Archive for Srpen, 2012

Finding a true tax basis for solar photovoltaic power systems

Úterý, Srpen 28th, 2012

Governments don’t care if solar power actually saves anyone any money or energy, they primarily want to know how much to increase your taxes. Consistent appraisals of homes and businesses outfitted with photovoltaic (PV) installations are missing but a new tool developed by Sandia National Laboratories and Solar Power Electric and licensed by Sandia addresses that issue. PV ValueTM is an electronic form designed to standardize appraisals - basically an Excel spreadsheet, because this is what the US Government and the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy are doing with taxpayer money, instead of research on actual good alternative energy.

“Previous methods for appraising PV installations on new or existing construction have been challenging because they were not using standard appraisal practices,” said Geoff Klise, the Sandia researcher who co-developed the tool. “Typically, appraisers develop the value of a property improvement based on comparable properties with similar improvements as well as prevailing market conditions. If there aren’t PV systems nearby, there is no way to make an improvement comparison.

This will help understand more how awesome solar power is, because when a PV system is undervalued or not valued at all, it essentially ignores the value of the electricity being produced and the potential savings over the lifetime of the system. In other words, they think power companies don’t know how much electricity you use. By developing a standard methodology for appraisers when comparables are not available, they believe homeowners will have more incentive to install PV systems, even if they consider moving a few years after system installation.”

The tool uses an Excel spreadsheet, tied to real-time lending information and market fluctuations, to determine the worth of a PV system. An appraiser enters such variables as the ZIP code where the system is located, the system size in watts, the derate factor – which takes into account shading and other factors that affect a system’s output – tracking, tilt and azimuth, along with a few other factors, and the spreadsheet returns the value of the system as a function of a predetermined risk spread. The solar resource calculation in the spreadsheet is based on the PVWattsTM simulator developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which allows the spreadsheet to value a PV system anywhere in the U.S.

“With PV Value, appraisers can quickly calculate the present value of energy that a PV system can be estimated to produce during its remaining useful lifetime, similar to the appraisal industry’s income approach,” said Johnson. “Additionally, a property owner thinking about installing PV can now estimate the remaining present value of energy for their future PV system and what it could be worth to a purchaser of their property at any point in time in the event a sale of the property takes place before the estimated payback date is reached.”

The tool is being embraced by the Appraisal Institute, which is the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers. “From my perspective as an appraiser, I see that this is a great tool to assist the appraiser in valuations, and it connects to the Appraisal Institute’s recent Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. It’s an easy, user-friendly spreadsheet that will not bog the appraiser down with a lot of extra time in calculations, and if they fill out the addenda properly, they’ll be able to make the inputs and come up with some numbers fairly quickly,” said Sandy Adomatis, SRA, a real estate appraiser and member of the Appraisal Institute.

Although the tool is licensed for solar PV installations, it could be used for other large green features in a home that generate income, such as wind turbines.

Families are urged to be economical with electricity use

Pátek, Srpen 24th, 2012

Energy boss Walter Higgins advised families to be frugal with their electricity as he warned it could take years to provide a more efficient supply for Bermuda.

But he rejected suggestions rising bills mean bigger profits for Belco, claiming prices are virtually tied to the global price of oil.

Meanwhile Mr Higgins — the CEO of Belco’s parent company the Ascendant Group — suggested the company is backing down in its court wrangle with Government over the base electricity rates.

He acknowledged the onus is on Belco to find a better solution to fund its new $70 million power station instead of through rate hikes which Government opposes.

The Royal Gazette’s The Cost of Living series showed how the electricity bill for an average family climbed 18 percent in four years, prompting the Family Centre to call for Belco to show more consideration during a time of shrinking wages and growing unemployment.

At any one time, about 200 customers are switched off for failing to pay their bills, but Belco says most are turned back on quickly after making arrangements to settle up.

In an interview with this newspaper yesterday, Mr Higgins said there’s no choice other than to raise rates when oil prices increase.

“People believe and think that somehow what we charge for electricity is related to profitability,” he said.

“Almost the entirety of the variability of electricity is directly and solely connected to what the price of oil is.

