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January 21, 2021
✨ Good morning! Among other very good things that happened yesterday: the mystery of why cats go crazy for catnip has been solved! Links below.
Samsung Display mass-producing 90Hz OLEDs for laptops
Samsung OLED lab activity
Samsung Display

Gamers sometimes need to game on a laptop: be it a lack of space, portability, a travel companion, and so on. I’m one of them: for me, it came down to portability when choosing something that could at least handle occasional PC gaming. Which, um, has turned out to be less useful in recent times.

But still gamers are choosing gaming laptops. And a small dilemma here has been around the display. Do you go for laptop with a high refresh rate IPS LCD screen (which goes all the way up to 300Hz in some mind-boggling cases), or do I get a laptop OLED with its inky blacks and deep contrast, but with a refresh rate capped at 60Hz, and miss out on faster FPS gaming?

Things are changing. Samsung Display announced today in a press release that it is working on that tradeoff, saying it will start mass-producing 90Hz OLED displays by March.

The details: 

  • Samsung Display’s CEO said that the company “will initially produce very large quantities of 14-inch, 90Hz OLED displays destined for laptops and notebooks, beginning in March.”
  • It’s noted that only laptops with a capable GPU will be able to drive the display, but that it should offer “high-speed performance on par” with that of 120Hz LCD.
  • And: “Several global IT companies are expected to release new laptops or notebooks with 90Hz OLED screens this year.”
  • In terms of how good 90Hz will be, Samsung cites the fast response time, claiming “practically” the same amount of blurring as a 120Hz LCD when displaying fast-moving graphics like a speeding car.
  • Samsung also claims the 90Hz OLED refresh rate “is actually 10X the fastest screen response time on the market today”.
  • What we don’t know is what Samsung is producing in terms of aspect ratio, or resolution. Nor did Samsung indicate any kind of costs, which is not unexpected. Nor any mention of burn-in mitigation.
  • And we didn’t see details on which OEMs will take up the display in 2021 laptops. 
  • Given the GPU requirements, and that the display is a first for mass-use, I wouldn’t expect a future, say, Razer or ASUS laptop boasting 90Hz OLED to be a bargain. But it will, hopefully, look very very nice.
Roundup

💻 Sony Xperia 10 III leak: an updated 10 II, with hints the headphone jack is here to stay (Android Authority).

💰 LG leaving ‘all possibilities open’ for mobile unit, as it mulls a sale or reconfiguration (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple has reportedly switched 2M units of production from iPhone 12 Mini to iPhone 12 Pro: Pro demand high, Mini demand low. That’s despite lots of love out there for the Mini, but it is more battery-limited, and the Pro camera features might be enticing (9to5Mac).

🌃 Even the new White House website offers dark mode, and a peek at the source code says ‘we’re hiring’ too, quote: “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better. https://usds.gov/apply” (Android Authority).

💉 Amazon offers its resources to Biden for COVID-19 vaccine rollout, starting with its “essential” workforce (TechCrunch).

🙄 3Mbps uploads still fast enough for US homes, Ajit Pai says in final report (Ars Technica).

🤔 Google hasn’t updated almost any of its iOS apps in more than a month, almost certainly to avoid Apple’s Privacy Labels which are now required. Google said a few weeks ago it was aiming to have this sorted by last week, so clearly, something is dragging on. Legals? PR/marketing ammunition when privacy labels reveal exactly what Google tracks? (MacRumors).

👉 Raspberry Pi Foundation launches a $4 microcontroller with custom chip (TechCrunch).

💸 Valve, Capcom & Bethesda fined $9.5M for “Geo-Blocking” PC games (Kotaku).

🔋 Porsche adds a cheaper, lighter Taycan to its electric lineup: almost 24 grand cheaper but still a Porsche Taycan, and only just under $20K cheaper than a 911! (Ars Technica).

🚀 SpaceX acquires former oil rigs to serve as floating Starship spaceports. It paid $7M for rigs now called Phobos and Deimos, and that were reportedly worth $1B (nasaspaceflight.com).

🍀😻 This study is telling us that the mystery of why cats go crazy for catnip has been solved: nepetalactol is a chemical found in the plant, and it prompts a strong trigger in “the opioid reward system in both domesticated felines and big jungle cats.” Also, it protects against mosquitoes (Eurekalert). Here’s the easier to read digest (Science).

🤔 “You die and the first thing you see in the afterlife are three buttons: “Next level”, “Spectate” and “Restart”. Which one do you press and why?” (r/askreddit).

Throwback Thursday

Back on January 19, 1999, BlackBerry released its first BlackBerry-branded device: the BlackBerry 850, an email pager, dropping the previously used Inter@ctive Pager name.

  • Even back in 1999, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie was touting productivity, privacy and security for BlackBerry devices. 
  • A strategy that worked well, until the iPhone.
  • Also, a random fact from Wikipedia: “The [BlackBerry] name was chosen due to the resemblance of the keyboard’s buttons to that of the drupelets that compose the blackberry fruit.”
  • And while this is a throwback, it’s only today that I learned what a drupelet is!

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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