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Old 10-17-2009, 12:50 PM   #46
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For me, biggest short-term, realistic "want" is to have folders on my Kindle 2! Not being able to organize my books is a pain already, and I've had my Kindle for less than a week (I imported a bunch of Baen ebooks science fiction novels from disks included in paper books I'd purchased). Gawd knows what this is going to be like in two years.

Second want, which isn't as close technologically, but is certainly possible is that I'd like color and good rendering of photographs so I could have and use nature field guides on an ebook. Ideally, this would be in an ebook that is more rugged and especially water-resistant than the typical one. A niche device that may never actually be made, unfortunately, but it will probably be possible in a few years.

I want my PDA functions in my smart phone (Palm Pre) which is where I use them most of the time. I can certainly conceive of wanting to use them on a larger and more convenient screen of a ebook reader if I had the device with me and there was a convenient way to input data. Best way would be for data to be synched in the "cloud" as is done with Google calendar and email. That would ease me shifting between ebook reader, PDA, and desktop computer (I do that now with two different desktop computers and my Palm Pre on a regular basis). I do agree with the poster who commented he didn't want email alerts popping up while he was reading. So there needs to be a way to completely turn PDA functions off if they are ever incorporated in an ebook.

Many media viewers (Creative Zen, for example) do have many PDA functionalities incorporated already, so it isn't totally whacked to expect them in an entertainment device.
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Old 10-17-2009, 01:02 PM   #47
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Hooded Claw - Eh. For waterproofing, I'd be thinking in terms of a weatherproof cover and potentially a hard backing. The actual devices are low-power, low-heat and can safely be used in a sealed container.
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Old 10-17-2009, 01:11 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
It's not a matter of making it "too complex for me" (though "ease of use" is unquestionably a beneficial thing, especially with electronics). It's that you are piling functions onto a focused device that are unrelated to its core mission. I.e. you could stick a can opener and a thermometer on the side of your TV -- there's room for it, but is it really beneficial?
Since I am a student, I actually know people with a bottle opener stuck to the side of their TV, wall and various other locations . It is not a matter of whether it is beneficial to everyone, it is a matter of being beneficial for you. I do not use the 'Text memo' function on my PRS-600, does this mean Sony should remove it? Others don't use the annotate option, does this mean Sony should remove it as well? And keep in mind these are core functionalities of the device, either present at the homescreen or always available with a single tab on the screen while reading.

Your whole argument is based on the assumptation that adding functionality will somehow decrease existing functionality, in whichever way (be it more screen clutter, bugs or other reasons). To that I say: how will adding seperate, loose programs, on an otherwise empty location do this? Not to mention you tactfully ignored my remark proposing an optional installation of these features - it would be very easy for a manufacturer to add support for optional modules without affecting existing functionality - and by this I do not even mean external modules, something build in-house is fine by me too. Any decent programmer could create several of the kind of functions we're talking about here in a day.

Quote:
It's an "insult" to be aware of how cell phone companies do their business? Or that I assume you're like 90% of the public, that uses post-paid cell service? And are you sure you want me to know how you pay for your cell phone?
No, the insult is suggesting I do not know how my phone is paid for and assuming (or at least strongly suggesting) that unbeknownst to me it is a lot more expensive. It is not. But fine, since you wanted to make the point: even a simple two-line organiser I got over a decade ago has a calendar. And that device most certainly did not cost more than $20, nor were there any additional charges.

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Cell phones are commonly subsidized by the subsequent costs. You may not have a contract, but I assure you that your phone cost a tad more than $10 to make
I suggest you take a good look around on dealextreme.com or similar native websites. They illustrate brilliantly just how increadibly cheap electrical devices really are when you buy them directly from the people that make them (especially when you consider DE charges no money for shipping and are still able to turn a profit - this means the actually production cost of the items there is probably less than 50% of the already low price they ask for them). No, that phone really did not cost (much) more than $10 to make.

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Nor, ultimately, is the problem that "adding a calendar to an ebook reader is expensive or complex" -- it's that it distracts and detracts from the fundamental and focused purpose of the device. The last thing I want is to have a calendar alarm pop up in the middle of my reading a book. Well, second to last -- email notification would be much worse.
You say it would distract you. Please elaborate exactly how an agenda which you have put no items in is going to distract you by popping up? Or, am I correct in the assumption here that it would only distract you if you actually use it, vis-a-vis, if you actually found it usefull?
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Old 10-17-2009, 01:57 PM   #49
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What I do not understand is why are you even attempting to define what the goal--for a given device--is.
Funny, it seems to me the whole point of a "electronic book reader" is to read on it.

