Last we saw Lumu Labs it was in Hardware Alley at Disrupt New York where the Slovenian startup was showing off a prototype of its digital light meter plus iPhone app — aiming to convince photographers to replace “bulky” traditional light meters with a pocketable gizmo that plugs into their iPhones. Now, the startup has just kicked off a Kickstarter campaign, aiming to raise $20,000 over the next 25 days to get its light meter into the wild.
Lumu’s hope is to replace the standalone light meters that pro photographers carry around with them by harnessing the iPhone’s processing power and battery, and coupling that with its own digital light sensor. The sensor plugs straight into the iPhone’s headphone jack. Lumu says its hardware is more sensitive than the on-board iPhone light sensor, hence it’s able to provide photographer-friendly luminance measurements.
The basic idea is for a photographer to grab a light reading using Lumu on their iPhone, then input the suggested settings into their camera. Settings are displayed in Lumu’s app, which also allows the user to save data to the cloud so they can retain light-setting and location info, plus add voice records, notes, pictures, photo parameters, and more.
Returning to Kickstarter, Lumu said campaign funds will be used to help with the manufacturing costs of the device, and to recruit more coders so it can further extend the features of the app. The startup’s main software guy, Benjamin Polovi?m, told TechCrunch: “We want to take advantage of the smartphone’s processing power and different sensors. The plan is to make different smartphone apps with custom functionalities for all sorts of professionals (photographers, videomakers…).
“We also believe that other developers are more creative than us and hope that they make their own software with new ideas and features, or inspire us. Further, we have to make Lumu work on (almost) all Android devices. But we don’t want to be too specific about our future ideas, because we don’t want to limit our supporters’ creativity.”
- Ships with Windows 8 64-bit
- 13.3-inch display running at 2560 x 1440 (221ppi)
- 256GB SSD
- 2GHz Intel Core i7-3537U Processor
- 8GB of RAM
- MSRP: Starts at $1,599, model reviewed costs $1,999
- An incredibly high-res display for a Windows laptop
- 2 years of free premium support
- Respectable battery life
- No discrete graphics card
- Man, this thing is expensive
Eye Candy Meets Horsepower
Toshiba isn’t exactly known for churning out attractive, high-end notebooks, which is why the company’s new Kirabook is such an oddity. It’s a handsome little thing if you’re into very (and I mean very) understated designs, though I imagine at least a few people will think the Kirabook looks downright dull.
The Kirabook is wedge-shaped like many of its other ultrabook brethren but it’s thankfully very light on branding (save for a small, chrome-esque Toshiba logo slapped on a corner of the Kirabook’s lid), and a finish that comes as a result of the magnesium alloy chassis is nice enough. Sadly, that magnesium frame doesn’t mean the Kirabook is immune to scratches, something I quickly learned after stowing the thing in a checked bag while flying to Austin.
It’s got a respectable spate of ports for an ultraportable too: AC power aside, there are a total of three USB 3.0 ports plus an HDMI out, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader.
If anything, the real eye-catcher here is that sumptuous screen. The Kirabook plays home to a 13.3-inch display running at 2,560 x 1,440 (that makes for a pixel density of 221ppi), and Toshiba likes to crow about it being the highest resolution display available on a Windows notebook. Credit where credit is due, that display is one of the Kirabook’s most notable high points: colors are generally vivid and bright, and the panel seems hardy enough to handle even the most frenzied touch inputs. That’s not to say it’s without its shortcomings though. There’s a bit of light leakage around the edge of the display panel and viewing angles aren’t the greatest — looking at the thing dead-on is pleasant enough, but there’s a bit of color distortion to be seen once you start moving around.
But there’s one big problem when it comes to the display, and it has nothing to do with the panel itself. I won’t belabor the point too much — by now you’ve probably already made up your mind about Microsoft’s divisive OS — but the biggest disappointment is that Windows 8 and the apps that run on it just aren’t completely tuned for these HiDPI screens yet. Cruising through the touch-friendly start screen is a visual pleasure, as is firing up apps like Internet Explorer, Maps, Vimeo, and Netflix since they all thrive on these sorts of displays. Jumping into the desktop is another world entirely, and it’s full of applications and menus that appear blurry and ill-suited for such a neat display. What a bummer.
When it comes to performance, the Kirabook manages to hold its own very nicely. We like running Geekbench around these parts, and on average the Kirabook scored between 7500 and 8000 when it came to running 64-bit benchmarks: very solid numbers, and there wasn’t anything that came up during my day-to-day use that managed to flummox the little guy. That is, except for gaming — the lack of a discrete GPU in a $2000 machine is concerning, and the integrated Intel HD 4000 plus the need to push a crazy number of pixels means that there will be very little Bioshock Infinite running on the Kirabook unless you dramatically crank down the quality.
