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Old 12-31-2009, 01:01 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
Except the Sony isn't purported to be a communications device. Reading inevitably means things beyond just unadorned text (unadorned is taken to extremes in ebook readers as well). People who are simply novel readers who care not one bit about color, quality, or speed shouldn't be so offended when more demanding folks start putting down those devices.
If you want adornments, then I think zelda's "Three Men in a Boat" or pdurrant's "Desbarollda, The Waltzing Mouse" show the large extent of what can be done using current ereader technology. But the fact is that I can open any of my large collection of paper books at a random page and there's a 99% chance that all I'll see will be monochrome text.

There's a market for colour in books, but it's limited. Low-resolution colour is used in some technical works and is important in children's books, but that's it. High-resolution colour for images would be nice, but we're not going to get that on an ereader any time soon, all the coming colour displays will be limited to the same sub-newsprint resolutions used on the web.

There are many ways in which I'd like to see ereader displays improve, but colour isn't one of them because it's simply irrelevant to reading text.

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Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
Well yes and no; a high-contrast LCD with a given method of font-smoothing (to compensate for the low resolution) will display finer text than will a lower-contrast screen. This is painfully obvious with traditional Chinese, but I see it with some of my favorite western typefaces as well.
Sub-pixel rendering techniques such as ClearType work best on specifically-designed fonts in order to avoid the colour-fringing problems that can be seen at small point sizes. When using fonts that aren't tuned and hinted for ClearType an increased contrast can sometimes make things worse. Increasing the overall contrast helps only up to a point, as the real problem is the limited resolution that all displays suffer.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:02 PM   #47
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Such as what for example? What can a simple eInk reader not do that other reading devices - let's take a paper book as an example - can do? Many can actually do more than a book - eg search for a word or phrase, or change the text size, or the font.
eInk devices (currently, and probably indefinitely, due to the limitations required to make the battery last so dang long) can not:
1) Quickly flip through the pages of a book to locate something visually.
2) Quickly scan through your library to locate a book visually.
3) Allow the USER to select their preferred reading software.
4) Allow the USER to add applications to their device.

For simple novels (and similar material), sure "quickly flipping through pages" isn't THAT important. But the world of reading is far bigger than those types of things: magazines, text books, technical books, children's books, etc. Many of these require speed for fast scanning through pages.

Imagine standing in front of bookshelves filled with 1000's of books, sorted the way YOU want them sorted, each book with it's own semi-distinctive spine (colors, logos, title, graphic), how EASY and QUICK it is to spot and zero-in on the book you want (even if you don't remember the exact title or spelling of the author's name). Yes, "quickly finding a book" can be done using carefully structured sub-directories and naming conventions and search routines. But navigating those on a power-hoarding machine will never come close to what you can do with that same ability AND a "visual bookshelf"... which takes speed (which usually takes power).

The current eInk devices are (and will likely remain, due to their power-hoarding requirements) purely "vendor-only software" devices. Yes, there are small exceptions (running custom programs in FB reader, Open Inkpot, etc), but those are not (and never will be) terribly widely used (FB reader programs) or as QUICKLY (massively) flexible as a machine running a common, OPEN operating system onto which you can load pretty much anything (program-wise), without worrying about the power-hoarding requirements. Yes, Open Inkpot lets anyone contribute anything, but step back and look at it compared to what comes from the manufacturers, and there's really not that big of a difference, and the changes come VERY slowly (if it were anything other than a 'hobby' system, Open Inkpot would have been available for the Hanlin V5 machines IMMEDIATELY, not a year or two later). I'd gladly pay $35 to someone for a good ADE replacement that actually let me modifying formatting, etc, in a reasonable way. Instead, we're stuck waiting months and years for the manufacturers to release firmware updates with minor tweaks to the standard ADE, which never quite please ANYONE with regard to font sizes, page numbering, status bars, etc. With an 'open' system, there would be a plethora of reading programs you could load. But 'open' systems mean "power-hoarding" has to go out the window, to some degree. Give me 24-hours on a charge, and I'm willing to trade that against 2-3 weeks on a charge in order to get much greater functionality.

A lot of folks seem to want nothing but a straight "novel reader", and for them, eInk is great. But there's just as many (or more) folks who would like to have their device do a few things more. You can argue about one-function devices vrs multi-function devices until a blue moon (well, okay, yeah, that's today... ), but the simple fact is that these devices are a computer, running Linux (for the most part today, but any OS will do...), and adding additional programs to them is NOT anything like adding a scanner to a printer.

