Sunday, May 11, 2008

The "Quirky" Kindle is "Headed for Nichedom"

Or so says the New York Times. This article contrasts pocket-sized gadgets with laptop-sized gadgets, then asks whether there's room for a third size, like the Kindle. Having recently played around with an Asus Eee PC I can honestly say it's probably closer to the right e-book form factor than the Kindle.

Even though Asus didn't intend for this to be the case, core laptop functionality might just be more important than E-Ink displays. Yes, that's sacrilegious, I know, particularly since E-Ink is what Amazon and Sony have built their readers around. But the more I read a Mobipocket book on my Blackberry the more I realize E-Ink is overrated. Put it this way: If I have to choose between E-Ink and laptop functionality (e.g., color screen, full suite of other apps, larger keyboard, WiFi, etc.), I'll always take the latter. Always.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two words: Eye Strain

Joe Wikert said...

Absolutely, but I'm not convinced the value proposition is there for E-Ink, at least not at current prices. And then there's the fact that it's only one color today. I shudder to think how expensive the first full color model will be.

I also find that I'm not able to read for hours and hours. My schedule won't allow it and my eyes probably wouldn't hold up anyway; they ache after reading a book for a couple of hours.

Jeff said...

As much as I want to like e-book readers, I've found myself in the last few months leaning more and more towards preferring a small laptop for ebook reading.

As for eye strain...well, could the strain be any worse than the many hours almost every day that I've spent reading from a computer screen for the last 18 years?

Fred Weinberg said...

My ebook experience started years ago with the Rocket ebook 1200 (which I still have) and I think you propellerheads are way too critical. Getting the Wall Street Journal every morning alone makes the Kindle worth every dime I paid. Carrying a library with me while I'm traveling is a bonus. I've never read a book on my blackberry because it's too busy doing email. If you want a computer, buy a computer. I, personally, have never taken a computer into the bathroom to read the Wall Street Journal but the Kindle is another matter. It'll do just fine and if you don't like it, try lying in bed and reading a thinkpad.

Joe Wikert said...

Hi Fred. I'll see your Kindle and raise you a Blackberry. No, I wouldn't want to read a book on a Thinkpad in bed, but have you ever been able to read your Kindle in line at the grocery store or in the middle of a very boring meeting? My Blackberry comes through for me on those (and other) fronts all the time. Switch to another app on your Blackberry and let the emails sit awhile...you'll find it's a great reading device too. Lastly, I'm not sure any of us want to hear which of these you're taking into the bathroom...

Roland Dobbins said...

Doesn't make much sense to me at all. If you can carry a small book, you can carry the Kindle, so why would you be forced to 'choose'? And try buying the latest bestseller for $9.99 on your Mobi device; either you won't be able to get it at all, or you'll end up paying $30.00 for it ($9.99 is still too high, but it beats $30.00). Oh, and you'll run out of battery after a few hours, as well.

Fred Weinberg said...

Well,as you probably deduced from my website, I publish a weekly newspaper and when a reader complains about ink on their fingers, I always tell them that where you probably read my newspaper, you should wash your hand afterwards...Here's my real point: you can read on a whole lot of devices, and many people are searching for the holy grail which is one device to do everything. I don't believe that is going to happen because when you start making compromises the whole product suffers. I really can't find much wrong with the Kindle. If I were to make a suggestion to Bezos, it would be some sort of dual screen, epaper in light and backlight at night.

macwilmore said...

according to leaks in the past few days Apple has a tablet like device ready to go. Not e-ink but if any company can popularize a device like it will be them.

Lee said...

Interesting discussion, which I'll continue to follow. I'm not buying anything yet, even though my own novel is available in all sorts of eformats, including a Kindle-compatible one. Simply too expensive for me as yet. And I keep wondering why someone doesn't offer a subscription service a la the European cellphone model, with a free ereader thrown in for a minimum contract time.

Bruno Rives said...

You forget (everybody forgets...) about resolution issues.
e-paper is 172 to 400 dots per inch. Think to the size of your blackberry if you want to display 6 points footnotes or Durer engravings. Not to mention architects or lawyers illustrations, and sun reading. OLPC XO or hybrid Fujitsu when available may address your needs.
I will post a sample of a Ganaxa GeR2 or Sony PRS505 capabilities on my blog very soon. Kindle and others are not well designed to manage such contents.

Joe Wikert said...

I suppose it all comes down to your needs and habits. My point is I don't want to carry a book with me. If I'm standing in line somewhere I don't want the hassle of carrying a book or a Kindle...I already have my Blackberry with me, hence the beauty of Mobi on it. As far as pricing goes, yes, the Kindle book prices are lower than Kindle. But how many low-priced Kindle books do I have to buy to make up for the $399 price I paid for it (vs. the Blackberry I already have)? Finally, battery life has never been an issue for me. I'm in the habit of recharging my Blackberry every night and it never gets below 50% power before it goes back into the charger, even if I wind up reading a lot and making a few calls on it.

Bruno Rives said...

You forget about resolution. I will post some samples of what you can do with 172 dots per inch on a Ganaxa GeR2 or Sony PRS 505. Unfortunately, the other readers softwares don't handle high def contents very well. Imagine the size of the blackberry you will need to display 6 points characters, or fine lines, not to mention the reading difficulties, battery life and so on... And Epson is about to release a 400 dots per inch epaper!

Joe Wikert said...

I know the stats and technologies show that the Kindle offers a much more pleasant reading experience, but I'm here to say that I get great results from my Blackberry too. And since I always have it with me I probably wind up reading more from it than I ever thought I would!