Kindle query

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davyK
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Any kindle users here (I think I remember Mr Loguidice saying he has one) ?

The bookstore is available in the UK now and I'm thinking of getting one.....

Bill Loguidice
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Other advantages
davyK wrote:

I'm now at the age when I need glasses for reading and its annoying after 40-odd years to need these appendages to read. The selectable font size and the lauded screen quality are a big thing for me.

Great point and a feature that I make regular use of on my Sony readers all the time. It's also a nice feature for older people so they don't always have to get special edition books.

And to answer Matt's earlier criticism of having all of those books available in the device at one time (around 500) and the MAME effect, like I said, it's mostly free classics, and it's the equivalent of just bringing your library of books with you like it is bringing your library of songs with you on your iPod or phone. It's not necessarily a positive that all of that is available (even I only like to engage in three or four books at one time even with my short attention span), but it certainly can't be thought of as a negative.

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Matt Barton
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Well, if you do get one, be

Well, if you do get one, be sure to get Vintage Games Kindle Edition. :)

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davyK
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The Kindle seems to be a

The Kindle seems to be a splendid device. It can hold up to 1500 books, seems to have a good battery life, and has a built-in dictionary which is integrated into the reading experience. You can subscribe to publications and I like the idea of 1st one or chapters available as a free sample.

I'm now at the age when I need glasses for reading and its annoying after 40-odd years to need these appendages to read. The selectable font size and the lauded screen quality are a big thing for me.

Colour doesn't do much for me - I would be reading novels and reference books that don't require that (a nice to have of course but not something I would wait for).

The B&N one looks nice because of the touch screen but from what I have seen of the Kindle videos it has a slick enough interface.

Amazon's goal is a noble one - every book ever published available in 60secs. They may never make that due to all sorts of issues but the vision impresses me. Getting one of these is a matter of "when" , not "if" for me.

Matt Barton
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Barnes & Noble reader

Looks fantastic so far: Photos: First glance at Barnes & Noble's e-reader. Hopefully this competition will help lower the cost and up the quality of these units. I really like the LCD display on this one for showing color images.

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Bill Loguidice
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Cringely's take on a

Cringely's take on a possible Apple device: http://www.cringely.com/2009/10/apple-and-the-future-of-publishing-part-...

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Bill Loguidice
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Solar and "Wireless" Power

Kind of a cool way to solve the battery issue: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/11/lg-unveils-solar-powered-e-book-reader/

I had a wonderful solar watch from the 80s that worked great, so I would certainly think in the 2000s we should be powering more devices (either as primary or secondary sources) with "ambient" energy.

By the way, I've been seeing the ads for the intriguing Powermat, but I was in Target the other day and the price is way, way overpriced, particularly when you consider each device to be powered needs its own expensive add-on: http://www.powermat.com/

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The more power you put into

The more power you put into a battery, the more catastrophic the results are when it fails... that's a problem

Matt Barton
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Batteries

Responses below.

Rowdy Rob wrote:

All of these suggestions are doable, and the market will probably experiment to see what direction the keyboard issue goes. I suspect foldable/rollable keyboards (or touch-sensitive screens like the iPhone) is where the market is going, and people are going to get more and more comfortable tapping on "nothing" to input text.

It's interesting to me how popular txting has become. One would think that nobody would really text, since it's now "free" just to give somebody a call, or leave voice mails. Heck, it will soon be even more feasible just to video conference or send video messages back and forth. Instead, people seem to really enjoy just sending little text messages and email. It makes me wonder if there's just something appealing about text that goes much deeper than we might have realized. I'm guessing it has something to do with its lack of immediacy; you can be more relaxed typing a message than interacting in real-time, especially in a voice, video, or face to face situation.

Quote:

Battery life is the Achilles Heel of all these portable devices. That's the real bottleneck, in my opinion. E-Ink is great on battery life, but that's because it's designed to display static images. E-Ink is currently (to my knowledge) impractical for moving video (i.e. movies or videogames), probably not having any energy advantage in animated imagery.

Indeed it is. I'm reading a book now called "Physics of the Impossible" that I'll review later--though for now I'll just say the author does a GREAT job of reviewing all sorts of science fiction concepts and then explaining whether they're possible given current science, and also classifies them by Class I, II, and III "impossibilities." The Class I impossibility, for instance, is something that is physically possible given our understanding of physics, but not yet possible given our level of technology. Nevertheless, we are likely to overcome the obstacles, possibly within our lifetimes. Class II impossibilities are those that are possible given physics, but the technology is thousands to millions of years away. As you guessed, Class III violates the known laws of physics.

Anyway, back to the topic. I am VERY, VERY disappointed by the lack of innovation in the battery industry. I mean, what the hell? I can't believe that we're still using AA and AAA batteries and so on in flippin' 2009. It just seems that that industry has stagnated so horribly, and even the high-end batteries are grossly underpowered. You'd think there was something unsavory going on to hold down the innovation. I haven't studied the problem enough to know what the problems are, but it just seems incredible that we still don't have batteries that can run a laptop non-stop for the lifetime of the system. The fact that such an idea still seems absurd even in 2009 is telling in and of itself.

