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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 12-01-2011, 04:55 PM   #31
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If you have a need to take extensive notes related to text in an e-book then a small BT connected keyboard would be huge improvement. This is probably the biggest drawback on my Kindle. You don't really write more than a few words in notes because the keyboard on the Kindle is simply too cumbersome.
I would like a to open a window half the size of the screen, be able to go back and forth between then text and the note, and then write at least ten lines without having trouble seing what I am writing.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:07 PM   #32
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Does anyone here use an Alphasmart NEO or Dana? Those are great for text entry, but not for general computing tasks. I have a Dana, the only negative about it is the screen legibility.

Anyway, if I could hack any current ereader and be able to use a Bluetooth or even just USB keyboard, that would be great. But I think it would take some doing. I doubt any of these devices have USB host built-in.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:04 PM   #33
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Have you looked at an enTourage eDGe? Either size fits a lot of what people are asking about here. Uses USB or bluetooth keyboard (though not natively on eink side), does okay with pdfs, etc. If you could resurrect the eDGe and give it a Pearl eink screen, somehow enable typing on the eink as well as on the LCD, and maybe shave off some weight I (for one ) would be a happy camper!
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Old 12-04-2011, 12:29 AM   #34
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Hi,

I just learned that writing hardware code to access the USB host in the Nook Touch would only cost $2000. My source is looking further into it for me. Making software seems easier than making hardware. Any thoughts on this from programmers?

I'm really happy about your response to the poll. In less than a week, 28 people on this website alone said they would collectively spend as much as $6200 on typable e-paper machines. This looks more and more like a viable project.

Here are my responses to recent replies:

~~~~~~~~~~

25. @ HarryT
Screen refreshing and pixel response (recoloration) are separate processes of LCD. You simply haven't done your homework, Mr T.
[EDIT: It turns out HarryT was correct. See post #44]

26. @Kumabjorn
Glad you like the basic idea. I also like making things as compact as possible. However, compact USB keyboards exist, and I do not wish to build wireless technology into this device due to battery, connectivity, regulatory, and health issues.

Given the device's multiple USB host ports and Android and Linux OSs, it ought to be configurable for a USB bluetooth adaptor (and who knows, maybe even voice recognition) without any hacking, jailbreaking, rooting, soldering, etc.

I definitely do not want to build a device whose hardware is needlessly limited in basic ways like this.

29. @Hellmark
Thank you.

What you say reminds me of the math involved in this niche. 1000 users represents 1/7 millionth of the world's population, or .000014%. Others may have bigger expectations, but that is the broad side of a barn I can hit.

30. @Baldrake
Even if I agreed that e-ink is awful for anything but the most basic text entry, I don't want to do anything but the most basic text entry.

I grew up with an IBM Selectric II typewriter. I couldn't exactly toss it in my backpack, but it was an elegant and reliable machine. It hummed. It banged reassuringly when the ingenius character globe struck the paper. It lasted decades. So I actually like the slight input flicker and delay on the Kindle 3. Its more-than-sufficient smoothness and speed has only encouraged my wish for the device I am proposing.

Basing a judgment of how well e-ink can perform upon the Kindle "experience" is unjust. After using the device myself for six months, I find Amazon's treatment of input--how shall I put it?--vastly improvable. How does a device in 2011 run more slowly than a Palm V from 2002? The Kindle is crippled by bizarre design features and probably security programs, both arising from its single purpose: to sell more books. Type a few lines of a note and then try to edit it and the thing freezes. It's pitiful. I thought, if this is the market leader, if the market can be so pleased with so little, then an e-paper tablet will do fine in the market.

31. @Kumabjorn
I completely agree that the biggest drawback of the Kindle and all other e-paper devices today is the lack of keyboard connectivity. Why did the computer and cellphone go viral? Because they can create their own content and share it with non-users.

I like your idea for a half-screen size notation window a lot. It is exactly the kind of honest, simple, useful functionality that e-paper ought to have. The reading application in the proposed device would have the best available notation functionality. Presumably, you would be able to resize the notation window, which itself will simply be your preferred text editor. The device would also likely inspire improvements in all its software because it could be coded directly on the device. (Viva programmers!) Also, see #30 above.

32. @madmaxmedia:
Boy, what a great reminder. The continued existence of such limited, clunky technology as the AlphaSmart and Dana digital typewriters is proof positive of the market viability of a color- and video-free e-paper tablet.

A few devices have had USB hosts. The Iliad. The PocketBook 302. The Nuut. A few others I tracked down and forgot about due to other limitations (Vizplex after Pearl was available). None had software to take advantage of the USB host.

33. @Filark
I have mixed feelings about the Edge. LCD's are nice to have for certain purposes. But I didn't want it there all the time; the Edge was too much money; and its makers didn't have the sense to channel keyboard input to the e-paper display out of the box. Another great chance lost.

Anyway, in principle, the device I am proposing will be connectable to an LCD monitor.

