postheadericon ECS: Behind The Screens...


If you haven't been living under a rock these past few years, you know that the latest whiz-bang gadgets to hit the market are really cool tablets and smartphones. But what makes them so? Here is a quick look at these devices behind the screens... 

Under the brushed metal and glass cases of our new phones and tablets are some pretty amazing inventions of late: tiny but powerful microprocessors, high-resolution touch screens and teeny but large-in-capacity memory modules. Basically everything you had in your old desktop, but shrunk down as if popped out from the classic Disney movie, "Honey I Shrunk The Kids." 

For example, powering the newest of Samsung Galaxy phones this year will be quad-core processors like non other ever seen in a phone before: the Exynos 4412. This chip runs at 1.5GHz and with its four cores rivals the computing power of many laptops on the market. With all this horsepower in a phone, you would be right of wondering how your phone's battery will last more than a few hours, but that's the amazing breakthrough: Tech giants like Apple and Samsung have figured out how to infuse the power of a laptop into a smartphone or tablet processor, and still get 7-10 hours out of one charge. 

Innovations in tablet and phone displays are also driving up sales of these "mini-computers." Apple's new Retina Display introduced in phones and iPads this year comes to the mind's eye - in brilliant clarity! The new 9.7" screen in the third generation iPad has a display resolution of 2047 x 1536, and that puts over 3 million pixels on display. To put this innovation into perspective, that's twice the resolution of your new LED HD TV, and 50 times the resolution of the first computer monitor that I used back in 1984. So it's no surprise that eyeballs are flocking to these devices for picture and movie viewing, as well as easing eyestrain when reading paper-based magazines and books. 

Coupled with the amazing displays we see in today's devices, we now have gyros and accelerometers built in, which you may remember from science class in school are fundamentally different things. But when combined into one unit, can do some pretty amazing tricks. For example, your newer smartphone not only knows where you are in relation to any spot on earth (gyro), it can track your real-time movement from one spot to the next, and even measure the speed at which you are travelling (accelerometer). And of course, this opens other possibilities even when standing still, as your device can now be tilted and moved about, acting as a game controller or whatever else the whiz-bang programmers can think up. 

Another grand innovation and underlying technology making your smartphone or tablet zing these days is what's been done with mobile memory. You already know about how flash memory cards, like SD and SD Micros, help you store your photos and videos while not inserted, but the built-in memory inside your tablet or phone (LPDDR) is what allows for near instant response when you hit the power button or tap on an app. This memory uses very little power, gives off of hardly any heat, and transfers data twice as fast as the memory found in your laptop or desktop today. The size of these chips has been steadily decreasing (1GB fits on your thumbnail), while the market is ever increasing: over $16 billion USD made in just that year alone.

Even the outside of tablets and phones has been graced with some amazing tech in this new age of mobile computing: amorphous alloy technology and Gorilla Glass™ are combining to make your device impervious to scratches, smashes and corrosion, as well as making them light like feathers. Amorphous alloys used in devices today (and more to come in the future) have twice the strength of Titanium. And with the malleability of common plastics, tomorrow's devices using this tech will become near indestructible. 

So the next time you pick up your gadget, think about this behind-the-screens look, and imagine what's to come - as even what I've mentioned above is fast becoming obsolete.

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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