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Old 09-07-2007, 05:59 PM   #1
dj_modus_ponens
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Suggest your own eBook Reader

I'm a newbie here, and I've browsed random threads here and there in the past, so I may have missed it, but I haven't really seen any official "submit your eBook spec wish-list".

Every time I see something new about eBooks, every new development, actually ever since I first learned about eInk, I think to myself "Yeah, that's good, but I would do it better..."

So I thought it would be cool to see what people can come up with as complete designs of an eBook reader, or maybe a well fleshed-out requirements list. I don't mean like "it must be an ARM-XX505 processor", but more like "it should take no longer than 0.5 sec to display a text page, or 1 sec to display an image".

I have something floating around in my head, but I never got around to formulating it. And my laptop battery is about dead, so it'll have to wait for later. But I did come up with by dream form-factor.

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Old 09-08-2007, 07:34 AM   #2
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I'm not sure I see the point. Are you planning to actually manufacture an eBook reader yourself? If not, what purpose does this "list" serve?
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Old 09-09-2007, 06:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I'm not sure I see the point. Are you planning to actually manufacture an eBook reader yourself? If not, what purpose does this "list" serve?
An easy life for market researchers at manufacturing companies perhaps?
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:22 AM   #4
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I'm not sure I see the point. Are you planning to actually manufacture an eBook reader yourself? If not, what purpose does this "list" serve?
It's a dreaming list, HarryT, a chance to explain your 'ideal' e-reader, that's all. We've done them before, but it's been ... 'bout a year, I guess.
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Old 09-11-2007, 03:55 PM   #5
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yeah, definitely a dreaming list. i was bored (since i'm moving out of the country in about a month and am kinda "between things") and i had this crazy notion that maybe the head of an ebook manufacturer would happen across my description and think "hey, i will make that and send this guy a free copy".

perhaps i put it in the wrong forum...

also, NatCh seemed to imply that other people have made similar threads already...anybody know any links? i tried searching and couldn't really find them, but i'd love to see other people's ideas.

i did see http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9231; which i thought was a good tangent for ereaders.
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Old 09-11-2007, 06:04 PM   #6
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General Requirements

Sorry it took so long (this thread is probably dead already), but here is a general list of what I'd like to see in an eReader, a manifesto of sorts. Actually, that's what I'll call my 'perfect' eReader, the Manifesto. Sounds kinda cool, right? And it fits in with the common tendency for pretentious names that don't really mean anything. Anyway...


General Requirements :: Physical

Durable
It can be tossed in a bag, or on the couch, without fear of breaking something. It should withstand the rigors of travel and constant handling. In short, you should be able to treat it like a book.
Comfortable Size and Weight
Should be small and slim; not like "World's Slimmest", but about the size of a DVD case (try holding one, it's pretty comfortable). No lighter than a paperback, preferrably less so (why not?). Easy one-handed extended use.
Large, High Resolution/Contrast Screen
Easier on the eyes, more reading enjoyment. Duh.
Manual Independence
Lefty/Righty/Ambi friendly -- screen rotation, but also button placement. People have preferences/disabilities, sometimes switch hands when reading; different reading materials better viewed from different directions.
Few Buttons, Simple Construction
Less buttons = less parts = less stuff to break, cheaper (hopefully). Same with simple construction. It's also less confusing or cluttered. Besides, how many buttons does a regular book have?
No Touch Screen, Slide Strips, MP3 Capability
Unnecessary for general book/newspaper/webpage reading. Too many extra components, wastes battery, and I would probably accidentally tap it and lose my page or something.
External Storage (SD/MMC)
So cheap these days, everybody has them. I assume it's better than just internal storage so user has more control (bigger sizes, replacements, etc).
Wireless...?
Not necessary for reading books, wastes battery. Dock/USB/Exchange memory card for refreshing content. However, I can see where this would be nice for web feeds / newspapers (walk by 'newstand', download paper; walk through mall, download catalog), but that would most likely require preprocessing (formatting, standardizing, etc) which would be better performed on PC or Docking Station (so that reader stays simple).
*NOTE: after reading the InfoPad blog, I can see how bluetooth would be useful, but it should have an off switch (probably software, for less buttons) or even turn on when selecting 'Sync' from menu and off when finished.

