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View Poll Results: For an E-Paper Tablet I could type on with an external keyboard, I would pay:
$500 2 4.26%
$300 12 25.53%
$200 13 27.66%
$150 20 42.55%
Voters: 47. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-29-2011, 04:32 AM   #1
andrewed
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Location: Helsingborg, Sweden
Device: Kindle 3
Project: E-Paper Tablet (touch-typable!)

UPDATE 3-31-2012 Hack for adventurous non-programmers/techs available. See Post #93

UPDATE 1-22-2012 USB keyboard working with Nook Simple Touch. See Post #63
(Also, if you voted and want me to get back to you when a hack/device is ready, comment positively or PM me.)

INTRO:
After 3.5 years of vainly asking several manufacturers for an e-paper tablet device that is touch typable with a USB external keyboard, I have decided to make it myself, and would like to gauge interest in such a product.

If you would buy it, please reply below. Include ideas. I'd like collaborators, especially technical ones. I am a designer, not an engineer or programmer.

DESCRIPTION:
Simple, harmless slate tablet computer for distraction-free work: reading, writing, email, web browsing, photo viewing, sound playback, drawing.

Uses only existing technology for rapid availability. Nothing fancy. Everything works out of the box. Users supply the content. Built for creators, workers, and casual users. And anyone who hates computers but would rather not.

MINIMUM FEATURES:
$200 max (probably)
E-Ink Pearl Touchscreen
ARM processor
OS: Android and Linux both work
SD card slot for data, external slot
2 USB A host ports for keyboard, mouse, ethernet and wireless dongles (wifi, 3G, bluetooth), flash drive, data transfer.
port for charging
3.5mm audio jack for microphone and headphone
Buttons: power, forward, back

SPECIFICATIONS
See post #21 below

WILL NOT HAVE:
Color
Video
Phone
Games
Exclusive content provider
Kitchen sink

ERGONOMIC RATIONALE:
Electronic Paper:
Holds words and images perfectly still like ink on paper. Has visually and conceptually neutral greyscale display. Displays input fast enough for basic tasks. Remains room temperature; is silent; does not vibrate; requires minimal recharging; and is easy to turn away from and resume a normal mammalian life of physical activity. It has been adequately applied to recreational purposes, but hardly at all to productive purposes when we are under stress and need it most.

LCD screen
1. Refreshes (turns on and off)* 60-90x/second, whereas the eye naturally moves 1.33x/second. LCD appears to constantly quake and flicker because it does.
[*EDIT: I learned I was wrong about this. Only backlighting can turn on and off (including LED backlighting). Thus, backlighting is the principal condition of eyestrain with LCD. See posts #42 and #44 for further explanation.]
2. Red-green-blue pixel set is color imbalanced: 1 part red, 0.5 part yellow, 1.5 parts blue. Blue is the frequency that signals the brain to wake us up.
All this strains the eyes, aches the head, derails trains of thought, disrupts sleep cycle, brain state, emotions, breathing, circulation, and social life. (There is some published research on this. For most of it, I used plain self-observation.) This inhibits diverse deep creative expression and often leads to computer activity involving hyper-stimulation and low-attention span: games, video, porn. Good for very limited purposes, bad for most it is applied to.

STRATEGIES (in order of feasibility. But please say which you think is best and why)
1. Hack hardware of existing e-reader. This would be cheapest and fastest and require the fewest orders to make it happen. A friend who seriously hacks gaming computers for a living says he could do it. Could be easier, cheaper, faster... and strangely satisfying. He just wants to know how much demand there really is. (100 units minimum)
a) Please say which device you think is best for this purpose and why.
b) Hacker who turned Nook into extra monitor (ihavenotlife on youtube), told me the Nook's USB port can probably be a host if it had additional hardware code. Anybody know for sure? Anybody able to write such code?

2. Hire Crystalfontz to resurrect its discontinued CFA-910. Update and streamline this beautiful development board for consumer use.

3. New, Open Source hardware design. Engineers, programmers, hackers WELCOME.

4. ____________ (fill in the blank)

LASTLY:
Spread the word. If you would rather not register your interest here, use contact form on andrewdurham.com.

For further reading:
Plea: http://andrewdurham.com/2011/01/e-in...device-a-plea/
Elaboration: http://andrewdurham.com/2011/02/typable-e-paper/

Thank you!

Last edited by andrewed; 03-31-2012 at 04:12 PM. Reason: added update
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Old 11-29-2011, 04:52 AM   #2
beachwanderer
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Hi andrewed!

1) Am a bit confused about your aim: You say it should be touch-typable in the headline but in the poll you stress external keyboard usage ...

2) Have you seen what the Bookeen Cybook Odyssey can do (or the tec behind it seems to be capable of)? Have a look over here and on Nates Blog.

Last edited by beachwanderer; 11-30-2011 at 02:49 AM.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:30 AM   #3
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The main things I'd suggest are:

(1) Have the OS stored on an easily removeable flash media, like a CompactFlash card or MicroDrive (which is an HD, but you get the idea). That way if you really mess something up you can just eject the OS card and re-image it using a computer and card reader. CF cards are so ancient that everything (mainly card readers and top-end digital cameras these days) can support them. 8 gigs is enough for most Linux distros, and should be enough for Android too.

