Hey, have you heard the news? Apple's making a tablet, and it's going to be awesome. It's going to have a touchscreen, and it's gonna be a tablet. And it's going to be awesome!
Confused? Then you haven't been listening to the Maximum PC podcast. But Gordon's rant notwithstanding, Apple really is making a tablet (we think), and according to the Wall Street Journal, HarperCollins Publishers is currently hammering out a contract with Apple to provide electronic books for the upcoming tablet.
Like everything else surrounding the Apple tablet, details are fuzzy. It looks as though HarperCollins will set the prices of the e-books, and that they'll come with some additional features, but it's anyone's guess whether they'll be sold in a new e-book store or via the iTunes Store.
Either way, HarperCollins is turning the heat up on Amazon, which currently rules the e-book kingdom, at least until Apple finally starts shipping its long rumored tablet.
Asus announced a ton of new laptops at CES 2010, but many were surprised to find things pretty quiet on the e-book reader front, especially with all the rumors of a multi-display touch enabled device that was expected in late 2009. Interestingly enough, those rumors were started by the Times Online UK, and the same publication is now claiming Asus has tipped them off with details of their new DR-570 planned for release later this year.
Assuming the Times Online has the straight goods this time, the DR-570 will sport a 6-inch OLED color display, along with Wi-Fi and 3G connections. Of course, a 6-inch OLED display would be wasted on books alone, so Asus is reportedly working on flash support, along with over 122 hours of battery life in "real world conditions". Asus has a pretty solid reputation as a budget electronics maker, but it will still be very interesting to see how this unit will be priced. Sony charges as much as $2,000 for an 11" OLED TV, so clearly the screen is going to be a pretty significant cost in the manufacturing of the device.
The DR-570 isn't expected until later in the year, so perhaps Asus is hoping prices will drop between now and the end of 2010. If they do pull it off however, it could end up being as game changing to the e-book reader market as the EEE PC was to the netbook market. Would you buy an OLED color e-book reader? And more importantly, what would you be willing to pay?
CES is the time of year when companies are all too happy to unveil upcoming product releases, so it would stand to reason that Asus would at least offer a sneak peek of its upcoming e-book reader, if not a product announcement. But despite the buzz, Asus chairman Jonney Shih said his company is taking a patient approach to both smartbooks and e-book readers, and doesn't plan to showcase either one.
A curious decision for sure, given all the attention e-books are receiving as of late. But Shih says finding the right content suppliers is a major task, not just for Asus, but for every e-book reader. Because Asus is still weighing their options, the company felt it best not to display these devices, even though Shih said the hardware is pretty easy.
On the smartbook front, Shih pointed to a lack of compatibility with most software as a major roadblock, citing how poorly his company's Linux-based Eee PCs sold compared to more expensive Windows-based models.
We don't know when it's going to happen or who's going to do it, but someone's going to kill the Kindle. Or at the very least, many will try. That includes Samsung, who at CES announced two new e-book readers, the 6-inch E6 and 10-inch E10.
"We've used our expertise to create a high-quality e-book with today's on-the-go consumer in mind," said Young Bae, director of display marketing, Samsung Information Technology Division. "Samsung is addressing a common frustration that users experience with many of today's digital readers with a stylus that allows them to annotate their favorite works or take notes. Coupled with wireless functionality that enables sharing of content, this is a truly multi-faceted device."
The challenge for Samsung (and everyone else) is that just about everywhere you turn, someone is releasing an e-book reader. To stand out from the crowd, both of Samsung's upcoming units will come with handwriting capabilities, allowing users to write directly on the display with the built-in electromagnetic resonance (EMR) stylus pen.
Other features include low power consumption (Samsung claims just four hours of charge time is enough to last up to two weeks of use), Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
The E6 and E10 will be available in "early 2010" for $400 and $700 (yikes!), respectively.
Skiff will be introducing its entry into an increasingly populated e-Reader market, the Skiff Reader, at the Consumer Electronics Show later this week. Skiff is touting its Reader as the largest and thinnest yet (which should stand until the next e-Reader announcement is made). And by the looks of it they are right. The device is barely over a quarter-inch thick, and has a 11.5-inch (diagonally measured) screen. By comparison the Kindle DX is 0.38-inches thick and has a 9.7-inch (diagonally measured) screen.
In addition to being largest and thinnest, the Skiff Reader makes use of foil technology for its display. Rather than glass, an Achilles’s heel for portable devices, it will use a thin, flexible sheet of stainless steel foil e-paper, provided by LG Display.
