Carrying an armful of heavy textbooks to and from class may become a thing a past, that is if Marvell has anything to do with it. That's because Marvell this week announced a self-recognized "bold new education initiative" to deliver a sub-$100 mobile tablet called "Moby" that the company claims could eliminate the need for buy and carry bount textbooks.
"Education is the most pressing social and economic issue facing our country and our times. I believe the Marvell Moby tablet can ignite a life-long passion for learning in all students everywhere. Marvell's goal is to fundamentally improve the way students learn by giving them more efficient, relevant -- even fun tools to use. Marvell's Moby tablet recognizes that every student learns differently and so it delivers an array of media choices fo different learning styles," said Weili Dai, Marvell's co-founder, VP, and GM of Marvell Semiconductor's Consumer and Computing Business Unit.
Marvell goes on to list out several advantages over traditional textbooks, which the company says are rising in cost and are too heavy for students. But are schools -- and society -- ready to switch to tablets? We'll soon find out. Marvell said it will soon announce a pilot program in partnership with the District of Columbia Public School system (DCPS) where the company will donate a Moby tablet to every child in an at-risk school.
Spring Design’s Alex e-reader was slated to come out on February 22nd. It didn’t happen. There was a bit of concern around the interwebs as Spring Design didn’t really release any information. The company did eventually come out with a statement to assure us all that the Alex wasn’t vaporware. The release date has apparently been pushed to early March.
We were a bit baffled when we first saw the Spring Design Alex. Not because of any particularly confounding element of the Alex, but because we thought it was the Barnes and Noble Nook. The Alex fit all the rumors: color touchscreen, additional eink display, Android powered. Turns out that the Alex was just very similar to the Nook, and Spring Design even claims the Nook is based on the Alex (hence the legal issues).
The Alex will have a tie to Borders stores in an effort to compete with Barnes and Noble's Nook. It is expected to retail for $359 when it launches… whenever that is.
The Highlander battle among chip manufacturers has started anew. This time it’s among the makers of chips that run smartphones. Besides initiating a new round of cutthroat competition, this battle suggests that computing is undergoing a substantive conceptual shift--from units that are all powerful to ones that are strategically powerful.
The objective is to make more powerful chips that consume less energy, and take up less space, with the intent of creating products that are smaller and less functional than their PC brethren, but are more in-tune to the particular needs of their users. The big players include the well known, such as Intel, ARM, Samsung, AMD, and Apple, and the lesser known, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Microelectroincs, and GlobalFoundaries. The money being spent in this competition totals in the tens of billions.
These chips are prevalent in smartphones, and they are working their way into netbooks, tablets and eReaders, where the current PC processor OS restriction doesn’t apply. This means that a whole new world of computing potential will be showcased as this little war plays itself out. It also means there will be some multi-billion dollar casualties along the way.
Suggested by this is the concept of computing shifting to address the particular, rather than the general, needs of users. If this market becomes economically attractive it might lead to a decrease in attention to the higher end, which in turn could mean slower development of the ‘hot’ technology that currently drives the market.
For those who can’t make up their mind: netbook or eReader, enTourage has you covered: the eDGe, a clamshell device that is half netbook, half eReader. But it looks like you’ll have a to wait a bit longer for the eDGe to make an appearance, and pay a bit more for the privilege of owing one.
It’s not a bad little device. It runs on the Android operating system, and has a 10.1-inch LCD touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 x 600, and a 9.7-inch e-Ink display with a resolution of 1200 x 825. The e-Ink side is Wacom “Penabled”. Both Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) and Bluetooth are built-in. It has 4GB of internal memory, an SD card slot, and two USB ports. Battery life depends, with 6 hours running the LCD screen and 16 hours running the eReader screen.
The eReader side handles ePub and PDF documents. And it can manage a wide range of video and audio file formats
Anticipated out now, shipping has been delayed until March, 2010. And the price of the base Midnight Blue model has jumped from $490 to $499. (Other colors will cost you another $40.)
If you had asked us what electronic device had no business running a multitouch display, we’d have said eInk-based ereaders. Apparently, we don’t know what we’re talking about, because the Bookeen Orizon is an ereader with a multitouch screen. Why? So you can adjust the zoom level. No one wants to use buttons for that, right?
The Bookeen Orizon will be out in May and will retail for $250. When the current price of a Kindle or Nook is just a bit higher, they must really be banking on people going crazy for the multitouch. The screen is 6 inches and the device will come with 1GB of built-in storage. There’s no book store for this product, but it supports whatever ePub files or PDFs you’d like to put on it.
Even if you don’t need an integrated book store, why get this over a Sony reader? Is anyone really hankering for multitouch zooming on their ereader?
Many people had a bit of hope after the iPad announcement that Apple would take an enlightened view of copy protection on the platform’s iBookstore. The device will support the open EPUB format, but now we’re hearing that the store will utilize Apple’s FairPlay digital rights management solution. This system was used mainly on music in the past, but now is relegated to other iTunes content.
