Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Displays Handhelds Portables

Are the New Kindles Tablets-In-Training? 134

Posted by timothy
from the one-can-hope dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "TechNewsWorld reports that Amazon's new, slimmed-down Kindle devices are notable for several things, including upgrades to their experimental WebKit browser that makes it faster and easier to navigate, and the new 'article mode' feature extracts the main text-based content from Web pages for easier reading (as Safari does), suggesting the possibility that the Kindle may grow up to be a real tablet computer someday. Eventually, the tablet and e-reader categories 'are going to slam together,' says Rob Enderle, adding that they are 'held apart, largely because we don't yet have an affordable display that will do both tasks well.' One current problem 'is that TFT displays like the iPad uses suck for reading because they aren't outdoor viewable and are very power hungry. Display technologies like the Qualcomm Mirasol stuff will change this over the next 18 months, and by the end of next year — likely before — we'll begin to see converged devices.' Mirasol uses tiny mirrors, known as microelectronic machines, to create its display, which has the low power characteristics of E-Ink displays and the video-playing and color abilities of LCDs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Are the New Kindles Tablets-In-Training?

Comments Filter:
  • Wi-Fi-only Kindle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aunchaki (94514) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @08:20AM (#33100570) Homepage

    I want one of these, and think it's a great idea (de-innovation?) to remove the 3G support. I'm often in wi-fi areas, but don't really see the need to download books while I'm actually AT the beach. I can download enough when I'm at home (or at McDonalds, at Starbucks, etc...). Save money, save power, save bandwidth. I'm getting one!

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @08:36AM (#33100624) Journal

      Save money, save power, save bandwidth. I'm getting one!

      Indeed, I made the statement that this reader would have to be under $100 for me to get one when I first saw the Kindle. And now we're down to $139 so it edges even closer.

      When I first saw that it would have 3G, I went searching for videos on the surfing experience [youtube.com] and was not impressed. Unless drastic improvements were made in how it renders and handles web pages, it looks like it would be tedious and almost unusable except for outlying circumstances.

      Now, that doesn't mean some software or new mobilized content mentality couldn't change all of that but from what I've seen it looks to be little more than a novelty like the web browser I have on my Nintendo DS.

      So, like you note, the purpose of 3G really boils down to selling books while you're sitting around -- which is nice but not a crucial need. I guess I could imagine using 3G to get books off of Gutenberg or some other open repository of open formatted books but again that wouldn't really be worth a 35% price increase.

      Is anyone able to comment on what the browsing functionality actually does for them? Is there news that you actually digest in a productive fashion? Certain news sites that work flawlessly? Blog technologies (like Wordpress or something) that always work? And how is the 3G coverage and reliability? I have so many questions about these devices and can find so little on reviewing this web browser functionality on the Kindle.

      Good job on price but I don't ever see the Kindle replacing my Asus Netbook with Ubuntu on it. Yeah, you're going to have a large price delta and I think there's a long way to go -- much longer than the 18 months or sooner that the article mentioned -- before these two consumer products converge. Battery life is just one thing. Price, general purpose computing abilities and the ability to install open source software are big factors for me (not sure about other folks).

      • by bgfay (5362) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:00AM (#33100694) Homepage

        I agree that the 3G is not necessary for my experience and that this thing should sell for $99. Amazon has just moved to selling more eBooks than hardcovers, why not just keep going with that.

        As for the full tablet experience, an incremental approach sounds right to me. Next, how about an audio player for Amazon MP3s. Then color screen and the ability to download Amazon video. That way they keep generating revenue and utilize it as a tool for selling more stuff which is all it was ever designed to be.

        Me, I'm sticking with my Netbook as well. I watched a few people during a summer course I took trying to make it with just an iPad. It's not there yet. Hell, I like a keyboard and there's that whole printing thing and...

        But if it comes below $100, I might get me a Kindle.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Omestes (471991)

          As for the full tablet experience, an incremental approach sounds right to me. Next, how about an audio player for Amazon MP3s. Then color screen and the ability to download Amazon video. That way they keep generating revenue and utilize it as a tool for selling more stuff which is all it was ever designed to be.

          Ugh, not another general purpose device that doesn't do anything well. Might as well throw a 2 megapixel camera on it too.

          I own an ebook reader (a Nook), I bought it because it DIDN'T have a color

          • by slim (1652)

            Yeah, I'm with you. I'm easy to distract. The easier it is to check my mail on my eBook, the more likely I am to do so. An eBook that's *just* an eBook lets me get lost in the book, and that's a feature.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          They seem to be pretty close already - now with a decent browser engine (IIRC it was Netfront previously; good for so called "feature phones", but...), and a speculation of "faster" screen in the future. With webapps...doesn't that give pretty much the essence of what Google ChromeOS tablets are meant to be?

