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For Apple fans dreaming of sapphire iPhones, Liquidmetal could be a cautionary tale - Page 2

post #41 of 105
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Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

Great article btw. Good research. Informative about the processes and constraints. Mild but supportable conclusions. Old school journalism.

Agreed. Best thing that I've read on AI in ages. Thanks for putting the effort into writing it!
post #42 of 105

Two thoughts:

 

1. Why are people so bent out of shape over the idea that we may never see a Liquidmetal iPhone chassis or sapphire screen? If other materials achieve the goals of usability and damage resistance, what difference does it make whether the phone is made of Liquidmetal and sapphire or aluminumium and monkey glass?

 

2. Do I even WANT a sapphire screen? While it has the benefit of even greater scratch-proofness than Gorilla Glass, it has the liability of lower break resistance. Since I have not yet scratched a Gorilla Glass screen badly enough to affect my use of the phone, but have managed to smash one, I'm inclined to think that any scratch-resistance advantage offered by sapphire would simply be "more than already sufficient" while the reduced resistance to breaking would be a distinct disadvantage.

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post #43 of 105
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Originally Posted by EMoeller View Post

I agree with Knowitall, but I also believe that Touch ID will be embedded in all of Apple's products (including laptops and desktops). That combined volume would justify the investment in sapphire. As for liquid metal it will continue to be used in unique situations where it will provide high value in smaller part applications.

I am a huge fan of Touch ID and have waited on purchase of a new iPad until it is incorporated in the product line.
I thought I'd already read a week or so ago that TouchID was being added to all of portables. 1confused.gif Did I imagine it?
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post #44 of 105
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I thought I'd already read a week or so ago that TouchID was being added to all of portables. 1confused.gif Did I imagine it?

 

You didn't imagine it, but you forgot that it was mentioned as part of an analyst's prediction. Or do I have it wrong? Has Apple actually announced this or is it still a rumour?

 

Either way, if Apple is opening up the Touch ID API to developers, it strikes me as VERY likely that it will be part of EVERY iOS device soon. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing they would provide to developers if it only worked with phones. Or would they? I'm not a developer so I don't know... is Apple known for providing third-party access to device-specific features?


Edited by Lorin Schultz - 6/28/14 at 9:52am

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post #45 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

You didn't imagine it, but you forgot that it was mentioned as part of an analysts prediction. Or do I have it wrong? Has Apple actually announced this or is still a rumour?

Thanks!. Seems like a no-brainer really. IMO of course Apple will add it to their iPads and laptops.
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post #46 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

Do you know this to be true, or is this "I think that's what the guy meant?" If the former, thank you VERY much for the useful information! That kind of description goes a long way to helping stoopid people like me understand. I just wanna make sure it's accurate before I go repeating it to others!

I'm not setting myself up as any kind of expert...there could be other advantages to amorphous metals (or "metallic glasses" as they're also called.) They've been being discussed for 35 years that I know about, and the thing that's always mentioned as setting them apart is the lack of metal fatigue. It sounds like there are new ways of manufacturing them that I know nothing about, at least. As far as I knew, you had to spray them into a vacuum, so tiny particles would solidify too quickly to form crystals, and then sinter them into solid pieces. (If you approach the Curie Point from below, you can get them to amalgamate without crystallizing.)

The cutting-edge technology last I heard was spraying the liquid metal onto a rapidly-rotating liquid nitrogen-cooled drum and forming a ribbon of metal, which could then be "ironed" together into large sheets. My knowledge is certainly way behind the current manufacturing technology.

I see people expecting liquid metal to be radio-transparent, though, and I can't see how that's possible. The metal would still have the same electrons in the same orbiits.... Maybe the fact that it's not quite as good a conductor as crystalline metal has a bearing on it?

EDIT: No, wait. With no crystal domain walls, it would be a better conductor than polycrystalline metal. I don't know...I'm puzzled by the whole thing.
post #47 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

You didn't imagine it, but you forgot that it was mentioned as part of an analyst's prediction. Or do I have it wrong? Has Apple actually announced this or is it still a rumour?

Either way, if Apple is opening up the Touch ID API to developers, it strikes me as VERY likely that it will be part of EVERY iOS device soon. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing they would provide to developers if it only worked with phones. Or would they? I'm not a developer so I don't know... is Apple known for providing third-party access to device-specific features?

Are those Touch ID APIs for Mac OS X development, too?

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post #48 of 105
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I assume you do what I started doing weeks, if not days, after getting an iPhone 5S. I started trying to use Touch ID on my iPad and then blankly starring at the display for far longer than is reasonable before realizing that there is no Touch ID.