Many publishers are expected to employ the DRM on their ebooks, but some more enlightened publishers may opt out. Apple hasn’t had much to say on the matter just yet. We might not be surprised by this, but we certainly hoped Apple would take a stand here. Apple did manage to talk music labels into dropping DRM, so why go this route with books? It could be that Apple is willing to appease publishers in order to get a chunk of the market even if it means going down the same road they did with music.
So, in a few years will we see Steve Jobs write an open letter about his “thoughts on books”? How does this sit with you? Should Apple be pushing for a DRM free books store? Do you feel differently about DRM on books than you do about DRM on music or movies?
It’s a brave new frontier in reading. Gone are the days when people hauled around bits of dead trees with words written on them in ink. Okay, maybe those days aren’t over quite yet, but more people than ever are using e-readers of some sort. The question is can your eyes take it?
The consensus overall is that whatever you’re reading on, real damage to your vision is unlikely. Eink screens like the one found on the Kindle and Nook are considered nearly as good as paper in bright light. However, the contrast ratio is still not as high as paper making them harder to read in low light. Without a backlight there’s little to be done.
Low light settings are just where an LCD based e-reader like the upcoming iPad could shine. Thanks to the backlight, an LCD should be useful in settings with low ambient light. However, in brighter areas the reflectivity of the screen may cause strain. As for the notion that the flickering refresh of an LCD will eventually cause eye strain, Carl Taussig of HP says not so much. “Today’s screens update every eight milliseconds, whereas the human eye is moving at a speed between 10 and 30 milliseconds,” said Taussig.
All the experts agree on this: use the reading surface that works best for you. They all have their strengths, so the choice is yours.
Are you searching for just the right outing for you and your special someone this Valentine’s Day? Well, look no further, Barnes and Noble will have Nooks available in stores for you to actually buy. Name just one thing more romantic than swinging by your local retail establishment to buy a new gadget. We sure can’t come up with anything.
The bookseller was caught off guard by demand for their ebook reader this past holiday season, with preorders spilling over into January. Barnes and Noble has had limited numbers of demo units in their retail locations since shortly after launch, but now you can actually take one home. This was cited as a main advantage over Amazon’s offering.
The Nook is a compelling alternative to the Kindle for some. The Nook runs the Android operating system, and a dedicated modding community has even gained root access to its Android core. Now that the production delays have finally been sorted out, we’ll see just how many people walk out of a Barnes and Noble with a Nook.
One advantage in today’s technological world is upgradability. The product you buy today, no matter its limitations, has a reasonable chance of being transformed into the product you really want. All you have to do is wait for an update. An example of this is the second nook software update in as many months. Good news for users of the Barnes & Noble eReader, as they are now one step closer to having the eBook reader of their dreams.
The update, version 1.2, starts over-the-air distribution today. Registered nook users will see the update sometime in the next week, either on Barnes & Noble’s Fast & Free wireless or Wi-Fi. The process should take less than 15 minutes, depending on your connection. If you are impatient you can get the update manually, but you will have to download the update, connect your nook to a computer, and update it via USB. Instructions are available at the nook support site.
What’s new and improved in version 1.2? Better in-store connectivity, for starters. More reliable Wi-Fi and more in-store content will be available for visitors to Barnes & Nobles brick-and-mortar locations. Probably more important are speed improvements for opening eBooks and periodicals, better responsiveness for Reading Now and Settings buttons, properly saved current page and bookmarks, easier navigation of daily subscriptions, sorting of personal files, battery optimization, plus the obligatory, but indefinite, catchall “overall system improvements”.
Regardless of how you feel about the newly announced iPad, it’s probably going to do a few things very well. But will it be the reading device we’ve all been waiting for? Steve Jobs pushed the iBook store in the keynote, and discussed how the Kindle pioneered ebooks. Jobs then said Apple would “stand on [Amazon’s] shoulders”. Can it work?
The obvious benefit of the iPad is that it has a color screen. There will be more options for text size, search, and even font choices. Magazines and newspapers will look nice, but reading an old fashioned book may not benefit much. The Kindle and other eReaders have a 16 level eInk display meant to be easy to read. The screen on the iPad, being a conventional LCD, may not be quite so easy on the eyes.
Content wise, the iPad may be in good shape. Out of the gate it will have content from Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Harper Collins and Hachette. It will also support the open ePub format, which is more than we can say for Amazon. This means the iPad will have access to Google Books. The Nook has ePub support also, so it’s not a total win for Apple.
Price is certainly of concern. The iPad is clocking in at $499 for the 16GB version sans 3G. That’s quite a bit more than the Kindle and Nook at $260. To get data on the go, you need to purchase an AT&T data plan for the (more expensive) iPad, whereas the Kindle and Nook come with free wireless. Granted, the iPad does much more than eBooks, but buying it primarily as a reading device may be a questionable move.