~~~~~~~~~

Ok, that's all I know. Keep those votes and comments coming.

Last edited by andrewed; 01-19-2012 at 09:13 PM. Reason: added note to my inaccurate response to HarryT; edited response to Baldrake.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:26 AM   #35
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Nice to see how obviously serious you are about this.
I think the form factor is crucial. I can squeeze my Kindle into my back pocket, but my Sony 350 was soo much smoother in that respect. A buzzword to aim for would be "pocketability", maybe some sort of handle on the backside that lets you hold it in one hand and turn pages with your thumb. Reader in backpocket and keyboard in front. The reason I suggested BT is that it frees the user from carrying a cable. Keep the user in focus and you won't go wrong.
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:53 AM   #36
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Good luck! I can't wait to see what you come up with!

And I never voted, but would consider adding to your total.
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:28 AM   #37
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I didnt know for a long time that using 1 bit only on pearl gives a response time of 120ms. Together with partial screen refresh, it should be possible to make an good ewriter. What I would like to see is a 9.7 or 10.2" screen eink netbook running linux, enabling me to live-tex in my classes, browse the net for publications, read books- basically do all my work on it.
For this, I would pay $400.
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:50 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewed View Post
25. @ HarryT
Screen refreshing and pixel response (recoloration) are separate processes of LCD. You simply haven't done your homework, Mr T.
Perhaps you can point to a link to educate us then, because my understanding agrees with HarryT's comments. And since you are talking about essentially static text, almost no screen refreshing would take place.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:13 AM   #39
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Responses #3

Hi. Here are more responses:

~~~
34. @Kumabjorn:
Yes, I would very much like to have a pocketable device, too. I really liked having old Palm V in my wallet the year or so that I had it installed there. But I am not sure which size is best to begin with. Please see my discussion of screen size in the Specifications post (#21) as well as my response in post #20 to shark_scott's considerations in post #11, and share any further thoughts you have about it. I take it your vote is for 5"?

I like your point about cord storage. I will make it work smoothly. The burning in my hand from using a bluetooth mouse the other day reminded me why I'm not interested in building BT into the device. I guess I'm a canary in the coalmine with that stuff.

Yes to keeping the user in mind. I hope that I have made evident my primary consideration for the needs of ordinary people who just want to get basic things done without hurting or distracting themselves. That will never change.

Thanks for your ongoing interest and encouragement. Hey, I see you are in Sweden. Whereabouts? I'm in Helsingborg at the moment.

35. @Filark
Thanks for your enthusiasm. And, please support the project by adding your vote to the total in the poll here. Every vote helps enroll prospective partners in the project. See my closing comment below.

36. @pmthokku
Thanks for your comment. Yes, 8 frames per second on the Nook with freescale's processor. Ihavenotlife's hack demonstrates this nicely:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo6FDJvQ4ek

But I would be doing this even if the speed of the display were still at 1st Generation E-ink level. Let's not forget that the Kindle 1, the very first widely available e-paper device, had text entry.

I'm a writer. I just want a modern typewriter with a display as visually neutral as paper and the extra functions possible to it now: compactness, quietness, word processing, email, images, browsing (collaboration!), and including, like you wrote, just taking notes in class. If I want to watch videos, there are plenty of devices to use. Holding a device up to inapplicable standards makes no more sense than expecting a single device to do everything.

How far will I go on this issue? I may as well say it now: even if color e-ink were available, I would not use it for this device. This device would be a tool to accomplish work. There will always be a thousand people in the world who want to keep their computers in the background of their lives.

I will add your vote for a bigger screen to the stats.

37. @SleepyBob:
Thanks for asking.

Wikipedia is always a good place to start with technical subjects. See this article, which, in its very first paragraph, discusses "the repeated drawing of identical frames" in the context of frames per second:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refresh_rate

I also really liked the clarity of this piece:
http://knol.google.com/k/refresh-rat...-technologies#

Note the first item in the author's glossary, about halfway down:
Quote:
Refresh Rate: The rate at which your video card is sending complete screens from its frame buffer memory to your monitor, and the corresponding rate at which the monitor refreshes the whole image. 60hz = 60 complete refreshes per second.
[Emphases added]

Lastly, the basis of all science is always available to each of us: sensory experience. Have your eyes ever strained at a computer screen? Did it really feel like just a matter of backlighting? It always seemed to me like there was more to it than that, and sure enough, when I looked a little further into it, there was.

The ramifications are positively appalling, considering the delicacy of brain state and the numbers of people using computers who have influence on the world.
~~~

