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Old 09-13-2009, 11:23 PM   #1
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The future of e-book readers

I'm not a psychic, but after decades of experience in computers and electronics, I can forecast this:

1) e-readers will not remain single-purpose devices.
2) tablet computers and e-readers will move toward each other functionally.
3) this will drive the tablet/e-reader to become more 'open'.
4) they will have to standardize on an OS, programming interfaces, etc.

Currently, I believe, most e-readers use a variety of Linux for their OS. I think there's a fair window of time where 1, 2 or 3 major e-reader manufacturers could band together (or go solo if they're big enough) and create an 'open' device, with an SDK (Software Development Kit), standardize on one family of CPUs (for binary compatibility) and invite the programmers of the world to expand, enhance and drive the success of tablet-PC/e-readers.

It WILL happen... but if it doesn't happen BEFORE the devices become successful enough to attract the likes of Microsoft, then the window will close. But the company(s) that first open up their devices in this way will definitely have a large "window of opportunity" over all other e-book manufacturers.

(Yes, advances will have to be made in all areas from battery to CPU to display, but those advances WILL happen... the question is: when we get there, will those devices be running Linux, Windows or something else???)
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Old 09-13-2009, 11:58 PM   #2
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I honestly think we're heading toward a device that is like an iPod Touch or Smartphone, but Kindle-sized. The iPod Touch/iPhone is not a bad reader in its own right, but people who are serious readers seem to prefer bigger devices similar to the size of a book (I know my big complaint with the Touch was that for reading when not completely still e.g. at the gym, I got dizzy with the smaller screen and need something book-sized). So I think what we will see is not so much a 'reader' but rather three levels of 'computer' become the standard:

- Your desktop machine, where you do your serious work and run your media
- Your netbook, which will replace the current 'laptop'
- Your tablet, which is ebook-sized and will be used for casual net surfing, and on the go media (books, videos, mini-apps etc.)
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:13 AM   #3
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The all but the sink device will happen but it is not expected any breakout ranaway success product of the same type to occure in atleast 5 years.

E-paper display and soon to be mainstream thin OLED display still have a long way to go. Screen technology, device size / thiness and the all important Battery (which drags down ALL mobile devices.) needs to be in perfect balance. WE have the CPU capablity / touch screen is improving, but not battery, there hasn't been much leap forward for recharge batteries, fuel cell is still struggling to massive production.

Whoever produce a powersolution for mobile devices such as iphone that allow it to last more than 2 weeks percharge on continous power on, plus control its weight to be under 80 grams is expect to be up for the Nobel price!

I expect some expensive devices to appear in 2013, but certainly not 2011.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:21 AM   #4
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I am happy to continue using my HP IPAQ PDA until ebook readers come down considerably in price. at this stage, I cannot justify AU$600 for a single function device even though my wife has told me to "go and get a ebook reading device".

I have read the ASUS device is going to be sub AU$200, which is more the price I, as a consumer, would be prepared to pay. Though there is no specifics about what ebook format it is going to support.

So until the magic day when readers are affordable, my trusty HP 112 classic is going to keep on doing the job!

Last edited by sabredog; 09-14-2009 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekaser View Post
1) e-readers will not remain single-purpose devices.
I don't doubt that there will be units with lots of bells and whistles. We already have the Kindle with its browser and the Pocket Pro with its mp3 player.

However, I disagree with the first prediction. I think that there will be a market for devices which simply read. It may be that using them for newspapers will be more popular than for books.

I have just learned over the weekend that any static webpage can be downloaded onto an eBook reader. I figure that all of us here are ahead of the curve. When the general public learns that it can easily read the information on the internet in the comfort of one's favorite chair, it will want that device if it's inexpensive. And I assume that a single-purpose device will be much less expensive than what you (ekaser) have in mind.

Last edited by GA Russell; 09-14-2009 at 12:37 AM.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:44 AM   #6
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one primary reason for me and my friends whom works in the IT industry to get a E-paper reader is because after 20 years looking at various generations of Monitors / LCDs, our eyes starting to develop issues. For us whom has a lot of documents on electronic form and got customed to read stuff on computer screen. E-readers are a good way to protect our eyes. It indeed generate far less stress for the large number of us. So, the health benefit justify the price to be paid on this reason alone.

Ereader's next must have is to display colour and to be able to double as websurfing device, so for the likes of us, would further use it to protect our eyes.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GA Russell View Post
I don't doubt that there will be units with lots of bells and whistles. However, I disagree with the first prediction. I think that there will be a market for devices which simply read. And I assume that a single-purpose device will be much less expensive than what you (ekaser) have in mind.
I agree, there will probably always be "a simple reader", because those will be VERY cheap. But the functionality increase (as the hardware capabilities increase) will simply be TOO enticing for manufactures and many customers to resist, so the "high end" portion of the market (which may still only be a $50 to $100 dollar device, rather than a $20-$50 "only a reader" device, or may not) WILL become much more multi-function.