A Swiss Army knife benefits from its versatility. A bread knife benefits from its focus and specificity. The ability to put a corkscrew and scissors into the handle of a bread knife does not necessarily justify doing so.


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And, more importantly, what you are hoping to gain from that limitation of functionality.
I'm trying to be rather explicit about that, so I'll try again.

• There is still a lot of work and innovation to be done to improve the basic functionality of an ereader. I'd much rather have a company utilize its finite resources improving ease of use and basic functions.
• It is a common and classic error to spoil the elegance and ease of use of an electronic device by piling on unnecessary and unrelated features.
• I'd rather have a device that is outstanding at accomplishing a simple but important goal, than one that tries to do a bunch of functions that do not fit with, conflict, or outright impede its fundamental purpose.
• Reading is an activity that benefits from the ability to focus on the act of reading itself. Many of the functions requested will result in interruptions and distractions which are detrimental to the basic function of "focusing on reading."
• eBook readers are so light and thin that they are generally more convenient to carry around than a book, let alone more than one. As such, it is slightly ridiculous to assert that carrying one is a tremendous burden that you couldn't possibly carry one in addition to a PDA or a netbook. (Cost is a valid concern for some, but we've already seen major price drops this year, and it's reasonable to expect that trend will continue.)

If you want a multifunction device, by all means get one. In fact, get a device that is designed and built from the ground up as a multi-function device. Plenty of them will accommodate ereading functions and the other aspects you need. But I really do not see the necessity or even benefit of bloating out an ebook reader by also making it into a PDA, a netbook, an organizer, a music player, a video player, an email device, etc etc....



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Originally Posted by Ankh
eInk screen is a limitation itself, these devices are poor (full blown) multifunction platforms.
eInk is a limitation in one sense, e.g. color is at least a year out, and it's terrible for animations. However it is also enormously beneficial for, and very good for, the basic process of reading -- which is what a device that specializes in reading should be all about.

eInk screens don't constantly refresh, they are easier on your eyes, and they use a fraction of the power of a backlit LCD. These are big advantages for reading that would get compromised, if not decimated, by most of the requirements of a really good multifunction device.

To be explicit: to make a really good and highly portable computing device, you don't want eInk. To make a really good reading device, you want eInk. See the conflict yet?


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Originally Posted by Ankh
However, unlike iPhone itself and its competition, most of these devices are running the same (Linux) OS....
Yes, that's great. But I never needed to run a Linux shell out of a paper book, so why exactly do I need to do that with an ereader?


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Originally Posted by Ankh
For a manufacturer to open up kernel and provide a toolchain to the community/3rd_party_developers is a trivial effort. It is more a question of the mindset, than of technical difficulty.
The point is that the mindset of "piling features onto a device just because you can" does not always result in a good device -- let alone a device that is optimal for a task that is as involved, and takes as much time, as reading.

Again read up on things like "feature creep" and the KISS principle, and perhaps you will understand my perspective.
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Old 10-17-2009, 03:01 PM   #50
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Your whole argument is based on the assumptation that adding functionality will somehow decrease existing functionality....
Close... my primary argument is really coming from the opposite direction, that simplicity and focus are virtues routinely lost in the world of electronics. (The secondary argument is that certain additions impede the basic functionality.)

Specialization isn't always required or optimal. But ultimately I am asserting that a device that is made for reading books will benefit greatly by focusing on reading books. What a concept.

As to detraction, yes some functions will degrade the benefit of an ereader. Calendar reminders and integrated email will interrupt reading. Background apps -- even the ability to run a lot of background processes -- will require more powerful (and power-hungry) hardware, which will increase costs and reduce battery life. Extended text entry will need a much better keyboard and pointer. Internet-based functions will need more bandwidth, which increases connectivity costs and/or power consumption. Video and a lot of other apps, in addition to yet again draining power, won't work well with eInk or without a backlight. And the development costs are limited, especially in a field with margins as thin as books -- and, as you seemingly pointed out, electronics.