          And hey, Kindle already has a keyboard ;)

      • by Hadlock (143607) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:28AM (#33100776) Homepage Journal

        Indeed, I made the statement that this reader would have to be under $100 for me to get one when I first saw the Kindle. And now we're down to $139 so it edges even closer.

        $89 is my magic number, although at $99 it would definitely be in impulse buy territory if this economy was kind enough to hand out Christmas bonuses. $100 seems like an awful lot of money for a device that's really about 30% too small. $149 would be my sweet spot for a kindle DX (a.k.a. "full size") with a smaller bezel. Living in the city, 5 min from a computer at all times, I'm not really that interested in 3G for a book as a feature. The 3G model might make more sense to a parent who has a kid but can't afford to, or they're not old enough yet to buy them their own separate computer.
         
        In ten years time they'll be giving Kindles away for free with the prepurchase of 10 books or more. In the early 1980s people couldn't fathom calculators costing less than $100, but by the early 80's they were giving them away with a tank of gas; and now they're used as freebie promotional items at conferences as part of gift bags. Why would they ever try and build out the kindle to be a fully featured computing tablet? It's the literary equivalent of a calculator.

        • Cheaper ebooks! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Clueless Nick (883532) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:54AM (#33101122) Journal

          Why doesn't anyone speak about the need for cheaper ebooks? At $9.99, they still cost *twice* as much as economy version paperback and as much as a premium one, at least in developing countries. And paperbacks come with all the freedom you want.

          If they are cutting all middlemen out, apart from the printing and transportation costs, they will still end up making a good deal of money at prices below $4.99 per book. Even lower prices will see greater volumes, so the authors also will not complain.

          I believe the current prices will just encourage a greater amount of piracy, with rapidly falling costs of the e-readers especially where there are alternatives that don't tie you in to a specific store pr format.

          Just a pet peeve of mine.

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            I just pulled up the three most recent books I've read. None of them are terribly recent, meaning paperbacks are available. Cryptonomicron (Neal Stephenson) was $10.50 on the kindle store; I paid $8.99 for the paperback edition at half price books, Doctor Zhivago and Catch-22, both modern classics selling well over a million copies each, and still in print, weren't available on the Kindle store.

            Where are you shopping that you're finding new paperbacks below $5.99 each? Airport paperbacks tend to sta

            • Hehe...while shopping in a third world country. Books here at airports are overpriced, and I won't buy them.

              Anyway, what I mean to emphasize is that selling an ebook costs a little fraction of selling a paperback, and cheap ebooks can actually improve volumes especially where reading habits tend to be poor (e.g. due to cost, as in developing countries).

              Again, with paperbacks or hardcovers, if people are only a bit curious about a title, they will try to borrow it and then return it, and would buy titles th

              • by Hadlock (143607)

                I've read that cheaper ebooks do exist - they are by unknown authors who are "self e-publishing" and split the revenue of their $0.99-$3.99 stories directly with Amazon. Maybe they are on one of the other ebookstores (the Nook's store?) and not Amazon's? I haven't looked into it too closely yet as my blackberry is the only Kindle compatible device I own currently.

            • Where are you shopping that you're finding new paperbacks below $5.99 each? Airport paperbacks tend to start out at $6.99 and go up from there

              Why pick nits? The grandfather post made an excellent point. I see lots of tech books on Amazon that cost $37 for the regular book, and $32 for the kindle edition. And I can buy a used edition for $15.

              So why spend $140 to $390 on a kindle, if it also raises the cost of the book?

          • Re:Cheaper ebooks! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:28PM (#33102304)

            This is an enormous pet peeve of mine. I've got Kindle on my iPad and my Droid phone but I can't bring myself to actually BUYING any eBooks. The entire concept seems absolutely ludicrous to me. I can go to Amazon or Borders and order a hard copy book that usually is cheaper than the ebook, and gives me total freedom to resell, loan it out, or toss it on my bookshelf for future generations of my family to pick up and read when the time comes. If the ebook was a fraction of the price of a print book or had technology that would allow me to loan and resell, or at the very least print a hardcopy of the book, I may reevaluate the technology. At the rate we're going though, I have little hope my grandchildren will even know what a library is, much less see one filled with current edition books because the concept of sharing and borrowing is being lost in this digital generation. Publishers are turning the concept of sharing into a dirty criminal thing when in fact we go out of our way to instill those values of sharing into our children from the time they are babies. It is insane.
             

            • by sznupi (719324)

              the concept of sharing and borrowing is being lost in this digital generation

              I don't really think that's happening, quite the contrary. Sure, publishers/etc. are trying to block it (which deep down is of course an act of trying to legislate competition away - look at Sweden, the cradle of TPB...and the only place in the world with sustained physical sales of CDs; but labels hate it - most of those CDs are indy acts), but...

