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Handhelds Hardware

Palm Ships With 12-bit Screen, Says 16-Bit On Box 326

Posted by timothy
from the short-memories dept.
Launch was among the many readers to point out that "Palm recently announced that they made a mistake in their product description of the m130... it doesn't have the 16-bit screen they advertised. Rather then admit the mistake, Palm is using every ounce of their spinning power to mislead its less tech-savy customers into believing that the palm m130 can display 58,621 'color combinations' rather then the 'more than 65,000 colors' it had previously stated; only a 11% difference. This tricky language is meant to shade the fact that a 12-bit screen can only display 4,096 colors... that's a 93% difference." Have they not learned from the mistakes of history? On the other hand, the screen resolution is 160x160 pixels.
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Palm Ships With 12-bit Screen, Says 16-Bit On Box

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  • by Vortran (253538) <aol_is_satan@hotmail.com> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @07:36AM (#4117804) Homepage
    Calling Mr. Muris! Mr. Muris? Are you there?

    I do believe reading a quote from Tim where he said that the FTC will not tolerate companies not living up to their promises and misrepresenting their products.

    I'll be very curious to learn if we get any FTC action on this.

    .sig - Would not a Microsoft employee, by any other name, smell the same?
    Vortran out
  • Re:Poor Service (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Angry White Guy (521337) <CaptainBurly[AT]goodbadmovies.com> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @07:45AM (#4117839)
    If they wanted to save money, they could just send out a coupon to all the owners who filled out their little registration card. $50 off the latest and greatest Palm. Most people would already have a PDA and not want a new one, and the majority of the warranty cards would go unreturned anyways.
    The appearance of doing the right thing, they save some money, and maybe the coupons will get circulated to someone who doesn't have a PDA, thereby getting a potential customer away from Handspring or HP...
  • Original pics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Draoi (99421) <draiocht@ m a c .com> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @07:51AM (#4117860)
    Here [geocities.com] are the original pics that broke the story on the Palm message boards ..

    And, yeah, I do have a Palm M130. My partner recently bought a re-con Handspring at Fry's and I was amazed at the qualitative difference of the tro screens .... *grr*

  • Blending techniques (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hugesmile (587771) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @07:51AM (#4117861)
    But by using blending techniques, the company can display 58,621 "color combinations -- approximately 11 percent fewer color combinations than we had originally believed" on the m130 handheld, said Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak.

    I wonder if those blending techniques amount to bleed from one pixel to another, and it's actually poor quality and the user's eyes that are doing the blending.

    I imagine those SAME blending techniques would yield 65536 x 65536 colors in 16-bits, and so they are actually significantly more than 99% off the specification.

    ok, graphics geeks... factor 58,621. You get 31 x 31 x 61. Looks like 5-bits, 5-bits, and 6-bits, blended. I'm wondering how they came up with that number of colors! Any ideas?

  • "I do believe reading a quote from Tim where he said that the FTC will not tolerate companies not living up to their promises and misrepresenting their products. I'll be very curious to learn if we get any FTC action on this."

    Perhaps it is about time to file a complaint [ftc.gov] with the FTC and see what they think of Palm and this misleading advertising.

  • by joshtimmons (241649) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @07:56AM (#4117884) Homepage
    The only thing I can come up with is that it's 31*31*61. (Obviously not a coincidence)

    16 bit color would be 32*32*64.

    12 bit color would be 16*16*16.

    When they refer to color combinations, they can't be possible color values for adjacent pixels - that would be a huge number.

    Any ideas?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:02AM (#4117912)
    The resolution of the screen is 160x160 -- that's 25,600 pixels. How can 50,000+ colors be displayed in 25,600 pixels??

  • Re:Poor Service (Score:2, Interesting)

    by goonies (227194) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:03AM (#4117916)
    It's not even necessary to recall all the PDAs and repack them. Simply send out Stickers that say 12bit Display and tell the sellers to put one on every box. Plus maybe a handout that informs of the "typo" in the handbook.
  • Re:Excuse me? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gilroy (155262) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:38AM (#4118081) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:

    Why is everyone jumping on Palm about this?

    Because Palm took a universally-understood benchmark -- bit depth in colour -- and advertised an incorrect value. That's either incompetence or dishonesty. Then, when caught, they suddenly want to redefine the universally-accepted benchmark into something that is more palatable to them but incomprehensible to everyone else.


    Both the original error/lie and the spin are designed to obfuscate and make it harder to make a rational, intelligent decision. This, to me, implies that even Palm feels it cannot compete on a level playing field... which is why Palm is off my list for my next handheld.

  • by MoTec (23112) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:26AM (#4118433)
    It's not even as complex as switching colors rapidly. They are talking about dithering. If you have a grid of four pixels and you change those four pixels you can get a variety of colors in the larger space those four pixels occupy.

    It's just plain BS on Palm's part.
  • Re:take action (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zoombat (513570) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @10:58AM (#4119255)
    I think maybe it would help to rephrase your letter such that it gives Palm some way to say, "Oops, you're right, that was stupid. We'll change our behavior." and then perhaps get your business back. Otherwise I'd say you're less likely to motivate them towards change. For example if you said something like "I just wanted to let you know that your deliberate attempt to conceal the truth has convinced me that I will withdraw my support of Palm by refusing to buy any one of its products until you ______."

    Otherwise they might just think "Well, we already lost everyone who we're going to lose with this, why bother changing now if we aren't going to get them back by changing, and we're not going to lose anyone else by staying course?"

    I think you've got to give them the benefit of the doubt (if they back off and do what you think is right) and write it off as something that some marketing schmutz made a mistake on that the company doesn't stand behind. On the other hand if you think this 12-bit thing is an example of a systemic Palm, Inc. problem, then you need to site other examples that back up your idea, rather than just blaiming it all on this one issue.
  • "tricky language" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drobbins (6287) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @11:42AM (#4119606) Homepage
    You'll notice that 3Com says that two techniques are used to turn this 12-bit screen into a pseudo-16-bit screen. The first of these techniques is "frame rate techniques," in which pixels are changed quickly between two colors in order to simulate a third color -- now, *if* this is being done *in hardware*, then I think it's fair for them to say that they have "x *effective* colors," where x > 4096.

    What gets me is when they have to fall back on mentioning dithering -- the process of using *multiple* pixels to simulate an intermediate color. I hope they are doing this in hardware and not relying on Palm developers to do it for them. :) Even so, unlike "frame rate techniques", I don't see "dithering" (even when done in hardware) as a means to boost their claim of the number of colors that their panel can display, because even hardware-based dithering will degrade the effective screen resolution.

    I think that people are interested in "bits per *pixel*." If 3Com wants to say "5 *effective* bits per pixel," (because they're using hardware-based pixel-flipping techniques) then I think that's acceptable. But if you're going to avoid mentioning pixels and start talking about "color combinations," then I think they've crossed the line of common sense and are trying to be deceptive. We don't care about how many possible colors we can display using 4 pixels -- we want to know how many we can display using *1 pixel*!

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie

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