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Is $699 Too Much For a 13.3-inch Android E-ink Reader? 195

Robotech_Master writes: GoodEReader editor Michael Kozlowski is running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to sell a $699 13.3" Android e-ink tablet. The campaign seeks $42,000--enough to fund the 60-device minimum order set by the OEM. But is it really a good deal for that much money? As an early-adopter or business-class device, it very well might be.
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Is $699 Too Much For a 13.3-inch Android E-ink Reader?

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  • Yes it's too much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <> on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:27AM (#51730791) Homepage
    I could build a decent PC for that and it will last me years, the Android reader will probably stop getting updates after a year or two and then become a paperweight
    • Re:Yes it's too much (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:36AM (#51730843) Homepage

      I could build a decent PC for that and it will last me years, the Android reader will probably stop getting updates after a year or two and then become a paperweight

      Wow, that completely misses the point of e-readers.

      Anyway, me and my wife use e-ink (Kindle) readers for a few years now and love them, but she needs to read a lot of pdfs as well, so she uses a 9" tablet for those. She'd love it if she could have a big e-ink display and she'd gladly pay a premium, but $699 is a bit too much, we had actually discussed it a few months ago and she asked me if there was something up to $400. Of course she was thinking about 9-10", but still, $699 is a lot for a reader. I assume thought that this will get funded, since they are only asking for 60 people to sign up...

      • Re:Yes it's too much (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:00AM (#51730951) Homepage Journal

        Wow, that completely misses the point of e-readers.

        So does 13.3".
        E-readers are replacement for paperback books. Small enough that you can keep one in your jacket pocket (or purse, if so inclined), and hold one-handed, even if not strong and healthy.

        I have the first Nook-e-reader, which I didn't use as much as I could have, because it wasn't very ergonomic. My Palm (remember those?) saw a lot more book reading use. And so did books.

        • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @12:11PM (#51731565)

          E-readers are replacement for paperback books.

          That's a little myopic. E-readers could serve many purposes and there is definitely a market for more than just replacing paperbacks.

          I'd love to be able to read all of my scientific papers on an e-ink display instead of printing (and carrying) reams of paper or having the weight, low battery life, and transmissive screens inherent in tablets and laptops. Many students would love to replace all of the textbooks that they lug around with a lightweight, battery-sipping e-reader. These uses would greatly benefit from a letter/A4 sized screen as they have fixed layouts.

        • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

          Wow, that completely misses the point of e-readers.

          So does 13.3".

          Well, no, I wouldn't say that. It definitely is not a replacement of a regular e-reader, you just can't beat a 6" e-reader for convenience when reading e-books, but it is about the size of a printed page so it would be an excellent PDF reader and would fit your briefcase, messenger bag etc wherever a stack of A4 papers would go. So while I think a 9-10" device would be more convenient even as a PDF reader, I can see how a 13.3" would still be useful. As long as you get to keep your 6" $100 e-reader for when

        • There are reading applications where you want bigger images and a lot more space than a paperback book page. A 13.3" e-ink display would be a wonderful alternative the huge stack of music books I have next to my piano.
        • I work in science, you insensitive clod.

          The 13.3" diagonal on this thing puts it at the same size as journal page. I would love to have this to read journal articles as my current options are: print everything out (best for me, super wasteful), read them on a computer monitor, or squint a bit at a smallish backlit LCD tablet.

      • Wow, that completely misses the point of e-readers.

        That certainly settles it, then; clearly no one would want a larger one. Ever.

        • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

          I'm sure there are a few people who'd like a 0.2" e-reader.
          But, like a 13.3" e-reader, the market may be too small to make it a viable (and thus actively supported) product.

      • Actually, it looks to be a rebranding of the Onyx readers, and one fitting the exact bill (9.7", ~$400 price range) you mentioned is already available" [] at their store.
      • You can't have it both ways - either you use a smart operating system like Android and open yourself up to vulnerabilities as soon as the manufacturer stops supporting it, or you use something dumb(er) that'll last for a looooong time - like what's on the traditional Kindle devices.

        As for PDFs... high-res, full-color backlit seems much more useful. It's not like tablets have problems with battery life these days.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:56AM (#51730937) Homepage Journal

      A better comparison would be the large format eReaders that Brother used to make. Maybe 8 years ago when epaper was brand new, Brother produced an A4 format device for business use. Cost about $500 as I recall. Probably only ever sold in Japan.

      So based on the fact that that device was cheaper 8 years ago and failed in the market place, I'd say this is overpriced. The low volume is probably the reason why.

    • Re:Yes it's too much (Score:4, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:57AM (#51730939)

      Android reader will probably stop getting updates after a year or two and then become a paperweight

      That's funny because Slashdot is advocating staying with a 7 year old operating system and forgoing updates on very desktop PCs you are talking about.
      So why does your Android device suddenly stop working if you don't install an update again?

