Apple would have been daft not to embrace e-books when planning the iPad, but will its new offering hinder the likes of the Kindle? If your definition of an e-book reader is a tablet equipped with a monochrome E Ink screen, then the answer is likely to be in the affirmative. E Ink screens have just one advantage over the iPad’s …
This is where Techcrunch and fusion garage both shot themselves in the feet could have had a 3 month head start if not for naivety on one side and greed on the other, although I'm sure Google might like to licence/buy the rights and we could have a gPad.
Spot on the money again.
Another insightful piece of analysis.
It's all about eye strain and battery life.
I can look at the electronic ink screen of my Sony Pocket Reader (£140 from WH Smith) for hour after hour with perfect comfort and because it draws no power when its not "turning" pages I can get through between 10 and 15 books on a charge. Ebook readers are designed to do one job and do it well, jack-of-all-trades devices like the iPad are by definition compromises.
The case for eReaders
"It’s also said by some users that they’re easier to read for long periods of time than LCDs, and will almost certainly be easier to read outdoors in bright lighting. No doubt, Apple hopes its use of an IPS LCD in the iPad will improve its chosen display technology’s reputation here."
This attempt to sideline one of the two main advantages of EInk over LCDs is not convincing. Reflective technology will always be easier on the eyes than staring into a light bulb. Reading a web page on a screen does not compare with getting lost into a book for 2+ hours. The other advantage is, of course, battery life.
As always it's a tradeoff. If you want a substitute for glossy magazine pages then you get an iPad. If you are reading novels, essays, old thesis papers and black and white comics why get something which lasts 1/10th of the time on battery and will strain your eyes more?
Of course this is all besides the point. The masses will go for the shinier one.
You are right, of course..
If there wasn't this massive focus on interactivity, e-ink would be perfect.
Apple has delivered again on putting tech stuff in a slim, attractive wrapper, but I think it's far from ideal as an e-book. Having said that, I use Stanza on the iPhone and it sort of works so I guess I'm far too tolerant - and have plenty of recharge points available (crucial with an iPhone that has a display active for long)
I am interested in the iPad format because I need a reference document mechanism that doesn't need booting, but I'll sit back now and let others work out the kinks. I bought the iPhone 2 generations later, and the 3GS works. I guess it may take that long before I buy an iPad - first on my list is an Apple notebook (I'm fed up with forever-patching-and-updating Windows).
Maybe by that time there will be an option for e-ink..
Is this article a joke ?
Ereaders have only one advantage, power conservation ? I'm sorry but that's just a consequence of their main advantage, the non-light emitting e-ink, which you then proceed to dismiss.
I read books, lots of them. I've read them on desktop pc monitors, laptops, netbooks, mids, phones, etc, and trying to do any sort of heavy reading on any of them is hopeless. The raison d'etre of ebook is e-ink, thus lack of eye strain, end of. What a pathetic article.
Two hundred and fifty quid for a good ebook reader?
Maybe so, if you insist on something with a nine or ten inch screen. But I'd submit that for many *readers*, as opposed to those who would rather use it for e.g. large tech drawings, newspaper/magazine format, or similarly large format display, the five or six inch screen is ideal. The unit's small enough to fit in a pocket, but has a screen with a decent amount of text on a screen - and the Sony 300 reader is available for under a hundred and fifty.
Which suggests that it's an easy price drop to under the ton - pile it high and sell it cheap. Addenda like music players, or even touch screen or note-making ability... these are not something I expect in a book, and so not in a reader. And network connectivity? Why? You might load a book once every two or three days, more likely download to a library and upload from there the once a month the thing requires charging. Again, it's a feature that has no real utility except to push up the price.
A critical requirement for any reader *must* be surely that you can hold it and use it in one hand? (To be sure, the Sony has an issue there; the page turn button is in the wrong place). But I can't see an ipad being used one handed.
I'll stick with the Sony thanks, six hundred quid for a thing which can do more in real terms but which is so much inferior in many others... nah.
Paris, because she's obviously reading something one-handed. And looking confused at the long words.
"But it’s a short-term measure. The inevitable progress of technology means the successors to today’s e-book readers will accrete new features, including e-mail access, web browsing and the wireless linkage needed to make these apps work, plus broader media support and, not too far down the line, colour screens."
