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Amazon Wins First Kindle Patent; Bigger Screen Expected Soon 50

An anonymous reader writes "One day before Amazon is scheduled to unveil its widescreen Kindle aimed at newspaper readers, the e-commerce giant has been awarded its first US patent for an e-book reader. The new patent, D591,741, is a design patent which protects the look and feel of the Kindle shell, not for fundamental technologies. Those patents are mostly held by E Ink Corp., which makes the 'liquidless paper' display. Sony, IBM, and the Discovery cable TV network also have e-book patents. Amazon, though the leading e-book seller, has none, but the patent award indicates they've applied for at least four recently." Also in Kindle news, PC World has a brief article up on the larger-screen Kindle DX (expected to launch Wednesday), including pictures first spotted on Engadget.
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Amazon Wins First Kindle Patent; Bigger Screen Expected Soon

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  • Seriously? Didn't this sort of thing get shot down, oh, twenty years ago? []
  • PDF support (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Amazon, please do the right thing and add the native PDF support to existing Kindle 1 & 2s.
    • Re:PDF support (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brandee07 ( 964634 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:18PM (#27833471)

      PDFs are awesome and all, but they REALLY want to be 8.5x11. The whole point storing a document in the PDF format is to retain formatting regardless of viewing platform. The Kindle 1 and 2 depend on the ability to freely reflow text at need. The point of a PDF is to disallow the adjustment of text flow. These things are fundamentally incompatible, and what you get are halfass workarounds like the Sony Reader's tedious zooming in and out, or the Kindle's demand to convert to a more friendly format. (If you send a document of scanned pages through the Kindle conversion system, you get those page on your kindle... at 600x800, and a 6" diagonal. Not big enough to be readable. They've recently changed it so that it chops each page in half, so it's readable but on documents with columns you're flipping back and forth between two pages.)

      What you will see is good PDF support on this new student Kindle, since it can just display the damn PDF and doesn't have to worry about the resizing things to make them readable.

      • Re:PDF support (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:56PM (#27834129) Homepage Journal

        The problem with PDFs isn't so much the size of the screen, but the speed at which it updates.

        You can view PDFs fine on a computer screen, even if you have to scroll a bit to get around it. The Kindle's eInk screen takes about two seconds to fully refresh, so you can't just scroll around.

        It's a problem with reference and textbooks too. You can't just flick around or scan through pages because every page change takes two seconds. Publishers have to redo the layout of books for the Kindle screen too, which isn't too bad on a novel but is a lot of work for a textbook with diagrams and footnotes. Magazines have the same problem.

        If they could fix that, I'd buy one tomorrow. I've fancied one for reading novels for ages, but was waiting for price and performance to improve and being able to view PDF datasheets or textbooks. HTML would be nice too.

      • Re:PDF support (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:37PM (#27836145) Homepage

        I wish they'd standardize on about 3 sizes for these things:

        1. Paperback (good for text-only books where formatting doesn't need to be preserved, highly portable)
        2. Trade/Hardback (less portable, OK for pages with some pictures, good for poetry and other things where precise formatting matters, allows larger type while still keeping quite a bit of text on the page, maybe just a tiny bit larger than most current readers)
        3. Oversize (good for 8.5x11 pages, comic book pages, works that are heavily reliant on diagrams and other images, etc.)

        Then publishers could just design to whichever size was appropriate, with the smaller sizes working fine on the large devices and the smaller devices being able to display things meant for larger ones but possibly with formatting errors or hard-to-see images.

        I'd buy the two larger sizes, personally.

      • by nozzo ( 851371 )
        As a Sony owner I feel obliged to point out that PDF's on the eReader work best when the orientation changes. I have a lot of my university course material in PDF format and they look tiny when using standard portrait but use landscape and it's very readable. Granted, you only see half a page at a time but I'm carrying 35 course books in one unit so very very convienient.
  • by Macblaster ( 94623 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:03PM (#27833235) Homepage

    They protect the ornamental apperance of the device, and basically are a little bit more formal than trademark/trade dress. They are specifically precluded from protecting any functional or inventive aspect. Basically there's no story here.

