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5May/110

Forrester? or an ignorant column on “demise” of dedicated e-readers ?

Demise of dedicated e-readers

  It was pointed out to me in a comment today that not only will e-readers get ever less-expensive (as most certainly all have expected them to, as pieces of electronics), but we now have another column predicting the Death of dedicated e-reader devices.

  Forrester seems most to blame for the false reasoning used in this most recent wish-for-attention column (and they're getting it) because Forrester sees tablets and e-readers in a contest that e-readers cannot "win."

  Are simpler cars in ongoing contests with multi-featured cars that the simpler cars must "win" or "die"? Will they stop manufacturing sports car models because they are not as easy-to-operate and aren't able to carry families on vacation trips?  Will the sports cars "lose" to the family sedan?  Simplistic black & white thinking carries the day usually.

  I've no patience with wishful thinking based on not understanding different technologies nor reasons why one technology, predicted soon dead by the same experts mentioned last year, proved so popular in the last year during the time that the iPad certainly claimed hearts and minds.  Buyers knew the difference, if not some gadget columnists who think only in terms of 'appearance' (drab, plain, retro) and carry mainly the "cool kid" mentality as we saw for the last year and a half until many of them decided one type of technology actually DID seem "cool" to many hoping to just read books rather than flash around playing games and surfing the web at every chance (I'm one of the latter).

  I'm behind in blogging because I was away, but I will (b)log this one before the others that I've put on a todo-list because obviously there will be much written about the latest research opinions, as happened in 2010 when all predicting the end of e-readers by the end of the year often seemed to hope they were right.

  Inevitably, yes, if/when we can get color screens for dedicated-readers while keeping the relaxing quality of e-Ink effect on eyes that don't want LCD screens for reading novels, inevitably today's e-readers (or even today's tablets) will not be wanted or needed, even if dedicated e-readers are light to carry because they are dedicated to one activity.  Everything in life does change.

  I decided to blog the response I made to a note in the blog's Comment areas, which was a helpful link to the story (because e-readers WILL drop in price as was the comment-writer's focus, which is the good and obvious point of some of the researcher opinions).

  I'm still reviewing the news of an inevitable Amazon Android Tablet (which I initially blogged (August 2010) when a long-time Computerworld columnist reported receiving confirmation from his Amazon sources in August that there WOULD be an Android tablet from Amazon.

  The recent information on the technology involved in an Amazon order for tablets from Quanta Computer (with screen-panel properties licensed by E-Ink Holdings (for fringe field switching -- which is for LCD screens) has been vague and I'll write on that later today.  Since some columnists have interpreted the "2nd half of 2011" as "by the holidays 2011" because of the time to produce, test and stock these, I hadn't jumped on it yet as the news traveled fast on Twitter, Facebook and Kindle forums, where I was involved in discussions.

  Back to the column on latest expert research.  Here's my response (slightly modified for the blog-post) to the Huffington Post article on the 'demise' of the dedicated e-reader and its days "being numbered."   Catchy thought, no?

' Didn't Forrester and assorted columnists predict the end of the Kindle itself by the end of 2010 due to the popularity of the iPad and other tablets?

Also, never in a truly idiotic presentation of the premise for the death of dedicated e-readers does the article mention Forrester speaking to the issue of E-INK (which they may have! and it was columnist idiocy instead that produced the gist re the death of dedicated e-readers).


Or, it may have been Forrester's. The many studies done have been wrong about the popularity of e-reader devices before, when the iPad arrived, asking leading questions in their surveys.

I have [and enjoy] a NookColor and I intend to get the Amazon tablet if it comes, for the color magazine capability and for portable web-browsing but with Amazon features that I hope will be better done in software than is the B&N tablet-reader.

I would *never* give up the e-Ink model for an LCD tablet, for reading books. And there are voluminous notes on forums that say the same thing, by people who own tablets or semi-tablets along with their Kindles or other e-Ink readers.

