It’s no secret that the Amazon Kindle has reinvigorated interest in dedicated ePaper-based reading devices (if not necessarily publishing industry profit margins, just yet). It’s also no secret that the Kindle is absolutely atrociously designed, and that its closest competitors, the Sony Reader and the iRex Iliad, are not much better (although aesthetically much more pleasing).
Enter Plastic Logic and their as-yet-unnamed reader. It’s got almost everything that would make me want to buy a dedicated reading device. Let’s do the checklist:
As large as a sheet of paper: Tiny is not always better. I don’t necessarily mind reading books and documents on, say, my iPhone, but it’s nice to have a decently-sized reading area. As long as I can stick this in my bag in place of reams of paper, it’s still a space-saver.
Thin as all hell, and pretty light: This baby is 0.3″ thin. I could see myself slipping this into my bag along with my MacBook Air, no problem.
Touchscreen: My iPhone has spoiled me—I want a touchscreen on everything now. I find myself reaching for the screen on my laptop all the time, especially when I’m using an application that’s also present on the iPhone, such as Google Maps. The fact that you can flip pages, use a soft keyboard, and even mark up documents with fingerstrokes is a big, big win for the Plastic Logic reader.
Full colour, high resolution display: Still lacking, but give it time. Like televisions, personal computers, iPods, and other devices, I can see this reader’s first couple of iterations be black and white, but eventually move to colour, once price and technology make it feasable.
Open platform: Here’s a place where Kindle and Sony particularly fail. They’ve locked their devices to certain formats. The Plastic Logic reader will be document format-agnostic, as it should be. The presentation at DEMOfall shows the reader explicitly handling PDFs and PowerPoint presentations.
Here’s that presentation:
This looks fantastic. Wrap it up in something other than PC beige, price it competitively with the iPod, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got a winner. I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys as 2009 comes around.
In the future I can see a device with the guts of the iPhone, or even the MacBook Air, adopting this kind of display, and becoming a full-featured input/output device. I can has touchscreen Mac Tablet?