      • So why does your Android device suddenly stop working if you don't install an update again?

        You may have a well known security problem which is only fixed in newer versions.

        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:36AM (#51731097)

          Oh noes, someone will get at my books!

          Speaking of aren't those same people not running windows 10 also not running windows update?

          Quite frankly the security concerns for a device calling itself an e-reader are somewhat overblown.

          • It's not an e-reader, it's an Android tablet with an e-ink display.
            • with an e-ink display

              Which is inherently limiting.

              • Not limiting enough that you couldn't lose money to a hacker. For instance, it could spend money in the google play store without your permission.
                • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                  Then don't install it with the Play Store to begin with. Tada! (Seriously, I wouldn't want it - somebody else might but I'd not want it in there nor would I want any of the Google Play Services.) Why have 'em? It's an e-ink device. 'Snot like I'm gonna game on it.

    • What does Betteridge's law of headlines say . . . ?

      But is it 3D printed, and can you buy it with Bitcoins, and is it MDsolar powered, or powered by nukes . . . ?

      Correlation is not causation!

      I have been reading Slashdot too long.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Take your desktop to the toilet so you can read while you shit, I dare you.
    • here is what 700$ got me, Dell 15 inch laptop with gtx960m and a core i7 6700HQ.
      • But:
        It does not run Android.
        It has no eInk display, so reading stuff at the beach is out of question.
        Its battery lasts ... 2h? ... so reading stuff at the beach is out of the question.

  • You lost me at Android 4.04. Ice Cream Sandwich was released in 2011.


    • And what functionality is it missing for an e-reader?

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Basically what AC said, they're bragging about access to the Google Play store & millions of apps, but with an API that old its pretty hard to see it.
        • It's an e-reader.

          You aren't going to be loading apps on it, you're going to be loading documents like .pdfs or .epubs.

          If you want something that can run apps, buy a tablet!

          • by Luthair ( 847766 )
            Don't look at me, they're the ones claiming millions of apps.
          • Maybe I want to run the Nook or Kindle app so I don't have to carry two devices to read my books? There are also comic book apps and newspaper apps, there's plenty of good print content that an e-reader could take advantage of through the Google Play store.
      • What functionality is it missing? updates? Bug fixes? Someone else mentioned access to Google Play...etc.

        There's no way I'd buy a NEW device running a 5 year old Android...even if it was 1/2 or 1/3 of the price discussed.

      • Google put a lot of effort into future revisions reducing memory and power usage, both of which I'd say are important for an e-reader.
    • It's going to be open-source, and letting people who buy it upgrade to a later version of Android is explicitly given as a reason for that on the Indiegogo page.

      In any event, for the kinds of simple e-reading tasks the device is meant for, 4.0.4 should still run pretty much any e-reading app on the market. With only 4 GB of internal storage and a slow-updating e-ink screen, it's not really meant to be a media tablet.

  • by technomom ( 444378 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:40AM (#51730859)

    For that price I can pick up 12 Fire tablets and just rotate between them when the batteries go.

  • No color (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashping ( 2674483 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:40AM (#51730861)
    13 inches is nice for reading PDFs and technical documentation, but for a lot of those documents you need full color. So I'd rather get a regular tablet.
    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Yea, I was pretty surprised that at this price it wasn't even a colour e-ink.
    • Came here to say exactly the same thing. I would buy it in a heartbeat if it was color. Even crappy 4096 colors color. And I am definitely NOT one of those fat-wallet early adopters. I have just been waiting for exactly this, in color, for years.

      I don't read paperbacks. I read scientific papers. So the large screen would be a godsend. Also, a lot of technical books have many diagrams that you really need at least some color, a large screen, and decent resolution to interpret correctly. It would be such a lu

  • Too much? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c ( 8461 ) <> on Saturday March 19, 2016 @09:42AM (#51730875)

    It could be argued that $700 might be too little for a small production run unless they've found a way to really, really cut corners. I suspect they'll have to take an existing 13.3" tablet design (with all the case tooling, logic boards, etc already available) and just change out the display with no other hardware modifications and more or less no requirement for software QA. If that's the strategy, then the fact that it ships with Android 4.0.4 would imply it's several generations old hardware... In which case, $700 actually might be ridiculously overpriced on the buyer side of the equation.

  • For $700 I could buy 3 full-featured Android tablets and have money left over for a cheap not-so-full-featured tablet.

    Seriously, $700 for an e-reader? If you're going to buy one of these, spend that money on an MRI instead to find out what kind of brain injury you have.

