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Old 07-11-2009, 01:06 PM   #1
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Could Netbooks Kill off the E-Reader?

I've been thinking a lot about this, and with the upcoming release of the Asus eepc t91 I think we might be getting closer to a netbook that will serve as a good ebook reader.

The Assus T91 is a fully fledged Netbook with an 8.9" screeen, 16GB SSD, webcam, SD slot all the usual suspects. But the t91 has two features that would make it a good ebook reader for a lot of people. Touchscreen and tablet format. You can swivel the screen around into a very comfortable looking and touch driven screen. Perfect for those pesky PDF's and colour comics, along with anything else that can be read on your computer. Also they're claiming 5 hours battery.

The asking price for this is rumoured to be in the £450 mark, but remember this is a fully fledged computer, not just an ereader. Here's some video:






So what do you think about the t91? Will the dedicated e-reader become a tiny insignifcant niche in the face of cheap and powerful netbooks? If they do become more popular, will we see the adoption of PDF across the board as the 'ebook' standard?

Last edited by Moejoe; 07-11-2009 at 01:38 PM. Reason: spellling
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Old 07-11-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
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So what do you think aobut the t91? Will the dedicated e-reader become a tiny insignifcant niche in the face of cheap and powerful netbooks? If they do become more popular, will we see the adoption of PDF across the board as the 'ebook' standard?
Dedicated e-ink readers already is a tiny niche. I remember reading a post here which I agree with entirely. The ghist of it is, rather than replacing dedicated readers, portable LCD-based devices such as the Asus EEE PC T91, iPhone/iPod Touch, Viliv X70, etc would bring ebooks to the attention of a much wider audience.
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Old 07-11-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
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I reckon I'll stick with my CyBook for now.
I think the eink display is better in sunlight. I can whip it out and start reading any time, any where (e.g. waiting in a supermarket queue), it's more portable - I can read comfortably in bed or in the bath, and it has a better battery life.
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Old 07-11-2009, 01:53 PM   #4
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Maybe when netbooks with the Pixel Qi screen or better become available, smaller eink devices will have more competition. Until then, the main reason I don't don't like to read books on an LCD screen (computer or iPod) is the same, eye strain.
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Old 07-11-2009, 01:56 PM   #5
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So what do you think about the t91? Will the dedicated e-reader become a tiny insignifcant niche in the face of cheap and powerful netbooks? If they do become more popular, will we see the adoption of PDF across the board as the 'ebook' standard?
Dedicated ebook readers already are a niche market.
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Old 07-11-2009, 04:40 PM   #6
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That's a hard one to say. Dedicated readers often have the advantage of smaller size, lighter weight, and much longer battery life. That latter is a real advantage. the T91 will weight at least a kilo and have maybe 6 hours battery charge, compared to say 1/3 kilo and 20 books per battery charge for a dedicated liseuse.
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Old 07-11-2009, 06:06 PM   #7
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I'm not sure I would call a netbook a "full fledged computer". Sure they can do all the basic stuff, like web browsing and word processing, but their specs are too weak to handle many programs. Plus they don't even possess an optical drive unless you purchase an external one.

More on topic though I think the electronic reader is here to stay. They probably won't remain single function devices however, but rather implement things like basic internet browsing and note taking. Much like we're already starting to see with the Kindle and iRex products. The technology will improve as well... eInk's refresh rate gets faster with every iteration, and eventually we'll have color. They may never be as functional as netbooks, but then there has to be some sort of trade off for weight, battery life, and daylight viewability advantages.
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:05 PM   #8
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I learned here that my old Nokia N800 Internet Tablet could be used as a most excellent reader. Now I read more on it than I do on either my Sony PRS-505 or my jetBook.

Is an N800 a full fledged computer? There are those who would say yes, and it is more powerful than the first several computers I owned. Although, one of the reasons I like it is it fits quite nicely in my pocket, unlike any netbook or UMPC I've ever heard of.
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:23 PM   #9
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I'd like to see how the screen works when reading in the car during mid-day. That's the closest I come to reading out of doors in the sun. Since I cannot use my laptop in the car -- except at night -- I'm not optimistic about a netbook being any better.
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:43 PM   #10
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Until someone comes up with an LCD screen with 15+ hours battery life, they won't challenge dedicated ebook readers. And even then, it'll be touchy--one of the appeal points of dedicated readers is the small size; they fit in a purse or large pocket. (Well, most of them. The Ebookwise-1150 is a bit of a stretch for that, but it's also ancient tech as these things go.)

