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Did B&N Pass On the 6.8" E-ink Screen That Kobo Snapped Up? 132

Nate the greatest writes "Rumor has it that the new high resolution E-ink screen on the Kobo Aura HD was originally intended for another ereader maker. Inside sources have told me that B&N had first claim on the initial production run of 300,000 6.8' screens, only B&N decided to pass. If this rumor is true then this was the screen that B&N would have used on their new ereader this year. Can you imagine what a Nook Glow HD would have been like? I think it would be the next best thing to a 7" Android tablet with an E-ink screen. It's a shame we might never see it." While flying cars are still on my wishlist, daylight readable screens for more portable devices are even higher up the list.
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Did B&N Pass On the 6.8" E-ink Screen That Kobo Snapped Up?

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  • by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:08PM (#43501011)
    My Kindle e-ink screen is perfectly readable in daylight. Is the Nook's e-ink screen different somehow?
    • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:10PM (#43501031)

      It can be read in total darkness, if you use a flashlight.

      • While my paperwhite has many shortcomings, being readable in the dark is not one of them.
    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      no, Tim is just retarded

    • It's perfectly readable in daylight but the contrast is still lower than paper, so in dimmer locations reading can be difficult. They should stop worrying about pixel count and crank up the contrast. I still love it and it's much easier than extended reading from an LCD though.

    • by Clsid ( 564627 )

      The article would apply to the Kindle in the same way it applies to the Nook. What they are saying is that an HD e-ink screen would be truly awesome.

  • 6.8' (Score:4, Funny)

    by trentfoley ( 226635 ) on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:15PM (#43501055) Homepage Journal

    Obvious typ-o, but I feel compelled to make stupid jokes.

    "300,000 6.8' screens"

    My 60" TV isn't even 6'.

    On a 6.8' eReader, you'd only have to turn the page once every hour or so depending on how fast you read.

    Doesn't that come to over 386 miles of screen?

    • 336.75 miles if they are end to end. If you placed them in a diagonal you could get over 386.36 miles.

      They would occupy 0.21 square miles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 19, 2013 @11:20PM (#43501089)

    I fear you have made the Stonehenge mistake, only in reverse.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, no wonder B&N refused to pay for them.

    • Would you want a screen that's in danger of being crushed by a dwarf?
    • If they did, they fucked up by not including a link to their own site at the mention of the product name: "the new high resolution E-ink screen on the Kobo Aura HD". (Even TFA links only to its own in-house review of the Aura, not to Kobo's site.)

    • by dehole ( 1577363 )

      If it smells like a fish, and tastes like a fish... Why else would a eink reader, that no one has heard about, get so many stories?

      It sounds like a good marketing strategy IMO. The only problem is that it would almost be impossible for anyone to unseat Amazon's Kindle from the #1 spot because Amazon has apps for not only Kindle, but the iOS and Android platforms.

      I myself would never buy an Amazon eBook because you don't really own it, as they showed when they deleted everyone's 1984 copy. Good luck dele

  • 6 foot screens! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 )

    Well I can certainly understand by Barnes & Noble would have trouble seeing the marketability of a an e-reader one has to use a pickup truck to transport.

    And since I doubt it was a color e-ink display, even as a small billboard it wouldn't be popular.

    • Re:6 foot screens! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Clsid ( 564627 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @04:02AM (#43502205)

      As a happy B&N Nook owner I can tell you I would gladly replace my trusty e-reader if they come out with an HD version. To be honest, the lack of font sharpness is the only fault I can find with the device when I compare it to books.

      And I have lived in a couple of different countries in the past 4 years, so having my library around with me all the time is a godsend.

  • I am an early convert to E Readers starting from the clunky Sony PRS series. I have questions about the long term viability of e-ink technology.

    The issue is not any weakness in e-ink technology - right now the superior technology to recreate pure reading experience. But sooner or later backlit LCD/LED/OLED screens will have some type of control / settings which will approximate an e-ink experience. When that happens there will not be any pressing reason to buy a pure book reader, but go for a tablet whic
    • The problem is all of those technologies you listed rely on their own light source. You need something fundamentally different to read in bright ambient light. Something like E-Ink.

