Why Apple should make an e-book reader?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I believe Apple should make an e-book reader with an e-paper display that you can write on it. Currently there is only one product like that in the market, iRex iLiad. It uses an eInk display and Wacom tablet on it for writing. Though the machine is slow (2 sec to turn a page), software is not so good (it doesn''t even support all hardware features like pressure sensitive sketching, no zoom in pdf etc.) and quite expensive ($700). Sony has an ebook reader but it doesn't support enough formats, nasty DRM, no Mac support etc. This is where Apple would shine. They can build it in mass quantities, put a better chip (but something that wouldn't need a fan) and Apple quality software. It would be a dream machine both for customers and Apple for several reasons.



*All college students will buy one. One could put all the textbooks in and take class notes, take everywhere. It shouldn't support email or web. This is for reading and writing only. No distraction, just simplicity.



*All academics, attorneys, anybody who print out a lot of materials to read will buy one. It will also be good for the environment.



*All graphic artists will buy one, as it will be a cheap sketching tablet with a screen



*Many casual readers will buy one and Apple can sell e-books at the iTunes store. It might turn into a great market.



All the technology is already out there just waiting for the right implementation. Apple even already has handwriting recognition technology.



So do you agree? Can we convince Apple to do this?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    hobbithobbit Posts: 532member
    I fully agree Apple should make an eBook reader. It is one of those devices which would have a well defined purpose and could be really useful - if done well.



    What I imagine is a device the dimension of a paperback, but with the thickness of an iPod Nano, sporting a 200-300dpi screen covering the whole surface.



    But I'm afraid the display technology isn't there yet. Black and white IMHO doesn't cut it. A lot of the PDFs manuals and documents I have - which I would love to have with me all the time - have color images and diagrams which really aren't all that useful in black and white.



    And while ePaper is battery friendly, at 2 seconds screen refresh you're growing old 'flipping' through your text books to find something. Try it, it's just annoying after a while.



    I think the best bet are ultra highres OLED displays which consume less power than LCDs but still offer full color in a very thin package.

    But even 11" OLED displays won't pack more than 1024x768 initially. So it'll be a while until these reach 200+dpi. And if it's any less I might as well use my laptop screen. The resolution needs to be higher to make a difference by producing crisper text and images.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Apple filed a great eBook patent a while back, go look for it - it's a really great idea.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    fran441fran441 Posts: 3,715member
    Quote:

    All the technology is already out there just waiting for the right implementation. Apple even already has handwriting recognition technology.



    Apple tried to get into the 'eBook' market back in the mid 90s with the Newtons and the eMate. It wasn't the only function of the Newton like the device listed above but it was a noted feature.



    I know the market has considerably advanced since the 90s, but the premise is basically the same. The devices back then were considered overpriced and not worth the trouble. It appears that the eBook readers today are still overpriced at the very least.



    Don't get me wrong, I've been waiting for a new Newton Messagepad since the 2100 was discontinued in 1998. In fact, one of the first reasons I started posting on AppleInsider when it opened in late 1998 was because I wanted information about the device that Steve Jobs promised to replace the Newton. But at this point, I'd be very surprised to see a device like this actually introduced.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    areseearesee Posts: 776member
    Wired is blaming DRM. If they are right, no matter who makes the reader or how bad the software is, eBooks will not take off until the publishers get together and agree on a standard. I've looked into this a little, it is a complete vertical lock-in. No one reader crosses publisher lines, and with the number of book publishers I can't afford to buy a different reader for each publisher. Neither Apple or any other tech company has no power to force the publishers into any one standard.



    http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/0..._by_drm_e.html
  • Reply 5 of 13
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aresee View Post


    Wired is blaming DRM. If they are right, no matter who makes the reader or how bad the software is, eBooks will not take off until the publishers get together and agree on a standard. I've looked into this a little, it is a complete vertical lock-in. No one reader crosses publisher lines, and with the number of book publishers I can't afford to buy a different reader for each publisher. Neither Apple or any other tech company has no power to force the publishers into any one standard.



    http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/0..._by_drm_e.html



    In the mean time, we are stuck with the likes of Zinio Reader, which is a dog compared to modern Apple software but does the job. It was probably ported to Mac.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by physicistjedi View Post


    I believe Apple should make an e-book reader with an e-paper display that you can write on it. ...



