January 7, 2010

It's called what!?

Well, it's finally made it, a new exciting ereader device from Plastic Logic, and just as (or more?) importantly, a new technology for transistor manufacture has made it to market via this eReader: Organic Transistors.

With information from Technology Review (http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/24323/?a=f) and Plastic Logic's own site (http://www.plasticlogic.com/)

At CES Plastic Logic has announced the "Que"!
They can say what they like about it being pronounced "Q". For Spanish speakers (which includes myself as I live in Barcelona, Spain) this naming is just too much fun to pass up! They have named the device "What".
"What?" I hear you say.
Yep. What!

What's been announced!
I can hear echos of Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's on first" sketch that can still put me in stitches.
For those who have never seen it, or need a refresh, see it on YouTube.

Try it out with a friend or workmate today at lunch!
"Have you seen the new eReader called what?"
"No, what's it called?",
"Yes, that's right." have fun.

The Technology difference
Do you care what type of transistors it has? Well, only in so far as they can be made on plastic, instead of the rigid and fragile glass required for most display transistors. That buys you flexibility (if you can use it), robustness, and less weight.
The image forming surface is the same eInk technology you're used to seeing and hearing about in other readers.
The trade-off (for now at least) for organic transistors has been slower transistor performance. But as they are used to drive a display (not the processor or memory), and it being a slowish eInk display, that is not a problem.

This technology has been a long time coming, and they have struggled to get it into production, so it's quite an achievement for Plastic Logic. Let's hope the process has a good yield to help keep prices down and availability up, and the reliability matches glass and our needs.

They have announced two distinct models, a 4GBytes version and an 8GByte version with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. I think eReaders are getting caught up in a GByte race that isn't really needed. Most eBooks, even ones with images (remember these are generally monochrome eInk devices), are quite small.
A friend who is a voracious reader has been reading eBooks for years and has books stacked up to read in the future, and in total "only" has 3GBytes! I don't think you need 4 or 8 GBytes on-board.
Do you want to archive all the newspapers you read?
Do you need 75 filing cabinets worth of readign with you?
No. But, Flash is so cheap, and people compare to MP3s and MP4s/PMPs, so throw those GBytes in and avoid this discussion altogether!

These are large (8.5" x 11" or A/A4 size with a 10.7" diagonal display), thin (1/3 of an inch, 8mm), light (500grams, a little over a pound, or about 17.6 ounces) and robust eReaders.

You will see photos showing the display's inherent flexibility, yet it will be encased in a rigid surround (most of the rest of the device electronics and batter won't be flexible!). Useless you may say. Well, yes as shown, but that flexibility buys you robustness (harder to show in a static photo) so your eReader will take the knocks it get's while traveling with you.

Content Display
They have been working with Adobe to give the news content the "right" look and feel. We'll need to test drive that before forming an opinion, but IDEO the Industrial (Experience?) Design house have been heavily involved so that gives me some more confidence. I wish they would apply some of there design hyperbole to their Press Release (grey text on a grey background!) to make it easier to read.

It allows reading of appointments, calendars, e-mails and other "Knowledge worker" content and they promise to expand it's capabilities in this direction over time.

Price and Availability
If you pre-order now, you maybe lucky and get one in April 2010. Prices are $649 for the 4GByte Model and $799 for the 8GByte 3G/Wi-Fi connected model.

More to come
I'm sure this won't be the last I say about this device. As I learn more about it I'll post here.

I can't wait to see the Spanish Press coverage of this device, and will post a translation of what I see.
Press briefings can be such fun again and bring A&C right back...
"What users can.."
What users.
Which users?
Users of what!
What users?
etc etc

As a reward for reading this far, enjoy this......


Andrew Mackenzie said...

And here is another post from Engadget that shows some hands-on (i.e. shaky and blurry) video of the device in action.

It's BIG, a little slow to refresh (but not too bad) and the touchscreen maybe not the light-touch capacitive type that we'd all like it to be. Other wise it looks pretty nice, and impressive ability to display a lot of content.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it