      At 100% efficiency you'd need 445W/m^2 to be the same brightness as the sun (Sunlight/url). Or, you could just change the screen once, and not have to worry about it becoming washed out.

      My prediction is that E-Ink will become higher resolution, cheaper, and faster. I think that most general purpose tablets will come with E-I

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "At 100% efficiency you'd need 445W/m^2 to be the same brightness as the sun (Sunlight/url)."

        In what, early spring/late fall? Last we checked, solar insolation ran about 1,000W/m^2 assuming photon flux densities of 2,000 umol/m^2/s-1 yearly average.

        • Peak solar insolation at ground level (sun at zenith, cloudless sky) is about 1000 W/m^2, sure, but a bit more than half of that is infrared--which an ideal backlight wouldn't need to compensate for.
          • Re:Death of e-ink... (Score:4, Informative)

            by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Saturday April 20, 2013 @10:55AM (#43503581) Homepage Journal


            Maximum, 1400+ w/m^2

            minimum, 1300.

            Half of that is infrared, then you're looking at 650 w/m^2 MINIMUM, more than 50% extra on top of that which EmperorArthur said.

            Guys, I work with light and solar irradiance/insolation all day long. You won't win this argument.

            • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

              Bust solar = astronomy which means order-of-magnitude is enough.

            • Yeah, teach me to double check that my links work. From the intro to the article: "The total amount of energy received at ground level from the sun at the zenith is 1004 watts per square meter, which is composed of 527 watts of infrared radiation, 445 watts of visible light, and 32 watts of ultraviolet radiation."

              Of course, we're both quoting Wikipedia, so you have to take all the numbers with a huge grain of salt.

            • Guys, I work with light and solar irradiance/insolation all day long. You won't win this argument.

              When you say "work with", I really hope that you're not getting paid very much. Or that you pay a bit closer attention to your work when it's for money. Or that a grownup is checking your figures for you before you hand in your homework.

              The original poster, Emperor Arthur, gave you the correct numbers in his very first comment. Since then you've screwed up twice in an increasingly ineffective campaign to persuade us all that you're smarter than everyone else, instead of thinking about the problem or l

              • by Khyber ( 864651 )

                "First you forgot to acknowledge that a backlight doesn't need to outshine the infrared component of the solar spectrum."

                First, you forgot to acknowledge that any light source is emitting IR, and thus that factors into power usage and visible-light availability, thus using 445 w of light, even with our most efficient light sources, might only net you overall 110 w in the visible range.........

                You also forget that most places that might use this are ABOVE SEA LEVEL. That means the solar irradiance will be HI

                • You also forget that most places that might use this are ABOVE SEA LEVEL...My numbers are not off. They've been checked and re-checked with quantum meters, light/power meters, and in most places about 3,000-4,000 feet above sea level...

                  About a third of the human population lives less than 100 metres above sea level. Most live below 200 metres. (The median living altitude for humans on earth is given as 194 metres - 636 feet - in this 1998 paper []; if anything, it's likely to have shifted downward in the years since, as the majority of the world's rapidly-growing, largest cities are coastal.) In any event, you weren't quoting 4000-foot numbers; you were quoting figures for outer space. Have you even looked at what you wrote, or the sour

      • My prediction is that E-Ink will become higher resolution, cheaper, and faster.

        As a matter of perspective, I would suggest that even non-state-of-the-art devices such as my Sony PRS-T1 offer resolution that is actually better than the majority of printed novels, given that the texture of the (usually crappy) paper introduces inconsistencies in typeface outlines that are absent in the e-ink displays.

