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Power Hardware

LG Presents Solar Powered E-Book 139

Posted by timothy
from the overcomes-my-battery-objection-at-least dept.
MikeChino writes "At first glance, e-readers offer a great set of benefits over paper-bound books – they’re light, versatile, and a great alternative to lugging around a tote full of dead tree tomes on your next trip. However these new reading mediums have one glaring fault — can you imagine the frustration of running out of juice mid-sentence and halfway through Infinite Jest? LG's new solar e-book aims to address this issue by harnessing the sun's rays to power its display. The device features a 10 centimeter wide thin-film photovoltaic panel that can power the reader for a full day's worth of reading after 4-5 hours spent sitting in the sun."
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LG Presents Solar Powered E-Book

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  • Warranty (Score:4, Funny)

    by Romancer (19668) <romancer AT deathsdoor DOT com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:40AM (#29715893) Journal

    ... Warranty void if left out in the sun for prolonged exposure.

    • Re:Warranty (Score:4, Informative)

      by Romancer (19668) <romancer AT deathsdoor DOT com> on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:48AM (#29715935) Journal

      From the Source of all knowledge (ok, Wikipedia)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_charger#Prolonging_battery_life [wikipedia.org]

      Most modern cell phones, laptops, and most electric vehicles use Lithium-ion batteries. Contrary to some recommendations, these batteries actually last longest if the battery is not fully charged; fully charging and discharging them will degrade their capacity relatively quickly. Degradation occurs faster at higher temperatures. Lithium batteries degrade more while fully charged than if it is only 40% charged. The conditions of high temperature combined with full charge are exactly the scenario occurring when a laptop computer is run on AC power. Degradation in lithium-ion batteries is caused by an increased internal battery resistance due to cell oxidation. This decreases the efficiency of the battery, resulting in less net current available to be drawn from the battery.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every electronic device you've ever seen has a disclaimer that says "Do not leave in direct sunlight." This is a horrible idea, the batteries won't last two months.

    • by edcheevy (1160545)
      Not to mention the rest of the device -- I'm sure you've seen what happens to plastic left in the sun! That clear plastic screen will look great once it turns yellow. Of course, I imagine it's a) mainly a gimmick and b) designed to die (so we can buy the newer model) long before sun damage...
      • by JohnBailey (1092697) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:19AM (#29716737)

        Not to mention the rest of the device -- I'm sure you've seen what happens to plastic left in the sun! That clear plastic screen will look great once it turns yellow. Of course, I imagine it's a) mainly a gimmick and b) designed to die (so we can buy the newer model) long before sun damage...

        Given the most e-ink readers last about a week or more on a single charge, and can charge from a USB port, I'd say the chances of this being a gimmick are pretty high.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by moonbender (547943)

          I don't think it's a gimmick. If you add wireless data to the package, you've got a device that you don't need to connect to a plug. Ever. I think that's pretty fucking cool. The fact that e-ink readers don't need all that much power is why this could work; leaving it on the window sill for a couple of hours per week might be enough.

          And I don't know in what kind of caves you people live, but virtually all my electronics get plenty of direct sunlight, minus the UV the windows filter.

          • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:55AM (#29717217)

            minus the UV the windows filter.

            Must be the Linux crowd complaining :)

          • And I don't know in what kind of caves you people live, but virtually all my electronics get plenty of direct sunlight, minus the UV the windows filter.

            Just a guess, but I'd have to say - mostly padded ones?

          • I don't think it's a gimmick. If you add wireless data to the package, you've got a device that you don't need to connect to a plug. Ever. I think that's pretty fucking cool. The fact that e-ink readers don't need all that much power is why this could work; leaving it on the window sill for a couple of hours per week might be enough.

            As opposed to plugging it into a computer for an hour or two once a week? Are cables really that difficult to use?

            • I guess not. But I still really like the idea of a sort of self-sufficient device. Particularly if you're replacing an existing self-sufficient device with it.

              • I guess not. But I still really like the idea of a sort of self-sufficient device. Particularly if you're replacing an existing self-sufficient device with it.

                Depends on how important a self sufficient device is to you I suppose. And given how long these readers last on a charge, of all the devices to put it on, this has to be one of the ones that need it least.

          • by amplt1337 (707922)

            you've got a device that you don't need to connect to a plug. Ever.

            Unless, y'know, it's cloudy one day.

    • by moniker127 (1290002) on Monday October 12, 2009 @03:22AM (#29716289)
      Every other electronic device besides calculators.. that is.