It'd also (hopefully) allow you to bypass potential lawsuits like what's happening to the Nook.

(2) Have a traditional ROM BIOS or EFI that can bootload more than just one OS.

(3) Have at least one bootable USB port. As in, the user can plug in a USB stick drive and boot the tablet off the connected USB device.

(4) If the keyboard is wireless, have an option to power it from the system battery- a short two-conductor pigtail will do. Not everybody likes having to change batteries all the time and alkalines can get expensive.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:03 AM   #4
kamizase
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I would simply wait for updated Pocketbook Pro models. They already have bluetooth, they only need software for full keyboard support and a Pearl screen with infrared touch capability and they will do most of what you want them to do.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:08 AM   #5
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I voted for $300, but I could well be willing to pay more than that for a device that both looks good, is solid and has the right features. The former two I guess would depend on the device you elect to hack, if you take that route.

As far as features to, I would like to echo tech603's desire for an OS stored on flash media and a bootable USB port. My interest in the device would depend significantly on whether at least the former is present, while the latter would be a lovely bonus. In addition I would *really* like the facility to change battery with ease. I.e. not having to disassemble half the device to fit a new one and then feeling cold sweat running down my back when turning it on, wondering whether it'll work or if I've managed to break it. Also, the battery used should ideally be easily available.

Given the availability of the above, in addition to your minimum features, I'd snap it up in a heart beat. I might even buy two.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:24 AM   #6
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There wasn't an option for: No, I wouldn't be interested.
eInk/ePaper simply isn't a good choice for: writing, email, web browsing, photos, drawing
Slow refresh and no colour make it a suboptimal choice, and when you can pick up a Kindle Fire for $200, I think the number of people who would do without all the extra things it could do just to get the benefit of eInk, but wouldn't rather pay $80 for a simple reader is very small.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:28 AM   #7
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+1 to what kamizase said.

The Pocketbook 603 model would have most of the things that you need. From your list:
MINIMUM FEATURES:
$200 max (probably) - 219 EUR
E-Ink Pearl Screen, 6" - not yet, still Vizplex
Touchscreen - stylus input only
ARM processor - Samsung 533mhz
OS: Android and Linux both work - Linux, open enough for people to write applications for it
Supports common formats for text, e-books, photos, music - Docx, EPUB (DRM), PDF (DRM), FB2, «FB2.ZIP», TXT, DJVU, RTF, HTML, PRC (mobi), CHM, EPUB, DOC, TCR, JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF, MP3
USB micro port for charging and data transfer from regular computer - yes
2 USB A host ports for keyboard, mouse, ethernet and wireless dongles (wifi, 3G, bluetooth) - built in bluetooth, wifi, 3G module
Audio Jack for microphone and headphone - headphone-yes, microphone-no
SD card slot for data - micro SD
Buttons: power, forward, back - more then these and the functions can be customized
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belfaborac View Post
In addition I would *really* like the facility to change battery with ease. I.e. not having to disassemble half the device to fit a new one and then feeling cold sweat running down my back when turning it on, wondering whether it'll work or if I've managed to break it. Also, the battery used should ideally be easily available.
That's something the old Hanlin V3 (sold under many names) did right: battery compartment at the back, using a Nokia BL-4C or BL-5C phone battery you can still get anywhere.

And the Jetbook Lite and Mini of course, using even more standard AA batteries.
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Old 11-29-2011, 10:06 AM   #9
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Also, the Sony PRS-T1, which runs Android, has been rooted.

I'd personally love the Crystalfontz device back. Since it has the serial port ability, could use it as a terminal, so would be useful for me as a sysadmin. I have lots of devices at work with serial console access.
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:59 AM   #10
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worst idea ever.

Mirasol color and economic display is the future of e-ink and you shall have dedicated ereaders with it one day capable of displaying comic and illustrated books.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:28 PM   #11
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My 2 cents:

You would get a lot of academics buying it if you...
1) Use the 9.7" screen
2) Have compatibility with one of the major reference managers (Zotero and/or Mendeley).
3) Have good PDF functionality (not like the Kindle DX)

I constantly get asked by people at my university if I know of an ebook reader with those features. It's basically all academics need and it doesn't seem like a lot to include in a reader, but there's nothing on the market to fit the bill.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:36 PM   #12
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Well, there was the old trick of buying a ThinkPad tablet on Ebay, replacing the SSD with an HD, and then putting a stripped- down Ubuntu install on it. Probably Lubuntu with AWN for a really slick Mac-like look.

I'm tempted to try it if my current laptop decides it no longer likes me spilling over- sweetened tea all over it.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:02 PM   #13
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Sorry I voted for 150 I thought you poll was what I would pay, not what they actually cost.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shark_scott View Post
My 2 cents:

You would get a lot of academics buying it if you...
1) Use the 9.7" screen
2) Have compatibility with one of the major reference managers (Zotero and/or Mendeley).
3) Have good PDF functionality (not like the Kindle DX)

I constantly get asked by people at my university if I know of an ebook reader with those features. It's basically all academics need and it doesn't seem like a lot to include in a reader, but there's nothing on the market to fit the bill.
Agreed.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:15 PM   #15
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We already have the nook STR and the T1 both running Android and both already rooted.
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