    • Well, I think the story is that they're patenting a "look and feel" that is atrocious, in many people's opinion. It's one of the ugliest tech designs ever. I'm not sure if anyone is clamoring to steal it.
    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:33PM (#27833705) Journal
      Setting: The older boys are playing outside with a ball and the younger boy, Amazon, approaches them ...
      Microsoft: Well well well, if it isn't Amazon. Heard you finally got an e-book patent.
      Sony: Oh god, that is so 1998. Did your mommy get you that patent or did your dead beat dad finally do something for you?
      Amazon: Leave me alone guys, my Kindle is really popular.
      IBM: *snort* Yeah, don't remind us. You're the only one stupid enough to manufacture a million little lawsuits without a freaking patent to back it up. You probably don't even have a patent warchest. Hell, even the loser companies like Discovery cable TV network have e-book patents.
      Discovery cable TV network: Ha! Yeah, you're even more of a loser than me! More loser than sharkweek, more loser than sharkweek, more loser than ...
      Amazon: Cut it out, guys, maybe you haven't heard but I own the one click patent ...
      Microsoft: Aw Christ, here we go again. The one trick pony decides it's time to lord about and hang that piece of contested trash over our heads. I'm sick of it. Probably wouldn't even hold up in court.
      Amazon: Try it, tough guy.
      *MySpace pulls up in a brand new NewsCorp convertible*
      MySpace: Hey, guys, got my dad's mustang for the weekend, wanna go hawk eggs at Facebook's house?
      *everyone starts to pile into the vehicle*
      MySpace: Oh, not you, Amazon, I'm not interested in being seen with such a patentless loser. I mean, that kinda shit gets you defriended pretty fast these days ... probably even sued.
      *the gang hi fives MySpace as they drive off leaving Amazon alone*
  • Bigger Screen? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:04PM (#27833253) Homepage Journal

    But the whole point was to be like a standard paperback book. If it gets much bigger, might as well get a tablet PC and call it a day.

    • different screens.

      Give me some oil and drop resistant versions and suddenly I don't need to either have books for the mechanics or have them print out stuff on a car they haven't encountered before...

      hell, a soldier in a battle field might enjoy maps presented on one of these, and since it uses no battery power after changing the display its makes it even better.

    • by Deag ( 250823 )

      You know current paper comes if different sizes too.

      I'm sure you will still be able to get the small one.

      This makes a lot of sense. I have the current smaller one and it is great for books, but it definitely needs to be bigger to be used for other applications. Reading a newspaper is kind of weird, be like if newspapers were sold in paperback form.

      So small one for pleasure reading ie books that come in paperback size. The bigger one for text books etc.

      Of course a resizable ebook reader that you can fold and

    • Re:Bigger Screen? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:47PM (#27833915)

      I don't see the problem. The previous Kindle's are made for reading digital versions of paperback books, while the new Kindle is geared towards digital versions of hardback books.

    • I'd kill for something 1/4" thick that could display an entire page of the average technical manual legibly even in direct sun and that had a battery life of over eight hours.

      Which tablet PC is like that?

  • Right now e-Ink has a fairly finite number of writes and a long refresh time. How long before we get a technology for delivering video and animation on a "printed page"? I could even live with monochrome graphics (Given an intelligent color-stippling scheme) if I could just get a web browser with animation and video on something like this. I could even skip sound if I get WiFi (pulseaudio sink etc.)

    • They have these things called notebooks, which do exactly what you want.

      • by kohaku ( 797652 )
        Oh, so you're still using a CRT with your desktop?
        • If you're using a CRT with you're notebook, you're doing it wrong...
          I believe a main competitor to kindle, as the GP hinted at, would be the laptop or eepc machines, where decent portable computers are hitting the 300$ mark, ~10 hours battery life, color screen, and other functionalities. If the battery life were a bit better and the design fleshed out, a decent laptop could render the kindle obsolete if marketed correctly.
          • by Knara ( 9377 )

            Or these:


            Expensive, but do what the OP wants.

            I don't get why notebook computers would be considered "outdated" anyway. Heaven forbid you use a portable *general*use* machine.

            Also, I dunno when "doesn't fit in my shirt pocket" make something fail to be considered "portable". Don't people have backpacks and hand bags anymore?

      • They don't do what I want... even a reflective tft (let alone transflective) doesn't have the daylight readability that I'm looking for.

