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Books Businesses Hardware

$13 Txtr Beagle Ebook Reader To Sell For $69 79

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the could-have-been-cool dept.
Nate the greatest writes "Remember that really cheap 5" ereader that everyone was talking about back in October? It turns out that the price was too good to be true. Txtr, maker of the beagle ereader, has confirmed today that the beagle will be coming to the US market in the near future. But it's not going to cost $13. Instead this ereader will cost $69. It seems that txtr isn't having much luck selling the beagle to telecoms (where it was going to be marketed as a smartphone companion device), so they have instead decided to try to sell it in the retail trade, where it will have to directly compete against the Kindle. That is going to be a problem because the beagle is much less capable than the Kindle, even though it costs the same. The beagle won't work without a companion Android app which is needed to transfer files to the beagle over Bluetooth. That app requires Android 4.0 or above."
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$13 Txtr Beagle Ebook Reader To Sell For $69

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  • It's so hard to evaluate tablets looking at specs. it's such an intimate experience that the only way to buy is one is by trying them out, preferably for an extended period (borrow from friends?).

    would you choose a pair of pants based on features, or would you try one on before you guy it?
    • by Cryacin (657549)

      or would you try one on before you guy it?

      I for one would never want a guy in my pants. Each to their own I suppose.

    • by tehlinux (896034)

      I thought only girls tried on their pants before buying.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      It's so hard to evaluate tablets looking at specs. it's such an intimate experience that the only way to buy is one is by trying them out, preferably for an extended period (borrow from friends?).

      would you choose a pair of pants based on features, or would you try one on before you guy it?

      Once I find my size in a brand, I usually keep buying that brand based on features (color, fabric style, etc) rather than trying them on every time I buy a new pair of pants. I hate going to the store to try on clothes.

    • It's so hard to evaluate tablets looking at specs. it's such an intimate experience that the only way to buy is one is by trying them out, preferably for an extended period (borrow from friends?).

      It's only hard to evaluate looking at specs if the specs don't automatically doom the product:

      In this case, they do [the-digital-reader.com]. In order to hit their BoM target, they had to cut this thing to the bone, to the point where it doesn't actually handle parsing the epub/pdf/whatever onboard; but depends on a companion application to load it with pre-rendered page images(up to 5 whole books can be stored!!!!). So, no text resize, no reflow, no nothing except page turning unless you go back to your phone and reload over bluet

      • So it's really just an external e-ink display for a PDA or phone. I seem to remember some Slashdot users wishing they had exactly that.
      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)
        touche. I would say for tablets that are roughly comparable in specs and price, the only way to tell is to be hands on. same for tvs in same size range and price. The only way I can tell is by using the remote for 15 mins! I hate that at best buy etc they don't even put the remotes on display.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a dog.

  • Requiring a companion device for this is just nuts. You'd think they'd learn from all the previous "success" we've seen - the Playbook comes to mind...

    • Had it actually allowed them to hit their price point, it would have been a lot less nuts. As it is, I'm not sure why they are even bothering to ship(maybe they had some already in the warehouse?)

      More generally, it sounds like their plan was part sensible, part gamble: The sensible part is that, by requiring the companion device, they did get to cut the cost and power consumption(runs off a AA or two, less demanding CPU/RAM, no wifi, etc.) The gamble: that telcos would take the 'bluetooth only, requires sma

  • by Tim the Gecko (745081) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @07:49PM (#43128415)

    From the linked article:

    "As for price, the 10 to 20 euros mentioned before is the subsidized price; I don’t know what the actual retail will be. If you want the lower price you will need to contact a cell network which carries it and buy it from them – with contract, probably."

    So it was only a $13 ereader in the same sense that this [amazon.com] is a $0.01 cellphone.

  • Call me old fashioned, but I like the idea of an e-reader that uses standard replaceable batteries rather than a custom, non-replaceable li-ion cell. That way it isn't useless/tethered for a period when the battery dies, I don't have to drag a charger around, and the reader itself doesn't end up as landfill in a decade when the battery stops holding a charge.

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      Best option I like is using NiMH batteries like the Sony eneloop or similar. Still not nearly as long battery life as Li batteries, but you can easily carry spares on a long trip. Most devices can have their internal batteries replaced, although Apple products are the hardest to service.

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      You are old fashioned.

      A good e-reader only needs to be charged every month or two (thanks to Lithium batteries), and is using micro usb, so you do not need a charger, cause if you are gone from home for more than a couple of weeks, you might have your cell phone charger or a laptop or something with you, anyways.