Skiff says the device, with a 1600 x 1200 (UXGA) touchscreen, is being released in anticipation of Skiff’s e-reading service. The actual product line of this service wasn’t specified, but the e-Reader’s optimization for newspaper and magazine content offers some clues on what to expect. Skiff’s description of the Reader suggests users will be able to add their own content as well.
The Skiff Reader comes Wi-Fi enabled, and will have 3G connectivity, to be provided by Sprint. Availability and pricing will be announced at a later date.
We're still not ready to declare e-book readers the second coming of netbooks (in terms of popularity), but there's no doubt the fad is taking off. And in 2010, demand for larger screen e-book readers measuring 9.7 inches is expected to soar up to 320 percent on year, says Digitimes Research.
Impressive? Sure. Concerning? Only if you're Prmie View International (PVI), who despite acquiring E Ink, the company behind the e-paper displays on the Kindle and Sony e-book lineup, earlier this year may face a capacity shortage and not be able to keep up with demand.
PVI chairman Scott Liu noted high demand for 9.7-inch e-book readers, and as such, his company will focus on shipments of larger-size 7-, 8-, and 9.7-inch e-book panels in 2010.
As for the readers themselves, Amazon's Kindle measures 6 inches, while the Kindle DX utilizes a 9.7-inch display. BenQ is expected to launch a 6-inch model in January 2010, followed by a 9-inch model in the second half of 2010.
Although sales figures are hard to hammer down, its seems like e-book readers were a smash hit this year. Amazon alone is claiming that the Kindle was the most gifted item in its history. No numbers were mentioned, but when you consider that it is up against everything from game consoles to GPS’s this is no small milestone. Another interesting stat is that on Christmas day, e-books outsold their paper brethren by a pretty healthy margin. No doubt this was all the new Kindle owners firing up their devices in search of content, but it only further fuels speculation that all reading will eventually shift to digital distribution in the future.
The Kindle seems to have been a raging success, but the Barnes and Noble Nook appears to be suffering a bit with early reports showing that its content servers became overloaded preventing users from downloading purchased e-books.This might end up being but a small blip of bad press in the products long life cycle, but its definitely not the kind attention Barnes and Noble was hoping for over the holiday. In this case the success of the Nook can be attributed to its failings, but that’s small consolation for its owners.
Did you get an e-book reader over the holidays? What do you think of it?
If you don’t want others knowing what your reading, you should probably stick to paper. That’s the conclusion of an Electronic Frontier Foundation study that looked at how our e-book readers collect information, and what the device maker has access to during our daily use.
Not surprisingly always on connected devices such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook log everything from what you read, to how long you read it, while more limited devices without wireless such as the Sony Reader can’t track you quite so closely.The EFF suggests anyone concerned with their privacy stick with the open-source FBReader, but lets face it, we prefer having our e-books delivered in seconds over a high speed wireless network don’t we?
Anyone else concerned with the privacy of your e-reader? Or did you check all your expectations of privacy at the Ethernet jack when you first logged on to the net in the first place? Let us know what you think.
A few more details have emerged regarding BenQ's upcoming e-book reader, which the company will call the nReader. In addition to launching the nReader in Taiwan next month, BenQ will push its device to China in February and then Japan in the second half of 2010, company president Jerry Wang said.
BenQ will also push out its e-book trading platform in Janaury. This will consist of over one million books available as free downloads, as well as anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 new titles, 6,000 others in simplified Chinese, and about 30,000 Japanese language books.
Wang says he expects the e-reader market to jump to over three million units in 2009 and up to eight million in 2010. Of those, BenQ is hoping to ship 50,000 nReaders in Taiwan, 200,000 in China, and 300,000 globally, Wang added.
No word on when or if BenQ plans on pushing its nReader to the U.S. market.
There’s two ways to consider the firmware update for Barnes & Noble’s Nook. It’s either a step in the right direction. Or it’s a step in no direction at all.
Wired is reporting that the much needed update improves on some of the Nook’s less desirable features. According to Wired, the update “...attempts to fix some of these problems. The update improves the start-up time for features such as ‘My Library’ on the device. It also ensures that the device displays the correct time on its status bar, has better page numbering for books and removes some formatting-related issues.”
The keyword in Wired’s assessment might be “attempts.” Mark Wilson, at Gizmodo, says he doesn’t see any changes from the update. He reports that loading a new book and turning pages is still slow. And a bug in the highlights-and-notes feature appears unrepaired.
If you are a Nook owner, you’ll soon get to see for yourself. Barnes & Noble has started the process of updating Nooks from 1.0.0 to 1.1.0, so expect to see it soon.