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Old 01-07-2011, 11:30 PM   #1
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Engadget: iRiver Story HD preview

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Our trailer was just visited by an iriver rep bearing his company's Kindle killer in waiting, the Story HD. This 6-inch e-reader touts a bodacious 1024 x 768 resolution, which contributes to an even better contrast ratio than on Amazon's E Ink slate, while software optimizations between now and release are expected to make the Story HD the fastest-refreshing device of its kind. The display itself is built by LG Display and is accompanied by a Freescale Cortex A8 CPU, 2GB of onboard storage, and an SDHC card-reading slot.
There are lots of pictures and a video, and it all looks good except that there does not seem to be any page forward keys on the sides. The E Ink background looks a little grey, but that might vary from screen to screen. All other 6" E Ink screens are 800 x 600 pixels.

Coming to the US at a competitive price and with ebook partners in May.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:33 AM   #2
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Nice resolution. I don't like the absence of page turn keys on the sides, but it's good to see competition upping the ante on the primary technology. I wonder how competitive that competitive price will be.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:39 AM   #3
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:09 AM   #4
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Sweet specs. Over 200 dpi, and faster refresh than K3 would be amazing. I'd like something bigger, but for a 6" reader, this thing looks great.
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:07 AM   #5
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How the heck would higher resolution result in higher contrast, are they smoking crack?

It looks decent though, the higher PPI screen is definitely drool worthy. May is a long time though and their claim to be "competitive" on price with the competition might be far fetched. I'd be surprised if this device came out for $140.
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:25 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by brbubba View Post
How the heck would higher resolution result in higher contrast, are they smoking crack?

It looks decent though, the higher PPI screen is definitely drool worthy. May is a long time though and their claim to be "competitive" on price with the competition might be far fetched. I'd be surprised if this device came out for $140.
I'm guessing Higher Pixel Density, as the screen is still only six inches as well.
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:52 AM   #7
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There is nothing special... they toss all these terms out there to confuse amateur techs that always think or expect higher resolution is better. When it comes to eink, there is very little difference between the resolutions when it comes to most ebooks since the font and size are always static. Now for more detailed information such as the map they are showing on there, the higher resolution may help, but really, who is going to be expecting to map anything on their ereader?

Slightly higher resolution, same storage as the Kindle3 (2GB), minor speed bump from the processor (600-800MHz versus Kindles 533MHz)... the only added benefit is the SD card slot.

Now if they can natively display and handle PDFs properly, as well can have access to almost all current file formats, with the options for expanded firmware to accept new file formats then they may have a beast...

Of course they may say "content providers are sewn up in the US", that does not mean they are GOOD providers or have any chance at competing with Amazon or even B&N, so it remains to be seen if they will be good providers, which can make or break a reader.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by screwballl View Post
There is nothing special... they toss all these terms out there to confuse amateur techs that always think or expect higher resolution is better. When it comes to eink, there is very little difference between the resolutions when it comes to most ebooks since the font and size are always static. Now for more detailed information such as the map they are showing on there, the higher resolution may help, but really, who is going to be expecting to map anything on their ereader?

Slightly higher resolution, same storage as the Kindle3 (2GB), minor speed bump from the processor (600-800MHz versus Kindles 533MHz)... the only added benefit is the SD card slot.

Now if they can natively display and handle PDFs properly, as well can have access to almost all current file formats, with the options for expanded firmware to accept new file formats then they may have a beast...

Of course they may say "content providers are sewn up in the US", that does not mean they are GOOD providers or have any chance at competing with Amazon or even B&N, so it remains to be seen if they will be good providers, which can make or break a reader.
Higher resolution is better, just compare the Sony PRS350 to any other 6" reader out there, even Sony's own 6", and you can see how poorly 6" readers render text. Even without the comparison I could tell that the resolution on my Kindle was crap from the get go. Your premise is only sound if you assume that the current average ereader resolution is sufficient to render text, which it is not.

Also higher resolution means that we can get a full PDF on a 6" screen and have it be readable. If you've ever seen an iPhone 4 retina display you will quickly understand how important resolution is as I can clearly read text that is smaller than the smallest font on any ereader I've seen.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nashira View Post
I'm guessing Higher Pixel Density, as the screen is still only six inches as well.
That must be their thinking, but pixel density should have nothing to do with contrast. It does have different definitions but when discussing displays, "The contrast ratio is a property of a display system, defined as the ratio of the luminance of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest color (black) that the system is capable of producing. (Wikipedia)."

Last edited by brbubba; 01-08-2011 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by screwballl View Post
When it comes to eink, there is very little difference between the resolutions when it comes to most ebooks since the font and size are always static.
It might make a difference for Serif fonts, but only if they are optimized for E Ink. One way to check this today would be to compare the PRS-350 with the PRS-650 at the same text size. If a resolution increase matters then the 200 ppi PRS-350 letters should be clearer than the 166 ppi PRS-650's. Note that the HD will have slightly higher resolution than the PRS-350.