If years from now they have non-LCD and e-paper-type capabilities for relaxing reading (eye care for many), along with color on a par with vibrant color in LCD tablets, then the dedicated e-reader may not be needed (though they'll always be lighter) -- but not mentioning e-Ink here at all is sheer ignorance when predicting demise of current e-readers due to interest in tablets.  It reminds me of the columnist who idiotically placed a picture of a tombstone at the head of his column last summer with the wording that the Kindle would die and be buried as of 2010 due to the birth of the iPad.  Experts want what they want.

There is a wish there that's just unseemly and speaks to a special kind of extreme love for electronic sleekness over everything else that has to do with their own disliking the "drab" or "retro" *look* of e-ink readers.  Actual functionality is rarely addressed.

But you're right in your own emphasis that e-reader prices will go down.  I thought most people have seen this with ALL electronics.

The FLIP camera? GOD. It has the same end result as a fine in-camera HD movie thing. It's not remotely like e-Ink vs color. '

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   K3 Special, 4   DX Graphite


Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

4May/110

Ereaders fail at education

That’s the title of an article in Fast Company today.  Here’s a snippet:

A recent University of Washington study interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the university’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering, which participated in a pilot study of Amazon’s Kindle DX (a large-screen e-reader). By seven months into the study, fewer than 40% of the students did their schoolwork on the Kindle. The problem: the Kindle has poor note-taking support, doesn’t allow for easy skimming, and makes it difficult for students to look up references (in comparison with computers and textbooks). As a result, some of the students interviewed kept sheets of paper with their Kindle case to take notes, and other read near computers so that they could easily look up references.

There’s another, larger problem, according to the U of W:

The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues such as the location on the page and the position in the book to go back and find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.


Except for the cognitive mapping issue, these are all are technical problems that could all be fixed in future Kindle upgrades.

Thanks to @draccah for the link.  Anybody got any more info on “cognitive mapping”?  Sounds like an interesting topic.

3May/110

Kno is not really dead, merely no longer planning to make ereaders





Seems I was not 100% correct when I wrote that the Kno was not to be:

As a result of the post I wrote yesterday, in which I said that I thought that the Monster Kno ereaders were not going to happen,  I have had a prompt reaction from the Kathryn Kelly of Kno inc., in which she pointed me at a press release that I had not noticed  – perhaps its rather long winded and not exactly clear title may have been why I didnt notice it…..  It glories in the name of  Intel Capital, Advance Publications, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, FLOODGATE and SV Angels Invest Million In Kno”. Has a certain “zing” to it, doesn’t it?

Back to basics, it seems:

Anyhow, in this press release it is stated that Kno will be concentrating on their core business, which is the production of educational software, and drop the idea of producing their own ereaders, so I was partly correct at least.  But it is a pity all the same…………………..

As they say in that press release:

As part of the agreement, Intel and Kno will join forces to advance the use of tablet computers designed to meet the needs of interactive and 1:1 student learning environments. The two companies will explore opportunities to make Kno’s touch-based applications available for Intel’s educational platforms.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to continue building our solutions in broader education markets and onto the innovative Intel-based platforms,” said Osman Rashid, CEO and Co-Founder, Kno, Inc. “We look forward to working together with the ultimate goal of making learning engaging, collaborative and fun for students.”

“Kno’s unique end-to-end software and their experience with content publishers aligns very well with Intel’s approach of delivering a holistic solution for education that comprises of hardware, software, digital content and services,” said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president. “We plan to work with Kno and continue to bring a wide range of innovative platform choices to students worldwide.”

Thus Kno inc.

Whilst, given the costs involved in producing and  marketing such dedicated devices, which would probably only be  attractive to a relatively small market, make it a rather dodgy area to get involved in, especially right now with the current wave of tablets and the effect this is having on the ereader market, I have to confess that I am rather saddened by this announcement.

It means I shall never get my hands on a Monster Kno ereader… Oh woe is me………..