      Remember those things? Calculators? I think they're kind of like abacuses- people used them before they had phones/laptops.
  • Running out of juice with an e-book must feel as if all the pages that you still have to read are suddenly glued together.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      No, actually it doesn't. It feels like you want to jerk off, except you're sitting in church and the priest is looking right at you.

    • by eln (21727) on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:47AM (#29715931) Homepage

      Running out of juice with an e-book must feel as if all the pages that you still have to read are suddenly glued together.

      I hate it when that happens. That's why I never lend my copies of Playboy* out to anyone...they always come back with pages mysteriously glued together.



      * For all you kids out there, Playboy was a magazine that adolescent boys used to...um...read before the invention of Internet porn.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dragonslicer (991472)

        Playboy was a magazine that adolescent boys used to...um...read before the invention of Internet porn.

        But only for the articles.

    • I'm wondering if this is a viable concern.

      From the Kindle web site. [amazon.com]

      Battery Life: Read on a single charge for up to 4 days with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to two weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store and downloading content. In low-coverage areas or in EDGE/GPRS-only coverage, wireless usage will consume battery power more quickly

      Does one need more than 4 day to 2 weeks between chargings?

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:39AM (#29716133)

      Since anecdotes are evidence: I own a Kindle and I can only think of once (in a year and a half) where I've been stuck unable to read. When the battery lasts two weeks and it only takes a couple of hours to charge, its really hard to run out, even when you're really bad about leaving things charged like I am. My phone is much more of a pain when it comes to keeping it charged.

      • by Itchyeyes (908311)

        I think that the battery life of e-ink screens is something that a lot of ebook detractors haven't quite grasped. We live in a world where we charge dozens of devices on a daily basis. The idea of an electronic device that can be used for over a month without needing to be charged, and only takes an hour or so to top off, seems almost too good to be true to a lot of people. When your low battery indicator gives you not minutes or hours of warning to plug in, but days or weeks, the idea of being caught un

  • Aftermarket ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:42AM (#29715907)

    Couldn't the aftermarket industry simply offer up a E-Book sleeve/cover that has a built in solar cell and stays connected to the reader's power jack and bring this 'breakthrough' to any other E-Book desired?

  • This requires actually being out in the sun. Unless there's a complex reflective tube apparatus streaming live sunlight into the basement it'll never sell here...

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They need to reduce the power consumption to the point that it can run off a solar cell being fed by ambient lighting.

    • Even geeks need vitamin D, and if we have to be in the sun to get it (tablets don't work alone, you need the sunlight for your body to be able to process them) then we may as well be doing something moderately geeky while doing it, like reading a book from a little computer. And, yes, I did spend both of the sunny days we got in Swansea this summer sitting in the park with an eBook reader.
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:46AM (#29715923)

    Now all I need is a portable sun to read in bed.

  • by Zouden (232738) on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:49AM (#29715941)

    The e-book itself is using an OLED display. This is different to the Kindle's eInk display which only requires power to update, so it has a battery life of several weeks. Chances are you'd be able to plug it in during that time, so there's not much need for a solar panel.

    LG are a big manufacturer of LCD and OLED screens. Adding a solar panel to their e-book is simply to make up for the fact that their display uses far more power than competing products.

    • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:08AM (#29716019) Journal

      Chances are you'd be able to plug it in during that time, so there's not much need for a solar panel.

      Maybe so, but a solar panel + eInk would probably be able to run off of ambient light and therefore not normally need a charger at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I usually read ebooks with WORM displays (write-once-read-many): they're designed like Kinko cameras: they're cheap, disposable, and have a MTBF of several decades. They're called "books". What's more, I suspect the number of dead trees used to make such a book is less than the amount of trees necessary to manufacture and power an ebook of any kind over its usable lifespan.

      • by dangitman (862676) on Monday October 12, 2009 @03:50AM (#29716391)

        I suspect the number of dead trees used to make such a book is less than the amount of trees necessary to manufacture and power an ebook of any kind over its usable lifespan.

        I must have missed the Kindle "wood panel" edition.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday October 12, 2009 @06:04AM (#29716881) Journal

        I'm not convinced by your efficiency argument. Decent paper is fairly energy-intensive to produce and so is shipping it. I've read around 200 books and quite a lot of papers (that I would otherwise have printed, read, and then thrown away) on my iLiad since I bought it. I suspect the tree cost of printing and shipping 200 books would be a lot more than the cost of making the device.