      • The greater inconvenience with Li-ion is their tendency to die quite permanently with a relatively short window. Unless your device is quite popular, popular enough that new aftermarket batteries are still produced(since new-in-box or used ones will be nearly as dead as what you are trying to replace), anything with a weird-shaped Li-ion has maybe 2-3 years of getting near-new battery life, another 1-2, if things go well, of adequacy, and then becomes AC-adapter powered.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        A good e-reader only needs to be charged every month or two

        Yes, if you don't use it.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      You can buy lithium batteries in various sizes and voltages, when yours wears out you can just buy one off the shelf. AAAA batteries might be small enough to replace a li-ion slab battery, but at a high cost to the environment and battery life.

  • by Michalson (638911) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @08:35PM (#43128543)
    It really doesn't take a lot of power to read an eBook. Some of us have been doing it since the Palm days (for reference I had no problem reading eBooks on a 4MB Palm IIIx, which used a 16 Mhz low power SoC version of the CPU that powered the Apple Lisa).

    Reading the specs for the device it seems that its 4 GB of storage are used to hold 4 bit uncompressed bitmaps - the companion app must render each page as a bitmap, send it to the device by bluetooth and then the device just dumps it on the screen with no processing power at all. That would seem to be the 'cost savings': take out the CPU and RAM and replace it with a simple 8 bit controller linking BlueTooth, flash and display, or at least that must have been the original sales pitch before anyone actually sat down to design it.

    By comparison a $30 photo frame contains a CPU powerful enough to decode JPG files fast enough to display them as a slide show. That's more powerful then the Palm at half the cost of the Beagle. Part of that is because the cheap ARM CPU inside costs under $2 and has all the power you could need.

    I think the simple truth is that 80-90% of the material cost of the Beagle (and it's competitors like the entry level Kindle, Nook, Kobo models) probably comes from the eInk screen and the NAND memory. There just wasn't a huge savings to be had by eliminating the CPU and RAM. They seem to have saved $10 after markup over their competitors (who not only have CPUs but touch screens and rechargable batteries as well). This seems like a pie in the sky sales pitch that wasn't aborted as soon as they discovered the cost savings where not there.
    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      Interesting post. I was thinking about the potential of the device after it fails and the left overs are for sale. I would liken it to the failed thin client ideas of the early 90's. They were easy to find and purchase for cheap after failure. After reading this I don't think it will even be wanted for that.

      • It might still be somewhat interesting if its simplicity turns out to make it controllable. Given that you can get a Nook Touch or Kindle and have a wifi-connected Linux device for not all that much, trying to ram actual intelligence into the confines of this thing would make sense only as an embedded hacker exercise.

        If, however, in the quest to make it cheap, they ended up offloading enough intelligence to the companion app, it might be possible to re-use the device as a sort of bluetooth connected screen

    • It really doesn't take a lot of power to read an eBook. Some of us have been doing it since the Palm days (for reference I had no problem reading eBooks on a 4MB Palm IIIx, which used a 16 Mhz low power SoC version of the CPU that powered the Apple Lisa).

      You are not really up-to-date. Modern e-books format - AZW, Mobi and ePub - are HTML based and use rather rich subset of HTML. And XML for meta data and TOC. Good luck rendering that in 4MB and at 16MHz.

      Illustration-less, TOC-less, chapter-less, plain text e-books of Palm days are really long in the past. But yeah, you can render them on literally anything.

      • He just said the device doesn't do the rendering -- they pump a bitmap across Bluetooth and shove it into RAM where the display shows it, no processing involved.

        Why this requires Android 4.0 I don't know. Did earlier versions have some idiot, limited Bluetooth implementation that doesn't transfer BLOBs?

        • Actually Bluetooth's raison d'etre is to pump an indefinite data stream, who cares if it is "really" a picture instead of audio -- so the apps at both ends lie to it, telling it they are really rich Hollywood producers.

    • Thanks that's a useful explanation regards battery and costs

              - I was wondering why they're getting a year out of it rather than a month I get from my rooted eink Nook!

      Still handy for yachting though.... until we get to diagrams I presume...

    • by Zadaz (950521)

      Good analysis. I suspect that the project was founded by ... I don't know what. Guys without any experience with embedded systems is my bet. The cost difference, in bulk, of a small 16 mhz 8-bit CPU with 0.5k RAM and a 100mhz 32-bit CPU with 128K RAM is about a dollar.

