Frotz isn’t exactly an ereader app–so I can’t compare it to the other apps–as it’s a program that runs interactive fiction (IF) rather than ebooks. IF is a niche within a niche, sort of a cross between Choose Your Own Adventure books and old point and click computer games like Monkey Island, King’s Quest, and Maniac Mansion; akin to the hypertext literature championed by Robert Coover. It’s a form of entertainment that’s been around since the 1970s, when computers didn’t have graphics, and it’s nice to see that it still hold up so well on an iPhone app almost 40 years since the first (called Colossal Cave Adventure).
For such an old medium, there are a large amount of IF pieces still being programmed, and many are creative and well written. The genre is kept alive by a vibrant fan community, and you can find most any available IFs through their Interactive Fiction DataBase. Some of the writing reads a bit fan-fictional in quality, but much of it is surprisingly good. Awesomely, Frotz comes with 25 of the most popular IF titles preloaded. Plus, it can connect automatically and easily to the IFDB, allowing you to download and read/play on your device virtually ever IF title available
The art-deco color electronic paper display will surely appeal to a broad audience.
According to rumors stemming from Amazon’s design headquarters, the third version of the Kindle will be available as early as August of this year. It will reportedly have a touchscreen, backlight, full color display, and a host of new features and functions.
Purportedly among the “experimental” functions of Kindle 3 is Amazon’s new “Guess What Book I’m Thinking Of,” with which users will be able to find books they can’t remember the title of by giving Kindle “clues” such as “author probably Russian” and “think the grandmother dies.”
Reading will be easier and more pleasurable than ever, as Kindle 3 has 1024 shades of color, and will come with special Kindle contact lenses, which will display the text of books even while the user’s eyes are closed. … Continue reading »
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.
In the past few weeks, several companies have announced sheet-of-paper-sized ereaders, a trend which no doubt reflects a growing desire to crack into the lucrative business/student ebook market. The problem is that, while bigger screens are necessary for students and businesspeople, bigger screens alone will not make for a suitable device.
The fragility of the screens, the still nascent state of E-Ink, and the inadequacy of all current content interaction systems are just a few flaw that ereaders need to address before these devices become a commonplace sight on college campuses. Simply enlarging the display (and the price) won’t by itself create a perfect ereader for students and business users.
That said, though, I think this trend toward big ereaders could spell great news down the line for the state of ereading.
Here’s what’s happening, why it won’t be mind-blowing in the short-term, and how it could finally take ereaders mainstream. … Continue reading »
It's burning my retinas, even in this tiny unofficial mockup (photo credit: allthingsd.com)
For the record, I don’t put any stock into the rumors of Apple making an ereader. The reports state that Apple bought a bunch of touchscreens, not a bunch of E-Ink screens. Dedicated ereader devices simply cannot have LCD screens anymore. My guess is it’s a big iPod, like everybody first thought; even in that case, if they’re hyping a reading feature, backlit screens are a step back.
All that said, though, Apple entering the ereader market would be nothing but a good thing for readers.
On ITWorld, Peter Smith theorizes that one of the major reasons for Amazon’s popularity is its ease of use: you don’t have to fool around with formats or software, you just buy books right off the Kindle Store.
The tradeoff for this ease of use is a number of significant drawbacks: Kindlers have no alternative buying options, they’re strongly tethered to cripping digital restriction measures, they can’t borrow library ebooks, and they can’t download RSS feeds for free (and can’t download a lot of feeds at all). Plus, Kindle’s success is making Amazon a company that feels no desire to significantly improve its device. Understandably so, because nobody else can compete with their price, selection, name recognition, or that aforementioned streamlined book-buying process. … Continue reading »
The advantages of paper books that I have in mind here have already been discussed in some earlier posts and comments, namely notation and random access. I think these issues are worth further examining for two reasons: (1) these features must be carried over from one generation of reading device to the next; (2) the first company who gets them right will command the coveted academic and business markets (at least until someone comes up with The Great Universal eReader).
The quagmire of production and delivery aside, books are in fact very functional pieces of technology in their present form. They are durable, easy to use, and accommodating to different purposes. … Continue reading »
“The iPod of books” is a phrase I’m seeing tossed around more and more lately, either as and indication of what the industry needs, or praise of what the Kindle is. As I’ve already mentioned in my rather wandering and round-about posts, trying to make an ereader fit into the exact same business model as the iPod is not unlike shoving a square peg into a round hole, because the differences between books and music, in terms of portable devices, are many. Not to mention, while I’m tossing about clichés, Apple more or less caught lighting in a bottle with the iPod, and for a company to realistically assume to replicate the staggering numbers Apple has achieved in market share is like Saturn saying they’re going to best a Mercedes. It’s possible, but it takes actual work and R&D, not just advertising and a bunch of crude oil stock backing up a half-assed vehicle that’s still a poopy Saturn on the inside, and just looks like a Mercedes on the exterior.
Now I’m not a market analyst, and I won’t pretend to know how things will work or what companies are thinking as far as business tactics in the publishing space. But I do know that le dame Fortuna’s a rather fickle broad, and she doesn’t tend to help out those who just point at the rich guy next to him and say I want what he’s got. … Continue reading »
The two million estimate is way high, as the analysis grants, but still, with the addition of the Sony Reader, that makes only three Kindle competitors (the other two are BeBook and CyBook) available in large swaths of the world. So why isn’t Kindle trying to spread its tentacles across the globe? … Continue reading »
Quick news: Engadget reports that BeBook Classic (pictured) is getting a major upgrade in the form of a $40 SD card accessory that enables WiFi.
I’d love to see a few things:
Improved interface and support for library books supported with the accompanying firmware update; currently you have to use an unwieldy hack to borrow library books on BeBook
Open browsing (fat chance of this, I would imagine, but I can dream)
And an auto-download feature that would wrangle and package RSS feeds
(If that last one comes through, it should have ol’ Bezos cackling a little less maniacally.)
Engadget also has a new picture of the BeBook 2 (MobileRead has another one here). Not much we didn’t know already about it: touchscreen, wireless, ePub. Still waiting for the first video for a touchscreen demo, but we might shouldn’t hold our breath: Engadget says BeBook 2′s programming wasn’t quite sound yet, and Endless Ideas is still keeping it under wraps.
Even bigger than the video will be news of BeBook 2′s price point, which Endless Ideas is also keeping a tight lid on. Ominously.