Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays

New ways to read

The book is not only a piece of art based on what’s written down inside, but also what it looks like; cover design, color, weight. With e-readers, that dynamic is changing. Here is the latest e-reader, Skiff, to make its debut (reviewed by GadgetLab):

the Skiff e-reader, a lightweight device with a 11.5-inch full flexible touchscreen that makes it the largest e-reader on the market, beating the 9.7-inch display Kindle DX.

Unlike other e-readers designed for reading mainly books and PDF files, the Skiff is optimized for newspaper and magazine content and will use Sprint’s 3G network to offer wireless connectivity. The device will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas later this week. The company hasn’t announced availability and pricing for it yet.

Electronic book readers are a emerging yet fast growing category of devices. Since the launch of Amazon’s Kindle in 2007, a slew of new devices have entered the market. About five million e-readers were sold last year, estimates research firm iSuppli. Though the Kindle DX is the only e-reader with a screen size larger than the standard 6-inch available in the U.S. currently, more plus sized e-readers are set to hit the market. For instance, Plastic Logic’s Que will have a 8.5-inch by 11-inch screen.

At over a quarter-inch in overall height, Skiff’s display will have a resolution of 1200 x 1600 pixels.  It weighs just over one pound and offers a week of average use between charges, says the company. The device will have both 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Like all other e-readers, Skiff uses the black-and-white display technology developed by E Ink. But the underlying electronics that power the display has been developed by LG. LG has used a sheet of stainless-steel foil for the back of the display, instead of the glass layer that is the the foundation of most e-paper displays available currently. The result is a thinner device that is less likely to break.

Skiff’s touchscreen will help users navigate newspapers, magazines, books and other digital content they purchase through the Skiff Store–its own e-reading service. Readers can expect to see visually appealing layouts, high-resolution graphics and other design qualities that would enrich the reading experience, says the company. After all, Skiff has strong roots in the print media. It’s parent company is Hearst, which publishes magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics and Smart Money.

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Posted in communication and networking, education, electronic imaging and displays, Illumination, literature, Optics

E-reading

Books. They’re heavy, they rip, the binding comes apart, they’re expensive. You read it once and never look at the book again, even if you swear you will read (but you don’t). Besides, most people read news stories and journal articles online. So what is the answer? Electronic books! E-readers! E-paper! Or any combination of words associated with electric and literature!

A few of these have started popping up on the market. This story from the BBC features the latest edition of the technology built in the UK. You can download and store multiple books on one device, and they are becoming more and more damage resistant and flexible.

There is also plenty of argument against these: They also break down, they need power (books don’t), they’re hard to read. If the device dies, so do all of your books.

I’m fairly traditional, and like the smell and feel of paper. I like the weight of a book, and I like being able to loan my copy of a book to my friends, or co-read a book with my husband (usually done with large coffee table books). I certainly don’t look forward to moving when we have to transport an entire library of books, but I sure like having them there on our bookshelf. However, as a student it would be nice to have all of my textbooks in one package, and in one place. Although it certainly makes it harder to skim through two books at the same time, trying to find that passage you need for your final essay.

So I’m curious what people’s experiences are with e-readers and what they think of them, or if they’ve boycotted their use and why.