      If they had spent the extra dollar per unit they could have had a device that could take care of all of the I/O formatting, etc, etc and been a stand-alone device.

      (Even without spending the dollar, you can get a lot of performance out of an o

  • If it let me upload standard ePub (and maybe .mobi) files via USB, I'd buy one.

  • It's the design. It looks to have a bump on the bottom [the-digital-reader.com], maybe batteries go in there similar to the Apple wireless keyboard. But unlike the product they got their inspiration from, the bump is at the wrong end. When placed on a flat surface, the screen will be angled away. Major design FAIL.
  • by Dan East (318230) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @09:34PM (#43128751) Homepage Journal

    The architecture of this device is just slightly ahead of its time. It is, literally, a secondary display for a primary computing device. Electronic ink is optimal for reading when there is enough ambient light, so it would be much better than reading a book on a cell phone (plus the screen size is larger too). However, there are two places where this would be the killer app, and neither are mainstream yet: Google Glasses, and the iWatch. Both of those are wearable computers, but they both have sub-optimal displays. That's where an external display would be extremely useful. It would make a whole lot of sense to just extend your existing wearable computer into an ebook reader, instead of having to carry (and thus synchronize / manage data / etc) a discreet device.

    Imagine - you have your Txtr in your hand, or simply propped up on a little stand or laying on your lap as you read. To turn the page, you just give your wrist (the one your iWatch is on) a little flick, and the page turns. Pretty much optimal.

    This really is the future. Your iWatch or Google Glasses will be your primary computing device for everything. Want to watch a movie at home? It simply outputs wirelessly to your TV (with an Apple TV box attached). Want to browse the internet? Use an external display that looks like an iPad, but that is merely a display and touchscreen. Want to read an ebook? Grab an eInk screen. Got a lot of typing to do? Whip out your bluetooth keyboard. I predict devices in a laptop form factor (including touch screen) that is nothing more than an I/O device for your wearable computer.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      would I want to buy a device that has to connect to another device, thats twice the battery headache, twice the networking, twice the setup

      its bad enough when my nook's battery is dead, but it would suck more if I wanted to read a book on a full charge but couldnt turn the pages cause my friggin watch is low on juice.

      pie in the sky ideals like you present never take into account the practicality of it, you want me to buy a 70$ screen with a 400$ watch and square the complexity of using the crap when I can g

      • by Dan East (318230)

        The watch replaces your phone. I assume you carry a phone pretty much all the time, correct? Now you won't be carrying a phone. You'll be wearing a watch. The battery lasts for days, and you already go to the trouble of charging it and keeping up with it because you use it for so many other things.

        So in your scenario, right now, you have a phone you have to charge and carry around, and if you wanted to read ebooks on an actual eink screen, you would then have to buy an ebook reader, which you'd also have

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          I think in this scenario, the display would need to be some sort of foldable or rollable electonic piece of paper. Once your computer is in a watch or a pair of glassses, you're not going to want to carry around a chunky, rigid plastic box in your pocket as well just to be able to actually see anything useful, as in that case you might just as well have the computer in a chunky, rigid plastic box to start with.
    • In the immortal words of Dennis Miller: "Not only did I inhale, I drank the fucking bong water afterwards!"

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Imagine - you have your Txtr in your hand, or simply propped up on a little stand or laying on your lap as you read. To turn the page, you just give your wrist (the one your iWatch is on) a little flick, and the page turns.

      I think it would quickly become known as the iWank. The body language would be too suggestive.

  • It could still be a great device if they'd simply fix the software

    The bluetooth transfer idea is quite useful assuming it's used in a smart way. Having a screen where you can see your latest mails, messages, stock info, etc... all the time even in the bright sun could be useful.

    Especially if it works for a much longer time than your phone will. I still see potential, but I have a lot of doubt that they'll use it.

  • I didn't think that was possible. The Nook is a better ebook reader than both. I can actually read and transfer PDF files to a Nook with a USB cable.

    • Officially Kindle also can PDFs. But I never really tried it.

      With every year, PDF fortunately becomes more and more niche - as e-book formats go.

      There are really only several stalwart branches which use exclusively PDFs this days to represent books and such. Everybody else has already moved to HTML and similar.

      P.S. I personally can't forgive Amazon how they have f***ed up and dumbified dictionary functionality in the most recent iteration of the Kindles.

  • i have issue ti instal PDF file.

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