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Are the New Kindles Tablets-In-Training? 134

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."
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Are the New Kindles Tablets-In-Training?

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  • 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.
  • 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 [] 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).

  • Does not follow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> 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.

  • 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.

  • by Zelgadiss ( 213127 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @10:40AM (#33101064)

    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 to stand on equal footing, where iBook is an equally established platform, with a large enough userbase that publishers cannot do exclusives without hurting themselves.
    With both having a more or less similar selection of books, there will be no difference between the two platforms.

  • 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.

  • 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 LCD screen. I bought it because the greyscale e-ink screen, with an unlimited viewing angle, that can be read in direct sunlight. If it lacked these features, I would have saved my $150 and spent it on real books instead. I don't want another MP3 player, I don't want ANOTHER damn gimpy camera, I don't want to be able to play WoW on it, I don't want it to... etc... I just want an ebook reader.

    If they ever made color e-ink, I would be okay with that, but putting a color LCD on an e-reader isn't an upgrade, its a downgrade.

    Thats one reason I get sick of reading reviews between the Kindle, Nook, the Sony whatnot, and the unknown company whatnot, and the damn iPad. I always feel like its one of those questions on IQ tests asking what does not belong in a given set.

    I generally hate generalist devices, that are not an actual PC.

  • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @01:21PM (#33101868) Homepage Journal

    Get a Nook then. You can root them (they run Android, and thus the software innards are well known), and there are several interesting 3rd party kernels out there right now.

    They also have less DRM than the Kindle, using the fairly open epub format (versus the closed mobi format), which doesn't have as much up-front lock in as the Kindle and Amazon. Yes, an experienced person can switch formats at will, and remove pretty much all the DRM from things, but the Nook pretty much wins on this from an ease standard. Because of the default formats, the Nook works with any online store, where the Kindle REALLY wants you to only use Amazon.

    PDF support on all of them suck. Bad.

  • 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 mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @08:35AM (#33108880) Journal

    Kindle will win, once it also does full colour with fast refresh.

    Amiga will win, once it gets 16 core CPUs.

    See, it's easy to say a product will win, when you can make it up.

    (For years, the Iphones had rather low resolution, even my old cheap 5800 beats it; interesting that only now resolution is suddenly an important feature when comparing phones...)

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