            • by vanyel (28049) *

              The cost of ebooks is no reason to avoid the technology: I never bought hardbacks because they were too expensive, and I won't buy $10 ebooks for the same reason, but there are far more $5 ebooks out there that I want to read than I have time to, so the $10 ebooks are just pricing themselves out of the market and don't affect me, other than there are some that I actually *would* like to read. But, as with hardbacks, I'll just wait for the "paperback" version (they will drop in price after being out a while

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dodobh (65811)

            I recommend reading Charles Stross' blogposts on Ebooks and the publishing industry.

            http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/04/common-misconceptions-about-pu-1.html [antipope.org]

            I take no stand on the issue, Charles does and he backs up his claims with numbers.

          • by hal2814 (725639)

            "Why doesn't anyone speak about the need for cheaper ebooks?"

            The same reason people don't talk about the need for cheaper MP3's. In time, we'll get the Kindle version of the "You wouldn't steal a car!" commercials. eBooks are really really small and easy find and download from legally ambiguous sources.

            Personally, I think legally-acquired eBooks will have to cost no more than a secondhand copy to be a real success. Look at something like the Discworld book range. Your options are to buy the Kindle versi

        • by Mascot (120795)

          Personally, I think the convenience of global wireless access to new books is worth the price premium, but I also think launching a lower cost model with just WiFi was good business sense. There's a market for both.

          Same thing goes for the DX versus the regular size Kindle. I already own a DX, but have a Kindle3 preordered. The DX is fantastic around the house, but I want a smaller one for when I need to carry it around. I do wish they had done even more to cut the size (those damn keys still appear to take

        • by xigxag (167441)

          Interesting, but FYI by the 80's calculators were already at near-commodity pricing. The Casio Mini [oldcalculatormuseum.com] came out in 1972, and was priced at under $100. (One source has it at Y12,800 which at that time was the equivalent of about $45.)

          Oh, sorry, never mind, rereading your sentence I see it was just a simple typo and you meant "early 1970s" for the first reference.

        • by DavidTC (10147)

          $149 would be my sweet spot for a kindle DX (a.k.a. "full size") with a smaller bezel. Living in the city, 5 min from a computer at all times, I'm not really that interested in 3G for a book as a feature.

          The Nook wifi-only is a full-sized Nook, and $149. I don't know how that compares to Kindle size, though.

          The 3G model might make more sense to a parent who has a kid but can't afford to, or they're not old enough yet to buy them their own separate computer.

          3G makes no sense at all unless it lets peopl

          • Why not just ask that the device be free?

            A hybrid car should cost under $15k too, because I want one but don't want to pay $40k for it.

            For the most part people that say "I'll buy X when it is such-and-such price." are liars or non-consumers. What I see is that people buy devices because they really want them, and when the price is lowered just a tiny bit the sales double. Eventually people who make grand claims about a price point give in when the price lowers a little bit and even more people are using it.

            • by DavidTC (10147)

              What I see is that people buy devices because they really want them, and when the price is lowered just a tiny bit the sales double.

              You realize the two halves of that sentence make no sense together, right?

              According to the last half of that sentence, half of people don't buy devices because they want them, they instead wait until the price is lower.

              This, of course, assumes that their valuation of the device stays the same, which is sorta silly. Of course if they see a lot of people using and apparently

            • by Hadlock (143607)

              For the people who want a Kindle for $80 or less, I don't think Amazon needs you money at this time.

              Nobody said they expected Amazon to drop the price to $80 tomorrow, or even this year. One could reasonably expect the price to drop that much in two years however. At which point I'd probably buy one. None of that makes me a liar. Unless of course, the Nook hit that price point first.

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            $149 would be my sweet spot for a kindle DX (a.k.a. "full size") with a smaller bezel. Living in the city, 5 min from a computer at all times, I'm not really that interested in 3G for a book as a feature.

            The Nook wifi-only is a full-sized Nook, and $149. I don't know how that compares to Kindle size, though.

            The Nook has a 6" screen, same as the Kindle 1,2,3. I've seen a Kindle 1 & 2. The screen is too small. That is why I say it's 30% too small. The DX (9.7") is the size the device should have debuted with (full size), but the 9.7" e-ink display would have cost a fortune in 2007. Same reason why it took so long to see a 15" LCD Laptop (a "full size" laptop screen) in the 1990's, and we call 10" netbook screens "small" or "ultra-portable".

            If people randomly find themselves without books, I suggest they, duh, buy some extra books in advance.

            This is what I do. I always have 10-15 books that int

          • by sznupi (719324)

            3G makes no sense at all unless it lets people randomly surf. (Which, in turn, would require a monthly plan.)

            But it does just that. In many countries now, using single "plan"...only there's no plan! It's a h2g2 come true. [xkcd.com]

            And while we can assume almost anybody has an access to a PC if he wants it, that's often not "being able to install / do whatever one wants" or having it with you at all times (which is easy with Kindle, among other types of devices; and no, that's not a bad thing - or do you prefer journe

            • by DavidTC (10147)

              If you want easy communications using the cellular network, I have an alternative preposition for you. Bear with me, because this gets crazy, but I propose: A cell phone.

