As those of us in the northeast dig out from another weather disaster (and the rest of you thank your lucky stars to be dwelling in sunnier climes), take a break while we review the latest Apple iPhone and iPad rumors.
But first, happy President's Day and, more importantly for our purposes on TECH Goes Strong, happy Thomas Edison's birthday. America's most prolific inventor would have been 166 years young today if only he'd have invented an immortality machine.
Second, let's deal with that ad – the Amazon ad comparing its 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD with Apple's full-sized 9.7-inch iPad.
The ad, if you haven't seen it (see it here), intimates the Fire HD display is just as high-def as the Retina screen on the iPad, but costs $200 less, $499 to $299.
IMHO, this is a complete misrepresentation.
Yes, both have "HD" screens. But iPad's larger display has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 resolution with 264 pixels per inch (ppi) compared to Kindle's 1920 x 1200 pixels/254 ppi resolution.
The Kindle Fire HD doesn't even have the highest resolution display among e-reader tablets; that honor goes to the Barnes & Noble Nook HD+, which boasts 1920 x 1280 pixel resolution (the extra 80 pixels because the 9-inch Nook screen is slightly taller or wider, depending on how you hold it) with 256 ppi. Not that you'd be able to tell the difference, but still. Plus the Nook is $30 cheaper ($299 v. $269), although Amazon is offering $50 off the Kindle HD for a limited time.
In practical terms, this pixel differential means tiny text on the iPad is sharper and easier to read than on Kindle Fire HD. But that's pure jactitation – the fact is, the display on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD is NOT equal to the display on the iPad. Whether or not this or any other factors justify iPad's $200 (plus) price premium is arguable. But to imply the screens on the two devices are equal is just misleading, to my eyes and ears.
Now, onto the latest iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPad Mini rumors.
On Friday, a Chinese Web site reported someone ("a buddy" – use Google's Chrome browser to get an automatic translation of the Chinese blog page) saw the pending iPhone 5S and (praise be to the soul of Steve Jobs!) the iPhone 6, sporting a 5-inch screen.
Just an aside, I wish Apple would coordinate the screen size with the model number – iPhone 5 should have had a 5-inch screen.
In all events, this report should be taken with a gigantic grain of salt. Plus, late last month Apple CEO Tim Cook himself dismissed the possibility of a larger-screen iPhone, which doesn't make me happy.
But some analysts have been pushing Apple to compete more aggressively on size and features – especially Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak – with the larger Samsung Note II, the pending Samsung Galaxy S IV and other more advanced smartphones.
One feature on the probability rollercoaster (again) is NFC (near field communications). Much to the dismay of the banks and others in the NFC business, Apple left NFC out of the iPhone 5. There was a brief swirl of rumors late last year that Apple had realized its mistake and would add NFC to the next gen iPhone.
But recent reports now indicate the chip set set to be the iPhone 5S engine will NOT incorporate NFC. Will someone, anyone, please go to Cupertino and knock some sense into these knuckleheads?
iPhone 5S, iPad mini improvements
So what will iPhone 5S or 6 include?
As I noted last December, iPhone 5S may come in different colors and may include the more powerful A6X chip, 128 GB of memory in the top model and perhaps Sharp's thinner IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) screen I discussed last time.
Similarly, there have been more consistent and universal conjecture concerning the inclusion of a Retina screen to replace the less-than-crystalline screen on the current iPad mini.
One nagging question Apple still needs to deal with is its deficient Maps app. The pending iOS 6.1.1 update reportedly doesn't solve any of Maps issues in the U.S., but Apple has reportedly hired a slew of engineers to work on improving Maps.
The only remaining question is when – what will be the launch dates for the iPhone 5S, the possible iPhone 6 and the iPad mini?
An iPad mini upgrade is likely the most imminent, possibly as soon as next month since March is when Apple usually refreshes its tablets – although the company stealthily unveiled the last full-size iPad sans the usual cult-like hoopla. My wife will be happy about the pending upgrade of the iPad mini since she'll inherit my current mini.
Of the two possible iPhone additions, iPhone 5S will likely at least be announced in June. As for iPhone 6 – right now, it's just a fantasy, unless something a more definitive than friend-of-friend hearsay, second-hand reporting.