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Old 09-03-2013, 05:38 PM   #1
Katsunami
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The e-reader "Androidified"... would you get one?

The one thing I always see with regard to new e-readers is that people want the software to do specific things. One e-reader can have 20 custom fonts, the other has 20 settings for margins, while a third has 15 settings for line height. That sort of stuff. No reader has everything.

I've read that there are some nice reading applications for tablets, and that some people prefer a tablet for readin because of the choice of apps and their customizability.

Let's say, a manufacturer would do something like this:
  • Create a line of e-readers: 5 inch, 6 inch, 7 inch, and 9.7 inch.
  • Capacitive touch screen
  • Front light, 30 settings, from completely off to as bright as a tablet.
  • The reader has back/forward-buttons, but with a twist. You get 2 faceplates: one completely out of plastic, hiding the buttons, and a face plate that allows you to press them. (Rubber at the button positions, a clicking mechanism, whatever.)
  • NO internal memory. Nothing, zilch. BUT, it will accept SDXC cards up to 2TB.

But most important:

It will run a completely stripped down version of Android, but you won't ever see the operating system. The reader itself would only provide the utter minimal stuff: WIFI connection, handling the front-light, setting page flash (between 0-10); basically, make the hardware usable. (Isn't that what an OS is supposed to do?) Everything, and I mean *EVERYTHING* related to reading would be left to the applications, from choosing reading fonts up to Facebook/GoodReads integration.

The manufacturer of the reader will have a marketplace, but with only one type of applications: reading apps. Anything else is not allowed. Comics, books, PDF's, an internet browser, etc... whatever. People who have a reading app in the Android store could probably port it quite quickly to the e-reader.

Not all reading applications may be free, and some could cost up to $10. The manufacturer itself will have a free reading application in the market, comparable to what a Kindle Paperwhite has to offer now; it won't be installed by default.

If you have only one reading application installed, it will start by default when booting the reader; if you have more than one installed, you can choose which one to start by default, or start none and present you with a choice when starting the device. This way, you could be reading a book in one application, and read a PDF in another.

Of course, this would be a high-end device, with a high-end price: the price will be between $150 and $300 depending on the size.

Would you buy this "Uber E-Reader"?

(People might say: But this is just an e-ink tablet, stripped of everything except a market to install reading applications? Yeah, you'd basically be right. That's why it's an Uber E-Reader, and not a generic tablet.)

Last edited by Alexander Turcic; 09-04-2013 at 06:51 AM. Reason: moved to frontpage
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:41 PM   #2
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An Androfied ereader would tend to be bloated. The more complicated the OS, the more likely it is going to have issues. I would prefer a device that is streamlined for simplicity. The current features for font type, font size and margin is good enough for me.

Last edited by Julius Caesar; 09-03-2013 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:45 PM   #3
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You obviously didn't read the entire post.

Quote:
It will run a completely stripped down version of Android, but you won't ever see the operating system. The reader itself would only provide the utter minimal stuff: WIFI connection, handling the front-light, setting page flash (between 0-10); basically, make the hardware usable.
It won't be bloated.

That's why "Androidified" is in between quotes. It won't be a "normal" Android with all the bells and whistles. It'll be the Android operating system only, complemented with the bare essentials to make the device usable.

A bit like MS-DOS, in its time. Apart from booting the computer and do basic stuff like showing folders and formatting diskettes, it couldn't really do anything. It was just a platform to make all hardware available and run your applications on.

Last edited by Katsunami; 09-03-2013 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:49 PM   #4
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You obviously didn't read the entire post.
It won't be bloated.
Since Android is originally designed for a completely different purpose, even a stripped down version of Android would still be more bloated than an OS specifically designed for reading.

A stripped down version of Windows would still be more bloated than DOS and if DOS works perfectly fine for a particular task, I would rather stick to DOS.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:57 PM   #5
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I wouldn't buy it. I want a full-blown Android tablet (with a full-blown app market) or a cheap-ass eInk reader (with books). Not really interested in anything in between.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 09-03-2013 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julius Caesar View Post
Since Android is originally designed for a completely different purpose, even a stripped down version of Android would still be more bloated than an OS specifically designed for reading.