I was very taken with the idea of those monstrous ereaders they were planning to produce, and would have dearly loved to have been given the chance to try one out.   Thus I envy those lucky few folk who apparently did manage to get hold of one of them at the start of this year.   I wonder what will happen to those examples of Kno ereaders now?

Anyhow, I hope that I have now set the record right with this post, and await further developments from Kno inc with interest.


Link to my previous post on this topic: monster-ereaders-from-kno-appear-to-be-dead-in-the-water-no-news-for-ages/

Link to Kno: http://www.kno.com/

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Any thoughts on the demise of those huge ereaders?




3May/110

Demand for ereaders not strong enough for new market entry to continue

Vivitek e reader img assist custom 300x247

From E-Reader-Info:

Delta Electronics is developing e-paper technologies (based on Bridgestone’s color E-Paper technology), andplanned to launch a 8.2″ and 13.1″ color e-readers soon. But now we hear that the company says that e-reader demand is not strong currently (the market was severely impacted by tablets) and the company decided to wait for the right time to enter the market. The company is still optimistic about the future potential of e-paper applications.

Delta invested NT2-3 billion (which is about -5 million) in e-paper production in its plants in Taiwan. Delta currently produces e-paper for labels, magazine and digital signage.

3May/110

Study: E-readers not doing it for computer science students

The digital classroom

College e-textbooks have long been seen as salvation by many textbook publishers. That hope may be misguided. According to a Seattle Times report , in a study conducted on computer science students that that will be released next week, researchers at the University of Washington found that, “Seven months into the study, more than 60 percent of the students had stopped using their Kindle regularly for academic reading — and these were computer science students, who are presumably more sympathetic to an electronic book.”

Alex Thayer, a UW doctoral student in design and engineering, and one of the authors of the report, told the Times,”There is no e-reader that supports what we found these students doing. It remains to be seen how to design one. It’s a great space to get in to, there’s a lot of opportunity.”

The study, involving 39 first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering, used the largest Kindle, the DX, a 9.00 investment. While the device allows note-taking, the report noted that “students still tucked paper into the Kindle case to write notes and others would read near a computer that they could use for reference and other tasks that weren’t easy on the device.”

Other findings on student textbook reading habits discussed in the report were:

  • Students did most of the reading in fixed locations: 47 percent of reading was at home, 25 percent at school, 17 percent on a bus and 11 percent in a coffee shop or office.
  • The Kindle DX was more likely to replace students’ paper-based reading than their computer-based reading.
  • Of the students who continued to use the device, some read near a computer so they could look up references or do other tasks that were easier to do on a computer. Others tucked a sheet of paper into the case so they could write notes.
  • With paper, three quarters of students marked up texts as they read. This included highlighting key passages, underlining, drawing pictures and writing notes in margins.
  • A drawback of the Kindle DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article’s illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students frequently made such switches as they read course material.
  • The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues, such as the location on the page and the position in the book to find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.

All points certain to be duly noted by the Seattle developers.

3May/110

Monster ereaders from Kno appear to be dead in the water- no news for ages





The original Kno monster ereader has died?

I have been following, or at least trying to follow the development of the Kno ereaders – you may remember them, a couple of insanely huge ereaders aimed specifically at students and teachers.

Sadly it is starting to seem to me that this amazing pair of ereaders are yet another example of an idea (good or bad) that was announced with much loud trumpeting and noise, and then sort of quietly faded away into an embarrassed silence.

I gather from their press department that they have managed to ship a few examples of their ereaders, but I have no information about how many those few may actually be, and what sort of reactions they had from those lucky few who have managed to get their hands on one or other of these ereaders.

The last news (for want of a better word) was way back in January, when I was told that they were experiencing supply problems with their ereaders, and that they would let me know when they were in a position to start serious spreading of these wondrous devices…. since when, total silence.

Also, there have been no new updates on their blog…….  All is stationary apparently.