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      Judging from all the eInk stuff I have seen, not any time soon. The refresh times are still measured in seconds and still have that "invert the screen" thing going on. I have seen laser printers that could print faster then those eInk things can refresh.

      However outside of eInk based displays there is PixelQi [] who have build the OLPC screen and are now building stuff normal computers. Judging from the OLPC display, they certainly have the potential to rival eInk based stuff. The OLPC display is 200dpi, sunlig

  • I love my Kindle 2.

    One of the things that I really want from it, though, is to be able to use it in landscape mode, especially when I'm browsing the Interwebs. The default portrait mode is just too compacted for many websites.

    Maybe it's there, and I just haven't figured it out. Anyone know?

    Also, it would nice if Amazon would have an appstore. I'd like to use a fully fleshed out calendaring application rather than "books" that to which I could add notes.

  • by bob_herrick ( 784633 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:31PM (#27833663)
    Personally, I think the Kindle concept, once the screen gets up to something like 8" x 11" will be the salvation of newspapers. Color would be a help, too. The Kindle 2 has too small a screen to handle headlines and photographs, but landscape on 8" x 11" would work quite well. The ability to deliver the news immediately, and presumably to update during the day but yet in an easily readable screen of inconsquential weight powered by a long life battery might even get my wife to switch. And even to pay a subscription.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mellestad ( 1301507 )
      The only problem I have is that what do you do with a device that will be 10x13, cannot bend, and costs $300? I love my Kindle 2, but if you make it any bigger it just isn't portable anymore. I think flexible e-ink displays that can roll up/fold might be the salvation of newspapers, but the current style just won't cut it for the mainstream.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Overzeetop ( 214511 )

        You've hit two keys. Why does it have to have such a large bezel, and why does it have to be non-foldable. Most phones are down to 1/4" or less bezel, so I presume it's not a technical limitation. We have seen prototypes of screens which can be bent if you had a clamshell case. 8.5x11 doesn't have to be the target size, either. Since most paper has a border or at least 1/2", you could reasonably have an 8x6 device when closed that opens up to have the readable size of a letter (or A4) paper. Depending on t

      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        The only problem I have is that what do you do with a device that will be 10x13, cannot bend, and costs $300?

        You stuff it in your bag where all the classic paper based stuff is? And about the price, a while ago somebody did a little calculation, result was that a one year subscriptions to the NYTimes could get you a Kindle for free, as most of the money is spend on delivering the paper.

    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

      I subscribed to the Denver Post on my Kindle 2. That subscription lasted two days before I canceled it.

      Why would I want to read an unending stream of negative/depressing/alarmist stories? Blogs are far better in that regard. When they find something cool/interesting/wonderful, they spread the word to their readers.

      A bigger screen will not save the newspapers.

  • Soon pulp & paper mills will shut down due to the lack of printed material. Then we'll have an over abundance of trees and the human race will die of Oxygen Toxicity Syndrome. Way to go Amazon!
    • DHMO poisoning will kill us all first, I'm afraid
  • I mean the whole chain of identify, downloading and buying a book the way Amazon+Kindle does it. If they are too specific with a patent, then competitors could change a small piece when copying it (I DID NOT MENTION THE OTHER SEATTLE COMPANY KNOWN FOR IMITATION!!!!). If their claim is too broad, it probably steps on some existing electronic-book-distribution patent.
  • So nobody will be able to do another ugly reader with a small screen and a keyboard (wasn't that supposed to be a reader???).
    Competitors will be forced to make devices with larger screens and no keys. I love patents today :-)

  • I would love to buy one, but with the 3G access being US-only, its usefulness is severely limited anywhere else. Too bad because the device itself seems to be very interesting.

    I wonder who is the bonehead who came up with this deal...

  • Can we finally get that thing over here in Europe, please? ffs!

    • Get in line, queue forms on the left.

      Can't even get it in Canada.
    • Actualy Amazon has left it for to long so that there Masterplan to destroy Mobipocket (there own daughter) became apparent.

      Think about if: Amazon bought mobipocket a few years ago. So basicly one corporation and still Kindle won't read encrypted Mobipocket files and Mobipocket won't read encrypted Kindle files.

      You want to entrust your encrytped eBooks to a company which displays that kind of behavior?

      And best thing: Mobipocket and Kindle files difference ony in one byte. A kind of kindle flag. And yes you c

  • No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

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