        I'm not saying anything against paper publications here (although I was a late convert to ebooks) but since I have moved home (hopefully for the last time) I am rationalising what books I

    • Re:Death of e-ink... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zugmeister ( 1050414 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @12:29AM (#43501495)
      I think there's more difference in these devices than you're taking into account here.
      While my iPad3 has a much prettier display than my Paperwhite, the backlight at the lowest setting is still blazing bright on the iPad.
      The iPad is waaay too big to be comfortable reading in bed and it's too heavy to hold up for an extended period of time.
      I get tired of turning Do Not Disturb mode on and off but if I don't toggle it I get notified every damm time CNN thinks something noteworthy comes up or I get an email.
      Even with all this I wouldn't have gotten a dedicated reader except for the power issue. If that iPad isn't plugged in when I go to bed I'll be in dire straits the next day. Even if tablet power improves tremendously, it'll have a tough time matching my Paperwhite's battery life of 2-3 weeks heavy reading with the backlight on.

      If you're just looking at readers in the store a backlit screen looks superior in all ways. In practice where you really just care about reading the text of a book, well, YMMV.
      • the backlight at the lowest setting is still blazing bright on the iPad.

        That's just bad design. At the lowest setting it should be off.

        I have a similar annoyance with some headphones that have an inline volume control; it doesn't go low enough to mute the sound, so I have to take the player out of my pocket or take the earplugs out if I need to listen to traffic, announcement, people etc.

        • That's just bad design. At the lowest setting it should be off.

          Why on earth would you want the back light totally off? That's unusable in every situation. At that point, just turn it off.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Sorry, but I can't see a backlit approach every matching it for readability especially in sunlight due to the very nature of backlighting. The amount of brightness required would be hard on the eyes.
    • by Clsid ( 564627 )

      I don't know about that. I like the fact that you recharge an e-ink device every month or so and forget about it. With all the electronic devices nowadays, it is something I don't see any LCD replacing anytime soon. Plus call me picky, but I'm one of those people that can't use a backlit display for reading in extended periods of time.

    • But sooner or later backlit LCD/LED/OLED screens will have some type of control / settings which will approximate an e-ink experience.

      I'm not so sure it's that simple -- one of e-Ink's great strengths is the battery life, since the screen requires no power except for page turns. It's a one-trick pony, of course, as you by nature don't want a high-refresh rate and so most other applications except for reading books won't work. But the trick is so damn good, I think it'll stick around for a long time to come (or at least for as long as people still care about reading books). Apart from anything else, it's just so damn nice to have a piec

  • Still lacking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cinder6 ( 894572 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @12:08AM (#43501399)

    The current landscape of eReaders is incredibly frustrating to me. Your choice is to go for either the superior platform or the superior hardware. Amazon has, by far, the best platform. It is ridiculously easy to side load to your devices, be it via USB, email (with each registered device having its own address), or the Send to Kindle app. Not only that, but it syncs your current position across devices, even for side loaded documents. Then there's Whispersync for Voice, which works impressively well (and provides a cheap means to get audiobooks, as well). The problem is that the hardware is just a rectangular slab with no ergonomics.

    Contrast this with Kobo and B&N. Their hardware looks and feels great. The Aura even has a higher res screen 265dpi, the same as a retina iPad). The problem, though, is that their stores are smaller and have worse prices, and no syncing for side loading (and less easy to accomplish, as well). Both Kobo and B&N have nicer firmware/reading software, as well.

    Amazon's advantages are, for me, strong enough that it makes the Kindle the better choice of the three. This irritates me, because the Aura HD looks fantastic. I may get one just for the hell of it.

    • Re:Still lacking (Score:5, Insightful)

      by skiflyer ( 716312 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @12:18AM (#43501447)

      Wish I had mod-points. This is so completely true, and combine it with the fact that they all come with vendor lock in, and it's even worse.

      I have a Nook simple touch, and really want to move to a front lit e-ink reader. Problem is the nook glow is the least tempting of the front lit e-readers to me. That said, I feel locked in due to the number of books already in the B&N cloud. Yes I know I can download, strip DRM, side-load, but bleh, I don't consider that a real solution.