Thus, I conclude that the two Kno ereaders will probably never actually happen in any real sense, which is sort of a pity, as they were really rather extraordinary devices, which I for one would have loved to have got my hands on.   But that is not to be, I suspect.

For what it is worth, here is the link to their website:  http://kno.com/




28Apr/110

The Chinese still believe in ereaders – Hanvon show their next ereader to the world





Don’t despair, dedicated ereaders are still being developed.

I came across this story on The Digital Reader blog just now, and am feeling rather comforted by it, as lately I had begun to wonder if the entire world was moving over to an endless series of Android Tablets, rather than real purpose built ereaders for us to read our ebooks on.

Happily it seems that I might be wrong in  this assumption, as Hanvon, one of the biggest makers of ereaders in the world, who have the greater part of the enormous and growing Chinese ereader market for themselves to all intents and purposes are announcing new models that will appear in the course of this year.

I know, so often this sort of announcement turns out to be vapour ware, but Hanvon have a good record of actually producing the ereaders they promise us, so we shall see.

Not much information yet……..

So far not much is known about this ereader, but it seems to be pretty much the same as the olderN516 model, so, to give you an idea of what to expect, here are the specs for the N516 ereader:-

So I assume that for the main part the B516 will be much as the N516, but presumably with a number of improvements, reflecting the advances that have occurred since the launch of the N516.

Price: Absolutely no idea yet, sorry.

This video gives us some indications about how it will be….  so sit back and watch.

 

So there is still life in the dedicated ereader world it would seem, which pleases me a lot.

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Any thoughts on this announcement?




27Apr/110

Sony announce launch of two new tablets – both good as ereaders





Double screens to amaze us.. and one large screened one too:

Sony have just announced at an event in Tokyo that they will be launching two new Android 3.0 tablets onto the world later this year.

What we have here are the romantically named S1 and S2 Android tablets, well, these are their current names, but I suspect that at launch they will bear rather more appealing names, well, I hope so at least.

The S1:

The S1 is a large screened tablet(9.4 inch) which will come with two cameras, one rear facing, the other, logically, front facing, so you can indulge in the most extraordinary video chats with this baby.  I have not yet worked out quite why anyone would want two video cameras on their devices, but I assume it meets some deep seated need that I am not aware of yet.

The S1 will be completely focused on supporting Qriocity – Sony’s music, games, ebooks, and videos on demand service that’s just been launched in Europe- and will come preloaded with Playstation integration.

One nice touch with the S1 is that it comes complete with an infra-red sender, so you may use it to control all manner of house hold gadgets…TVs and so on…. Nice thought, eh?

And for reading ebooks?

All well and good, but will it be any use as an ereader?   Simple answer is yup, it will be.  It also comes with the Sony ereader software, so sorting out your ebooks on it will be as easy as on any dedicated Sony ereader, thus Sony are crossing over to the current trend of ereaders being tablets and vice versa.

As this device is about the same size and weight as an iPad, Sony have taken a lot of trouble to sort out the comfort in use problems of the iPad, and designed it in such a way that the weight is placed off centre and over the users hand and wrist, giving the feeling that it is much lighter, this they call the “wrap” form.   It is described as follows:

The tablet’s “wrap” design is meant to remind the owner of something personal in the way that it mimics an open paperback stuffed into the back pocket, or a magazine folded backward upon itself such that only a single page is visible to read. A design that also gives the tablet’s display enough angle to comfortably touch-type when placed on a table. It also makes one-handed operation a bit less taxing on the wrist by shifting the center of gravity to the bulbous edge of the device as in our mock-up above. A trick meant to reduce the torque that makes 10-inch tablets uncomfortable to hold one-handed for an extended length of time (when reading an ebook, for example). So even though the S1 is about the same size and weight as Apple’s iPad, we’re told that it feels lighter since most of the weight is shifted directly into the user’s hand and over the wrist. Naturally, the screen UI rotates allowing for right- or left-handed use and we’re told that it’s still comfortable to hold in landscape mode where the bulging edge is typically held at the top.

