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Old 10-18-2009, 04:56 PM   #61
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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.
YEAH, that Fujitsu was, and really still is, a very sweet device. You might find this funny but in '93 I went to Comdex in Las Vegas (back then there was more than one but LV was THE show). That year Avery (I think it was Avery but my memory can be a tad fuzzy these days...hehehehe) introduced the first real note taking device that used regular paper (legal pads) on a special tablet (kinda like a clipboard) with HWR...I looked at it and would have bet it would have matured into a mainstream product within 3-yrs. I played with it for over an hour and tried to buy one but they were not for sale, even to a developer or ISV.

BTW, that year, '93, was the first year Linux was there at Comdex...they were on a small couple floding tables in one of the smaller buildings off to the left of the main venue...and people were 5-6 deep for almost the whole event. I think they ran out of CD's with the Linux OS in like the first hour or two...

These older devices are one reason I laugh about the hub-bub over the iPhone/Touch multi-touch and gesture based UI...that has all been around for over a decade...Apple just did a really sweet job of putting it all together. But the Sahara i440D has that ability and MORE because it has both passive and active digitizers...only prob is the weight at around 3lbs...a huge portion is due to the batteries as well as the glass part of the display.

At one point in life I so wanted a slate-PC, but now because it hurts to hold a pen/pencil/stylus (the standard stylus is all but impossible for more than 30secs...I use an Avery Triple Click instead) but I do not have pain typing (I have advanced JRA that affects my hands significantly). So now I still desire a Slate device but I wand a different sort of use...I want more of a large PDA with IMAP email, some sort of daily organizer, mind mapping software, a crossword puzzle app and all the ebook reading software it can hold. And even note taking is important but I am not going to write only with any pen device. So a keyboard attachment is a must.

I see a market always for a simple reading only device but they will be forced to that sub-$100 price point simply because the other options are to compelling and all prices in the $200-$300 range. Right now the B&N device could easily be a PDA capable device a lot like a Clie on steroids. Nothing really fancy but in one firmware update they could give people all the ability to interface with cloud/web based apps as well as some onboard stuff. I feel this opens the appeal of these devices to more than readers who read 12-50 books/yr and makes the price far more palatable to more folks.

Last edited by brecklundin; 10-18-2009 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:17 PM   #62
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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.)
Come now, surely you are not saying eReaders should have no other options mainly because in your opinion simplicity is a virtue? That is like saying they should have no color either because black & white is a virtue, or that they should have no dictionary support because knowing how to manually use a dictionary is a virtue.

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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.
Who said anything about calendar reminders or e-mail popups? Do you really expect manufactures to say overnight "hey, you know what our eReader needs? Popups! And ones you cannot turn off!". You are talking about a hypothetical scenario that is as likely as me winning the lottery. And I don't buy lottery tickets.

Additionally, again you focus on hardware changes. I say no, au contraire, many of the features people want can easily be achieved using the hardware that is already there. There is no reason whatsoever why these functions cannot run on most existing eReaders since, as I already pointed out, the hardware required for it was already available a decade ago.

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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.
One of the first arguments I can agree with: yes, it would throw up some obstacles development-wise. But the whole point of this thread was to ask what functionality people wanted - as such, we are already assuming a situation where a company has some capacity for development left. Since Sony for example is a huge multinational with over 400.000 eReaders sold I find it save to assume there is at least some budget for development here. I'm fairly sure they can handle a few extra functions, call me mister optimist if you like
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:50 PM   #63
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I hadn't heard of some those slate PCs.

Those look fairly interesting--just way too pricey. $500-800 is probably the most I'd go as it's not something I'd use a ton--just mainly for academic books and articles a few hours a week. Probably ditch my PDA if I had one of those since I really only use it to keep my palm desktop synched up between my office pc and home pc.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:55 PM   #64
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dmaul1114 - They were nothing like as expensive new before the Tablet PC fad. Grr. And you can't easily get cheap old 1200's anymore either ><
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:34 PM   #65
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I broadly agree with Kali Yuga (albeit that life's too short to read all the arguments in this thread).

To my mind, a 'proper' (or dedicated) ebook reader, is relatively small, light, easy to read (has e-ink or equivalent display) and phenomenal battery life.
That is what I want, and as it exists, that is something that I utterly refuse to compromise on.

If there are no parameters to the question, I want a 24 bit colour e-ink (or equivalent) screen with a lightning fast refresh rate and touch screen that I can use as my everyday portable gadget, replacing the functionality of the myriad of gadgets I currently use, and still weigh less than 200g(ish) and have a battery life measured in weeks.
Whaddyamean I can't have that?

If we're talking about what manufacturers can produce today, I want the clearest screen in the smallest package, with either an exceptionally well defined menu system with a wide range of font sizes, or an open system that is user programmable, the capability to read all the major formats, an SDHC card slot and a massive battery life.