It's rare when a new technology can so quickly rewire how you've been doing a task for many years and it's even more rare that additional security is also the more convenient solution.

 

I STILL do that! :)

post #49 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Are those Touch ID APIs for Mac OS X development, too?

 

The article I read only mentioned iOS8:

 

http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/06/02/apple-opens-up-touch-id-to-third-party-app-developers

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post #50 of 105
Sapphire glass used more for its clarity and beinghard to scratch as opposed to being break proof
Apple needs that clarity I would think
For whatever it has in mind
post #51 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Titanium, for example, has also been around for many years, is stronger and lighter in weight than aluminum..."

 

Not true. Titanium is heavier than aluminum. It's just that it is so much stronger, you can use less of it, resulting in an overall reduction in weight.

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post #52 of 105
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Originally Posted by Mac-sochist View Post

I don't know where people get the idea that amorphous metal is "stronger" or "scratch-resistant". For a given bond strength, an amorphous material is 6/7 (I think) as strong as a single crystal of the same material. I don't see how scratchability would be any different.

The reason to use amorphous metal for anything is that there is no such thing as metal fatigue. In a polycrystalline metal part, repeated stress causes crystal domains to gradually deform, with their boundaries migrating to follow lines of stress. Get a line across a whole part that's all boundary, the strength goes to essentially zero, and...snap! Amorphous metals don't exhibit this behavior—don't stress them past their breaking point and they won't break. Ever.

I don't know of any Apple products where metal fatigue has been an important problem since the TiBook the article mentioned. (I could be wrong—anybody else have any ideas?) By contrast, the SIM ejector tool is just exactly the kind of thing that would benefit from this technology. Bend a paper clip a few times and you'll see metal fatigue in action. Avoiding that would be worth it for such a small part that could cause serious annoyance if it breaks.

What could Apple do with this stuff? The most obvious use for a hard, non-deforming, non-corroding and generally scratch resistant material: cases.

Plastics are flexible but not strong, and while metals are much stronger than plastics, they're not as flexible. Liquidmetal alloys can provide a more durable casing, which is much more resistant to dents, nicks, scratches and breakage than hard plastics. If you drop a plastic-encased phone, it cracks or scuffs. If you drop a metal-encased phone, it dents, or nicks. If you drop a Liquidmetal-encased phone, well, it should just bounce.
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post #53 of 105
Bottom line: Apple wouldn't use (or invest in) liquid metal unless it allowed them to design something that cannot be done now. That means they won't use it unless it gives them a weight, strength, cost, or process advantage over plastic, aluminum, etc. Apple fans don't care about materials and it don't think Jonny Ive does either. But Jonny cares about his designs and many things he's designed require special advances in materials, process, etc. If he wants it razor thin, advance material design to make it possible.

It's what takes concepts to reality. Anyone can design a 1mm thick phone on a computer as a concept. Making the guts fit inside is what Apple does to stand out from the rest.
post #54 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by montefuego View Post

I, for one, am tired of the Apple rumor sites continually referring to the 'years and millions of dollars' necessary to make Liquid Metal useful, as some kind of immovable object. First of all, those 'years' have already passed, and as for investing millions of dollars, uhhh, well, we're talking about Apple here. They would not hesitate to invest a BILLION dollars to make a product special. It's time to retire this boring and irrelevant quote. If Apple wants to use liquid metal to make a unique product, they have the resources and talent to do so.

 

Gorilla Glass was sitting on the shelf at Corning until Steve Jobs called, and said I need a few million.

 

http://techland.time.com/2013/01/11/a-story-about-steve-jobs-steel-balls-and-gorilla-glass-you-with-the-cracked-phone-read-this/

post #55 of 105
Quote:
If Apple is using Liquidmetal on a large scale, it's doing so in ways that no one has yet to discover.

 

Oh, I really don't think that is what you meant.

post #56 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Are those Touch ID APIs for Mac OS X development, too?

On iOS the home button has several uses. If the Touch ID concept was to make its way to the Mac perhaps it could also behave as a home button to invoke the launcher or perhaps like Cmd+tab for running apps or even F11 or Spaces. I also wonder where they put the button on various Macs.

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post #57 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac-sochist View Post

I don't know where people get the idea that amorphous metal is "stronger" or "scratch-resistant". For a given bond strength, an amorphous material is 6/7 (I think) as strong as a single crystal of the same material. I don't see how scratchability would be any different.