Am I arguing for LCD screens and 4-hour battery life? No. But technology doesn't stand still. Screen technologies will advance, battery technology will advance. Will it happen over-night? No, it will be a slow painful slog, and for a while eInk will remain superior FOR NOVEL READING to most other devices. But over 5-10 years, that will change. Because the trade-off in battery life and screen capabilities and CPU capabilities will shift enough to allow these kinds of features while still supporting "easy on the eyes" novel reading.

For the folks who are intent on arguing for the sanctity of a "novel reading only" device vrs some "multi-function device", not also arguing for having a computer on their desk that ONLY does spreadsheets (but does them VERY well) and another computer that ONLY does word-processing (but does that VERY well) and so on? Because it's silly. eInk is successful today because it's the best (in terms of readability and battery life trade-offs). But that won't remain so. As screen, cpu and battery technologies advance, gray-scale eInk WILL give way to color screens with much faster updates, which will mean shorter battery life, but as long as it doesn't get TOO short, that's a trade-off that MANY people will be willing to make. Short-term, that means there will be a lot of LCD machines being introduced. But LCDs were not the first fast, color screen technology, and they won't be the last.

Sorry for the length of this, but it takes lots of words to explain complex concepts. It's mostly a wasted effort, I'm sure, as very few folks are willing to change their tightly held beliefs (myself included ), but hey, we're just standing in the village square having a conversation, right?
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:16 PM   #48
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2,3 and 4 have little to do with the e-ink screen. 2 has a bit to do since more color variations would make selecting a title easier but having or not having covers is not a function of the e-ink. 3 and 4 are solely do to the device makers themselves. the industry is in its infancy still and we are really only on 2nd generation devices.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:17 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
Well yes and no; a high-contrast LCD with a given method of font-smoothing (to compensate for the low resolution) will display finer text than will a lower-contrast screen. This is painfully obvious with traditional Chinese, but I see it with some of my favorite western typefaces as well.
There is more to readability than crisp text. Backlit anything (afaik) produces more eye strain. Research has also indicated that CRT's reduce reading speed, presumably due to the display lighting, refresh rates, scrolling. I don't know of any research specifically on eInk, but I'd assume it will be close to, if not the same, as reading paper, as it's static.

Also, ideally eInk will continue to improve -- though clearly that's a wild card. eInk has done OK with execution, but who knows if that will continue to be the case.

When LCD / Pixel Qi / etc products actually ship, we'll have a better idea.


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Then there's the speed side of things, which is another problem too often dismissed by people with low standards.
Not sure I'd agree with that characterization, given the drubbing the nook is getting for its unresponsive UI....

That said, I don't have too hard a time getting around an eInk device. It definitely takes longer to flip pages, but it's also fairly easy to search for a specific word. And for me, as a Kindle user, if they ditched "locations" and went with "pages" instead, mentally it'd be much easier to hop around a book.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:25 PM   #50
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Ummm...a few examples off the top of my head are: word processing software buried dedicated "word processing typewriter" type devices (which were on way to replace the venerable IBM Selectric typewriter because the WP models had spell check and limited ability to edit before the data was actually printed/typed on the page) back in the mid-80s to early 90s,
Credit lower hardware costs for that.

At the bank I once worked for, in the 70's, we went from Selectrics to Qyx intelligent typewriters, to word processing on a DEC mini-computer to dedicated word processors like the IBM DisplayWriter.

Partway through my tenure, the IBM PC came in, displacing venerable Apple ][s which ran VisiCalc. The PCs ran Lotus 1,2,3, and I watched bank officers write memos as Lotus text cells because Lotus was what they knew how to use. But the PC was a multi-function device, so things like WordStar crept in and took over.

It happened because the PC hardware became cheap enough and powerful enough that a PC with Lotus 1,2,3 and WordStar was a significantly better investment than a dedicated word processor.

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PDA's replaced the electronic address book and then the multi-function cell phone or MID has replaced the PDA only not very successfully...and multi-function printer/xcanner/fax machines replaced three devices doing a very good job as a rule.
Whether a PDA is not very successfully replaced by a smart phone depends on where you stand. I know lots of PDA users happy with the smartphones that replaced them.

I'm not one, due to form factor. We want cell phones tiny and light. That means small screens, and too much of what I do on a PDA makes me wish for a bigger screen than I have.

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Ereading devices cannot continue to be on-trick-ponies at their current price point...drop them to $50-$99 and there is room for discussion but not at $200+
Readers are a niche market item.

At $50-$99, they are an impulse purchase. But we aren't going to see them at that price anytime soon. A teardown of the Kindle discussed elsewhere on MR had the eInk display unit accounting for $60 of the cost. A $99 reader is possible, but not with an eInk display.