My interest is in reading books (and comics, magazines, articles, etc.), rather than editing them, so I have no interest in a touch screen, unless I can have one that doesn't affect the contrast or clarity of the screen.
I don't want a keyboard, or unnecessary buttons that increase the size of the device.
I don't want anything that will significantly reduce the battery life.

I would like the ability to download (either directly, or via a PC) full versions of newspapers and magazines, formatted for an e-book reader - but I have no interest in paying more than the regular price of a print newspaper for the minited content that is already available for free to anyone with a web browser.

My smartphone is the multi-function device that goes everywhere with me. My ebook reader isn't.

If anyone wants to add functionality that I don't want/need to me ebook reader, which does not detract from my use of the device, or increase the price, they're welcome to do so, but i don't want a compromised device. I already own over a dozen devices that I could read ebooks on, but don't fit my criteria for a 'proper' ebook reader.
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:59 PM   #66
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If anyone wants to add functionality that I don't want/need to me ebook reader, which does not detract from my use of the device, or increase the price, they're welcome to do so, but i don't want a compromised device. I already own over a dozen devices that I could read ebooks on, but don't fit my criteria for a 'proper' ebook reader.
Again I think the real key is to have a ton of different devices out there ranging from simple dedicated readers with really no extra whistles to tablets that are basically keyboardless laptops and everything in between.

Just get a standardized e-book format like we have with MP3 for digital music and then we can have all kinds of devices out there that can display them and everyone can shop around and find the one that best fits their needs. Be it something that does little more than a current Kindle or Sony reader and is pretty cheap, or a multifunction device with a ton of bells and whistles and a steeper price tag, or something in between.

It's not an either or proposition.
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:08 PM   #67
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:26 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by andyf View Post
If we're talking about what manufacturers can produce today, I want the clearest screen in the smallest package, with either an exceptionally well defined menu system with a wide range of font sizes, or an open system that is user programmable, the capability to read all the major formats, an SDHC card slot and a massive battery life.
...
My smartphone is the multi-function device that goes everywhere with me. My ebook reader isn't.

If anyone wants to add functionality that I don't want/need to me ebook reader, which does not detract from my use of the device, or increase the price, they're welcome to do so, but i don't want a compromised device. I already own over a dozen devices that I could read ebooks on, but don't fit my criteria for a 'proper' ebook reader.
I come at this from a different direction, but arrive at a similar destination. I have basically 3 movable devices: I began with a smartphone/PDA that is ubiquitous and versatile, then acquired a 17" laptop that is almost infinitely malleable in the tasks it can do, but which isn't very portable, and eventualy, somewhat grudgingly, bought a light, easily portable, but specialized jetBook, that allows me to read documents in a wider variety of settings than the other two.

Note that none of the three of them overlap much. I can't put the laptop (or the jetBook) in my pocket, the jetBook won't keep my appointments, take a picture, or make a call, and I'd hesitate to use the jetBook or the smartphone for anything new, novel, or complicated. All of them can read documents, but in different contexts.

I view the specialized ereaders as having such unique hardware design requirements (large, text-adapted, daylight-readable screen, long battery life, etc.) as to be almost impossible to converge. That's why I eventually bought one. There are certainly improvements to be made in the jetBook's firmware (to be specific), but I doubt that you can really change the hardware much, and still have it make sense as a document reader. The same goes for most of the other second generation of ereaders (jetBook, Sony 505, Hanlin, etc.). I don't think the third generation has added much in the way of useful hardware changes, with the exception of the Kindle's Whispernet.

Eventually, of course, we'll all have tiny holograms of Princess Leia standing in the palms of our hands nagging us about appointments, and we'll read novels that appear on any nearby flat surface. Don't hold your breath.

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Old 10-21-2009, 11:27 AM   #69
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Come now, surely you are not saying eReaders should have no other options mainly because in your opinion simplicity is a virtue? That is like saying they should have no color either because black & white is a virtue, or that they should have no dictionary support because knowing how to manually use a dictionary is a virtue.
Not at all. In fact, I've repeatedly expressed support for reading-related functions, including ones I don't use (e.g. annotations). If you want "options," it makes more sense to get a multi-function device.


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Originally Posted by FragFrog
Who said anything about calendar reminders or e-mail popups?
Things like calendars and email on a device are nearly pointless without reminders, much in the same way that it's nearly pointless to have a calendar on a device without sync. It might not bug me if I choose to skip on the calendar feature, but it's inevitable that it will distract a user who chooses to implement those features.


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Originally Posted by FragFrog
Additionally, again you focus on hardware changes. I say no, au contraire, many of the features people want can easily be achieved using the hardware that is already there. There is no reason whatsoever why these functions cannot run on most existing eReaders since, as I already pointed out, the hardware required for it was already available a decade ago.
Then I recommend you re-read my posts. Adding those functions a) will drain precious battery time, and b) many won't work well with eInk, or existing keyboard and pointers.