“The truth of it is that, yes, embedded within our base rate is a profit on the money we spend to build the power plants, which our investors expect a return on their investment for. But that’s two or three percent. The rest is related to the price of oil.

“We have to change the way we work electricity on the Island. We are in the process of doing that.

“That process will take years as opposed to days and weeks. In the long run we want to have a more stable, less variable, more predictable cost of electricity supply.

“We are very committed to finding a way to give the Island and its customers an electricity supply that works for them.”

Asked what he would say to residents struggling to pay their bills in the meantime, he replied: “Do everything you can to save energy, to use the least amount of energy you can to maintain your lifestyle.”

Modern technology such as energy-efficient light bulbs can help, he said, while Belco has payment plans so people can spread their bills evenly throughout the year.

“Keep talking to us. If you do think something is wrong with your meter or your bill, we have people who can help you with that,” he said.

Three months ago, Environment Minister Marc Bean rejected Belco’s appeal against Government’s decision not to raise base electricity rates by 3.5 percent.

The extra cash would have paid for the new power station at the Pembroke base, which is described as critical in meeting the Island’s ongoing energy needs.

Parking lot gets car charger, solar array

Úterý, Srpen 21st, 2012

Those passing through the Bedford Street parking lot in recent days may have been seen the solar array mounted on a support gantry there, part of a soon-to-be launched electric charging terminal for hybrid vehicles.

The 3 kilowatt power system, with spaces to charge two vehicles, is being installed using a $83,126 block grant from the federal Department of Energy, Erin McKenna, a city associate planner who oversaw the project.

Solar energy garnered from the panels would flow into the grid of the adjacent garage, McKenna said.

McKenna said the charging station is a step towards meeting expected demand from owners of electric vehicles, though initial use of other city managed charging stations put in operation in May has been infrequent.

The system will also include an display featuring a gauge showing resulting cuts in carbon dioxide emissions and the gallons of gasoline saved, according to Elliot Isban, chief executive officer of the project’s contractor, American Solar & Alternative Power.

“We wanted to put it in as prominent a place downtown as we could that wasn’t expected to have a big development soon that might put it in the shade,” McKenna said of the solar array. “The display will show how much energy the solar panels provide compared to the amount of energy used.”

While being charged, cars would be sheltered under the solar panels, Isban said.

Isban said he thought a commitment by Stamford and other cities and private businesses to seek opportunities to install electric charging stations was necessary to enable the public to use alternative fuel vehicles.

“People want to buy electric cars but there are very few electric charging stations so it is sort of a chicken or the egg type situation,” Isban said. “This will provide energy for 25 years with no moving parts, no noise, and no pollution. I think that’s elegant.”

In May the city completed installation of three free electric charging stations — one each at the Government Center and the Summer and Bell Street garages — as part of a Connecticut Light & Power’s two-year research study on how drivers charge electric vehicles.

A Danish insurance company last week flicked the switch on what it claims is the largest rooftop solar system in Northern Europe.

More than 3,000 solar panels have been installed at Topdanmark’s headquarters in Ballerup, Copenhagen, and they are expected to produce around 752,000kWh of electricity each year, enough to power about 200 households and reduce the corporation’s annual carbon emissions by 600 tonnes.

A statement on Topdanmark’s website said each panel produces as much energy in one year as was used in its production, meaning that with the panels expected to last about 40 years they should deliver a significant net reduction in carbon emissions.

The insurer decided to proceed with the investment after assessing a smaller installation at one of its commercial tenancies and undertaking what it described as “profound analysis of advantages and disadvantages investing in such a large solar cell system”.

The review concluded that declining production prices for solar panels, which dropped from $1.50 per watt in September 2010 to $0.60 by the end of 2011, ensured the business case for the project was viable.

Audi A6 consolidates grip with improved all-wheel-drive option

Pátek, Srpen 17th, 2012

AHEAD of   2013, Audi A6 has concluded plans to consolidate grip on its segment with an all-wheel-drive option for the base 2.0T engine coupled with start/stop engine functions and a top-view camera system.