Source: http://www.engadget.com

The tablet itself, we’re told, is 100 percent focused on Qriocity,  It comes preloaded with Sony PS One games, a Bravia Media Remote, and PlayStation integration

Further, it has a touch screen wireless  and 3G connectivity and is in all respects a very advanced bit of gear, which given the rumored price it should be.  The rumours say it will go for about USD 600, so not really something you would buy without serious thought first.

The S2:

Now this is a weird one, it has two screens, relatively small (5.5-inch 1,024 x 480 pixel displays) which are built in a clam form, so you can simply click it shut and dump it in your pocket, much as with your mobile phone.

Sony takes advantage of the two screens with a custom book-style UI layout for its e-reader app, split keyboard and messaging displays for email, and split display and game controllers for PS One gaming. Both the S1 and S2 are PlayStation Certified, support DLNA, and are WiFi and 3G/4G “compatible” according to Sony.

Oh, all of this will set you back about USD 700!

So, two rather interesting devices coming soon to a store in your town – well that is if you live in Japan or America, Europe and the rest of us will have to wait a bit longer it seems before we can get our hands on either of these two marvels.

As ereaders?

Well, obviously both these devices are primarily intended as tablets, rather than ereaders – Sony have a complete range of dedicated and very good ereaders after all, but for those who simply have to have as many functions as possible united into one device, and are prepared to pay for this convenience, and are not worried by the problems of short battery endurance and the impossibility of reading in any bright sunlight situation, then either of these will be very interesting devices to own I feel.

Just to show you what they look like in action:

 

 

So, there you have them……..

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What are your views on such devices?   Are they the future for ereading or not?  Do let us know your feelings about this subject.




26Apr/110

Dedicated ereaders or tablets with ereader Apps – which is the way to go?





Tablet or  ereader?  Which should you buy for reading ebooks with?

Last year was definitely the Year of the ereader, during which new models were appearing almost every week, driving bloggers such as myself mad trying to keep up with them all.  It was a year of exciting technical developments on all ereader fronts, with considerable advances being made in the quality of the screen technologies being used, the methods for buying ebooks online and all such matters.  And perhaps most importantly, the prices for ereaders went down like a lift, starting the year at hundreds of dollars, and ending it with perfectly usable ereaders going for as little as .

All very exciting and encouraging for those of us who believed that dedicated ereaders were the way to go.

Then came the iPad and the whole thing changed.

Here was a device that allowed  one to read ebooks in comfort (well, relative comfort, it is sort of big and heavy) and also allowed us to view videos, listen to music, had colour and a whole heap of things which normally one would need a computer for.

This in its turn engendered the current flood of mostly Android based tablet computers that are arriving at the same sort of rate that new ereaders were appearing last year, and completely muddying the water when it comes to deciding whether to by a “real” ereader – such as a Sony or Kindle, or one of these new multifunctional devices.

All dancing, all singing ereading:

Increasingly one is seeing these tablets being touted as perfect devices on which to read one’s ebooks with as they offer publishers so much more in the way of multimedia content possibilities, beautiful colour illustrations, embedded videos, interactive ebooks , magazines and so on, all the things which a Kindle or Sony in all honesty can not really compete with.

However, all this said, there are a couple of what the Dutch call adders in the grass here, which you should consider before deciding which type of device to purchase if ereading is what you are interested in primarily.

As Joe, a regular commentator to this blog puts it, he wants a ereader for his ereading, not a 0 computer.   This is surely one hell of a large adder in the grass.

Further, real dedicated ereaders can be read happily in any situation that a normal paper book may be  read in…. outside in bright sunlight, or any other place with enough light to enable you to read easily, and for those darker places, there are numerous clip on lights to give you enough light to read in the dark, without bothering others around you.

Dedicated ereaders are much easier on the eyes than back-lit LCD screens – anyone who has stared at  a computer screen for a couple of hours will know what I mean by this, ePaper screens are exactly the same as ordinary paper when it comes to eye strain, and with the ability to enlarge the font size, no matter how good or bad your eyesight.