Speaking of day-to-day use, the Kirabook has more than enough juice to get you through the day. I’ve been toting the 2.9 pound notebook around for the better part of a week, and I’ve consistently been able to camp out in coffee shops and keep the Kirabook going for just over six hours.
There’s little question that the Kirabook is actually a pretty speedy little bugger, but there is a caveat. The downside to all that power is that the tiny fan nestled on the Kirabook’s bum will fire up after even slight provocation, and it’s just loud enough to be grating if you decide to do anything processor-intensive for a while. If you work in environments with plenty of ambient noise it may not be much of a problem, but be warned — those of you who like to work in quiet, zen-like tranquility will probably get pretty miffed.
I haven’t fiddled with many of Toshiba’s older laptop keyboards, but the consensus seems to be that they were largely rubbish. Keyboard snobs may just turn up their noses after a few moments with the Kirabook’s 6 row affair, but despite the fact that the keys feel a bit small I found that using it to peck out posts and emails wasn’t too bad at all after a break-in period. Sad to say, the trackpad was a completely different story.
See, the trackpad occasionally seems to forget what it’s capable of — I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to two-finger scroll in Chrome using the trackpad before the Kirabook suddenly stops accepting multi-finger inputs. This may not seem like a big deal to some of you (especially since the Kirabook sports a highly responsive, glass-covered touchscreen) but it’s tremendously frustrating to discover what worked 5 seconds ago doesn’t work any more for no apparent reason.
The elephant in the room here is the price tag that’s attached to this highly portable package — the configuration I’ve been spending time with will set you back a cool $1,999. Toshiba has tried to temper the sticker shock by loading the Kirabook up with full versions of Photoshop Elements and Norton Internet Security (ugh), not to mention two years worth of premium support from a dedicated team of Kirabook specialists all within the United States, but the price differential will probably be enough to make some would-be ultrabook purchasers balk.
Who is it for?
No. If you’re an artist looking to get some work done, I suspect the blurry, pixelated text and images that result from mixing a hi-res screen and applications that aren’t really ready for it may be enough to get you running for the hills.
On the plus side, Photoshop makes full use of what limited screen real estate the Kirabook affords you and it’s easy enough to get into the swing of things… if you’re willing to squint, that is. Hooking the Kirabook up to an external monitor helps quite a bit, but the sketchy trackpad means you’ll definitely need other peripherals to chip in too.
No. If you’re a founder looking for a smart way to spend your newly-raised seed funds, you’d probably do well to stay away from the Kirabook. That’s not to say it’s a bad computer, but the crucial bang-for-the-buck factor is notably absent here. The most basic touchscreen-laden Kirabook retails for $1,699, or $100 more than an a higher-end 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. That’s not an insignificant premium to pay when the Kirabook is marred by a few prominent issues. And sure, you can pick out a slightly less expensive version that eschews the touchscreen, but then there’s really no point in Kirabook in the first place.
Maybe? 13.3 inches may seem a little cramped for coding, but that multitude of pixels means that you’ve got plenty of real estate for crafting apps and tapping into APIs. Arguably the price tag is still too steep if all you’re looking for is a machine to run Visual Studio, Android Studio, or good ol’ Notepad++, but there’s nothing here that would immediately disqualify the Kirabook from being a coder’s companion.
You know, for all of the little things Toshiba either got wrong or didn’t execute that well, I still actually really like the Kirabook. The company took a shot on something different, and even though this first iteration isn’t exactly a home run, it has made me rethink the prospect of spending my own money on a Toshiba computer.
Once the Kirabook drops in price (which shouldn’t take long since Intel’s new Haswell chips are barreling down the pipeline), Toshiba’s nifty premium ultrabook may find the success it deserves. For now though, it’s just too pricey and too unpolished for anyone but the biggest Toshiba die-hards to splurge on — here’s hoping that Toshiba manages to firm up the formula when it comes time to whip up the Kirabook 2.
Here’s a little noodle-scratcher for you fellow mobile hardware nerds to ponder this evening. This little Motorola Mobility beauty, brandishing the model number XT1058, recently passed through the FCC and left the customary paper trail in its wake.
All right, maybe calling it a beauty is a bit of a stretch, but here’s the kicker: The rudimentary sketch included with the listing bears a striking resemblance to a slew of earlier leaked images that purportedly showed off Motorola’s secretive X Phone.
Consider the alignment of those three circular elements on the back — those bits match up rather nicely with the camera, LED flash, and Motorola logo/button as seen in images of an unreleased smartphone originally circulated by the team at Tinhte.vn. Even the seemingly curved section along the top edge where the device’s headphone jack lives and the placement of what appears to be the sleep/wake button are spot-on when compared to those leaked photos.