General Requirements :: Operational

Super battery life
Duh. Current eReader capacities (8000 pages/charge) fine for me.
Good Format Support
At least txt/rtf, pdf, jpg/png/gif/bmp (also cbz/cbr or similar would be awesome), and some XML-based file(s). That about covers 95% of ebooks/comics/feeds I've seen/read.
Only 'ePaper' Functionality
Will read books, comics/images, and newspapers/magazines (print and web kind). No MP3, no movies, no 3D rotational graphics -- not necessary for cheap, general-use eReader, and not really feasible either without driving up costs (at least, not now). Basically, whatever could have been produced on paper.
Simple Interface
Shallow menu structure (easier to navigate, fewer clicks). Should be able to be controlled with only 5 buttons (previous/up, next/down, forward/left, back/right, and Enter/Menu/Select). I say 5 instead of 3 because two extra buttons, while redundant, allow for manual independence and screen rotation.
Simple Storage Structure
Drag&Drop files; special transfer software only necessary for preprocessing (web page/feeds, resizing, formatting). Folder support (for categories/genres); maybe 3 or 4 deep. Metadata?
No Proprietary Lock-outs
If there must be DRM (*sigh*), don't prevent non-DRM from 'playing'. Don't force me to only get content from single provider (*cough* Verizon phones). Basically, don't control my property.
This is a prelude to my actual design, which I'm thinking on the best way to write up. Stop me if you're bored (only after writing this did I find and read the InfoPad blog...oh well).

Last edited by dj_modus_ponens; 09-11-2007 at 06:42 PM. Reason: Forgot about folders -- lack of support always bothered me on my cheapo mp3 player
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Old 09-11-2007, 06:20 PM   #7
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That's one, dj_modus_ponens, here are a few more (and yes, you've put this in a great spot):

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7855
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12205
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10999
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7344

Not to be considered a comprehensive list, but it'll get you the idea.
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:30 PM   #8
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With such a prominent division between those who want all-in-one UMPC-like capabilities and those who want just a clean reader-only unit, I wonder if there isn't room on the low end for a USB-connected eInk display. If you put all the burden of rendering on the host with a printer-like driver, the eInk display unit would just need minimal storage, a forward/back button, and a screen. You might even be able to power it over USB, though that might be putting too much burden on the host.

I'm not sure you could get the cost far enough below the Sony to make it viable. If you could, though, you could carry that and a laptop, or that and a UMPC. Then there's no need to try to engineer a full-blown eInk-based tablet/UMPC/PDA.
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:34 PM   #9
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thanks for the list -- i've noticed you're a real helpful person NatCh (awesome).

how did i not see http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12205 ? and it's recent too!

there are some details i forgot, like zooming/panning (please), OS (bare-bones open-source, like everything else), battery style (rechargeable replaceable), price (ch-ch-ch-cheap!), grayscale, refresh time, etc. i think i will get around to updating my original reqs later.

i didn't really think i'd be the first (wish list and all), but maybe providing pics will spice it up...
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:44 PM   #10
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...I wonder if there isn't room on the low end for a USB-connected eInk display. If you put all the burden of rendering on the host with a printer-like driver, the eInk display unit would just need minimal storage, a forward/back button, and a screen...
Yeeesss...I like the idea, but that's basically the same thing as a dual-screen version of a laptop/umpc. While that would increase the content options, it would decrease the portability and battery life (since you'd be limited by the host). It would be nice if you have to sit next to a computer and read reports; actually I think I read somewhere here that a company is developing something just like what you suggest to run with Vista's SideShow.

