podcast - Episode 17
featuring Anand Shimpi, Brian Klug & Dr. Ian Cutress

RSS - mp3m4a
Direct Links - mp3m4a

Total Time: 1 hour 9 minutes

Outline - hh:mm

HTC One - 00:00
NVIDIA's GeForce GTX Titan - 00:20
NVIDIA's Tegra 4i - 00:42
Sony's PlayStation 4 - 00:52

As always, comments are welcome and appreciated. 

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