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Old 01-07-2010, 05:47 PM   #1
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Iíve just finished reading several posts & articles about the new e-readers coming out of the CES 2010. Iíve gotta say, it looks like e-readers are taking off in a big way. One article mentioned that there are almost 24 different models being introduced this year:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34753992...h_and_gadgets/

At first I was excited about some of the new offerings but after reading a bit deeper into the articles & posts I started to get a bit concerned. Judging from the current offers (and Iím sure there will be more reported from CES) there seems to be an early trend to offer more & more features. It seemed like a lot of the new readers are trying to be everything to everybody by including web surfing, color LCD screens & Video chat just to name a few. At first glance it seems that e-readers are starting to suffer from feature creep. One of the devices included a video camera for video chat and boasted a battery life of 6hrs. Not days, hours.

Now I know that a lot of people want these type devices and thatís fine, they now have a good selection to choose from. The problem is that they are being marketed as e-readers. People who tend to get distracted by shiny things will buy these all-in-wonders and ignore something as old-fashioned as a black and white screen. They will come to believe that an e-reader must have all the bells and whistles that these current models offer. If this keeps up, the basic reader might get pushed aside in favor of more/better features and become a niche product with little support.

Now Iím not a purist by any stretch, but I would like to see the basic e-reader remain as it was intended; a basic device for reading books, nothing else. While there is a market for readers with all the other features, a lot of people have no use for them. For myself (and a lot of other people Iím sure), I just want a basic e-reader to read books. No web surfing, no video watching and no color LCD screen. I want a long battery life and an easy-on-the-eyes screen. Hopefully that wonít change.

With any luck, Amazon, Sony and others will keep the basic reader basic while adding the extra features to new devices for those who want them.

C.P.T.

P.S. Donít even get me started on what this is going to do for the average person buying their first e-reader. I have a feeling it will be easy to get a new reader and lots of books only to have the company go under a year or so down the road leaving you with books you canít transfer to a new device. We really need some sort of standard for this. Maybe the silver lining will be a push for standard content that can be used on different devices. Some sort of digital signature that you keep on a SIM-type chip that can be transferred from one reader to another if you decide to upgrade, allowing you to keep all your books.
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:57 PM   #2
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BigWaffles - thanks for that, absolutely captures my feelings on the matter as well. All I want in an e-reader is, exactly as you say, a long battery life and an easy-to-read screen (as near as real paper as possible).

Good that people who want more are being catered for, but I would be concerned that internet connectivity, LCD screens, video facility etc will become the accepted norm (just look at mobile phones as an example; did you hear anybody tell you how good the reception on their phone was lately? No, it's all about number of megapixels on the camera, apps available, etc etc. All good stuff, but it's a phone for Christ's sake!)
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:00 PM   #3
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BigWaffles wrote "Now I’m not a purist by any stretch, but I would like to see the basic e-reader remain as it was intended; a basic device for reading books, nothing else."

The trend of make it a "do everything" device will continue. And that is what the market demands. Consider that you chose to buy a Kindle. A kindle plays mp3'3, has connectivity for buying books, a simple web browser, picture viewer, has a keyboard for input of text, does text to speech, plays audio books...... hardly "a basic device for reading books"..... but you, along with many others, chose the Kindle as your "book reader". I am not putting down the Kindle, I am just saying the market is driving this rush to add other functions rather than leave it just a simple book reader.

The very reason I got my little 300 was because I just wanted a book reader, nothing else. But, I bet in 5 years it will be nearly impossible to find just a dedicated book reader. Heck, it's almost that way now.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:04 PM   #4
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The issue is that new entrants feel the need to differentiate themselves in the market-and the tendency is to add rather than subtract-the whole checklist approach to marketing.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:37 PM   #5
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BigWaffles wrote "Now Iím not a purist by any stretch, but I would like to see the basic e-reader remain as it was intended; a basic device for reading books, nothing else."

The trend of make it a "do everything" device will continue. And that is what the market demands. Consider that you chose to buy a Kindle. A kindle plays mp3'3, has connectivity for buying books, a simple web browser, picture viewer, has a keyboard for input of text, does text to speech, plays audio books...... hardly "a basic device for reading books"..... but you, along with many others, chose the Kindle as your "book reader". I am not putting down the Kindle, I am just saying the market is driving this rush to add other functions rather than leave it just a simple book reader.

The very reason I got my little 300 was because I just wanted a book reader, nothing else. But, I bet in 5 years it will be nearly impossible to find just a dedicated book reader. Heck, it's almost that way now.
Bremen Cole,

Agreed, the Kindle has those functions, but I've never seen it marketed as such. The web browsing is not fully supported and has (to my knowledge) never been updated to make it easier to use. The text-to-speech is spotty and only works with those books that the author has allowed it to work on. Personally, I don't use the wireless and have never tried the MP3 playback.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that even though the Kindle has those functions, they are more in the backgroud instead of selling points. I've always seen it marketed as a reader first and the other functions hardly mentioned at all.

Maybe that does make me a purist.


C.P.T.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:58 PM   #6
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Gizmodo says officially too damn many ebook readers
http://gizmodo.com/5443102/there-are...-ebook-readers
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:27 PM   #7
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To be honest, I wouldn't mind if my Reader did allow internet viewing. I spend a lot of time reading fanfiction on the net and would to lose my laptop/desktop and just curl up with a small Reader that can be held with hand, no need to brace it with my legs. It could even remain in grayscale, no need for color to read stories.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:34 PM   #8
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While I don't agree that there are too many book readers...I do agree that there are too many pointless cookie-cutter e-ink clones. Everyone's gotta hop on the bandwagon and release an equally disappointing device. I don't see a problem with diversifying functions in better devices, but they're not even really doing that. They don't even seem to get book reading right though, and that's just insane given the number of devices out there.

