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Old 04-05-2012, 10:24 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Ravensknight View Post
Have you checked out the sales numbers for the over 8" eink readers?

yeah, that about sums it up I think...

I'd say the high cost is the issue not the desireablity. The larger readers are at least 3x more costly and not 3x the device. I would buy an 8" reader in a heartbeat if it wasn't much more than the 6" devices.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:14 PM   #32
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Is it really that hard for big companies to make a good reader for textbooks & pdfs? Or companies just lazy?
Some features are either hard to make or hard to support; others appeal to too small a market niche to be worth the investment & production resources.

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All the big players are either making 6 inch e-ink devices or tablets.

Is it really that hard to do this?

1. E-ink screen size equal to text book page diagonally
Give us a number--what size "text book" are you talking about?
Bigger e-ink screens are more fragile; more screen size = more ereaders broken by accident. Laptops manage by folding the screen away (and not having it handled while in use); iPads manage by being heavy, which is a mark against portability. Also, the technology to make e-ink isn't cheap, and small apparent shifts in size use a lot more area. Also, a big ereader no longer fits in a pocket or purse; the iPad is about the limit of a portable device.

This is a matter of price, sustainable market (people don't buy tech that keeps breaking on them), and niche--the market for "electronic novel-sized device that holds hundreds of novels" is huge; the market for "electronic letter-page sized device that weighs more than a pound" is much smaller.

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2. focus making page turning really fast
3. use a good/fast processor (and not something that's okay or passable)
I assure you this is done at the current limits of the technology. Processor speeds are balanced against the size limitations of what they're included in; pages turn as fast as the hardware & software can make them. If you have methods by which either of these can be notably improved, I'm sure several technology companies would be happy to hire you.

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4. 1 gig ram (stop with the barely getting by or workable)
If all it's doing is reading books, it doesn't need much ram. Why waste a lot of capacity on a device that can't use it? RAM is not the limiting factor in ereaders.

Current ereaders have up to 256mb RAM. Some have as little as 32mb; those can be a bit slow--but there's no particular reason to have 1gb RAM; the reason the Kindle wants 256mb is that it needs to support wireless activity in the background.

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5. light weight (no more than 1lb)
Clashes with your desire for a large screen. Pick one or the other.

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6. Don't need the battery life to last 1 month. 2 weeks is good, this is for educational use not for a trip to the safari/jungle
There is no difference between a 2-week battery and a 1-month battery; e-ink with no wireless can be either. (E-ink battery life is measured in page flips, not hours; time estimates of weeks are dependent on an expected average number of pages.)

The issue is whether the battery life will be measured in "many days" (e-ink) or "many hours" (anything else.) Eink doesn't support good color, and many academic resources are going to want color support--which means a battery life measured in hours. (Unless you go for larger units with space for more powerful batteries, which means losing the "lightweight & portable" aspects.)

[quote]7. A physical button for TOC. no more digging around the menus.

8. A "reference" button that lets you jump back and forth between 2 books. Ex. you're readingbook A but you need to reference something in book B. Normally you'd have to go through the menu system/home screen to do this. But now you press the "reference" button and you're back to the previous book and on to the same page. You set the 2 books you want to jump between.['quote]

Nice thoughts, good for academic & business use, useless for leisure reading. (Also: A TOC button would mean making it blatantly obvious how many documents are made without a TOC. While the user may grumble at the publisher for releasing them that way, they'll also grumble at the ereader company for misleading them into thinking the TOC button would be useful, when mostly it's not.)

The "reference" thing, toggling between two books, has a problem: How do you set the books? Is it the last two you've opened, or can you change that? If it's only the last two, that's not particularly useful except when you are comparing exactly two books (if you need a third one, moving back & forth between them will be a hassle). Any options other than "click this button to go back to the last page in the book you had open before this one" involve complex "teach the end user how to use this device"--which means it's going to mostly be ignored.

Features only usable by part of the market are less likely to get made.