A stripped down version of Windows would still be more bloated than DOS and if DOS works perfectly fine for a particular task, I would rather stick to DOS.
Then you won't buy the device because you fear the OS would be to heavy. Fair point.

As it's a high end device, you may assume that it has at least upper midrange to lower high-end phone specifications with regard to CPU-power and RAM, so it will run the operating system at least as well as such a phone. Also, the battery will be big enough so th device will last about as long as the Paperwhite.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:38 PM   #7
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I've never had a problem with an ereader being underpowered, and I still have a Kindle 1. It would maybe be nice to have a few more choices of font, line-height, etc., but that wouldn't really require any changes to the OS, just a few options added to the UI. The OS already has the ability to apply those types of changes.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:15 PM   #8
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I'd be interested, but...
The problem is that android has apps that would be useful to at least some readers so blocking non-reader apps would lose you sales.
Also, unless you are solely catering to lean-is-better zealots, Android "bloat" is no penalty to current eink reader SOCs. Neither the Hacked Nooks or Sonys have significant performance issues with non-game apps.
So your reader doesn't need to be anything more than generic Android 4.x on eink. If you can get the Play store on it, fine. If not, no biggie, as long as it's unlocked to sideloaded apps.
Conceptually, an eink android tablet would do the trick; no need to complicate things.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:20 PM   #9
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Conceptually, an eink android tablet would do the trick; no need to complicate things.
I know, but the complications would be on the side of the manufacturer. Android itself, and all the apps it has, may (will?) complicate the device for users, as they'd be able to install applications that don't work well on e-ink screens, such as fast games.

Also, the reader would need to be 4:3... a 16:9 or 16:10 e-reader wouldn't cut it for me. Too wide, or too long, whichever way you hold it. All Android tablets apart from a few exceptions are widescreen.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:31 PM   #10
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Except for the "frontlight e-ink tablet" part, you're describing a Nook HD/HD+, and yes I did buy one. But then I changed it from "Androidified" to a fully Android tablet by loading CM 10.1 on it.

And BTW, I love it, it has beccome my favorite reader.

Last edited by wodin; 09-03-2013 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:42 PM   #11
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Hm... I see there actually ARE tablets / readers such as the one I describe, but they always seem to be missing something: no front-light, or no Google Market/Play, or they run a (very) old Android version, or they're only available in countries such as Russia or South-Korea.

I'd really be a customer for a 4:3, 7 inch (or maybe even 6 inch) android 4.3 tablet, because of some of the reading apps available.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
I know, but the complications would be on the side of the manufacturer. Android itself, and all the apps it has, may (will?) complicate the device for users, as they'd be able to install applications that don't work well on e-ink screens, such as fast games.

Also, the reader would need to be 4:3... a 16:9 or 16:10 e-reader wouldn't cut it for me. Too wide, or too long, whichever way you hold it. All Android tablets apart from a few exceptions are widescreen.
The kind of user that is going to value such a flexible reading device doesn't need protecting from themselves.
And, given that all the eink screens I've ever seen are 4x3, the odds of anything else are pretty low.

As I said in the other thread, I think there is room for at least one eink-based android tablet in the market as long as it's open.
But there's no need to overcomplicate the business model or the design. Just put android on a Kobo Aura HD lookalike and let users figure the rest out according to their preferences. If that means discovering that (oh horror!) Angry birds doesn't fly in B&W, so be it; you're not going to be getting all that many non-savvy buyers anyway.
This is a case where keeping it simple means keeping it generic.

Last edited by fjtorres; 09-03-2013 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 08:01 PM   #13
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If I had one of those, id have to root it ala BN Simple Touch
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:08 PM   #14
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Katsunami: while it doesn't meet your hardware reqirements, a rooted Sony PRS-T1 certainly allows people to use other reading software. From what I've heard, the same can be said for the Nook.

Your hardware requirements are harder to meet though. A lot of what you mentioned can be found on Kobo readers. Alas, those aren't Android based.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:10 PM   #15
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I wouldn't buy it. I want a full-blown Android tablet (with a full-blown app market) or a cheap-ass eInk reader (with books). Not really interested in anything in between.
This. Give me a real tablet, or a pared- down eInk device. Not something in between.
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