Ok, that's all I know for today. Remember, every vote counts. While this is an unscientific poll, it is still indicative. One vote here represents many more from the general public. How many more, I know not. But even if it is a mere 10x more, then we are already 30% of the way to our very small goal of 1000 units. Kind of cool, huh?

See, I live very cheaply. I don't have house or car payments or the wish to be top dog or fly to the moon. So I don't need to topple Sony or Amazon. I just need to place an order with a custom single board computer maker (of which there are thousands worldwide) large enough to pay for the time, effort, and materials involved. Even in our humble position, we have more than sufficient power to realize a good idea.

Last edited by andrewed; 12-13-2011 at 06:25 AM. Reason: clarity, cord storage issue
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Old 12-13-2011, 07:13 AM   #40
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Nice to see you are focused at making this a product to accomplish work, couldn't agree more. iPad and Android tablets are for media consumption.

Form factor:
Depending on the bezel required. If you can do it with a small or thin bezel then I would think that a 6" should work.

Flip:
Make it able to switch between portrait and landscape. A built-in stand that rotates should be appealing.

USB:
Make it a full size port if possible. This would enable a BT dongle for those that would prefer to use it with a BT device. Remember, customer first.

I just finished the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. A thing that stands out is that Jobs/Apple always began with design and let engineering adapt to that, not the other way around as most other PC companies.

I am outside Lund, so not that far from Helsingborg. If you'd like we could get together some day and discuss this in more detail if you'd like. Leaving for Japan on the 20th and back on the 10th.
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Old 12-13-2011, 07:59 AM   #41
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I'm following this with interest, however I'm concerned about refresh rate and screen size.

If you're writing you'd typically have your screen at typing distances from your eyes, further than you would probably hold a book for reading. So, I'd feel that the minimum size to be productive would be a 10" widescreen format equivalent to a netbook. Your 9.7" 4x3 panel could work, but if you're serious about your writing I expect you'd be wanting much larger. Our desktop machines have outgrown even 14" displays. (We'd need to wait for eInk panels that size to be available, of course.)

Refresh rate is key. A slower rate is fine for entering text at the end of a document, but for scrolling around and making changes while editing, at the moment I think eInk could struggle.

I'm unclear about the form factor. Given the requirement for an external USB keyboard, I assume you're proposing a panel (containing the processing hardware and ports) on some sort of stand, like a monitor. Presumably the stand will be detachable (or separate) so that the panel can be used as a normal eReader away from its keyboard?

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Last edited by Graham; 12-13-2011 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:57 PM   #42
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Thank you for the links, but they certainly don't support your contention of
Quote:
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.
From wikipedia on refresh rate:
Quote:
On larger CRT monitors (17" or larger), most people experience mild discomfort unless the refresh is set to 72 Hz or higher. A rate of 100 Hz is comfortable at almost any size. However, this does not apply to LCD monitors. This is because the part of an LCD monitor that could produce CRT-like flicker—its backlight—typically operates at around 200&nbs
From wikipedia on LCD_monitors
Quote:
Refresh rate or the temporal resolution of an LCD is the number of times per second in which the display draws the data it is being given. Since activated LCD pixels do not flash on/off between frames, LCD monitors exhibit no refresh-induced flicker, no matter how low the refresh rate.
A refresh on an LCD doesn't turn all the pixels on and off, it switches the ones that need to change to the new color. Which is why the refresh rate is a non-issue for this type of application. The second article you linked to stresses the importance of refresh rate in order to show all the frames in FPS video games, not because screen refresh rate has any impact on supposed flickering or quaking.