That's *one* consequence of the inevitable progress of technology, but by this reasoning we'd have seen laptops becoming ever more powerful but staying at roughly the same price point.
Well, we did. You can still buy a laptop for £1000 and its bloody powerful. But at the bottom end of the market we also saw the feature set stay the same and the price drop, limited only by the cost of the cheapest processor you can buy (that's £20 or so), a battery, and a screen. If e-readers follow that curve and if *any* of several technologies currently under development actually bear fruit, we'll see them dropping to £50 or less. At those prices, there's room for both e-readers and iPads.
What there *isn't* any room for is books (or much else, for that matter) printed on paper.
Google Android, Really?
Considering that Google just shafted all their hardware partners on the Android Phone by releasing their own I would think that most people who might have produced an Andriod Pad would be very very cautious about jumping in to bed with the company that does no evil again so soon.
Only one advantage?
I repeatedly see articles that play down the difference between a reflective vs emissive display. I think it's always by people who don't read books. Maybe LCD is OK for reading a few web/magazine articles but when you want to settle down with a book for a few hours your only real option is paper or eInk.
Not to be pedantic...
But haven't apple already gone down the ebook reader style market with the newton??
That was effectively the same price as the ebook readers are now and the same size...
Also iPad sounds like a feminine hygine product does it not????
I think the point is being missed.....
The e-reader is really an immersive experience (sorry, I sound like a marketing drone) - you forget completely that you're using an electronic device and just get involved. It's just like a book. Colour doesn't matter, and in fact will get in the way. Same applies with a book.
I don't think that the ipad will ever be like that. It may have a place, but I don't honestly see it for books. Apart from anything else - it's just too big.
Pixel Qi screens will tempt serious e-book readers away from readers, not the iPad.
"E Ink screens have just one advantage over the iPad’s display: power conservation.
It’s also said by some users that they’re easier to read for long periods of time than LCDs, and will almost certainly be easier to read outdoors in bright lighting."
E Ink is so superior for reading on it's not even funny.
Now if the iPad had one of these screens then you might have been onto something.
Missing the point
E-Ink was invented because refresh rates on LCD's do tire peoples eyes, it's not some kind of quirk that a few people have. The technology has cost millions to develop. The idea people were waiting for Apple to produce an LCD tablet in order to make LCD based readers viable is a bad one.
I doubt the price difference between E-Book readers and the iPad is going to be "£100". The most expensive reader I've seen is a 7" screen Sony reader in Waterstone's and that cost £270. Traditionally in consumer electronics you take the dollar sign and switch it to a pound so I think the iPad is going to be in the £400 - £850 range. This makes the iPad massively overpriced for the reader, netbook and tablet market Apple seem to be going for.
I admit I don't get the iPhone but I really don't get the iPad craze the device is literally a bigger and heavier iPhone without a camera or GPS, I was expecting something in between Mac OSX and the iPhone OS but from Job's description it sounds like it is running the iPhone OS.
"... which punters will happily risk the device quickly becoming obsolete"...
... and herein lies the problem that all e-Book readers face - longevity and obsolescence.
Books may be heavy & take up a lot of space, but they tend to last a very long time - their obselescene is based on language, relevance and accuracy.
eBook manufacturers may agree to standards - the ePub format, but some of them (that would be you Apple), have applied thier own layer of restriction - purchase from the iBook store and the only device you can view the book on will be an Apple one.
So, you've purchased a two hundred books over the course of 5 years, only to find your iPad is now obselete, thus rendering your collection of two hundred books useless.
Or your iPad packs in after a year and you can't access all those books you purchased - ah well, best go buy another iPad for £350 then.
You can paint it anyway you like, but books on electronic devices will never be a large market until those devices are as practical as a bog standard dead tree book.
Magazines, newspapers - yes, definately - there's a market there, but eBooks?
I can picture it now, I want to settle down in bed and read for a few hours. I grab my iPad or Kindle or whatever, turn it on, only to find there's no battery power left. Damn, where did I put that charger? Now I need to find the charger and plug the damn thing into a socket.
I'm sitting on the train with a three hour journey ahead of me - damn, but I forgot to charge the bloody eBook reader - tum te tum...
Granted, the Kindle, if your just reading on it, has a battery life of up to 2 weeks.