My main point with this post was: manufacturers need to start "opening up" right now, and supporting a common OS, etc, or it will be too late. Once the market develops far enough to attract the big fish, the OS will become MS Windows or Mac OS X. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, completely, but I'd much rather have a "zero cost" Linux OS as the tablet/reader platform, rather than another iteration where we have to pay $30 - $100 more for a proprietary OS instead.
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Old 09-14-2009, 03:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekaser View Post
My main point with this post was: manufacturers need to start "opening up" right now, and supporting a common OS, etc, or it will be too late. Once the market develops far enough to attract the big fish, the OS will become MS Windows or Mac OS X. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, completely, but I'd much rather have a "zero cost" Linux OS as the tablet/reader platform, rather than another iteration where we have to pay $30 - $100 more for a proprietary OS instead.
There is already an open OS with a free SDK, capable of everything that you suggest. Although it was originally targeted at smartphones it is easily capable of scaling to large screen e-reader platforms as well. In fact it already has e-reader applications, and more being targeted for it by some major players.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android...ting_system%29
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:15 AM   #9
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I hope there'll always be a read-only device -- hopefully, one day hanging bubble-wrapped at the supermarket checkout for thirty bucks. I work all day, every day with all the bells-and-whistles on my PC, laptop and netbook: when I go to bed at night or take a break during the day, I want to leave all that behind and be tempted to do nothing but read a darned good book.

Hmmm ... this post is remarkably like those arguments we hear ad nauseum from stick-in-the-mud treebook readers who won't even try ebook reading because it dents their comfort zone. Sorry. Neil
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:49 AM   #10
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- Your netbook, which will replace the current 'laptop'

A netbook can never replace a laptop. I'd be forced always to use a keyboard and monitor or I won't be able to use it on a regular basis.

I do agree that the distinction between tablet PC's and ebook devices will disappear more and more.

Stand-alone ereaders will always be there. They might get a few more functions, like a calendar and mp3 player, but I doubt much more. But those will be the smaller sized readers.

There is not one device right now (or rather, was one device) that has been given up on because there are new multi-purpose devices. There are still MP3 players that can play MP3's and not much more (maybe an FM radio), even though there are plenty of devices that incorporate a MP3 player already. And you can also still get mobile phones that allow you to call and text and not much more, no cameras, no mp3 players and only a rudimentary calendar.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:25 AM   #11
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my predictions in the next 5 years:

Notebook will throw out desktops for the public. At the end, desktops are for the business people and big towers for the gaming bunch that constantly upgrades.

Netbook will evolve to be lighter and faster, more like Macbook Air type of devices. So families will have a bigger 15 inch plus Notebook as desktop replacement. one or two netbooks for kids to avoid competing for the big desktop replacement notebook.


PDAs and even GPS will be history!


Phones will remain phones, throw in GPS plus the simplified digital video camera and digital still camera. It doubles as mobile computer for the net and server for other mobile devices on the go.

E-readers incorporate PDA functions, will be the fourth net enable devices, to go online, just to serve the net, but still primary to read a book with out stressing the eye before bed for the matured... Kids will use them at school for lighter school bags!

Ereaders will be able to sync with mobile phones (mobile server), use wireless technology, integrate at class rooms.

However, I still don't hear any breakthrough on battery front! Just as super conduct material, the all promising long lasting powerful battery is still out there in the labs!

IN fact we already has the ability to produce a great phone that does everything, trouble is they must constantly hook to the sockets in the wall.


thank you!
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:35 AM   #12
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IN fact we already has the ability to produce a great phone that does everything, trouble is they must constantly hook to the sockets in the wall.
And what happens if I want a phone which is ONLY an iPhone. I don't want a camera (sorry, it isn't going to be better than my Lumix TZ6), I don't want a MP3 player (I don't usually listen to music or audio-books), I don't want a radio, I don't want to play games... so, only phone. Same for e-reader. I don't say all to be in this way, but to be able to choose what I want.
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:41 AM   #13
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my predictions in the next 5 years:

Notebook will throw out desktops for the public. At the end, desktops are for the business people and big towers for the gaming bunch that constantly upgrades.
Desktops are big, bulky, and hard to transport easily. That's why I love them. They're harder to steal or accidentally drop.

I hope you're wrong on that one!
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:58 AM   #14
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I can see an all in one tablet like device that would be good for Periodicals as well as all the PDA/UMPC functionality. But I think that a cheap greyscale book reader will always be popular due to the fact it is easy to read on it.

At the moment I have a specific MP3 Player (which can also do video, but I don't), a PMP for AVI (which also does MP3, Photos and eTexts, but I don't), a Sony 505 (which can also do MP3 and Photos, but I don't), a blackberry which is only used as for phonecalls/texts/emails (work), and a Sony UX380 which I use as my home PC. Each one does it's single job well.

I prefer to have a gadget for a specific purpose, because they are good at that purpose. I'm not interested in a jack of all trades as it is usually let down to functional compromises.
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Old 09-14-2009, 08:17 AM   #15
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The answer is easy, the future is Star Trek Look at that and I think you're basically looking at the same for technology. Discrete communication devices worn as part of clothing, tablet like, portable mutli-function information screens. Convergence is inevitable, a lot of people are already nearly there (I was one of them with my itouch for awhile and the more I think of it, the less likely I'll go for a single function device for my next reader). It won't take too much of a leap to have a portable device that does all what we need and can be wirelessly connected to peripherals such as screens, keyboards, HD's once we're back at home, thus eradicating the need for a desktop and a portable device.

The future is looking rather spiffy, old chap
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