              Many people aren't aware that, back in the nineteen-nineties and the early twenty-aughts, there used to be an entire network for voice, with specific devices called 'cellular phones', that used the cellular network to operate. (Actually, technically, they didn't just use that...some people had these 'cellular phones' hooked to their DSL li

              • by sznupi (719324)

                You can, in fact, randomly browse FFS... Notice how linked xkcd mentions not only a site by Wikimedia; it's just that those two choices are apparently what's most appreciated by Randall "when broke and drunk in a strange city."

                For "free." Assuming you already want an ebook reader, free cellular access isn't much of a premium. And considering I recharged my mobile phone account 3 months ago, with ~$2 and there's still something left...data credit even for similarly basic browsing would quickly top the premiu

                • by DavidTC (10147)

                  Please go look up the specs for the Kindle on Amazon's site. Please notice all have web browsing listed for wifi.

                  Please notice that web access over 3G is either listed as an experimentation or not listed at all.

                  Please notice that their unlocking of browser access has existed for less than two months.

                  The magical forever web browsing you apparently think Amazon is selling does not exist. Right now they let you do that, but could stop it at any time, as it is not actually a listed feature of the device. (An

      • by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:04AM (#33100916) Journal

        Is anyone able to comment on what the browsing functionality actually does for them? Is there news that you actually digest in a productive fashion? Certain news sites that work flawlessly? Blog technologies (like Wordpress or something) that always work? And how is the 3G coverage and reliability? I have so many questions about these devices and can find so little on reviewing this web browser functionality on the Kindle.

        I can't speak to the new one (or even the software upgrade, since I haven't used it extensively since it was installed), but I had the original Kindle DX for over a year. Critical new features in the software upgrade include "collections" (a way to organize documents you've loaded onto the Kindle, which was probably the number one feature request and something I can't believe they didn't originally include) and improved PDF handling (basic zoom/pan ability - before your only option was to flip the device to get a larger view).

        As for web browsing... it's always been slow and unimpressive. My expectations aren't even that high, since I don't have a data service for my phone or anything like that. On the other hand, it came in handy when I was visiting my parents out in the boonies... jumping on the Kindle to check Wikipedia was faster than dialup. Sometimes I had to go outside to get a good signal, but we have to do that with cell phones anyway. Specific mobile sites I've bookmarked, like mobile New York Times, are fine... for me, though, it makes more sense to use an application like Calibre that will automatically download all the news you want in the morning and sync with the Kindle, rather than just relying on the 3G. I've used the web browser to get on Facebook and Slashdot from trains... again, better than nothing, but not exactly pleasant. I've gotten a few things directly from Project Gutenberg as well.

        One great thing is that I've written up some scripts that use the command-line version of Calibre to watch a directory on my home server. Instead of having to e-mail documents to Amazon and pay for conversion (or carry around a sync cable and software capable of converting), I just e-mail my documents to a special address. The scripts check the e-mail, download the document, convert it, and upload it to a web server. A few minutes after sending it, I log into the web server from the Kindle and download the converted document. This is actually what I probably use the web browser for the most.

        For reading text... IMO it kicks ass and bests any other style of device (netbook, tablet, etc.) currently available. But I also always carry about my 9" netbook with Ubuntu.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          As for web browsing... it's always been slow and unimpressive. My expectations aren't even that high, since I don't have a data service for my phone or anything like that. On the other hand, it came in handy when I was visiting my parents out in the boonies... jumping on the Kindle to check Wikipedia was faster than dialup.

          To me, the "3G" in the Kindle stands for "Wikipedia". As others have said, I can buy books when I'm near a WiFi hotspot... but I want to be able to look things up on Wikipedia anywhere, anytime. On the other hand, I'm not willing to spend quite so much money for the privilege. On the gripping hand, these days there are some pretty credible webmail packages you can run yourself, so I could use it for mail as well.

      • So, like you note, the purpose of 3G really boils down to selling books while you're sitting around -- which is nice but not a crucial need.

        In all honesty, built-in wifi has pretty much the same purpose. My wife bought me a wifi-only Barnes & Noble nook when they introduced them at $149; I find that I just leave the wifi turned off. I download content to and manage it with calibre, and copy/share things with the nook using it as a USB device. Other people might be more spontaneous than I am, but I've

        • by sznupi (719324)

          So, is it already to the point of "the scene" taking titles sold by Barnes & Noble or Amazon, stripping away the DRM, and...releasing something just as good on the level of publication quality?

