Before we get to the links, a little site promotion: I was Christmas shopping for books today and I wanted to get a mystery novel for my grandfather. Where did I look? Why the C4 Book Reviews section of course. Give it another peek, maybe you’ll find some gift ideas of your own. Also, check out our Best Books of 2009 feature, which will be updated Mondays through January. Well, enough of that…
I walked by a SonyStyle store the other day, and I have to admit they’re doing a good job of pushing their Readers in brick and mortar stores (I’ve also seen them in Best Buy stores amongst others as well). And while they have a decent selection of models, I’m not sure these themed Readers are quite necessary. In other ereader news, the Aiptek Storybook inColor is pretty neato looking, though I still don’t think an LCD ereader is ever going to really fly. The Aluratek Libre has a nice pricetag, but the same LCD concern still applies. (Before you poo-poo me, electronic ink–in our opinion–really does make a huge difference. Here are my initial impressions of the tech from last spring.)
The COOL-ER is getting a hardware upgrade, making it marginally cool-er in the eyes of the other wallflower ereaders. And there’s lots of Applet Tablet rumors floating around this week, but I’m not going to link to any, beacause I’m sick of them. We’ll discuss an Apple Tablet and its secondary ereader abilites only when (if) it actually gets announced. Here’s a review of the Sungale Cyberus, which also doesn’t look all that impressive.
So after taking last Wednesday off for haiku, we’re back with two weeks’ worth of scuttlebutt:
Creative (maker of the iPod’s poor, homely, and ignored cousin) threw their hat into the ring with the Zii Mediabook. I’d like to go on the record as saying this is an even dumber name than Nook or Alex. Speaking of, the makers of the Alex have sued Barnes & Noble over the Nook’s dual screen design. Also with dual screens, I can’t decide if the Entourage Edge looks cool or crappy, but I’m leaning toward crappy.
The inexpensive Jetbook Lite is available now (thanks to reader Ben for the heads up). And on the horizon, ASUS wants in the ereader game after all their netbook success. And so does Bridgestone, after all their tire success? It’s bendy, which is cool. Apparently there are some snazzy new E-Ink processor chips in the pipeline, so hopefully we’ll seem even more creative new tech soon. Lots of ereader hype this selling season, might we finally be at the verge of the Great eReader Adoption?
There have been a bunch of images and rumors floating around over the weekend about the soon-to-be released Barnes & Noble ereader device, and they’re some pretty slick images and rumors.
If all is to be believed, the machine–maybe named the Athena–is designed by former Apple designers (who also worked on the original Kindle?) and will feature two screens on a single plane. The main screen is black and white, utilizing E-Ink, and the second, smaller, navigation/data entry screen features full color multitouch LCD.
Pretty awesome and innovative. Such a combination could possibly obviate a lot of the discussions on the disparities between the various ereaders’ screens in the current generation. The machine supposedly runs on Google’s Android OS, meaning it could stand well above the rest in the firmware department as well.
Barnes & Noble has been selling ebooks at competitive prices in eReader format for some months now. They are clearly aiming to take a big bite out of the Kindle’s (not entirely deserved) pie. No word yet on whether they will take a similar propritary format approach as their competetion, but it would definitely be interesting if the device remians open to other formats (particulary if it can handle library books).
There will be a press conference on Tuesday–most likely a full, official reveal with specs. We’ll know more then. Check back later in the week for the skinny.
The Kindle may as well have an antenna with tin foil on it.
With the launch of the Fujistsu FLEPia next month there’s finally going to be a color ereader on the market, in Japan at least. The specs look pretty good. Not only does it appear to be open to all the major formats used in Japan, but the FLEPia has a built-in Windows OS that allows for basic internet browsing, email, and word processing. It looks a lot like the cross-functional device we’ve been calling for. Too bad it’s being released only in Japan and costs $1000.
You can see a video of the FLEPia in action at the bottom of this post. It’s a bit hard to tell with the glare on the video, but the large 260,000 color touchscreen seems to work pretty well. The refresh rate seems a little slower than grayscale readers, but not awful. So when are we going to get this kind of stuff in America?
A better question might be why don’t we have it already? The E Ink Corporation, the brains behind the tech in most of the current-gen ereaders announced color technology in 2005, long before the Kindle came on the scene. Some one should probably tell Amazon this. When asked by PaidContent.org about color on the Kindle, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos responded:
We would love to have color but electronic ink doesn’t do color.
Apparently Amazon didn’t get E Ink’s press release.
For the most part, books don’t require color to be enjoyed, and the makers of ereaders likely want to keep their production costs as low as they can. Grayscale readers are still selling steadily at premium price points, so they haven’t needed color.
The opportunities flexible electronic paper create are many.
But with netbooks poised to outsell laptops, and smartphones essentially becoming minicomputers, the market is clearly primed for a fully functional intermediary device such as this. The difference between electronic paper and backlit LCD screens is drastic, and when it starts hitting ereaders in color, things will move quickly. E Ink is already shopping their newest flexible, color displays. Here’s hoping the FLEPia will scare Amazon into focusing on bettering their technology, rather than nickel-and-diming users for content that is free on browsers and forced DRM. Then Sony and the rest of the ereader producers can work on selling better, rather than adequate, tech to the ebook hungry masses.
Via bznotes, eink.com, Wired, Crunch Gear, PaidContent.org.