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9. A physical wheel or slider that allows you to skim through pages/chapters. You set the amount of pages/chapters to skim through. Each time you flick the wheel/slider it skips X pages. Each time you push and hold the wheel/slider it skips x chapter. Image you were reading a textbook and needed to go back 7 pages for something. You would have to click 7 times back and then 7 times forward to get back to your current location. That's 14 clicks just to re-read something in a textbook. I mean in a real book when you're looking for something you don't flip page by page, you either flip section by section or chunks of pages at a time.
I would really love this. I can see that allowing a variable page skip amount is too complicated to code (not too complex to make, but too complex to make accessible to users; there's no way to make it intuitive enough to be widely used), but I'd love to see a "hold this button to flash through pages one at a time." However, I can also see that that's a battery-draining activity that's not useful or desirable to most readers, just one more way to accidentally kill your battery by pressing on the wrong spot on the reader.

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10. better bookmarking. When I book mark something I want to know what the heck I bookmarked. Give me the ability to name the bookmark
Again: Complex features that you have to explain how to use. The ebook market is dominated by people who can't figure out how to download books to their computers and load them onto their devices; coping with bookmark programming is well beyond them. (Which means: this is a feature that costs money to make, but most ebook customers won't care about. Not a good marketing approach.)

Also: in order to name the bookmarks, you need a method for inputting data. Add a keyboard? Size & fragility. Touchscreen keyboard & stylus? More software. Handwriting? Even more problematic.

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11. annotations
Same problem, only moreso--need a way to input data and a way to retrieve it. (You were thinking the annotations could be exported, right?)

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Please no extra junk that interferes with the reading experience
- no mp3 player
- no Wi-Fi
- no web browsing
- no apps
MP3 players cost almost nothing to add, and almost nothing in hardware to support. Including it allows for audiobooks and the option of a tts reader for people with limited vision.

While I do fine without wifi, as an academic reader, allowing limited browsing is very useful. Most college students expect to have near-constant internet access; removing it from their ereader means they also have to carry their laptop. That means in order for the ereader to be useful, it has to be much better than a laptop for ebooks, because they won't want to carry two devices to class.

While you can make it with no apps included, unless you play the total-walled-garden game, you can't make it incompatible with apps. The PRS+ hack for the Sony allows sudoku, and that's for a device with no internet and no intentional space at all for games.

TL;DR ANSWER:
Yes, those really are complicated features that there's not enough market demand to support. While students and some businesspeople would love a reader with those features, the expected over $500 cost for a device that doesn't even play YouTube videos is not likely to be successful.

There have been attempts in the past to make more academically-supportive ereaders; they've failed for lack of marketability. It's *hard* to make something useful to a tech-needy niche market and keep the price within their range.
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Old 04-05-2012, 11:40 PM   #33
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I'd say the high cost is the issue not the desireablity. The larger readers are at least 3x more costly and not 3x the device. I would buy an 8" reader in a heartbeat if it wasn't much more than the 6" devices.
5" reader: 12"sq. screen area.
6" reader: 16.7"sq. screen area.
8" reader: 31.5"sq. screen area.
9.7" reader: 38.9"sq. screen area.

The 8" reader has almost double the area of the 6"; it's reasonable (but I agree, very annoying) that it costs quite a bit more.

Before the rush to the <$100 reader, the 8" devices cost a bit less than double, not a bit more than double the price of the smaller devices. Chalk some of the higher price up to the hassles of making it more protected--an 8" screen is easier to crack or bend, so the hardware needs to be built with that in mind.

Hypothetical letter-size or A4-size screen:
~14" screen; ~95" screen area.

With the area of almost 6 of the 6" readers, I don't think we'll be seeing this one at an affordable rate anytime soon.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:39 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by heeby View Post
I'd say the high cost is the issue not the desireablity. The larger readers are at least 3x more costly and not 3x the device. I would buy an 8" reader in a heartbeat if it wasn't much more than the 6" devices.
The original 6in kindle was almost 400 I believe, and it sold. Enough to get to a 4th iteration.

Not so the KDX.

Once again, I think that says it all.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:27 AM   #35
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The original 6in kindle was almost 400 I believe, and it sold. Enough to get to a 4th iteration.