The 2013 Audi A6 is a midsize luxury sedan available in five trim levels — 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Premium, 3.0T Premium Plus and 3.0T Prestige. The numbers denote the engine fitted (a 2.0-liter turbocharged four or a 3.0-liter supercharged V6).

Standard equipment for the 2.0T Premium includes 17-inch wheels, Audi Drive Select (adjustable modes for steering, throttle and transmission), automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and triple-zone automatic climate control.

Also, available is eight-way power front seats (includes four-way lumbar adjustments), leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an iPod interface. The 2.0T Premium Plus adds 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED running lights, front and rear

Parking sensors, a rearview camera, auto-dimming outside mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, Audi’s MMI electronics interface, a color driver information display, upgraded audio (with HD radio, a CD changer and a digital music server), a voice-activated navigation system (with real-time traffic and Google Earth) and Audi Connect (an in-car wireless Internet connection).

The 3.0T Premium Plus is equipped similarly to the 2.0T Premium Plus. The 3.0T Prestige adds different 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, S line exterior accents, cornering lights, ambient LED cabin lighting, quad-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a Bose audio system.

The 2013 Audi A6 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 good for 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are standard; all-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic is available as an option. Audi claims a 0-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds for the CVT models. EPA-estimated fuel economy is an impressive 25mpg city/33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined for the CVT and 20/30/24 mpg for the eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.

Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Audi A6 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags.

Rear side airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a blind-spot warning system are either optional or included with the upper trims.

The optional Audi Pre-Sense Plus system can warn the driver and automatically activate the brakes and adjust the front seats for maximum protection if a crash is deemed imminent.

The 2013 Audi A6, according to Edmond motoring experts  “offers one of the finest cabins in its class, with an attractive dash layout, excellent materials quality and solid fit and finish”.

“The A6 also offers the option of in-car Wi-Fi, which uses a 3G connection and adds Google Earth data to the navigation system while also providing simplified Google search for POIs.

“It sounds a bit over the top, but it’s actually quite handy if you need to get some unexpected work done on the road. The Google Earth navigator system is more a matter of form over function, though, and can actually make the map more difficult to comprehend at a glance.

“All the seats are supportive and comfortable on long trips, while the backseat in particular offers more real-world legroom than most rivals. The A6’s 14.1-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side, though the rear seat folds and features a pass-through when more space is needed.

Commercial solar project goes up at Thurmont firm

Úterý, Srpen 14th, 2012

Thurmont has its first commercial solar energy project with the installation of a system at Federal Stone Industries.

David Rethemeyer, vice president of the business at 142 Water St., said he believes the $136,000 investment will pay off in the long run.

Brent Cotton, who is coordinating the installation for Solar Energy World in Elkridge, said he met Rethemeyer at a home show in Baltimore.

“Dave’s booth was next to me, and we met by chance,” Cotton said.

There will be 150 panels installed at the business, which manufactures precast swimming-pool coping. Coping is the cap on the edge of a swimming pool or spa, which is mounted on the bond beam.

Thurmont has only one residential solar installation, according to town officials. Cotton said Thurmont, which has its own electric utility operations, had not implemented net metering (surplus power return).

The Maryland Public Service Commission helped the town set it up, Cotton said.

Rethemeyer said he was impressed to see the Constellation Energy solar array at Mount St. Mary’s University. That system, on about 100 acres, will supply power to the university and some of the surrounding community.

“It seems like Thurmont was caught in the ’50s when looking at Emmitsburg,” Rethemeyer said.

Federal Stone Industries, which has served the swimming pool industry for nearly 50 years, is an innovative business. It developed the Radiuschart, a tool for determining the radii of a pool wall, and keeps abreast of the latest technology in the field. The company also emphasizes safety for those enjoying their pool.

“It will reduce our expenditures, and I’m looking at the long-term investment,” Rethemeyer said.

Geoff Mirkin, a founder of Solar Energy World, said the project was the first commercial one for the company in Frederick County.

“The cost of solar has gone down, perhaps 50 percent in the past few years. Plus there are some grants and tax credits,” Mirkin said via telephone.

“We anticipate the payback in five to seven years,” Mirkin said. “It is better than putting the money in underperforming funds.”