The reality is, a device sold on the strength of being just an eBook reader isn't a valid enough reason to purchase the device, regardless as to whether it costs £100 or not.
20 years down the line, several competing formats later and your book collection is a either a mess, or you've spent time, effort and probably money converting between formats.
I sincerely hope that eBooks are *never* more than just a novelty, a fad - life without libraries, book shops, sharing books with friends, turning a physical page, the smell of ink and paper...
How cold and heartless that would be.
>You can paint it anyway you like, but books on electronic devices will never be a large market
>until those devices are as practical as a bog standard dead tree book.
My eReader is fairly practical. If you can use an MP3 player, you can use an eReader. Not all that challenging. Hurdles for mass uptake right now is price - both of the hardware and the books. That is changing rapidly, and will continue to.
When I go away I often take ten or twelve books with me. In a device, protectively jacketed in a nice leather case, that's the size of a slim hardback. I could fit my entire book collection, physical and electronic, on my reader and the size/weight stays the same. I read quite fast, so for a fortnight's holiday, I'm going to need an awful lot of squashed tree, both in volume and in weight. Who's more practical now?
>I can picture it now, I want to settle down in bed and read for a few hours. I grab my iPad or
>Kindle or whatever, turn it on, only to find there's no battery power left. Damn, where did I put
> that charger? Now I need to find the charger and plug the damn thing into a socket.
I keep my charger by my bed. When my book is on my nightstand, it's on charge. That means it's ready to go.
Worrying about whether stuff is charged or not is a pretty poor argument. Substitute the word mp3 player/laptop/phone into anything you've said and then wonder if that's why none of those things are popular. Oh wait.
>I'm sitting on the train with a three hour journey ahead of me - damn, but I forgot to charge the
>bloody eBook reader - tum te tum...
Same same. I forgot to charge my phone/ipod/laptop/toothbrush/etc. People living in the 21st century are fairly good at remembering to charge stuff. I've had an iRex eReader (which has relatively crappy battery life) for over three years now. Never have I not been able to read 'cos of battery flatness.
> 20 years down the line, several competing formats later and your book collection is a either a
> mess, or you've spent time, effort and probably money converting between formats.
I have what's called a "macro" in OpenOffice. I put text in, sometimes after spending several seconds ripping DRM from my purchase, then it comes out as a PDF formatted for my iLiad. If/when I buy a new reader, I'll make a new macro. The source text is always saved in a clear, open format. There are itunes-a-like apps that can do the same thing as my scripts/macros, for the less technologically inclined user.
Once you've started reading in 10pt Helvetica, you wonder why you'd ever want to read anything else. Glorious.
At this point, after no more than a few minutes of clicking here and there - no more effort than ripping a CD to mp3, and less time - I'm reading my book, warm and comfy on the sofa/in bed/whatever. You're still waiting for the postman to deliver your Amazon order, or you're queuing up in a bookshop.
I'd suggest it's possibly more time/effort/money to get a physical book. By quite some margin.
>I sincerely hope that eBooks are *never* more than just a novelty, a fad - life without libraries, >book shops, sharing books with friends, turning a physical page, the smell of ink and paper...
Libraries are about a lot more than just books. Common fallacy held by people who don't go to them any more. The libraries near me are working out their electronic lending strategy as we speak - it's likely users will be able to borrow, legally, through a web browser. And won't that be lovely for those who have mobility issues. Or people who have visual impairments and can't get their favourite books in Large Print. To make anything Large on an eReader is just a few clicks of the "Font size+" button. Libraries are about access to information in all it's forms, not just books. My library has music cds, dvds/blurays, internet access (and yes, there are still lots of people who can't afford their own, even in a city like mine which has free wifi), seminars, video games, kids activity events, reading clubs, etc. etc.
I share ebooks with friends. How cold and heartless of me. Same as people still share mp3s with friends. Format is not the point here, content is.
On the issue of format, you may have noticed in your bookshops that high-quality hardbacks are coming back. Nice paper, boxes, illustrated pages - the book industry is doing what the music industry is doing - mp3s are replacing cheap CDs, but for those who like physical formats, the luxury versions (eg, heavyweight gatefold vinyl etc) are coming back. Ebooks will mostly replace paperbacks. But hardbacks will still exist. And they'll be *better*
Insert title here
"So, you've purchased a two hundred books over the course of 5 years, only to find your iPad is now obselete, thus rendering your collection of two hundred books useless."