The reason to use amorphous metal for anything is that there is no such thing as metal fatigue. In a polycrystalline metal part, repeated stress causes crystal domains to gradually deform, with their boundaries migrating to follow lines of stress. Get a line across a whole part that's all boundary, the strength goes to essentially zero, and...snap! Amorphous metals don't exhibit this behavior—don't stress them past their breaking point and they won't break. Ever.

I don't know of any Apple products where metal fatigue has been an important problem since the TiBook the article mentioned. (I could be wrong—anybody else have any ideas?) By contrast, the SIM ejector tool is just exactly the kind of thing that would benefit from this technology. Bend a paper clip a few times and you'll see metal fatigue in action. Avoiding that would be worth it for such a small part that could cause serious annoyance if it breaks.

There was a use case for golf club drivers where the heads (of amorphous metal alloy) were shattering, so you are incorrect, though this is most likely due to lack of knowledge about the material at the time.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquidmetal

 

One of the first commercial uses of Liquidmetal was in golf clubs made by the company, where the highly elastic metal was used in portions of the club face.[5] These were highly rated by users, but the product was later dropped, in part because the prototypes shattered after fewer than 40 hits

 

 

To put the comparison of Liquid Metal to sapphire: sapphire is a known material and known process, and Apple is refining the manufacturing process to cost reduce; Liquid Metal is a wide range of alloys and processes still being defined for mechanical properties and production suitability with the added issue of expensive and mostly undeveloped production machines.

post #58 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

Do you know this to be true, or is this "I think that's what the guy meant?" If the former, thank you VERY much for the useful information! That kind of description goes a long way to helping stoopid people like me understand. I just wanna make sure it's accurate before I go repeating it to others!

I believe he's right about the fatigue proneness of ordinary metals, which consist of crystalline domains throughout, whereas liquid metal would be amorphous, like glass, another liquid.

But I don't think he'll turn out to be right that Apple has no use for fatigue-resistant materials. I can imagine that their hoped-for (by me and a few others) iWatch stereo video glasses might have frames made from Liquid Metal, along with lenses with laminated scratch-resistant sapphire.

Of course this is a complete fantasy, and maybe far from reality. Or not.
post #59 of 105

I think rumor fatigue is a bigger problem...

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post #60 of 105
A liquid metal iPhone is coming. When? Who knows, but it is most definitely coming in the not too distant future. It's just a matter of when the tech is ready for mass production. The benefits and cost savings will be massive.

The only problem for Apple is that there are competing technologies that will launch soon after. Apple will have once again been a R&D department for the rest of the trade. Once Apple and partners have ironed out the details, Samsung and company will incorporate it too, just as they followed suit with Gorilla Glass. It will have become a commodity.

Let's remember, at one time aluminum was worth more than gold because of how rare and difficult to produce it was. What was once limited to royalty, Innovations in productions soon made it affordable to the masses.
post #61 of 105

post #62 of 105
I have a scratch free unblemished iPhone 4S in my hand right now. And I don't use a case nor really protect it.

Seems good enough materials right now.
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post #63 of 105
This may be a totally dumb question, but I'll ask it anyway. Does liquidmetal have the problem that it is dull in appearance? If so, is Apple perhaps working on trying to make it look more vibrant before considering it as material for external casing of its devices?
post #64 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

This may be a totally dumb question, but I'll ask it anyway. Does liquidmetal have the problem that it is dull in appearance? If so, is Apple perhaps working on trying to make it look more vibrant before considering it as material for external casing of its devices?

 

It can be given a polished, bright, or brushed finish.

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post #65 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

I have a scratch free unblemished iPhone 4S in my hand right now. And I don't use a case nor really protect it.

Seems good enough materials right now.

Congrats to you. For the millions of us who drop, scratch, and scuff our phones on a daily basis, stronger materials only makes sense. Hope your 4s remains impervious.
post #66 of 105
Especially since recent software update, touch id reads perfect and very fast.. my 5s got flaky before that - many misreads, few times had to retrain, positives could be slow too..
whatever was fixed worked very well - now my ipad must have too
post #67 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by quanster View Post

Sapphire might not show up on the iPhone 6 but you cannot use Liquidmetal as a cautionary tale for a number of reasons:

1.  Liquidmetal is not ready for mass production.  The creator of Liquidmetal himself stated as much.  It will take a couple of years for that to happen.  Sapphire IS ready for mass production.  The Arizona plant is cranking them out as we speak.
2.  Apple entered a 20 millions contract with Liquidmetal.  But the contract with GTAT is 578 millions.  It shows how serious Apple is at ramping the production up by the end of 2014.  You don't throw out that amount of money for just enough sapphire crystal to cover a watch's face.
3.  The CEO of GTAT said this is their transformative year and predicts a 100% increase in revenue in 2014...most of that coming at the end of the year during their quarterly earning conference call.  You don't make that kind of announcement if something big isn't happening.  And he reiterated in the last telecon that they are on track.  
4.  The amount of equipments in the plant can produce way more than what is needed to cover watch faces.  