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I am in the camp of wanting a multi-function and/or open device that lets me choose what added functionality is installed on the reader...you know, just like a PDA...which millions of people still use daily even though their model is no longer made or supported.

BTW, a PDA actually IS a multi-function device already, these allegedly "smart" phones simply added a phone to the mix but at the expense of diluting some of the the other features of the PDA.
My PDA is my reader, with software letting me read Plucker, Mobipocket, eReader, PDF, Word and text files. It fueled my desire for a standard format everyone would support, as having to maintain half dozen viewers and recall which book is in which format displayed by which viewer is a pain.

But aside from displaying ebooks, it has all of the standard PDA functions, plus does word processing, views/edits Word docs and Excel spreadsheets, plays MP3s and videos, displays photos, has half a dozen programming languages, can connect to the net...and oh, yes, it plays games.

I'd like a device that does what my PDA does, but with a larger screen. I couldn't carry it in a pocket, but I don't do that now.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:31 PM   #51
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A lot of folks seem to want nothing but a straight "novel reader", and for them, eInk is great. But there's just as many (or more) folks who would like to have their device do a few things more.
Agreed. And that's why I've been spending less and less time here.

The sites full of the stubborn folk who do nothing but read novels and get very defensive about non e-ink devices as they don't want them to go away as e-ink is perfect for novel reading.

But it's a misguided and unneeded defensiveness as there's plenty of room for all types of gadgets that can access e-books.

But in fairness to these folks, they are egged on by boneheads posting topics like this about the death of e-ink. Which is also misguided as there will always be a place for dedicated reader devices catering to the novel reading crowd.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:35 PM   #52
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I'm not one, due to form factor. We want cell phones tiny and light. That means small screens, and too much of what I do on a PDA makes me wish for a bigger screen than I have.
To the bolded that should be "I want". I don't mind a bulkier phone. Have an LG voyager now as I wanted the full, physical keyboard as I text a good amount. Still fits in my pocket, and the size trader off is worth the added functionality for me.

And besides, smart phones like the iPhone, Android etc. are still pretty thin, light and easily fit in a pocket. So it's not like smart phones are huge and a hassle to carry around.


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I'd like a device that does what my PDA does, but with a larger screen. I couldn't carry it in a pocket, but I don't do that now.
Same, my PDA stays in my briefcase, so I'd have little issues carrying a 10" tablet around that could replace the PDA and finally have a good alternative to carrying around printouts of the academic articles I'm currently reading and marking up.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:40 PM   #53
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If you want adornments, then I think zelda's "Three Men in a Boat" or pdurrant's "Desbarollda, The Waltzing Mouse" show the large extent of what can be done using current ereader technology. But the fact is that I can open any of my large collection of paper books at a random page and there's a 99% chance that all I'll see will be monochrome text.
I make my own PDFs and am pretty familiar with what little can be done with ebook readers. It's a pretty sad state of affairs, but at least with PDF, quality is not completely sacrificed. I had Zelda's Three Men in a Boat and couldn't finish it until I downloaded the text and made my own PDF from it.
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There's a market for colour in books, but it's limited. Low-resolution colour is used in some technical works and is important in children's books, but that's it. High-resolution colour for images would be nice, but we're not going to get that on an ereader any time soon, all the coming colour displays will be limited to the same sub-newsprint resolutions used on the web.
Color is actually pretty big. Sorry you don't see it. Frankly, for the novel reading and stuff, I agree that black and white is sufficient. Hopefully someone out there will make a good black and white screen in the future.

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Sub-pixel rendering techniques such as ClearType work best on specifically-designed fonts in order to avoid the colour-fringing problems that can be seen at small point sizes. When using fonts that aren't tuned and hinted for ClearType an increased contrast can sometimes make things worse. Increasing the overall contrast helps only up to a point, as the real problem is the limited resolution that all displays suffer.
Yes, they work best with specially designed fonts. Luckily, there are quite a few of them out there. Even in Chinese, there are a few that are designed to work with ClearType. Of course, none of them work well on e-ink, looking washed out and weak due to the anti-aliasing dropping the black in favor of a midrange gray. The ones that DON'T play well with ClearType also fail on e-ink, while anti-aliasing can be tweaked, changed to another renderer or disabled altogether on a PC. No such choice exists for ebook reader devices. Even when generic anti-aliasing is used, I can read just about any font at a significantly smaller size on a high contrast LCD.