While netbooks could be pitched as ebook devices (or, "books and games and hey, you can check your email too!"), they aren't likely to catch on for the non-techie crowd until they match the Kindle/Sony/Bebook convenience factor: load it up with content, drag it around in your bag, and when you've got time, you can read it. Netbooks & other laptops take near-daily maintenance; if you set it on the shelf for a week, the batteries are dead & it's not ready to go when you need it.

And while LCD screens take a long time to bother me (erm, after a week of 10 hours a day in front of the screen, I notice my eyes hurting), some people are bothered much sooner. And computer screens & programs both don't seem to be working towards good ebook functionality--rotatable screens, software that manages both an ebook library and individual book notes (annotations, where-I-left-off settings, etc.). (There are programs that do this, but the only ones I've seen only manage 1 filetype.)

Devices like iPhone/iTouch may compete, because they're portable enough for people to put up with short battery life. But it's been plenty mentioned that 3" screens have limited appeal; they're not going to displace devices that look like books.

"Looks like a real book" may be a bigger selling point than a lot of us tech-savvy ebookists think about. It may not matter how perfect the netbook gets, even if it folds the keyboard under the screen for easy reading with just a slider on the side to scroll through pages--if it says "computer" and not "book" in the owner's mind, it may not catch their interest as a book reader.
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Old 07-11-2009, 10:15 PM   #11
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Some day in the future, they will be very usable as ebook readers. Different screens, easier on the eyes. Removable keyboards, who wants all that bulk while reading? Even 15 hours of battery life is perhaps not enough. But then again, by the time these things actually get there 6" e-ink readers will be down to $99 or lower. And who really needs another computer? I have my laptop (and I certainly don't want to use a computer with a 6" screen!), I have 2 phones which can function as full computers, if I need one. So my guess is, these netbooks/tablets will be replacing large screen readers (9.7" or more), but the 5" and 6" readers could only be replaced by phones with pull-out or fold-up screens (which are in the works).
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:39 AM   #12
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Yeah, that is a tough question. I spent this afternoon virtually shopping for a multifunction device to add to my gadget collection. My main function for it is to read ebooks, of course.
I looked at the Asus T91, the Viliv EX70, the Archos 9, and Always Innovating's TouchBook. Once we figured out that both MS Reader and Mobipocket reader can be coerced to work in WINE (a way to make some Windows programs work in Linux), that opened up more possibilities.
The TouchBook is the cheapest, and also has the form factor I want (tablet). At ten hours of battery life with the keyboard half attached, it's a definite contender.
And then of course there's always the anticipation of Astak's Spectrum model when it comes out.
I already know I won't be getting anything until tax time next year. Student status does have a few perks...and they show up in refunds.
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:42 AM   #13
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Maybe when netbooks with the Pixel Qi screen or better become available, smaller eink devices will have more competition. Until then, the main reason I don't don't like to read books on an LCD screen (computer or iPod) is the same, eye strain.
I agree with it. I have Samsung 10' Netbook and jetBook and I never used netbook as eBook reader because I can't read from LCD screen more than 20 minutes.
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Old 07-12-2009, 03:39 AM   #14
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Eventually it will but we still have a good 5 years until netbooks move to tablet form, get a Pixel Qi like screen in them with touch capabilities and are also light and thin enough to be carried and held easily to overtake the eReaders. I think tablet LCD screens will be the mainstream but you'll always be able to get a eReader device, its like Palm Pilots are now, you can find one if you wanted it but why would you want it when there are better things available. Right now eReaders are the best option for people that seriously read eBooks, a few years down the line I dont think that will be the case anymore seeing what stuff is coming out. Pixel Qi screens alone could knock out a huge need for and eInk reader but the netbook is still too big to be used in place of a book.
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Old 07-12-2009, 04:18 AM   #15
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I agree with it. I have Samsung 10' Netbook and jetBook and I never used netbook as eBook reader because I can't read from LCD screen more than 20 minutes.
Now Kris, you know that's not so! Your jetBook has an LCD screen, and I know from experience that it's great! Better than eInk in fact. It's just not backlit.
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