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Originally Posted by FragFrog
I do not use the 'Text memo' function on my PRS-600, does this mean Sony should remove it? Others don't use the annotate option, does this mean Sony should remove it as well? And keep in mind these are core functionalities of the device...
*cough* Sony Pocket Edition, aka PRS-300 *cough*

And again, the standard I'm using is "directly benefits the reading process." I personally don't annotate so I wouldn't miss it -- but I fully accept that as critical for many readers and advocate its improvement.


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Originally Posted by FragFrog
Any decent programmer could create several of the kind of functions we're talking about here in a day.
Sure, but as any decent programmer -- especially one who has been through development cycles where the end-users or managers keep piling on "just one more function, c'mon this next one will take you 5 minutes" -- knows, more code = more development time, more bugs, more customer support, more manuals etc.

And while you personally may not want or need a calendar on your ereader to sync, almost everyone else will desperately want that sync. That means writing your own conduits (not easy or always an option) or licensing something like Intellisync (increasing your costs and development time) or hoping the vendor doesn't rewrite something that breaks what you've done (*cough* Apple).

I.e. you have one or two trivial requests. Dmaul has one or two different trivial requests. Ankh wants a full-blown Linux device. Where do you draw the line? At what point are you adding so much stuff that the developers lose focus? Or the marketers pull their hair out, trying to explain that it's not a PDA and it's not a netbook, but it's supposed to be for reading books?

So you start out with something small and simple and trivial, and in classic fashion it turns into a big project. I'd rather they work on improving the reading-related functions -- and making it the best reading device that they can -- than turn an ereader into a mediocre PDA, or a netbook with a crappy screen and miserable keyboard.
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Old 10-17-2009, 04:27 PM   #51
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Mmmm, I'd like a thesaurus app, ability to render photographs decently, better folder management. I'll continue to use my mobile for phone calls & text messaging, my pda for organisation, my liseuse for reading, and my PCs for computing. (I just don't like having all my eggs in the one electronic basket - after all, what could possibly go wrong?)
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Old 10-17-2009, 04:52 PM   #52
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There seem to be two schools (or maybe 2.5) here.

One says, "Focus like a laser on your principal task, reading books." This school would see my jetBook (which isn't eInk, by the way) or the Sony 300/505 as the exemplars of ideal ebooks.

Features added to those which enhance ebook reading would be good to have (school 1.5?), but nothing else. Thesauri, better indexing and searching, book folder management, etc. are probably acceptable to this school. I know the jetBook could use internal hyperlink support, so you could have a TOC, etc., and more than two lousy fonts. OTOH, I have more dictionaries on the jetBook than you'd ever need.

The argument for this is that it maximizes the amount of the development and marketing budget spent on the core features, and minimizes extraneous effort by the finite staff, allowing them to concentrate on making the ebook reading experience better. And no, I don't think anyone's going to successfully make an open-source ebook reader any time soon. Sorry, inkpot.

The second school wants to push the large screen ereader towards convergence. After all, PDAs, music players, ebook readers, phones, and clocks/watches have all converged into a single device. There's one over there (pointing). The exemplar of this device may be one of the big screen smartphones just coming out, or perhaps the HP iPAQ211.

I must admit, I think for the forseeable future, school 1 (or 1.5) is probably right. In the farther future, convergence will probably win.

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Old 10-17-2009, 09:31 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Tingle View Post
There seem to be two schools (or maybe 2.5) here.
stuff left out
One says, "Focus like a laser on your principal task, reading books."
(stuff left out)
The second school wants to push the large screen ereader towards convergence.
Jack has it right. Someone else used the example of Swiss Army Knives vs. Specialized cooking knives....There is a legitimate need and market for both, and some people will only need one of the alternatives.

E-readers are primitive enough now, especially due to (in the view of most of us) needing to use rather clunky E-ink to be readable for long periods, that I suspect specialized readers will be preferred by most book consumers for the near future, but in the distant future (for consumer electronic devices that means five to ten years) I'm not so sure that will be true.

Cell phones and Personal Digital Assistants (such as the old Palm Pilot) have converged already. It is popular now to have separate devices for many purposes:

playing games (Play Station Portable or Nintendo DS for example),
viewing or listening to media (iPod Touch or Creative Zen),
smart phone that itself is a convergence of two devices,
GPS (which is converging with smart phones),
low end digital cameras (which have converged with cell phones) and
Laptop computers.