          • I haven't been systematic about checking, but it appears to me that old stuff and very new stuff that's not released in an ebook form yet are scanned and OCRed. Those are pretty easy to recognize: the OCR will make consistent mistakes, such as converting the word "service" to two words "ser vice". It's not hard to do, and it's getting cheaper. Slashdot has run stories about DIY rigs [slashdot.org] that take pretty minimal manual effort. The errors are irritating, but not horribly so.

            The pirate version of most stuff tha
      • by cain (14472)

        The 3G is very useful for newspaper subscriptions, which are downloaded automatically to the device daily. If you're going to be out of WiFi range, say on vacation, you can't pre-download the newspaper as it published every day.

      • by radish (98371)

        It's not made for web browsing, I can't see it getting beyond a novelty in the sort to medium term. I carry my Kindle for reading, and my phone for web/email/gaming/etc.

    • by Threni (635302)

      I thought that, but the screen is small especially compared to the size of the whole thing. I like the fact that it's quite cheap, but for me the screen isn't significantly larger than my HTC Desire - at least, it's not large enough for me to want both of them. Also - and this is the killer for me - there's no backlight. This is simply ridiculous. I want to read on bed/plane etc and not have to deal with lying down with a light angled correctly every time.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Since around a decade ago, for a few years, there were lots of e-book readers with backlight screens. They were promptly ignored, and for good reasons.

    • I have, and love, a gen-2 Kindle. Use the 3G support all the time, but not for the general purpose browser.

      I travel extensively (100,000 miles a year or so), and us the Kindle as my primary method of reading books (1-2 books a week on average). I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting in an airplane seat while they finish boarding the plane, and remembering that I'd like to read a particular book - or see someone carrying a book that I'd like to read - or see a review of a book in the in-flight

    • I agree. When B&N launched the nook (supports epub!) sans 3G a couple of months ago, I took the plunge ($149). It made sense that Amazon would follow. $50 is not bad for lifetime 3G, but I personally wouldn't use it - at least with the current state of eReader hardware. Of course, when the predicted 'tablet convergence' occurs, free lifetime 3G will disappear, to be replaced with iPad-type monthly data plans.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Though with cellular access, it is pretty much h2g2 [xkcd.com] (finally); and with "article mode" in the browser it might be even decent non-hitchikng scenarios.

    • The 3G connectivity is what got me to buy the Kindle instead of the Sony ereader. Sites that are already set up for mobile use are great on the Kindle. Anything else is a pain, but for no monthly charge I'll take it. I even have a mobile version of Google Voice running through my Kindle so I can send and receive texts there. I don't have data or text plans on my cell phone so those features are a game changer for me. It goes with me whenever it is practical to carry it around, and I don't think that wo

  • Why not pixel qi? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dredwolff (978347) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @08:35AM (#33100616)
    Mirasol? Really? A technology that's not even on the market yet? Why not go with the already available and commercially viable pixel qi screen tech? It' the best of both worlds, a dual mode screen for indoor and outdoor use! And you can already get one! Just add touch-screen capabilities and you have the perfect tablet.
    • Re:Why not pixel qi? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:54AM (#33100862)

      Because Mirasol is bistable (zero power on static images) and uses less power than a refreshing E-Ink display while playing video, while Pixel Qi uses at best a quarter of the power of a LCD all the time, even with the backlight off, since it's pretty much a transflective LCD. When the backlight's on, the Pixel Qi advantage is minimal. It is not revolutionary technology by any stretch.

      The difference in power consumption is orders of magnitude. Since batteries lag behind pretty much all other tech these days, and LCD screens suck down massive amounts of power for both backlighting and the pixels themselves, true revolutions in battery life (like a week plus for a smartphone or tablet vs. maybe a day) will depend on Mirasol or related tech. There are a few other contenders, but Pixel Qi is not one. They do seem to have an excellent marketing department though, because the same misconceptions you have are quite widespread among people that should know better.

    • As "Anonymous Coward" points out the Pixel Qi screen is no real competitor to E-Ink screens because it still draws a lot of power with a static image. What "Anonymous Coward" does not mention is how long a computer would last with such a screen.

      The iPad lasts for 10 hours straight, and i reckon atleast 50% of the power draw comes from the screen. Since a Pixel Qi screen draws only 1/4 of that power the iPad should last for 15.7 hours. Considering that those 10 hours are with wifi ON i reckon book reading
      • by Mascot (120795)

        I'm not sure why the iPad is ever talked about in the context of e-book reading. It's a tablet, not a book reader. Sure, you _can_ read books on it, just like you _can_ read books on your phone. Doesn't mean they're any good at it.

        Even if the iPad could get a month or more out of a single charge like the Kindle does (with wireless off), it doesn't make up for its enormous size/weight and horrible (for e-book reading) display.

        I don't think there can be much doubt about convergence in this area. It looks pret

        • by mdwh2 (535323)

          Hear, hear.

          Before the Ipad, everyone understood this - any story about a "colour e-reader" was full of criticisms questioning whether this was really colour e-ink, or just an LCD, and then people would rightly point out the differences.