Good luck in your endeavor, though.
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:06 AM   #43
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Precisely what I was saying, Bob. Many thanks for the supportive evidence.
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:31 PM   #44
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Responses #4 (Oh boy)

Firstly, I have grossly erred in claiming that LCD pixels turn on and off with each screen refresh and that eyestrain comes from this.

Thanks to SleepyBob for your diligence with research and HarryT for your initial objection to my claim. As I now understand it:

A liquid crystal cannot turn on and off. It is not a light. It is like a tiny lens that refracts light. It rotates in an electrical field. This changes the amount of light passing through it and produces different colors in the display. Furthermore, a liquid crystal holds its position until instructed to move, regardless of how much the screen refreshes.

I will add a note to the original post so no one else is misled by my error.

And thanks for your patience with my reply. Besides having a hell of a week, SleepyBob's revelation seriously threw me for a loop. I have been very attached to this incorrect idea. When I began reading beyond his references, I got another slight shock:

LED backlighting, which I had assumed would be non-flickering given its DC power source, actually flickers worse than fluorescent backlighting in many screens due to Pulse Width Modulation, used for dimming. See this discussion:
http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/leno...ing-x200t.html

So, in losing one support for my argument, I got another. (Can't say I'm happy about the particular reason, though.) Also, I can now understand the interest in Pixel Qi's reflective displays.

Other responses:

#40 @Kumabjorn
Form factor: I plan on making the device as close to the size of the screen module as possible, with a very narrow bezel. The enclosure would have tiny metal attachment points for cases and accessories. Thus, a case would provide gripping area and possibly a stand. Those who immobilize the device with a rack or stand won't have to work around an unnecessary bezel.
Flip: Yes, screen orientation will be changeable (manually).
USB: Yes, "USB A" in feature list means full size port.

On my approach to design: Frankly, I design for myself. I am the user and customer I keep in mind. Since I design for my needs, the result tends to work for others with the same purpose and sensibility. And I like making refinements and variations based on others' feedback. But I am hopeless at satisfying those who seek titillation from machines.

Maybe see you in January. Safe travels and Happy Holidays!

#41 @Graham
I appreciate your interest and will count your comment as a vote for the 9.7" screen.

However, I do not share your concerns about screen position, size, and speed. I think e-paper's visual neutrality and compactness is going to affect these issues significantly. Such a small, lightweight screen with small type can be held close to the face like a book. There are dozens of new stands for the iPad that position a tablet wherever you want.

Lots of serious writing was accomplished on the 9" Mac Classic. See Specifications post, #21 for more on size.

Regarding refresh rate, check out ihavenotlife's impressive video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo6FDJvQ4ek
But again, Kindle 1 refresh rates would suffice for me.

Like I wrote before, my design context for this project is the typewriter. I should have also mentioned pen and paper. I seek a improvement on these using digital elements. The computer doesn't count with me as a writing tool. Yet.

Form factor: Whatever its size, the device will be a slate tablet computer which includes reading software. A stand would be a (detachable) accessory.

#42 @SleepyBob
Thanks again. (See top of this post.)

#43 @HarryT
Thanks again. (See top of this post.)

Last edited by andrewed; 12-23-2011 at 10:28 PM.
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Old 12-24-2011, 10:17 AM   #45
Ken Maltby
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Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Ken Maltby ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
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Posts: 2,930
Karma: 3910173
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: The Heart of Texas
Device: JetBook Lite, AuraHD, PDA, Eee Transformer
One of your competitors:

http://www.ectaco.com/jetBook_Color/

And perhaps:

http://www.mirasoldisplays.com/kyobo

Luck;
Ken
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