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Old 12-16-2005, 12:09 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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iRex next-gen e-book reader based on e Ink

iRex is not some kind of meat-eating dinosaur with sharp seven-inch long teeth, but the presumed name of a next-gen e-book reading device based on E Ink technology. Henrycat digged out some mouth-watering details for us:
  • Reflective 8.1-inch XGA (1024x768 => 160dpi!) E Ink screen
  • 16 grey scales (versus 4 grey scales of the Sony Librie)
  • Rechargable battery (lasts for one week when reading 3hrs/day)
  • Wifi + USB connectivity
  • Distributed by iRex Technologies bv, a Philips spinoff
  • Release date set for 2006

Update:
  • Touch-screen display
  • SD and CF card support

Thanks henrycat!

Related: E Ink launches support portal and community forum
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:20 PM   #2
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This looks like the first device that I would consider using to read eBooks instead of my Palm.

But the critical questions haven't been answered yet:
1. What will it cost? If it's over $200, I don't think it will go too far.
2. What formats will it support? Which goes along with...
3. How much storage will it have? If it supports bloated formats like PDF, it will need a good amount of storage.
4. Will it allow editing of eBooks? Many of the eBooks that I use are poorly edited (even the ones I actually pay for! 8-) and I like to edit them on my Palm.

Since it's going to have WiFi, it would seem that it would be able to handle basic HTML at least. So that sounds promising.

What will sink this device faster than an iceberg in the North Atlantic:
1. Support for only proprietary document formats.
2. Mandatory DRM.
3. Proprietary access software (i.e. if it has USB connectivity, it ought to show up as a hard drive on my Linux system and not require that I use special software to send files to it).
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:53 PM   #3
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I doubt that it will be less than $200, based on the Hanlin model using roughly the same technology (which is supposed to sell for about $300). This also has a larger screen and some extra features.

It also doesn't look like editing will be possible, unless there's a hidden stylus somewhere, and a virtual keyboard. I would think using those would be a pain, regardless.

Personally I don't care how much internal storage it has, but I hope that it supports some form of external flash card...
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:55 PM   #4
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Henry mentioned that "internet content can be displayed" but browsing wasn't possible. Isn't that a paradox?
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
I doubt that it will be less than $200, based on the Hanlin model using roughly the same technology (which is supposed to sell for about $300). This also has a larger screen and some extra features.
That may be a problem. However, if it's a pretty good web browser, the value might be there for $300. But that would mean that there would be some sort of input method (for URLs, userID/password entry, etc.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
It also doesn't look like editing will be possible, unless there's a hidden stylus somewhere, and a virtual keyboard. I would think using those would be a pain, regardless.
Editing is a "nice to have", but not necessary. I was thinking of something like a virtual keyboard. The screen is large enough to have a finger-typable virtual keyboard. I'm not talking about for writing a novel, but rather for simple corrections of spelling and punctuation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
Personally I don't care how much internal storage it has, but I hope that it supports some form of external flash card...
That's sort of what I was getting at. It needs to have enough storage to hold all the eBooks that the average person wants to have available. For slim formats (like HTML and text), you can fit alot of eBooks in a small space. But for bloated formats like PDF, you would need much more storage for the same number of eBooks.
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
Henry mentioned that "internet content can be displayed" but browsing wasn't possible. Isn't that a paradox?
If we assume that there is no input capability, you wouldn't be able to enter a URL. So think of what it would be like to see a web page, but not be able to enter a URL to go to another web page, or not be able to click on a link (well, not easily). So it could display web content, but not browsing (at least not as most people define "browsing").

But it does seem strange that something that has WiFi capability and the ability to render HTML (assuming that's what they mean by "internet content can be displayed") would not be able to be a broswer too.
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon
But it does seem strange that something that has WiFi capability and the ability to render HTML (assuming that's what they mean by "internet content can be displayed") would not be able to be a broswer too.
Yeah, I was wondering about that, too. What is the WiFi actually good for then?

Looks interesting. 16 shades of gray is good enough for newspaper-quality images.
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:59 PM   #8
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I was actually starting to think that you guys were actively ignoring this device since i had so few replies to my post

Should i post what i come up here in this thread, instead of mine, so that everything stays together

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurens
Yeah, I was wondering about that, too. What is the WiFi actually good for then?

Looks interesting. 16 shades of gray is good enough for newspaper-quality images.
I was thinking maybe i would have a library/server on the pc, that would have the ebook files and reformat the web page to a format with pages the device can read.

Although i never used it i thought that was how plucker worked? Sorry if i had the wrong idea.

My friend promised more info this weekend (say saturday afternoon), will just have to wait
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Old 12-16-2005, 04:52 PM   #9
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I think many of us, like myself, are silently watching with great interest!

I would guess that wifi is to allow access to collections of books for download. Download for purchase from a store is most likely because it's a revenue source. But hopefully one can download local personal content also.

Am interested in battery life, if it can read a lot of formats (and is easy to move content there), and if it has a reasonable expansion card type. I have SD cards already, so that would be nice. But CF is cheaper, isn't it?

And if it can read a variety of formats easily, it could be quite a device. Might even change my mind about a standalone book reader. (So far, the convenience of having ebooks with me all the time on my Treo outweighs the disadvantages of a tiny screen.)

Looking forward to the additional info!
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Old 12-16-2005, 06:45 PM   #10
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WOW this device totally made my day! I'd be willing to go up to $350 for it, if the screen is indeed as great as Librie addicts make us want to believe (personally I've never seen E Ink in action). I don't think it'll sell for much cheaper due to the huge 1024x768 on 8.1-inch screen.
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Old 12-16-2005, 06:52 PM   #11
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PS: I checked the company page but it's rather empty still. Any idea when in 2006 we might expect the iRex? Will it be more like January or more like December 2006?

@Henrycat: thanks for all the information. I am looking forward for what you bring us this weekend!
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Old 12-17-2005, 12:28 PM   #12
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UPDATE

- The screen will be touch-screen, for navigation and good enough for writing notes!
- Will allow the use of CF AND SD cards
- Besides WI-FI will allow Ethernet connection

That's it. Now idea when he will be able to give me more info

edit: Found out what a ethernet connection is. Google is our friend

Last edited by Henrycat; 12-17-2005 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 12-17-2005, 02:48 PM   #13
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It just keeps sounding better and better...
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Old 12-17-2005, 05:08 PM   #14
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It just keeps sounding better and better...
Like TEAL'C would say:

Indeed...

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Old 12-18-2005, 12:37 AM   #15
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PS: I checked the company page but it's rather empty still. Any idea when in 2006 we might expect the iRex? Will it be more like January or more like December 2006?

@Henrycat: thanks for all the information. I am looking forward for what you bring us this weekend!
According to this site, they seem to think this spring in Europe.

http://www.blackmask.com/cgi-bin/new...&ID=1134454590
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