By the way Liquidmetal has already granted Apple the right to use this metal in ALL commercial electronic products in perpetuity.  The renewal of the contract is to allow Apple to use any new patent related to this metal alloy that might come out from their research together from now until the end of the new contract.  LQMT will not earn a penny from any product that Apple produces using this metal.  They do that in exchange for Apple's help at researching how to mass produce this product.  So that they can offer it to other clients in fields other than commercial electronic products.  

Apple never intended to use liquid metal in shipping products. They would easily pay $20 million for exclusivity and just to have the ability to prototype using the material. We know that the spend millions on prototyping hundreds of variations for a single shipping product. That makes liquid metal a valuable internal use product to them. Maybe someday they ship liquid metal when they figure out how mass produce at reasonable costs.
post #68 of 105
How do you know they never intended to use it on shipped product? What would they use it for? Unshipped product? All we know is they are still researching the technology since patents are still coming out and they renewed the contract with LQMT. Of course they are exploring the material for a possible product that they intend to ship. They are trying to make money after all.
post #69 of 105
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post #70 of 105

If they put TouchID in the macbook they wouldn't put it in the trackpad. The trackpad is so big...there is no reason to have a huge touchID sensor beneath it.  And it would interfere with the trackpad functionality itself.  The home button in the 5S doesn't have any tracking function.  It would make more sense to have a dedicated button for it.  It doesn't explain why they would need such massive amount of sapphire.  Remember they were able to acquire all the sapphire for the 5S buttons easily.  It's really junk change in comparison to the Arizona's plant.  

post #71 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by wigby View Post

Apple never intended to use liquid metal in shipping products. They would easily pay $20 million for exclusivity and just to have the ability to prototype using the material. We know that the spend millions on prototyping hundreds of variations for a single shipping product. That makes liquid metal a valuable internal use product to them. Maybe someday they ship liquid metal when they figure out how mass produce at reasonable costs.

lol. I love how people portray opinion as fact. In the future, when you have no evidence to support an idea, try leading off with, "I believe" or "My guess is that". This way, readers can actually read your posts without feeling the urge to challenge their validity.

All in all, a respectable prediction, but nothing more.
post #72 of 105

Perhaps I've missed it, but as far as I know the following posts about Apple, Liquidmetal and sapphire have never been discussed on AppleInsider. You won't find more exciting reading; I highly recommend these links:

 

http://bit.ly/1e5GRpF
http://bit.ly/1gHQU68
http://bit.ly/1hjNP9B

 

The links were posted by someone replying to an article on Seeking Alpha back in March.  They lead to a blog by a young independent investor living in Berlin. He appears to be a sophisticated, knowledgable and thorough researcher who has pieced together a great deal of information from published patents and other sources. Maybe it's all bunk, but it's extraordinary stuff, and the patents are real.

 

The author points out numerous specific advantages of amorphous metals as outlined in Apple's own patents. The benefits go well beyond durability and weight. In the third post, the author points out that Liquidmetal announced in late 2013 that it had partnered with Engel, the company that makes the injection molding equipment used for the iPhone 5c. Apparently the same equipment can be retrofitted to use Liquidmetal. Coincidence?  

 

You put all of this together with Ive's comments about new materials, and it's very hard for me to believe that we're not going to be see a product that uses both sapphire and amorphous metal. While obviously well-suited for a watch, the apparent form of the iPhone 6 lends itself perfectly to these materials.   

post #73 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by winchester View Post

Congrats to you. For the millions of us who drop, scratch, and scuff our phones on a daily basis, stronger materials only makes sense. Hope your 4s remains impervious.

Unless the people scratching their iDevices are subject to a different manufacturing process than me I doubt that. In fact there is no real discussion on the Internet on this widespread scratching. Spending billions so people who put their phones on their pockets with their keys don't get scratches is a waste. If these materials ensured different form factors it might make more sense.
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post #74 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

I have a scratch free unblemished iPhone 4S in my hand right now. And I don't use a case nor really protect it.

Seems good enough materials right now.

 

I have to agree. The materials on the iPhone 4/4S were top notch.

