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Old 12-30-2009, 10:14 PM   #16
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Last but not least, it is actually somewhat rare (afaik) for a multifunction device to completely replace a focused one. The only instance I can think of is the PDA getting largely rolled into smartphones.
Ummm...a few examples off the top of my head are: word processing software buried dedicated "word processing typewriter" type devices (which were on way to replace the venerable IBM Selectric typewriter because the WP models had spell check and limited ability to edit before the data was actually printed/typed on the page) back in the mid-80s to early 90s, PDA's replaced the electronic address book and then the multi-function cell phone or MID has replaced the PDA only not very successfully...and multi-function printer/xcanner/fax machines replaced three devices doing a very good job as a rule.

Ereading devices cannot continue to be on-trick-ponies at their current price point...drop them to $50-$99 and there is room for discussion but not at $200+

I am in the camp of wanting a multi-function and/or open device that lets me choose what added functionality is installed on the reader...you know, just like a PDA...which millions of people still use daily even though their model is no longer made or supported.

BTW, a PDA actually IS a multi-function device already, these alledgedly "smart" phones simply added a phone to the mix but at the expense of diluting some of the the other features of the PDA.

Last edited by brecklundin; 12-30-2009 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:41 PM   #17
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Ummm...a few examples off the top of my head are...
Dedicated word processors, yes. PDA's, yes and already mentioned. Print/scan/fax has not replaced dedicated machines by any stretch of the imagination; while Palm has completely dropped PDA's, for example, HP still sells dozens of printers (ranging from small printers to medium-sized lasers to photo printers to large-format plotters), Brother still sells close to a dozen fax machine models, Epson has numerous dedicated scanners, and so forth.

So, we are now up to two instances. And that's covering what, 20 years of technology? 30?

The premise that "multifunction devices always supplant focused ones, to the point of the cessation of the focused device," simply does not have much historic merit or precedence. It can happen, and has happened, but it certainly doesn't happen 100% of the time. And since a few critical advantages of epaper will be lost with tablets (battery life, weight, readability, no distractions etc), even if tablets go into wide use it's unlikely that epaper-type devices will completely disappear any time soon.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:57 PM   #18
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Multi function devices are nice to play with, but nearly impossible to do any real work on. If e-ink can continually progress the way that LCD technology has, I'm sure that it can keep it's legs.
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Old 12-31-2009, 12:49 AM   #19
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One major selling point an LCD-based device will have is the speed of its display. While totally unimportant for continues reading of a single book, it comes into play as soon as you want to browse through books or even navigate a menu. I love reading on my eReader, but I hate the slow process of switching books, getting to the right page, etc. The Nook tries to solve this by adding a specialised display to handle just that (or so I believe, I am unsure it uses the LCD for all non-reading tasks) but that just makes the device bigger - a tricky trade-off. While LCD has many disadvantages, a spiffy, fast interface can make all those seem unimportant.

If Apple were indeed to sell a sleek tablet device (like this for example) it could seriously dampen spirits in the eInk corner. Consider this for example: I have an MP3 player which lets me load any music I want, does not demand any software installed on my PC, which has more internal space than most iTouch versions, which weights considerably less then an iTouch and while battery life is about equal, it uses a single AAA battery instead of a built-in non-replacable accu so with a few spares it lasts much, much longer than an iTouch - not to mention it is about 6 times cheaper. Yet while everyone I meet seems to know what an iPod touch / iPhone is, nobody even recognises the brand of my MP3 player. I find it a frightening example of how much a device which is inferior in almost every way for that particular purpose can completely own a market.

Mark my words, in two years time we will not be calling our devices eReaders anymore, no, just like people now ask to see our 'kindles' will we then be asked about our iPads or whatever it might be called
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:38 AM   #20
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E-ink should hopefully evolve and improve its game to be more readable and responsive, or it should get replaced by reflective and transmissive technologies that can do its job better. It is quite strange to think that currently available tablets are in any way targeting dedicated ebook readers, which are mainly a growing fringe novelty with the current state of the technology.

A tablet designed for ebook reading that isn't just a whip-together project to jump on the bandwagon (as was typical of 2009) will try to resolve many of the issues related to power conservation and daylight readability. Some may take advantage of e-paper technologies like Liquavista, E-ink (if it improves), Mirasol, and reflective LCD, while others may use transflective LCDs for reading-heavy applications or dedicated emissives like LCD and OLED for less reading-oriented purposes. It seems to me that many of the manufacturers and marketers out there know the marketing power of the "paperlike" hype a crappy screen like old-school e-ink was able to wield. Part of that appeal will need to be absorbed into new marketable reading-oriented tablets.
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:42 AM   #21
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E-ink should hopefully evolve and improve its game to be more readable and responsive, or it should get replaced by reflective and transmissive technologies that can do its job better. It is quite strange to think that currently available tablets are in any way targeting dedicated ebook readers, which are mainly a growing fringe novelty with the current state of the technology.
They are certainly gadgets for those with a fair amount of disposable income, just as iPods are. Most eInk devices are in broadly the same price category as higher-end iPods. I don't think that makes them a "fringe novelty", though, unless you consider reading for pleasure to itself be a "fringe" activity these days?
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Old 12-31-2009, 05:14 AM   #22
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I find it a frightening example of how much a device which is inferior in almost every way for that particular purpose can completely own a market.
The art of advertising is to keep one dissatisfied with what one has. Putting a 'perfect' product on the market kills all your future sales. And in many cases, added features are there simply to differentiate, and because reviewers count features - do you *really* need a new phone every six months? Or in real terms, a phone that does anything more than make phone calls?

