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Old 10-01-2009, 02:16 AM   #1
Bob Russell
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Windows "everywhere" may boost e-books

The mobile revolution is coming. Maybe you could argue it's already here. We see growth in everything from netbooks to iPhones to e-ink devices. So why are we struggling so much to satisfy a simple set of e-book reader requirements like the following?...

* Full day (or better) battery life
* Responsive interfaces and page turns
* Lightweight and varied form factors
* Inexpensive (<$100)
* Reading firmware/software that supports many formats and DRM flavors
* Lighted reading surface

Most reading devices solve some of these issues, but not all. And it doesn't really seem to be just around the corner. But innovation from companies like Intel and Microsoft is likely to cause a revolution in the e-reading landscape. It's almost self-evident, but yet revolutionary.

Intel has already indicated that new generation of mobile processors will provide smaller and smaller form factors, more speed and longer battery life. Up next for netbooks, about a quarter from now, is the Pine Trail generation. Then Moorestown in 2010, which will improve handhelds, and then after that we will see huge jumps in the capabilities of smart phone processors.

This means two things:
* All ranges of mobile and desktop devices will eventually be able to run essentially the same Windows (or Linux) OS. Right now, we don't see consistent widespread support of e-book formats and DRM partly because there are so many platforms to cover. Small devices require a whole different OS, and that fragments the market. It means that it's hard work to support formats across a wide range of devices.
* Microsoft (and Linux) will create a set of OS flavors that work consistently across mobile and desktop form factors, further improving the chances of a relatively consistent platform and better battery life. The interface won't look exactly the same, of course, but the capabilities will be the same. Improved multi-platform development frameworks may further help reduce the effort to give consistent e-book support. Nearly instant start up times will show up soon as well.

So, it's just possible that it won't be too long before we see something amazing... Cheap, fast e-book readers in small computing factors, supporting lots of formats and DRM types, and with a long battery life. It doesn't even require e-ink (although that would be pretty great if alternate display technologies improve the picture as well). Finally, in this version of the future, you can choose your favorite reading software, and it will work on all kinds of big and small devices, and all kinds of e-book formats.

Now we're talking! But about those dates...
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Old 10-01-2009, 02:36 AM   #2
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Good pitch Bob, I would only add that the reading surface should be bi-mode. Lighted for night time, and reflective when there is adequate lighting.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:09 AM   #3
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don't discount Google's "Chrome OS" and/or Android...not a lot of adoption yet, but if the price is right it can be a factor.

Otherwise, I agree...we are almost there but right now the biggest issue is either some form of most efficient power supply and/or low power color display that uses no more than current eink does...PixelQi (and there is another I read about and likely others) is a start, but I sense it's just a step along the way. OLED bugs me because of it's limited lifespan even though that is better today than 5yrs ago...
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:08 AM   #4
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I fail to see what the big revolution is. We've had windows and linux on mobile devices for ages, and look where we are.
Processors keep getting better, and they keep lowering the power consumption - yet we still don't see that effect the battery life. Probably because the extra MHz are being wasted for useless gimmicks that make windows mobile try and look like iPhone OS or Android. The core didn#t change. And it won't, because windows mobile is targeted at nerds who like to manage their servers with PDAs or run BBSs or access Databases and what not.
I think windows mobile needs to split up into a "low-tech" version, which is usable with your finger, just like iPhone OS is, and a "high-tech" nerdy version that mimics a desktop computer.

I'm not saying iPhone OS is the ultimate OS - it is low-tech, you don't have "files", you can't change anything ... it locks you down.

Can't really say much about mobile linux since I haven't used it yet.

Oh yes, and whatever the previous posters said about the display, I agree.
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:27 AM   #5
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The ARM processors maybe a little slower, but they are more energy efficient, cheaper (I think), and here now. Ubuntu and several other mainstream Linux OS's run on them, so a lot of apps are available.