Having a hard time visualizing all that? Here’s a side by side view to give you a sense of the similarities:
Of course, this doesn’t bring us any closer to figuring out what the device is actually capable of — all the FCC’s listing reveals is that this thing sports radios for Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac and NFC. It could be that this is the first regulatory appearance of the so-called XFON, a device that noted gadget leaker @EvLeaks posted photos of earlier this month. After all, the XT1058 has been found to support AT&T’s particular LTE bands, and the XFON’s IMEI label clearly calls it out as an AT&T device.
At this point no one (save for the lucky chump who snapped those photos in the first place) can definitively say whether or not the XFON and this curious AT&T device are the same, but it’s distinctly possible. There are a few cosmetic similarities between the two — namely the Motorola logo stamped on the top-left corner, the shape of the speaker grille, and the placement of the indicator LED and the front-facing camera. Don’t pay too much attention to the chunky chassis though, as it’s not uncommon for non-final hardware to undergo testing clad in patently ugly shells. You may recall that BlackBerry’s Dev Alpha and Beta devices lived in similarly unflattering boxes before the innards were officially unveiled at a series of simultaneous launch events back in January.
For all of the things that Google is expected to show off next week at its annual I/O developer conference (the refreshed Nexus 7, a unified chat system, redesigned Google Maps, etc.), a brand-new smartphone wasn’t expected to be one of them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the X Phone (or XFON, whatever) won’t make an appearance in San Francisco. But there has been a distinct lack of chatter that leads me to think that such a smartphone isn’t on the agenda. After all, Google’s been downright lousy at keeping things under wraps lately.
Codoon is one of the first wearable tech gadgets produced by a Chinese company. It’s also an almost exact copy of the Jawbone UP. Sina Tech reports Chinese consumers will be able to get a Codoon on their wrists by the beginning of June.
Like the Jawbone UP, the Codoon (on the left side in the image) is meant to be worn 24/7 as it monitors the wearers’ activity and sleeping patterns. Furthermore, the Codoon’s similarity to the UP doesn’t just end at its wraparound design, zig-zag texture, glowing blue crescent moon icon, cap and headphone jack sync. As For Techies Only noted in March, Codoon’s Web site and app also bear a striking similarity to the Jawbone UP’s, with near identical UIs and feature sets.
Though the Jawbone UP has been available in China since the end of last month, its retail price of 1,100 yuan (about $180) is more than three times as expensive as the Codoon, which will sell for just 299 yuan (about $49). Though wearable tech has yet to gain traction in China, the low price point might be enough to tempt customers to at least try out the Codoon wristband.
Before it went “Single White Female” on Jawbone UP, Codoon was a fledgling suite of apps developed by startup LeDong, the first Chinese company to offer a fitness tracking apps. Codoon received over $1 million in funding from Chinese online gaming company Shanda in 2011.
We’ve emailed Codoon and Jawbone for comment.
Meet Lumu: a digital light meter for photographers that plugs into the iPhone’s headphone jack as a smaller and smarter replacement for traditional analogue light meters. It’s used in conjunction with Lumu’s app — being demoed in prototype here at hardware alley at Disrupt NY – to help photographers figure out the best camera settings for their current location.
Lumu is not going to help you take better photos on your iPhone — it’s a tool for standalone cameras that have ISO, aperture and shutter speed parameters that can be manually set. The startup, which hails from Slovenia in Europe, plans to kick off a Kickstarter funding campaign in about a month. The Lumu device will cost $99.
“It’s the world’s smartest light meter,” says co-founder Benjamin Polovic. “The existing light meters are large, bulky and very expensive. With Lumu, the main processing is done on the iPhone, so we use the iPhone’s power. It also doesn’t use any batteries, it’s powered from the iPhone.
“You take your iPhone or your iPod and plug it in and it’s going to recognise it, and it sets all of the parameters for your unique environment. So you put in your ISO that you use in your film or your digital camera, the aperture you want to use and then it calculates the time.”
The photographer then needs to manually input the suggested settings into their camera but Polovic says the group is thinking about making a Bluetooth dongle so settings can be wirelessly sent to a digital camera. “We’re excited to get some ideas from Kickstarter when the campaign launches,” he added.
As well as showing the light level and exposure value for the current lighting conditions, the app lets users store pre-sets for individual geotagged locations so they can easily revisit them later. It will also include an auto mode, and a filter-style feature that will tell users how to achieve effects such as bokeh (background blur).
Polovic said Lumu’s hope is to inspire more people to start digging down into their camera settings. ”We love photography, we want to make it better, we want to introduce it to people who don’t necessarily know how to use cameras because they are quite complex. We want to make it simple,” he says.
The startup has been developing Lumu for about four to five months, according to Polovic. Down the line, it plans to launch an SDK so developers can create other apps using the light sensor — giving the example of an app that wakes the iPhone’s owner when it starts getting light, for instance.