    There is no shortage of e-book options. I have several on my computer. There is, however, a shortage of customers. For the casual reader, nothing beats curling up with a good book. For the professional, an e-book reader is a poor substitute for the paper pages of a book.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    There is no shortage of e-book options. I have several on my computer. There is, however, a shortage of customers. For the casual reader, nothing beats curling up with a good book. For the professional, an e-book reader is a poor substitute for the paper pages of a book.



    I agree absolutely with your comment regarding a good book. However, today, books are just such a small part of the picture. Most of the scientific literature that we access every day comes to us in digital form. I don't bother with printed journals at all any more, where the option of electronic download exists, including access to the likes of the journal Science. Further, I do not like to print the article, it's such a waste of resources and so my PowerBook is invaluable. However, where an e-book reader is required (other than access by Preview for example), you are at the mercy of the publisher's choice and the required software, which is sometimes not up to the standard we are used to on the Mac. At one stage, (it might be different now) the journal Nature wasn't even available to Mac users in electronic form!



    I think that there is plenty of scope for a device that doesn't require a keyboard. I'd love to have all my papers, images and video on an A4 sized device (12.1" PB size) that did the job of viewing this material very, very well.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    jonnyboyjonnyboy Posts: 525member
    i suggested this a while back. imagine having every single public domain work in a given language pre-loaded ... and how little space it would require. apple does the hardware, google helps with the material. buy the latest stuff for a few dollars online. saves trees too!



    p.s. and supposedly they already have the trademark on the obvious name.... the iBook!!
  • Reply 9 of 13
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post


    ... Most of the scientific literature that we access every day comes to us in digital form. ...



    Access and use are two different things. You may access papers digitally. However, you print them out to read them.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,595member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post


    Access and use are two different things. You may access papers digitally. However, you print them out to read them.



    With respect - hardly ever. Zinio reader lets me highlight text but I don't like the program. To be successful, the e-book must be smart, fast, easy to read in adverse lighting and produce clear text and images at all (relevant) sizes. I'd like to highlight key-words and phrases that would feed into a database. There are lots of features one could look for.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    filburtfilburt Posts: 398member
    I don't see a huge market for this, even if it's well designed. With 3.5" LCD, iPhone and/or 6G iPod (with iPhone-like larger widescreen) can be made to fulfill the role for less demanding users.



    For heavier users, MacBook or rumored sub notebook can fulfill the role. $1000-ish is a bit high, but many people have (or want) a notebook anyway.



    Is there a room for "somewhere in between"? Like others have said, it needs very high resolution e-ink screen, very long battery life, and functional form factor set it apart from the rest. I think e-ink has potential, but it needs to become full color (especially for magazines) and much cheaper. The device should also double as a PDF printer -- hook it up to your Mac's (or PC's or AirPort's) USB port or Bonjour via WiFi, it becomes a printer. Unfortunately, all these features will cost quite a bit and I don't see lots of folks snatching it up on the eBook concept alone.



    So ultimately, we are back to iPhone/iPod and MacBook, which won't be as optimal as the eBook, but much better bang of the buck.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post


    With respect - hardly ever. Zinio reader lets me highlight text but I don't like the program. ... There are lots of features one could look for.



    I also have Zinio Reader. I even subscribed to some Zinio magazines. I never read them. e-books have a very long way to go before they become competitive with the dead-tree versions. Features are the least of it.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    wircwirc Posts: 302member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by physicistjedi View Post


    iRex iLiad.



    Is it really called that? Yikes. What a desecration.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by physicistjedi View Post


    So do you agree? Can we convince Apple to do this?



    It breaks my heart to hear this question asked. Apple will listen if you vote with your wallet.



    This device would have to be much more capable than just an eBook reader, with multimedia possibilities, and graphics as well. It would need to be thin and strong. It should be able to double as a monitor - why waste the pixels? It would also definitely need a very high resolution, because I don't want to get iStrain. This device, to be useful enough to buy for an academic setting would need to be very capable - to the point that the cost to make a laptop out of it would not be far away.
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