Oooo...maybe it's a conspiracy led by the book publishers to make the ebook market burn out...hahaha...
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:32 PM   #9
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The issue is that new entrants feel the need to differentiate themselves in the market-and the tendency is to add rather than subtract-the whole checklist approach to marketing.
Unfortunately what they are adding doesn't really belong on an e-reader.

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To be honest, I wouldn't mind if my Reader did allow internet viewing. I spend a lot of time reading fanfiction on the net and would to lose my laptop/desktop and just curl up with a small Reader that can be held with hand, no need to brace it with my legs. It could even remain in grayscale, no need for color to read stories.
Unfortunatley you are probably in a minority with this type of surfing.

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...I don't see a problem with diversifying functions in better devices, but they're not even really doing that. They don't even seem to get book reading right though, and that's just insane given the number of devices out there...
Exactly. The problem is that some of the functionality that they are adding has nothing to do with reading books. A lot of what they seem to be putting in the new devices is only going to lead people to want a color screen to display it on (video, web surfing, etc). The resolution will get higher, color will be added and more powerful processors will be needed to drive it all. Eventually you will end up with a computer in your hand with a color LCD screen and low battery life (can you say netbook?). Meanwhile everyone will accept these devices as e-readers and forget where they started from and why.

I know that technology is always moving forward but what bothers me most about this is the speed. I've had my Kindle for 10 months and in that time the readers have mutated from several very useful devices to a mob of bloated hardware with features a lot of us don't want. Feature Creep.

Hopefully some of the basic devices will live on.


C.P.T.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:45 PM   #10
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Unfortunately what they are adding doesn't really belong on an e-reader.



Unfortunatley you are probably in a minority with this type of surfing.



Exactly. The problem is that some of the functionality that they are adding has nothing to do with reading books. A lot of what they seem to be putting in the new devices is only going to lead people to want a color screen to display it on (video, web surfing, etc). The resolution will get higher, color will be added and more powerful processors will be needed to drive it all. Eventually you will end up with a computer in your hand with a color LCD screen and low battery life (can you say netbook?). Meanwhile everyone will accept these devices as e-readers and forget where they started from and why.

I know that technology is always moving forward but what bothers me most about this is the speed. I've had my Kindle for 10 months and in that time the readers have mutated from several very useful devices to a mob of bloated hardware with features a lot of us don't want. Feature Creep.

Hopefully some of the basic devices will live on.


C.P.T.
I want the basic function to improve. If it gains a few features that are unrelated to reading by virtue of being better able to accomplish it, I don't mind really. I've found that it's easy to ignore functions I don't use.

The problem is that it seems nobody is investing anything into improving the book reading part. It's totally an "oh, me too, and uhh I'll add an autoblogging feature!" market, where the core purpose of the device is stagnant and neglected at a very crude and immature stage.

Purity in a device is a nice wish, but peripheral functions and features are more or less going to be reality as long as hardware allows it. Unfortunately, the hardware is rubbish mostly and cannot support any of these functions very well, including reading. If it can't do reading exceptionally well yet, all of the other features are just insult to injury.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:58 PM   #11
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I see the concerns but I think they are unfounded. My view comes from other technology, I don't even own an ereader yet. Look at phones you can get a cell phone that is basically a mini computer that takes pictures and heats up the oven for you before you get home. But you can still get just a dedicated cell phone that just makes calls (at a very low price). You can get a bluray player that plays everything you can throw at it, along with netflix and youtube etc. Or you can buy a bluray player and all it does is play dvds and blurays (at a very low price). Speaking of phones, look at home phones you can get them with everything and an enchilada but you can still get just a basic home phone (at a very low price). PC's, notebooks they are all like that. There is a high end with all the bells and whistles and a low end where the product just does what its supposed to. Cars, watches, TV's, car stereo's, GPS, toasters, ovens, fridges, washing machines etc. It doesn't matter the product its all like this. This is what happens and its a good thing.

All new technology is like this. They will add all the bells and whistles to the newer models but you will still end up having new models of dedicated readers that do just ebooks and do it better than they do it now. And the great thing about all this is its going to bring the pricing down on those dedicated readers. 75/100 dollar ereaders that just do their job. 200/300 readers with ultra netbook functionality. This is a great time and this is a great thing.

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Old 01-08-2010, 12:04 AM   #12
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This is a great time and this is a great thing.
I love your optimism! (and agree)
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:06 AM   #13
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Maybe I am making too much out of it. If we get cheaper basic readers out of it that would be a good thing. I'll quit worrying for now and see what happens.


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Old 01-08-2010, 12:58 AM   #14
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Maybe I am making too much out of it. If we get cheaper basic readers out of it that would be a good thing. I'll quit worrying for now and see what happens.


C.P.T.
Its completely understandable. You are a enthusiast and and early adopter. People who are hobby'ing something that that they truly love and who are early adopters/enthusiasts usually have a tendency to do this. Can't see the forest through the trees. Its a love thang.

It was like this during the Bluray and HD DVD war. I seen very similar posts. You could almost swap your post for one from late 2007 early 2008 and it wouldn't of looked much different. I watched it with VHS and DVD. Ive been immersed in computer tech since the early 90's so Ive seen this quite often. Ive seen it with motherboard/case formats, usb and firewire, videocards, you name it. If I hadn't had the experiences Ive had the past 20 years I would probably be looking at it the same way (especially being a lover of reading).

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