Really? My first digital music player is obsolete, but it still works and I can still play the tracks on my newest PC or copy and play them on my current player. I can't say I've seen any stories of anyone having trouble for purchased music. Movies might prove to be a different story, but I doubt eBooks will be any different.
In fact I bought an eBook a long time ago with a thoroughly proprietry format that I could only use on one machine, but when the hard drive failed on my machine and I lost access the publishers sent me a completely unencrypted copy - when all I really needed was a new download.
So, I suspect you may be completely wrong on this front.
"eBook manufacturers may agree to standards - the ePub format, but some of them (that would be you Apple), have applied thier own layer of restriction - purchase from the iBook store and the only device you can view the book on will be an Apple one."
Yes, ePub is *one* of the standards, but not every reader on the market supports it and good luck buying an eBook from Amazon that works on anything other than the Kindle, so while I agree with the sentiment of your statement I'd have to say that Apple are not alone. Besides, as there are already iPhone apps that allow the use of ePub books, then you have the option of using one of them instead of the built-in reader.
So? Wrong again?
"Or your iPad packs in after a year and you can't access all those books you purchased - ah well, best go buy another iPad for £350 then."
Again, more than likely to be wrong about this. If you connect an iWhatever to a machine with iTunes and authorise the machine with the same account, then iTunes will allow you to copy all of the purchased stuff onto that machine. Or, if you connect a new device to that machine you can fill it with purchased content. You can authorise up to five machines at one time, so there really isn't an excuse for having no backups.
Worst case it may possible to just re-download purchased books (like you can for apps) or it may be possilbe to get Apple to reset the downloads on your account from their end to allow you to re-download content (like they currently can for music and movies). Add that to the fact that the app is to be made available for the iPhone/Touch and it's not unreasonable to assume that it may well be possible to read books in iTunes.
So, if your iPad dies you're not likely to lose access to your content. You're in the same position with a great many other devices, not just eBook readers.
I get the point that *a* book is much more cost-effective, but eBooks aren't about that. For example, I travel a lot as part of my job and 10-15 years ago I had to decide what music I wanted to listen and movies I wanted to watch for a couple of weeks while on the road, find them and carry them with me.
Do you know how annoying it is to realise that you've very carefully inserted 12 CDs upside down into an autochanger cartridge just as you join the motorway?
Now I carry a laptop with a large hard drive full of music and movies for when I'm in the hotel and I have my entire music collection on a player that integrates in my car stereo, so I can listen to anything I happen to fancy.
eBooks will allow me to add reading material into that list. They won't replace most of my physical books, but they will allow me much more flexibility.
The only real question is how long it will take the publishing companies to walk the same path as the music people are nearing the end of and movie companies are somewhere in the middle of with DRM and pricing.
I'd like to see a system like some Bluray discs have where when you buy the physical media you also get a code for a free digital download copy, but given how difficult it is to make your own digital book from a physical one (c.f. CDs or DVDs), there isn't much of an incentive for publishers to do that.
But then, this isn't /just/ an eBook reader, it's more like the PS3, people will buy it for other reasons and drift into eBooks almost by accident.
The sony pocket reader costs less than £150 - half the price of the big iPod.
There is already a £150 e-reader, and e-ink is important
Sony make an e-reader with a 5" screen for £150 called the Sony Reader Pocket Edition, and it's a joy to use. I think you dismiss e-ink far too readily in your article, considering how much like reading real paper it is. Also the "obnoxious" flash is certainly a negative, but perhaps not to the extent you claim., it lasts only a brief moment, and because there is no backlight does not strain the eye.
Reading from an e-ink screen is far more relaxing then reading from an LCD screen, which is what I used to do using the iPod touch's stanza application. I don't think I'd want to go back.
Pixel Qi are the people who did the low power screen for the One Laptop Per Child project and the tech is getting commercialized. Demos look pretty good - the thing strikes a good compromise between e-ink and LCD, being responsive & full colour, low power and readable in various lighting conditions.
While e-ink is probably fine for just books, it is absolutely terrible for other purposes. I hope colour solutions take off without impacting on price too much. There is absolutely no need to pay as much as an iPad, and I hope the current wave of black & white devices are soon usurped by something more attractive.