Rethemeyer said he wasn’t complaining about Thurmont’s electric rates.

“They are not gauging us. They have been reasonable, but if we can produce power and put it back to the grid, that is a good thing.

“It is no ’silver bullet’ to solve all the energy problems, but it means less use of fossil fuels,” Rethemeyer said.

On its website, Solar Energy World notes that its commercial installation process includes a complete analysis to see if the project is the best way to go for a potential client; how to do the installation without interrupting business operations for the client; submitting all paperwork for applications, local building permits and any tax credits or other incentives; manage inspections and monitor electrical output and performance.

Cindy McKane-Wagester, Main Street Manager for Thurmont, said members of the Main Street group are interested in alternative energy.

Part of the Main Street mission is to look at clean, safe and green energy, McKane-Wagester said.

“We are looking for opportunities for solar energy for commercial buildings,” McKane-Wagester said. “We are researching it. Yes, it is in our future.”

Part of the discussion also includes increased recycling programs and chargers for electric cars, McKane-Wagester said.

“That would be an important part of the expected increase in tourism for Thurmont,” McKane-Wagester said of the chargers. No specific plans have been made for the chargers.

Permitting in the United States

Čtvrtek, Srpen 9th, 2012

Though the price of solar products is decreasing and solar adoption is steadily increasing in the United States, the costly, inefficient permitting processes are a burden to the buyer and impede progress of the solar industry at large.

Before installing a residential solar system, a permit must be obtained from the local Authority Having Jurisdiction, also known as an AHJ.  Typically, permit applications for standard residential solar installations must be submitted to the AHJ in person.  SunRun recommends a standard online application for solar permitting, which would drastically simplify the process.  It would be much more efficient if all AHJs utilized a standard web-based application to streamline this process.

The permitting process varies too much across geographical location.  This inconsistency between AHJs breeds a series of avoidable obstacles that are holding back solar adoption in the United States.

With so many permitting authorities sprinkled across the country, the discrepancy between standards produces hoops to jump through.  It seems that every city or Authority Having Jurisdiction has a different interpretation of codes and standards.  Some even craft their own legislation.

Applications often undergo a succession of reviews by multiple departments, which commonly conduct their own inspections.  Permit applications are then subjected to various municipal inspections that are neither necessary nor efficient.  In an admirable attempt to guarantee safety, local municipalities frequently include extensive fire inspections and components to the system that are not needed, further complicating the process.

Additionally, an AHJ will sometimes require further inspections of products that are already Underwriters Laboratory listed.  UL does their own quality inspections and functions like an insurance company.  UL assumes legal responsibility for damages incurred by UL listed products.  These additional inspections on UL listed products are a waste of time.

Unnecessary inspections in conjunction with other soft costs associated with residential solar create a barrier to adoption for potential customers.  Some municipalities are able to process a permit for less than $300, while others call for thousands.   Part of the problem is that all these AHJs have different fees that are often based on their own set of criteria, including those unnecessary inspections.

More often than not, the sum of these fees is too high because they are not in line with the actual processing cost to the Authority Having Jurisdiction.  SunRun reports that customers incur an average cost of $2,516 for permitting and inspection of a residential solar system. Most of these soft costs are not necessary for standard residential solar systems.

While an applicant for a residential system in Germany may only wait four days to have a system installed, this process takes weeks in the United States.  Sometimes months.

This inconsistency between jurisdictions creates difficulties for buyers, installers, and AHJs.

Installers have more important things to do than deal with municipalities that aren’t knowledgeable about photovoltaic installations.  Cities have enough on their plates to try to come up with their own filing systems, codes, and protocol. Customers need a convenient, cost-effective system of permitting that will get the solar system on their roof as soon as possible.

The entire solar industry suffers due to the lack of structural coherence in the permitting processes in the United States.  With a standardized system in the United States, AHJs will operate more efficiently, saving everyone valuable time and resources.

Pakistani village yearns for India visit

Úterý, Srpen 7th, 2012

Dust and dung coat the floor of the never-opened public-health center. Birds nest in the breezeway of the never-used boys’ high school. And staff never came to run the new women’s vocational center.