My dad is an electrician and seemed to think (not sure if he still holds this view) that lasers were the way to go. According to him, lasers can provide enough energy to power pretty much anything, and of course they travel at the speed of light. Of course, the problems seem great--what if something blocks the beam, how to maintain your aim, etc. I'd think a bit more promise could be had if you bring chemicals or gases into the equation, so that perhaps you stick your battery in a laser unit, the lasers causes various chemical reactions, and you're good to go for another month or whatever. I'm all but certain that the answer to the whole battery/portable energy problem is chemical in nature. We just need to find the right chemical compounds and reactions to make a really long-lasting and/or instantly rechargeable battery. At any rate, Wikipedia has a nice article on Wireless Energy Transfer.

Of course, there are radios out there that are powered by the very radio signals they pick up (I've even played with them), so I don't see why in principle a laptop couldn't do the same thing, perhaps being powered by WiFi signals or the like.

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Rowdy Rob
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Ebook/Technology speculation.
Matt Barton wrote:

My thoughts:

1. Screen size. Some ways around this could be a mini projector of some sort (maybe with lasers or holograms?), some type of eyewear, some type of brain input device, or "electronic paper" or foldable screens that could be tucked away and then rolled out for use.

Of the suggestions you give above, probably the most likely to occur is the "foldable/rollable screens," which is already being developed in the E-Ink circles. We do have mini-projectors, but these devices have limited practicality, in my opinion, because you need a reliable surface to project on. If you're on the go, you're likely to have trouble finding projection surfaces, especially if you're outdoors. As a "value added" feature, projectors are great, and that's already happening. But for true "ebook" practicality, you need a screen. Eyewear can be hazardous, and I ain't getting no brain implant to read a book. :-) And as far as I know, "thin air" holographic displays don't exist yet, much less in a portable form.

Matt Barton wrote:

2. Keyboard size. This isn't really relevant for an ebook reader, but again thinking more in terms of the ultimate portable. I can think of many ways around this bottleneck. One is the laser keyboard projection thing; it can display a working keyboard on pretty much any surface. Another idea is the foldable/roll-up keyboard. Another is to do everything with voice commands and dictation (though awkward in public). Another way might be just to have a camera that can detect finger motions and emulate a keyboard that way (perhaps in conjunction with a keyboard on screen). The latter option is doable assuming you can tackle the screen size issue.

All of these suggestions are doable, and the market will probably experiment to see what direction the keyboard issue goes. I suspect foldable/rollable keyboards (or touch-sensitive screens like the iPhone) is where the market is going, and people are going to get more and more comfortable tapping on "nothing" to input text.

Battery life is the Achilles Heel of all these portable devices. That's the real bottleneck, in my opinion. E-Ink is great on battery life, but that's because it's designed to display static images. E-Ink is currently (to my knowledge) impractical for moving video (i.e. movies or videogames), probably not having any energy advantage in animated imagery.

An iPhone workalike with a rollable screen/keyboard would be a killer product. In "rolled up" mode, you can use it as a cell phone, but in "rolled out" mode, you have a killer ebook reader/multifunction device!

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I find it fascinating.[/quote]
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Matt Barton
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Yes, screen and keyboard

Yes, screen and keyboard size are serious bottlenecks. If you get something comfortable to type on and see clearly, it's too bulky to carry around comfortably. What's needed is something about the size of a credit card. My thoughts:

1. Screen size. Some ways around this could be a mini projector of some sort (maybe with lasers or holograms?), some type of eyewear, some type of brain input device, or "electronic paper" or foldable screens that could be tucked away and then rolled out for use. Another intriguing possibility might be eye sensors, so that even though the screen size is small, it would know exactly where you are looking, and maintain the right focus. Imagine that you are reading a book--you really only need to see a very small part of the page at the time. If the unit was smart enough, it could only show you the part you need to see (but would be so seamless that it'd be like reading an actual book). Not sure how feasible that is. Of course, another possibility (especially for a book reader) is to do audio only, so you just have to listen to everything being read to you. With that kind of tech getting better everyday, it's a real possibility.

2. Keyboard size. This isn't really relevant for an ebook reader, but again thinking more in terms of the ultimate portable. I can think of many ways around this bottleneck. One is the laser keyboard projection thing; it can display a working keyboard on pretty much any surface. Another idea is the foldable/roll-up keyboard. Another is to do everything with voice commands and dictation (though awkward in public). Another way might be just to have a camera that can detect finger motions and emulate a keyboard that way (perhaps in conjunction with a keyboard on screen). The latter option is doable assuming you can tackle the screen size issue.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I find it fascinating.

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