Not so the KDX.

Once again, I think that says it all.

It sold because it was the norm and there was no other price option. It also didnt sell as well as the new ones. The DX has never gotten much cheaper and by the time it came out the 6" model had...so it doesn't say anything except people buy less when things cost more and there is a cheaper alternative. If the DX dropped in price and weight like the new 6" models it would sell better...it's common sense. I would prefer an 8" model so I would get trade paperback sized pages...but the only close options are a LOT more than the 6" versions...not even proportional to increased size more but a LOT more.

Last edited by heeby; 04-06-2012 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:53 AM   #36
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The original 6in kindle was almost 400 I believe, and it sold. Enough to get to a 4th iteration.

Not so the KDX.
The iPad launching at $499 when Amazon was asking $489 for the KDX didn't exactly do it any favours either...
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:03 AM   #37
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I'm not engineer but I don't get how the battery life can be short lived as the screen of an e-ink consumers less power than a back lit LCD. And the processor for an E-ink reader is is not where even close to a tablet's processor.
Most larger displays have more pixels, which require more processing power to handle. Resolution aside, you still have to send the electricity over a larger area. The farther you send electricity, the more resistance it encounters, and and that effects voltage and the amount of current needed. Long story short, if you want to keep the same voltage, you have to send more power, which drains battery faster. As mentioned in a prior post, as the diagonal size grows, the surface area grows by leaps and bounds, and nearly the entire back side of the panel is covered. 6" display has 16.7 square inches of surface area, and while not exact calculations (but good enough for this example), you figure the A4 letter sized page is 95 square inch display, which is about 5 and a half times bigger, and roughly 5 and a half times more current to keep same voltage.
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Old 04-06-2012, 12:37 PM   #38
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A technical e-reader has to be able to read PDF's. Epub-only format shrinks the market for such a device even more. OP, you even noted you had PDF's to read.

It also needs to have a color display. Too many charts and diagrams look unintelligible in grayscale.

I'm not seeing why you resist the tablet, aside from price. Price will come down. Not only that but Apple's investment in high-resolution iPad screens will make them more common in other brands. Maybe Google's rumored tablet will be your huckleberry?
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:07 PM   #39
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I'm not seeing why you resist the tablet, aside from price. Price will come down. Not only that but Apple's investment in high-resolution iPad screens will make them more common in other brands. Maybe Google's rumored tablet will be your huckleberry?
I think the theory is that the tablet's bells & whistles drive the price up--that there's no reason to pay extra for a multi-media game device when all one needs is to read & annotate ebooks.

The issue is that "read & annotate ebooks" is the pricey part of the software; "play movies & games" is pretty much off-the-shelf code at this point. It doesn't cost extra to include those features, and people who don't want them can ignore them. Plenty of apps are potentially useful for academic & business purposes: calendar management, TBR-list tracking, reviews (whether you put those in yourself, or get a feed from a site somewhere), citation-makers, etc. And there's no way to say "this device supports academically-focused apps, but not game apps." (It could maybe not have a quality video chip--but that means excluding the option of watching vids as part of academic research.)

The only way to have a "purist" academic tablet is to make a complete walled garden... and Apple, with no intention of limiting its customers to just students, constantly gets its walled garden attacked, rooted & infiltrated.

Making a device with features of great use to academics: Great idea, and possibly could be made profitable.

Making a device that can *only* be used for the specific academic purposes the designers imagined: Lousy idea; great way to go bankrupt.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:08 PM   #40
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I can say from personal experience that the iPad with the "Goodreader" app is a quite superb environment for reading and annotating A4-size PDFs.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:05 PM   #41
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I can say from personal experience that the iPad with the "Goodreader" app is a quite superb environment for reading and annotating A4-size PDFs.
I'd gotten the impression that the iPad was great for letter/A4-sized PDFs, despite not quite being the same size; they show up fine at full screen and zooming covers any detailed checking that needs to happen.

If they come up with a tablet with a 6" or smaller screen, I'll be looking into it, even if it means giving up e-ink's battery life.