The government-designated “model village” of Gah, in the parched croplands of Punjab province, was supposed to serve as a thriving symbol of unity between Pakistan and India. Today it feels more like a ghost town, an embodiment of fitful, frequently stalled efforts by the two nations to settle their historical disputes.

Gah, a farming community of 300 squat, mud-brick homes about 60 miles southwest of Islamabad, is remarkable only as the birthplace of Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India. Last month, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari invited Singh to visit Gah, in the latest round of so-called “soft diplomacy” between the nuclear-armed countries.

The offer comes as their relationship is improving slightly, at least on trade matters. India’s decision last week to allow investments from Pakistani citizens and companies was taken as another sign of progress, but there has been no lowering of the guard militarily by either side.

This is Pakistan’s second such goodwill invitation to Singh. He had planned to come several years ago at the request of then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who embraced a peace process with India in 2004, when Singh assumed office.

Under Musharraf, money flowed into Gah from the Punjab provincial government that was dominated by Musharraf’s party, funding roads, water projects and social service facilities. Pakistan permitted a team of Indian technicians from an energy institute to come to Gah to install solar-powered street lamps, lighting for homes and a hot-water system for the village mosque.

Then Singh’s visit was scrubbed, amid the political turmoil in 2007 that led to Musharraf’s ouster in 2008. The attacks on Mumbai that November — which India blamed on Pakistan-sanctioned militants — severely strained a bilateral relationship already burdened by old enmities and suspicions.

Diplomats suspended regular talks on territorial disputes, including the central one of Kashmir, the Muslim-majority Himalayan region over which India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since both nations became independent from Britain 65 years ago.

“We resent that there was no follow-through,” said Ghulam Murtaza, a 38-year-old primary schoolteacher, standing outside the shuttered health clinic. “As a result, you see nothing here, and it hurts the poor people.”

His family donated land for the site of the boys’ high school, he said, when the Punjab government asked the community for help. “We kept our promises, and they have not. It’s all been a waste.”

To Abdul Khaliq, 51, a village leader who has long pushed for economic development, a visit by Singh would highlight a yearning among ordinary Pakistanis: “We very much want peace,” he said. “We believe that both countries need to sit together to resolve the issues, to spend more on the development side, not the defense side.”

Gah’s turn in the limelight started as soon as Singh became prime minister. His Pakistani counterpart, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, bestowed model village status on Gah and directed that its primary school be renamed after Singh, who had been a student there for several years. Former classmates wrote him congratulatory letters.

Today the locals treat with totemic reverence the original class register, which shows that Singh, the son of a merchant, entered first grade as pupil number 187 on April 17, 1937, and stayed through the fourth grade.

CU-Boulder planetarium upgrading to giant-screen theater

Pátek, Srpen 3rd, 2012

If you’re a planetarium junkie in the Boulder area, your experience is about to get a major upgrade.

The astrophysical and planetary sciences department, home to Fiske Planetarium, announced today the launch of a complete upgrade to the projection and other presentation systems that power the planetarium’s big-screen experience. The remodel will turn the dome of the planetarium into an all-encompassing video theater.

“This upgrade will transform Fiske into one of the most sophisticated planetariums and multimedia centers in the country,” said Douglas Duncan, director of Fiske Planetarium. “We will be able to show the universe, and our local neighborhood, in unrivaled detail — 360 degrees, surround video and sound.”

Since 1975, Fiske Planetarium has provided students and community members an interactive tour of the night sky. The facility’s star projector, known affectionately as “Fritz,” has taught a generation how to find the North Star, constellations and the motions the planets trace in the heavens.

While Fritz heads into a well-deserved retirement, the education experience will move into the digital age. Currently, the star projector can show 6,000 stars and other extra-planetary objects. The new system will have a modern star ball that shows 20 million stars and objects, and now they will even twinkle — just like the skyscape one might observe on a clear, dark night.

The equipment overhaul also will allow Fiske to feature travel, education, art videos and other programs designed especially for this type of high-end projection system.