      Some day maybe we can buy e-books instead of rent them from a couple of disjointed retailers. Then I could buy a new e-reader every year based on whoever built the best one!

      • by Cinder6 ( 894572 )

        You're right, it's the vendor lock-in that really hurts us here.

        I think it would be pretty cool if companies made Android-based dedicated eReaders based off of Google Play Books. That way, you could have competition in the hardware space and not suffer as much from vendor lock-in. Actually, what I want is for Amazon to open up their platform to allow this; they've already admitted they don't make money on the hardware, so it's not quite as far-fetched as it sounds at first (though it'll still never happen).

        • by Clsid ( 564627 )

          That still is vendor lock-in. On the hand of a huge company with consumer privacy issues like Google. No thanks.

      • I have a Kobo Glo with lots of legitimately purchased ebooks from Amazon and BN on it.

        All it takes is the Calibre open source library manager [] and a couple third-party DRM-stripping plugins []. Rarely, converting from AZW, you'll need a bit of CSS skill and a text editor to track down a conversion glitch.

        Of course this entails an account at each vendor to buy the books. Downloading is handled by the Amazon and/or Adobe Digital Editions (BN/Kobo) apps used by those accounts. Just don't let the apps fondle your e

    • Re:Still lacking (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Saturday April 20, 2013 @02:13AM (#43501873)

      Contrast this with Kobo and B&N. Their hardware looks and feels great.

      Agreed. The Nook Touch is brilliant ergonomically. People constantly ask me about it; when they hold it, they love the rounded, rubbery texture. Thing's durable as hell, too; it's survived 2 years of being in a bag with all sorts of other crap (note, the glow models are NOT durable, any screen marks show up as brighter specks. They require a screen cover!)

      The problem, though, is that their stores are smaller and have worse prices, and no syncing for side loading (and less easy to accomplish, as well).

      Sorry, what? I plug in my B&N Nook Touch, internal and external storage volumes mount, and I copy over an epub. Unmount, and presto, it's there.

      Root either the Nook or the Kindle and you can use whatever reading software you want. The only negative I see with the Kobo is that it doesn't run Android, and thus you don't get access to all the wonderful goodies you can install - however, it's reportedly very easy to hack as a linux system.

      • Sorry, what? I plug in my B&N Nook Touch, internal and external storage volumes mount, and I copy over an epub. Unmount, and presto, it's there.

        This, it's as simple as plugging in a USB thmub drive.

      • Forget even connecting the Nook to your computer. I rooted my Nook Simple Touch and installed DropSync [] on it. That combined with Calibre's "connect to folder" feature and dropbox on my PC allows me to remotely manage all the books on my Nook. The set up isn't as easy as simply logging into your Kindle for Amazon's Whispersync, but it is more powerful since I can also REMOVE books as well as add them.
        • The mere fact you have to root an eReader tells me B&N did something wrong. Don't get me wrong--it's cool that you can do it, and good that there's at least one way to get better functionality--but the fact that you have to go through that effort to get the same functionality that the Kindle has out of the box means B&N still has some work to do.

          I like tinkering with my PC, but I don't want to have to tinker with every device I buy.

          • I like tinkering with my PC, but I don't want to have to tinker with every device I buy.

            Tell me about it. I've had the Nook Simple Touch for a year and a half, and while it's rooted, I've never really gotten most of the cool hacks you see online to work (e.g. multi-touch). It's like if you want to spend a weekend on it without doing anything else, sure, you'll probably get it to work. Then I think about how much I make at work, and how much I could get paid just working a weekend. Then I could buy the most expensive e-reader in the world and still have money for ice cream.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      There's a lot of european, chinese and russian hardware that is even better, but the price difference is large. Features like a less fragile screen and larger screens are available.
    • by Clsid ( 564627 )

      Well, it's always hard to have something that does it all right? Everything that you have said rings true except for one part in my case. When I was choosing between products I compared the prices for books that I like in the three major stores, namely Amazon, B&N and Apple. Incredible enough and for some strange reason since I'm a big fan of purchasing stuff over Amazon, they always had the most expensive e-books. Sometimes B&N would be more expensive. Apple on the other hand was very cheap on some

      • I'm surprised. I will admit I only did a cursory glance of titles that are on my wish list, but the Kindle price was frequently cheaper than Kobo's by a dollar or two. The difference isn't huge, but it does add up. Some are even more pronounced--Catching Fire, for instance, is $4 cheaper on Amazon than Kobo.