What a strange article. The only way to make the iWaste look good is comparing it to an ebook reader? An ebook reader is, guess what? An 'ebook reader', it replaces, 'b o o k s' and my last Stephen King paperback was never able to surf the internet, I have a laptop for that.
The iSilly fills no gap. It's not that much smaller than my 13" Macbook Pro. And my MCP has a proper operating system, net access, proper storage, it can read ebooks and has a DVD drive. Not to mention that I don't have to consantly hold it on the train etc.
You can't seriously type on it, not seriously. So you can opt for the keyboard? Great, more things to carry! Again, my MCP already comes with a keyboard too! :D
I'm afraid if you want to compare this iSausage to something, it has to be other tablets, it which case it fails miserably. And if you want to use it as an ebook reader, it's battery life sucks compared and your eyes will just not be able to cope. There is a huge difference between momentarily looking at a nice pretty colour screen and comparing it to e-ink, and reading it for a few hours. Your eyes will be streaming. By which time it's battery would have ran out whereas the ebook reader is still at 98% and eyes are fine.
There is no mystical person that somehow wants net access but doesn't yet own a laptop. We can't keep pretending they exist. Apple disciples will buy it, some of them, then the sales will slow to a trickle.
It really is OK to criticise Apple people, they have created an iLemon and we can't even make lemonade with it. Once the fabricated iHype disperses it'll be a nothing.
Help lower the price of something I do actually want
I shall almost certainly be buying an Asus DR950 ebook reader when it comes out as looks like the first sensibly priced e-book reader (with some of the extra's you mentioned might be coming) that will be able to display technical books at the size they are designed for. My main hope for the ipad (that I don't want to buy) is that it is successful enough to bring down the price of something I do want to buy.
I have a Touch and good eyesight
This iPad thing appealed to me until I found out that Apple is in full control of what I put on it (until the jailbreak). That sucks. Blows, even.
This, though, is the beginning of always-connected, intelligent delivery products. Maybe even the keyboard.
But to consider moving from an iPod Touch to this Pad thing - nah. I can get a proper little computer for the same price and that does what I want.
Apple has lost the plot and started believing their own BS, IMO
"Taiwanese hardware makers like Asus and Acer are already working on colour tablets"
Make that "already sell", or did you not even check this very site?
Re: "Taiwanese hardware makers like Asus and Acer are already working on colour tablets"
The Eee T91 is a tablet PC - not the same thing at all.
Sure it's not the same device but the reality is that it does everything the iPad does except be flat, and a physical keyboard is no disadvantage at all. Modern netbooks have battery lives approaching the ten and twelve hour mark, 10 hours really isn't that much these days.
It is what it is but
One of the reasons I was disappointed with the iPad was that after waiting so long for something like this and SJ allegedly pulling the thing back to the starting blocks for a rethink several times, there was nothing exciting or new about the hard tech. With Mirasol and LiquaVista screens on the near horizon and looking so very interesting to just see an "up-to" ten hour LCD laptop lid was, well a bit of a let down I thought. Then you find all the other things that Apple want to charge extra for and it starts to look like a very rushed effort, something that was put out to do one thing and one thing only...grab early market attention. Doesn't matter if it isn't the finished deal, doesn't matter if the 2G and 3G iterations will be completely different and probably what they really intended to build in the first place, the market is seen as ripe and therefore must be poached. People will buy it, everyone will see all competition as a "potential iPad killer" and Job's is your uncle, the perception is there that whatever comes out if it ain't fruit branded it ain't as good.
Not sure about this
But I reckon it'll just get scratched, isn't that the apple way?
Bring out something shiny and new, then decrease manufacturing standards gradually as the price decreases increasing profits, simultaneously creating a demand for a newer model.
I'll stick with books and a laptop for now
Still too much
£100 for an e-book reader? Try £25 or I'll stick with a book book.