        Oh, and these were all creative commons or public domain. There are a huge number of classics on Project Gutenberg that I haven't (or hadn't) read, so no writers were harmed in the reading of these books (although Penguin Classics were slightly).

        • I suspect the tree cost of printing and shipping 200 books would be a lot more than the cost of making the device.

          Really? Because I have absolutely no idea if that's true. What is the "environmental backpack" of one book versus one modern gadget? Seems to be a fairly difficult thing to measure. I'd wager that books are much cheaper and gadgets are much more expensive in terms of environmental impact than it might seem at first glance.

    • No, it's not OLED (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 12, 2009 @04:19AM (#29716503)

      Where do you get OLED from? The press release [lgdisplay.com] doesn't include such a notion. In fact, the press release actually only discusses the solar panel itself, which is sensible given that it's the only part of the device that LG makes. The reader itself is a hacked Sony unit that's only there to demonstrate what the solar panel can power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Timmmm (636430)

      It's not OLED. It is in fact just a solar panel connected to a Sony PRS-505. Quite a nice idea though.

    • by tgd (2822)

      I can get a couple books worth of reading out of a Kindle charge -- unless I forget to turn the wireless back off after downloading something, or syncing my current spot so I can pick it up later on my phone.

      I've had the battery die before on me while reading. A solar cover for it would be really nice.

  • I have a cheap ereader that needs to be connected to your PC over USB to put new content on it. And the surprising thing is, that this seems enough to recharge it! I now have it for over a month and the battery indicator still says that it is full. It's amazing how view energy this thing consumes, just connect it to a PC once a week and that's enough.

    But I admit that solar power seems nice for ereaders that don't use cable connections, e.g. the Kindle with it's whispernet. The only problem there is that yo

    • by erayd (1131355) *

      The only problem there is that you shouldn't expose e-ink to direct sunlight...

      [citation needed] - as far as I'm aware they're quite happy in direct sunlight; certainly I have used mine in direct sunlight a *lot* with no noticeable issues. Care to provide some references?

      • Sure, here is a quote of the engrish instruction manual of the Hanlin v5:

        Safety Notice

        For safely and efficiently use the product, please strictly abide by the rules, otherwise the danger will happen

        Do not put the product under the direct ray of sunlight, and use or put it in the extra high and low temperature environment.

        From that I just generalized that this must apply to every e-ink display, since I assumed that they are all the same. So, your ereader did not come with any sun light warnings? Cool, w

        • by erayd (1131355) *

          Mine didn't come with any sunlight warnings that I'm aware of - hell, the promo video released by Sony shows it being used extensively in full sunlight. I have a Sony PRS-505.

          Perhaps the difference is because of the materials used to construct them? The PRS-505 is mostly aluminum and glass.

      • by Zerth (26112)

        Some of the first kindle2 batch had an issue where it wouldn't fully darken or lighten while in sunlight. I got mine a bit later and haven't noticed a problem, but the sunlight doesn't get into my office too much.

  • by harmonise (1484057) on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:58AM (#29715963)

    I'm confused by the photos. Are they comparing it to a Sony PRS-505 reader or is it just a power source for the Sony reader?

  • by NitroWolf (72977) on Monday October 12, 2009 @01:59AM (#29715969)

    Yay... more e-Book vaporware. How many new, awesome, revolutionary E-Book readers are we going to hear about? Christ, it's getting old... the E-Book hype is getting out of hand. Every company out there seems to have an E-Book "in the works," but so far to date only a handful have actually shipped usable products. LG is only the latest to jump on the E-Book bandwagon, and I'm sure they won't be the last. The whole E-Book field is littered with junk announcements like this. Get back to me when someone actually SHIPS a product, not announces a prototype. Whopee do. In the case of E-Book Readers, if you can't buy it, who really cares? It's just another e-ink or LCD or OLED screen.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 12, 2009 @06:59AM (#29717025)

      I didn't realise the definition of "vaporware" had deteriorated to the stage where actual released products could fit.

      • by NitroWolf (72977)

        It hasn't. This product in question is NOT AN ACTUAL RELEASED PRODUCT. You should RTFA before posting.

        The people modding you up to +5 should also RTFA.

        LG is showing a PROTOTYPE at a trade show in the future. That is not, by any definition, a released product.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          That post's a diatribe against the entire product category as vapourware. Which is laughably untrue given that the first devices went on sale years ago.

