Computers

Explaining OLED screens and Dark Mode

Why that screen fits in the dark

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Most of the applications you’re currently using must have rolled out their own version of dark mode by now. The smooth transition from a light to dark interface can be done through a push of a button, or by sending the moon emoji on Messenger. A lot of people also find dark mode quite sexy, and that’s probably because of the screen they’re looking at.

A lot of newly released smartphones now have OLED screens, and dark mode seems to work best on such displays! But why is that? How do OLED panels allow dark mode to flourish?


Better, blacker, affordable screens

Organic LED (light-emitting diode) or OLED is essentially a kind of display technology. In a nutshell, OLED panels allow for better and clearer images and colors.

Thin layers of carbon fiber make up OLED screens. Because of these lightweight fibers, screens show brighter and more vibrant colors. Apart from that, OLED screens show deeper blacks and reduce instances of motion blur when navigating. The best part is that OLED screens are becoming gradually cheaper to manufacture. That explains why more and more of today’s smartphones use this panel.

More colorful than the rest

In comparison to regular LED screens of the past, OLED promises more accurate colors by producing light from individual pixels, instead of relying on backlighting. Back then, LCD screens relied heavily on the backlight of the display to make colors pop. Although, such displays also make the colors seem washed, especially when compared to OLED.

Image credit: Denise Chan

However, OLED’s colors don’t always turn out better than on LED and LCD screens. One such case is when you turn your screen’s brightness to its maximum, especially under strong daylight conditions. LED and LCD screens are designed to perform relatively better in color accuracy when your screen’s brightness is set to max. OLED screens were not designed for maximum brightness, so colors at that point would be saturated.

Which OLED is best?

There are two types of OLED technologies that currently exist: AMOLED and PMOLED. A lot of people hear AMOLED tossed around a lot because lots of smartphones use it. Essentially, AMOLED uses a storage capacitor that controls how much light each individual pixel will give off. It’s the one responsible for projecting all sorts of vibrant colors on most OLED smartphone screens. Apart from that, AMOLED screens do support wider resolutions at a more affordable and efficient rate.

PMOLED, on the other hand, does not have a storage capacitor and instead relies on user control. Essentially, the user will control lighting settings, and the individual pixels will adjust accordingly. You can find PMOLED screens on smaller devices like older iPods and pocket Wi-Fi devices. Take note that these screens use more power to implement such color changes.

Joining the dark side

Ever since dark mode rolled out for different apps and interfaces, people have been contemplating on switching to it — and for good reason. On normal LED or LCD screens, the new feature does not bode well with the technology. The depth of the black their dark mode possesses is not reflected well, to the point that the blacks look more gray than actual black. This is much more obvious when the screen’s brightness is turned all the way up.

Image credit: Mike Enerio

Aesthetically, dark mode looks better on OLED screens because of the technology’s emphasis on deeper blacks. Most OLED screens have capacitors that control light passing through each pixel, which also works for blacks and whites. As such, dark mode shows up deeper and blacker, which is the intended look compared to regular modes. But, there’s actually more to just aesthetics for this mode.

It’s also been proven that dark mode on OLED helps save your battery life. Google confirmed this at its Android Dev Summit, citing that on max brightness, blacks consume less power than all other colors. Individual pixels need less electricity to show blacks on screen, which results in lower power consumption through time. Note that Google got these findings through tests on their original Pixel smartphones and their own apps like YouTube.

What’s left for OLED and dark mode

Apps and operating systems are now starting to embrace or consider incorporating dark mode into their software. While apps like Twitter and YouTube introduced such an option early on, others are beginning to take notice. Of course, you’re gonna need the right screen to fully immerse yourself.

Image credit: Simone Dalmeri

It has been proven: OLED and dark mode are indeed a perfect match. But, it is entirely up to you whether you want to stay in the light or switch to the dark side.

Computers

Raspberry Pi 4 offers more power for the same price

Now with support for 4K

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Image credit: Raspberry

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the fourth version of its popular and very useful miniature budget computer. The Raspberry Pi 4 keeps the same form-factor and starting price of its predecessor, but it has more power to offer. This would mean wider applications and nifty inventions for those who like to tinker with a Raspberry Pi.

The most notable upgrade of the Raspberry Pi 4 is its CPU. The new chipset features faster and more efficient four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. This will deliver three times better performance. Memory has also seen an upgrade from the LPDDR2 standard to LPDDR4. It now comes with up to 4GB of memory, which is four times that of any previous Pi.


Complementing the new CPU is a better GPU. The new VideoCore VI GPU can handle 4K/60fps HEVC video playback. It can support dual-monitor setups at up to 4K resolution as well using the micro HDMI ports. Moreover, the board now has two USB 3.0  and two USB 2.0 ports, and now charges via USB-C.

Image credit: Raspberry

As for wireless connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi. Additionally, there’s a Gigabit Ethernet for an even faster internet connection.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is available starting today through Approved Resellers worldwide and directly at the Raspberry Store. It comes with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM for US$ 35, US$ 45, and US$ 55, respectively.

SEE ALSO: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

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Computers

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does

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As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.

Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.


In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:

Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products

Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills. The same program allows you to recycle or send back used ink cartridges responsibly as well.

If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.

Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, straws

Photo from Dell

To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).

For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.

More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they use also grows near their manufacturing facilities.

In 2011, Dell started developing cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics like straws back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.

The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.

Ink made of smog

Photo from Chakr Innovations

Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.

A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.

Backpack made of recycled windshields

Photo from Dell

Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.

Jewelry made of used computers

Photo from Dell

In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.

Photo from Dell

Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.

Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.

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Computers

AMD launches Ryzen 9 3950X and Radeon RX 5700 series

With competitive pricing

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Image credit: AMD

Between all the video game announcements made during E3 2019, AMD took the stage to introduce new CPUs and GPUs to power all these new PC titles.

The most prominent is the Ryzen 9 3950X, AMD’s newest 16-core, 32-thread 7nm desktop CPU. It has a base clock of 3.5GHz and boost clock of 4.7GHz. A generous 72MB cache complements the high-speed processing.


More interesting, however, is its 105W TDP, which is well below the industry standard for this many cores. Normally, we’d see a TDP of over 150W in same-class CPUs, even in AMD’s own Threadripper lineup.

Its US$ 749 retail price might seem a little steep at first, but compared to Intel’s equivalent offerings, it’s a fairly good deal. It’ll arrive in September this year.

If you can’t wait that long, AMD already has a bunch of Ryzen 3000-series CPUs available from Computex 2019. Here’s a refresher of their prices:

On the graphics side, AMD announced two new cards: the Radeon RX 5700 XT and Radeon RX 5700. They’ll feature the new RDNA architecture. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’ll be part of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles.

Like the Ryzen 9 mentioned earlier, these two graphics cards own an efficient yet powerful 7nm process. The XT model retails for US$ 449 while the non-XT variant goes for US$ 379.

Key specs include 40 compute units for the XT and 36 for the non-XT, up to 9.75 TFLOPs for the XT and 7.95 TFLOPs for the non-XT, plus 8GB for both models. Unfortunately, neither support ray tracing.

While these GPUs aren’t mind-blowing by any measure, they do give NVIDIA a run for their money in the upper-midrange market. Both cards will ship beginning July 7.

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