  • go buy an android tablet and install FBreader [] FREE FOSS
  • As this is such a niche product - I certainly have no interest in it - I guess the price is okay for whoever really needs such a device.

    I am still content with my old Kobo touch. The battery life is still okay and it is in great condition considering I take it to work with me every day. If it broke I would almost certainly replace it with a newer Kobo model as I have got such great value from my current one.

  • by slazzy ( 864185 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @11:08AM (#51731235) Homepage Journal
    I'd love to see some large, low cost eink displays come on the market. Imagine a 20" eink calendar on your wall? Awesome!
    • That's actually a good idea. A monitor-sized eInk screen that would need refreshing only once an hour or so (even a refresh every minute would be more power saving than any current monitor technology), but with the ability to respond when you need to pull up more detailed information. I do wish some companies would recognize eInk's viability for kiosk displays like that.
  • I would think one obvious application for tablet-like computers is to be able to write on hundreds of virtual sheets and recall them, be it notes, essays, whatever. Most people have spent one or two decades in school doing just that on paper. It's fairly ridiculous to sit there with so many gigahertzes and gigabytes, but unable to just take a pen and write because there's no paper sheet around and then, what to do with the paper? can't put it in /home/$user/Documents, email it to yourself, save it to a NAS,

  • by MPAB ( 1074440 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @11:20AM (#51731315)

    It's a shame e-reader development suffered death by tablet. Paperback sized ones are extremely cheap but seldom work as readers for anything else. I got myself a a Samsung Galaxy Pro 8 inch in order to read technical and medical books, but I know an e-ink version would be lighter, with more battery time and easier on the eyes.

  • Just because you get hardware from an OEM doesn't mean it's ready for production. Most likely the software on it, well, sucks, and needs to be brought to a level of functionality that people accept.

    95% of the time the OEM will just build the OS and see if it works. It's up to you, the vendor, to ensure that the OS and whatever else there is works the way it's supposed to. That includes updating, performance, power management, UI, drivers, correct build options, etc. You have to test to make sure that everyt

  • Personally I wouldn't, but I understand why people would pay a steep price for such a device (having spent nearly $200 on a 6.8" device myself). While most tablets are fine for most readers, e-Ink is better at handling most lighting conditions while e-readers tend to place much more emphasis on battery life. Things like the screen refresh rate does present a major drawback. Yet the inability to scroll through a page effectively is a big part of the reason why certain people are demanding a larger screen.

  • If you want a large E-reader buy a used Kindle DX. they work great and are massively cheaper.

    • In 2009, new, the DX was $240 for 9.7 inches. With a few additional features, I wouldn't pay more than $300 for a large screen.

      More space than I need, plays audio, has 3g if you're into that. The page turn is slower than I'd like, but 7 years of tech research should pay for that. I'm keeping mine till I break it.

      It struggles with complex PDFs, but that's just code. Only 2 had problems. Image only or magazine layout display fine.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Complex PDF's can be fixed. I use linux PDF tools to strip out the useless background images on a lot of gaming PDF's so that my DX views them nicely. Side effect, those Gaming PDF's now are 1/3rd the size with all the useless art gone.

  • It's a Flex campaign (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SkOink ( 212592 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @11:52AM (#51731479) Homepage

    That means that the lister will get the money even if it doesn't hit its funding goals. Shouldn't that be incompatible with the video's statement that they need to hit a certain minimum order quanity?

    I would love to own a 13" eink reader, but this has scam written all over it.

  • and are forced to purchase it. So what if someone wan's to pay $1000 for that tablet.

  • by khelms ( 772692 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @03:25PM (#51732835)

    For text only books, I find a regular 5/6" Kindle works fine and is comfortable to use for hours. I can set the font size to whatever I find easy to read.

    For books with graphics or color, I use a 10" Android tablet. The battery life is good enough for a couple of days use.

    I don't see how this product could fill more than a small niche. There are other tablets that you can draw on. How many people need a device that has such a large screen but only renders in gray scale with no color?

    • by xvan ( 2935999 )
      All the academy community still stuck on A4 pdf papers. Though, eventually, they'll have to migrate to a reflowable format.
  • Needs to be color and higher PPI. If I'm going to carry a device dedicated to a single purpose, it needs to blow my multi-purpose devices out of the water. My 10.5" tablet has an OLED display at 287 ppi. Color content looks amazing. It's like I'm holding a [slightly small] printed magazine. The text is sharp and crisp, the photos rich and vibrant. For plain text, I use white text on a black background which looks great on an OLED display. Because of the way OLED works, this greatly reduces the amount

  • Waaay too expensive for what it is.
    At that price it would definitely need to be color E-Ink before I seriously considered it, but even then I'd still think it was priced at a premium.

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