          • by NitroWolf (72977)

            Wow.. yeah.. the original post talks about all the announced products that never get released and somehow, through an idiot filter, it gets translated into talking about released products.

            I mean, seriously... what is so hard to understand about the following:

            "Every company out there seems to hvae an E-Book 'in the works,' but so far only a handful have actually shipped usable products."

            And

            "In the case of E-Book readers, if you can't buy it, who really cares?"

            Seriously... explain to me how you can possible m

    • by physburn (1095481)
      Once the tech has gone down as far as LG, A Korean Company specialization in the cheap end of hi-tech products, you can be sure, that the product is going to be everywhere. Personnelly I think E-book screens have a long way to go, before the reading experience is as good as paper. But it will get there.

      ---

      Tablet PCs [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:01AM (#29715979)
    Uh...that's a Sony e-Reader, one of the early models. With a solar panel attached to the inside of the protective jacket (which seems like the wrong side...)
  • Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:03AM (#29715995)

    The solar panel adds more bulk than a bigger battery would. It takes up a huge amount of real estate that could be occupied by another display. And, it really only helps you if you are planning on spending time reading outside - an impracticality in most parts of the United States, most of the time. Most of the year, outside is too hot, too cold, or infested with swarms of disease carrying mosquitoes. I go outside plenty of times when the weather is nice - but I'm active then. Sitting still and reading just makes you an easy target for the mosquitoes.

    If you're going backpacking or to the third world, it's more convenient to just bring a dedicated solar panel with battery pack and adapters for your gadgets.

    The only market for this device is eco-freaks with too much money and not enough sense. Which is usually self limiting - the people who earn the most money usually have enough intelligence and common sense to spot the flaws I just mentioned. The only reason that they might buy a device like this is to give the appearance of being 'green' to their friends.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      You don't HAVE to charge it in sunlight. It'll be fastest that way, but if they're not sourcing solar cells from the early 1990s, it'll work in artificial light. Given that these devices last a couple of weeks on charge, even with a mere 8 hours of crappy fluorescent light sitting on your desk, the battery will probably never run down. And THAT is what I want all my portable electronics to do, especially wireless stuff like Kindles.

    • I'd rather have a solar charger integrated into some of my devices. I have plenty of free space on the back side of most of them, and it's more efficient to charge a device's battery directly, instead of charging an intermediary battery pack. Besides, having a device that is self-contained like this is just elegant. This is all disregarding that first paragraph non-sequitur and the third paragraph ad-hominem -- who gives a damn what you think people who buy this are like?

    • I'm not sure you're being entirely fair here.

      I live in Australia, and it's sunny 250-300 days a year (and that's in the lush coastal areas). There's plenty of time and opportunity for a device like that to charge, unless you're going spelunking. Even if, for most activities, you're not straying far from a power point, there's the convenience of not dragging cords, and also being able to charge on the move. It would also prolong the reading time you can do outside when off a battery. I also do a little (over

    • by tgd (2822)

      This may be a bit of a stretch for the more basement-oriented Slashdot crowd, but the big ol' outside is not as scary of a place as you think. Disease carrying mosquitos are not that big of a problem -- incidents of mosquito borne diseases is very rare in the US, and tend to be hyped by the news when it happens. Bug spray works well, as does going around and making sure you don't have standing pools of water around your property. Its not like we've got malaria problems.

      Lots of people read outside -- go walk

  • How many beers is it going to knock back during its 4-5 hours sitting in the sun? And will that full day of work it's supposed to put in afterward have to be done over by another, more responsible e-book?

  • My kindle's got like 2 weeks of battery life...it gets enough charge just from the times I momentarily plug it in to transfer pdfs...
  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:22AM (#29716087)
    Pocket calculators used to plug into the wall too. Then they had batteries and now solar. Having e-books go this way makes sense now power requirements are dropping.
    As for the "solar won't work at night" people - batteries exist and just need to be charged. The ironic thing for the "solar won't work at night" people is that the real killer application for photovoltaics at the moment is solar powered LED lights replacing kerosene lanterns in the third world.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deniable (76198)

      Solar and wind-ups are the biggies for areas without power. The wind-ups are handy because you don't have to charge them in advance.

      Solar lights seem to be big around here, basically being sold as garden/path lights that don't need any wiring. I picked up a ten pack on the weekend and put them on the trip hazards in the back yard. I have my doubts about the bug zapper, but I'll test it this weekend.