It'll be nice when they can push linear resolutions approaching crappy print, and won't need all this artificial font smoothing nonsense. Many Chinese devices toss out anti-aliasing altogether as pixelated text is far easier to read than blurred and washed out text. Too bad they don't do that with ebook readers (or give users the option of doing it)
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:40 PM   #54
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I had a Voyager and really liked the keyboard but I wanted a Windows phone so went with the HTC Imagio and it's really nice. Large screen but it's still LCD and I only use it to read for brief periods such as waiting in line.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:59 PM   #55
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I certainly wouldn't criticise you for that! You are absolutely right that LCD displays are a lot better for reading technical material than eInk. My own preference happens to be for 19th century novels, for which eInk devices are great, but one should be open-minded and say that they certainly aren't the "be all and end all" when it comes to reading.
One of the unsung advantages of ebooks, regardless of the reader technology is that 19th century novels in electronic form are free for the downloading from Gutenberg and elswhere, while I've never seen a free out of copyright pbook.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:59 PM   #56
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Size is the limiting feature of all multi-function devices. Some function will require larger human interface sizes compared to others. In the final analysis, most people choose a device that meets their primary needs well, first, and then looks at the rest of the features secondarily. For Pleasure readers, that means a 5-6 inch screen, and then whatever other features you can put in secondarily. Other people may place the reader aspect as a secondary feature, and settle for a smaller device. It varies.

I'll use myself for an example. I have a mini messenger bag of devices that I carry for travel. Contents - An ASUS EEE PC running Windows, a standard def video camera (using SD chips for storage), A Creative Designs audio player (using SD cards again), and BeBook reader (using SD chips once again), and a zippered pack of 16 SD Chips. I don't see how I can have all that functionality in a single device, much less with a single device. Maybe a 8.9 inch reader with a detachable keyboard, someday, but I'm not holding my breath. Besides if any one of my gadgets break, I have options...

Of the current pack of screen technologies, Mirasole best fits my future use, if it makes it out the door and meets current specs. But I can't count on it until I see it....
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:04 PM   #57
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One of the unsung advantages of ebooks, regardless of the reader technology is that 19th century novels in electronic form are free for the downloading from Gutenberg and elswhere, while I've never seen a free out of copyright pbook.
Nobody has ever lent me or given me an in-copyright ebook. Actually, a lot of my nicest books I used to own were given to me by a school or library or collector, and some were picked up for pennies at garage sales, which admittedly I don't come across often anymore, and which have very questionable legality as far as copyrights are concerned

Edit: Of course, perhaps people would lend me books if I got all of my friends a Nook or Kindle...hahaha.

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Old 12-31-2009, 02:11 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
Size is the limiting feature of all multi-function devices. Some function will require larger human interface sizes compared to others. In the final analysis, most people choose a device that meets their primary needs well, first, and then looks at the rest of the features secondarily. For Pleasure readers, that means a 5-6 inch screen, and then whatever other features you can put in secondarily. Other people may place the reader aspect as a secondary feature, and settle for a smaller device. It varies.

I'll use myself for an example. I have a mini messenger bag of devices that I carry for travel. Contents - An ASUS EEE PC running Windows, a standard def video camera (using SD chips for storage), A Creative Designs audio player (using SD cards again), and BeBook reader (using SD chips once again), and a zippered pack of 16 SD Chips. I don't see how I can have all that functionality in a single device, much less with a single device. Maybe a 8.9 inch reader with a detachable keyboard, someday, but I'm not holding my breath. Besides if any one of my gadgets break, I have options...

Of the current pack of screen technologies, Mirasole best fits my future use, if it makes it out the door and meets current specs. But I can't count on it until I see it....
I do agree with most of that. When I buy a tablet device down the road I'm not going to ditch my Kindle, or MP3 player or laptop.

It will get used primarily for reading and marking up academic articles and books. It will replace my old Palm Pilot (which I seldom use as I mainly just use the Palm software on my PC) for my organizer. And it will get used for light web browsing and net surfing in place of buying a netbook--assuming the tablet is powerful enough to handle HD video streaming etc. which is a big reason I've decided not to buy a Netbook.

Anyway, point being, one doesn't have to want a multifunction device to replace a bunch of stuff. It can still be a supplement. The primary function I want one for is marking up pdfs etc., but I'd like it to be able to do PDA, internet etc. as then it's even more functional. Otherwise it would only get used a handful of times a month when I'm actively reading articles etc.
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:12 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by LDBoblo View Post
Too bad they don't do that with ebook readers (or give users the option of doing it)
PocketBook allows you to turn anti-aliasing off on both of their current models
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Old 12-31-2009, 02:15 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by Dulin's Books View Post
PocketBook allows you to turn anti-aliasing off on both of their current models
Really? Something to think about...I was considering the 360, but didn't know it allowed AA disabling. That could be a big benefit for me!

Thanks for the heads up. I have to try to find one or see if someone has one who can take some pics for me to see the effects (especially in Chinese).
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