          But since the Ipad? Nothing but endless advertising about how it's a "revolutionary e-reader, much better than any other", as if the whole netbook revolution never happened (not to mention there are other tablets). I'm not sure if it's just a different set of people who are g

        • by kisrael (134664)

          I read "Anathem" on iPad, in iBooks, and am now getting through "How the Mind Works" on the kindle app -- mostly on my subway-based commute.

          The iPad reading experience is, for my money, a world better than the Kindle, with its screen change flicker and Palm-circa-1996, Gameboy-circa 1998 screen. Intellectually I guess understand people saying the like e-ink better; in practice, to me it just looks like a gray smudgey, low-contrast mess.

          The charge is a week, at least. It's not really difficult to recharge a

    • by JynxMe (1652545)
      Without wanting to compare Mirasol and Pixel Qi (they are very different ideas after all), Pixel Qi does have a touchscreen prototype out there [networkworld.com].
  • Does not follow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:04AM (#33100712) Homepage

    I don't follow that. The Kindle is a reading device. They took an update from Safari that makes reading web pages easier. They improved it's reading abilities. That doesn't make it a more general purpose tablet.

    If they add a touch screen, that will make it more of a "tablet in training". Refining a feature that was already there? Seems like a stretch.

    That said, those new cheaper Kindles look really enticing, and the fact they have this mode only makes it more interesting.

    • Re:Does not follow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by macshit (157376) <.miles. .at. .gnu.org.> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:31AM (#33100780) Homepage

      I agree that the new kindle is very enticing, and I also think the article is stupid: the kindle is definitely not a "tablet computer," nor should it be, and the two markets are not going to "slam together" any more than people are going to start replacing their cellphones with ipads. The ipad, at least, is a very different thing, with very different strengths and weaknesses and it's useful for a very different set of tasks. Trying to make the kindle into one would be stupid, because it would entail giving up most of the advantages of the current kindle, regardless of new display tech. Even ignoring the non-optimal-for-reading display, the size of the ipad, the weight, the CPU power necessary to run general apps, the battery power required to run it all, and the high price, are all attributes that make some sense given Apple's target, but which do not make sense for an e-reader.

      Luckily Amazon (unlike Rob Enderle) is smart enough to realize that, and seem to be focusing relentlessly on making the kindle as good an e-reader as they can.

      • I agree. I'm not anti-iPad, but I don't think the iPad is quite a great e-reader. There's definitely still room for a dedicated e-reader. Make it as simple, light, thin, and cheap as possible.

        I hope they don't sacrifice those things in favor of making them into iPad knock-offs. Apple will beat them in that market.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        But perhaps some "evolved Kindle" is, in the end, all the tablet many people would need? TFS speculates about new, "faster" screens; size / weight / CPU / battery life / price - things influencing this will improve. Throw in a good browser (what Amazon seems to be starting to do), and "even" with webapps you might end up with good enough tablet.

        Yeah, it's too early to push Kindle that way; but perhaps Amazon is eyeing on it after all, in the long term?

    • by cellurl (906920) *
      I agree. In business you can only do one of three things.
      Be First
      Be cheaper
      Be customized

      If you do more than one, you will fail. Amazon missed the cool or nerd boat (iXXX, Android).

      It would have to come in a cereal box for me to buy a kindle at this point.

      Help motorists [wikispeedia.org]
      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        Amazon missed the cool or nerd boat (iXXX, Android).

        But I'd say most companies are primarily concerned with the "mainstream boat", than whether a small per cent of the market are nerds, or think they're cool to have an Apple logo, so I don't think that's the end of the world for them. E.g., Maemo is on the nerd boat, but Nokia for now I imagine get a lot more market share (and money) from Symbian.

    • . They took an update from Safari that makes reading web pages easier.

      It's unclear to me if the "reader" feature in Safari 5 is implemented primarily in open source code in Webkit or one of the the other OSS components of Safari, or in the closed source front-end. This would be the difference between Amazon "taking an update" and Amazon coding a clone of the feature. Anyone know?

      • by MBCook (132727)

        Good point. I'd assume that to be able to hook into page rendering and pulling multiple pages it would have to be in webkit, but I suppose it could be some sort of layer in Safari its self, using all the various webkit notification callbacks.

        It's a great feature in Safari, and I'd imagine that having something like it would make the Kindle browser much better for reading articles on the web.

    • Aren't webapps all the rage now, supposedly? With a better browser (I think it even wasn't Webkit previously?) and "more interactive" screen in the next version, we would have basically the Google tablet...certainly quite general purpose.

  • This man is a blight upon humanity. Example:

    eWEEK.com columnist Rob Enderle is here to tell you that he has evidence that SCO has rights to Unix, that IBM's error in releasing Unix (AIX) code into Linux violated those rights and that IBM used the Linux community in an attempt to cover up that mista -- [eweek.com]eweek

    He wasn't just some tangential person either, he was deep into that shit running their propaganda errands. Explain to me why we'd ever listen to this analcyst?