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I'm not sure you could get the cost far enough below the Sony to make it viable.
Gosh I sure hope you can. From what I've heard, it's mainly the eInk screen that costs so much (new tech, economies of scale and all) -- the rest of the components can't be much more complicated than a TI-89, and those were around $100 for the consumer.
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Old 09-11-2007, 08:11 PM   #11
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Yeeesss...I like the idea, but that's basically the same thing as a dual-screen version of a laptop/umpc.
Except that it would work with almost any laptop/umpc. All you'd need is an OS-specific driver for it.
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Old 09-11-2007, 08:20 PM   #12
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i've noticed you're a real helpful person NatCh (awesome).
Gosh, you're making me blush.

Seriously though, I'm just following the examples of those who've gone before -- if I'm helpful, it's because others were before me. I'm glad that you're finding what you need regardless.
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Old 09-11-2007, 08:36 PM   #13
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Except that it would work with almost any laptop/umpc. All you'd need is an OS-specific driver for it.
which is why i like your idea. and it would be cool. and i'd probably buy one -- if it's cheap and they haven't made my reader yet

it would be a great addition for people who have to sit at a computer and stare at text all day. you know, the people who used to buy the glare-reducer clip-ons for their monitors.

and you know what? i called this "suggest your own eBook Reader", not "critique the next poster", so my apologies to jasonkchapman...and on with the show!
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:05 PM   #14
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There's nothing to apologize for.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:05 PM   #15
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Manifesto UI

Basic Menu:
  1. Read
  2. Series
  3. Shelf
  4. Search
  5. Settings
  6. Sync

(see images for menu list -- 'Read' not shown because I definitely forgot about it until after making images, but we'll assume it's supposed to be there)

Up/Down generally moves through displayed list; Right/Left switches between basic menu items; Select makes choice.

Read:
Exits menu back to currently read book.
Series:
Lists your content; sorted by date viewed, date added, alphabetically, folder/genre, or by format. Originally called "List", I changed it since everything else started with 's'.

Up/Down - navigate list
Left/Right - switch menu choice
Select - start reading selection
(see Series depiction and menu layout in image)
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Name:	Manifesto Portrait.png
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Shelf:
View books by cover image. Sorted like Series. Probably not necessary (as it would jack up the processing requirements and UI complexity), but I thought it looked nice.

Up/Down - navigate list
Left/Right - switch menu choice
Select - start reading selection

or

Select - ask: start reading selection, go to menu, cancel
Up/Down/Left/Right - navigate choices (if not in menu); switch menu choice
Click image for larger version

Name:	Manifesto Landscape.png
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Search:
Search for content by name (or metadata?). Displays nearest matches as you 'type' (select characters). Autocomplete. Can select from list instead of continuing to type.

"List" option lets you select from 'hit-list'
"Choose" chooses currently typed title
"Menu" goes to basic menu

Up/Down/Left/Right - navigate alpha-selector (if choosing character) or hit-list
Left/Right - switch menu choice (if in menu)
Select - choose selection (alpha or hit)
Click image for larger version

Name:	Manifesto Search.png
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Settings:
Change reader settings.
  • Rotate From Current (Clockwise 90, 180, 270)
  • Sort Type (Date Read, Date Acquired, Title, Author, Folder/Genre, Format)
  • Off-Timer (5 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, 10 min, Manual [soft-off press enter to turn off])
  • Contrast Level (Sub, Low, Med, Hi, Super)
  • Invert Color (Black on White, White on Black)

Up/Down - navigate choices
Left/Right - switch menu
Select - cycle through options? or toggle drop-down list (on category) and select (on option)?
Sync:
Readies wireless connection (turns on antenna). Prompt "Press Select to begin Sync." Acquires content from base (where program set up queue, preprocessed, etc. Turns off antenna when finished.

Last edited by dj_modus_ponens; 09-12-2007 at 04:15 AM. Reason: i thought more about the 'Shelf' idea -- maybe too much for my 'simple' eReader
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