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Old 03-18-2009, 11:57 AM   #1
Phogg
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Color E-ink, and the price tipping point

When I was in the third grade, I built my first crystal radio set. By seventh grade I was drawing circuit patterns in wax on copperclad boards and etching my own circuits. I wanted better soldering irons, better wire strippers, and a host of expensive tools. A digital multimeter that measured capacitance? Might have well wished for the moon.

When I joined the millitary They hat better equipment - but even they weren't shelling out for many digital multimeters. Some things just cost too much you know?



Then when Reagan came in - the US government bought them anyway - they had much longer calibration cycles, and didn't have to be calibrated during exercises so often. They didn't just go to depot maintenance or ELMAICO, they went to techs in every line unit and reserve station. I suspect they also went to every DOD shop with radios, and all the federal aviation personnel.



That was a lot of digital multimeters.

And what had been a pipe dream for most geeks, became affordable. Air conditioner repairers and construction electricians sprouted digital multimeters. Analog multimeters began to fade to the back tier.

The military has a host of specialized equipment that has to be repaired on site. So does aviation, and the transportation department. The communications unit in an infantry battalion used to carry three embark boxes or TMs around - and that doesn't count the manuals for admin, the armory, or motor transport. This is both a huge cost, and a logistics hassle that can now be reduced. I have been out since the soviet collapse - but I imagine that some manuals have already gone to .pdf files on lap tops.

I predict that fairly quickly - say by 2012 That the US government will switch from paper to color readers for technical manuals. This alone will be a massive high volume purchase that will yank the cost of color readers down to a level most readers can come up with. Not gradually, but pretty much overnight.

Not Nostradamus, just seeing a parallel.
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Old 03-18-2009, 01:35 PM   #2
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I would doubt that the parallel really exists. I don't see the military embracing color eBook Readers for technical manuals. First off technical manuals are not color and paper manuals (unlike analog meters) are much more rugged.

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Old 03-18-2009, 01:56 PM   #3
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Can't wait to see the price of Mil-Spec e-readers!

But I can easily imagine the U.S. Future Warrior information display being used to reduce or eliminate paper. Paper is often ruined when wet, burns, and weighs more then memory cards. Electronic readers integrated with GPS could offer location-based services AND instant translation as needed to get help from locals.
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Old 03-18-2009, 02:46 PM   #4
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Phogg - You bring back a lot of memories with the picture of that multimeter. That was the first one I ever used way back in the 80's and 90's when I worked as a civilian employee for the military.

The government getting into eInk would definitely push it into the mainstream but there will be huge resistance to it from rank and file. I was there when admins were forced to switch to PC based word processors and it wasn't pretty. Some of the old time electronic techs hated the digital multimeter at first and refused to use it except in the field where it was the only choice.

The big problem with switching strictly to digital files is security. There needs to be a secure way to encrypt the device as is done with hard drives.
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:10 PM   #5
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The U.S. government and the military have already discovered laptops and the Toughbook. I doubt we can depend on them to support color e-book readers when they already have a workable solution (and a means to pay the high price tag for it).

However, organizations that don't have such deep pockets could possibly spur such a drive. If they are involved with major business ties, that could spread to other outlets in pretty much the same way that Windows PCs and fax machines spread through American businesses.

But even better: Get them into the hands of the young people entering the workforce, and they'll bring the devices with them, incorporating it into the way they work, and transforming business from the bottom-up.

Regarding price: If that device has some compelling feature that people want, they will pay ridiculous amounts of money for it. The price is almost irrelevant... find the "killer app", and you're set.

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 03-18-2009 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:53 PM   #6
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The picture is too small. What model Simpson is that?

For some things, you still need an analog meter. Try peaking a tuned circuit with a digital meter. If you can do it and get a good peak, you're a better man than I am
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:45 AM   #7
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The picture is too small. What model Simpson is that?