    • by macshit (157376)

      This man is a blight upon humanity... He wasn't just some tangential person either, he was deep into that shit running their propaganda errands. Explain to me why we'd ever listen to this analcyst?

      Sure Rob Enderle is a world-class idiot, but are there any "analysts" which aren't idiots?

      Pretty much everything I've ever seen attributed in the press to "an analyst," was quite clearly clueless bullshit puked out by someone who's figured out that the press isn't picky about certain subjects, and that he can just randomly spout whatever nonsense he wants without any research or thought, and get paid for it.

  • No? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xugumad (39311) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:04AM (#33100918)

    So... if they got a much more powerful processor, a completely different display (color, fast refresh, touch screen) and an entirely different operating system... it might be like a tablet?

    It's a lot more plausible that tablet display contrast will improve, and people will tend to use a tablet where a Kindle isn't enough for them. Kindles aren't ever likely to develop into the tablet space.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      I'm sure someone will hack the kindle to do their bidding over 3G in ways the device wasn't designed to do, albeit in a very awkward and mostly unusable manner. I mean, they got linux and a host of shells to run on the nintendo DS, right? Someone managed to load linux on the ipod, although the replacement GUI was never as good as apple's. They "hacked" the full version of OSX onto the Apple TV, but it wasn't really powerful enough to be used as a primary PC/lowcost Mac.

      You could hack a proper OS ont

      • by sznupi (719324)

        That's one device where I wouldn't like such hacks - free 3G in many countries (finally, since quite recently) is way too nice. Also a possible impediment to "full" tablet - Amazon would have to suddenly move away from free 3G, somehow, for bandwith-heavy uses.

        • by Xugumad (39311)

          If I remember correctly, the web surfing is listed as "experimental". In short, if it turns out letting all traffic through is an issue, they can just tell 3G suppliers to firewall Kindles down to the Amazon store only, and still be within what they agreed to provide.

          • by sznupi (719324)

            Oh well, maybe at least "lesser" Kindles will have it enabled free for a long time - those where it's damn usefull, but not so "nice" as on a hypothetical future one with "fast" screen. Or at least continuing access to Wikimedia projects...

    • by sznupi (719324)

      For some time, probably. But while you still can get dedicated calculators, portable audio players, lowest-end digicams, dedicated GPS units, "dumbphones"...those things seem to start fading away for general consumers, in the long run. Would Amazon be content with such fate for Kindle? (they did improve the browser this time, apparently - to be fair largely also because it was far from good - but hey, with some future version with "faster" screen + webapps?)

  • The fact that Rob thinks it will be tells me it will not. The man has never made an accurate prediction. He is a total whore for $'s and says whatever he is paid to say. He was the point guy for SCO.

    • by eddy (18759)
      I think he's here moderating people, I just got modded 'troll' (really?!) for explaining the same thing.
  • ... Once awake, space station astronauts powered down some attitude control systems .... to balance the heat loads on the outpost's backup cooling system, which is working well.

    I would have guessed the most important part of the thermal control system was the attitude control system, because the station does not approximate a sphere very well and its got about one hemisphere pointed to cold space and another pointed to "room temperature" earth. But I guess whatever works for them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vlm (69642)

      Maybe the reason the space station article has so few comments is because they're appearing in other articles instead?

  • Apple must have seen the inevitable convergence of the tablets and dedicated ebook readers.

    Amazon will probably want people to be locked into their software platform as much as possible, and they have quite a userbase already, as well as the ability to provide a lot of content.

    When they control the software platform, they can easily extend the control to hardware.
    Apple with it's iPad platform will not like that.

    Hence introduced iBooks to hopefully turn the tide against Amazon.
    Or at the very least allow them

    • Apple introduced iBooks because they want people buying content from Apple, not from Amazon. That way Apple makes more money. Much the reason why they wanted people to buy music from iTunes and not completed uninhibited MP3s from Amazon. Simple business, nothing more.
      • by Zelgadiss (213127)

        That is the "simple" explanation.

        But IMO Apple current leadership is pretty sharp, and I have seen games like this played before - look at MS and IE.

        Starting early is best, it's easier. Also there is less of a chance of accidentally running afoul of anti-trust laws when you push your product "too hard" - again MS and IE.

        PS:I thought iTunes was a cost centre, that they only started it up so people can fill up their iPods.

  • The guy is only the biggest tech whore this side of Maureen O'Gara; his opinions are worth exactly what I've paid for them... nothing.