I think windows would be too 'clunky' for such a small device (although I do have a UX380, but that is my main PC, hooked up to a keyboard, mouse and monitor when at home).

Check out the SmartQ5/7, open pandora project, Archos 5 and other 'smart phones' that use them.

At the moment it comes down to the fact that there is no fully 'open' device.

Last edited by M0zza; 10-01-2009 at 05:30 AM.
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:20 AM   #6
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I remember cassettes, CD's, MiniDiscs, and finally Mp3 players. I wonder what era the e-readers are in? CD's or MiniDiscs?
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:32 AM   #7
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I fail to see what the big revolution is. We've had windows and linux on mobile devices for ages, and look where we are.
Windows CE (which Windows Mobile is based on) doesn't count, since it's still a completely separate platform from Windows NT/XP/Vista/7. And with Linux there is a lot of variations between the many competing distributions. Though Google just might have the influence to create a true standard between devices.

Last edited by Dylrob; 10-01-2009 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:54 AM   #8
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I remember cassettes, CD's, MiniDiscs, and finally Mp3 players. I wonder what era the e-readers are in? CD's or MiniDiscs?
I suspect E-readers are at the 8 track cartridge systems phase, this is what was in place prior to cassette decks in cars. A fairly primitive system that worked relatively well. Yes Yes I know I am a dinosaur to remember these.
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:13 AM   #9
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Just what e-book devices don't need: Windows: bloatware and unstable..
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:14 AM   #10
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I suspect E-readers are at the 8 track cartridge systems phase, this is what was in place prior to cassette decks in cars. A fairly primitive system that worked relatively well. Yes Yes I know I am a dinosaur to remember these.
Heh, my parents have one of those integrated into their big fancy audio console.
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:17 AM   #11
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Hello Bob,

interesting but not my cup of tea:
1) I personally would never leave my eInk
2) Windows and Linux already support a wide variety of mobile hardware, different formats and drm falvors are missing, because it is expensive tp program and/or pay royalties
3) I think battery life of more than a week should be a given

You describe JAMD (Just Another Mobile Device), but I state that ebook readers are different. eInk makes reading more or less strainless for your eyes. LCD, oled and so on won't have that advantage. So I see ebook readers always in a class of their own.

Sven
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Old 10-01-2009, 07:50 AM   #12
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If one wants to read ebooks on a Windows machine (or a Mac) --- that's always been an option.

Anyone else remember the Voyager ebooks?

I used to run Adobe Acrobat on an NCR-3125 (yes, I'm dating myself) and there were similar programs for Go Corporation's PenPoint.

I've read a fair number of ebooks on Fujitsu pen computers and Tablet PCs --- it's fine if the need for a larger display and colour justifies the extra weight and the occasional tethering to a wall outlet (w/ an extended life battery my ST4120 will last for _almost_ a day's usage).

It's going to take some amazing advances in battery life / energy storage to make machines using LCDs competitive w/ eInk --- I read far more on my Sony than on my Stylistic.

William
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:23 AM   #13
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The mobile revolution is coming
Certainly true but not from Microsoft. They truly screwed up with their mobile platform. In the smartphone arena, iPhone is the leader by far. I, personally, trust that Android has a bright future. Not sure where RIM is going. If they don't reinvent themselves they're in danger of becoming much smaller when iPhone and Android get into business devices/apps market.
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Loose_Appeal View Post
I remember cassettes, CD's, MiniDiscs, and finally Mp3 players. I wonder what era the e-readers are in? CD's or MiniDiscs?
Early Cassettes

WillAdams - Yea, I was very happy reading on an old Fujitsu Stylistic 1200 before it gave up the ghost...
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Old 10-01-2009, 10:01 AM   #15
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Not sure where RIM is going. If they don't reinvent themselves they're in danger of becoming much smaller when iPhone and Android get into business devices/apps market.
Forbes Magazine just named RIM the fasted growing company in the world. They'll probably survive.

Regards, Daryl
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