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post #75 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by winchester View Post

lol. I love how people portray opinion as fact. In the future, when you have no evidence to support an idea, try leading off with, "I believe" or "My guess is that". This way, readers can actually read your posts without feeling the urge to challenge their validity.

All in all, a respectable prediction, but nothing more.

You know what's nice too? Posters who give their own opinion, with reasoning,rather than whiny put downs.
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post #76 of 105

Someone should notice that the supplier (Rubicon) of "the sapphire home button on the iPhone 5S" (TouchID) and sapphire lens cover made merely 41.5m last year. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/rubicon-technology-inc-reports-fourth-210200465.html

 

They made 14.3m in the recent quarter (the first quarter of 2014). http://finance.yahoo.com/news/rubicon-technology-inc-reports-first-200200816.html

 

Yet, GT expects 600-800m in revenue for the rest of 2014 http://finance.yahoo.com/news/gt-advanced-technologies-inc-announces-204412779.html ("Sapphire segment expected to contribute approx. 80% of the year's revenue" p20 http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/AMDA-1AHIQM/2784938274x0x703077/2e650b7f-e4e5-47f2-92e4-ab11f698c251/GTAT%20Q3CY13%20Earnings%20Presentation_FINAL.pdf

 

Unless Apple is selling a whole lot more of iDevices (or GT is lying), I don't think Apple's Arizona plant is simply churning out buttons.

 

(And a side note why didn't Apple just buy Rubicon, it's currently valued at only 231.22M, http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=RBCN)


Edited by AICow - 6/29/14 at 11:06am
post #77 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

Unless the people scratching their iDevices are subject to a different manufacturing process than me I doubt that. In fact there is no real discussion on the Internet on this widespread scratching. Spending billions so people who put their phones on their pockets with their keys don't get scratches is a waste. If these materials ensured different form factors it might make more sense.

Another fine opinion. Albeit, one arrived at with little to no supporting evidence, but I can tell you believe it, so it'll have to work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

You know what's nice too? Posters who give their own opinion, with reasoning,rather than whiny put downs.

lol. Whiny... what an ideal word to describe this conversation
post #78 of 105
Guess for Sapphire:

Embed the phobe antennae into the glass for better obstruction free reception?

An antennae/coil of sufficient size may be needed for wireless charging transmitters to effectively reach you phone/watch as you walk around the house.

I am suspicious that perhaps truly wireless charging (as presented by multiple other companies the last few years) may be the next "big thing". Perhaps sapphire has a desirable property in this arena that we aren't aware of such as better reception.

Maybe sensors can be embedded straight into the sapphire and used against your arm side (not necessarily only a watch face).

To be building out such huge sapphire capacity, i really wonder if there is something more to it than simply scratch resistance.

Its possible they may be reinforcing the sapphire with another layer to improve resistance to cracking as well.

I dont see a "iwatch" being a big thing without being waterproof which almost makes wireless charging a necessity.

A watch for notifications and whatnot seems pointless to me and very distracting.

identity authentication/location authentication/ health monitoring seem to be the most important reasons to wear what will amount to some sort of bracelet. Replacing light switches, keys, credit cards, etc is the future.

You would want to make the "cellphone case" obsolete as a bonus along the way.


Another consideration: saphire keys with fingerprint sensor embedded in the spacebar or something. You could then also have keys that change surface characters for international use. The keyboard NEEDS re-inventing just like the apple touchpad was reinvented.
post #79 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by blazar View Post

Guess for Sapphire:

Embed the phobe antennae into the glass for better obstruction free reception?

Since the sapphire is grown I'm not sure this is possible or at least not feasible.
Quote:
I am suspicious that perhaps truly wireless charging (as presented by multiple other companies the last few years) may be the next "big thing". Perhaps sapphire has a desirable property in this arena that we aren't aware of such as better reception.

I'm not sure it does and I don't think we'd see wireless charging stands where the display would be down. However, your comment did make me wonder if those thick metal bands on the back of the rumored 8th gen iPhone are for wireless charging.

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post #80 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by winchester View Post

I find this article a bit biased on the side of "don't get your hopes up".

that isn't bias, it's a conclusion. AI doesn't have a horse in the race and cannot be biased.

frankly, unless one is a metallurgist, I don't know why anyone cares which metal is or is not used. other than to brag about it due to the name, which would be stupid. I just want good products that continue to offer value.

 

What an inane comment. We care because we're interested. Your conclusion that the only reason anyone would care about it is to 'brag about it due to the name' is worthy of a child.

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