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The premise that "multifunction devices always supplant focused ones, to the point of the cessation of the focused device," simply does not have much historic merit or precedence. It can happen, and has happened, but it certainly doesn't happen 100% of the time. And since a few critical advantages of epaper will be lost with tablets (battery life, weight, readability, no distractions etc), even if tablets go into wide use it's unlikely that epaper-type devices will completely disappear any time soon.
Or indeed, paper. Which is a technology proven to last at least five hundred years, if properly made and cared for. Irrespective of the immediate benefits of eink displays, they're not the critical issue - it's whether you will be able to see the books you own or whether they will just fade into a disposable gray digital wilderness. Can you still read a floppy? A five or eight inch floppy? An IDE disk drive? The storage technology changes and makes it impossible to maintain old data; the display is in many cases immaterial. In the case of eink, those who prize lightness and battery life will stick with it while it's still made or until a better display comes along.

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Old 12-31-2009, 05:19 AM   #23
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They are certainly gadgets for those with a fair amount of disposable income, just as iPods are. Most eInk devices are in broadly the same price category as higher-end iPods. I don't think that makes them a "fringe novelty", though, unless you consider reading for pleasure to itself be a "fringe" activity these days?
Dedicated reading of novels (edit: on dedicated expensive devices)? Yes, I consider that pretty fringe, even though it's still a pretty big market (almost all entertainment is).

Before leaving the USA, probably 50% of my books had detailed technical illustrations and colored charts and diagrams, art photos and plates, and all sorts of things that current ebook readers can't do well, even at the larger sizes. Even today, probably 1/3 of my ebooks make extensive use of colors and images that don't show well except on a bright high-contrast screen (which no e-ink screen qualifies as yet).

Reading itself is still very popular...but it seems to be common here that there's a very narrow and limited view of what exactly reading is.

Last edited by LDBoblo; 12-31-2009 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 12-31-2009, 05:33 AM   #24
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Reading itself is still very popular...but it seems to be common here that there's a very narrow and limited view of what exactly reading is.
How do you mean? Reading is reading. Of course there are some types of reading that are much better suited to eInk devices (eg novels) than others (such as coffee-table art books).
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:12 AM   #25
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How do you mean? Reading is reading. Of course there are some types of reading that are much better suited to eInk devices (eg novels) than others (such as coffee-table art books).
On this site, it is not at all uncommon to encounter the idea that ebook device criticism amounts to a dislike of reading, and that wanting an LCD or superior technology to low-contrast, low-resolution monochrome e-ink indicates that the person is not a "reader" and doesn't "read", since e-ink is for "readers" while LCDs or other formats are not.

Most of what I used to read was technical or academic in nature, and not simply for display. I considered myself a pretty big reader, but all my novel stuff was done in a library for free, since I considered it pretty disposable and unimportant beyond the cultural ideology side of things. Only this past year when I picked up my Sony did I start to read fiction and novels for pleasure, since the Sony and e-ink devices in general don't really do anything else well enough. Of course, by admitting that, I've been pinned as many things from a technophobic luddite and traditionalist to an uncultured and unrefined TV addict who can't handle reading.
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:19 AM   #26
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I certainly wouldn't criticise you for that! You are absolutely right that LCD displays are a lot better for reading technical material than eInk. My own preference happens to be for 19th century novels, for which eInk devices are great, but one should be open-minded and say that they certainly aren't the "be all and end all" when it comes to reading.
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:56 AM   #27
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I am now a fan of the eInk display, simply because I can read comfortably and longer than LCD. But, the ideal for me would be an eInk like display, with some kind of back-lighting. I know that is impossible with current eInk technology, but hopefully there will perhaps be an entirely new technology develop in the coming years.

It just seems a bit odd to me to have to use an external light, to illuminate the screen of an electronic device.
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:02 AM   #28
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I'm hoping dedicated readers and multifunction devices ideal for ebook reading will coexist peacefully, instead of the latter replacing the former. I don't know how likely that is, though, since a lot of people seem to want a multifunction device. It depends on what appears, of course, but I honestly think I'd prefer a dedicated reader - for the eInk display, yes, but not just for that. I have a hard enough time these days sitting down to read without getting distracted by the internet etc.; having all that stuff staring me in the face when I sit down with my reader would make it even harder.
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:50 AM   #29
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Very true.
And the more the better as any thing that increases the number of people with the ability to buy and read e-books is good for all of us--regardless of device were prefer to read on personally. Expanding the market will lead to better selection, better prices, and probably the death of DRM eventually (easier to be tough on a niche vs. a mass market media with fierce competition).
Yes, there's no doubt that we all benefit from an expansion in the access to ebooks. A lot of people read using Stanza or similar applications on their phones already. Obviously there's nothing wrong with that, it's just not as good an experience as reading on a reflective display.

And sure, there's a market for a device that will display technical documents in full size with colour. But in comparison to the market for readers that will handle novels this market is tiny. I'm as bad at buying toys as anyone else, and let's face it, the majority of students will justify buying an iSlate (or whatever it'll be called) on the basis of reading textbooks, then use it to browse the web or watch videos.

In the overwhelmingly vast majority of cases reading simply means unadorned text, and monochrome is all you need. You'll be able to read documents on whatever LCD-based tablets come out next year, but let's be honest, it'll be a secondary use.

I think people are just tired (I certainly am) of the inevitable comment that's appeared whenever any tech site covered ereaders in the past few years claiming that they're all rubbish because they don't do colour. That makes as much sense as saying that a Sony 505 is useless because it can't make phone calls.
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:04 AM   #30
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I am now a fan of the eInk display, simply because I can read comfortably and longer than LCD.
Exactly. That's why e-ink will stay
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