    • by smoker2 (750216)
      I bought a Sharp scientific calculator in about 1995. It has no solar panel, and yet I have NEVER had to replace the battery since I bought it.
  • If they're not using an eInk display, then they should use one of those fancy new displays from Pixel Qi. From the various videos of Mary Lou Jepsen showing off their in-development screens it seems like they're really solved the problem of using displays in the sun. I mean, if you have to be out in the sun to charge it, you better be able to read books on it at the same time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:33AM (#29716125)
    Is it wrong to want an ebook with a little furnace to burn books as fuel?
    • by dodobh (65811)

      Actually, you should be asking for a television set, not an ebook reader. A wall to wall TV screen.

  • Sales (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:47AM (#29716155)
    Wow talk about /vertisement. This sounds like it was written by a marketing person. Scary :/
  • Reading in the sun (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NewsWatcher (450241) on Monday October 12, 2009 @02:56AM (#29716189)

    Kindles always spout how great it is you can read in the sun, because their eInk allows better viewing in direct light, but without that technology, this new device will be far less useful.
    I thought this would have been fairly obvious, but from TFA: We hope that LG has included a passively-lit e-paper display option in the device.

  • Useless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NixieBunny (859050) on Monday October 12, 2009 @03:00AM (#29716205) Homepage
    It would have to be in full sunlight in order for it to charge, so unless you have a private sun-lit balcony handy, would you sit in the sun 4-5 hours a day just to babysit your expensive solar-powered E-reader? You'd pay a lot more for sunscreen than AA batteries cost.
    • Re:Useless (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 12, 2009 @05:24AM (#29716761)

      Modern solar cells don't need "full sunlight" to charge, artificial light would do. Even $1 calculators haven't needed UV in years.

      • The article says "4-5 hours in full sunlight". That sounds like full sunlight to me, not indoor light (which has only a few percent of full sunlight's power).

        Calculators run on microamperes, so they are not a valid comparison.

        And yes, I have designed and built several solar-powered gizmos that work.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          "A few percent" would still be more than adequate for a device which normally goes about a thousand hours between charges. Half a percent would do.

  • by willoughby (1367773) on Monday October 12, 2009 @03:16AM (#29716271)
    Give me a $99 ebook reader, not a solar powered one. I'll buy batteries for the bloody thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JStegmaier (1051176)
      Somehow, I get the feeling you don't understand economies of scale.
    • Give me a $99 ebook reader, not a solar powered one. I'll buy batteries for the bloody thing.

      Given the way prices are going, call back in about 2-3 years tops, and you can have one. Another couple of years later, you can have one in colour.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Give me a $99 ebook reader, not a solar powered one. I'll buy batteries for the bloody thing.

      http://www.ebookwise.com/ebookwise/ebookwise1150.htm [ebookwise.com]

      $109.95

      When I bought mine many years ago, I distinctly remember it was around $90 including shipping... that's inflation for you.

      I like the backlight, its durable, good battery life. Subjectively the screen comfortably holds about 75% of the text on a typical paperback.

      Not exactly the nicest ebook around, but I like it. Have to use weird software to translate standard .txt into its weird little proprietary format, and install weird USB drives. Not a si

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 12, 2009 @04:18AM (#29716499)

    The device pictured is built into a Sony Reader housing. It is, in fact, a Sony Reader. The solar cell is the real LG product, aimed at other manufacturers.

  • But in a year you just know you're friends are all going to say 'Dude, your eBook reader looks really gnarly and well, liked sun bleached to death. What did you do to it?'
  • Imagine that - it would be like the book just ENDED HALFWAY THROUGH THE STORY.
  • 4-5 hours spent sitting in the sun

    How many people are going to leave their e-book reader sitting in the sun for 4-5 hours? We're talking direct, full sunlight here. Any clouds, shadows, or off-perpendicular variations and that charging time goes up by many more hours. We're talking hours here under optimal conditions. We're talking electronics at a cost of several hundred dollars you don't want to leave lying around unwatched. In reality, most people just can't/won't do it.

    I have a Solio solar battery. Soun

  • I'm guessing this won't sell too well in Finland.
  • What about those of us that read books in buildings.. using man made light, and sometimes not a whole lot ( think 60watt bulb by the couch ). Will that be enough to charge this thing?

  • You mean we'd have to go outside? That e-book's as good as useless.
  • ... is when they can generate enough power from solar cells such that if there is enough ambient light to create contrast on the passive display to comfortably read it, then the unit will not ever run out power at all.

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