“We’ll be projecting video equal to covering the entire dome with close to 40 high-definition TVs,” Duncan said. “The amount of detail will be spectacular, rivaling the best theaters in the country. We expect it to become a major Boulder weekend destination.”

Other upgrades include new LED lighting and a new laser system, which should make the Friday and Saturday night laser shows even more eye grabbing.

The improvements also will yield new opportunities for faculty, staff and students on the Boulder campus. The planetarium expects to expand its student intern staff, already responsible for productions like last year’s successful “Max Goes to the Moon” children’s planetarium show. The dome will be available to researchers for video conferencing, and HD and Ultra HD modeling of their work.

Within the last decade, several of the nation’s major planetariums have undergone similar remodeling projects. The Fiske project will take advantage of lower digital technology prices and innovations in the field to perform similar improvements at one-fifth the cost, according to Duncan.

The Tablet For The Rest Of Us?

Středa, Srpen 1st, 2012

We’ve waited a long time for the Nexus tablet; for proof that Google really wants to compete against the iPad. Hardware with the flagship Nexus moniker is co-designed by Google and granted not only the latest and greatest versions of Android, but tend to be high-quality hardware as well. Google said they wanted to spread the Nexus branding amongst their partners and Asus is the latest to join the stable of privileged. While Android dominates in the smartphone market, shoehorning it onto tablets has net lukewarm results, proving that the iPad success story is far more exception than rule. But does the Nexus 7 make enough headway as a tablet to lead Google’s hardware partners to the promised land of tablet dominance? And does it cure my indifference to tablets altogether?

When I said that Nexus hardware is no slouch, I meant it. Owning both a Galaxy Nexus and now the Nexus 7, it’s easy to see that Google wants a device that still feels premium without necessarily breaking the bank on materials. The Nexus 7 is the size of a DVD case with a heft that indicates it means business, but is light enough that it doesn’t fatigue your grip over long periods. On standby with light usage, the battery can last for days and even with heavy usage and video watching (like a 3AM screening of The Prestige while lying in bed) it still gave me a full day of Android-y goodness.

The tablet comes with wi-fi connectivity only, which is puzzling to me. I’ve read and heard so much about how iPad owners never used their 3G/4G connectivity and would opt for a wi-fi model in the future, but it seems antithetical. This is a device that’s designed to be mobile and small enough to keep with you anywhere, but even with access to all the same social and connectivity apps that the phones enjoy, you can’t use it everywhere (that is, unless you’re under a wi-fi umbrella). As a result, much of the tablet’s functionality (including Google Now, which I’ll talk about in a minute) is disabled as soon as I leave the house, much like it is on my laptop (although I can tether my GNex to my laptop and get it that way, but I digress.) Sure, I suppose I could download content to it, but maybe you have to intentionally draw the line on what you’re using the device for: a PC replacement or as a phone replacement.

The tablet’s display is a 7″ LCD running at 1280×800 which, while just a hair over the native resolution of the smaller Galaxy Nexus, equates to roughly the same experience when holding it at arm’s distance. At 216 pixels per inch, it’s not quite the density of the iPad 3′s “Retina Display” (264 pixels per inch), but I’d dare most anyone to discern between them. In short, the screen is detailed and gorgeous. Unfortunately, Samsung devices have spoiled me on the power of OLED. Even the best LCDs fall victim to their backlights, so the darkest blacks on the Nexus 7 still have the slight tinge of whitewash. Since it’s running Android 4.1 (and this applies to any 4.x device, for that matter), the home screen buttons are integrated into the OS rather than the bezel, but while they fade into the device on the Galaxy Nexus, they pop out here. It’s more a nitpick than anything, but the vibrancy and contrast of OLED displays have spoiled me.

Just like the iPad, the thicker bezel seems weird, but that’s simply the nature of the tablet: you need that extra space to grapple the thing. If you’ve never used a tablet, you’ll realize its usefulness immediately. The bezel also hosts the tablet’s single 1.3MP front-facing camera, which is for your Skypes and your Instagrams, but you’ll find no dedicated camera app here. A nice layer of Gorilla Glass is laid on top and, y’know, it’s indestructible and stuff. So that’s cool. Sadly missing: an LED notification light or haptic motors.