Eye-strain is quite simply caused by stress of the muscles used to move and focus your eyes. There is no difference between e-ink and LCD in terms of causing eye-strain, if you're focussing at the same distance, and looking at the same size type on the same size screen. LCD DOES NOT CAUSE EYESTRAIN ANY MORE THAN E-INK . I have seen no scientific evidence to contradict that view. This is a myth in the same category as the one about wi-fi signals cooking your brain, caused by misconception and ignorance. Reading small type on a badly positioned monitor gives you eyestrain, regardless of what type of monitor it is. I read ebooks for hours on end on an LCD PDA, and have done for years, and I have experienced no eyestrain. On the other hand, I do often get eye-strain after a few hours coding on my 1920x1200 17" laptop display, where I typically do have the text small in order to fit more information on-screen.
I won't agree completely (because I don't know otherwise), but I'd think lighting has a greater effect on eye strain than what you're actually looking at.
You can wear yourself out reading a regular paperback if you don't get have adequate lighting.
Too many people end up sitting in the dark in front of their computers, late at night, and sure enough they're getting tired, putting it down to the brightness of the screen...but it's not that.
Anyone working in a company with an HR department should get those nice little guidelines for workstation operators... you know, sit level with the screen, remember to look away occasionally to exercise your eyes.
There's a reason bookworms end up wearing glasses.
Just because nobody has done a 'study' on differences between LCD and e-ink displays, it doesn't mean differences don't exist. It just means nobody has wasted their money on such a project. Plus there are so many variables involved no study would be conclusive.
You can read ebooks for hours on an LCD? Great... I can't. I work for hours and hours on an LCD and also have no eyestrain, but 'working' isn't the same as reading. When I have read ebooks on my monitor, it's "OK", but not as relaxing on the eye as an ebook reader.
Anyway, the real point is that my ebook reader replaces the need for me to carry a few books, that I would have carried anyway. My laptop doesn't have to go with me everywhere. And a PDA is too small for my liking to read books on. In addition to the screen, it's battery life and size is the reason why you can't compare. It's an ebook reader, it replaces books, and nothing else. Sometimes you just want to get away from the damn computer and read a book.
The day your 17" laptop and a PDA can be read in direct sunlight and has a battery life that lasts for weeks... then we have the beginning of a discussion.
e-book readers all the way.
I have one of the (now slightly aged) sony prs500 Ereaders, and its great.
Battery lasts longer than it takes to read a book, takes a couple of hours to re-charge then your off for more reading fun.
Came fully equipped with a leather effect 'bound book' style case to keep the screen safe (and if you so choose make it look like your reading an untitled paper book), which you can easily remove, making it just the right size to fit in my jacket pocket, which is where it spends a fair deal of its not in use time.
Add to that that for the original price of £200 i also got included in the box a CD with 100 classic books (War and Peace, Origin of Species, Mobey Dick, Alice in Wonderland, Various Dickens, Bronte etc.. (many if not most I plan on reading)) you end up with 100 books, at an average of £2 each, and a device to read them on that fits in your pocket.
Reading is a pleasure, and for anyone that is bemoaning the 'flash' that you get when you turn the page, I have found that after about 20 mins of reading, you don't even notice it. (its like living next to the train tracks)
I have to agree, I have had one for bout 18 months and it really is the bees knees - although almost everything I have is ex-Guttenberg or the CD that came with it. One behaviour I have amuses me - I do like flexing the simul-leather front cover - feels like a ***real*** book......
"E Ink screens have just one advantage over the iPad’s display: power conservation."
As others have pointed out, this is: a) a major advantage, and b) not the only one, as readability is also important in an, er, e-reader.
I still use a monochrome Palm Pilot, for similar reasons. A battery charge lasts at least a fortnight.
I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want an iPad, unless they're really desperate for something shiny to fondle, but I'm sure someone will.
Certainly power conservation is a big advantage of the e-ink technology (who wants to recharge all the time?), but it is not the most important one. Reading comfort is most important. No one who has ever had a real e-book reader will ever want to read longer texts on traditional displays, such as the one of the iPad any more. Sure, the iPad might look "cooler" than a Sony book reader or a Kindle at first glance, but when you intend to spend many hours reading books you certainly rather want to do it with a real e-ink display than with a traditional computer display (such as the one of an iPad) that is worse for the eyes and makes you dependent of the specifics of the light - when you buy an iPad in a dark shop and have the illusion that you can sit outside in the sunshine and read a book, you will be disappointed. You can do that with a Kindle or a Sony eBook reader.
One (hyphenated) word.