My suspicion is that over the next few years we will see convergence of many of these things, the netbook may be the vanguard of that movement. But even if we do, specialized devices will always be better for their purpose, and some people will have their entire needs met by one or two specialized devices, especially the basic cell phone that just does phone calls and texting. The problem of screen size will always be a hurdle for convergence e-readers to overcome, though.
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Old 10-17-2009, 10:10 PM   #54
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I'd like a good search, and ability to use a cached copy of wikipedia.
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It is probably a needless elaboration (in that it was likely intended by Dale - sorry, if so, Dale), but I'd say "Dictionaries support" (plural). But, of course, I already have this on the Iliad with mobipocket - I just hope for it with ePub. I wouldn't mind an online lookup feature either (eg. Wikipedia, Answers, et cetera)

Also, annotations (I can do that on pdf's on the Iliad, but I can't do dictionary lookups on a pdf...wait, I don't think I can? Can I? I'll have to go look). Also, I wouldn't mind if these annotations could be links...to other books, to online sources, to files (assuming a multi-function device, which I'm not at all averse to).

Cheers,
Marc
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dictionary support
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Uh... let me think... DICTIONARY SUPPORT!
(I still have a perfectly fine 700 & can't afford a Touch 600.)
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Why, when one can have its cake, and eat it, too?

Apple has shown us how it is done. The core of the functionality on iPhone/iTouches is Apple business, 3rd party applications are there for those who want more and are ready to pay for it.

Sadly, some of the stuff mentioned on this thread falls, very much so, into the "core business" category. Dictionary support is NATIVE function for any (dedicated or not) ebook reading device.
The Kindle 2 allows you to look up articles on Wikipedia right from the device using Wispernet. Dictionary support is also a feature; you can either use the default dictionary that comes pre-installed, or change to a dictionary of your own choosing. Unfortunately, multiple dictionary support is not a feature. You can add annotations via the keyboard. It's really a handy device.

If only there was a notepad function!

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Old 10-17-2009, 10:17 PM   #55
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Customization: Fine granularity for text sizes, margins, justification, line spacing, spacing between paragraphs, indent of paragraphs, ...
You want a reading and writing device. I can dig that!

I'm with you. I don't need another computer, but the ability to read and write -- still using e-ink -- would be perfect!

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Old 10-18-2009, 02:52 AM   #56
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Reading other comments, I think I'd want a dedicated distraction tool. You can preset it when you get the device to suddenly spin the page around, flash at you, reverse the text, or offer you a chance to increase the size of your penis. You set it for random intervals with a maximum time of 1 hour after beginning a book.

I don't think any of the other proposed "distractions" would be nearly as effective, since they would allow me to read and use the device unhindered.
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:27 PM   #57
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I'll never get why people are so defensive toward multifunction tablets.

I think there will always be dedicated readers out there regardless of what happens with multifunction tablets.

Nothing wrong with having options. Tablet PCs suck. They're too big and bulky as they're pretty much laptops with crappy (last I checked anyway) stylus screens.

Not really something to use in place of marking up a paper book or print out, or using in place of a legal pad for hand writing notes etc. A 10" or so tablet, less than an inch thick and so on could do those functions very well for some of us. For others it will be useless.

But PCs etc. are by design niche devices which is why there are so many different sizes and configurations--nothing is going to be right for everyone. No reason e-readers, tablets etc. can't be the same with there being a lot of options out there to fit all kinds of different needs and people can pick what works for them.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:05 PM   #58
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No, there are some /actual/ tablets rather than swing-keyboard laptops out there.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:12 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by DawnFalcon View Post
No, there are some /actual/ tablets rather than swing-keyboard laptops out there.
right Dawn....those are technically called "Slate PC's" even though Tablet PC is a better description. but we have one of those situations where the media decided writing Convertible Tablet PC for those devices with an attached keyboard was too confusing for the masses, so they used a completely inaccurate term. Thus the evolution of the moniker of Slate PC for those systems with just a display and a touch screen. A company called Tablet Kiosk makes some superb Slate PC's, the i440D being one of them. but they are very spendy these days...I would say overly so, but they sell mainly to medical profession where the more they spend the more money they get from us patients so $3k-$4k for a device which by all rights should be under or near $1k.

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Old 10-18-2009, 04:18 PM   #60
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Eh. From my POV the manufacturers hijacked the actual designation of Tablet PC "slates" had long before.

I had a Fujitsu Stylisic 1200 and really liked it.
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