In terms of software, I don't think that making a really good PIM on a device is a snap, and managing email on a handheld is far more difficult than you might expect -- ask any company that went up against RIM . (Similarly, the PIM aspects on most Blackberry models is not that great, and has either stagnated or possibly gotten worse over time....) I'm sure you could make something presentable, but by the time you've finished with the vagaries of the eInk display, the weird input options, and PC sync, you've got a major project on your hands.

Even if I am overestimating the difficulties of the software component, that doesn't alter my point, or dismiss the issues relating to hardware, marketing and development team focus.


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Since Sony for example is a huge multinational with over 400.000 eReaders sold I find it save to assume there is at least some budget for development here. I'm fairly sure they can handle a few extra functions, call me mister optimist if you like
Heh.... Optimism isn't the issue, it's "what makes for a good focused device." E.g. I could put all kinds of PIM / PDA functions into a digital camera, and carry it around with me all the time. Certainly it's got the basic hardware -- but even if the software efforts are minimal, does it really make sense?

As to resources, Sony lost $1 billion in FY ending 2009, and expects to lose another $1.2 billion in FY ending 2010. B&N is also on the ropes and closing stores left and right, and no one has indicated whether they are in the black with their ebook efforts yet.

Sony, B&N, Amazon and others are clearly dedicating resources into their ebook efforts, which is great, but their resources (including time) are still finite. Given that, I'd rather have them focus on making their ebook readers the best at reading, as well as make their wares work as best as possible on multifunction devices.

Last edited by Kali Yuga; 10-21-2009 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:59 AM   #70
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Not at all. In fact, I've repeatedly expressed support for reading-related functions, including ones I don't use (e.g. annotations). If you want "options," it makes more sense to get a multi-function device.
I can agree with that.

I think the issue is some people are talking about what they want in an eReader and others what they want in a multi-function device that would replace a dedicated eReader for them.

I'll probably never buy another dedicated reader anytime soon as the K1 does all I need for reading novels. I need something with a nice, large touch screen that allows annotating PDFs, books etc. with a stylus. And it doesn't make much sense to me to buy a dedicated reader for that if there are some nice multifunction tablets that come out that do that very well and also can replace my PDA, allow me to check e-mail, surf the net etc.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:56 PM   #71
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I actually want a combination of a Tablet PC and an eReader.

I really like the form factor of my Kindle DX. I find a device with a 10" screen and only 1/3 of an inch thick just about perfect. I like the reflective technology used by eInk as it is very easy on the eyes. I also like the two-week battery life.

However, the Qualcomm Mirasol technology offers the promise a really revolutionary device. Mirasol uses a reflective technology like eInk, but unlike eInk it provides a vibrant color display that supports video refresh rates. Couple this technology with a 4G connection to the internet and I'd be ecstatic (although I may not like the bill).

But imagine an eReader that could display virtually any book -- color, B&W, magazines, newspapers, etc. Plus it could play movies, videos, music, and games. Allow access to email. Allows access to Wikipedia and any other website for that matter. Provide support for not only folders but any custom software you can imagine.

I suppose that once I have a device with a couple thousand books, couple thousand movies, and a couple thousand tunes then I'm going to need a solid state disk drive that will hold a few Peta Bytes. I also want a rugged device, so the technology needs to be applied to a flexible plastic substrate instead of glass. So that's my wish list.
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Old 10-21-2009, 03:17 PM   #72
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Things like calendars and email on a device are nearly pointless without reminders, much in the same way that it's nearly pointless to have a calendar on a device without sync. It might not bug me if I choose to skip on the calendar feature, but it's inevitable that it will distract a user who chooses to implement those features..
Why do you care so much if an optional feature might distract someone other than yourself? And isn't the nearby PDA going to be just as distracting when it starts beeping as a reminder?
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Old 10-21-2009, 03:37 PM   #73
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Why do you care so much if an optional feature might distract someone other than yourself? And isn't the nearby PDA going to be just as distracting when it starts beeping as a reminder?
I suspect the person who posted this was worried that if the device supports this feature then the battery life will be less since the unit has to be alive to beep the timer and has to keep track of when the timer needs to sound. Even if he/she never uses the feature there are times when compromises in the design are made.

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Old 10-21-2009, 03:49 PM   #74
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Books are pretty good dedicated reading devices. Of course, some bookmarks sometimes have pretty pictures and tassels and such on them that can distract me from reading, or perhaps the telephone numbers for publishers and such can lead me to wasting all my time phoning people up. Sometimes there's a pencil nearby and I can't stop myself from scribbling and doodling and all sorts of stuff that just drags me away from my reading experience. It's even worse with newspapers.
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Old 10-21-2009, 03:49 PM   #75
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I suspect the person who posted this was worried that if the device supports this feature then the battery life will be less since the unit has to be alive to beep the timer and has to keep track of when the timer needs to sound. Even if he/she never uses the feature there are times when compromises in the design are made.

Dale
Well timing isn't an issue... all these dedicated devices already have a built in system clock. And it shouldn't be too difficult to configure it to only run a check while the device is active, and only when you have the feature enabled.
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