January 8, 2010

Entourage Edge dual-screen reader

A pending piece of pre-CES news, but similar to a bunch of things coming out of CES: a dual-screen, combined LCD and eInk reading device....

From Engadget coverage at http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/16/entourage-edge-dual-screen-android-e-reader-given-lusty-hands-on/ (included embedded video from CNET)

Another LCD / eInk combination device. This is a trend recently, with a few other devices, including the Barnes & Noble Nook, using it. But this time in a dual-screen formation, so that you have a color highly interactive LCD screen and a more paper-like Monochrome eInk screen for reading.

Quick comments
The design looks a bit thick, and laptop/netbook like when closed.
Watching the CNET video: it's big! Like a decent-sized laptop with a display on both sides. Too big and bulky in my opinion.
Being powered by a Marvell processor and running Android I expect a good battery life, if the LCD display consumption is kept in check.
It's good to see we can get away from Windows and Intel devices in order to push the envelope on battery life, and not be constrained by processor compatibility and OS/UI compatibility. But as always, such divergences need a really good implementation, or the difference just becomes a pain, not an advantage.

The Winning concept?
The various designs we are currently seeing are all attempting to overcome the eInk display's longer refresh times and lack of color, and to provide an interactive content browsing/discovery/selection means while providing a more paper-like reading experience (reflective not transmissive/emissive) once the content is selected for viewing.

These combinations are fun and innovative, but surely a stop-gap measure. We need that first color, fast refresh, low-power (or bi-stable and hence low/zero power while not being changed) , reflective display to happen. Watch this space for a couple of posts coming related to news on that front from LiquaVista and Qualcomm.

When (if?) that color ePaper display does happen, then a number of different design concepts currently being explored are going to collapse into one or two.

It would be color, I'd expect TouchScreen, and useful for reading and interacting with; Content discovery, browsing, searching and selection will be more part of the media itself, with less of a distinction between browsing, selection and reading - like how you read a newspaper or a magazine...

Then the main remaining questions around the designs will be:

  • one screen or two?
  • size
  • who can really crack the user interface?
Apple with the iPhone took some important steps for all of us to make the content the UI (no scroll-bars and other window management gadgetry there) and we may see more of that if they really do a tablet device soon.

See an upcoming post of mine here on the Microsoft Courier concept UI being shown for some ideas on combining different types of content into a more reading-like (than computer applications oriented) interface.

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