I agree, though, that this might be a bigger deal on a larger screen. The Hanvon's E920 has a 9.7" 200dpi E Ink display and will be available in June. The comparison in the link isn't entirely fair, because it is essentially lower-res Vizplex vs higher-res Pearl E Ink.

Since these are May-June releases, they might foretell what Sony and Amazon (and B&N and Kobo) will do for their traditional Fall device refreshes.

Last edited by wallcraft; 01-08-2011 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:32 AM   #10
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As a long time computer tech, I understand the possibilities and info relating to resolution.

In this case when the screen is so small PLUS the fact it is eink and not typical pixels, a minor resolution bump like this will barely be noticeable without an increase in refresh rates. Since eink does not have a refresh rate, higher resolution on a small screen has less of an impact. Considering these will primarily be used for ebooks, a minor resolution bump is even less useful without additional software capabilities such as web browsing, map display or PDF display.

Closest comparison I have with existing tech is like comparing 800x600 and 1024x768 on a 12" CRT monitor, very little difference except for the ability to fit more information on the screen, but it looks the same.

Last edited by screwballl; 01-08-2011 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:44 AM   #11
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In this case when the screen is so small PLUS the fact it is eink and not typical pixels, a minor resolution bump like this will barely be noticeable without an increase in refresh rates. Since eink does not have a refresh rate, higher resolution on a small screen has less of an impact. Considering these will primarily be used for ebooks, a minor resolution bump is even less useful without additional software capabilities such as web browsing, map display or PDF display.
Seriously, go look at the two side by side. 160 PPI readers can't render text without jagged edges and a blurry effect. It's less noticeable in large fonts, but the first 4 font settings on a kindle are horrible. After you've actually looked at both side by side, then come back and tell me you don't see a difference.
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:08 PM   #12
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Seriously, go look at the two side by side. 160 PPI readers can't render text without jagged edges and a blurry effect. It's less noticeable in large fonts, but the first 4 font settings on a kindle are horrible. After you've actually looked at both side by side, then come back and tell me you don't see a difference.
not really...

if you had been around longer or read more threads about fonts on various readers you would appreciate not all fonts are created equal nor are the same fonts equal on readers of even the same types (as in all devices using a given EPD display from the same maker have exactly the same specs so it is the firmware that handles the actual rendering and this is where the differences lie.) So some fonts, in fact many native device fonts are very poorly constructed. So if you hack the font or have the option to use a different font you can find one optimized for your reader's native resolution and w/o the jaggies common on so many fonts.

Higher resolution "can" result in cleaner font edges but not if the font is not optimized for that display size and resolution. And everyone will view the font differently so there is no sweeping "fact" that a given font is good or bad only that a given font/resolution/screen size works for a specific individual. We all see things differently so any argument to insist on being "right" is like pounding sand...you get nowhere and only drag more sand where you are pounding to undo whatever progress you think you are making.

Also, resolution can be a red-herring in that higher resolution on the same display without proper scaling in firmware to render those fonts will only provide sharper but SMALLER text and images. This is due to the same font weight being used thus requiring the same number of pixels. These pixels on the higher resolution display are naturally smaller than those on a lower resolution screen. This needs be accounted for in firmware and not all brands of reader makers undertake to ensure this is addressed to give the crispest fonts possible at all sizes. So buyers need to beware and remember to see actually devices or photos (screen captures on the device do not work as they are converted into optimized GIF's so everything looks perfect compared to the real photo.)
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:26 PM   #13
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The font may be one that the Kindle may not display well but does on the Sony... same goes for the opposite. I prefer to let the Kindle keep a uniform default font for all my books, if I notice one book has a problematic font, I use calibre to convert it, remove text formatting and use the default which works much better for my usage and preference.

Resolution in pixels (like an LCD) is a completely different animal than eink, so therefore cannot really be directly compared.
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:54 PM   #14
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There is nothing special... they toss all these terms out there to confuse amateur techs that always think or expect higher resolution is better. When it comes to eink, there is very little difference between the resolutions when it comes to most ebooks since the font and size are always static.
Absolutely wrong.

A higher resolution allows the font to be displayed with less reliance on hinting or anti-aliasing - i.e. it's closer to the proper shape and clearer (less anti-aliasing means crisper characters, which is probably the source of Engadget's remark about contrast). This applies to all fonts and sizes, but is most noticeable for those who prefer that their ebooks don't look like a large-print book for the vision-impaired.

Bottom-line: until we get to displays capable of 300dpi, more resolution is very definitely a good thing. Being a 'long-time computer tech' doesn't mean you understand how typography works, sorry.

It is possible to construct fonts that are optimised for display on a particular screen - Microsoft's been doing that for ages, and the Kindle relies heavily on its use of Caecilia. But if you want fonts that are designed for elegance rather than their ability to fit into a pixel grid, or if (gasp!) you want different books to use different fonts so that the font more harmoniously expresses the content it is displaying (something that's impossible on a Kindle but trivial for ePub), then you want resolution, and lots of it.

Of course, there are some who think ugly fonts might be a good thing. Feel free to plough through Anna Karenina in Comic Sans if you want.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:33 PM   #15
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Feel free to plough through Anna Karenina in Comic Sans if you want.
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