Multifunctional or dedicated?

The main issue here I feel is the point about whether a fully multifunctional (and relatively expensive) device is suitable as an ereader, and if all those extra functions add anything to the basic function of being able to read ebooks comfortably.

This is the crux of the matter I feel, and at the risk of seeming to be some sort of techie Luddite, I have to confess that in this instance, I personally prefer to read my ebooks on a device that is specifically designed for this function, and thus does it perfectly and doesnt tempt me to indulge in all manner of other activities when I want to read.  Having played with various tablets now, I find the fact that it tells me that an email has come in, or offers me some other form of activity when I want to read simply distracting… When reading a book, electronic or paper, I want to remain completely undisturbed by the world about me, so I can fully immerse myself in the book I am reading.  This is what a dedicated ereader gives me, and this is all important to me.  I have a small portable computer for all other online type activities.

I know all the arguments about tablets giving publishers the possibility to give us all manner of highly interactive ebooks, rather as if our huge unwieldy Coffee Table books have suddenly come to life, and started to talk to us.  I rather feel that we are dealing with two completely separate ideas here, and there is a real risk that we – and the  manufacturers – may well become lost in trying to unite them into one device.

What do we look for when reading ebooks, or paper books?

Most people when  reading a book (paper or electronic) want to simply slide into the world that the author has created, and not be bothered with  all manner of tricky extras.   Reading an interactive ebook of whatever sort, can be very educational, or even amusing in a video game sort of a way, but it is not the same as simply opening a book and sliding into happy solitude.   The two experiences are totally different.

I realise that one can simply read an ebook on any tablet, and with some of them even turn off all distracting programs that might be running on the device – but who actually takes that trouble?   I don’t know about you, but if I see that a new email has arrived, I find it almost impossible to ignore it, and if I am reading at the time, I am dragged out of the world of the ebook, and plunged back into my daily,  real, life… not what I want when reading.

I also appreciate that having as many functions as possible in one device has its charms too, only having to cart one device around rather than several is obviously an attractive idea, but I liken it to the so-called universal tools one can buy, you know, all those attachments for an electric drill – a jig saw attachment, and sanding attachment, a metal cutting attachment and so on, they all work, but do not work as well as a hand tool that is specifically designed to do a particular job, and I feel the same about tablets when considered as ereaders, they do the job, but a Kindle or Sony does it so much better.

If this trend continues, I shall find myself writing yet another blog on all manner of computer matters, rather than specifically about ereaders, which I am not really sure I want to do.

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So, am I simply a backwards looking idiot, refusing to see the wonderful advantages of a tablet, or am I right?   Do share your views on this argument with us here.




23Apr/110

Shop e-Readers Easter Weekend Sale

Apr

23

By Michael Koz

shopereaders

Our retail sponsor Shop e-Readers is having a Easter Weekend sale where they have tons of deals on screen protectors, carrying cases, and even e-readers!

Shop e-Readers is the leading online webstore devoted exclusively to e-readers and tablet computers! This weekend they have a number of Barnes & Noble and Amazon carrying cases and pouches on sale. If you are in the market for a new e-reader the Amazon Kindle WIFI, Jetbook Lite, and Entourage Pocket Edge are both on sale.

If you are hunting around for a new Tablet PC they have the new Elocity A7 Tablet PC on sale for 9.99.

Finally a number of adapters are marked down, such as USB, Micro USB, and Mini USB cables.

Check out the full list of Shop e-Reader Easter Weekend Sales HERE.

Related posts:

  1. Shop e-Readers Store open for business
  2. Apple may have sold 1 million iPad 2′s in opening weekend
  3. Entourage Pocket Edge gets officially announced
  4. enTourage’s eDGe is now available at Amazon
  5. Kobo Wireless eReader Now Available at Future Shop
  6. Entourage Pocket Edge new details and pictures
Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News, Tablet PC News, Technology
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