  • Mirasol - 8 colors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @12:05PM (#33101408) Homepage

    After going through two articles and a blog, we get to the Mirasol site. [mirasoldisplays.com] Mirasol is straightforward - each pixel is a flexible membrane in an air gap. It's bistable; either the membrane is against the front plate (dark) or against the back plate (light), pushed there by an electrostatic charge. So it's either monochrome, or an 8-color technology if RGB pixels are provided. By putting in more pixels, they can dither their way up to 3 bits of color per pixel, for 512 different colors. This costs resolution, of course. Their technical paper talks about dithering over time at 50Hz to get more even shades. But if they do that, they lose their power-saving advantage. It costs power to change a pixel.

    This is one of many bistable persistent display technologies. Kent Displays [kentdisplays.com] has had a similar technology, cholesteric LCD devices, for years, used mostly for big display signs and military applications. Until recently, Kent's displays were very expensive, but they've finally solved the cost problem. This year's DEFCON badge has a built-in Kent display.

    • by Zerth (26112)

      After checking out the DEFCON badge, I noticed Kent had single (giant) pixel displays coming out soon, which look awesome. Get it cut to fit your device, laptop/phone/etc, and you can change its color at will. Can't wait until the devkits are available.

      Alas, most of the higher pixel count screens are all glass substrate instead of plastic, so no dynamic camo cases.

    • by Cochonou (576531)
      Indeed, behind the gorilla that is E-Ink (which seem the only ones to have successfully industrialized an e-paper technology so far), there are many innovative display technologies competiting. Another interesting technology that comes to my mind is Liquavista [liquavista.com] which uses electrowetting. And we shouldn't forget that iRex is also working on its own color e-paper technology for the next generation iLiads.
      • by Animats (122034)

        Indeed, behind the gorilla that is E-Ink (which seem the only ones to have successfully industrialized an e-paper technology so far)...

        E-Ink never lived up to its hype. "e-paper" was supposed to be cheap, flexible, etc. What they actually have is just a front layer for a display to give it some permanent state. Costs are comparable to monochrome LCDs.

  • I agree that display is what keeps both apart at the moment, but even with a slow e-ink display, e-readers could do so much more. Personally I want to read scientific papers. So the basic features I'd be looking for are excellent pdf support, and very good search, tagging and annotation capabilities. Give me this and I will buy one. Nice extras would be a very simple, text based access, to some online scientific paper databases. We're not even close though.

    Unfortunately don't think it's ever going to happen

    • by Shados (741919)

      Sony has a full size ereader that has pretty much perfect pdf support, full text search (so far kindle has that too), and has a touch screen that allows you to write all over it with a stylus (as well as gathering your notes on your desktop afterward to organize them if need be).

      No go on the scientific paper database though :)

      • by jadrian (1150317)

        As far as I can tell Sony e-readers do not even support 2 columns in pdf. Am I wrong about this?

        Also I wasn't clear regarding search. I meant "search my collection of papers in the device". By title, author, year or any other kind of metadata including my own tags. The point is to conveniently store hundreds of material so of course search is of uttermost importance.

        • by Shados (741919)

          I didn't try many PDFs, mostly tech ebooks, and on my sony reader (though I only have the small one, not the one that supports PDF fully), it comes out pretty much the same as on a computer. it actually is an issue, because on such a small display tables and graphs and non-textual info is hard to read. However I am told the larger edition supports full pdf formatting. Who knows :)

          And you're right, searching the whole collection isn't happening. I have a feeling if ADA and other groups didn't try their harde

  • 1. The most important thing for a Kindle is BATTERY LIFE. For the foreseeable future, tablets will be power hogs and book readers will be power misers that care more about battery life than features. This prevents what you can add to the e-reader, stopping them from becoming tablets (and prevents tablet netbooks from becoming effective e-readers.

    2. Money. I would rather have a $10, disposable e-reader than the $35 computer India is offering. Cheap computers will never be viable because we always up

  • My major problem with *any* e-book reader is a limited format support. I have lots of books in pdf format, no problem here, but I also have quite few in djvu and fb2 formats. Yes, I can convert them to pdf, but I guess I'm too lazy. On a laptop you just install the fb2 and djvu readers and here you go.

    So the e-book reader I have in mind would allow me to install web-based readers, for reading additional formats. Plus, of course, other applications of your choice. That, of course, makes it somewhat closer to

  • Amazon seem to know just exactly what I want as a book reader, a lightweight device with a clear screen and a long battery life. I don't need to play Tetris on it, or watch hi-def video, I just need something easy on the eye and easy to hold up while I sit in my armchair and relax with a book. Owning one of these would open up all those great old books in Project Gutenburg to me (which I could read now, but sod sitting at a PC to read!)

    Good idea allowing those of us who can plan ahead to get it without 3G.

  • Once you have a colourful, vibrant e-paper (or similar) that reads well in direct sunlight, every tablet is a de facto e-reader.

    Obviously, e-readers will not simply disappear over night, but if I ever saw two converging technologies, this is one...

Scientists will study your brain to learn more about your distant cousin, Man.

Working...