For some things, you still need an analog meter. Try peaking a tuned circuit with a digital meter. If you can do it and get a good peak, you're a better man than I am
It's a Simpson 360. Standard issue in USMC comm shops back when I went in.
The digital is a Fluke 8024B which replaced it.
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Old 03-25-2009, 12:03 PM   #8
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E-ink brings some advantages which can not be neglected:

1. Battery life, much longer than a laptop;
2. Hard to brake and even flexible, if is made on plastic;
3. Friendly with the human eye;
4. Light weight and easy to carry it with you, containing lots of files and documents;
5. Readable in bright light;
6. You can add more.

I don't see why the military won't invest in this technology to make it color, with faster refresh rate and adding more features to it.

The parallel seen by Phogg sounds realistic to me.
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Old 03-28-2009, 03:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Burliburd View Post
E-ink brings some advantages which can not be neglected:

1. Battery life, much longer than a laptop;
2. Hard to brake and even flexible, if is made on plastic;
3. Friendly with the human eye;
4. Light weight and easy to carry it with you, containing lots of files and documents;
5. Readable in bright light;
6. You can add more.

I don't see why the military won't invest in this technology to make it color, with faster refresh rate and adding more features to it.

The parallel seen by Phogg sounds realistic to me.
First, I need a clarification on point 6: Add more what?

Second, e-ink does not differentiate itself enough from LCD screens to be an attractive product for the military yet. Energy use is its only advantage over LCDs, and since soldiers can carry extra batteries and/or hand-cranked generators (which they often do), it's not enough of a selling point. (FYI: The military couldn't give a rat's @$$ whether or not e-ink is "easier on the eyes.")

When they are full-color, available in higher volumes cheaper than LCDs, and available on all-purpose devices (like laptops), they will fit the military uses for such a device.
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:01 AM   #10
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It would be very cool if the military adopted e-ink readers (and whatever e-book format they chose would get a big boost too; but I wonder if they would tend to encrypt the files?).

But I'm kind of thinking that old fashioned paper works even in the field where there is no power, even if you've been there for two months. Yes, it's vulnerable to water but so are e-ink readers, and yes, you can waterproof e-ink readers, but the same for paper. A lot of paper gets very heavy, but the military moves heavy things all the time.

Dunno. It would be cool if it happened, though.
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Old 03-29-2009, 04:23 AM   #11
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for government as well as business to adopt these devices wireless options are a must have. Then they all need to develop,, or by a ready to go framework for whole new backend management, distribution & connectivity model. I could see small scale adoption to see what these devices bring to the table but imagine it is a good decade away before there is anything close to being the norm in business and government. All it represents for now is a way to carry around a whole file cabinet of data, OK, then what?

Connectivity is one of the things the Kindle has right. I could see Amazon selling a bunch of whatever-business-grade Kindles to a corporation looking to adopt. But it would also include their software back-end to manage the devices. That's where the money is for Amazon, not in selling devices to consumers. Just ask IBM about that model. Actually it is the consumer who has long been the beta test group for the corporate sales divisions of the major players in the tech market. Consumer level devices get the bells and whistles and the business grade devices get what actually works. That is what I see the big players who have long term goals doing right now. New versions have been trivial updates to simply gauge on a large scale how a specific configuration works, or where they fail to meet needs.

What we consumers can hope for is a new player to decide to offer that same level of device quality in terms of UI and build quality. Otherwise we will always be the beta test group for the real money players.

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Old 03-29-2009, 05:56 AM   #12
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My gas repair man has been using a laptop with all his gas appliance technical diagrams, exploded parts lists, etc, on a CD-ROM for many years now. I'm not sure how an eBook Reader would make that any better.
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:49 AM   #13
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The U.S. government and the military have already discovered laptops and the Toughbook. I doubt we can depend on them to support color e-book readers when they already have a workable solution (and a means to pay the high price tag for it).
We have toughbooks every freaking where onboad my ship. They are durable as all hell and can take a beating. I dont see something as fragile as an ereader being used here
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:23 AM   #14
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We have toughbooks every freaking where onboad my ship. They are durable as all hell and can take a beating. I dont see something as fragile as an ereader being used here
Not to mention they are multi-purpose and (partially) user-serviceable devices, which makes them even more useful in the military's eye.
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