        Granted, I can use Calibre and strip the DRM, but my point is that it's obnoxious to have to take that step.

    • What sort of ergonomics do you want? I love the eink display and I think the kindle is great hardware. Not sure what I will do when my breaks,

      • by Cinder6 ( 894572 )

        The Nook and Kobo readers are all more comfortable to hold than the Kindle. I like my Kindle a lot, but it's just not as nice as the Simple Touch I had.

    • I'll get an Aura if I can strip out the damn Kobo software (which, for several generations, hasn't worked for me; I've literally made Kobos crash with random PDFs and such, and the interface in general has seemed atrocious). But there are some decent launchers and apps out there, hell just on F-Droid so I wouldn't even need to get Google services on, just a hack-to-stock mod and a few pieces of custom software like ReLaunch and FBReader perhaps. Then ownCloud or whatever to sync my books et voila, side-load
  • Is this thing B&W? It isn't worth $20 to me if it's B&W.

    • by Clsid ( 564627 )

      Well, most of us stopped reading books in color when we were like 8. This is not for games you know.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      This is e-ink, that's the whole point. I believe e-ink is generally B&W and definitely has slow response time, which is why vendors haven't been investing as much in it. If you want a 7" HD color display, just get a Nexus 7.

      The point of e-ink is that it is particularly well-suited to reading books. The refresh is no big deal since you only flip a page every 10 seconds or so (or less), and the fact that you can just plug it in about once a month to recharge makes it very much like a paper book. The d

  • I have a Nook Color, and have had it for the last 2 years. No it does not have e-ink, but I have never needed it. I do take it outside and have read books easily at picnic tables during lunch, and in the car when waiting on someone. Indoors its readability is never a problem during day or night. Nor is this just me, as two of my family members also have Nooks. The third is my sister who has a Kindle and admits that she wishes that she had gotten a Nook for the ability to sideload content.

    E-Ink, while it doe

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Let's guess - more than 45 degrees north? Cloudy most of the time?
      Eink has a place, and I'd buy a phone with it if I could since I can't see the LCD screen outside easily even in the shade.
      • by Tolvor ( 579446 )

        Nope. Pennsylvania, USA (40.6N according to Google Earth). Cloudy no more often than most other places. In fact this is the same latitude as Spain and Turkey both of which are very bright sunny places.

        Where I'm at it is a bright sunny day today with a few scattered clouds. And my Nook without E-Ink can still be easily read in my sunny backyard without problem.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Oh well, 27 south here and I have trouble seeing an LCD in light shade, let alone full sunlight, and it's not just my eyes. It looks like I forgot how much brighter the sunlight is here.
    • by Clsid ( 564627 )

      I have the e-ink model and to me it is not false advertising. Some people like LCDs others prefer e-ink. I have a poor eyesight from heavy computer use so the e-ink is easy on my eyes.

      As for having family owners with Nooks, I have to say that the LendMe feature is truly amazing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What's the point of being able to store 28,000 books on a device? At a book a day, you're good for 76 years. That's useful and e-ink is "just another bullet point"?

      • by Tolvor ( 579446 )

        Actually the ability to store 28000 books is far more useful than E-ink. Gone are the nerdy days of me lugging around heavy backpacks of books and enduring the jeers of high schools jerks. Gone are the awkward days of carrying several tech manuals into the office and seeing the confused looks of co-workers not in programming dept wondering why I'm bringing in so many books. Gone are the days of lending a book to a friend and never getting it back (having to choose between friend and book I'll choose having

  • How's about an old transflective screen like we used to have on the old nokias?? []

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