According to the OP here, the problem would be battery life and weight, and likely a lack of support for multiple filetypes on the program with good annotations. Size & weight are going to be directly related to screen size; battery capacity is going to relate to display options, and while we'd all love a program that reads, bookmarks & annotates multiple formats at once (modified Calibre app, anyone?) I suspect that different options for different filetypes is going to remain more common.

The other complaint is the pricetag, but it's not like the iPad would cost less if you removed half its starting apps and disconnected it from the rest of the iVerse. The hardware's expensive.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:41 PM   #42
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And for what it's actually able to do, it's overpriced.
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:41 PM   #43
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Yes but the screen refresh is slow as molasses. It hasn't been updated for 2 years I believe. And it's still no bigger than 9.7 inches
That is because very few people bought the DXG. I have one and love it but hardly anyone I know has one or wants one. Most everyone I know wants a 6inch screen or a tablet if they need to read technical books.

(shrugs)
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Old 04-06-2012, 03:54 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by heeby View Post
It sold because it was the norm and there was no other price option. It also didnt sell as well as the new ones. The DX has never gotten much cheaper and by the time it came out the 6" model had...so it doesn't say anything except people buy less when things cost more and there is a cheaper alternative. If the DX dropped in price and weight like the new 6" models it would sell better...it's common sense. I would prefer an 8" model so I would get trade paperback sized pages...but the only close options are a LOT more than the 6" versions...not even proportional to increased size more but a LOT more.
The K1 sold well enough to see three price drops before the K2 was introduced. Amazon dropped prices as sales rose probably because production costs were going down as the volume of Kindles being manufactured was going up. Toss in the $9.99 sales price for e-books on the best seller list and pretty cheap subscriptions to newspapers like the New York Times and you had plenty of folks who were willing to buy the K1 because they were saving money on buying the hardback book when it came out and on their subscription to local newspapers. I remember topics discussing how you could buy the K1 with the money saved from a Kindle subscription as opposed to a paper subscription.

The K1 was selling out at the $400 price range. Amazon was selling enough of them at $400 that they production costs were dminished enough to afford a price drop or they figured out that a price drop would increase sales. Probably it was a combination of both factors that led to the first price drop.

The price dropped to about $350 (when I got mine). My guess is that sales of the K1 went up with the price drop.

The K1 was featured on Oprah as one of her favorite things and she offered a $50 off coupon at her website, effectivly dropping the price to $300. The K1 sold out once again.

The K2 was announced and I believe the price dropped to the $250 range. The K2 was sold out in pretty much the first day. My family members were able to get one because I ordered them for them and K1 owners were allowed to jump to the front of the line.

The DX never took off. The price has always been high, I think it has dropped by $50 since it was first released. This is probably due to a lack of enough demand to be able to decrase production costs which would allow a price drop. The market for it was never that strong, professionals, University students, and technical field users.

I actually wonder if Amazon is still producing new DXGs or if they are simply selling their backlog.
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Old 04-06-2012, 04:41 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
I'd gotten the impression that the iPad was great for letter/A4-sized PDFs, despite not quite being the same size; they show up fine at full screen and zooming covers any detailed checking that needs to happen.
Yes, that's absolutely true. The screen resolution is so good that even small text is easily readable, and the instant zoom makes it easy to zoom in and scroll around if you need the extra detail.

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According to the OP here, the problem would be battery life and weight, and likely a lack of support for multiple filetypes on the program with good annotations. Size & weight are going to be directly related to screen size; battery capacity is going to relate to display options, and while we'd all love a program that reads, bookmarks & annotates multiple formats at once (modified Calibre app, anyone?) I suspect that different options for different filetypes is going to remain more common.
I honestly don't think you need extensive format support for academic use. Like it or loath it, the academic world works with PDF. It's the standard used for pretty much everything. I get a good 10h actual usage from my iPad - easily a full day's work - and that's with extensive web browsing, and other such power-hungry activities. I think personally that's enough, although I'm sure that some might disagree.
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