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Data Sheet—Can You Tell the Differences Between These Videos?

August 24, 2017, 2:28 PM UTC

Good morning on a beautiful late-summer day in the northeast, Aaron standing in for Adam, who is traveling.

If you have a free moment today, on your phone, watch this split-screen video of a coin spinning.

The video was made a few years ago to help people choose which kind of high-definition TV to buy: a 720p model with a screen that depicts the image using about 1 million individual pixels, or a somewhat more expensive 1080p model that has a resolution with about double the number of pixels.

In TV land, where we sit a few feet away from a screen that may be four or five feet across, the difference is often discernible. But on your tiny phone screen? Pretty tough to choose, don’t you think?

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And that’s why the kerfuffle about Verizon’s decision this week to downgrade HD videos for mobile phone customers on its higher-end “Beyond unlimited” data plan from 1080p to 720p is probably getting way too much attention. (Tablet users still get 1080p.) AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have been downgrading video even more significantly for many of their unlimited data plan customers—from HD all the way down to DVD-quality 480p, a resolution with only about 350,000 pixels, as Verizon will do on its new, cheapest “Go Unlimited” plan. And the other three carriers have reported that customers can’t tell the difference or don’t much care.

On the other hand, the move does signal that Verizon probably has been having some challenges, shall we say, in managing the burst of additional traffic on its network from newly freed unlimited data plan users.

Aaron Pressman
@ampressman
aaron.pressman@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

What happens next? Samsung Group isn't prepared for the possible jailing of its de facto leader Jay Y. Lee, who is expected receive the verdict on Friday in his trial on various corruption charges. Samsung has no "Plan B" if Jay is found guilty, Reuters reports. "There's no one right now who'll decide on group-wide issues," a source tells the news agency. In other Samsung news, the company unveiled its Galaxy Note 8 in New York as expected and Fortune's Don Reisinger sees it as a major challenger to the upcoming iPhones.

Not impressive enough. Printer and PC giant HP Inc reported that its revenue grew 10% to $13.1 billion last quarter, much better than the $12.3 billion Wall Street analysts expected. But the surprise from better PC sales looked unsustainable and adjusted profit of 43 cents a share failed to impress. HP shares were down 2% in premarket trading on Thursday.

Still growing. Axios got a peek at the latest quarterly results of the world's most valuable private startup, Uber. Gross bookings of $8.7 billion billion in the second quarter doubled from last year. The ride hailing company's adjusted loss declined 14% to $645 million.

Not going quietly. James Damore, the fired Google engineer who authored a sexist memo about his field, hired a lawyer to sue the company. Harmeet Dhillon, who was a top contender for a post in the Trump administration's Justice Department, has been involved in a number of political cases, including representing Republican student groups at UC Berkeley upset about the cancellation of a speech by Ann Coulter.

Less neutral. The White House gave a boost on Wednesday to efforts to repeal net neutrality rules that protect the flow of online content. Trump administration spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president backs efforts by the telecom industry to kill the rules. "The previous administration went about this the wrong way," Sanders told reporters.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Seemingly all the big tech companies and all the major automakers are helping develop self-driving cars in one way or another. But 27-year-old Carnegie Mellon dropout George Hotz has a very different approach. He's trying to develop open source software and devices to let drivers create their own autonomous vehicles. Andrew Zaleski reports for Fortune on how Hotz is giving away for free a self-driving platform called Openpilot. Hotz says we don't need the big companies:

Self-driving cars need nothing but engineers in order to solve it. It does not need manufacturers, regulators, any of these people. The best thing they can do is stay out of the way of the engineers.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Siemens Spinoff Osram Just Bought This U.S. Industrial Light Startup by Barb Darrow

Shares of Dixons Carphone Plunge After a Warning About High Phone Prices by David Meyer

This Startup Lets Children Worldwide Learn Mandarin on Demand With Instructors in China by Kevin Lui

A $1 Billion Plan to Boot Trump Off Twitter: Will It Work? by Jeff John Roberts

Here’s Amazon’s Plan to Make Students Better Writers by Jonathan Vanian

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Is Giving a ‘Boring’ Prize to His Most Influential Owners by Kirsten Korosec

Snapchat Will Launch Original Scripted Shows This Year by Tom Huddleston, Jr.

BEFORE YOU GO

Fans of HBO's fantasy hit Game of Thrones have only one more episode remaining to enjoy this year. So it's about time to let the diversions, rumors and fan fiction flow. You can start with New York Magazine's piece on which actors from the series will make it in Hollywood once the Song of Ice and Fire ends its run.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.